Microsoft has good reason to be pleased with 2006. With the market wide open, the Xbox 360 plundered a significant lead over its next-generation competition and a solid base from which to build from in 2007. With a number high profile franchises coming to the console in 2007, thereâ€™s little reason to believe this wonâ€™t be another good year for the Xbox 360.
1. Halo 3 (Bungie Studios â€“ FPS): Halo 3 is the Holy Grail â€“ or should that be the Halo Grail â€“ of the Xbox brand, and it has done more to drive sales of Xbox consoles than any other game. If expectations werenâ€™t high enough already, Bungie showed off a stunning in-engine cut scene at E3 last year that made lips quiver in awe. Concluding the Halo trilogy, Halo 3 promises to deliver an intense single-player campaign and online multiplayer that will have Xbox Live subscriptions booming. Not to be missed.
2. Mass Effect (BioWare â€“ Action RPG): From the development team behind the critically acclaimed RPG Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect is an original IP developed exclusively on Xbox 360. Itâ€™s another game that utilises the powerful Unreal 3 Engine, and initial demonstrations have looked suitably smooth and glossy. In the game youâ€™ll play as Commander Shepard who, whilst tracking down a rogue agent, begins to unravel the story behind an alien prophecy. The developers have been keen to promote a new style conversation system which, so they claim, will be more dramatic and allow the player to interrupt NPC characters before theyâ€™ve finished speaking.
3. Forza Motorsport 2 (Turn 10 Studios â€“ Racing Simulation): With the Grand Turismo series a regular seller for Sony, Microsoft has poured lots of resources into their competing racing simulation Forza Motorsport. The first in the series was a great success, and Microsoft has been making big promises about the performance of the Xbox 360 sequel. Boasts about the number of cars, over 300 weâ€™re led to believe, and the numbers of polygons used to make them are all very well but if Forza emulates previous excellence then this racing title will please racing fans for many months.
4. Blue Dragon (Artoon â€“ RPG): In an effort to capture more Japanese customers, Microsoft bought this exclusive for the Xbox 360 and it sold over 80,000 units in Japan making it the best selling Xbox title in the region to date. Due to arrive in North America later this year, Blue Dragon is a Japanese style RPG through and through, featuring manga style artwork and bundles of FMV. So much so, in fact, that the game has to ship on 3 DVD-9 discs. If youâ€™re into Japanese RPG titles then this could be a must buy, with Famistu, a Japanese video game magazine of high repute, awarding it 37/40. Hopefully a European date will be forthcoming.
5. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (Capcom â€“ Action): Developed by the man behind the Onimusha series, Lost Planet is an ambitious third person action game with a focus on run-and-gun and mechanised combat. You play as an amnesiac called Wayne whose is hunting for an alien who killed his father â€“ we presume he remembers that part. Set on a snowy desolate planet, Lost Planet also promises extensive online multiplayer for up to 32 players and this is reputedly the main attraction of the game.
Also Look Out For: Crackdown, Battlestar Galactica Online.