Now, this isn't to say there haven't been new franchises that have broken this trend. However, when you examine where these games have come from, it's no less a surprise that they are as well regarded as they are. Take Bioshock, which has rightly been the subject of much praise this year. A great game it is but even this isn't without its own pedigree, it takes much of this inspiration from the late great System Shock II for which its development team was largely responsible.
Another example is Assassin's Creed, widely tipped to be another must have of 2007. New it may be, but it can trace its origins back to the Prince of Persia series, whose team concocted the premise for the game while working on Prince of Persia. Having played the game, the similarities are quite obvious. Much the same can be said of Mass Effect, yet another hotly tipped title that can trace much of its inspiration from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - the last genuinely good Star Wars game.
We can make a few conclusions from all this. First, the games industry loves to re-use old ideas, tweaking and polishing them into something that's better, or at least looks different. This isn't a new revelation and neither is it a totally bad thing, after all what has Nintendo been doing all these years if not remaking games in new and interesting ways?
Secondly, though, it's hard not to conclude there's no small amount of fortune involved in finding so many of the best studios working on and releasing games just as one platform has begun to mature. Were it not so, we'd be having this discussion every year and after the general mediocrity of 2006, this certainly isn't the case. Thus, if you're all in a flap trying to get through as many games as possible: stop worrying! They'll plenty of time for them all next year, where we're certain to see a bit of a dip.
Finally, just to leave you something to chew on until next time - is this a sign that developers are getting better at making games, or have publishers simply become better at selling the same stuff to us over and again? You can share your opinions on the forums and while you're at it, why not let me know what you think I should be covering in this wee column I might have started?
In The News
Sony released its latest firmware revision for the PS3, adding a number of features so small in nature that even our in-house Sony devotee and PS3 owner Hugo managed to sound unimpressed. To think he sold his Xbox 360 to get a PS3. Silly Billy!
Despite not being available until November 23rd in Europe, Activision saw fit to hold a lavish bash to celebrate the upcoming Guitar Hero III. Though no longer in the hands of creator Harmonix Music Systems, who have gone off to work on competing title Rock Band, this latest incarnation promises to deliver yet more not quite air guitar tom foolery. Apart from the supply of free beer and spirits, highlights of the event included performances from Funeral For A Friend, Maximo Park and a stage appearance from a presumably inebriated (it was difficult to tell) John Lydon, of Sex Pistols fame, slagging off everyone from the French, Tony Blair, the media, journalists and the middle class. Despite some nervous looking executives, the fact I'm writing about it probably means this little ploy worked rather well.
In Gaming This Week
Consoles For Christmas: With all those brilliant releases, choosing a console and the games to go with it this Christmas is a tricky business. Making life easier is our guide to console gaming this Christmas, just try to remember a console is for one generational cycle, not a lifetime.
The Simpsons Game: No film should be without a game and though this is no classic, it should put a smile on your face.