Mirror's Edge, Brothers in Arms, Fracture, Guitar Hero, Baja, FIFA, Quantum of Solace.
The latest bloody skirmish begins here. Seven more cross-platform releases are appraised for your feverish attentions across the next few pages, backed - as usual - by the best range of comparison assets on the internet. That'll be full 720p and 1080p HDMI 24-bit RGB screengrabs, and h.264-powered 1:1 precision videos.
Before we begin proper, let's kick off with a bit of good news. 2K has just updated BioShock with a brand new patch for the disappointing PlayStation 3 conversion of the game. The numerous promised bug-fixes have all materialised, but better than that, the vastly annoying blur effect has been substantially reduced. What blur there is now appears to be down to the reduced sub-720p resolution and, alas, this combined with the wildly variable frame-rate remain. More details on the befores and afters at the author's blog.
Getting back to the present, there's an intriguing selection of seven games in the line-up, including one of my personal favourite games of the year: DICE's innovative Mirror's Edge.
Cliff Bleszinski observed recently that Active Reload is one of the best ideas in the whole of Gears of War, and the fact that nobody's ripped it off is bizarre - especially when you consider how much they have ripped off. Gears may not have invented clip-to-the-wall cover systems, but it certainly popularised them, and even if you discount that, you can't throw a stone without hitting an action game that owes Bleszinski a pint. Fracture certainly does, having nicked the Roadie Run with an almost actionable disregard for variation, and - if that's any indication - the gently concealed data chips you collect and the player-character's crimson barrel-chested armour are also casual lifts.
Fracture doesn't have a cover system though, and that's because its big thing is terrain deformation, and deformed terrain is too curvy and freeform to snap your back to, even if the game's enormous volume of crates, boulders and barrels would be a perfect alternative. Instead you dig instant pits and compose muddy mounds to certain (hard-coded) depths and heights using the 'Entrencher', and the game plays out around this deformation as a standard third-person shooter. The implications are interesting: protect yourself from turrets by erecting makeshift cover, solve puzzles by pushing, steering and burrowing past things with the terrain, and tackle enemies by juggling them into the air and letting rip with your basic arsenal.
Sadly the developers won't leave you to it. Even after a heavy-handed tutorial level, every puzzle solution is the blindingly obvious last step at the end of a narrowing gamespace, or simply highlighted by icons or described by your CO, who barks instructions through an earpiece throughout. Anything that isn't spoilt by design falls down almost immediately because the solution is simple and repetition and clunky mechanics ruin the satisfaction of implementing it, the wrong bit of ground regularly leaping or sagging in response to what seemed like a well-aimed Entrencher blast.
LucasArts has told Eurogamer that it plans to offer a Fracture demo either in August, or alongside the full game in September.
The PS3 and 360 sampler will let you stomp around the tutorial level where you'll get to grips with the terrain deformation at the core of the title.
Fracture is in development at Day 1 Studios, the outfit that made the MechAssault games, and gives you tools like the Entrencher that can instantly carve holes in the ground or force hills to burst from the floor.
New game Fracture looks great and everything but there's only one question you want to ask LucasArts when you've got the chance: are you ever going to make a graphic adventure again and why at least can't you just re-release them?
A good bluff single word name is what every up and coming new action game needs to properly project its masculinity. Doom, Quake, Rage, Prototype, Fracture, Prey, Crackdown, Condemned, F.E.A.R., err... Turok. You know what you're getting with a name that blunt and muscular and it doesn't involve moving virtual furniture or petting polygonal dogs.
LucasArts' secret treasures, including Force Unleashed and Indy's planned outings...
"Always two there are; no more, no less: a master and an apprentice." Yoda's stark pronouncement after the demise of double-ended laser-dildo freak Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace nails down the structure of the Sith order. Apparently, this is known as the Rule of Two.
We're not exactly short a few sci-fi action games in the coming year; in fact, a glance at the release schedules suggests that we may be in danger of being buried under sci-fi action games in the relatively near future. I wake up at night from lurid dreams where Halo 3 sits on me while Haze, Crysis, Army of Two and all their burly, steroid-enhanced space marine pals shout "pile-on!", only to discover that the damned cat has taken up residence on my chest again.
Terrain-deforming next-gen shooter for PS3 and 360.
LucasArts and Day 1 Studios have unveiled Fracture, a third-person shooter built around terrain deformation set for release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in summer 2008.
Fracture thrusts players into the futuristic boots of Mason Briggs, a demolitions expert fighting for the cybernetically enhanced Atlantic Alliance against their ideological adversaries, the genetically enhanced Pacificans.
Their setting is a ruined vision of the United States, where the melting of the polar ice caps has had some unhelpful repercussions. By 2161, when the game is set, the Mississippi River has risen and cut the country in half.