Diablo III (PC)Why get excited?
It's Diablo, why else? The prospect of StarCraft II was enough to have the TrustedReviews branch of the Blizzard fanclub drooling, but the announcement of a new Diablo has us in a frenzy of excitement. True, the series has never delivered the richest storylines or deepest gameplay, but Diablo and Diablo II did the slay monsters, grab loot, upgrade weapons, slay more monsters thing more brilliantly and addictively than any game before or since.
The focus of the third game remains heavily on action - get your mouse-clicking fingers warmed up now - and Blizzard hasn't abandoned its randomly generated dungeons or pushed the series in a more complex, or more narrative-driven direction. However, we can expect a larger, more coherent world that ties all those dungeons together, along with AI-driven special events that can be dropped into the world to up the challenge, change the pace or merely boost the atmosphere. And with a slick, spectacular, next-generation 3D engine, Diablo III looks streets ahead of any imitators.
Curb your enthusiasm?
Can Blizzard bring Diablo up to date without losing the magic? Can it produce a game that will satisfy the hardcore fans? Does the world need another Diablo in the age of MMOs and cinematic RPGs? Nobody knows, but we can't wait to find out.
God of War III (PS3)Why get excited?
God of War and God of War II made the PlayStation 2 look like a next-generation console. God of War creator David Jaffe is calling God of War III the best-looking video game he's ever seen (and he's not even working on the project). This could be a defining moment for Sony's console, and a game that proves the PS3 has the 3D power that Sony always claimed it had.
We're promised more of what we expect from the series - spectacle on a vast scale and bloodshed to match - but bigger and better than before, with Kratos taking on the gods of ancient Greece in one final battle for vengeance. Little is known about the content or gameplay, but this could well be the action game to beat in 2009.
Curb your enthusiasm?
With neither Jaffe nor GoWII director, Cory Barlog directly involved this time, will God of War maintain the vision of the first few games? Other developers have tried to match the games' epic scale and breathless pace, but most have fallen short. Can Sony's team do any better? Early footage shown so far has yet to convince us of the game's technical achievements, but this was only a glimpse. There is plenty of time for Kratos to carve his name in blood onto this console generation.
ETA: Late 2009