The hottest games coming to the Xbox 360 in 2009

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

The Godfather II

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Things have changed since we first got an offer we couldn't refuse. This time, instead of being a lowly gun-toting thug, you step into the shoes of The Don himself. A strategy element has been added to the gameplay adding an extra bit of challenge as you try and expand your family's business.

Godfather II helps put you in the Mafioso mood by adding what is called "The Don's View." At anytime during the game, you can call up a 3D map of the surrounding area (in this case) Miami. It shows all the various rackets and crime rings and the families that are running them. Using this map you can strategize exactly how you will take over the city, conquering multiple crime rings at once if necessary. Another added advantage of The Don's View is the ability to send your hired gunmen out to various locations to do your bidding while you accompany your own handpicked crew on various misdeeds. The trick is making sure you have assembled the right crew to carry out the crime at hand. Breaking into that high security building is going to be much easier if you have someone who knows how to disarm alarms on your team.

The Godfather II has a ways to go before it is completed and hopefully will play to its strengths. The strategy element is an interesting addition and is really where the game shines. If EA can get the rest of the title to live up to the Don's View, this could turn out to be an interesting title for Grand Theft Auto fans.

Halo 3: ODST

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Halo 3: ODST will put players in the boots of a UNSC recon soldier for the first time in the series. The unnamed recon agent will serve as a "new hero" for an all-new story line and single-player campaign. The game has been described as both an "expansion" and a "prequel," but players won't need to own the original Halo 3 in order to play ODST. In fact, ODST will share several elements with the original Halo 3, including the full multiplayer and Forge editing modes.

A New Fight

The teaser trailer, debuted at the Tokyo Game Show, shows a catastrophic explosion in a human city that is the result of the Covenant's invasion of Earth following the events in Halo 2. The camera then pans to show a group of heavily armored Brutes-the ape-like Covenant aggressors featured prominently in Halo 3's story line. Judging by the footage, the new lead character appears to have a high-tech visor that highlights nearby enemies in bright colors. We've received word that Halo 3: ODST will play much like Halo 3, so we're expecting to see a first-person camera view, familiar weapons, and similar gameplay.

Bungie Jumps

The Halo 3: ODST is being developed by Bungie, the now-independent studio responsible for the original Halo trilogy. Microsoft confirmed a Fall 2009 release date, and the game will ship on a physical DVD-no word yet on a possible downloadable version, but it seems logical.

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