The Xbox 360's next three years

The 360’s future has never looked so bright. Well… ‘never’ is maybe going overboard. It’s certainly never looked shinier or blacker, and definitely never sounded so quiet. Games like Crysis 2 and Rage look so much nicer than the real world that you’ll never want to leave the house again. Let’s not forget the 360 launched with the likes of Perfect Dark Zero and Far Cry Instincts Predator – games so ugly, with textures so plasticky and greasy they looked as though everything had been rubbed with meat.

Estimates from publishers and developers put the dawn of the next-next generation around 2013 or 2014, which firmly places the 360 in the pension line at the Post Office, but the extended lifespan has seen developers push boundaries like no generation before it. Take a look at the industry’s worst-kept secrets, and at how the biggest games of the next three years could be the biggest games of the generation.

From Turn 10…
Forza Kinect

”There’s the Burnout Natal demo where people were driving Burnout like this,” Turn 10’s Dan Greenawalt told us last year, waving his arms around. Forza Kinect has those controls but that’s not what excites Greenawalt. Head tracking and being able to reach out and touch your car is the future of Forza, but with the E3 demo still bearing the Forza 3 logo, the next Forza is an update, not a sequel.

From Io Interactive…
Hitman 5

Io has messed about with Kane and Lynch and Mini Ninjas for too long; Hitman has development woes but it is under development. A trip last year to Io’s Denmark offices let us peek into a room where every PC desktop displayed the Hitman logo, while movie mag Variety claims the 2011 movie sequel will borrow plot elements from the next game release.

From Ubisoft Toronto…
Splinter Cell 6

Already confirmed by Ubisoft and under way at its newly-formed Toronto studio, the sixth Splinter Cell builds on the foundation established by Conviction and is headed up by the same leads – Maxime Beland, Alexandre Parizeau, and Patrick Redding. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is Ubisoft’s spring tentpole; expect Sam Fisher to take Christmas 2011.

From Crytek…
Codename: Kingdoms

The trailer reveals little, but sources suggest Microsoft has brought in Crytek to out-Sony Sony. The 360 has Forza to Sony’s Gran Turismo and Gears of War to its Killzone, but it has no exclusive to beat God of War. With Gears 3 and Halo Reach shipping within six months of one another, Microsoft has no heavy-hitter for Christmas 2011. Kingdoms might be the CryEngine 3-powered answer to both problems.

From Crystal Dynamics
Tomb Raider

Last year, Crystal Dynamics was recruiting for a game they described as “one of the most prestigious AAA franchises in the industry” and a stack of leaked slides revealed a rebooted Tomb Raider starring a young Lara Croft in an Arkham Asylum-style open-ish world. Sources suggest the ninth Tomb Raider will be Square Enix’s big Christmas game in 2011.

From Insomniac
Untitled project

Insomniac, long-time developers for Sony’s various PlayStations, has jumped ship and joined EA to work on 360, PS3, and PC. The team behind Ratchet and Clank and Resistance has always worked on surprising projects, and the deal with EA – which covers one IP and one game only – will undoubtedly be something totally unexpected.