Perhaps these trying economic times have caused you to become more frugal; maybe you're being more selective in your video game purchases. If that's the case, and you're planning ahead, simply put these five titles on your "must-buy" list and you'll be assured of playing the best of the best.

5. Gears of War 3

As the sequel proved last year, you really can't go wrong with Gears of War . You can just feel the grit lodged within every dark, bloody nook and cranny of these adventures, and everyone will flock to step into the capable shoes of Marcus Fenix once more. As one of the best third-person shooter experiences available this generation, GeoW3 is destined to be yet another masterpiece. …we only hope Epic can iron out a few of the remaining technical hitches and glitches, and if they do, the third installment is gonna rock even harder.

4. Gran Turismo 5

Racing aficionados have had the benefit of a frequently updated and expanded Gran Turismo 5: Prologue , but we're all anxiously anticipating the final product. This is once again going to redefine the nature of the driving simulator, so we're expecting the combined brilliance of gorgeous, nearly unparalleled visuals and the most realistic physics yet. Every time we pop Prologue in, we just start wondering- "if this is an early indicator, can you imagine how amazing the full game will be?!" In the realm of racing simulators, there's always competition, but we remain confident that when GT5 arrives, it will have no equal. We're sorry, but Forza has never been able to stack up in terms of authenticity, and if anyone mentions that lame joke of a damage model they have, they're gonna get smacked . By me .

3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Arnold tells me it's the prettiest console title he's ever seen, and after the teaser trailers and media I've seen, I'm inclined to believe him. I also distinctly recall the wonderful visuals we all saw in the original Uncharted , and that was back in late 2007. Naughty Dog is going to "wow" the masses with this one, and let's not forget the most important factor: it should boast some of the finest third-person gameplay in history. After Uncharted 2 explodes onto the scene later this year – and it will explode ; we promise you – Nathan Drake and his new quest will become one of the most respected and heralded titles of the generation. You can't possibly miss this one, and if you loved the original, we absolutely guarantee you'll adore the sequel.

2. Final Fantasy XIII

We firmly believe that it'll be well worth the wait, as was the case for every main Final Fantasy installment since the original PlayStation. FFVII defined the RPG in the PS1 generation; FFX defined it and FFXII re defined it in the PS2 generation, and we're waiting for the next leap with FFXIII. Yes, it's also coming to the Xbox 360, but we don't really have a problem with that (and we still believe if you have the option, the PS3 version will certainly be the best choice). Granted, we really haven't seen much in the way of extended gameplay, but we should see a lot more in the coming months. That one-hour demo that ships with the upcoming Blu-Ray release of "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children" will yield plenty of online footage at places like YouTube; that's a no-brainer. And in the end, this will be placed among the best of the best of the best .

1. God of War III

We really had no choice in the matter. No other video game franchise in history scored higher with its first two installments than God of War (feel free to check me on that, but I think it's true), and you can bet the critics will once again go crazy for God of War III . The real-time videos we've seen thus far have absolutely blown our mind, and we have little doubt that it could become the greatest game of the generation. Kratos is going to embark on the most brutal, dynamic slashfest yet, and you'll definitely want to purchase a ticket for this ride. As far as straight-up action titles go, you won't find anything better. Oh, and please don't ask us if it's coming in 2009, because it's really not…we're almost certain.

So there you have it. Bear in mind that we're not sure if something like Grand Theft Auto V , Killzone 3 , or the next Metal Gear will release before 2010 is over; these are the titles that absolutely should be on store shelves before the end of next year. There are many awesome games on tap, though, so we're certain opinions will vary.