Last week, you may recall, we put on our robe and wizard hat for a look at this year's most promising RPGs. We've done shooters, racers, action adventure and sports games too, if you missed any of those.
Which leaves strategy and simulation. Well, that and all the stuff like Wii Fit and Face Training and Buzz! PS3, but we still haven't thought up a name to group them under yet (any suggestions other than "Women's things" and "Ellie's review schedule 2008" are welcome).
So strat and sims it is, for now. From Harvest Moon to Halo Wars, Spore to Civ Revolution, there's a lot of it about. Here's part one of our guide to the best bits.
Football Manager Live
As Kristan put it in his preview, Football Manager Live is "a fantasy football MMO with an eBay-style auctioning system" which "nicks the best bits of the parent game we all know and love". All those of us who give a monkey's nut about football of course. Which is quite a lot of the population on balance. Anyway.
FML lets you build a club from the ground up, choosing everything from its name and colours to pitch size. Then you can go online to compete against other players, building up your squad via the auction-style transfer system. Games take place in real-time and you can keep an eye on the action thanks to the 2D match engine.
"With Football Manager Live, we're ripping up the script that says how online football management games should work," says Oliver Collyer, co-founder of Sports Interactive and the brains behind the game. "We're creating something that is fun, challenging and sociable."
Football Manager Live is due out on PC this spring. In the meantime, the Xbox 360 version of Football Manager 2008 will hit the shops on 28th March.
Subblime: [Ellie informs me that was a "Subbuteo" joke. -Ed] Remember when this was all just fields? We made do with a bit of green cloth and poorly moulded pieces of plastic, never mind transfer systems and 2D match engines and other players.
Advance Wars: Dark Conflict
Not so much a 'coming attraction', more a 'now available in shops', but Advance Wars: Dark Conflict will likely be looked back on as a highlight of 2008 by DS owners. The ones likely to be reading this website, obviously, not the ones who just got it for Brain Training and now wish someone would bring out another Sudoku collection.
This instalment sees the series "going dark". Bye-bye bold reds and lush greens, hello boring browns and more greys than a 1989 Christopher Walken film. Saionara tag-team CO powers, multiple fronts, black bombs and stealth fighters; say Ihola! to Command Maps, motorbike gangs and Wi-Fi Connection battles. You can also create your own maps and share them with friends.
"All of which adds up to an Advance Wars game that we had just as much, if not more fun playing than ever," says Tom, "But one that proves a bit too grimy and unfriendly for our bright and bouncy taste." Still, "The gameplay has lost very little of its charm, and the result is one of the first really good new DS games of 2008." Not forgetting Majesco's Mega Brain Boost, of course.
Risky business: See Dark Conflict in action over on Eurogamer TV. M0t0rb1k3s and all.
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution
Coming to DS, PS3 and Xbox 360 this spring is a brand new version of the game that made Iain Banks miss the deadline for his latest novel. Perhaps the team developing the Wii version have fallen into the same trap, as it's just been put on indefinite hold.
Civilization Revolution will see you leading a society from cave-dwelling to spaceship-building once again, doing lots of diplomacy and research and war along the way. We're promised real-time interaction with leaders and advisors, extensive multiplayer options and integrated video and voice chat.
Timelines have been streamlined to allow for quicker games and fast-paced combat. You can battle head-to-head online, join a team or take part in a free-for-all. Leaderboards, ranked games and downloadable content are also in the works.
Sid Meier himself is leaving the Pirates! and Railroads! series to one side for a bit to work on the game! "Civilization Revolution is the game I've always wanted to make!" he said!
"We are excited to take advantage of the power of next-generation consoles and the ingenuity of handhelds to create a great and unique strategy game for newcomers to the series, as well as the millions of fans around the world who enjoy Civilization on the PC." !
