It doesn't seem like it's been a year since we last jetted off to Cologne for a madcap week of gaming madness, but we're plunging into mid-August already and that can only mean one thing: Gamescom is nearly upon us. last year's show delivered a number of surprises, from our first look at the jaw-dropping Bioshock: Infinite, to predictions that Deus Ex: Human Revolution would sweep all before it (we'll have our verdict on DE: HR come Monday 22nd, and you'll definitely want to check that particular review). 254,000 people attended the convention back in 2010, overtaking the Tokyo Games Show as the world's largest consumer games trade show, the latter racking up around 207,600 entrants last year.
This year we're going out in force to make sure we snaffle up as much coverage as we possibly can, and we're going to be seeing a few very interesting things. Make sure you're signed up to our Twitter stream for live updates! We'll have coverage of the three main press events on Tuesday before throwing ourselves into the mayhem inside of the Koelnmesse Arena. Check out some of the things you can expect to see covered on the site below.
Microsoft Play Day - Tuesday, August 16th: 12:30 CET / 11:30 BST
As with last year, Microsoft's 'presser' will be a big hands-on, freeform romp showcasing Microsoft's key products for the next six months. Last year we got hands-on with Windows Phone 7, dallied with Kinect and blasted our way through several rounds of Halo: Reach.
This time around, it'll be interesting to see how the very US-centric features detailed at E3 translate here to Europe and what tempting treats Microsoft will be bringing to the new Xbox Experience over here...if any. Expect Kinect to feature heavily, with particular regard to Rare's Kinect Sports Season 2, but the hardcore crowd will probably be most concerned with three main titles coming this winter: Forza 4, Halo CE Anniversary Edition and, of course, Gears of War 3. We'll have coverage on all of the above both from the Play Day, and Jon and Felix will be chatting to the developers on Wednesday too.
EA Press Conference - Tuesday, August 16th: 16:00 CET / 15:00 BST
We already have a big, fat block of appointments booked in behind closed doors to check out EA's finest further along in the week, but we'll also be sat eagerly at the presser on Tuesday for the latest breaking news on big hitters Mass Effect 3, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, SSX, FIFA 12, SWTOR and, most excitingly, Battlefield 3. We weren't able to bring you a full preview of the epic FPS battle that will be waged with winter at E3. Expect that to be rectified fully at Gamescom. We anticipate some mouth-watering multiplayer reveals in the coming week, at which, quite frankly, DICE are experts. EA made a big show of supporting Nintendo a couple of months back, so it's not impossible that we might get one or two sidelong tidbits pertaining to the Wii U.
Let's keep fingers crossed for that rumoured Syndicate reboot from Starbreeze as well shall we!
Sony Press Conference - Tuesday, August 16th: 19:00 CET /18:00 BST
Sony's press event last year was essentially a presentation of renewed vigour: the PS3 was finally firing on all cylinders, Playstation Move featured heavily and Sony made a big show of their localisation arrangements to show that they truly delivered an entertainment hub in the PS3 that offered something extra in countries that weren't just the US or Japan. E3 this year was conducted in the wake of PSNgate, but Sony came out with a huge apology, backed up with exclusives galore, a reveal for the PS Vita. an awesome new TV and Ken Levine's well-documented U-turn on PS Move.
This year's Gamescom will be a chance for Sony to sell people on the idea of the Vita. With dedicated portable gaming in real trouble if the 3DS is anything to go by, Sony have an opportunity to restore a little faith and capitalise on Nintendo's stuttering start. Jon and I got a brief hands-on with it a couple of months back, but Brendan, Carl and Felix will have plenty more to tell you about in the next few days, with a couple of new titles no doubt to be announced. We'll have a bunch of PS3 material for you as well, with previews of Uncharted 3, Starhawk, Twisted Metal on the cards.
As for the rest of the show, well one thing we weren't able to look at in any detail at all last year was the MMO hall. Not to fear! This time, Carl will be tapping NCSoft, Blizzard, EA and more for some particularly meaty reveals. The big publishers are all out here in numbers too. Bethesda will be eager to show off more of Skyrim, RAGE and Prey 2, as well as new title Dishonored. Tom's going to be bringing us word from Warner Bros., with Arkham City promising to be a big, big title for them. Ubisoft are bringing some serious firepower to the convention, as they did at E3, their 25th year will be a biggie. Assassin' Creed: Revelations, Driver: San Francisco, Rayman Origins, Far Cry 3, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and a whole lot more. Namco, as the recent showcase suggested, are going to have of their biggest shows to date, and we'll finally have some alone time with Soul Calibur V. Activision, SEGA and THQ will be showing Modern Warfare 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Saints Row: The Third respectively alongside a whole load more besides, Capcom will have Dragon's Dogma on the show floor (and boy are we excited for that!) and 2K are bringing Borderlands 2 to the party for a first look.
We'll be doing sweeps of the show floor throughout the week, the colour-coded timetable is stuffed with closed door appointments and we'll be chatting the ears off of any developers who'll stop for five seconds. As well as mainstream coverage, you can expect us to cast our eyes over the indie outfits who've rocked up too.
We're almost glad that Bioshock: Infinite isn't here, it gives others the chance to win Game of Show. It's going to be one hell of a week. See you on the other side!