E3 2007. Let's be honest, it lacked a certain something. A slimmed down bastard child of its former glorious excesses, last year's Electronics Entertainment Expo may have provided the business networking opportunities its smaller number of attendees craved – but it was without the event's hallmark abundance of euphoria.
Gone were the days of hoopin' and hollerin'; replaced by the consumer-adverse, dull clap of handshakes amongst the big cheeses. For those of us keeping a keen eye on each publisher's showcase from across the Atlantic, there wasn't much to get the adrenalin pumping. There was the Slim'n'Lite PSP, of course, but Sony saved its real ‘fireworks' (as David Reeves termed them) for Leipzig in August.
And then there was, well, then there was... exactly what we expected, really. Publishers let their (pre-announced) products do the talking, we all knew what was coming – and there was little to get fanboys jumping up and down.
Which, of course, is completely fair enough. But this year, to coin a phrase, it looks like it's all going to kick off. Even top execs are starting to let their inner excitable infant have a say.
Microsoft's David Gosen is telling MCV about ‘game changing' announcements. The internet is rife with speculation about what Sony and Nintendo are up to. And as for the other publishers, well, excitable conjecture is flying around about pretty much every major label.
One thing's for sure, it's worth a couple of pages of out and out speculation. So, allow us...
Alongside more in-depth details on the titles we know about (the likes of LittleBig Planet, Killzone 2, Resistance 2 and MotorStorm 2), Uncharted 2 could be confirmed, but given Sony's recent talk about PSN, expect Home and the platform holder's online vision to dominate proceedings.
Expect Microsoft's assualt on the mass market to come to a head – a raft of new titles (and possibly peripherals) are likely to surface, but the platform holder will be careful not to disappoint its core fans, so more details on Halo Wars, Gears of War 2, Too Human and Alan Wake should redress the balance.
Secretive as ever, Nintendo's execs have given the press little to base their predictions on, but a revival of the platform holder's past franchises will keep the company's fans happy and could include Starfox, Kid Icarus, Pikmin, F-Zero and Donkey Kong. Wii Music has been widely touted for a forthcoming release – and more peripheral-based SKUs could also boost Nintendo's line-up.
Peter Moore's arrival at EA's relentlessly successful Sports division has seen a renewed focus on making its titles more accessible, and with one EA exec hinting at bringing its own Wii peripherals to the market, this could be EA's big reveal. Alongside more from its reliable stable of big-selling franchises, new IP like Dead Space and a new MMO project could steal the headlines.
We all know plenty about Ubisoft's forthcoming titles thanks to the French publisher's recent UbiDays event, but expect firmer details on the new Prince Of Persia, Beyond Good And Evil and Tom Clancy games, alongside intriguing James Cameron-endorsed 3D title Avatar. As for surprises, Ubi could well unveil Red Steel 2 and Assassin's Creed 2 – complete with a crowd-pleasing appearance from Jade Raymond…