Tom writes: A lot of websites would have looked back at the last year's annual preview feature series and decided to recycle it. After all, it was a good format, provoked lots of debate and allowed us to be all aloof and pretentious and that.
But then you don't read Eurogamer because it's a lot of websites. You probably don't read Eurogamer because we spend four days arguing about whether to ditch Star Attractions (we have) or change the format entirely either (we haven't), but then you're here now so you might as well persevere.
Also, not a lot of websites would have looked back at the last year's annual preview and been able to recycle it, but thanks to a number of optimistic selections (I Am Alive! The Agency! Gran Turismo!) we probably could have.
Several of our picks for 2009 also feature in this 2010 list, but you will probably agree that they are essential. If you don't, of course, you can always let us know in the comments, and let everyone know what else they should be keeping their eyes on. Hopefully we won't be wrong about one slightly boring prediction: 2010 should be an interesting year for games and game technology.
2009 looked like offering slender pickings for racing fans even before half the year's most exciting offerings got delayed (although the magnificent Forza Motorsport 3 tried very hard to plug the gap all on its lonesome and - for 360 owners, anyway - pretty much succeeded). The flipside, however, is a mouth-watering slate for 2010, steering away from simulation and towards the atavistic thrill of the arcade. The exception to that rule, of course, will come when Gran Turismo 5, the Moby Dick of racing games, finally breaks the surface this year. Probably.
"Activision Blizzard has bought its way straight into tarmac royalty," we wrote when including "Bizarre's mystery racer" in last year's Coming Attractions, but as it turned out, the Liverpool developer was fed up of ruling a small kingdom of racing elitists. Hands-on time with this fast and loose combat racer last spring suggested Bizarre hadn't quite perfected the pitch to its new mass-market constituency; the weapons lacked oomph, but that trademark, narcotic handling was in place and more than enough to keep our faith for now. The delay into 2010 and stated determination to perfect multiplayer can only be encouraging signs.
Another delayed star of last year's list, in a sense, although F1 2009 did make it out on Wii courtesy of Sumo Digital and turned out to be a surprisingly worthy stop-gap. We can probably expect a similar blend of authenticity and arcade from the born-again populists at Racing Studio, but this time presented by the dependably spectacular Ego Engine. The recent DiRT and GRID games inspire nothing but confidence, and it looks like being a sensational year in the real-world sport, too.
Gran Turismo 5
On: PS3 / Developer: Polyphony Digital / Publisher: Sony / Release: March 2010 (Japan), some time after March 2010 (North America and Europe)
"Really? Yes, really," we said last year, but we should have known Kazunori Yamauchi better than that. We can only imagine what esoteric tinkering is taking Polyphony's perfectionists so long, but they should probably hurry up before Turn 10's increasingly brilliant Forza Motorsport series saunters away with the last of the V8 thunder. You just know GT5 will be nothing less than the most obsessively complete digital love letter to the automobile ever composed though, and quite possibly peerless with a good wheel.
On: PS3 / Developer: United Front / Publisher: Sony / Release: 2010
This create-your-own kart racer was perhaps E3 2009's most pleasant surprise, not to mention the first original entry in the genre since Super Mario Kart created and perfected it in one go some 18 years ago. Authoring racing tracks is easier to grasp (conceptually, at least) than building a great platform game - but LittleBigPlanet showed that it pays to have great content on the disc, too, and that's where United Front has yet to prove itself.
Need For Speed
On: Unknown - but expect PC, PS3, 360 / Developer: Criterion / Publisher: EA / Release: 2010
Not a year goes by without the rebirth of EA's road-racing workhorse being promised - and with the sim-style SHIFT, 2009 came closer to fulfilling that promise than most - but this is the one we've really been waiting for. We only know one fact about it, but it's crucial - Burnout developer Criterion is on the case, and that studio's pedigree with high-impact arcade racing is second-to-none. Plus, studio boss Alex Ward teasingly mentioned the original 3DO version on Twitter. It's almost too much to bear.
Kicking off what could be a vintage year for arcade racing is this entry from Black Rock, which won our loyalty with 2008's terrific trickster Pure. Spectacular "powerplays" that bring the house (or aeroplane, or crane or cruise liner) down around you and your rivals' ears make an appealing Hollywood body-double for the usual mines and missiles. No surprise that Split/Second has proved a crowd favourite at recent public showings, including the Eurogamer Expo.
Also in 2010
The skilled hands at Sumo Digital should ensure SEGA & Sonic All-Stars Racing meets the mark for knockabout racing and silly fan-service; Avatars take to the wheel in both that game and Microsoft's micro-transaction driven XBLA outing, Joy Ride; TrackMania 2 is the long-awaited next step for the unique stunt-racing toyset, with Ubisoft backing this time; EA blends Most Wanted-style open-world racing with the Asian model for free-to-play massively multiplayer games in Need for Speed: World Online; serious rally fans disenchanted by DiRT can hold out hope for Black Bean's WRC; but first, Black Bean puts SBK X up against Capcom's MotoGP 09/10; and MX vs. ATV Reflex makes it to Europe in a few weeks' time.
An off-year for Infinity Ward means an on-year for everyone else, as the videogame industry unleashes the torrent of shooters it didn't dare put up against Modern Warfare 2. That phenomenon still casts a long shadow, however, not least over EA's attempt to claw back hearts and minds in Afghanistan with Medal of Honor, and whatever shape Activision's attempt to keep the Call of Duty franchise on a yearly schedule will take. The shooter's years of innovation may be over, but there's still ground to be broken, especially in online multiplayer: Brink, Lost Planet 2 and MAG all have some interesting answers.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
We know next to nothing about the solo campaign, but based on some hands-on time Bad Company 2 shouldn't have too much trouble clearing a niche for itself in multiplayer FPS combat, even alongside the mighty Modern Warfare 2. It's larger-scale and less frantic, with fantastic map design, and the disenfranchised private-server community on PC will flock to it in droves.
