Gamescom might not have the glitz and glamour of US trade show E3, but it's absolutely massive and crammed full with the games we're going to be playing for the year to come. Here are our picks of the best titles on show.
Enslaved - Xbox 360 and PS3
There really isn't enough hype surrounding Enslaved; it's going to catch a lot of people off guard. Forget what you've seen in Terminator, The Road and Mad Max. In an authentic future without humans, nature would reclaim the Earth. This is the kind of world that Ninja Theory has expertly brought to life in Enslaved, with lush green vegetation sprouting from the mechanical carcasses of droids and machinery from a forgotten past. The world, story and character development will be the real star of Enslaved, but the Uncharted-esque gameplay looks more than competent enough to hold it all together.
Motorstorm: Apocalypse - PS3
3D technology is seeping into every aspect of modern entertainment, be it TV, film or games. For the latter, the technology seems to have gone largely wasted; a mere gimmick that developers are looking to capitalise on. Motorstorm: Apocalypse is different. As players take to the streets of The City during the midst of a violent earthquake, buildings, bridges and burning debris will fall mere inches from the player's face. It makes for the kind of 'edge of your seat gaming' that games have been trying to achieve for decades. While we only saw one track from one game mode, Apocalypse got our pulses racing like nothing else at gamescom.
inFamous 2 - PS3
Having super powers is a pretty sweet deal. Having super powers in an open world game where you can do what you want, when you want is even sweeter. inFamous 2 takes the popular formula set by its predecessor and makes things bigger, better and generally more bad-ass. This time around, the game's protagonist, Cole, has a new weapon known as the Amp, which brings him far closer to his adversaries than ever before. Trying this out on the show floor, we were impressed at how cinematic the combat felt; the camera swoops and swishes and slows down time as it follows Cole's relentless assault on his enemies. The resulting action is very satisfying to play indeed.
Homefront - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
For a game trying to focus on the emotional response of regular American citizens after their country has been invaded by Korea, you don't half play a gun-toting, swaggering badass: I'm fairly certain the player character could shoot an assault rifle sixteen miles with absolutely perfect accuracy. Who knows, maybe all Americans are taught that at school or something. Still, Homefront looks like one of the most promising concepts for a shooter in years, and the footage shown at gamescom 2010 suggested the game is well on the way to achieving the rare feat of mixing engaging characters and plot with action-packed shooting and dramatic set pieces.
Portal 2 - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
Valve didn't actually show anything they haven't already revealed, but when the footage is this good I couldn't help but remain impressed. Besides, looking at Portal 2 a second time allowed me to focus on the incidental details - the pneumatic tubes, the factory lines and the laboratory slowly stitching itself back together. Case in point: as you activate an Aperture Science Sentry Gun production line, the robots all switch on at exactly the same time - lighting the room up in hundreds of flicking red dots. It's absolutely gorgeous, with an art direction that few other games will be able to match.
Call of Duty: Black Ops - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
The Modern Warfare 2 backlash (which I don't understand, for the record) has probably damaged its chances of getting the cynics majorly hyped up before its launch in November, but I doubt anyone at Activision and Treyarch give a damn - I'll be very surprised if this doesn't end up as the biggest selling game of 2010. What's exciting is that, as far as I'm concerned, it looks like it just might deserve those sales: every level shown so far has been detailed, destructive and, most importantly, just a little bit different from that familiar Call of Duty mould.
Guild Wars 2 - PC
Guild Wars had been the sanctuary for any MMORPG fan trying to escape WoW's death-grip. If you were looking for a massively multiplayer RPG with an anti-grind philosophy then GW was your best bet. What Guild Wars 2 offers this time around is story inside an MMO structure. In fact the game's current marketing line is: "putting the RPG back in MMORPG". You're introduced with character options that frame how your character reacts to NPCs, how their personality comes across, and how their story throughout the game is narrated. Even conversations with NPCs involve branching dialogue trees that have different effects on your game. It's standard fare for RPGs but bloody innovative in an MMO, and Christ knows MMOs need a bit of innovation.
Bioshock: Infinite - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
I had been sceptical about Bioshock: Infinite. It was consistently being called AiroShock by the public and as the third in the series the game had every reason to be a cash-in on a formula that had worked for the original game. But Infinite might as well be an entirely new IP. Don't expect Big Daddies on jet packs; this game has an entirely new plotline that takes place in the period between the civil war and WW1, when new technology suddenly began hailing down on simple Americans. In fact the game functions far more as a commentary on American imperialism than it does on the previous BioShocks.
