We are officially less than one month away from the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV – which I'm thoroughly psyched about – and for once, I might actually be caught up enough to invest a serious amount of time into it right off the bat. But there's another awesome release in April coming up that I ain't gonna miss, either…

Will we see more "Prologues" in the future?

This past week, we learned that Gran Turismo 5 was still about a year away , which disappointed many a racing fan. However, with Gran Turismo 5: Prologue releasing on April 15, we'll get a healthy dose of what should be the best racing game of the generation, and that's nothing to complain about. I still wonder, though…is Prologue a prelude of things to come in the industry? Think about it, demos are becoming more and more popular, primarily due to the rise of the PlayStation Network and Store. In fact, gamers are already starting to expect playable demos for high-profile titles, and in turn, many developers are granting their wishes. But what about blockbuster games that are still a long ways off, like GT5? Will Sony and Polyphony be the first and last to produce a demo that's so deep, it's bordering on a full game? Think about it- they're going to sell millions of copies of Prologue , and even though it's at a lower $40 price point, we're still talking about the same game . That's like almost doubling initial profit expectations!

Of course, it needs to be something people are going to buy, so it would have to be a massive title like GT5. Square-Enix could do it with Final Fantasy XIII , for example; just release the first few hours of the game, or something. We're talking about greatly enhanced demos, here, not the 10-minute downloadable demos we're already used to seeing. Question is, is Prologue merely blazing the trail for more demos-on-steroids that cost money? I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing…

Anybody else looking forward to Top Spin 3?

Being a tennis player myself, I've always liked the tennis video games, especially when they're simulators. The original Top Spin , while being far too easy, was still great fun, and the second ramped up the realism even more. I'm looking for another big update out of TS3, and while I hardly put great stock in celebrity or athlete endorsement, I like what Maria Sharapova had to say about it. She's probably not a huge gamer, so she might've been "amazed" at just about anything 2K Sports generated, but even so… I think one aspect of the TS series they need to work on is the serve, because it has been significantly downplayed in the first two entries. Big servers should be able to blast out 20 or more serves per match, but it was always exceedingly difficult to do that. Furthermore, it was far too easy to return a serve; if you ever stood back there attempting to return a 140 m.p.h. bullet from Andy Roddick, you'd know what I mean. Much of the return is just about luck, in that if you're caught leaning in the wrong direction, you're screwed. With tough servers, you often just have to guess .

The other enhancement I'm looking for is a balancing of the ground stroke game. In the first TS, it was far too easy to hit a winner; in the second, it was too difficult. They need to find a happy medium that tests your skill and your opponent's maneuverability without leaning too far in either direction. Beyond that, I do have faith in 2K Sports, and I'm definitely looking forward to playing Top Spin 3 .

P.S. As hot as Sharapova is, I must say, the hottest chick on the women's tour today is right here.

Personal gaming update

As I said in the intro, I should be in a good position when GTAIV releases at the end of April. I'm right at the end of Lost Odyssey , and even though I'll be pursuing more side-quests, I will also complete it this week. After that, I should get a good four weeks with Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds , which will make me very happy. It's what I've been waiting for, but like I've said in previous weekly updates, I wasn't going to break the seal on HSG until I had completed Lost Odyssey . And I've kept my word. But before GTAIV comes Prologue , which is another game that's definitely on my list. The good news, however, is that it shouldn't take very long to complete – as big as it is for a demo – which means by April 29, I should be all primed and ready to go on GTAIV. Being a huge fan of the series on the PS2, I have nothing but the highest expectations for that title, and I'm really hoping Rockstar comes through. I'll be handling the review, so be sure to look for it not long after April 29!

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