Platforms: 360, PS3, PC
EU release: August 27
While we're loving Rockstar's recent willingness to try out new genres – tragic Westerns, hard-boiled detective noir, gay nightclub dance-offs, etc. – we still need our fix of classic crime from somewhere. 2K's Mafia II ought to fill that mobster-shaped hole in our hearts quite nicely, with a large cast of tough-talking macho men, an open-ended city based on mid-century New York and San Francisco, an arsenal of Tommy guns and WWII rifles and even a minigame of collecting old Playboy magazines from the era.
August will also be console owners' first chance to actually enjoy a Mafia game. The original PC version in 2002 was very highly regarded, but the Xbox and PS2 ports a couple years later were badly botched. Based on our hands-on time with Mafia II, that mistake will not be repeated.
Platform: PSN, XBLA
EU release: TBA
The bloodiest and goriest game of the summer will not be mobster-murdering Mafia II. Or heist-gone-terribly-wrong Kane & Lynch 2. Probably not even the zombie-blending puree that is Dead Rising 2.
Nope, that award will almost certainly go to Shank, an independently developed, beautifully animated and shockingly violent 2D beat 'em up for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. We could attempt to describe the brutal yet somehow graceful evisceration on display – Shank stuffing grenades down enemies' throats or pile driving chainsaws into their chests – but the video above will do the game a lot more justice.
(XBLA version releases the next day, on August 25)
Platforms: Wii, DS
EU release: October 15
No, that's not the lame name of another lame Sonic the Hedgehog sidekick... though you'd be forgiven for guessing so, since the speeding blue icon's co-creator and original programmer – Yuji Naka – is the creative mind behind this side-scrolling platformer as well. Unlike Sonic, however, players can't control Ivy's velocity. She moves across the screen at a nonstop pace and the only way she'll be able to avoid obstacles, dodge pitfalls and topple enemies is if you draw in swinging vines with your Wiimote or DS stylus that whisk her out of harm's way in time. The gameplay is very similar to Kirby: Canvas Curse, which is one of our absolute favorite Nintendo titles of the past five years.
The question mark, though? Haven't a clue.
EU release: TBA
2K Sports is taking an extra year to “refine, redesign and re-think” their PS3 and 360 hockey efforts, which makes NHL 2K11 a Wii exclusive, for better or for worse. The publisher won’t be hyping any graphical shine this year, but we’re awfully tired of every publisher’s yearly graphics boasting anyway (Look at these ice reflections!). We just want better hockey.
Back at E3, 2K spoke to us about its commitment to straight-up simulation, citing NHL 2K11’s improved AI and better skating. We haven’t played it yet, but if the Wiimote and MotionPlus are well-suited for anything, controlling a stick has got to be up there. But if the main game really is all about accurate simulation, then the new “Road to the Cup” mode must’ve been designed as its polar opposite. Cheesy-ass Mii minigames and trivia contests don’t exactly say “sim.” Though… as much as we want to make fun of the big-headed buffoonery, hockey minigames have generally been pretty fun in the past. We’ll give them a shot.
Platforms: Wii, DS
EU release: March 26… 2009!
We actually don't know anything about this game, which seems to be based on some kind of fictional child popular in Canada and Europe. Horrid Henry is only included here because we're hoping to inspire a new nickname for GamesRadar editor Henry Gilbert, and because the screenshot above makes us laugh.