Thanks to the economic downturn, studio closures and layoffs, and a plethora of delayed and bumped releases, 2009 wasn't a year that many game companies will look back on warmly.
But with the new year comes new hope for the industry. 2010 appears to be stacked with significant games. And, unlike most years in which the majority of triple-A titles are released in the space of a few months during the fall, it's doubtful that even a month will go by without at least a couple of noteworthy games being released.
Here is a list of 40 games worth getting excited about this year.
Bayonetta (X360/PS3, January 5th)
This wildly over-the-top third-person action game in the style of Devil May Cry will be manna from heaven for people who are into watching ten-foot-tall stiletto-heeled boots plunge from the sky to impale demons.
Darksiders (PS3/X360, January 5th)
A post-apocalyptic action adventure game, Darksiders puts players in the role of one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse as he roams a decimated planet in search of the evil force that brought a premature end to the world.
Dark Void (PS3/X360/PC, January 12th)
Airtight Games' new flying shooter combines the arcade-like flight mechanics of Crimson Skies with the action sensibilities of a sci-fi FPS and throws in a little Nikola Tesla mythology to boot. Think of it as Rocketeer: The Video Game.
Army of Two: The 40th Day (PS3/X360/PC, January 12th)
The original Army of Two was a great concept-two guys against pretty much everyone-with middling execution. EA Montreal claims they have taken the criticisms leveled at it to heart. We'll see if that's true come next week.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii, January 26th)
One of the most mature Wii games to date gets a sequel in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, a gruesome slasher which, based on the level I previewed in December, features perhaps even more blood and profanity than the original.
Mass Effect 2 (X360/PC, January 26)
The second game in Bioware's planned trilogy of sci-fi role-playing games will build off the characters-and decisions-we made in the first game. Don't erase those old save files!
MAG (PS3, January 26th)
256 men and women on the same map blowing the crap out of each other. It's either going to be ridiculously fun or just plain ridiculous.
White Knight Chronicles: International Edition (PS3, February 2nd)
This luscious looking, category-defying role-playing game will let players adventure by themselves or with others in more than 50 optionally multiplayer quests.
Gran Turismo 5 (PS3, February 2nd)
Five years in the making, the latest entry in Sony's top-selling first-party franchise promises unparalleled car selection, driving physics, and graphical realism.
Star Trek Online (PC, February 2nd)
I'm not quite sure how this MMORPG fits into the franchise's official canon now that J.J. Abrams has erased much of the future that trekkies know and love, but it seems unlikely most players will care once they set foot on the bridge of their very own starship.
R.U.S.E. (PC/X360/PS3, February 2nd)
One of the most original looking real-time strategy games in years, R.U.S.E. uses authentic satellite maps, lets players zoom away from the world (revealing it to be a giant board game sitting on a table), and, for PC players, facilitates a touch screen interface.
Dante's Inferno (PS3/X360/PC, February 9th)
When I read Dante's Inferno in university, I never thought of it as a video game. Silly me. It's got levels, loads of death, and it takes place in Hell, a favourite setting for gamesmiths. Of course, I don't recall Dante Alighieri as being a muscle-bound, blade wielding, demon slaying warrior…
BioShock 2 (PS3/X360/PC, February 9th)
The sequel to one of my personal all-time favourite games, BioShock 2 features more fast-paced, philosophically tinged action set many leagues under the sea. And has some mean old Big Sisters, too.
Singularity (PC/PS3/X360, February 15th)
The shtick in this slick looking sci-fi first-person shooter from Ravensoft is that players bounce from 2010 to the 1950s and back again. The idea might not be all that original, but the graphics supporting it appear to be terrific.
Blur (PC/X360, February 15th)