I just got my issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine today, and I'm happy to say that I'm really stoked. Flipping through the pages, I gaze in wonder at the newest games to be released and revealed in this glossy tome. I can honestly, and probably for the first time, say that I'm really excited about the coming year for the PS3. My only complaint? That I have to wait a damn year to play some of these games. Which games am I talking about? What am I looking forward to? None of your business! Just kidding, here's what's got me pumped.

All things Final Fantasy. I can't believe it. A game spin-off from FF VII that I actually want to play. No offense to Dirge of Cerberus, well, maybe a little. The game did suck after all. Crisis Core seems to have it all. The return of Cloud (different from the one we all grew to like), Sephiroth, Aerith (or Aeris for all us English-speaking types), and Zack (the unsung hero of Final Fantasy VII). Why is he so important to this story? If you have to ask, go play the game again. Taking too long? OK, here's the short version. Zack and Cloud were both in the same military unit. Zack was in Soldier, and Cloud was a basic bullet catcher type. When he witnesses Zack get killed by Sephiroth, Cloud goes a little crazy and ends up adopting Zack's personality as his own. Later Cloud goes to Midgar and ends up working for Avalanche against Shinra. It's kinda confusing, but makes for a great game. Hopefully this prequel will be just as good. Also, it wouldn't hurt to actually learn who Zack really is. We know a little bit about him, but not enough. My only problem with this game is that I have to buy a damn PSP to play it. I guess there are worse things to have to put up with.

Crisis Core is not the only FF love we may be getting this year. A real numbered game is in the works. Final Fantasy XIII is due to come out sometime this year...or next. We don't quite know when it's coming out, but it will be released eventually. One thing we can count on though, is that it will be good and very polished. What I do like seeing is a return to the sci-fi type feel that X had. In fact, my favorite games of the series so far are VII, VIII, and X. All had decidedly futuristic settings and technology. The fantasy stuff just never really sat well with me, just couldn't get into it. The other FF XIII game coming out next year is Versus. Again, another one that I am hopelessly anticipating.

Now, here's a series that I've never had any real interest in playing. Tomb Raider. Sure, there have been some good games in the series, but not any of what I've wanted to play. I've never been one for third-person platforming games, but one game recently changed that for me. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. That one game has opened my eyes to this genre. The only thing I expect now for Tomb Raider is for it to be as good as Uncharted. If it isn't it'll lose me and a lot of fans and potential fans forever. So far, it does look promising. But, looks are only half of the equation. It has to play good too.

There are also a couple of other games that have caught my eye. One is The Force Unleashed. That is a game that seems to have a lot of potential. Intriguing story, interesting characters, empowering abilities, and eye-popping visuals. It won't be out for a while, but It's got my attention. The last game is that damn Turok game. Everywhere I look I see these huge 2 page spreads for it. I've also played the demo. Good environments, fluid controls, and of course, the dinosaurs look plenty menacing. Can't wait to see the bigger ones later in the game. Taking a bow and arrow to the T-rex will be pretty hopeless, but looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Being a fan of the N64 series, this is one game I have to get.

Well, that's my list for what really has me excited this year. Of course, there are many other games coming out that look great, but these are the top of my list. For now. So, what did I miss that you are really looking forward to? Drop me a line and let me know.
And Speculation.

Last month I gave my thoughts on the upcoming year for all the consoles. I thought the PS3 and 360 could have a strong year. I also wrote that I thought the Wii was on shaky ground. Now we are hearing news and speculation from some of the other media outlets. Was I on the right track? Will the PS3 make a comeback? Can the Wii maintain it's momentum? Let's see what the experts are saying.

First up with the big announcements is EA. We all know EA is fond of making grand statements with regards to its competitors and partners. So them coming out with a statement from left field is nothing new. This is what they had to say about the coming year. EA thinks that the Wii will stay on top in 08, not much of a surprise there with the Wii's current sales figures. What is surprising is EA's prediction that the PS3 will outsell the 360 in the upcoming year. But, should that really be surprising at all? According to sarcasticgamer.com, the PS3 has already outsold the 360. Check out their article to see how they came up with the numbers.

If what they say is true, the PS3 outsold the 360 by 1.53 million in 07. If that comes as a surprise to you, join the club. All we've heard this year is how the 360 is trouncing the PS3. Are we being lied to or is this just something that no one has really paid any attention to? If it's a case of the first, I get that. Microsoft definitely does not want this to get out. But, if it's a case of the second, now that's a problem. We all know the ignorance the mainstream media has in regards to videogames, but what about the typical gaming media outlets? Why is this being reported only by sarcasticgamer.com? Are they way off base, or are they onto a story that has yet to break big? Definitely something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

As far as the Wii goes though, EA's assessment is not the only one out there. Microsoft has it's own ideas. Jeff Bell of Microsoft has said that the Wii is kinda like a gateway device to the world of gaming. His thoughts are that the Wii is getting people into gaming that may not have thought about owning a console before. Unfortunately for Nintendo, Microsoft doesn't think people will stick with it for the long haul, and will be looking for a new system when they grow out of the Wii. This is simplifying Jeff's statements quite a bit. Read the full interview with him here. Does his theory hold water? In a way it does. The theory of the Nintendo bubble bursting has been making its rounds on the internet lately and has been getting a lot of attention and speculation.

What? You haven't heard of the Nintendo bubble theory? Well here it is: The latest thoughts are that the Wii's game line-up can't support the sales the console have achieved as of late. What this means is that the gamers will realize that all there is to play on the Wii are the typical Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games, plus lots of crappy third party games. In the past Nintendo has had the problem of not being able to get consistent third party support. Nintendo doesn't have that problem this time. The new problem is all the really bad third party games that are on the console now. Aunt Trudy may buy that cool looking game for little Timmy, not realizing it's a complete disaster and pretty much unplayable. This may lead to a backlash of people not purchasing third party games, even the good ones, and stick to the first party games. That in turn, could lead to the third party developers pulling their support. The result being a drought of good third party games similar to what the N64 and and Gamecube were plagued with. The result will be less game sales, and then less console sales. The bubble, being the currently huge sales numbers, will eventually burst.

Overall, I think my ideas were pretty close to some of those in the industry. I was surprised about the bit of PS3 outselling the 360, but the Nintendo bubble bursting idea didn't surprise me at all. It just doesn't seem to have the credentials to hang with it's competitors. Game-wise, Nintendo doesn't have the library. Tech-wise, there's no contest to either platform by its competition. Even if it adds DVD support this year, I don't think it'll be able to maintain the top spot past 2008. I may be wrong, after all, I'm just the average gamer.