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Sequels dominate the most anticipated video games of 2011

Judging by the e-mails I've gotten, a lot of you were wondering when (and if) the 2010 installment of my annual best-of column ran in tbt*, but you're not imagining things: I didn't write one.

Game criticism is tough, given how partial players are not only to titles, but also genres, presentation and even publishers. I decided to forgo a list of what I liked — Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption and, contrary to popular assessments of my prior comments about it, Halo: Reach — and what I didn't, choosing now to focus on what we have to look forward to this year, if for no other reason than I don't want to argue about how Call of Duty: Black Ops' multiplayer is why you buy the game or how Sony's Move is way better than Microsoft's Kinect.

Instead, let's look at the cornucopia of notable sequels coming to consoles this year — at least, the ones with announced release dates. Yes, I know, I could rail about how there are no new ideas, but remember: Each of these titles started out as a new IP, too, so there's always hope.

Little Big Planet 2 (PS3; Jan. 18) Sony continues to bank on its highly successful platformer, this time focusing even more on user-generated content than before. The game came out Tuesday, so we'll have to wait a couple more days to see how initial sales are doing, but the game is solid and the commercials with Kevin Butler have been great.

Dead Space 2 (360, PS3, PC; Jan. 25) Protagonist Isaac Clarke is back from the Ishimura, but apparently left his brains with the Necromorphs back on the ship. Now they're coming to visit him on a space station near Jupiter. The downloadable demo really showcases the further scares he faces, as well as the unsettling feeling that Isaac may not have many marbles left.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (360, PS3; Feb. 15) After 10 years, we finally get to pit Marvel's Wolverine against Street Fighter's Ryu again. And thanks to the power of the Internet, we'll be able to download Resident Evil's Jill Valentine and Marvel's Shuma-Gorath, too!

Killzone 3 (PS3; Feb. 22) The Helghast were ready to wipe out the ISA forces invading their planet at the end of Part 2, which has turned out to be one of the most dynamic and engrossing shooters on the PS3 to date. Now, with more locations, Move-enabled controls and a storyline that perhaps won't be as anemic as last time. Like anyone really cared about the story — just give us more space Nazis to shoot.

Dragon Age II (360, PS3, PC; March 8) After Mass Effect 2, Bioware proved they're the go-to house of action RPGs. Now the dialogue wheel returns to the world of Dragon Age: Origins. If only Martin Sheen could have been in this series, too.

Crysis 2 (360, PS3, PC; March 22) Yes, it's another FPS with a guy in a supersuit battling an alien invasion, but man, CryEngine 3 makes the move from the jungle to New York look so good …

Portal 2 (360, PS3, Mac, PC; April 18) It will likely be more of the same as 2007's sleeper hit from The Orange Box, but now you can bring a friend along for this puzzler. That'll help, considering it's supposed to be twice as long as the original.

Resistance 3 (PS3; Sept. 6) Nathan Drake is long dead and the Chimera are taking over the planet. What else can you do but grab your '50s-era automatic weapons and try to fight back? Plus, this one has a solid release date and Gears of War 3 doesn't.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3; Nov. 1) Since we'll have to suffer through a feature-length version of this starring Mark Wahlberg, it may be best to forget what happens on the silver screen and focus on the interactive adventure. Following in Lawrence of Arabia's footsteps will be exciting — but don't get on that Brough Superior.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC; Nov. 11) In case you still have some free time come the fourth quarter, Bethesda has decided to let you deal with a civil war set 200 years after Oblivion. Hopefully you haven't missed this and every other game by burning your eyes out playing Nintendo's 3DS back in February.

— Joshua Gillin writes about video games and entertainment news for tbt*. Feel free to challenge his opinions at jgillin@tampabay.com.

Sequels dominate the most anticipated video games of 2011 01/19/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 2:00pm]

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