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Gran Turismo 5 & Metal Gear Solid 4

Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)

Why get excited?
Despite strong competition from Forza and Project Gotham, Polyphony Digital's racing simulator series is still widely seen as the one to beat. No other game has matched GT for the feel of tyres on tarmac, and it's still the franchise that every major marque wants to showcase their classics and new models in. In the UK, a Top Gear tie-in will only add to the exposure.

On top of enhancements to the graphics and physics simulations, we can anticipate the arrival of realistic in-car views and vastly improved opponent AI. Meanwhile, a new interface and close integration with Sony's Home service will make it easier to get on-track and play with friends. We'll get our first hint as to whether GT can reclaim the serious racing game throne when GT5: Prologue hits our streets in March with a selection of the new features and a sampling of the vehicles and the tracks. This Prologue is more than a glorified demo, and on its own would be one of the most wanted games of the Spring.

Curb your enthusiasm?
Project Gotham 4 and Forza 2 have raised the bar for the genre, and GT4 never produced the big changes that Polyphony promised. As a result, the series is beginning to suffer from a ‘stick in the mud' reputation, particularly in regards to car damage and aggressive driver AI. This GT needs to bring some excitement and energy back to the track if it wants to be go beyond the Top Gear audience. It also needs to ship this year, and there's no guarantee that it will.

ETA: 2008 (we hope)
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Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

Why get excited?
Any Metal Gear Solid is a major event, but this one has an awful lot riding on it. While other major PS2 era franchises have gone multi-platform, MGS4 is defiantly PS3 exclusive, and it could be the showcase title Sony needs to sell the system to the hardcore gamer. Of course, it looks absolutely stunning; the Middle-Eastern environments showcased so far are superbly realised, but it's the characters that convince you of the PS3's power, with advanced facial animation and an incredible attention to detail that extends to the hairs in Snake's greying mullet hairdo.

However, what makes MGS4 unmissable is the fact that it's the game that ties up the Metal Gear saga, bringing an aged Snake back into battle against new foes and a handful of fan favourites, and gathering all the loose ends of the Byzantine Metal Gear chronology together. Nobody does this stuff with the same cinematic verve and innovative gameplay as MGS Supremo, Hideo Kojima, and this should be one of the biggest games this year.

Curb your enthusiasm?
Even MGS fans would admit that Kojima can sometimes get carried away with his cinematics, his post-modern antics and his in-jokes, and there's always a danger that the final MGS could be a self-indulgent mess. Even at its weakest, however, MGS is always worth playing - the series takes risks, but always delivers rich rewards.

ETA: May

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