Prince of Persia, Fable 2, GTA 4, Fallout 3 - how is 2009 possibly going to top the games of last year? Surely we've reached the pinnacled of gaming - what is there left to hope for?
To help y'all out, I've compiled a list of some stuff coming up in 2009 in the hopes of reawakening your lust to game.
Mirror's Edge DLC - Originally slated for January, these abstract new time trial maps are now coming February. Me and the other guy who cares will have ourselves a quiet party, and all you haters can enjoy a very special one-fingered salute.
House of the Dead: Overkill - House of the Dead does grindhouse. I wasn't entirely sure what it would take to get me excited about House of the Dead again, but this is apparently it. Besides, there's only so far you can go wrong with rail shooters about blasting zombies.
F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin - I wasn't crazy about the original, but Monolith has a strong enough record that I'm willing to give them another try. Maybe this time the spooky and the shooty will happen at the same time, rather than taking awkwardly paced turns.
Mario & Luigi RPG 3 - I didn't like Partners In Time, but on their next adventure Mario and Luigi have gotten themselves swallowed by a giant-sized Bowser! You have to co-ordinate Bowser in the real world with the brothers' adventures through his intestines. That sounds like a joke, but I'm serious. What's not to love?
The Sims 3 - Functionally identical to The Sims 2 but using up more of your CPU power! What manner of monster can say no to that deal?
Dawn of War 2 - I never really played the original Dawn of War but I hear people loved it. Presumably they'll also love the sequel.
50 Cent: Blood On The Sand - Hip-hop star 50 Cent and the street-savvy crew of the G-unit take it to the war-torn streets of the Middle East in order to hunt down a valuable golden skull. For serious. Voted "Most Probably Hilarious Train Wreck of 2009" by The Dust Forms Words.
Halo Wars - The people who made Age of Empires bring Microsoft's golden goose to the world of console-based real-time strategy. I'm cautiously optimistic about both the control scheme and the game itself. Even if it's bollocks, you can bet it will be bigger than Jesus.
Resident Evil 5 - Hands up if you are ready to shoot some undead black men right in the face. Capcom have correctly identified that what the zombie genre was missing was a sense of niggling fear that exterminating the undead caused you to be a gun-toting racist.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - Rockstar has realised that the DS, the best-selling console of this generation, doesn't have a single Rockstar game in its library, and they're busily fixing that with some yawn-seen-it-all-before GTA action. If you've played a GTA game this decade, don't hold your breath. Otherwise, you're in for a treat!
MadWorld - Best described as Sin City meets The Running Man, stylised black-and-white schlockfest MadWorld has been getting a lot of interest, and in March we get to see if it lives up to the hype.
Hydrophobia - Flood-based disaster survival. I'm really behind the idea of disaster survival as a genre, I think it could be the next big thing, so I've quietly got my fingers crossed for Hydrophobia.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion - Actually there's no release date on this yet but given where its press is up to and how it's looking in pre-release press I'd say Q2 2009 is a good bet.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game - Bill Murray should be an unlockable character in every game.
Blood Bowl - Can you believe someone's doing an adaptation of Games Workshop's fantasy football game Blood Bowl? Don't get too excited - it's by "creators of nothing you've ever heard of" Paris-based outfit Cyanide.
Batman: Arkham Asylum - Mark Hamill reprising his role as the Joker. There's a lot of quiet hope that this will be the definitive Batman videogame. I wait to be convinced.
Brutal Legend - Jack Black, Tim Schaeffer and the eternal spirit of heavy metal combine to give us this totally extreme metal-themed brawler. It's been a battle for this thing to actually reach publication but it's in the home stretch now.
Halo: ODST - The stand-alone Halo 3 expansion is sure taking a bunch of time to come out. Frankly, I'm a bit Halo-saturated right now and it's a little difficult to get excited but maybe I'll change my mind by August.
I Am Alive - Another entry in the growing list of disaster-survival games. Again, I'm cautiously hopeful, but it's by one of Ubisoft's less accomplished studies so it's more likely to be shovelware.
Hitman 5 - Some of you out there will be excited about this. Yeah, you know who you are.
InFamous - Looks like a cross between Jumper and The Force Unleashed. Big, showy, destruction based super-powers are the go. Might be excellent.
