What is an action-adventure game, anyway? According to the Oxford English Wikipedia, it is "a videogame that combines elements of the adventure game genre with various action game elements". For further clarification let's ask Tom. "Probably a game that combines elements of skill-based violence and exploring with a story-driven focus," he reckons.
Fancy. For the purposes of this article, let's say it's a game where you walk around being in a story and doing people over with a gun or a fist or a lightsaber. And sometimes you do a puzzle or get in a car.
Also sometimes there is jumping. In olden days jumping games were called "platform" games but no one makes them any more because kids can no longer read and cannot grasp the concept of linear progression and think wooden crates are teh ghey.
By the above definition, there are plenty of action-adventure games coming our way in 2008. Some old friends will return (Solid Snake, Lara Croft), some movies will get tie-ins (Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones) and some 500 billion people will buy Grand Theft Auto IV regardless of whether it's any good. Let's take a closer look at some of the most promising titles.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Nearly three years since it was first announced, Metal Gear Solid 4 is almost here - assuming they're sticking to that Q2 2008 release date. Guns of the Patriots sees our Snake, now an old buffer, embarking on one final mission. He will travel to the Middle East and South America as he seeks out Liquid Ocelot, encountering the likes of Raiden, Meryl Silverburgh and Roy Campbell along the way.
Tom got to play a short demo of the game at last year's TGS. It's "deceptively but welcomely simple", apparently, and has a monkey in it. The game had better be good for Konami's sake - producer Ryan Payton reckons they need to sell a million copies on day one just to break even.
Hideo Kojima has stated Guns of the Patriots will be his last Metal Gear game, but he always says that.
Trailer park: There are some lovely trailers for MGS4 over on the gamepage, along with some nice screenshots.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction
In which Sam Fisher is a fugitive being ruthlessly hunted by the very government he once served, and looks like a tramp. The "all new improvisation-based gameplay" will see you using objects in the world around you to survive. There's also an emphasis on blending in with crowds to remain undetected by enemies.
As Tom found out last year, the game will have a simpler control system than previous instalment Double Agent. Plus it'll feature a brand new multiplayer element, but Ubisoft is keeping details under its big French hat for now.
"We'll just have to wait and see whether Ubisoft's bold decision to ditch most of what made Splinter Cell such a success was a wise one or not," says Tom. Conviction is due out on PC and Xbox 360 this spring.
Goggle search: Since swapping his goggles for a beard, Sam is frequently mistaken for the mythical Fifth Baldwin.
Who ya gonna call? Bill Murray's agent, that's who, and you're going to say, "We've made loads of money off Scarface and World of Warcraft, do you want some of it for being in a videogame?"
It's not just Murray lending his voice and likeness to this movie tie-in - Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson are also set to star. And Janine and Walter Peck. The story is set in the early '90s, following the events of Ghostbusters II, and Ramis and Akroyd are even doing the script.
Further details are lacking at present, but at least there's a nice teaser trailer to look at. Ghostbusters is coming to DS, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 this autumn.
'Tis pity she's a whore: Sierra take note, the offer is still on the table. A Eurogamer staff member is willing to perform an explicit sexual act on Bill Murray, out of respect, in exchange for an interview. If he's not into that she'll do the ping pong trick, but draws the line at watersports.
NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams
More than ten years after the first NiGHTS game appeared on the Saturn, a sequel is heading exclusively to the Wii. Journey of Dreams follows the adventures of two children who are guided around the magical world of Nightopia by stupid purple jester NiGHTS.
Along the way they will meet lots of Nightopians as well as visitors from the land of Nightmare, otherwise known as Nightmarens. Apparently the storyline is all about "courage, hope and inspiration", much like HRH Princess Diana RIP your highness you will always be the candle in our wind.
Naturally you'll be able to steer NiGHTS using the Wii remote as he glides, spirals and loop-the-loops his way round lots of brightly coloured worlds. Journey of Dreams is the first Wii game to feature Weather Channel support. This means the conditions in the My Dream environment, a customisable sandbox area, will be the same as the real weather where you are.
Tom got to try out Journey of Dreams at last year's Tokyo Game Show, and described the demo as "quite enchanting, beautifully realised and delicately scored". The full game has already been out in the States, where it's received average reviews, but then so did Craig David. A European release is scheduled for 18th January.
Good NiGHTS?: We're playing Journey of Dreams right now, so expect a review soon.