- The titles in development they don't want you to know about: There are some seriously anticipated sequels in the works right now, and we're about to strip them bare before your eyes...
Gears of War 2
We loved Epic's system seller as much as the next gamer. But, come on, after the never-ending hype it had... it 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, you're missing the bigger picture. As critically acclaimed as it was, Gears ended up being a sacrificial lamb. 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 answer to Halo 3; in fact, by the time it's announced to widespread gasps and hollers at the climax of the Microsoft presentation at E3 '08 this upcoming 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 symptomatic of what we can expect in Gears 2. You can bet too that Epic will 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 framerate. 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 outdoor '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.