The 360's future has never looked so bright. Well... 'never' is maybe going overboard. It's certainly never looked shinier or blacker, and
definitely never sounded so quiet. Games like Crysis 2 and Rage look so much nicer than the real world that you'll never want to leave the house again. Let's not forget the 360 launched with the likes of Perfect Dark Zero and Far Cry Instincts Predator - games so ugly with textures so plasticky and greasy they looked as though everything had been rubbed with meat.
Estimates from publishers and developers put the dawn of the next next generation around 2013 or 2014, which firmly places the 360 in the pension line at the Post Office, but the extended lifespan has seen developers push boundaries like no generation before it. Take a look at the industry's worst-kept secrets, and at how the biggest games of the next three years will be the biggest games of all time.
1. FORZA KINECT
"There's the Burnout Natal demo where people were driving Burnout like this," Turn 10's Dan Greenawalt told us last year, waving his arms around. Forza Kinect has those controls but that's not what excites Greenawalt. Head tracking and being able to reach out and touch your car is the future of Forza, but with the E3 demo still bearing the Forza 3 logo, the next Forza is an update, not a sequel.
2. HITMAN 5
From IO Interactive
Io have taken the piss with Kane and Lynch and Mini Ninjas for too long; Hitman has development woes but it is under development. A trip last year to Io's Denmark offices let us peek into a room where every PC desktop displayed the Hitman logo, while US movie mag Variety claim the 2011 movie sequel will borrow plot elements from the next game release.
3. SPLINTER CELL 6
From Ubisoft Toronto
Already confirmed by Ubisoft and under way at their newly-formed Toronto studio, the sixth Splinter Cell builds on the foundation established by Conviction and is headed up by the same leads - Maxime Beland, Alexandre Parizeau, and Patrick Redding. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is Ubisoft's spring tentpole, expect Sam Fisher to take Christmas.
4. HALO 4
From 343 Industries
Back in 2008, Microsoft began work on their own hitsquad of top-level talent to work on Halo-related projects. 343 Industries have since produced nothing but Halo Waypoint and some books and anime, but their recent recruitment drive - 'be a part of Halo history' - has set them on course for a major release by 2012.
5. CODENAME: KINGDOMS
The trailer reveals little, but sources suggest Microsoft have brought in Crytek to out-Sony Sony. Xbox has Gran Turismo and Killzone beaten, but it has no exclusive to beat God of War. With Gears 3 and Halo Reach shipping within six months of one another, Microsoft have no heavy-hitter for Christmas 2011. Kingdoms might be the CryEngine 3-powered answer to both problems.
6. TOMB RAIDER
From Crystal Dynamics
Last year, Crystal Dynamics were recruiting for a game they described as "one of the most prestigious AAA franchises in the industry" and a stack of leaked slides revealed a rebooted Tomb Raider starring a young Lara Croft in an Arkham Asylum-style open world. Sources suggest the ninth Tomb Raider will be Square Enix's big Christmas game in 2011.