It’s the start of a new year and with a new Wii console on the market and new XBox and PlayStation consoles being mooted for 2013, it is shaping up to be a promising year in the gaming industry. We take a look at some of the major releases coming our way in the next 12 months.
*Looks over shoulder to make sure 2012 is over* It is? Good! That was pretty poor, wasn’t it? Football fans out there will appreciate this analogy, I feel. I like to think of release years for video games in terms of major football tournaments. Everyone gets excited when The World Cup comes around every four years, and the European Championships manage to plug the wait two years later but we’re left with a gap year either side with nothing but friendlies and games against The Faroe Islands to look forward to.
The year 2012 was one of those gap years, really, much like 2010. Sure we saw the fastest-selling game of all time in Black Ops II and Halo 4 came out to a thunderous reception, but those are like "friendlies", sequels which played it safe and milked the cash cow further. They just didn’t satisfy gamers in the way 2011 releases did.
So what have we got to keep our thumbs busy in 2013? Well, by the looks of it there will be the annual onslaught of sequels released, some interesting original titles to whet our appetites and the promise of new titles to be hitting the shelves as the next generation of consoles look to be released. Nintendo is already stealing a march over Sony and Microsoft, getting its Wii U console to market in late 2012.
Grand Theft Auto V
You know the drill by now, Rockstar North places you and a number of interesting characters in a large sandbox environment resembling a famous city (it’s Los Santos this time, a fictional Los Angeles) and you get to play out a number of missions in an attempt to become top dog in the city. Well, things will be shaken up a little in this instalment (the 15th in the series!) with the player taking control of three separate characters – Michael is a retired former bank robber converted into a family man, Trevor Phillips, his former partner, and Franklin, a repo man living in the suburbs. Together the three acquaintances are drawn into Los Santos’ criminal underworld ‘in the pursuit of the almighty American dollar’. There are even rumours afoot that there will be a multi-player feature in GTAV. Hold on to your hats, this one could be epic!
Due for release: XBox 360 and PlayStation 3, March 2013 – rumoured
Dead Space 3
And now, here’s something we hope you’ll really like – the trailer for Dead Space 3 seemed to call out to me. Yes, it is true, I’m a sucker for survival horror and I did enjoy the last two instalments although at times the gameplay shifted from survival horror to comedic gore-action gameplay and things can get a little too unwanted when you try too hard to be Gears of War. Dead Space 3 is primarily set on a frozen planet called Tau Volantis, and once again the gamer takes control of Isaac Clarke, pitted together with Sgt John Carver as they attempt to stop the Necromorph scourge for good. It’s a early enough release for 2013 so clear your weekend schedules in February.
Due for release: XBox 360 and PlayStation 3, 8 February 2013 – confirmed
Gears of War Judgment
*Sigh* Speaking of Gears of War, there’s a new one coming out in 2013, too. In my review of 2011 in gaming, I made a point of saying that if George Lucas has taught us anything it is once you’ve done an epic trilogy it’s best to leave it alone for fear of sullying everything you’ve done. And just like George Lucas, Epic Games has decided to ignore that warning and make a prequel. Overall, the project is not helped by the fact that veteran game designer Cliff Bleszinski and series producer Rod Fergusson left Epic Games last year. I’m expecting chest-high walls, violence, aliens and a meagre brush with the original storyline.
Due for release: XBox 360, 19 March 2013 – confirmed
Happier news for 2013 is while Gears of War tries to undo all its previous good work, Bioshock gets the chance to make amends for the utterly terrible Bioshock 2. Now I can see the hypocrisy in saying that, but Bioshock proved the series had huge potential so I’ll allow them this opportunity to make things right in the trilogy. Besides, this isn’t really a sequel or a prequel in certain terms. Bioshock Infinite is set in an earlier period and a different setting – in 1912 in the floating air city of Columbia. Of course the ‘Big Daddy’ characters are still around, in the same way Pyramid Head always shows up in Silent Hill to appease fanboys, but I have high hopes for this game. They’ve even managed to nab Rod Fergusson (mentioned above) from Epic Games for the project.
Due for release: PC, XBox 360 and PlayStation 3, 26 February 2013 – confirmed
A quick mention to the other sequels which will be available in 2013 – Crysis 3, Dead Island: Riptide, and Metal Gear Rising Revengeance have all been confirmed with rumours also gathering around a 2013 release for Fallout 4. Oh, and there’s a new Tomb Raider coming out too, called Tomb Raider, which will seemingly be a reboot of the franchise that’s going to screw with a lot of people’s filing systems.
There’s only one thing I like more than an adventure game, and that’s an adventure game that has anything to do with Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert. Those of you who were early Nineties gamers will understand the admiration these two get for their contribution to the adventure-game genre. Well, the two have teamed up again for Schafer’s studio Double Fine Production’s The Cave. Borrowing concepts from Gilbert’s 1987 game Maniac Mansion, The Cave‘s story is based on a magical talking cave with a labyrinthine set of tunnels within it. I’m not expecting queues at midnight for this game, but if there are I’ll be at the very front of them.
Due for release: PC, Wii U, XBox 360 and PlayStation 3, January 2013 – confirmed
Stealth, hacking, large open world city, action, adventure. So many check boxes ticked by Ubisoft’s proposed release Watch Dogs. What looks like a cross between Grand Theft Auto and Thief: The Dark Project is sure to get gamers excited in 2013. The game centres on the player’s ability to hack into various systems, either to obtain and control information or to destroy those devices completely at specific times. Winner of many ‘best of’ awards at E3 in 2012, it will be a serious contender for game of the year.
Due for release: PC, XBox 360 and PlayStation 3, in 2013 – confirmed
The Last of Us
Developer Naughty Dog has been teasing us with this one for awhile now. What was mooted for a 2012 release has been delayed until 2013, and the longer wait has done nothing but fuel the hype around The Last of Us. Built on the ever-popular Havok physics engine, the developers have promised to introduce something that they call ‘dynamic stealth’, meaning different actions taken by the player will affect the reactions of enemies in the game. The delayed release coupled with my aforementioned fondness for survival horror games mean this is one of the games I’m really looking forward to this year.
Some other original titles to keep an eye out for include Omerta – City of Gangsters, a sort of Sims meets LA Noire-type game. Devil’s Third, a first-person shooter which looks like the restaurant scene from Kill Bill: Vol. 1, and The Last Guardian the visually stunning epic from Team Ico which will be a modern classic if it ever sees the light of day.