The Road to Garbadale: Is the name of that book Iain Banks delivered late. It is quite good. It follows the adventures of a scruffy but handsome, clever and witty left-wing slacker who hails from Scotland and has a beard. In other words he panicked when the deadline was up and copied off all his other books. And the mirror.
It's a bumper crop for both Harvest Moon fans and people who enjoy farming-related puns this spring with no less than three new instalments in the series on the way.
First up is Harvest Moon DS Cute, trying not to be sick already, which sees the Witch Princess accidentally banishing the Harvest Goddess to another world. Then there's something about 101 Harvest Sprites and the Forget-Me-Not-Valley no really it's like that time I drank half a pint of soy sauce for a bet.
The point is you can raise animals, grow crops, decorate your house and "find the right husband to share your farming dreams". Presumably they don't mean the kind of farming dreams someone once informed us are popular down at Fire in Vauxhall. It's out this spring.
Also coming to DS is Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness. This time you're stranded on a tropical island and must find out what happened to the people who used to live there. Animals and crops but no mention of decorating. Interact with 100 characters. Farming via Wi-Fi Connection, again probably not the Vauxhall kind. Q2.
And finally - Harvest Moon Wii (working title). Once again you're on an island, living in a town that was once enchanted. It's been years since the mystical Mother Tree showed any signs of life and bugger knows where the Harvest Goddess has disappeared to. Animals, crops, plus "events" and mini-games. You'll do interactive farming with the Wii remote and can play as a boy or a girl. It's the "deepest and biggest Harvest Moon to date", apparently, and it's also out in Q2.
Rumour has it: Marvelous Interactive is developing Harvest Moon: Ambridge, in which Eddie Grundy is caught boning the Harvest Goddess in the cowshed and the village is thrown into turmoil after a black man takes a wrong turn and stops to ask for directions.
This Xbox 360 exclusive is set in the world of Glasgow-born beat combo Texas's 1997 chart hit. Or that game with the robots, can't rightly recall.
Anyway, Halo Wars covers the events leading up to the first Halo game. You get to command armies of UNSC units both old and new as they take on The Covenant, an army of zombies from Mars. Aboard the Spirit of Fire, a converted Phoenix-class colony ship, you are guided by artificial intelligence persona Serina. Hands up who misses Andromeda, especially Sorbo.
You'll take on Covenant Grunts, Elites, Ghosts and Scarabs with the likes of UNSC soldiers, Warthogs and Scorpions. Each group will have unique strengths, and it's up to you to use them strategically. You can also choose Leaders with mad skillz to help you out.
Halo Wars is being developed by Ensemble Studios, the team behind the excellent Age of Empires series, and it's for the Germans. The game is out some time this year, and you can see it in action via the gamepage.
Master race: According to the Guinness World Records - Gamer's Edition, the fastest completion time for Halo 2 on Legendary difficulty is three hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds. Did we mention it's out on 8th February? Look please just buy it. The Amazon sales ranking is slipping by the hour.
Worms: A Space Oddity
This one's just for Wii. It promises to blend classic Worms game modes with "re-invented" single player missions, brand new party games and more customisation options. Unfortunately however, there won't be any downloadable content or online battles after all.
Still, up to four players can fight it out offline, and using the Wii remote to gauge the power of shots and steer homing missiles sounds like fun. There are six planets to play around on, each featuring unique global events. The action takes place in 2D atop 3D backgrounds, and the game has a bright and colourful sci-fi theme. And probably better CGI than Babylon 5.
Worms: A Space Oddity is out on 28th March.
It's not right: If you've finished throwing up from the Harvest Moon stuff but could still do with losing weight, try looking up "Worm like creature removed from eye" on You Tube. We can't even bring ourselves to put the link here.
That's it for now - come back soon for part two of our roundup, where we'll be taking a look at Tom Clancy's Endwar, Empire: Total War, Universe at War, Dr Kawashima's War Training, Harry Potter and the Chamber of War, Carol Vorderman's Sudoku Challenge, Spore and more.