The Phillies may falter, but there will be no June swoon for video gamers this year. Some very hot titles will be released in coming weeks.

Perhaps the most exciting prospect on the June gaming calendar is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, a title that is noteworthy on several fronts. First, MGS4 is of a vanishing breed, the console exclusive. The game will be released only for PlayStation 3, and that seems fitting. After all, the first widespread exposure of American gamers to the series began on the original PlayStation with the release of Metal Gear Solid in 1998. In 2001, Metal Gear Solid 2 helped drive the PlayStation 2 sales juggernaut. With PS3 sales lagging behind those of Wii and Xbox, the system is badly in need of a must-have exclusive. Some observers even view it as a potential PS3 savior.

The Metal Gear Solid series also is credited with popularizing the stealth-action style of play as its high-tech hero, Solid Snake, often achieves his goals by avoiding combat. The MGS influence in this regard can be seen in the Splinter Cell series as well as many other games.

Sadly, the release of Metal Gear Solid 4 not only celebrates the 10th anniversary of the series in the U.S. market, but also marks its end. Revered game designer Hideo Kojima has indicated that this will be Solid Snake's final adventure. Of course, Snake will go out with a bang as MGS4 makes use of the PS3's processing muscle to push the game's graphics to levels not possible on Sony's older systems. Some interesting marketing tie-ins also will be seen, including an iPod carried by Solid Snake that allows users to play music tracks that are hidden within the game. Additional songs will be available via download - and, no doubt, with a fee attached.

The second most exciting news in June is the debut of the popular Guitar Hero series on a handheld system. Guitar Hero: On Tour will provide Nintendo DS owners with the opportunity to rock out to tunes by the likes of Nirvana, Blink 182, the Doobie Brothers and Pat Benatar. Unlike the console versions of this game, there will be no guitar-shaped controller. Instead, a specially developed DS peripheral known as the Guitar Grip will be bundled with the $49.99 game. Attaching to the DS, the Grip features four colored buttons to match notes with songs as they scroll onscreen. A special guitar pick-shaped stylus is also included for strumming.

Other June gaming goodness includes NASCAR 09, The Bourne Conspiracy, LEGO Indiana Jones, the Incredible Hulk, and Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm.

Power Up:

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Konami. PlayStation 3. $59.99

Rating: M (17 and older)

On the Web:


Guitar Hero: On Tour

Activision. DS. $49.99

Rating: E10 (10 and older)

On the Web: