With the onset of the new year, Steven Balbirnie gives us the lowdown on the hottest new releases of 2011.

3DS (Nintendo)

Nintendo unveiling their new handheld console will likely be the hardware highlight of the year. The system is more sophisticated than the Wii and capable of graphics more like those seen on PS3 or Xbox 360. It will also be capable of displaying 3D graphics, following the recent trends in cinema and television. Scheduled games appear to be mainly ports of old N64 or current PS3 titles rather than original releases, but I doubt this will stop the 3DS from being one of the most sought-after releases of 2011.

Marvel vs Capcom 3 (Capcom)

After ten years in the pipeline, the latest instalment in the comic book/video game crossover fighting series is set for a February release. Now you can answer the burning question: who’d win in a fight, Spider-Man or Chris Redfield?

Metal Gear Solid: Rising (Konami)

With the latest MGS game, out goes the trademark stealth gameplay to be replaced by hacknslash action as Raiden, rather than Snake, takes centre stage. It is a bit of a departure for the series, but previous gambles by Hideo Kojima have paid off. Fans will therefore be hoping that it sticks to its original release date and will not, as rumour suggests, be delayed until 2012.

Portal 2 (Valve)

This year sees a sequel to the game that made physics fun. The original game was a surprise treat and hopefully the sequel will measure up. Expect more teleportation, challenging puzzles and the return of one of the greatest villains in gaming history: GLADOS.

Shadows of the Damned (Grasshopper Manufacture)

To date, everything developed by Grasshopper Manufacture has been brilliant; but can the company’s latest game continue this trend? Shadows of the Damned is a supernatural western made jointly by the respective creators of No More Heroes and Resident Evil, with the score being provided by the composer of the Silent Hill franchise. Expectations are high.

Tekken X Street Fighter (Namco)  & Street Fighter X Tekken (Capcom)

Tekken X Street Fighter is one of two crossover fighting games to be released shortly. This time, it involves characters from two of the most popular beat-‘emup franchises. The game will run on the Tekken engine, but another version called Street Fighter X Tekken, developed by Capcom, is also scheduled for release soon and will run on the Street Fighter engine. Is this a cynical money-grabbing scheme by the two companies effectively releasing the same game twice, or are they merely catering to fan demand? I’ll let you decide for yourself.