As the new year rolls around a new generation of video games is in production. There are many new action, strategy and RPG games to look forward to, but there are several in particular that will prove to be the must-buy games of 2009.

Empire: Total War

The Total War series has games set in feudal Japan, ancient Rome and Medieval Europe. The latest installment focuses on Europe, the Americas and parts of Asia during the Industrial Revolution. Empire: Total War expands on the popular Total War series by bringing gunpowder and artillery to the forefront. Positioning and maneuver will be far more important now than in previous games. What is unprecedented for the Total War series is being able to directly take command in naval combat. According to previews, damage will be determined by the trajectory of the cannon balls and the size of the cannons, making it more realistic than any previous installment in the series.

Dragon Age

Dragon Age, scheduled for release in March, has been in development since 2004. By the makers of RPGs such as Baldur's Gate and Knights of the Old Republic, it is already highly anticipated. Now there are signs that it might actually be released. In this upcoming RPG, every aspect of the protagonist is customizable, down to his/her social class. It is based on "realistic" fantasy novels, such as George R.R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire, which is far less black-and-white than Lord of the Rings, which most fantasy is based on, and much darker. With such source material, Dragon Age could potentially have a far better plot than any RPG to date.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

If any 2009 shooter could revolutionize the genre it is Red Faction: Guerrilla. In this game, you play as a miner on Mars fighting the Earth Defense force for his planet's independence. To win, you must master asymmetric warfare and use improvised weapons. Mining equipment and the destructible environment are the ideal weapons.

Hearts of Iron 3

For history nerds such as myself, Hearts of Iron 3, scheduled for release in late 2009, is the ideal game. The Hearts of Iron series is an extremely historically accurate WWII game. Any country is playable, from major powers such as Britain, the USSR and Germany to less lucky nations such as Poland, Spain (both Republican and Fascist sides are playable) and Belgium. Nations that played no role whatsoever in WWII are also available, such as Cuba and Panama. For a challenge, you can play as Communist China, and fight a protracted war against the much more powerful Nationalists and Japan. The third installment in this series changes the unit building system, so that you can design divisions by choosing which brigades to include. It also has a more realistic logistics system, so that infrastructure in an army's supply line, not just the province it happens to be stationed on, affects its supply efficiency.