Halo 3: ODST

Platform: Xbox 360 exclusive
Publisher: Microsoft
Expected release: Q3 2009

Formerly titled as Halo: Recon, ODST is a new standalone expansion to the Halo universe that’ll explore new characters and ideas. While perhaps not long enough to qualify as a game in its own right, ODST will be long enough and involving enough to merit a look from any console shooter fans.

Uniquely for the series, ODST (which stands for Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) won’t feature Master Chief in any capacity whatsoever and will instead shift the focus to a regular trooper stationed in Kenya. Working through the city of Mombasa the player is desperately trying to track down the rest of his unit, who’ve gone missing in the chaos of the Covenant invasion.

With the action partly focused on stealth and played from multiple viewpoints thanks to the use of flashbacks, ODST promises to be something new for the arguably tired and over-hyped franchise and we have to admit that the game has got us excited despite our leathery coat of cynicism.

Heavy Rain

Platform: PlayStation 3 exclusive
Publisher: Sony
Expected release: Q4 2009Games to Watch in 2009 Games to Watch in 2009 - Console Exclusives

If there were one game coming out this year which we’d really love to see on PCs and not consoles, then it’d be Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain. We can’t have everything though.

There’s still not a lot known about David Cage’s latest adventure game, which is said to play more like a truly interactive movie than anything before thanks to intelligent use of quicktime events and cinematic motion capture tech, but what is known is all good. The game will apparently showcase a stunning new graphics engine powered by PhysX, using it to tell a deeply replayable and forbiddingly dark story of murder and menace.

Similar in many ways to Quantic Dream’s previous game Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain is hoping to prove that adventure games are still a viable platform for developers who want to push the envelope and find new ways to interact with gamers. From any other development team we’d probably take that as nothing more than hyperbole, but we’ve chatted to David Cage about adventure games before and know that his team is lightyears ahead of the curve in many, many regards.

The Conduit

Platform: Wii Exclusive
Publisher: SEGA
Expected release: Q2 2009Games to Watch in 2009 Games to Watch in 2009 - Console Exclusives

One of the few games on the Nintendo Wii that might be able to cater to the hardcore audience, The Conduit is an attempt to prove that the Wii is more than just a party-machine by bundling voice-chat support, 16-player multiplayer and some actually decent graphics.

Embedded deeply in the sci-fi FPS genre, The Conduit tells the story of an alien invasion and the attempts of a secret government agency, already understaffed thanks to a lethal plague, to repel the alien threat. That’s not going to be easy though, mainly because the ETs in question are using portal technology to jump around faster than an electrified kangaroo.

The feature list for The Conduit admittedly doesn’t sound great at first glance – coloured lighting, detail environments and portal technology? These have all been done before. What’s critical though is that The Conduit will be the first game to bring these things to the Wii's unique control, in an action-led format.

The Conduit may face a conflict of markets on the Wii and Sega has a tough sell on its hands if it wants to prove the hardcore appeal of the console at this late stage, but The Conduit may yet be able to win us over.
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