Mafia II (PC, PS3, 360)
Despite some dreadful console ports, the original Mafia wasn’t that far away from being ‘GTA in the Depression’. Judging by the trailers from the sequel, 2K are recreating the glamour and excitement of Goodfellas compared to the first game’s po-faced Godfather. It’s already been delayed several times, so we’re hoping to see it in a near finished, polished state in Cologne.
A massive action game that’s monstrously ambitious, MAG supports up to 256 players at once. The guys at Zipper Interactive – who worked on Sony’s SOCOM series – have also implemented an innovative chain of command system. Higher ranking players can set cack-handed gamers objectives, which should provide incentive to get real good real fast. This should be playable at gamescom and could be a massive boon to PSN, as long as supporting all those men doesn’t break the internet in half.
Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (DS)
It may have been out in Japan for over six months, but that’s done nothing to quell our excitement over an English translation. The third game in the comedy RPG franchise not only has a brilliant concept, it also uses the handheld’s dual screens with huge imagination. This time, the bros. have been shrunk down and swallowed by Bowser. You’ll use the bottom screen to navigate through the baddy’s bloated body, while the top screen is used to control the king Koopa himself.
Mass Effect 2 (PC, 360)
We loved the first game and the sequel to the sci-fi epic sounds like it will iron out all the little problems that bothered us first time around. A far smoother cover system, a darker narrative and hugely dynamic direction during cut scenes (that really makes Mass Effect 2 feel like a film rather than a thinly-veiled series of dialog trees). It all means BioWare could have one of the greatest action RPGs ever on their hands.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
Hideo Kojima, everyone’s favourite amateur philosopher, sexy specs-wearer and dad of Big Boss will be making an appearance at Cologne. He’ll also be sporting a trouser Snake, as he reveals more of his latest portable Metal Gear game. Combining Guns of the Patriots incredible OctoCamo with Snake Eater’s lo-tech jungle stealth, there’s no doubt Peace Walker could be the <groan> killer app PSP Go needs to shift units. Oh, and obviously two man card board boxes (which can carry two Snake clones at once) for all sorts of win.
Modern Warfare 2 (PC, PS3, 360)
We’re hoping we might get the chance to play the game’s much-anticipated multi-player on Activision’s show floor. Failing that, footage of new single-player levels would be appreciated – we’ve already watched the mountaintop level an embarrassing number of times. Questionable recommended retail price or not, if this sticks to the wonderful formula of tight pacing and memorable set pieces established in the first MW, then it’s got game of the year nailed on.