The gaming gimmicks of 2008

Online Only

Broadband keeps getting cheaper, and consoles are now just as viable as online multiplayer platforms as PCs - illustrated nicely by online-only blaster Warhawk on PS3 last year, and the incredible strength and flexibility of Halo 3's online features. In 2008 we'll see a new generation of online-only console games, putting the restrictive and creaky likes of EverQuest Online Adventures and Final Fantasy XI to shame. There'll also be online innovation from traditionally offline experiences.

First up there's The Agency. Sony's super-spy massively multiplayer romp mixes easy-to-grasp ideas like a character's clothing dictating their skills and so on, with 'proper' MMO concepts like guilds, factions and - intriguingly - "betrayals". You'llbe able to set upyour own spy society after serving time with one of the game's two main factions, and recruit underlings to research weapons, uncover intel and set up new missions. If there's an option for our microphone headsets to make our voices sound like Sean Connery, The Agency will have everything covered.

On PC, Football Manager Livelooks like gracefully achievinga seemingly impossible goal - turn FM's complex and subtle layers of gameplay into a constantly churning massively multiplayer online game. Incredibly, FM Live is being created by justa handful of staff at developer Sports Interactive. Just about everything is there, from transfers to the FM match engine, but there's been some clever decisions made to give the game the full multiplayer 'feel'.

Federations like Moonlight FA (for night time players) or Extreme FA (for players online all the time) will cater to each gamer's style of play and level of commitment. Match completion deadlines will keep competitions ticking over, with matches against the AI for players whose opponent doesn't turn up. We gave the beta test a whirl last year and, though initially intimidating, Football Manager Live is already making us wonder why it's taken so long for the first football management MMO.

Ben Richardson is a former Staff Writer for Official PlayStation 2 magazine and a former Content Editor of GamesRadar+. In the years since Ben left GR, he has worked as a columnist, communications officer, charity coach, and podcast host – but we still look back to his news stories from time to time, they are a window into a different era of video games.