The West Coast splinter studio assembled to take BioShock over from its original creators in Boston undoubtedly has the ingenuity, intellect and skill to deliver another compelling FPS dystopia under the waves. Multiplayer is far from being the blasphemy we thought it might be, too. But with so much of BioShock's spellbinding appeal being down to an indefinable, fragile X-factor that must be as hard to reproduce as it is to define, we'll certainly be holding our breath on the way down.
Splash Damage, the modders-made-good behind the Enemy Territory games, attempt to turn their expertise in large-scale, objective-based multiplayer into a sort of holistic approach to FPS development - whereby co-op, competitive and solo gaming are seamlessly interchangeable, hot-swappable parts of the same whole. Brink is certainly forward-thinking, looks striking, has a (relatively) original setting, and promises to be the first game to really understand what Valve did right with Left 4 Dead.
Call of Duty
On: Unknown, but expect PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 / Developer: Unknown, probably Treyarch / Publisher: Activision Blizzard / Release: Unknown, probably 2010
The only completely unconfirmed game on this list, a new Call of Duty appearing before year's end is nonetheless a safer bet than many supposedly concrete prospects. The rumour mill suggests that, 65 years on, World War II is now officially over, and we'll be headed into the dense tangle of the Vietnam War (from which few games have emerged sane and whole - certainly not Rebellion's Shellshock series). Loose talk also has it that Infinity Ward is none too fond of Treyarch's stand-ins on the franchise, but Word at War's stellar sales and strong multiplayer shut many other critics up.
On: Xbox 360 / Developer: Bungie / Publisher: Microsoft / Release: Autumn 2010
Halo 3: ODST was made with such a light, playful touch you could almost mistake it as being offhand. In truth it was a clever game that was at its best when it was least like Halo, but that hardly satisfied fans' lust for more purple galactic ass-kicking. The prequel throwback of Reach seems designed to answer their desires, but you have to wonder if Bungie has enough time, or enough enthusiasm left in the tank, to pull it off.
Lost Planet 2
The insectoid enemies, mechs and crisp snowscapes are the same, but under the bonnet Capcom's sci-fi sequel is a little less Resident Evil and a little more Monster Hunter. Expect light RPG progression, customisable player characters and four-player co-op boss takedowns on an epic scale, with the online co-op extending across the whole campaign. Japan doesn't produce many top-drawer shooters or online hits, but this looks guaranteed to be both.
On: PS3 / Developer: Zipper Interactive / Publisher: Sony / Release: 29th January 2010
Word from the beta is that, when things really gel and players get organised, MAG is unlike anything else in multiplayer shooting. Battlefield's battlefields aren't too far removed in theory, but with fewer player-controlled vehicles and a more structured approach to maps and objectives, MAG is a bit more focused. Attempting to marshal the forces of up to 256 players, it will have to be.
Max Payne 3
He's back, he's bald, he's in Brazil, he's addicted to painkillers and there are third-person cover mechanics - which makes Max Payne 3 the bastard child of Heavy Rain, Gears of War and the favela level in Modern Warfare 2. It's probably going to hang together better than that would suggest, and hopefully better than the Mark Wahlberg movie. But it hasn't been seen in motion yet and original creators Remedy are busy with Alan Wake, so the jury is still out.
Medal of Honor
"Do as you would be done by," EA tells rivals Activision, as it attempts to steal the military FPS showboat back from the people who nicked Medal of Honor's schtick wholesale with the first Call of Duty. Unfortunately for EA, this time the developers themselves aren't up for grabs. DICE, taking Infinity Ward on in multiplayer, arguably has the harder job on its hands; Modern Warfare 2's swerve towards the fantastical makes room for EA LA's more down-to-earth take on Afghanistan, but it will need more sensitive handling than most of these games have managed in the past.
Coming in 2010
This month's Army of Two: The 40th Day may be no class act, but in terms of third-person, two-player co-op it still might be a tough act for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days to follow; Rebellion wants to revive past glories with Aliens vs. Predator, so here's hoping it's no Rogue Warrior; between Metro 2033 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat it's a crowded post-apocalypse in the former Soviet bloc; but if Homefront is anything to go by, America is more scared of North Korea these days; Singularity can't forget the Cold War either, even if it's through a sci-fi filter; Tecmo Koei tries to muscle in on the ballistic action with Quantum Theory; Wii owners can look forward to the Motion Plus-enabled Red Steel 2 and Conduit developer High Voltage's take on Left 4 Dead, The Grinder; Battlefield 1943 makes it onto PC, the original Perfect Dark turns up on XBLA; military simulation fans should look out for Tripwire's Red Orchestra: Heroes of Stalingrad; and isn't it time for another Ghost Recon? Come to that, what's Valve up to?
Probably not coming in 2010
SEGA will be looking to make the most of AVP and Gearbox will want to revel in the sleeper success of Borderlands a bit longer, so we doubt we'll be hearing anyone scream about Aliens: Colonial Marines this year; id's Rage is technically down for a 2010 release, but even if Carmack and company could make it, we think new owner Bethesda has enough going on with Brink and Fallout: New Vegas; and we have no info on Crysis 2's date, so we wouldn't be surprised if it was some time in 2011.
Join us again all week for more of our picks for 2010! Tell us what yours are below.