The year is rapidly coming to an end and the time for looking back at this year’s crop of games has passed. Now that the planet has survived the Mayan apocalypse, every gamer has to make their annual resolution: to play more video games. While 2012 was a strong year for gaming, next year will be even bigger. If persistent rumors prove true, Sony and Microsoft will be launching new consoles by the end of 2013. Along with new consoles comes new IPs designed specifically for the next generation of gaming. Before that, though, there are several major titles and new installments to hit franchises set to release in Spring. Of course, all of us at Gaming Illustrated are anxiously awaiting the new gaming year. Here are our staff picks for the games we are most looking forward to experiencing.
Ryan’s Most Anticipated
Watch Dogs (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) – Ubisoft took E3 by storm this summer with the debut trailer for Watch Dogs. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, the same team responsible for Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs is a stealth sandbox thriller that takes on society’s reliance on technology. The announcement trailer shows some of the most realistic graphics and interactive setting seen in a game thus far. An interesting finale to the trailer hints at unique multiplayer elements. Ubisoft insists Watch Dogs will be coming to current generation consoles but the lack of further details and a release window suggest otherwise.
Kalvin’s Games To Melt Your Face
The Wonderful 101 (Wii U) – While this game was originally announced for the Wii U’s launch window between Nov. 18 and March 2013, the lack of information regarding the game suggest it is more likely to release in Q2 2013. Despite that, The Wonderful 101 is one of several titles coming out for the Wii U that gamers should be excited about. The Wonderful 101 allows players to control a group of superheroes that have to work together in order to stop various threats in the world by having their stable of heroes form various objects using the GamePad. As the game progresses, players will have access to more superheroes and be able to form even more objects. Labeled as a Pikmin clone with people in spandex, the Wonderful 101 should be on the radar for all Wii U owners in 2013.
The Last of Us (PS3) – Naughty Dog’s first non-Uncharted PlayStation 3 game, The Last of Us finally has a release date of May 7 2013. The gameplay footage so far has shown harrowing fights that seem better off avoided than faced directly (See Violence and Emotion in the Last of Us). The most exciting thing about this game is that it may prove to be a truly mature game that is not simply slapped with an ‘M’ rating due to profanity and violence. It forces the player to think deeply about what it means to take control of these survivors who are forced to kill their fellow man due to desperation and lack of resources. The Last of Us will likely touch on similar themes as John Hillcoat’s adaptation of The Road and Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, making for a stark and visceral game. As well, the game seems to feature a world as bleak and dark as the ones in those films. Naughty Dog is likely going to help make the swan song of the PS3 as hard hitting as a machete cleaving a skull.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, Xbox 360) – Of all the announced and rumored Metal Gear games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the only one that has a concrete release date. As another title developed by Platinum Games, based on the trailers it features a perfect blend of the Kojima political high-mindedness mixed with Platinum’s over-the-top craziness (and frankly Metal Gear’s own ridiculousness). A demo will be available on XBLA and PSN in January before the game’s release. Now everyone will have an opportunity to witness the amazing and slick action gameplay present in Revengeance without having to buy the Zone of the Enders HD Collection. Having played the demo, the gameplay is top-notch with fluid swordplay and a complicated but rewarding parry system. Action and Metal Gear fans are in for a treat in 2013.
The Phantom Pain (PS3, Xbox 360) – Of the trailers debuted at Spike’s Video Game Awards, none has more mystery or intrigue than the one for The Phantom Pain. The trailer takes place in the perspective of a soldier who has been in a coma and is missing an arm. The soldier who was in the attack that landed him in the coma tells him that they need to move because the hospital is under attack. Then, the viewer witnesses the amputee struggle to keep up, stumbling and crawling through the hospital. A military organization is taking and murdering other patients as the two try to sneak out of the hospital. During the escape, surreal images occur such as fiery horsemen and flying whales. What this game is or when it will show up is a mystery. All that is certain is that the trailer is all in-engine footage, it looks to be running on current console gen tech and it looks badass. With the next-gen consoles expected to arrive in 2013/2014, it is unlikely that the game is too far off. Some have rumored that it is Metal Gear Solid V and if that is the case then the official site for Moby Dick Studios is a clever ruse on Konami’s part.
