This generation has been harsh as far as RPGs are concerned. Sure we've had some great games in Dragon Age: Origins, Fallout 3 and Mass Effect but barring a handful of titles, it's been slim pickings. However all of that is about to change this year with a variety of sweet role-playing goodness apt for your most jaded, old-school RPG fan and newbies alike.
Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, Xbox360)
Known for its turn-based combat and epic story line, FFXIII seeks to keep the legendary plot the franchise is known for with a more active, almost real-time combat system so much so that it's been called Final Fantasy May Cry in a few quarters. The game sees you don the role of Lightning (just like Lara Croft but infinitely hotter) taking on the might of the Cocoon Military in what seems to be the trippiest art-directed FF world yet, Pulse.
Resonance of Fate (Xbox360, PS3)
You have to feel for publishers Sega. Here we have what's probably the freshest Japanese RPG in terms of concept and gameplay only to be out the same time as Final Fantasy. Packed with stellar gunplay, some interesting exploration options (where unlocking new areas is akin to putting together pieces of a puzzle, literally) and a wealth of gun customization, Resonance of Fate seems to be one of the more interesting RPGs out this year.
Fable 3 (Xbox360)
The Fable series has always been the RPG lover’s version of GTA or Saints Row except taking place in a more primitive era. With a rumored November release and the ability to import your Fable 2 saves, Fable 3 takes the series a step forward where not only do you liberate Albion (the staple location of the Fable series) but end up ruling it giving the game a part hack and slash RPG and part Civilization feel. The creator of the series, Peter Molyneux states that it’s got support for Project Natal as well giving an added impetus for the motion control curious among us.
Pokemon Heart Gold / Soul Silver (DS)
Being DS remakes of the GameBoy Color Pokemon Gold and Silver games it would be interesting to see if Nintendo adds anything new for its western release barring full compatibility with existing DS titles, namely Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, allowing you to capture Pokemon previously unavailable. Like the games before it, your character is that of a budding Pokemon trainer setting off on a quest to be the best there is. Expect the usual addictive Pokemon collecting experience that we’ve come to know and love since the days of the GameBoy, which is fantastic, if you have a social life you’re dying to get rid of.
Alpha Protocol (PS3, X360, PC)
Someone had the bright idea of mixing the gameplay of Mass Effect with the setting of a modern day spy flick that’s more Jason Bourne than James Bond. The result ended up being Alpha Protocol. While it’s been pushed back (rumor has it that focus groups felt the initial levels were too challenging) we’re anything but disturbed given that the team behind it, Obsidian Entertainment, has godlike pedigree in making great games such as Neverwinter Nights 2 and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2.
Fallout: New Vegas (PS3, X360, PC)
Another title from Obsidian Entertainment due this year, Fallout: New Vegas isn’t a sequel to the insanely popular Fallout 3 but rather another title based in the same universe. While details on the sequel have been scarce, expect the same visceral VATS combat system, barren wastelands, super mutants and open-ended gameplay we’ve come to know and love.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC)
The world’s favorite MMORPG is set for a massive overhaul this year with its third expansion pack, Cataclysm. Along with entirely redesigned areas, new races such as the Alliance Worgen and the Hoarde Goblins, a level cap raised to 85 and the ability to using flying mounts in Azeroth make this a must have for MMO fans. Cataclysm should be out this year though it’s a pity that Blizzard remains tight-lipped about the exact release date.
Dragon Age: Origins: Awakening (PS3, X360, PC)
Usually expansion packs for single-player RPGs aren’t all up to stuff but Awakening seems to have piqued our interest for reasons more than one. Try 5 new characters, a new realm, a metric-ton of new quests, new character classes and specializations, and the ability to import your Dragon Age: Origins save file (we’re seeing a lot of this feature on the list haven’t we?). Considering