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"Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds" will be out Feb. 15.

Sometimes more of the same isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Gamers are about to be hit with sequels to some of the best-selling titles of the last several years, said local video-game enthusiast Danny Barnes.

"It's a completely different focus to (compared) to last year," Barnes said. "Last year, you saw a lot of new (titles) coming out like 'Bayonetta' (but) this year, it seems like older titles are coming back with new and better game mechanics."

Here are 10 pending releases, from existing franchises and new intellectual properties, that gamers can look forward to in the coming months.


'Mass Effect 2'

• Release date: Tuesday

• Summary: The second title in Bioware's epic sci-fi trilogy is set just after the conclusion of the 2007 original. Players resume control of Commander Shepard as he or she assembles a new team to investigate abductions taking place on outlying human colonies.

• Why it's hot: When it was released as an Xbox 360/PC exclusive last January, "Mass Effect 2" received critical acclaim, including several game-of-the-year awards, for a storyline driven by player choices and gameplay addressing complaints leveled at the 2007 original. The game's debut on a non-Microsoft platform will also include bonus content such as an interactive graphic novel to replicate choices players would otherwise have made while playing the Xbox 360-only original.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60, PS3.


'LittleBigPlanet 2'

• Release date: Tuesday.

• Summary: The adorable Sackboy (or girl) must navigate dozens of levels on a quest to stop the Negativitron, which is out to destroy his home world, a place created through the power of imagination.

• Why it's hot: In 2008, "LittleBigPlanet" gave players a suite of tools to design their own worlds, which they did to the tune of millions of new levels made available through the game's social network-like content exchange system. The sequel expands that tool set even further, making it possible for users to create new game types.

• Age rating: Everyone.

• Price: $60 PS3.


'Dead Space 2'

• Release date: Jan. 25.

• Summary: Engineer Isaac Clarke is forced to fight the necromorphs once again, this time on a massive space station where he is recovering three years after escaping the derelict mining vessel in which he first encountered the alien parasites.

• Why it's hot: Visceral Games' 2008 sci-fi survival horror game "Deadspace" was highly lauded for its dismemberment-based combat, dark atmosphere and ability to toy with players' emotions in creative ways. The sequel trades in the loneliness and isolation of the original for an increased level of action, controllable zero-G sequences and a new multiplayer component.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60 PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.


'Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds'

• Release date: Feb. 15.

• Summary: Characters from classic Capcom video games clash with the heroes and villains of the Marvel comic universe.

• Why it's hot: Fans of Capcom's hugely successful "Marvel vs. Capcom" crossover fighting game series have been awaiting a new entry for about a decade. In addition to a bolstered roster, including Dante from "Devil May Cry" and She-Hulk, "MvC 3" is the first game in the series to use a 3-D graphics engine. Capcom has also simplified the control scheme to make the game more accessible to newcomers.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60, PS3 and Xbox 360.


'Bulletstorm'

• Release date: Feb. 22.

• Summary: Grayston Hunt, a former elite mercenary turned drunkard and space pirate, is reunited with his former teammate after crash landing on a planet. The two find themselves surrounded by enemies and must shoot their way out.

• Why it's hot: One of the few AAA titles to release this year that is also a new intellectual property. "Bulletstorm" pairs up the minds at Epic Games ("Gears of War," "Unreal") and People Can Fly ("Painkiller") for a first-person shooter that rewards players with skill upgrade points for finding new, devilishly creative ways to off their enemies.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60 PS3 and Xbox 360; $50 PC.


'Killzone 3'

• Release date: Feb. 22.

• Summary: "Killzone 3" just after the conclusion of 2009's "Killzone 2" when special forces operative Sev and his squadmate Rico kill the leaders of the Helghast. The two must now escape the ensuing chaos, fighting a seemingly impossible battle without hope of reinforcement.

• Why it's hot: The third entry in Sony's flagship first-person-shooting franchise spices up the level variety with controllable jet packs and missions set in jungle and arctic environments. The game will also feature the capability to be played on 3D-ready TVs and will allow the use of the Sony Move motion controller.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60 PS3.


'Dragon Age II'

• Release date: March 8.

• Summary: The sequel to Bioware's critically acclaimed 2009 role playing game is set in the same world as the original and puts players in control of Hawke, a survivor of the Blight, as a he or she weaves a decade-long tale.

• Why it's hot: Player dialog is now fully voiced, and save data can be imported to carry over potentially game-altering decisions made in "Dragon Age: Origins." The dialog system has been upgraded to a system similar to that used in Bioware's "Mass Effect" series.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60 PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.


'Homefront'

• Release date: March 8.

• Summary: In 2027, America is invaded by the military forces of a newly formed East Asian bloc. Players take on the role of a guerrilla fighter in the American resistance fighting the occupying force.

• Why it's hot: Another rare new title releasing this year, "Homefront" is developed by Kaos Studios, the group responsible for the wildly popular "Desert Combat" modification to "Battlefield 1942." The storyline of "Homefront" was penned by "Apocalypse Now" co-writer John Milius, who also wrote and directed "Red Dawn," a 1984 film about a Soviet invasion of America.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60 PS3 and Xbox 360; $50 PC.


'Crysis 2'

• Release date: March 22.

• Summary: Three years after a U.S. special operative defeated an alien force on an island paradise, a soldier wearing a next-generation nanosuit must fight a new force besieging New York City.

• Why it's hot: "Crysis" was widely regarded as the best looking game of all time when it released in 2007. Developer Crytech has said it has raised the bar even further for the sequel while making the game playable on home consoles, which were previously considered unable to handle the graphical load. The company has also streamlined how players use the nanosuit to conform to different play styles.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60 PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.


'Portal 2'

• Release date: April 19.

• Summary: As promised, Aperture Science's cheery-voiced, malevolent artificially intelligent mastermind GLaDOS is still alive. Test subject Chell reawakens hundreds of years later in an all-but-destroyed facility and must navigate a new series of challenges as GLaDOS rebuilds and plots revenge.

• Why it's hot: Players and critics alike were blown away in 2007 by this puzzle shooter's memorable antagonist and mind-bending puzzles that forced creative use of a gun capable of connecting two points in space through wormholes. The sequel adds new wrinkles such as tractor beams and new physics-altering "gels" and features a highly anticipated co-operative mode starring two robots, Atlas and P-body.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60 PS3 and Xbox 360; $50 PC and Mac.

Source: Prices current on Gamestop.com as of Jan. 11.

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