Wii Sports Resort (Wii)Why get excited?
Released to support the new MotionPlus device (and bundled with it), Wii Sports Resort looks set to be the year's first essential Wii game - and possibly the year's only essential Wii game if Nintendo doesn't announce a new Mario or Zelda title, pronto. MotionPlus enhances the sensitivity and accuracy of the Wii remote, and Sports Resort makes the best of it with new spins on Frisbee-throwing, swordplay and jetski racing, plus a potential seven other sports.
It's the jetskis that have us most excited, with the action reminiscent of the N64 and GameCube classic, WaveRace, but we all know that Nintendo just has to make something that's as much fun as Wii Sports to keep its family audience happy. And while the likes of Wii Fit and Wii Sports have never escaped the 'novelty game' tag, they also show that Nintendo knows better than anyone else how to make casual games fun.
Curb your enthusiasm?
It's effectively another mini-game compilation arriving at a time when Nintendo desperately needs to show that it can still make games with long-term appeal. Wii Sports Resort will sell by the bucketload, but will it appease the more hardcore fanbase? Possibly not.
ETA: Spring 2009
Heavy Rain (PS3)Why get excited?
Quantic Dream's last game, Fahrenheit, was one of the most innovative and exciting games of recent years; a fully interactive, adult thriller with interesting characters and engaging situations that put you right on the edge of your seat. It wasn't perfect, but it felt like a taste of the future. Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer could be that future. Its creator, David Cage, is calling it a 'very dark, film noir thriller', revolving around four central characters, with the player taking control of different members of the cast during different portions of the game.
To bring these characters to life, Heavy Rain employs some revolutionary technologies to create true virtual actors who not only look convincingly human but use advanced motion capture techniques to behave that way. If the game lives up to its promise, it should set a new benchmark in this field, and if it also matches Fahrenheit for tension and brooding atmosphere, it could be one of the most exciting experiences you have playing video games next year.
Curb your enthusiasm?
Fahrenheit's merging of video games and cinema relied heavily on irritating quicktime-event sequences, and there are worrying signs that Heavy Rain will follow suit. We'll also hope that the story doesn't drop in quality during the final act this time around.
ETA: Late 2009