Play it again

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Though it didn't raise quite the fanfare of 2007, there were a number of big releases in 2008. Maybe there wasn't a Halo 3 on the list, but the year saw many anticipated sequels and expansions to existing titles.

Like Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion of World of Warcraft, released to feed the needs of players who hit Level 70 two weeks after the first expansion's release in '07.

Gears of War 2 attempted to make the testosterone-fueled fight against the underground alien invasion on the planet Sera a more intimate and personal affair, featuring entire battlefields of foes and underground battles on a huge scale. Fans of the Gears series seemed pleased by the results.

PlayStation 3 shooter Resistance: Fall of Man also received a second installment, with more of everything players expected.

Surprisingly, 2008 was also a year of new intellectual properties and attempted innovations by publishers who long ago jumped on the sequel train.

Electronic Arts released two new game franchises with mixed results. Previously known for its online battlefield series DICE, the studio unveiled its vertigo-inducing first-person title Mirror's Edge to lackluster sales. The game itself was something different, featuring a futuristic courier running from an oppressive corporate police force that's determined to stop her from making her deliveries. However, the Parkour-free running gimmick and the tightly bound perspective ultimately didn't draw many gamers, and led to nausea for some.

EA did find success with its new horror-in-space series Dead Space. The game combines familiar science fiction and horror elements with the story of an intergalactic rescue team and grotesque foes defeated only by dismemberment. Not exactly Sunday school fare, the dark atmosphere and interesting weapons connected with players well enough to ensure a return to this setting in the future.

Role-playing game fans had it good in 2008 with the release of the long-awaited Fable II and the resurrection of the Fallout series by Bethesda Softworks with Fallout 3.

Superhero fans continued to suffer through bad game tie-ins, despite a year filled with great films making big money in theaters. Among those that failed to deliver on their potential: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man: Web of Shadows.

From the look of things so far, 2009 is shaping up interestingly, with some major titles in the pipeline, like Resident Evil 5, God of War III and Halo Wars. Underdogs like Atari's Brutal Legend and a new game featuring the original Ghostbusters cast also hint that next year could be another standout for new game series.

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