Of all PlayStation 3's forthcoming releases, the most interesting and significant is neither a game nor for sale. Home, Sony's more structured, sanitised and solid attempt at a Second Life world might seem innocuous enough but with the screenshots of its cinema space and the implied possibility of fully downloadable movies, there's the chance it might eventually outgrow even its host platform in significance.
Of course, 360 is kind of there already. With game demos on Microsoft's console oftentimes upwards of 1GB in download size, the first dual high street and virtual major game release is surely only just around the corner. But Home, with its customisable avatars, apartments and achievements looks to be providing a more personal and tactile way to access the future than Microsoft's colourful but dry menus. Whether the platform can grow and develop in kilter with Sony's aspirations remains to be seen but, come launch in October, it might prove to be a secret weapon of unexpected magnitude.
Anyway, there's a lot more than just a new social networking world to look forward to in PlayStation 3's run-up to Christmas - and not all of it is 360's sloppy seconds. Here Eurogamer performs that thankless task of looking over the games that stand to deliver the best experiences of the latter portion of the year. Of course, until we actually sit down with each game's final build it's all consumer frottage and speculation but at least you'll know what to put on your Christmas list.
(Note: here is our Most Wanted list for 360 titles - you'll notice several of the games on that list are also present here, so we've tried to give more weight to titles that are either PS3 exclusives or weren't mentioned in the 360 list. Several appear on both lists - by necessity, as they're simply too good to ignore.)
Call of Duty IV: Modern Warfare
"There are too many videogames set in World War II," cried the masses, and, in response, Infinity Ward has set its sights upon the contemporary war-game instead. Much of what has defined the previous titles in the series appears to have been dropped here. A cinematic plot will thread together the lives of numerous soldiers playing various roles for different countries.
One minute you'll be the pilot of a Cobra helicopter offering air support to ground troops, while the next you'll be pairing up with a sniper as a marksmen unit. Such disparate experiences (albeit united under the wide theme of 'Modern Warfare') could mean the game lacks focus and mastery in its tackling of all war trades. Nevertheless, it's rare for a developer to respond to consumer cries for something different, especially when it means shifting the direction of a hugely successful IP, and for that its bravery is to be applauded.
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Despite the historical overtones (protagonist Nathan Drake is supposedly a descendant of the famous namesake explorer) the undertones are decidedly low culture. Drake's plot synopsis has something of the Lost about it: a group of companions stranded on a remote island while being hunted by mysterious mercenaries.
Even so, the game's pedigree is solid, developer Naughty Dog being the hands behind Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. With an overarching mission to discover the fabled treasure of El Dorado, this is looking like one of the PS3's most intriguing new IPs.
The developer is promising clues, puzzles and danger, a combination that has served Lara Croft well in similar climes. Whether Drake can command its influences rather than be driven by them remains to be seen. But doing so will be the key to delivering a fresh, new and distinct game with its own soul.
The videos 'leaked' onto the Internet earlier this summer allayed what slim fears gamers might have had that publisher EA's Midas touch might have drained Harmonix of its rhythm and style. The sight of four players, cramped into a rehearsal room, singing, plucking and drumming their way through Guns n' Roses' Welcome to the Jungle in glorious harmony was enough to prove Guitar Hero's natural evolution is near complete.
With so much GUI splayed over the screen much of the cod-rock style of the Guitar Hero series is diminished - a good thing for those tired of that wearying parody. Big free-for-all outro sections allow room for some much needed user creativity in an otherwise immovable rhythm action framework. The chance to form and compete in bands online seems a feature too grand to be true - especially for a genre where lag and latency spell out-of-time nightmare. But with all of these considerations in the hands of the most competent rhythm action developer currently at work, the only question mark really hangs over the final cost of the thing.
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