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The year is at a close, which means the Blend Games staff will gather this weekend to drink cheap whiskey and discuss gaming in 2007. At some point a list of our favorite games for the year will come out of the ordeal, but before we get to that it’s time to look forward. After all, it was nice playing Crackdown but it’s no time to get complacent with our gaming. There’s a brand new stack of titles just itching to be played. Hopefully none of them have any debilitating diseases that will require daily cream application.

First up is the Xbox 360, a system that has been all too quiet on its future. Peter Moore set the stage for Fall 2007 at E3 when he emphasized Microsoft’s focus on the immediate future. But now we’re glancing around and wondering what the hell could follow such a stellar year for the system. Below you’ll find the games we’re most looking forward to on the big white console. If you were wondering, the list doesn’t assuage our worry that Microsoft’s first party lineup is crumbling.

5. Splinter Cell Conviction

The fifth entrant into the series got a boost of confidence from the masses when it was delayed. Yup, here’s an example of a good delay. Hell, after Double Agent a permanent delay felt like a decent move. But with Ubisoft’s impeccable Montreal team at the helm once more, and a little Assassin’s Creed crowd mechanism thrown in, the latest Fisher story may just be the shot in the arm a fledgling series needs.

4. Too Human

The controversy of the lawsuits, bad previews and all around comedy of errors the game became in the past is all over. It’s now time for Silicon Knights to unleash their gestating child and see if it stands or falls into a big bag of meat on the floor. Everything is there to make the game great, and we only have precious few months to wait. A delay into 2009 would be a prime example of a bad delay. Just in case you were wondering.

3. Devil May Cry 4

Nero and Dante and fast, furious, intense action is all we really need. From the looks of things Capcom has the formula down to a science and part four of the series won’t likely disappoint fans. And for any Xbox fans who have missed past iterations, think of this as sort of like Ninja Gaiden with guns. Capcom is unleashing the game in the winter (just like last year’s surprise Lost Planet), and DMC4 appears to have made a standard follow up into a must have gaming experience.

2. Resident Evil 5

Hello Capcom, nice to see you again. If you need any proof that Capcom is going to have a banner year in 2008, look no further than the trailer for Resident Evil 5. We’ve heard very little about the game since its official announcement. That’s kind of OK – except for the fact we’re aching to hear more, but we’re expecting nothing less than the greatness of RE4 in ridiculous high definition blood splattering glory. It doesn’t matter whose head you’re blowing off when they are intent on eating your arm.

1. Ninja Gaiden 2

The only title coming down the pipe for the 360 that could hope to match the flawless design and gameplay of Super Mario Galaxy is Team Ninja’s Ninja Gaiden 2. The sequel to arguably the best action game of the last generation, and even one of the best of all time, is set to come out soon. How soon? We’re still saying a Spring 2008 release is on the horizon.

We’ve all seen the gory spurts of blood coming from dismembered enemies in the videos, and that’s enough to get any Gaiden fan on board. But Itagaki has indicated the game will force players to finish off their foe, rather than leaving them a flopping torso. In Ninja Gaiden 2 you will have a replenishing health bar, but only if you kill all enemies in a battle. Your limbs now belong to Ryu Hyabusa.

Other titles we have our eye on: Fable 2, Halo Wars, Alan Wake, Fallout 3, Rainbow Six Vegas 2

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