This month there's one game and one game only on PC: The Burning Crusade, the long-awaited expansion to 2004's all-conquering World of Warcraft. If you've read my Warcrack addict pieces, you'll know I'm a WoW n00b, so Burning Crusade's new high-level content doesn't interest me yet. I may well be tempted by one of the two new races, though -- the Alliance has the butch alien Draenei and the Horde has gone all pretty with the sexy Blood Elves.
WoW's massive success -- 8 million subscribers and counting -- has attracted other developers to the fantasy MMO genre. Turbine, who made last year's largely disappointing Dungeons & Dragons Online, is set to release The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar at the end of March. This is licensed from Tolkien's books, not the movies, and you can only play as the goodies. Frankly, I don't expect much.
Also jumping on the WoW bandwagon is Warhammer Online. This has the virtue of being based on Games Workshop's wonderfully grimy world, so may offer something rather darker than the cartoony WoW. Mythic, maker of Dark Age of Camelot, is developing.
Real-time strategy is another bustling genre this year, with two massive releases. Supreme Commander, from the makers of the genre-defining Total Annihilation, is set to launch some nukes at the end of February. It certainly looks impressive, with vast sci-fi armies at your disposal, but it's hardly a great step forward for the genre. Similarly, Command & Conquer 3, out at the end of March, looks lovely but doesn't offer much new. That job may fall to promising newcomer Maelstrom. Somehow, I think I'm going to be sick of sci-fi RTSes by April.
The elephant in the PC corner is Spore, the new evolution game from Will 'Sims' Wright. It's amazingly ambitious: guide a civilisation from amoebas to astronauts, then blow the crap out of races other players have uploaded to the Internet. But will it be out this year? Hopefully. Will it actually be a seamless experience, or a series of sub-par minigames? Hopefully the former -- Wright isn't known for his flops.