What Rachel Will Be Playing
Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) – Irrational Games is bringing back Bioshock, but gamers should not expect an adventure like the previous Bioshock games. Bioshock Infinite will stand out from its predecessors by trading in the deep blue sea for the big blue sky. The game is set in the floating sky-city of Columbia, a metropolis shrouded in clouds and secrets. Gamers will play as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent with a rugged yet handsome look. DeWitt has been assigned to rescue Elizabeth from Columbia. The stunning and young Elizabeth has been a life long prisoner in the sky-city. Elizabeth has a unique protector, Songbird, who dedicates its existence to protecting and imprisoning Elizabeth. Gamers familiar with the Bioshock franchise will find similarities between Songbird and Big Daddies, preserving the franchise’s identity and fan nostalgia. Bioshock Infinite seems guaranteed to please both old and new players as they soar through the clouds, firing shotguns on zeppelins and uncovering the truth about the city in the sky. The current release date is set for March 26, 2013, although the date has been delayed in the past.
Dead Space 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) – Dead Space is another popular franchise set to release a new installment on Feb. 5, 2013. Isaac Clarke is returning to Necromorph territory more prepared than ever. Teaming up with his buddy John Carver, Isaac intends to discover the root cause of all Necromorphs and permanently eviscerate the abominations from the universe. Fans can anticipate Dead Space 3 to honor the series’ identity of horror and brutality but be introduced to a new type of Dead Space gameplay. Dead Space 3 will allow terror-seekers to team up and dismember Necromorphs together. Friends can play together as Isaac and John, battling vicious planetary elements and galactic monsters together. This co-op addition allows fear fans to experience violent and disturbing reality of Dead Space 3 together.
Ben’s Picks for 2013
Tomb Raider (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) – How many Tomb Raider games have you actually played and enjoyed? Seriously. Lara Croft has been around for 16 years and, in recent years, has really shown her age. Appearing in several games and across various forms of media, the heroine has a large fanbase that transcends the medium she originated from. Tomb Raider looks to reboot the struggling franchise in more ways than one. As more information and gameplay is released for the title, excitement is growing. At first, it seemed like Crystal Dynamics was trying to capture the epic scale of an Uncharted game with a Lara Croft paint job. Now, with the game’s gritty island setting, open-world environment, and coming of age tale for Lara being more fleshed out, players have a lot to look forward to. With a Tomb Raider reboot giving Lara Croft some youth, she might just have some thrills left in the tank.
Grand Theft Auto 5 (Xbox 360, PS3) - It would be crazy not to be excited about the newest entry in one of the most polished and controversial video game franchises of all time. Rockstar has rarely ever let fans down when it comes to their signature series. Where GTA 4 was released earlier in this consoles generation’s lifecycle, GTA 5 is going to have years of lessons behind it. GTA 5 looks to incorporate elements from the brilliant Red Dead Redemption and fans can hope the action from Max Payne 3 will also be present in some form. A few weeks ago, a ton of information and a new trailer were released for the game, setting anticipation to a boiling point. The revolutionary concept of being able to shift between three protagonists on the fly will allow for complex storytelling mechanics and mission dynamics that have only been imagined in the Grand Theft Auto series. For many gamers, Spring 2013 can’t come soon enough.
Sean’s Picks to Click in 2013
God of War: Ascension (PS3) - God of War: Ascension is the next in line for the popular God of War series, exclusive to the PlayStation 3 console system. It had a playable alpha at E3 2012 that seemed popular, marked by more of what has made the franchise famous; good graphics, good story, good gameplay. God of War: Ascension should be another solid title gamers can count on to deliver the goods and represent a solid gaming value. God of War: Ascension is a prequel to the original God of War so expect to see a ton of backstory. Despite being set before previous games, new elements such as DLC, multiplayer and time manipulation are featured. It should make for a great swan song for the God of War franchise on the PlayStation 3.
Gears of War: Judgement (Xbox 360) - Another game, another prequel. This time, it’s the Gears of War franchise. Gears of War: Judgment will tell the unknown story behind Baird and Cole, set for release on March 19, 2013. Gears of War is another one of those game franchises that has yet to disappoint. Sure, the first was groundbreaking, the second, okay and the third, pretty good, but nowhere in that line have gamers been solely disappointed. Gamers know what to expect with the Gears of War franchise and it is all stuff to love. Gears has always blended story with action so well and ending the franchise with just three games seemed nothing short of asinine. Although Judgment is not delivering anything further beyond the “conclusion” of Gears of War 3, the game has plenty of potential to be one of the best of the bunch.