While the promise of a gripping new yarn and fresh enemies to tangle with would be enough to get us diving back into the Atlantic ocean, BioShock 2 delivers so much more. Most notable, is that it has us returning to Rapture as a Big Daddy. Behind his menacing presence we're able to pair with Little Sisters for some Adam hunting, fire upgradeable ammo from his baddie-blasting rivet gun, and plunge that giant buzzing drill through Splicers' gooey midsections. Combined with never-before-seen Rapture environments and a twisty tale that promises to bend our brains, this new Big Daddy-driven play dynamic promises our second visit to Rapture will be as engaging as the first.
Halo: Reach (Microsoft, Bungie)
Release Date: Fall 2010
The next entry in Microsoft's and Bungie's sci-fi hit takes us back...way back. Reach unfolds during the days before the original Halo: Combat Evolved. The war between the human-slaughtering Covenant and the UNSC is firing on all cylinders as we're introduced to a new team of elite Spartan soldiers.
Duh...it's a Halo game! Okay, so that alone may not be enough to bring everyone back to this universe. After all, as good as Halo 3: ODST was, it also dripped with familiarity and the same series formula we've been enjoying for years. So, while it'd be easier to get Master Chief's ATM PIN number than it would to access detailed intel on this game, there are a few things we can definitely expect.
For starters, this will be the first major upgrade in visuals and technology the series has seen since it jumped from the original Xbox to the 360. Bungie is hard at work crafting a game that looks noticeably better than any other Halo we've experienced this generation. Additionally, while we've gleaned next to nothing about our new non-Master Chief protagonist, we do know he's a Spartan. We totally dug our tour of duty in the battle boots of ODST's Rookie, but man, did we miss the comfort and security of that shiny green armor. On top of putting us back behind a Spartan visor, and giving the graphics a kick in the pants, Reach should also pack another story-driven adventure that'll make anything George Lucas has done in the last decade look even more embarrassing. Retaining the best of previous entries, while also injecting plenty of originality, is more than enough to get us to finish this fight.
Metro 2033 (THQ, 4A Games)
Release Date: March 16, 2010
Based on the popular Russian novel of the same name, THQ's new shooter takes place in the titular year, where a nuclear blast has leveled Moscow. The few remaining survivors of the apocalyptic disaster take to the city's subway system and begin a new life beneath the Earth's surface. As a young, unlikely hero named Artyom, players are tasked with protecting their new world from grotesque creatures that have been mutated by the post-blast radiation.
Taking a cue from story-driven shooters such as BioShock, this one puts as much emphasis on narrative as it does nailing head-shots; it is, after all, based on a book. Supporting this ambition is a living, breathing subterranean society brimming with personality and compelling characters. As much as your close-knit village buzzes with the intensity of a real-world mini-metropolis, it also lives in a constant state of fear. Mutations from the surface want your blood, and will stop at nothing to get it. Additionally, evolved humans, dubbed Dark Ones, hold unimaginable telepathic power that allows them to mess with the survivor's minds.