What we are looking forward to in 2004
With 2003 behind us it's time to look ahead and see what games we will be playing next year. 2004 has the potential to be the biggest year ever for gamers with the next iterations of Half Life and Doom franchises around the corner and a bunch of other sequels that will prevent gamers from spending significant time outdoors. The following is a list of what our staffers are looking to get their hands on in the year to come.
Charles Husemann - Editor in Chief
Half-Life 2Do I really need to explain this one? This is the PC equivalent of all three Lord of the Rings rolled into one game. There's probably still a big wet spot at the LA convention center from all of the gaming geek drool from last year's E3.
Doom 3 I picked this one last year with the hope that I might see it on shelves this year but since the gang at id is still working on it I'm forced to pick it again this year. As more details have arisen the game seems to have gotten further and further away from the typical Doom/Quake style of play and I've gotten more curious to how well the game will be received. We know the graphics will set new standards but how will the new single player missions work out and how will gamers react to the slower paced death match.
Battlefield Vietnam Battlefield 1942 is one of my favorite games of all time and I'm curious as to how the new environment translates over into the game play. The early reports look strong (especially the ability to transport tanks across the map via helicopter) and I'm hoping I have another major time sink on my hands.
Halo 2 With the same great game play, better graphics, and Xbox Live support? What else needs to be said?
Painkiller OK, so I'm all about the FPS games this year but Painkiller has a ton of potential. From what I've seen in the early betas, Painkiller has some amazing graphics, the Havok 2 physics engine (the same one used in Max Payne 2 and in Half Life 2), exceedingly cool bosses, and a breakneck pace that should push all of the right buttons for all of the twitch-monkeys out there. The game also features some potentially cool new multiplayer modes.
Cyril Lachel – Staff Writer
Sony's PSP I enjoy my GameBoy Advance and the games it allows me to play ... but I wouldn't mind having something a little better than a 16-bit system in my hands. The PSP promises to be the next generation portable the GameBoy Advance should have been, and if the price is right (and they have quality games), it should have no problem finding a home. It also has the potential to pull in people who would not generally buy portable game systems, since it will play movies, music, and a number of other interesting features. This may be the biggest system launch of the year, and I couldn't be more excited.
The Big Sequels Some critics don't like talking about sequels, but I can't wait for what promises to be a huge year for big sequels. Metal Gear Solid 3, Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Resident Evil 4, and the next Grand Theft Auto (whatever it's called), I'm looking forward to all of them. Not only do these games need to live up to lofty expectations, but they need to bring us something new and different. It's yet to be seen if all of those games can achieve this goal, but I'm certainly looking forward to finding out.
Dead or Alive Ultimate I'll confess, the Dead or Alive series isn't my favorite franchise, but I'm dying for a new online fighting game, ANY online fighting game! Capcom started last year out strong by releasing Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO, but so far that has been their only Live-enabled fighting game, and there are none currently on the horizon. Perhaps it's the lack of competition, but Dead or Alive Ultimate (the game that used to be called Dead or Alive Online) is really starting to come together. It probably won't be the best fighting game of the year, but at least it will be online.
That Big Surprise Nintendo Keeps Talking About Lately I've been a little disappointed by Nintendo's performance, but I can't help but get excited at the prospects that they may reveal a new piece of hardware this year. They say they have something big to announce this year, something that is bigger than your average game announcement and smaller than a sequel to the GameCube. It could be something that plays games, or a new portable, or something you hook up to your system to help you play games. Whatever it is, it's damn mysterious and it's driving me up the wall. It may turn out to be nothing, but so far a lot of my excitement from 2004 comes from wanting to know what this announcement is.Matt Mirkovich – Staf Writer
Beatmania IIDX 7th Style (PS2) I don’t know if it’s fair to put a Japanese game in here but I am going to do it anyway. If you’re a fan of Bemani games like DDR and such then you’ve no doubt heard about some of the other games, like Beatmania. This DJ Simulator is a ton of fun to play and the last release 6th Style has now hit a stale point after being out for nearly two years. The amount of effort it took to get this game made shows how dedicated fans are to the series (Konami wanted 20,000 preorders in 3 weeks time, available only to ship to a Japanese address with COD charges).
Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time for PS2 It seems like this game is never going to come out, but I’m still waiting with baited breath for this RPG. Star Ocean 2 was a great PS1 title and ever since the first screen shots this has been on my “Must Have” list. The battle system looks fantastic and I’m waiting on the story just to keep it a secret to myself, no spoilers for me, no sir.
Silent Hill 4: The Room for PS2 Akira Yamaoka has to have quite a sick and twisted mind to be able to follow up the awesome Silent Hill 3 with another game just a year later. With a new lead character and some even more disturbing character designs, this looks to be the freakiest Silent Hill ever. This game can’t come out soon enough if you ask me.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for GameCube Final Fantasy makes a return to Nintendo and I look forward to this one greatly. I’ve already got my Saturday’s off for the next couple of months for some awesome four-player action. Be sure to get this one with a GBA and three other friends in order to get the most out of this game.
A new Dance Dance Revolution game for either PS2 or Xbox DDR has come a long way in the states, I remember when Palace Park in Irvine, CA was the only place the actually had a machine, people would drive from miles away to see the wacky dancing game. Now that DDR has become less of a niche titles it’s getting some quality music. Hopefully the next iteration on Xbox will be up to snuff to compete with the PS2 version for my dancing dollars.
Tyler Sager – Staff Writer
As usual, my list of Most Wanted games for the current year consists mainly of games that slipped from the previous one. Although I’m not really a big first-person fan, my top two games are from that category: Half-life 2 (PC) and Thief 3 (PC). Half-life 2 has some very big shoes to fill, and I can’t help but worry that too-high expectations will make this a bit of a disappointment. Thief 3 also has a lot to live up to, with the previous two titles being the most immersive games I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. While I’m excited about both of these new titles, I’m also a bit anxious about the growing trend in these sort of PC games—namely that they are designed to be easily ported to (or from) a console game, and so lose something. Another intriguing title that slipped from 2003 is Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 (PS2). The original dungeon-crawler was a blast to play, and from what I’ve seen of this next title, it’ll continue that tradition. While the future of this franchise seems in limbo due to the closing of Black Isle, hopefully this promising title made it through unscathed. Moving on to adventure titles, LucasArts is bringing back two of my all-time favorite characters with Sam & Max 2 (PC). Canine and rabbity crime-fighting goodness await! Finally, I’ll round out my list with what I believe to be an extremely unlikely-to-be-released-in-2004 title. But I would be The Happiest Boy if this title actually made it our way before the year ended: Kingdom Hearts 2 (PS2).
John Yan – Senior Hardware Editor
Half-Life 2 This game would’ve been one of my top picks of 2003 had it been released on the original release date announced. To say I was impressed with what I saw of the game at E3 would be a big understatement. Half-Life 2 is one of the games of 2004 that I am most anxious to play and the reasons should be obvious.
Doom 3 Is it still on track for 2004? It would seem so and the folks at iD Software looks to bring a very scary single player experience to the PC. The graphics are dark but the models and lighting are very impressive. Doom 3 shouldn’t disappoint those waiting for the next great game from iD.
NCAA Football 2005Every year I look forward to EA’s next iteration of their college football game. I really enjoyed 2004 and can’t wait for 2005. Now if only EA and Microsoft would play nice and have Xbox Live capabilities in it.
ATI and NVIDIA’s next As always, I look forward to what the two big graphics makers have in store next. The war between the two has been pretty heated the past few years and I look for NVIDIA to come out swinging to try and grab the graphics spotlight back onto them. And I also look for ATI to keep putting pressure on NVIDIA by producing high quality products.
ABIT’s latest line With the recent announcement of ABIT producing ATI cards, I am really interested to see what spin they put on them. Also, the motherboards they produce are always top notch products and I am really looking forward to what they have for 2004.
Ben Zachheim – Staff Writer
Halo 2 If Bungie doesn’t deliver on its promise to follow up one of my top five games of all time I will go Vin Diesel on their ass. If they follow up with a dud I will go Carrot Top on the ass.
Doom 3 The year of the sequels! This is gonna come out right? Please? I built a computer that is Doom3 ready. That’s how much I look forward to this one.
Half-Life 2 – I am searching out the thief who took the code and I plan on using this force feedback joystick on him. I wrote a Half-Life 2 clause into my pre-nup to prepare my wife for my disappearance.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.