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Top 15 most anticipated games of 2001
The future and the past
Picking out just 15 titles across 7 platforms is no easy task and certainly a bit unfair to consoles which are better endowed with A titles. However, there is a method to our madness, and that is to commemorate the 150th issue of GamePro magazine as well as celebrating the re-launch of GamePro.com! Huzzah! In the March issue (on sale February 13), GamePro magazine picks the 15 Best games of all time. Why 15? Because the Man would freak if they tried to do 150. Since it's sure to be controversial, we'll have each of the editor's choices that didn't make the cut for your enjoyment later on the site. For now, let us start drooling at the feast of gaming goodness that lies just around the corner.
What about that game and why not this game?
It needs to be pointed out that this list is of games that have been confirmed for release next year by their respective companies. There are certainly a huge amount of games that WE know are in the works, but have not been "officially" announced. We're putting together an "unofficial" games list right now so look for it soon. Without further ado, let's see what's coming down the pipe.
In the dawn of the impending next-next-gen console wars, only one thing is certain - people will still be PC gaming. This year will bring us such highly anticipated titles as the MMORPG Shadowbane, the third installment of the Master of Orion strategy series, the Fallout goes medieval world of Arcanum, and the in-fighting mayhem of Tribes 2? but two PC diamonds stand out in this field of gems.
Warcraft III Q2 2001
Every time Blizzard (purveyors of Warcraft and Starcraft) releases another RTS game, they raise the bar higher and higher? and it looks like they're about to do it again. With Warcraft III, Blizzard is moving beyond the ancient two-sided orc/human conflict by bringing five unique races into the fray (including Undead, Demon, and Night Elf races), a revolutionary 3-D modeling system, and the introduction of what Blizzard calls Role Playing Strategy (RPS), taking the story, questing and character growth elements from RPGs and applying them to individual units in your army.
Black & White Q1 2001
Superstar game designer Peter Molyneux's stellar resume includes Populous, Syndicate, Dungeon Master, and Magic Carpet? this year he's bringing us Populous meets Pokemon in the form of Black & White, a RPG/strategy/RTS/online hybrid that puts you in control of a tribe of primitive people and the living God-thing that walks among them, ruling with an iron first, a gentle loving nudge, or razor sharp teeth? depending on how well you treat him/her/it. PC-less gamers, take note - Black & White is coming for PS2, Dreamcast, and, yes, even Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance.
With the reincarnation of Ninja Gaiden, the racing extravaganza of GT3, the survival samurai of Onimusha, and the survival damnation of Devil May Cry, the PS2 is set to explode with a lineup of top-notch titles that beat the crap out of what we saw in Round One. Yes, the cinematic splendor Metal Gear Solid 2 looks amazing, but honestly? we're even more curious about the X-Box version. So here's the cream of the next-gen crop, minus the Solid Snake in the grass.
Final Fantasy X Spring 2001 (Japan)
We still don't know a whole lot about Square's first Final Fantasy for the PS2 except that the backgrounds will no longer be pre-rendered, and that Square seems to be walking the oh-so-sweet FF IX line in terms of combining the old with the new. But hey, we all know that even a whispered rumor of a PS2 Final Fantasy would have been enough to bring it to the list. What's more, FF XI, an entirely online Final Fantasy experience a la Everquest or Ultima Online, is in simultaneous development, slated to be released within the realm of six months after FFX hits shelves. Start stockpiling your free time now.
Red Faction Q1 2001
Simply put, THQ's first person shooter for the PS2 (and PC) looks pretty damn amazing. Boasting an awesome arsenal of weapons, super-realistic enemy damage, and hyper-interactive environments based on an innovative new "Geometry Modification" system where nearly everything can be bent, cracked, shattered, blown up, or otherwise dynamically malformed, Red Faction is shaping up to be the forerunner in a long-overdue FPS revolution.
Twisted Metal Black Q1 2001
Ice cream lovers of the world beware. Sweet Tooth is coming back in black? perhaps the deepest, darkest black we've ever seen. Taking cues from kindly folks like Mad Max and Hannibal Lechter, this brand new incarnation of the quintessential demolition derby brings the Twisted franchise into post-apocalypse with a gloomy, sinister surface and a collection of vehicles with transforming powers that would make the Decepticons oil their mechanical shorts.
