The gaming gimmicks of 2008

The New Havok

Physics? Pah! You know not of physics. This year, a new generation of physics engine will add new levels to the fun of banging boxes off of people's heads. The Euphoria "motion synthesis" engine comprises of a simulation of a person's skeleton, muscle and nervous system. Which sounds a little dull, until you put it into videogame terms - thump someone in the face and they'll crumble realistically from the impact, reaching out arms to break their fall or grabbing onto nearby objects to save themselves. It's physics with personality, animation with emotion.

Rockstarare using Euphoriafor Grand Theft Auto IV. Nico Bellic's enemies will try to keep their balance in fights by twisting or turning their bodies. Each bullet that hits a target will have a distinct and visible impact on the particular body part, throwing people's legs out from under them, say. And fatal wounds won't merely result in slumped bodies, but in cartwheeling, somersaulting corpses, depending on the force applied by the projectile.

LucasArts is also bringing the procedural animation engine to its games, starting with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Like GTA IV, enemies will tumble and fall with believable grace (or a lack of it) and react satisfyingly accurately to your attacks. But your Force powers will create some tragi-comic moments, too. Hoist a Stormtrooper skywards along with a bundle of crates andhe'll desperately try to clingto the heavier object for stability, or attempt to grab the environment and anchor himself like a five-year-old in a doorway. Ahhhh, bless. Crush him! (The Stormtrooper, that is...)

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.