The hottest games coming to the Xbox 360 in 2009

The biggest games you'll want to keep an eye on.

Wheelman

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We can sense your disappointment. After a year with stellar sequels in the GTA and Saint's Row franchises, how could 2009 even begin to compare in the sandbox genre? Well, Vin Diesel is hoping the relative lack of open-world crime sims will provide an opportunity for Wheelman to pull ahead of the competition.

Developed by the Hollywood celeb's own Tigon Studios, Vin Diesel will also have the starring role in Wheelman as Milo Burik, an undercover agent seeking to infiltrate an underground crime syndicate in Barcelona. While we've been told that the game will indeed feature on-foot action, the emphasis of the early footage has been the insane driving action. True to the game's title, Burik is an expert driver, deftly dodging bullets and potential pile-ups.

The game seems to be channeling the Driver series of old before it went down the tubes. For example, the chases we saw seemed to encourage inventive route finding, like plowing through a middle floor of an office building during a chase. That's not to say you'll always be on the run, as the game offers up many opportunities to fire back at the other car-bound baddies. We've heard that the game will allow through-windshield gunfire, which makes sense. After all, if your character is willing to bash other cars to oblivion, why does he have to shoot out through the side window? It's a cool little addition of realism, and hopefully it'll have some gameplay ramifications, too.

The Wheelman was originally set to release alongside a movie adaptation, but it seems like Diesel's moved onto other movie projects, including the fourth chapter of The Fast and the Furious (4 Fast 4 Furious?). Hopefully, Midway will give the game a head start on the movie.

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