The Conduit - It's a shooter, it's on the Wii, and it looks half decent. That's really all it needs to stand out as a unique and quirky title.
Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams - Stop getting excited, people! This is being developed by a different team to the first one, being California based 2K Marin, and that very rarely spells good news for a franchise.
Dante's Inferno - The team behind Dead Space adapt middle-ages Italian religious allegory into a survival horror title. I'm frankly amazed this doesn't happen more often.
Dragon Age - Bioware's business strategy has been to move away from reliance on other people's IP and develop their own unique franchises. In that light, you can see generic-but-probably-brilliant fantasty title Dragon Age as them doing Neverwinter Nights minus the D&D name.
God of War 3 - If you've played any of the previous two-and-a-half God of War games you've got a fair idea of what you're in store for with the new one. That's right - quick time events and horribly broken platforming! (And, I guess, some pretty awesome hacking-things-up-with-swords.)
Mass Effect 2 - Apparently we should hang onto our save files because all those universe shaping choices we made in the original are going to keep having consequences into the sequel. Now that's what I'm talking about.
Overlord 2 - I ended up liking the first Overlord game, and with the same team involved the sequel can only be an improvement, right?
Bayonetta - The guy who created Devil May Cry is doing Devil May Cry again, only with a chick. What's not to like?
This Year If We're Lucky
Aliens: Colonial Marines - Gearbox and Sega do their take on the classic film franchise. It's had a troubled development history but maybe 2009 is the year for it to finally reach store shelves.
Alan Wake - Developers Remedy (creators of Max Payne) had better damn well release this thing in 2009 or it's going to be declared vaporware. It's already two years overdue, and if it weren't such a bold idea I would have given up on it long ago.
Heavy Rain - Speaking of chronically overdue story-driven innovative platform exclusives, where the hell is Heavy Rain? Still no official release date from developer Quantic Dream, although a steady trickle of publicity images suggests it's still under construction.
Half-Life 2 Episode 3 - The conclusion to Valve's epic saga has been in the works since 2007; with no showing at E3 2008 and no announcement of a release date it's anyone's guess as to when we'll actually see the thing. I'm putting my money on it being bundled with Portal 2 or Left 4 Dead 2 in the same way that they released Episode 2 in The Orange Box.
Portal 2 - They cast voice actors in June last year, so the odds of a 2009 release are good. On the other hand, Valve has never come within spitting distance of releasing a game on time, so don't be surprised to see this delayed another year.
Rock Band: Beatles - Okay, it's not actually called Rock Band: Beatles, but it's a game using the Rock Band engine developed by the Rock Band guys that will showcase the Beatles. Harmonix have said no new Rock Band in 2009, but then this isn't a Rock Band title, is it?
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days & Birth By Sleep - The new DS and PSP Kingdom Hearts games will almost certainly be out in Japan by year's end, but translation delays mean we'll only have them in English by Christmas if we're very, very lucky.
LA Noire - The title really says it all; it's by Rockstar, and it's due some time this year. Personally I'm betting on the thing being further delayed or vaporware, but I guess we'll find out.
Pikmin 3 - I love how with Nintendo games you don't really need to see anything more than the title to know what will be going on inside. It's Pikmin, people. Pikmin 3.
StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty - Look - it's got a subtitle! So that we won't get it confused with all those other StarCraft 2 games, I guess.
Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday - Actually we probably won't ever see this in the West, let alone this year, but I just love reminding everyone that Squeenix are making a new Parasite Eve game. In your face, everyone who never played the first two.
Final Fantasy XIII - Japan are probably getting it at Christmastime, which means the West will see it some time in, oh... 2013? Epic localisation delays are a constant source of frustration for these sort of things but if you have a modded PS3 and a fluency in Japanese you could beat the curve by importing, I guess. Hey, did you hear that Shiva is now a pair of sexy summonable sisters that transform into a motorcycle? And who says Final Fantasy doesn't innovate any more?
I've deliberately left the MMOs off the list; I don't expect many of them to actually make it onto shelves, and even fewer of those that do to survive six months. You'd have to be crazy developing a new MMO in this market. Anyway, what are you excited about for gaming in 2009?