There is certainly a big question mark about the amount of games coming out for the original PlayStation. There are always surprises, but the pickings may be slim with almost all of the major franchises moving on to new consoles next year. It's not hopeless for sure and there are at least these two bright spots to look forward to.
Dragon Quest VII Fall 2001
The first question that will spring to the minds of RPG gamers is "Where the heck has this game been?" Well, after five long years since part six, Dragon Quest VII was finally released earlier this year in Japan out selling Final Fantasy IX almost two to one. The graphics are actually quite dated, as are the sound effects, but the story, gameplay and orchestral score have us counting the days until we can play this puppy in English.
Dance Dance Revolution Q1 2001
Arcades across America are discovering the phenomenon known as Dance Dance Revolution and they like it. Finally coming to the US PlayStation complete with Dance Mats is the sensation that has dominated Japanese arcades for the past two years. Lucky for us, the version we get is based off of the latest home version overseas, which is the 3rd Mix, but it will also feature music from earlier mixes. Whether it's used as an ice breaker at a party or to work off some excess gaming fat, DDR is very high on our Must Have list. The Tokyo Drifter and Star Dingo swear by it.
Nintendo's next system isn't due till the Fall of 2001 at the earliest and that's just fine considering the amount of top tier games still scheduled to come out for the N64. Paper Mario, Sin & Punishment, Mario Party 3, and Eternal Darkness are but a few of the top titles making their way. Our favorite two picks though are below.
Dinosaur Planet Summer 2001
The Banjo series was Rare's version of Mario 64, and Dinosaur Planet looks to be their take on Zelda. Originality issues aside, the game looked great at the Entertainment Expo earlier this year. The cartridge will be among the biggest ever with 512 Megabits, which will be used for hours of speech and some tasty visuals (the game will require the Expansion Pak too). Adventure with Sabre and Krystal who will both have separate adventures that will have some of the same situations which sounds like it will work like the zapping system in Resident Evil 2. There is no "official" date, but all signs point to either a late summer release. If the GameCube is delayed for any reason, it may take a hot Fall/Winter release date to secure a Holiday hit for Nintendo. Click here to see a movie of the game in action direct from the Nintendo site!
Conker's Bad Fur Day Q1 2001
When Nintendo sets out to make a Mature game, they aren't kidding around. Although Conker's looks like Banjo except with a squirrel instead of a bear/bird, it most certainly is meant for older teens and adults. The adorable woodland creature causes all types of havoc and basically cusses up a storm. The game play follows basic 3D action conventions and there appears to be a four-player death match mode although that could change by the time the game is released. If you like your furry gaming action with lots of violence and smatterings of blue language, then Conker's should be on your list. We're ashamed to say it's definitely on ours.
Nintendo is infamous for being sneaky with specs and loose with their release dates, so there's no guarantee we'll see these games - or even the GameCube - for sure in Fall 2001. What we do know is that footage of a new Zelda, Wave Race and some sort of Luigi adventure has us all but convinced we must have one whenever it comes out. Out of the titles Nintendo has announced for the system, these two are undoubtedly tops on our lists.
Mario 128 Fall 2001
It's hard to believe Nintendo released only one true Mario title for the N64, but that's quality control for you. Now, gaming mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto believes he will be able to take the Italian Plumber to new heights as he did with Mario 64. At the recent Spaceworld show, Miyamoto promised a new camera system, which will be innovative, but could not reveal further details. The precautions are warranted as developer after developer aped the exact camera mechanism from Mario 64 for their titles. There's really no if ands or buts that the next Mario will be awesome.
Metroid Fall 2001
As much of a crime it was that there was only one Mario adventure game for the N64, it was a far greater travesty that Samus never graced the system at all. Well, Metroid is back and in the hands of Retro Studios which is sort of the US version of Rare (or at least Nintendo hopes so). Many purists are worried that a US developed Metroid will not be any good, but Nintendo doesn't throw their licenses around like loose sand. All the footage previously shown for the GameCube version of Metroid are clearly just CG video, but that's beside the point. Metroid is officially coming out for the GameCube and the gaming nation's hope rests with it.
