Empire: Total War

Platform: PC Exclusive
Publisher: SEGA
Expected release: 6th February 2009

It’s been too long since we last got our teeth stuck into a Total War game and Sega knows it. Luckily though, rather than teasing us with expansions and crummy console ports the publisher has decided to stay true to the franchise. Empire should be the same hardcore PC strategy game we all know and love.

That’s not to say that this will be the same as previous Total War games however, oh no. The setting for Empire has been pulled up out of the swords and shields rut it’s been stuck in for the last few titles, dumping players in the 18th century instead.

This change in era opens up all manner of different gameplay devices for players – with rifle warfare and naval battles stepping into the forefront as major new additions to the series.

Games to Watch in 2009 Games to Watch in 2009 - PC Must-haves

On top of that Creative Assembly is giving the series a total 3D makeover and making everything prettier than ever – sending swathes of men to their doom has never looked so good.

Expected to be out early in February, Empire: Total War is sure to be a high point on the calendars of RTS fans (Harry) – but you can check out our hands-on Empire: Total War preview for more information.

Dragon Age: Origins

Platform PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Expected release: Q2 (PC), Q3 (console)

By all accounts, Dragon Age should be a return to form for BioWare, which has been keeping things strictly sci-fi for the past few titles. It’s good to see the acclaimed RPG developer return to the world of sword of sorcery – the polar opposite of what Creative Assembly is doing with Total War!

While there’s still not much known about the plot of the game, we do know that Dragon Age: Origins will be a fully 3D and free-roaming game much like Baldur’s Gate, with players able to issue orders to their troop of adventurers in both real-time and paused modes.

Games to Watch in 2009 Games to Watch in 2009 - PC Must-haves

The subtitle for Dragon Age hints at one of the major new features for the title too, namely the ability to not only choose your race and background – but the chance to play through it. Royal elves will start the game totally differently to other elves and the same is true for all the other races and back-stories. Over time how you act in your chosen origin will have a massive effect on the game – changing the characters around you drastically.

Beyond that though, what gets us most excited about Dragon Age: Origins is that it represents a return to the classic BioWare design; medieval setting and a massive, branching plot that oozes replayability with nary a laser rifle or FTL drive in sight. There's a lot to be said for the sci-fi stories of KOTOR and Mass Effect, but good ol' medieval epics are more than enough for us any day of the week.

Admittedly we do have some worries about the multi-platform nature of the game, but the fact that the game is leading on PC is enough to quell our doubts for the moment and let us hope that Dragon Age can be an RPG to get excited about.
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