Let's face it, 2007 was a landmark year for everything gaming related. It may have started off a little slow with the first half consisting of a smattering of clever titles such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernoybl, Forza Motorsport 2 and Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, but as fun as they were, they were nothing more than a squirrel in the way of World of Warcraft's much anticipated steamroller, The Burning Crusade.

We expected South Korea to grind to a halt in May with the announcement of StarCraft II, but there was genuine shock and embarrassment when Taito's Cooking Mama: Cook Off failed to capture the popular adolescent fake electronic cookery lesson market - regarded as the veritable "gaming holy grail" by industry executives worldwide.

Things were set to get worse when Xbox 360 Red Rings of Death finally outnumbered the PlayStation 3's actual sales, but this was tempered somewhat by Microsoft's warranty extension offer, and free copies of Viva Pinata with paper instruction manuals that made for light reading while you waited for your Xbox to be fixed.

Yes, all things considered, 2007 was a year of two halves, and after we'd finished our orange slices, we were confronted with Bioshock. Then Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms, Medal of Honor: Airborne, Skate, World in Conflict and Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. Without even pause for breath, those of us with working Xbox 360's then had Halo 3, to contend with - the highest grossing opening day in entertainment history, no less.

There were a few other low budget, small production titles such as Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Fifa 08, Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Acceleration, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Hellgate: London, The Witcher and one that hardly anyone plays anymore, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Not enough? How about Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect - and for most people in the world apart from us, Rock Band. They even released a game exclusively for the PlayStation 3 - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

So, how can 2008 compete when there were so many games in 2007 you actually got sick of them, and started using your DS instead? Let's take a look.

Grand Theft Auto IV

(Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)
It's not actually a game, it's a reason to hope you wake up on the morning of April 29th with glandular fever, at the same time the courier company drops off your copy, just so you can have a legitimate reason to skip work for a month.

We've been across all the hype, we've scanned global news reports, interviewed company spokespeople, we've even actually stolen cars in order to bring you as much accurate information as we can, but nothing will prepare us for the global frenzy we're expecting in three weeks or so.

With news that someone has actually already finished the game, and has admitted that it's every bit as good as it should be, we know Rockstar won't disappoint. Mind you, there's at least one other reason we can think of for this as well.

Where Grand Theft Auto III introduced us to the open-world, go-anywhere dynamic of a living city, Grand Theft Auto IV will place it under a microscope with a level of detail never seen before.

Guiding Nico around Liberty City in the present day no longer simply requires you to run down pedestrians and execute crime bosses (although if that's your thing, Rockstar won't stop you) - GTA IV is going to ask you to try just a little harder to emulate real life.

You're going to have to get used to your actions having further reaching consequences. You'll need a considered approach to each situation. Above all else, GTA IV will provide a layer of maturity to a controversial title to allow it to remain on the cutting edge, not the cutting floor, and this is but one reason why it will be the largest selling title of 2008.

Continued on next page...