There were a lot of naysayers who thought that the Dreamcast would be a bust even before the system launched in the U.S. last fall. But a steady stream of titles, and some incredibly impressive games like Resident Evil: Code Veronica and NFL 2K1, have kept Dreamcast owners quite happy. Top that off with the launch of the Dreamcast online gaming network, SegaNet, and the Dreamcast is looking quite sexy when compared to the PS2, thank you very much. Hey, at least you can find them in stores!
As for games that are coming out, we're looking forward to more road rage in Crazy Taxi 2 and even more blood sucking action in Legacy of Kain 2, but when it comes right down to crunchtime, the blue hedgehog and online role playing are tops on the list of Dreamcast games for 2001.
Sonic Adventure 2 Q1 2001
Sonic is back! The blue hedgehog that originally graced Sega's Genesis is returning for round two on the Dreamcast. Sporting the same high-speed gameplay that made the original Sonic Adventure a hit, Sonic Adventure 2 has the little blue dude with a 'tude scrambling through the hilly streets of San Francisco on foot and on snowboard, and that's just for starters! Team Sonic has kept the gameplay that Sonic fans love essentially intact: the same spin dash attacks and ring collecting romps are the focus of Sonic Adventure 2, but new playable characters and a few new moves like rail grinds make this Sonic something worth dreaming about.
Phantasy Star Online Q1 2001
You'll be able to hook up with three other players to create an adventure party able to defeat Phantasy Star's party. This is THE game that will deliver on the promise of Sega's SegaNet gaming service, connecting gamers from around the world to go online and venture forth into a world populated with all kinds of friendly (and very unfriendly) inhabitants. A standardized set of phrases will let gamers communicate with other gamers regardless of their native language. Check out our other Phantasy Star Online coverage!
Microsoft developed the operating system for the Dreamcast, and after learning just how cool console game systems are, someone up in Redmond got the bright idea to do away with all the misery that goes along with playing games on the PC. Yeah sure, Windows 95 was a huge step up from DOS for gaming, but PC gaming has continued to be plagued by bugs, glitches, and crashes.
Microsoft has used its muscle to line up a list of developers and games that will make people stand up and notice, and it was tough picking the X-Box games that we're most dying to see. Konami's original Silent Hill was a great fright-fest on the PlayStation, and the X-Box sequel Silent Hill X looks scary enough to spook Freddy Kruger, but it missed the final cut. Crash Bandicoot X is another game that made us drool a little more than usual, especially since it was a huge coup for Microsoft when it scored Sony's PlayStation mascot. But even though Crash X looks to take it to the next level, Metal Gear X and Munch's Oddysey are the two games that rose to the top of the crop.
Metal Gear X Fall 2001
Konami's Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation was a runaway hit, and the X-Box Metal Gear looks to repeat that success. While Konami hasn't released any information or screens of the X-Box version of the game, aside from announcing that it is in fact working on an X-Box Metal gear game, Metal Gear X will most likely be a rendition of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty which is coming to the PS2 in 2001. However, that doesn't rule out changes in the graphics, story, or gameplay in the X-Box version. The X-Box sports a hard disk and will ship with an Ethernet connection as well as an optional modem that will offer online access, so expanded gameplay and multiplayer gaming are two very tempting possibilities. For now, check out the gorgeous graphics and info on Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PS2.
Munch's Oddysey Fall 2001
The first two Abe's games from developer Oddworld Inhabitants were instant hits on the PlayStation. The third Oddworld game, Munch's Oddysey, was originally supposed to be a PS2 release, but Infogrames, the company that owns Oddworld, signed a deal that makes the next four Oddworld games exclusive X-Box releases. Munch's Oddysey is expected to debut in the fall of 2001, and if previous Oddworld games are any indication, this third installment will feature more weirdness than any game on the planet. Tough, but clever, action-based puzzles, a cinematic style of gameplay, and standout graphics have made the two current Oddworld games standout hits. We're certain that the X-Box game will deliver the goods as well. Check out the dish on previous Oddworld games to get a glimpse into what Munch's Oddysey possibly has in store.
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