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12 gaming mysteries we want solved in 2011

Is there really going to be a Sly 4?

The PS3 release of The Sly Collection last November was a strangely quiet event, with Sony seemingly doing as little as possible to promote or draw attention to the HD collection’s release. What was even stranger, though, was what was locked away as a hidden extra: an apparent teaser trailer for the as-yet-unannounced Sly 4.

Was this an actual reveal of an upcoming game, or just a case of developer Sucker Punch messing with our heads? Without any sort of official announcement (or even a hint) from Sony, it’s hard to be sure, and that cane-shaped question mark at the end of the trailer doesn’t help. It could just be a spec trailer meant to sell Sony execs on the idea of a fourth Sly Cooper game, or it could be something Sucker Punch is quietly developing on the side. With InFamous 2 due out this year, the developer’s plate could be relatively clear, meaning it’s not out of the question that we’ll at least see real confirmation of Sly 4’s existence sometime this year.

What will the next generation of consoles look like?

This November, the Xbox 360 will turn six years old. If you’ve been a console gamer for much longer than that, you already know that the average lifespan for a console generation has traditionally been about five years. For those of us who grew up with a steady rotation of new and better game machines to look forward to, it’s starting to feel like it’s time for a change.


Above: THIS IS NOT ADEQUATE CHANGE

Yes, we know the PS3 was touted as a 10-year console, and that Microsoft and Sony, having just released motion-control peripherals, probably aren’t in a hurry to roll out new hardware – especially not when the old models arguably have yet to hit their technical peak. Yes, we know the Wii is still a strong seller, and that Nintendo has little incentive to replace it. And yes, we’re aware that the focus right now is on handhelds, with both 3DS and the PSP2 due out sometime this year.

All that said, we still want to know what’s next. It doesn’t have to come out this year, next year or even in 2013, but it’d be nice to have something on the horizon to get excited about – and if anything’s going to be unveiled, 2011 seems like a good year in which to unveil it.


Above: We’re not ready to leave these behind just yet, but we’d also like to know what’s over the horizon

Will Half Life 2: Episode 3 ever actually come out?

Seriously, will it? Either Valve’s been secretly at work on this for the past two years – which seems like an awfully long time to be working on the third installment in a series of relatively short episodes – or it’s simply not going to happen. At least not in the form we’ve been expecting.

Honestly, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Valve just dropped the whole “episodes” idea at this point, took the ideas it had for Episode 3 and used them to create a full-blown Half-Life 3. Short of an amazing, blowout finale (that still managed to be inexpensive), it’s hard to think of any other way to pull anyone but the most die-hard Half-Life fans back for one more expansion to a six-year-old game, however beloved it might be. Once Portal 2 is out of the way, maybe Valve will give us a better idea of what its plans are.

Will we really be able to spot a lie in LA Noire just by looking at faces?

When Rockstar Games promises something, they usually come through with it. So when the company told us that a key part of LA Noire’s gameplay will be using facial expressions to see when people are lying or hiding something, we said “neat!” and accepted it as truth.


Above: This guy’s probably hiding something, but how subtle will he be about it?

The more we think about it, though, the more we have doubts. Not that Rockstar was being hyperbolic, but about how well spotting lies will really work as a game mechanic. Assuming the game’s actors – whose in-game faces are alarmingly lifelike, thanks to Rockstar’s new face-capture tech – don’t just smirk or roll their eyes when their characters have something to hide, trying to zero in on a lie could be either immensely rewarding or immensely frustrating.


Above: Will this actually work as advertised, or just give us really cool/eerie-looking faces?

It all depends on how well the game walks the line between being too obvious and being too inscrutable, and with multiple variables to consider – the actors, the directing, the usefulness of both to the game design – it could be easy to lean too far to one side or the other. It’s still a fascinating idea, but we won’t know for sure how well it’s implemented until we spend some time alone with the game. Which, obviously, is something we’re very much looking forward to.

Will SSX: Deadly Descents be as serious as the trailer made it look?

Even though it was only about a minute of pre-rendered footage, the initial reveal of SSX: Deadly Descents suggested that the lighthearted snowboard-racing series is undergoing a dramatic shift in tone. One with a darker color palette, extremely hazardous mountains and possibly even enemies to deal with.

Is the traditionally silly extreme-sports franchise going all Extreme Ops on us? Will it really be haunted by a darker tone and the possibility of in-game death? Are fans even slightly justified in making a stink over it? We have no idea, but we’ll probably find out soon enough.

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.