If you thought gamers were spoilt for choice in 2008, you ain't seen nothin' yet, with 2009 already shaping up to give last year a run for its money. While your mind may immediately latch onto the big budget titles from players like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, there are also plenty of quality titles coming from our own local development studios. We've taken a look at what the major Aussie teams are working on this year, and which ones are showing promise for '09 and beyond.
Studio Oz (THQ): the team up in Brisbane is currently at work on an as yet unannounced title. While it hasn't been detailed yet, the cat may have been let out of the bag recently when this video found its way onto the internet. If the rumours are to be believed, then this early look at a third-person Warhammer 40k combat title for the Xbox 360 is already one to keep an eye on. Mixing ranged and melee combat with a focus on "intimate brutality", it looks a little bit like Gears of War and a lot of awesome.
Blue Tongue: down in Melbourne the good folks at Blue Tongue — the studio responsible for 2008's well received de Blob — are hard at work on a new project. Details haven't been made publicly available, but if the rumblings we hear are anything to go by, expect something epic to be announced soon.
Get your steampunk on with Edge of Twilight. (Credit: GameSpot AU)
FuzzyEyes: the Brisbane studio responsible for upcoming steampunk action title Edge of Twilight continues to forge ahead. The game will focus on exploring both day and night play, with each providing their own unique combat and complementary art styles. There's no firm shelf date yet, but Edge of Twilight should be hacking and slashing its way onto the Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 platforms later this year.
Creative Assembly: working on a massive strategy double hitter, CA is primed to ship both Empire: Total War and its brand new IP, Stormrise, in March of this year. Whether you lean more towards Empire's historic naval battle gameplay or Stormrise's post apocalyptic sci-fi future and real-time strategy, you're bound to have your bases covered when these titles hit shelves in 2009.
CA goes the console RTS route with Stormrise. (Credit: GameSpot AU)
Team Bondi: L.A. Noire has been kicking around at Sydney developer Team Bondi for a while now. Though the project remains shrouded in mystery beyond some scant details — it's an open world detective game set in the 1940s — little else is known. Late in 2007, publisher Rockstar Games confirmed the game had slipped back to fiscal year 2009. Though it's known to be in development for the PlayStation 3, rumours also abound it could be headed to other next-gen consoles and the PC. Will it ship this year? We'll find out soon enough.
Infinite Interactive: 2007 saw acclaimed Aussie-developed puzzle/RPG title Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords scoop the pool to win five gongs at the annual Game Developer Association of Australia (GDAA) awards. This year is pencilled in to be when the next evolution of the series is due to hit. Puzzle Quest: Galactrix doesn't look to be a huge departure from the previous title, but will feature a sci-fi theme storyline and expands the familiar colour matching mechanic from the first game to use hexagonal shaped tiles. Prepare to have your free time eaten all over again.
Puzzles. The final frontier. These are the adventures of Puzzle Quest Galactrix. (Credit: GameSpot AU)
Krome: 2009 is shaping up to be a busy year for Krome with Steve Stamatiadis' original IP Blade Kitten due out on as yet unknown platforms. Set on planet DUAL CORE, you'll take control of main character Kit Ballard (who is half cat and half human) as you roam around hunting mechs. Steve is also the brains behind Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, so we're quietly optimistic about the project. Though North America received it in October '08, this year we may see Scene It?: Box Office Smash launch locally. The Krome crew is also working on three brand new unannounced titles, which we're hoping to find out more as the year unfolds.
Pandemic: while Saboteur — the studio's unique third-person action title set in World War II — will be getting the majority of the public love as it nears its Q1 2009 launch window, there's plenty of other stuff in the works at Pandemic HQ down under. There's no word on whether there'll be a Mercenaries 3 yet, but they do have three soon-to-be announced projects on the backburner. No platforms or other details are available, but if their corporate website is to be believed, projects B, Q and Z (could it be ZOMBIES!?) are their most advanced and ambitious titles to date, and are set to revolutionise gaming.
Colour is an important part in the Nazi-killing Saboteur. (Credit: GameSpot AU)
2K Australia: though the development team at Canberra's 2K Australia studio helped work on BioShock, word on the grapevine is that the team won't have any involvement in the sequel which is due out later this year. They are, however, currently at work on an as yet unannounced project which we'll be following with much interest.
Sidhe: they're not technically an Aussie studio since they're based in New Zealand, but we'll claim them as one of ours. Sidhe currently has five unannounced titles in production made up of a mix of licensed and original IP — including a co-production with another developer. The teams are hard at work producing games for the PS3, PSP, Wii, 360 and PC. While they're staying tight-lipped for the moment on the particulars, we do know the games are a mix of traditional retail and downloadable products.
Nnooo: building an empire on bursting bubbles, Sydney developer Nnooo has published its game Pop on the Nintendo Wii's WiiWare platform. In early January, the company took the game mobile by porting it to the iPhone, and now the studio is kicking around the idea of a DS port. Not content to rest on its laurels, Nnooo is also currently prototyping a brand new IP with multiplayer focused gameplay. Nnooo might be small, but they're certainly one to watch this year.
Watch the canopy Goose! Transmission will deliver Heroes Over Europe this year. (Credit: GameSpot AU)
Transmission Games: the shells may be lying rusted and buried, but the games industry continues to turn a profit with games set during World War II. Aussie-developed title Heroes Over Europe puts you in the boots of three aerial aces as you battle for the rights to the sky. If you're done with treading the trenches and want a better view of the battlefield, this one might be for you when it lands in the first quarter of 2009. The Transmission Games site is also currently teasing a new project that appears to be called Rotorhead. While the details are practically non-existent, the team's experience with planes means it's not too far-fetched to think it could be a helicopter piloting sim. Either that or an underground street racer?
Tantalus: Melbourne studio Tantalus is probably best known for its work on kid-friendly handheld titles like Pony Friends, Jimmy Neutron: Attack of the Twonkies, and the Spyro series. Though no announcements have been made about the company's 2009 titles, if history is any indicator, it's probably absurd to expect them to be at work on a next-gen murder simulator or sports titles. But stay tuned and we'll bring you all the latest info as it comes to hand.