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Saturday, March 22, 2008

2008 Gaming Preview

2007 is a year that most gamers aren’t going to forget anytime soon. The current generation of consoles is really packing a punch, as developers continue to step up their skills and begin to squeeze everything they can into a game. While Nintendo dominated hardware sales in 2007 with the Wii and DS, it was Microsoft who had the best software lineup and bombarded gamers with quality titles. 2007 is going to be a tough one to match.

But, there is still hope. PS3 owners may have felt punked by Sony, even with titles like Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Unreal Tournament 3 making their way to quality starved consumers. Reports of poor multi-platform ports and lack of exclusives left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Sony faithful. 2008 must be an outstanding year for the PS3, and luckily it looks like Sony may be able to deliver. Two titles alone that can make PS3s fly off the shelf are making their current-generation debut this year. Both Gran Turismo 5 and Metal Gear Solid 4 are proven series that are shaping up to be a couple of the best games ever developed.

Konami’s Kojima Productions and Polyphony Digital, the studios behind MGS4 and GT5 respectively, have the proven track record and unyielding passion to revolutionize their genres. MGS4 is adding the ability to play the entire game in first-person view — which has never been done in the series — while GT5 is introducing another first: a cockpit view with fully rendered interiors for every car in the game.

Nipping at their heels is the PlayStation Home service, which could theoretically change the way users play and interact online. More and more movie studios are switching to Blu-Ray as their preferred High Definition movie format, and as long as developers can deliver multi-platform titles that actually run, Sony could see 2008 as their year for the taking.

Nintendo is going to be focused on finishing up Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The next installment of the über-popular fighter will have Wii owners battling online for countless late nights. SUDA 51, the minds behind the twisted and unique Killer 7, has got his next project, No More Heroes, as a Wii exclusive. It looks just as insane as Killer 7 (which isn’t for everyone), but I am more than curious as to what No More Heroes will have to offer.
Microsoft has its 2008 RPG hopes on Fable 2. Guarantees are being made that Fable 2 will address many of the issues that people had with the first title, and all eyes are anxious to see if Peter Molyneux and his Lionhead Studios can pull it off. Team Ninja is getting ready to quench the thirst of hardcore gamers with its blood soaked sequel, Ninja Gaiden 2. Once again, the Ninja Gaiden series will initially be exclusive only to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and looks to be as challenging as it is violent.

While exclusive titles are slowly becoming history, many of 2008’s huge titles are going to be available for multiple systems. The frontrunner has got to be the 2007 delayed Grand Theft Auto IV. If the delay was truly a decision based on the need to fine-tune GTA IV and bring it up to the insanely high standards that Rockstar has for the series, then GTA IV should be the legit next installment in the violence-filled, prostitute-hiring, drug-smuggling, never-gets-old franchise. It’s already visually looking worthy of success; let’s just hope some new gameplay elements can be introduced to freshen up the classic GTA formula.

Continuing along the “year of sequels” theme of 2008 are Devil May Cry 4, Mercenaries 2, Burnout Paradise, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2 and Condemned 2: Bloodshot. While all of these titles are at the top of my list, I cannot wait to see what DMC4 and Condemned 2 have to offer. DMC is an action junkie’s dream game and looks to be pushing the envelope even more to give your hand-eye coordination a whole new meaning of pain. Condemned 2 is the sequel to one of the most frightening games I have played in recent memory, and looks like it may surpass its predecessor. Plus, how can you ever get tired of beating down junked-out bums with lead pipes?!

And finally, let’s not forget about Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. Sports fans still don’t know about how in-depth and sophisticated a game this is, even if you don’t like soccer. This game can be frustrating to pick up and play, but once you get used to the pace and feel of Winning Eleven, there is nothing else like it. Last year’s Xbox 360 attempt fell way short on the laundry list of features that this series is known for. Look for the 2008 version to be back on track and packed to the brim with soccer greatness.

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