2008's Essential PC Games
26th Dec 2007 | 10:02
2007's been such a massive year for games that you'd be forgiven for thinking developers had shot their load early and the remainder of the decade will be devoid of quality.
Not so. After peering into 2008, it's clear that this year has only set a precedent for things to come over the following 12 months. There's plenty of great gaming queuing up to grace PCs of all shapes and sizes.
Below then, in no particular order, we've hand-picked our ten PC games that we think you'll be attaching yourselves to like a limpet. Bottoms up!
The return of Blizzard's well-regarded sci-fi RTS property StarCraft is clearly one of 2008's biggest PC releases, and it's already close to hitting 10 (out of 10) on the office excite-o-meter. It also helps that the Blizzard team making StarCraft II are all long-term veterans of real-time strategy development.
It might not do flashy, nor have the grand overview camera of Supreme Commander, or the extravagant physical destruction of Company of Heroes, but the pure thrill will come of pitching fleets of units you'd be happy to pin medals on against each other. Blizzard won't let us down.
Want more on StarCraft II? Go here.
Empire: Total War
The Creative Assembly's Total War series is one of the finest set of strategy games ever to grace PC. This time around, the developer's opted to set the action in the 18th century, allowing it to explore such themes as the Industrial Revolution, America's struggle for independence, the race to control Eastern trade routes and the globalisation of war on land and sea. One of the new additions to the series is 3D naval combat.
Want more on Empire: Total War? Go here.
It was inevitable that Bethesda would take the Fallout series and turn it into an action-RPG for the modern age, a move which has had the Fallout hardcore quaking with concern for their beloved post-apocalyptic baby. But with the developer of the mighty Oblivion at the helm, we're confident that it won't be rubbish.
Fallout 3 shoves you into the boots of a character that's been locked up in an underground vault safe from nuclear bombardment and fallout. The adventure begins in earnest when they attempt to track down their father who has managed to escape the vault into the outside world. Any game with a portable mini-nuke launcher in it just has to be great.
Want more on Fallout 3? Go here.
Half-Life 2: Episode Three
Yes, we KNOW Valve hasn't confirmed Episode Three as a 2008 release yet, but odds are that the developer plans to launch it at the end of next year. Little is known about what is expected to be the climax of the storyline at the moment, although Valve's said it's planning something pretty ambitious for this episode.
Episode Two was criticised for sticking too close to formula, so let's hope we do see the developer really push the boat out. And then there's the question too, of course, of how the hell it'll top Orange Box and its three-game goodness. At least a second Portal game packed with Episode Three is surely on the cards.
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
Love it or hate it, World of Warcraft is one of the biggest PC franchises of all time and, with player numbers worldwide recently topping 9.3 million, second expansion Wrath of the Lich King is guaranteed to be a massive seller.
Blizzard's bringing back the hardcore feel of Warcraft, after The Burning Crusade took a short detour in to space, and it'll return us to "some of that hardcore fantasy vibe". An increase in level cap, a new continent in the shape of Northrend and the introduction of the first Hero class are among the highlights.
Want more on WoW: Wrath of the Lich King? Go here.
Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising
Codemasters' Operation Flashpoint 2 remains something of an unknown quantity at this moment in time, but with the original military sim proving a massive hit on PC and genuinely breaking new ground, we're still keen to slap this one on a hard drive.
Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising is set on an oil-rich island located off the eastern coast of Russia, north of Japan. "The defining feature of Operation Flashpoint 2 will be the scale of the warfare, which will be unprecedented in first-person shooters," Codemasters has promised.
Want more on Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising? Go here.
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
EA Mythic's MMOG based on Games Workshop's fantasy tabletop game is THE title in the genre that we're dying to get dirty hands on. Staying faithful to the rich and hugely popular Warhammer world, a major focus is Realm versus Realm combat - PvP mass fighting mayhem, which Mythic has plenty of experience with thanks to developing MMOG Dark Age of Camelot.
GW's Warhammer universe rocks with elf-bells on and we just can't help but get very excited at the thought of adventuring in - let alone engaging in massive battles and city sieges in - a persistent-world version.
Want more on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning? Go here.
It's the latest title from The Sims creator and all-round videogame design genius Will Wright, and naturally that makes it one of the PC stars of 2008. It's an ambitious game, Wright explaining that Spore's "about life. It's about life starting at the cellular level, working it's way up through evolution, into tribal societies, civilisation, and eventually going out into space and spreading through the galaxy".
Crikey, it sounds like 15 games crammed into one; but if anyone can pull it off, it's Will Wright. Got that Will?
Want more on Spore? Go here.
What is it about Alan Wake that plucks the gaming heartstrings? The suspense? The anticipation? The mystery? Well, it's all of them, but what's probably the real pull is the wisps of impression seeping out from under Remedy's door that this game is going to be quite unlike anything we've seen before.
Coming off the back of the strength of the developer's Max Payne games, Alan Wake has a team behind it that knows how to thrill and to entertain. Prepare to be sucked into the nightmare and have your head messed with in Bright Falls.
Want more on Alan Wake? Go here.
Purely attaching the name BioWare to an RPG is enough to get hardcore fans of the genre drooling down their breastplate, but what's extra enticing about Dragon Age is that it's set in a fantasy universe entirely of BioWare's own creating. Not only that, but the developer is including many revolutionary features.
Multiple origins plotlines for characters, cinematic combat, living, breathing NPCs, legends, mysteries, relationships, action and reaction - you just know it's going to be an awesome adventure during an age of dragons.
Want more on Dragon Age? Go here.
And that concludes our ten PC games to watch out for in 2008. We're sure you'll agree - and vehemently disagree - in the comments field below.