Aside from Gears of War 3 and Forza 4, Microsoft hasn’t announced any real noteworthy Xbox 360 exclusives for 2011, but that doesn’t mean the system is lacking in heavy hitters. While we patiently wait for some new announcements, there are enough cross-platform blockbusters to keep you glued to your console.
Dead Space 2 (January 21)
Isaac Clarke escaped the Ishimura, but he hasn’t escaped the nightmare. On January 21, the Necromorphs invade a densely populated space station called The Sprawl, and Clarke is thrust right back into the middle of the madness. Dead Space 2 also packs a new multiplayer mode putting half the players in control of the disfigured monstrosities. As if we weren’t excited enough for this sequel already…
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (February 15)
The long awaited continuation of the popular fighting series is almost here. This crossover fighter once again pits the likes of Ryu and Chun-Li against the familiar faces of the Marvel universe in tag-team bouts. The simplified, three-button control scheme makes this an ideal pick up and play style game, and comic author Frank Tieri is cooking up a storyline where Albert Wesker and Doctor Doom team up to wreak havoc.
Bulletstorm (February 22)
When we heard Painkiller developer People Can Fly was teaming up with Epic Games to deliver a pulpy sci-fi shooter that rewards you for taking out baddies with style, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. On February 22, players can start racking up points for dismemberments, nut shots, and whatever dastardly deaths they can imagine with the inventive weapons at their disposal.
Fight Night Champion (March 1)
We’re not sure what we’re more excited for – the new story mode that follows a boxing prodigy through the seedy underbelly of the sport as he tries to become a champion or all the promising refinements EA Canada has made to the popular Legacy mode. Either way, we can’t wait to jump in the ring with the latest title from the critically acclaimed fighting series.
Dragon Age II ( March 8 )
Dragon Age won points for building on the classic Baldur’s Gate template, but looked like a last-gen game compared to BioWare’s other RPG, Mass Effect. For the sequel, the dev team is delivering graphics on par with its sci-fi counterpart, turning up the visual flare during combat, and telling a framed narrative about the Champion of Kirkwall that allows the team to skip the more tedious parts of being a hero to focus on the exciting moments.
Homefront ( March 8 )
As big fans of John Milius (the inspiration for the Walter Sobchak character in The Big Lebowski and real-life writer of Red Dawn, Apocalypse Now, and HBO’s Rome), we’re excited about this collaboration with Kaos Studios, the team that brought us the legendary Battlefield mod Desert Combat and Frontlines: Fuel of War. In this piece of near-future speculative fiction, the invading Koreans have the American army on the ropes, so it’s up to a rag-tag bunch of resistance fighters to drive them off the mainland.
Crysis 2 (March 22)
Console gamers finally get a chance to see what all the fuss is about when the sequel for this critical darling drops on all three platforms in March. The sequel trades the dense island jungle for the urban jungle of New York City. With most of the Big Apple in ruins, players don the uber-powerful Nanosuit to drive out the alien presence.
Portal 2 (April 20)
We hope GlaDOS stops toying with our heart and finally reboots her hard drive this April. After two delays, we’re not keen on waiting longer to jump back into Valve’s colorful world of death chamber puzzles. The promise of co-op gameplay only makes the allure stronger.
Red Faction: Armageddon (May)
Rather than offer you yet a another open world filled with buildings to destroy via the amazing physics-based destruction engine that debuted inRed Faction: Guerrilla, Armageddon is going underground. As the descendant of Alex Mason, players drill into the red planet and discover a lost world filled with menacing foes, new military technology, and claustrophobic caves that will have you praying for sunlight. And yes, the impressive destruction is back, too.
L.A. Noire (Spring)
It started as a Sony project and eventually moved over to Rockstar. Come this spring, Team Bondie’s L.A. Noire will finally escape development purgatory and land in your console. The facial animation technology has to be seen to be believed, and given Rockstar’s pedigree we’re confident the adventure-style case solving will make our stay in 1940s Hollywood an entertaining one.
Mortal Kombat (Spring)
After a wayward attempt at meshing Mortal Kombat with DC Comics, Ed Boon and co. are going back to what put them on the map – over the top fatalities and enough bloodshed to make parents’ groups the world over bust out their protest signs. A familiar cast of favorite characters returns, as does the pick up and play combat made famous in the first three entries in the series.
Forza Motorsport 4 (Fall)
As of now we don’t know much about Forza 4, but given Turn 10’s track record we expect a gorgeous game with a huge selection of drivable cars, deep customization options, and a robust multiplayer mode. You can also use Kinect to get a closer look at the impressive attention to detail Turn 10 puts into the cars.
Batman: Arkham City (Fall)
Rocksteady Studios stunned the world by releasing a good Batman game with Arkham Asylum, and for a followup it’s taking the caped crusader to the streets of Gotham. Following the destruction of Arkham, the government has turned a dilapidated section of the city into a massive prison. Batman thinks something’s amiss within the walls of the compound, and when he has a hunch he’s normally right.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (November 11)
You’ll have to wait until our next issue hits to learn the juicy details about the Bethesda’s latest mega-RPG, but having seen it in action we have no doubts that this game will win over fans of the series and impress anyone who sets eyes on it.
Gears of War 3 (Holiday)
Marcus and Dom return with a few new faces in tow to once again square off against the alien forces as humanity hovers dangerously close to extinction. The new four-player co-op mode will increase your military presence on the battlefield, but it won’t make the firefights any easier thanks to a new cast of bloodthirsty enemies called the Lambent. We’re also excited to play more of the new multiplayer option called Beast mode, which puts players on control of a Locust Horde as they attack the COG forces.
Mass Effect 3 (Holiday)
While Commander Shepard was doing the galaxy’s dirty work in Mass Effect 2, the crew stirred up a hornet’s nest of trouble and humanity is about to pay the ultimate price. The debut trailer showed the Collectors descending on Earth, with Shepard overlooking the invasion from the Normandy. We can’t wait to wrap up the trilogy and send Shepard out in style.
To be announced…
These games are scheduled to come out in 2011, but we don’t have a firm release date or time frame yet.
Assassin’s Creed III
Duke Nukem Forever
Max Payne 3