4: Left 4 DeadWho makes it
: Valve / Turtle Rock Studios
When is it out
Why is it good
: From here on in it's PC all the way. First up in this final four is Left 4 Dead. It's quite possible that you haven't heard about this game yet, as it was only announced very recently. It uses the Source Engine and is created by Turtle Rock Studios (a developer that has worked closely with Valve in the past), Left 4 Dead is a multiplayer co-op game where your job is to survive an onslaught of zombies in your city, escaping with your three team mates to a helicopter while everyone else in the city attempts to feast on your brains.
Think Dead Rising, then add multiplayer, then add a healthy dose of 28 Days Later styling and Half-Life 2 esque gameplay and you've got the ingredients for one of best hits to land on the PC not only this year, but ever!
Currently, very few details about the game are known. It's running on the Source engine which means sexy visuals as well as highly interactive environments - expect some inventive ways to kill the zombies, but apart from that little can be said. What's interesting is the fact the game is co-op multiplayer that will be played on maps through an online server. There will be an emphasis on working as a team to escape the city and the hordes of zombies, a feature that has already got our minds racing...
Imagine escaping to a house, running from tons of zombies, two of your team barricading the downstairs door whilst the other two run upstairs - then, from an open window they start to lob a few grenades into the marauding pack of the undead... The situations and possibilities that could be played out seem endless in that mad rush to get to the escape helicopter
What's even better is that once the multiplayer server has filled up it's four 'survivor' characters, others will be able to join to play as zombies. Imagine, at a LAN party a group of you play as zombies, gang up on one 'survivor' and then participate in a mass cannibalistic orgy. I seriously can't imagine spending my time in any more enjoyable way.
What could go wrong
: Again, in concept this game sounds brilliant but it's still early days. The team that's making the Left 4 Dead is relatively unknown despite its closeness to Valve. The developer's previous history doesn't make for brilliant reading: it has created a few CS:S maps as well as making the forgettable Counter-Strike: Condition Zero.
The other obvious problem is actually getting people to play it. Many multiplayer games struggle primarily because they can't entice the gaming public to leave Counter-Strike for more than a few minutes. This game will have to fight off newcomers Portal and the new Team Fortress if it is going to be considered a success come the end of 2007.
3: Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium WarsWho makes it
: EA Los Angeles
When is it out
: March 28th
Why is it good
: When thinking of the RTS that I'm most looking forward to, it was a straight fight between Command and Conquer 3 and Supreme Commander. The reason I've chosen Command and Conquer is not because Supreme Commander is a bad game, quite the opposite, as it too is going to be one of the best titles of 2007. The reason I have chosen C&C 3 is due to a gut feeling I've got that EA is pulling out all the stops with this game.
For starters, take a look at the voice actors
the company has hired. Loads of recognisable names which I won't list here but a sure-fire sign that EA really means business. This is reinforced by looking at screenshots for the game - C&C 3 is probably unparalleled in the graphics department, surpassing both Company of Heroes and Supreme Commander. C&C 3 is a Hollywood blockbuster of a game if ever there was one.
This game will almost certainly be a must buy for fans of RTS, war and all round death and destruction on a large scale. Command and Conquer 3 will be going back to its roots with strong, story driven missions as well as going back to a right hand side control interface. For those who have long been nostalgic about the hey-day of RTS gaming then 2007 will be a year to remember.
What could go wrong
: Hollywood may spend a lot of money but its films don't always hit the mark when released. Could that be the case here? There's certainly a risk of it, with money going on a load of actors could the direction of the game become misguided? We'd like to think not but have to accept it as a potential risk.
Other than that the only problem I can see might arrive in multiplayer. RTS multiplayer is notoriously annoying in the way people can and do leave half way through a fight. My hope is that EA come up with some ingenious method of making that difficult if not impossible as there's nothing worse than spending an hour building up your army only for your opponent to leave. I'm sure some kind of ranking system will be put in place.
Editor's note: For what it's worth, I saw this game running in the flesh in October, and everything you will see is done with DirectX 9 shaders. In discussions with the developer, I was told that there won't be a DirectX 10 patch released for the game, and frankly it doesn't need one - the graphics are simply phenomenal. As a big fan of many of the Command and Conquer games, this is shaping up to be another great C&C game.