Need For Speed Hot Pursuit - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
After the disappointing NFS Undercover and the good, but different NFS Shift, it's great to see the franchise returning to its roots with good ol' fashioned Cops vs Robbers style gameplay. In the hands of Criterion, the UK-based studio is bringing all its experience from making the Burnout games to the table and looks to have created a blockbuster thrill ride packed with high octane spectacles. What's more everything is held together with a layer of social gaming which puts your friends' achievements at the forefront of the experience.
Def Jam Rapstar - Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii
I have absolutely no interest in karaoke and rap music has very little appeal to me, so it's a bit confusing when I realise I probably had more fun playing Def Jam Rapstar than anything else at gamescom. It might look like a rap version of SingStar, but the fact you're playing a game that rarely requires you to actually sing means you don't have to spend your life faffing over pitch. And it's a lot of fun. People tend to look a bit like a deer in the headlights when you suggest they play it, but I would encourage everyone to give it a go: it's the most exciting music game since Rock Band.
BulletStorm - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
In the space of a ten minute demo, Bulletstorm went from being another Unreal Engine 3 FPS to one of the most fun titles at the games fair. From the same people that brought us the Painkiller franchise, Bulletstorm is unlikely to win many over with its storyline, but its unique skill shot system actively encourages creative killing, awarding players for elaborate executions and bloody massacres. All the carnage is beautifully rendered too; shooting a mutant in the balls has never looked so good.
Dead Space 2 - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
Poor Isaac Clarke had a bit of a rough time of it in Dead Space. The systems engineer had to turn action hero as he sliced and diced his way through the necromorph infested USG Ishimura. In the sequel he's back - he's got over his bout of laryngitis, too - and finds himself on The Sprawl, a civilian space station where the Necromorph outbreak begins. The action looks sure to send chills down your spine and our hero might not be in the best of mental states after his order a few years earlier.
It's been over 12 years since we've seen a game from Eric Chahi, the French creator of Another World and Heart of Darkness, but with any luck From Dust will be worth the wait. It's a god game, a clear descendant of Peter Molyneux's classic Populous, and it boasts some of the most impressive terrain deformation we've ever seen. As nerdy as that sounds, the bottom line is that From Dust looks amazing - allowing players to sculpt and deform a lush island world in a bid to save a tribe of near-helpless villagers. It's a game about "the power of nature, the relative insignificance of mankind and the brevity of his lifespan." Check out this developer diary and see what you think.
Journey - PS3
Jenova Chen's gamescom presentation was a typically mysterious and thoughtful affair, one that included musings on the philosophy of commuting and how astronauts feel when they see Earth from space. Chen is a true original, and the same can be said for the output of thatgamecompany, the developer behind Flow and Flower. Journey looks to continue the studio's trend for beautiful, unconventional games; this one follows a red-hooded figure made of cloth as he crosses a mysterious, dream-like desert. It's a multiplayer offering too, although this aspect of the project is still largely under wraps. Suffice to say we're dying to learn more.
Inversion - Xbox 360 and PS3
It's a sci-fi, third person shooter with a cover system - and yes, it does look like Gears of War - but man alive, Inversion has some neat effects in its bag of magic tricks. Along with the expected blasting and close-up head stomping, Inversion is laced with all manner of gravity-flavoured jiggery pokery - fuelled by Voodoo (i.e. impressive new tech) from the guys at Havok. Your weapons have the ability to pull people clean out of cover, leaving them floating helplessly in the air as you line up a killer headshot, and there seems to be loads of detail to the wanton mass destruction. It's being developed by Saber Interactive - the New Jersey studio behind TimeShift.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
The E3 showing of Human Revolution seemed to make a big impact on everyone who saw it - so much so that one punter we spotted appeared to be on the verge of tears. While the gamescom demo didn't feel quite as shockingly fresh it was still pretty damn good, showing three different ways to work through an early mission: via stealth, smooth-talking, and all-out kerblammo massacre. There was also a fleeting mention of a man named Manderly - a detail that sent audible ripples through the veteran Deus Ex fans in the room. So far everything has looked incredibly promising, and now we're hungrier than ever to actually play the game for ourselves.