They're in development, wrapped in super-secrecy... and Xbox World 360 magazine knows exactly what they are. Read below for insight and details on eight games that will rock your 360, starting next year...
Gears of War 2
We loved Epic's system seller as much as the next gamer. Probably EVEN MORE. But, come on, after the neverending hype it had... it patently wasn't finished, was it? The whole 'leaping into a jeep and roaring off just as the long-awaited Brumak tottered into view' reeked of a stitch-up, and when it was announced at E3 that PC owners would be getting a shedload of extra content... that was a ripe fart in the face for 360 owners.
Except, if you really believe those naysayers then you're missing the bigger picture. As critically acclaimed as it was, Gears ended up being a sacrificial lamb to some extent. Why? So that the true blockbuster - Gears 2 - a bigger, better, ballsier and markedly more ambitious outing could shine even brighter. Epic are already well into development with their Halo 3 killer; in fact, by the time it's announced to widespread gasps and hollers at the climax of the Microsoft presentation at E3 '08 in the summer, Gears 2 may even be at a stage where it's on course for a 'shock' Christmas 2008 release.
Don't believe it's possible given Epic's tradition of not releasing games until they're done? How about this: the hard work has been done already in Gears 1; the world, the characters, the engine, animations, multiplayer, it's all already in place. Gears 2 is all about refinement and spectacle. Certainly, the additional content in the PC version of Gears 1 is going to be highly symp-tomatic of what we can expect in Gears 2. You can bet too that Epic'll be gauging its critical and commercial reception as a dry run for their sequel.
At this moment, the Unreal Engine 3 is being tweaked so that monstrosities like the Brumak can now be brought to life and battlefields are far more expansive - more bosses, tides of larger enemies and a nippier frame rate.
If Epic are confident enough to give their Unreal editor toolset to Joe Public, just imagine what kind of wonderlands their designers are whipping up. The five fresh chapters exclusive to the PC version, all featuring large-scale out-door 'trench warfare' style mash-ups, are a taste of what we'll be playing in the sequel. Put your mortgage on tidied up vehicle sections (the Krill escape was clever, but fatally flawed), and - whisper it! - taking to the skies for an on-rails airborne encounter as Epic attempt to mix gameplay up a bit.
Interestingly, President of Epic Games Mike Capps mentioned in an interview this month that Gears' super-popular multiplayer mode was almost given the chop because he "thought it wasn't coming together fast enough". Yet now that CoD4 has come along with its near-flawless matchmaking and multilayered levels of customisation, Epic are going have to raise their game to compete.
Again, while the PC version boasts a new multiplayer mode and refined lobby system, the coding team will be looking demonstrate more ingenuity in multiplayer Gears 2. Like, one player becoming a Berserker and chasing down rival humans or Locusts; and a survival face-off to see who can stay alive as wave after wave of Krill bear down on you. Other things on Epic's 'To Do' List: a longer, deeper Campaign; new weapons, including a flamethrower; four player co-op; a class system; new executions; more choice in the branching level design; true destructible cover; enhanced squad AI and - finally! - a half-decent grenade tossing system. Oh, and a story which kicks things on - but also looks back. That means a playable prologue mission detailing exactly what Fenix did to wind up in the slammer. Exciting stuff.