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The Most-Awaited Games Of 2009: Xbox 360

The Most-Awaited Games Of 2009: Xbox 360 Exclusive

January 6, 2009 | By Eric Caoili

January 6, 2009 | By Eric Caoili
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

With nearly a full year of of game releases ahead, Gamasutra is picking out noteworthy titles due in 2009 for each home and handheld platform, beginning with the Xbox 360.

The oldest seventh-generation home console on the market, the Xbox 360 has had time to establish itself as the core alternative to the market-leading Wii with its slate of shooters and RPGs.

The console is also dulling Sony's thunder by securing previously PS3-exclusive games from Asian developers, such as Final Fantasy XIII and Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion.

We've previewed a diverse selection of the system's prominent games for 2009, fifteen in all, representing retail releases and downloadable titles, from multiplatform games to console-exclusives.

The titles picked reflect not only the most anticipated releases for the Xbox 360 by consumers, but also the most significant games for the platform in 2009.

Aliens: Colonial Marines (also coming to PS3, PC)
Release Date: 2009
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: Sega

In this first-person shooter, players command a squad of four space marines against facehuggers, double-mouthed beasts, and other terrifying xenomorphs.

The game features a script penned by Battlestar Galactica writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, and will charge the squad with searching out Ellen Ripley and the soldiers lost during the events in the action classic Aliens.

Alpha Protocol (also coming to PS3, PC)
Release Date: Summer
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Sega

Coming off Star Wars: KOTOR II and Neverwinter Nights 2, Obsidian takes on a contemporary setting with its next action RPG. Alpha Protocol follows a rogue CIA agent as he goes undercover to investigate a government conspiracy, combining espionage elements and spy gadgets with modern RPG conventions.

Players can advance skills that better fit their preferred play style, placing more emphasis on stealthy gadget use, hand-to-hand combat, or gunplay.

Bayonetta (also coming to PS3)
Release Date: September 1st
Developer: PlatinumGames
Publisher: Sega

Though there are still a lot of details yet to be released for Bayonetta, expectations are understandably high seeing as Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya is directing the project.

The action game's eponymous witch protagonist packs two sets of pistols -- one pair attached to her high heels -- which she uses to dispatch monsters disguised as angels.

Borderlands (also coming to PS3, PC)
Release Date: 2009
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games

Inspired by the Mad Max films and Blizzard's Diablo games, Borderlands is a four-player cooperative first-person shooter with RPG elements.

Players ride in customizable vehicles and explore a lawless, desolate planet filled with randomly generated areas and items (500,00+ weapons, 500,000+ items and armor variations), in search of a vault promising alien technology and secrets.

Brtal Legend (also coming to PS3)
Release Date: Autumn
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Despite weathering a period of publisher limbo, Brutal Legend will see a release this year courtesy of Electronic Arts, much to the relief of Tim Schaefer's and Double Fine's fans.

The lighthearted action adventure game stars a heavy metal band roadie voiced by actor Jack Black, who wields a giant battle axe and a magical guitar against a wild assortment of demons and other-world creatures that've enslaved the human race.

Final Fantasy XIII (also coming to PS3)
Release Date: No date announced for U.S. (2009 in Japan)
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIII's Xbox 360 release in 2009 might be unlikely, but so was the idea that this powerhouse RPG would appear on any non-Sony console!

The game brings back a modified version of FFXII's Active Time Battle system, and stars Lightning, a heroine designed as the female version of FFVII's Cloud Strife, also wielding a combined gun/sword weapon that can manipulate gravity.

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
Release Date: February 17th
Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games

The first episode of Grand Theft Auto IV's exclusive downloadable Xbox Live content, The Lost and Damned introduces a new main character, Johnny Klebitz, a member of Liberty City biker gang The Lost.

The episode's plot intersects with GTA IV's main storyline and include new missions, multiplayer modes, weapons, vehicles, and music.

Halo 3: ODST
Release Date: Autumn
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Halo 3: ODST is a standalone expansion taking place in New Mombasa, Kenya and following the events leading up to the main game.

Fighting off a Covenant expansion as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper and not the familiar Master Chief, players are more vulnerable to enemy fire and have to move around more stealthily to survive. Fortunately, they'll have the guidance of Superintendent, a city maintenance AI helping lead players to their lost squadmates.

Halo Wars
Release Date: March 3rd
Developer: Ensemble Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

The last project from Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios, this spin-off game is a real-time strategy title set in the Halo universe. Players command armies and their vehicles for either the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) or the Covenant on the colony world Harvest.

Halo Wars features a control scheme specifically designed for the Xbox 360 controller, with Ensemble reportedly working on the controls for six months before even approaching Microsoft about the game.

Ninja Blade
Release Date: No date announced for U.S. (January in Japan)
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

While it may suffer an awfully generic title, Ninja Blade delivers an exciting God of War-style experience on the Xbox 360 with Quick Time Events for brutal boss fights and interactive cut scenes.

The action title also features vertical combat scenes that have the game's ninja hero running down the walls of Tokyo's skyscrapers and surfing on launched missiles.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (also coming to PC, DS)
Release Date: Early 2009
Developer: Infinite Interactive
Publisher: D3 Publisher

Much like its addictive predecessor Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, Galactrix is a puzzle/RPG/strategy hybrid, except set in space. Players pilot and customize different ships, conquering the galaxy and fighting other crafts through Hexic-styled puzzle battles.

In addition to its main campaign mode, this XBLA game will have online multiplayer for 2-4 people and downloadable content for extra ships, items, plans, planets, factions, and missions..

Resident Evil 5 (also coming to PS3)
Release Date: March 13th
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

With almost four years past since the acclaimed Resident Evil 4 debuted on the GameCube, Chris Redfield, one of the heroes in the original Resident Evil, returns in the latest entry to the series, now a Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance investigating a zombie outbreak in Africa.

Redfield is accompanied by Sheva Alomar, a BSAA member who provides by ammo and support. Their cooperative dynamic continues with online and offline multiplayer co-op modes.

Space Invaders Extreme (also available for DS, PSP)
Release Date: 2009
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix

We voted the DS version of Space Invaders Extreme as the top handheld game of the year, but the forthcoming XBLA release seeks to improve on the formula with four-player co-op and background visualizers created by Llamasoft's Jeff Minter.

Those new features come in addition to the revitalized classic's techno soundtrack, clever boss fights, new power-up/level-up system, new enemy types, and branching stages.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Release Date: March 3
Developer: tri-Ace
Publisher: Square Enix

Promising a more science fiction-focused plot than previous entries, Star Ocean: The Last Hope has players venturing to different solar systems in search of a new home for humanity, following a World War that left Earth in ruins.

The RPG series' real-time battle system returns in this installment, but adds a Rush Gauge feature enabling characters to pre-emptively strike against enemies, and a Sight In/Sight Out system with which players can counter enemies by leaving their line of sight.

Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion (also available for arcade and coming to PS3)
Release Date: October 2009
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai

Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion's significance on this list lies in its appearance on a non-Sony home console for the first time in the series.

Refining the original Tekken 6 fighting game released only in Japan in 2007, Bloodline Rebellion adds new stages, items, artwork, and customization options, as well as two new characters -- a female cyborg with jet wings and yet another Mishima.

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