The 8 Most Promising Non-Sequels of 2008

  • Facebreaker (June, 360/PS3/Wii)

    To be fair, Facebreaker is a next-gen rip-off of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out for the NES, something EA Canada admits to. And that's not a bad thing given the game's focus on arcade approachability, exaggeration, counter punches, and over-the-top opponents. Assuming Facebreaker successfully updates the enjoyment of the 8-bit boxing classic with a fresh coat of paint and "facial deformation," we'll call it a knock-out.
  • Wii Fit (May 19, Wii)

    Wii Fit is the anomaly on our list and sticks out like a sore thumb for being more fitness gimmick than actual game. But it's an important release, nonetheless, given the introduction of the accompanying Balance Board which could end up popularising the world's first foot controller. What's more, a recent in-depth review of the Japanese version by Kotaku praised the software and peripheral, saying that bundled mini-games like ski jumping were "more fulfilling than Wii Sports" at times. Our flabby physique and imagination await.
  • Prototype (Oct 30, 360/PS3/PC)

    Prototype is a sandbox action title by Radical Entertainment, who developed the surprisingly enjoyable Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction in 2005. While retaining the same destructive super powers of the Hulk, Prototype lets players ravish a war-torn New York City like a shape-shifting cyborg from Terminator 2 who's keen on Parkour. In essence, Crackdown meets Assassin's Creed on steroids. Count us in.
  • Spore (Sep 7, PC/Mac)

    Will Wright's Spore is arguably the most ambitious video game in development, at least in terms of its massive scope. The title promises to be a full evolution of the god game genre, affording players the ability to nurture multiple species from a multi-cell organism to a land walking creature, and ultimately, space exploration and cultivation. Some fear the game may miss its spring release given its elephantine size, but hopefully it delivers on both its date and breadth.
  • De Blob (Jun 27, Wii)

    De Blob could be the first THQ game we've been excited for in... well, forever. This quirky platformer was conceived at Utrecht University by a group of student designers and has players tinting a monochrome world with a paint-absorbing blob (for which the game was named). It's quite a sight to see a drab cityscape go from grey to colour as the game progresses, and we're anxious to see the final result this winter.
  • Saboteur (TBA 2008, 360/PS3)

    Saboteur gets zero points for an original setting (it takes place in WWII Paris), but its objective-based twist on the Second World War has us excited for the prospects. Developed by Pandemic, this third-person shooter follows a single man as he tries to sabotage the Nazi regime to boost French morale and their "will to fight," a factor that transforms the visuals from dark and gloomy to vibrant color in real-time. Sounds intriguing, and it looks awfully beautiful.
  • LittleBigPlanet (September, PS3)

    Not only is LittleBigPlanet one of the most promising non-sequel games of 2008, it's one of the most promising games, period. Simply put, it's difficult to watch this game without wanting to play given its multiplayer focus, cooperative level design, fluid environments, and diorama-like HD graphics. Mario may have left the overworld a long time ago for galactic 3D platforming, but LittleBigPlanet looks to revive the 2D perspective with a highly creative and inviting style that's heavy on community.
  • 2008 may end up being the year of the sequel. Just listen to this lineup of high-profile follow-ups: Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Grand Theft Auto IV, Ninja Gaiden 2, StarCraft 2, Fallout 3, Metal Gear Solid 4, Resident Evil 5, Mario Kart Wii, Guitar Hero 4, Resistance 2, Gears of War 2, and Call of Duty 5. Hopefully these games warrant their existence, and we're confident many will.
    But what about new games, the ones that lead not just follow? Marketing types call them "original IPs;" we call them risk-takers. So in an effort to applaud their individuality, we profile the most promising ones for the rest of the year, based on first-impressions, breakout potential, and pedigree. A handful of titles are based on existing themes and ideas, but their creative spirit should not be overlooked.

  • Dead Space (Oct 31, 360/PS3/PC)

    Dead Space feels eerily similar to Aliens, but the introductory trailer and our first hands-on demonstrated a level of suspense, mood, and intensity we haven't seen in a while. The premise: the entire crew of a deep space mining ship has gone missing, and it's up to you, the sole survivor, to rid the vessel of alien baddies. It should be noted that EA's survival horror only marginally beat out Left 4 Dead (360/PC), the fast-paced Zombie Killer by Valve with a heavy focus on co-op play.
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