You wait ages for someone to mount some kind of operation, then two come along at once. The first is Operation Darkness, a thoroughly silly Japanese action game that pitches you - in a Wolfenstein turn of events - against supernatural-dabbling Nazis, one of which appears to be Hitler himself. The other is Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising, the sequel to one of the very best war games of all time.
Despite playing awesomely, the original did have some small issues - namely that it was so astonishingly ugly some onlookers wrote it off as being a sub-10% mess of a game. Luckily, Codemasters have taken the follow-up in-house this time round and applied some next gen polish - which explains why the first shots look the business. The only question mark now is whether they can replicate Bohemia's incredi-gameplay from the first title.
Time hasn't been kind to Perfect Dark Zero. On its release it was a jazzy, shiny, quick-fire FPS, but pretty soon after it became a whole lot of yesterday's news thanks to the likes of CoD 2, GRAW and Rainbow Six Vegas. And now? Now it's a whole lot of yesterday's yesterday's news with the arrival of FPS greats like The Orange Box, Bioshock and CoD 4. Will Perfect Dark 2 put Rare back on top? Maybe. It hasn't been officially announced, but one thing's for sure: once it is, they're going to have to pull out all the stops, some other stops, and probably some more stops too, to topple the competition.
Also yet to be announced is Prince of Persia, which Ubisoft unwittingly showcased to the world during 2006's bungled leak that also exposed Far Cry 2, Splinter Cell Conviction and Lost. The first batch of artwork suggests a return to Sands of Time stylings rather than the more visceral Warrior Within. Rounding things off are a couple of Projects: one, Project Offset, is a visual spectacular from little-known dev studio Offset, and sees you FPS-ing your way through a fantasy land full of orcs, goblins, dragons and trolls; and two, Project Origin, Monolith's unofficial sequel to their own F.E.A.R. Given their work on Condemned and its sequel plus PC titles like No One Lives Forever and Aliens vs Predator 2, it's safe to assume that the fare they'll be dishing out will be quality.
Last year's Colin McRae Dirt was a great racing game, proving Codies are right up there with the best when it comes to four wheel funishment. Race Driver: Grid, an evolution of the TOCA brand, is likely to dish out similar levels of car quality when it strikes later this year.
Vehicles also feature heavily in id's new game, Rage, which isn't dissimilar to Gearbox's Borderlands, and combines FPS and racing with a 'Wild West in space' setting. Of the two, Rage undeniably looks better, showcasing brand new tech from the Quake and Doom boys, but Borderlands' procedural arsenal could give it the edge. Either way, the safe money's on id not making their '08 release date, given their long history of slippage. Slippage which, as it happens, is perfectly demonstrated with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, announced to great fanfare almost two years ago... and then followed up with a big, fat load of nowt since. Given that the film of the game is on the way, and being helmed by Silent Hill director Roger Avary, expect more details as we get closer to its 2009 release date.
Three markedly different games to round off R: the ridiculously named Rainy Woods, which comes on like Twin Peaks meets Silent Hill meets rain meets woods meets murder; Rockband, EA's take on Guitar Hero, which is garnering super-high reviews in the States (we'll have the definitive verdict next issue); and Bethesda's Rogue Warrior: Black Razor, which - after a big hoo-ha - has gone all quiet. Based on the books of hard-ass marine Richard Marcinko, it sees you - er, as hard-ass marine Richard Marcinko - taking a group of highly trained SEALS into North Korea and destroying a bit of this and that with some well-placed bullets. It ain't original, but early shots were tidy, and the multiplayer sounds ace.