2000 looks like being a bumper year for games, so the staff of EuroGamer have sifted through the detritus to pick out a few of our tips for the top...
Mat Bettinson, our gaming evangelist with a goatee, is looking forward to Team Fortress from Valve Software. Based on an improved version of the already highly modified Quake engine seen in Half-Life, Team Fortress promises to be a classic multiplayer team game.
For those of you new to first person shooters, Team Fortress was one of the most popular mods for QuakeWorld "back in the day", and any number of mods inspired by (and in some cases simply cloning) it have appeared for Quake 2, Half-Life, and Starsiege Tribes since then.
"We seriously need a new class-based / squad-based game with proper net multiplayer", Mat told us. "Team Fortress Classic and Counter-Strike prove how popular the notion is, for people to put up with such broken netcode."
Let's just hope that Valve manage to fix Half-Life's substandard multiplayer code for the new game...
Renegade, Halo, Tribes 2
While Mat is waiting for Team Fortress, personally I'm holding on for an unholy trinity of other squad based games due in the next year...
First up is Renegade, a first person shooter set in the Command & Conquer universe. The game will feature a strong single player campaign in which you play a lone commando sent to raise hell behind enemy lines, but what really has me excited is the potential of the multiplayer part of the game.
This should offer Team Fortress style teamplay, but with vast outdoors arenas, and the ability to drive around in any of the vehicles from the original Command & Conquer.
Another game which should raise a storm next year is Halo from Bungie, the brains behind Myth, and the classic Marathon series on the Mac.
Halo will be one of the first games to take full advantage of the hardware T&L acceleration offered by NVIDIA's GeForce 256, and has some of the most beautiful graphics seen in a first person game so far.
Just like Renegade, Halo will feature lots of wide open spaces and rolling terrain to fight over, the ability to drive around in a wide range of vehicles, and realistic physics.
Then of course there is Tribes 2, the sequel of the original multiplayer-only first person shooter set in the great outdoors. With a new improved graphics engine, numerous gameplay tweaks, more vehicles (you see a pattern emerging here?), and a new race to play, this is another game to keep an eye on!
All in all, fans of squad based multiplayer games should have a great time in 2000, with Team Fortress, Tribes 2, Halo and Renegade all due for release over the next twelve months.
Duke Nukem Forever
"Duke Nukem Forever. Hail to the King baby!"
So says Nick Loman. And who can blame him for getting excited at the prospect of a new Duke Nukem game based on the gorgeous 3D engine used by Unreal Tournament?
The Duke first appeared in a series of shareware platform games, before starring in the hit first person shooter, Duke Nukem 3D. Duke's graphics might have been a little primitive compared to id Software's Quake (which was released shortly after it), but the game still sold by the bucketload and earned itself a cult following, because the Duke had one thing which id games have always lacked - character!
Well, that and the real world settings. And the interactivity. And the strippers. And beer. And toilets you can piss in. And a shrink ray. And a (juvenile) sense of humour. And .. well, you get the idea.
Duke Forever should bring a breath of fresh air to the first person shooter genre in 2000 .. assuming it is actually released! The game has been in development for what seems like eons, and the release date is still the traditional "When it's done".
Another promising game which 3D Realms have a hand in is Max Payne, a third person shooter currently under development in the frozen wastes of Finland by Remedy.
Our hardware specialist, Peter Male, has his eye on this one. "Looking at 3D Mark 2000, which uses the same engine technology as Max Payne, I think that Remedy's first game will be truly awesome."
It certainly looks the part graphically speaking, with a gorgeous new 3D engine, detailed textures, and one of the best particle systems we've ever seen in a game. The muzzle flashes from guns are quite something...
Add to that the ugly-beautiful New York settings, a strong plot, "realistic" weapon effects, and over the top John Woo-style gun fights featuring slow motion replays and plenty of guns-a-kimbo action, and this is one action game that should stand out from the crowd.
Black & White
For those of you living under a rock in Outer Mongolia, Black & White is a strategy game from Lionhead Studios, and the brainchild of the man who invented the God Sim, Peter "Populous" Molyneux.
"The guy's got so much creativity and vision, and Black & White is his first game for 4 years", EuroGamer regular Geoff Richards drools. "That's a statement in itself."
"When you take a look at the game itself it's amazing - jaw-dropping graphics, oozing originality, and so open-ended that you could probably play it forever."
We should be able to find out for ourselves some time in the next few months hopefully... But if it lives up to even half of the hype it should be well worth a look.
Star Trek : New Worlds
One for real time strategy fans and Trek fanatics alike, New Worlds is an ambitious 3D strategy game which allows you to play as Federation, Klingon, or Romulan, exploiting strange new worlds, and annihilating their other inhabitants.
Ground combat hasn't played a big part in Star Trek movies and TV series, and this has given the developers a free hand to develop new units and buildings for the game. They maintain a definite Trek feel though, and it is easy to identify at a glance which race each belongs to if you are at all familiar with the Star Trek universe.
Unfortunately the game's original developers, Britain's Binary Asylum, were kicked off the project after "creative differences" a few months ago, but from what little we have seen of the game since then it doesn't look as if publisher Interplay has changed too much...
The graphics look gorgeous, the gameplay seemed solid, and the plot promises to be full of the requisite twists and turns. Hopefully we should see the end result some time early in the new year.
Baldur's Gate was one of the best computer RPGs of recent times, a traditional elf-fest based on the "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" rule set and featuring a massive play area, dozens of side quests, and an immersive storyline.
Unfortunately it was ruined (for me at least) by design flaws, the most obvious being that some idiot decided to set half the game in twisty tunnels and claustrophobic caves, when the AI couldn't path find its way out of a paper bag. The result was endless frustration as your characters got lost and danced around each other in the corridors trying to get from A to B.
Luckily the AI is one of the main things that developers BioWare and Black Isle Studios are promising to fix in the original game's follow-ups, and if they succeed we should be in for a real treat...
First past the post is Planescape Torment, based on the Baldur's Gate engine. It is already available in the USA, and due for release in Europe in early January. With a more sinister setting, a cast of strange characters, and a story based around an amnesiac immortal trying to rediscover his identity, it looks like a refreshingly adult RPG.
Also in development is a full sequel to the original game, "Baldur's Gate 2 - Shadows Of Amn", which should provide more of the same, but with a new plot, better graphics, and even more areas to explore.
Finally there is Icewind Dale, based on an enhanced version of the Baldur's Gate engine and set in the far north of the Forgotten Realms. With a new story, new characters, and six main locations featuring fifty levels of dungeons to explore, it should be a treat for dungeon crawlers everywhere .. if the developers manage to fix the pathfinding AI!
Anachronox and Deus Ex
IonStorm have gained notoriety over the last few years, with their games being repeatedly delayed and failing to make deadline after deadline. But while repeated mass walkouts have dogged Daikatana, and most of us try to forget the decidely mediocre Dominion, Ion Storm's other games are still looking very promising.
Anachronox is a console style RPG based on a highly modified version of the Quake 2 engine, with beautiful and bizarre settings, and a massive story from the brain of Tom Hall. If it ever sees the light of day it should be well worth a look.
Meanwhile Warren Spector and his team have been quietly working away on Deus Ex, an impressive looking first person RPG based on the Unreal engine and set in the near future.
A conspiracy theorist's dream (or should that be nightmare?), the world of Deus Ex is a dark and sinister place full of corruption, secret government agencies, and all the conspiracies you would expect from a whole season of the X-Files. But without any aliens.
John "Gestalt" Bye