It’s not often I make predictions, but I fully expect these five games will blow your mind this year. Set aside a game budget of £250 and put everything else into an ISA – you won’t need to buy any other games this year.


The main appeal of Spore to me is that it’s a game you can have a mess around with. There are levels and phases and so on, but its appeal as a sandbox – should be sandpit, really – is that you can create your own creatures, evolve and mutate them, and see how they get on. This concept’s been around as long as I can remember – Eco on the Atari ST and E.V.O. on the SNES, for example – but for once the PR cliché is probably true: it’s only possible with today’s technology.

Your freaky characters will live alongside other players’ creations – content you create in the game migrates across to others’ machines automatically, creating a feeling of communal play direct interaction. It reminds me of the migratory content in Animal Crossing: Wild World actually; I hope we’ll see more games trading content automatically, without players trawling the web, and I’m all for it.

It was recently confirmed that Spore will be coming to Wii, which will hopefully be the first title to use WiiConnect24 as it was intended. The DS version is promising too, although I’m willing to bet it will be quite seriously cut down compared to the high-powered PC version.

In short: Control life from gene pool to galactic pillaging.

See more:

Virtua Fighter 5

It’s a shame that it took until Virtua Fighter 4 came to the PlayStation 2 for Sega’s flagship fighting game to gain recognition, but with the upcoming sequel out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 it’s finally hit the big time, and looks to be getting better all the time.

This time introducing two new characters – Rey Mysterio Jr. clone El Blaze and monkey-style Eileen – VF5 features amazing graphics and one of the most finely-tuned fighting experiences anywhere. I believe it’s the most skilful 3D fighter ever: top players go into incredible detail, even memorising how many frames of animation each move lasts.

Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution was probably the best fighting game ever, and if there’s any justice in the world this will hurtle Virtua Fighter way past all pretenders.

In short: Beautiful, addictive, thrilling. 

See more:

Halo 3

Let’s face it – no matter how good it is, Gears of War is no more than a stopgap before Halo 3. While the cinema is flooded with big money trilogy-closers this year – Pirates of the Caribbean 3, the Bourne Ultimatum, Shrek 3, Spider-man 3 – there’s no such competition for Halo 3, which I fully expect to be the year’s highest-grossing game.

Was that a prediction?!

Why yes, yes it was, and with good reason: Halo 2 reputedly made $125m on its first day in the States, and sold over a quarter of a million copies here in one week. Crikey, it even made the news, an honour usually reserved for games that:

  • Kill people;
  • Break TVs;
  • Can be grossly misrepresented.

Unfortunately Halo 3 has no strong release date yet, but I’m predicting an October/November release. Even if it is released that late I still think it’s a very strong contender for best-selling game this year, and a force the PS3 will have great difficulty surpassing or equalling.

In short: A sales juggernaut; buy or die.

See more:


It was a toss-up between this and the equally impressive Crysis, but Bioshock won out in the “games with brains” stakes.

One of Bioshock’s most promising features is its emphasis on emergent gameplay – AI characters have roles and desires, and will make different decisions based on the options presented to them. Similarly, you can mutate your character to suit your own playing style, something we’re more used to seeing in roleplaying games and MMORPGs.

Another thing I like about Bioshock is its combination of gameplay styles. Although a stylish-looking first-person shooter, there’s more to it than that: you can photograph enemies to identify their weak points, a feature reminiscent of Metroid Prime’s very useful scan visor. Resources like camera film are scarce though, so you have to be more tactical when deciding what to use and when.

A lot of FPS promise AI that will be aware of you and react accordingly, but it’s refreshing to see characters whose options are broader than “shoot, hide, run, surrender”.

In short: Intelligent ambitions evolve the genre.

See more:

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl

Okay, perhaps it’s a bit strong to say the new Pokémon games (due this summer, hopefully) will change your life, but I reckon they’ll certainly improve it immeasurably.

Despite the shift from GBA to DS you can transfer your precious Pokémon from previous play, allowing you to use potentially any Pokémon from the series’ ten-year history.

The big news, of course, is that for the first time ever you’ll be able to trade and battle across the Internet using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, as well as seek out others’ Secret Bases and play a game of Capture the Flag. I reckon FireRed and LeafGreen’s wireless adaptor was a test run for the Wi-Fi side of Diamond and Pearl, but with the coolest bits from Ruby and Sapphire too it looks like being the complete package.

In short: Pokégasm.

See more:

You reached level five!

There we go – my top five games to play this year. There were more I wanted to post, but these won out in a battle of the death. One thing about my choices I found interesting was that none of them were designed for Wii, despite my hopes that Wii will change my life. If Animal Crossing for Wii was confirmed for this year, the other games wouldn’t stand a chance.

Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to my RSS feed!

I’m listening to Gateway To Your Dreams, from NiGHTS Into Dreams [Sega Saturn] by Sonic Team.