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Resident Evil 5 & Halo 3: ODST

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2008 is very nearly over - 2009, here we come. With the Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 all now firmly established, the flood of big exclusives is in danger of slowing to a trickle, yet there are still some huge titles on their way next year, including some massive sequels and a handful of exciting new properties. These are the games that we expect to thrill, move and entertain us in the year ahead.

Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Why get excited?

2005's Resident Evil 4 breathed a ghastly new life into survival horror, and hopes are high that the fifth 'proper' Resident Evil sequel (ignoring the prequel and Code Veronica) will carry on the good work. Starring Chris Redfield, from RE1 and Code Veronica, RE5 moves the action to West Africa, with the player battling a new zombie threat among crumbling cities and shanty towns.
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The core game mechanics remain broadly the same as those in RE4, but there's a new emphasis on co-op gameplay, with a second human or AI-controlled character, Sheva, providing crucial cover and helping you solve some fiendishly complex puzzles. Plus, with this being the first RE of the current console generation, we can also expect some stunning graphics, with a new graphics engine designed to make the most of the blinding African sun. Even longer and larger in scope than the epic RE4, this is one game that only the squeamish and easily terrified should miss.

Curb your enthusiasm?

There are some concerns that RE4's control system - which forced you to stand still while firing your weapon - hasn't been altered, which could make RE5 feel oddly dated against more recent third-person games. Will RE5 be different enough from its forebear to make the same sort of impact?

ETA: March
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Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360)

Why get excited?

'Finish the Fight' said Halo 3, and so the game tied up the story of humanity's battle against the Covenant. Hence, Halo 3: ODST (or Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) is not a sequel but a side-story, giving us a new insight into the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3, featuring a lone UNSC soldier searching for his squadmates among the ruins of New Mombasa. The idea is to broaden out from the traditional Halo gameplay, introducing a hero who's initially a lot more vulnerable than Master Chief, making cover and tactics more important, and throwing in elements of open world gameplay. The unnamed Rookie finds clues from a main, city-wide map, and these lead to playable flashback levels that cover the whereabouts of his lost comrades. Halo 3: ODST is billed as Bungie's farewell to the Halo trilogy, and a labour of love aimed directly at the franchise's huge fanbase.
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Curb your enthusiasm?

Even Bungie isn't describing ODST as a new game as such, and the lack of Master Chief and the flashback structure practically scream 'expansion pack' or, worse,'cash-in'. Halo 3 also had its share of detractors - can Bungie silence the critics with one final flourish?

ETA: Autumn
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