Next-gen may be on the way this year, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the road for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Far from it: over the next two years we're set to see the consoles' best games yet, their biggest and most beautiful, from GTA V to the next Metal Gear and even a follow up from the creators of Halo. We take a look at this generation's swan song titles that will keep your hands glued to your controller for months and years to come.
Grand Theft Auto V
The big daddy of the open world genre returns with its fifth instalment on current-gen consoles in September, bringing with it all the crude humour and explosive action that you know and love. The new title from Rockstar looks to go bigger and better by letting you play as not one, not two but three characters around a sprawling game world that’s larger than Red Dead Redemption, GTA: San Andreas and GTA IV maps combined. If there's one game this year to keep you busy for a long while, it's going to be Grand Theft Auto V.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
As far as series creator Hideo Kojima is concerned, the epic Metal Gear saga is far from over. While Solid Snake's story might have finished in 2008’s Metal Gear Solid 4, there's plenty of Big Boss’ past still to explore: set in both 1975 and 1984, you'll be jumping into Solid Snake Senior’s boots and exploring an epic, wide-open world that marks a departure from the relatively restricted Metal Gear games of the past, going as far as letting you drive vehicles and ride horses (though good luck doing that while camouflaged). The latest game is headed to both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, marking the first all-new, main-series Metal Gear title ever to be released on a Microsoft console - it's also headed to both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 too.
Gran Turismo 6
Gran Turismo is back three years after the last title in the series - and pretty promptly too, compared to GT5’s absurdly drawn out development time. The latest entry in the driving simulator franchise for PS3 was announced at Sony's fifteenth anniversary celebration of the series earlier this year, and it promises more cars, more tracks, and even a chance to win a seat behind a real race car as a professional driver. If you can't wait to get ahold of the new game, you can buckle up and grab a demo on the PlayStation Network right now to sharpen up your skills before the full game launches next year - and be in with a chance of participating in this year's GT Academy.
While Halo's now in the hands of another developer, Bungie isn't straying too far away from its space-ace roots with its next big title, simply named Destiny. The new game is set to be an action role-playing first-person shooter that sports some massively multiplayer online elements, but it won't be a traditional MMO with levelling, grinding and questing. Bungie has emphasised Destiny is more of a "shared-world shooter": the whole game universe will be "alive" and dynamic, carrying on when you log off. There are also plans for the game to tie-in to your smartphone or tablet, to keep you up to date on what's going on your game world, and you’ll be able to play alongside Xbox One and PS4 gamers, as this groundbreaking game is being developed for this generation and the next.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
It's been in and out of development hell since 2006, changing names, changing genres and even changing dev teams, but the long wait for the latest game in the XCOM series is nearly at an end. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, which launches next month, is no longer the first-person shooter first revealed back in 2010, but a third-person shooter with a covert twist to it. Boot up your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, whack The Bureau disc in, and take on the role of special agent William Carter in a high-stakes secret war for the survival of humanity. It’s still an XCOM game at its heart though: The Bureau also makes you think tactically to push your wits to the limit.
Beyond: Two Souls
From the makers of Heavy Rain comes another PlayStation 3-exclusive interactive action-adventure that's heavy on the drama. Beyond: Two Souls serves to further blur the lines between video games and films when it’s released in October by having lead Hollywood actors playing the major characters, vocally and visually. You'll find stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe digitally recreated in the game, with their names plastered on the box cover just like a movie poster: tying in with the film ethos, the game was only the second title to ever be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival back in April, with a 35-minute gameplay demo.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman is back for his third outing in the Arkham universe, although this time around, he’s getting the prequel treatment. It's set before the first Arkham Asylum game and stars a younger Bruce Wayne who's still getting to grips with fighting crime. The game keeps the same dark stylings as the previous titles as well as the gameplay, including the same addictive freeflow combat as well as a wealth of gadgets on your belt for you to string up the bad guys with. Look forward to donning your cowl and fighting crime all over again when the game launches in October.
First revealed at Ubisoft’s conference during last year’s E3 Expo in Los Angeles, Watch Dogs gave fans a glimpse of a new type of game, one that addresses real world concerns with serious graphics, gameplay and innovation. Fast forward a year, and we now know much more about the open world action game set to turn the stealth genre on its head. In a world of blanket CCTV, you assume the role of vigilante Aiden Pearce, who can hack into almost every electronic device in a city that's powered by a central supercomputer to aid him on his mission. You'll be able to dig into the futuristic world of Watch Dogs when hits in November on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U - next-gen versions are on the way next year.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
The Final Fantasy XIII saga draws to a close with the third and final game, titled Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which sees you jump back into the role of pink-haired heroine in the title. Lightning Returns' core concept is that it's set in a world that's always moving, with events happening within the game world whether you're there to witness it or not. You'll find the franchise's traditional RPG elements blended into the game, alongside frantic action gameplay in place of the more typical turn-based battles. You'll be able to finish Lightning's journey on both Xbox 360 and PS3 when it launches in February next year.
Dark Souls 2
One of the hardest games in the world is about to get a whole lot tougher. Meet Dark Souls 2, the sequel to the tough-as-nails title that's made even the most hardcore gamers smash their controllers on the floor in frustration. The action open world RPG is set to hit PS3, Xbox 360 and PC next March, meaning you've got a bit of time to prepare yourself before you jump into the epic hack and slash adventure, and learn a few breathing relaxation exercises to calm yourself. Trust us, you’ll need them.