This could be it, guys.
2013 could be the last hurrah for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. And on top of that, it will be the Wii U’s first full year – arguably the most important time period for the console to prove its longevity. In both of these scenarios, it is up to developers to bust out the very best games they can. Whether it means going out with a bang or breaking in strong, 2013 has some outstanding titles.
Here are the ones I am most looking forward to:
The Rayman series never really impressed me until 2011’s Rayman Origins. The old platformers never really struck a chord with me, and the Rabbids series did nothing for me whatsoever. But between Rayman Origins, one of the most challenging and brilliantly designed platformers of this generation, and Rayman: Jungle Run for iOS and Android, the most addictive mobile game I’ve ever greased up a touch screen with, the armless weirdo has won my heart.
Rayman Legends looks to blow even the previous two efforts straight out of the water, however. Somehow managing to have an even more gorgeous art style than Origins and with new mechanics that seek to improve the formula without muddying it up, Legends looks to dethrone New Super Mario Bros. U as the Wii U’s best platformer early on, and could very well keep that throne for the Wii U’s duration. The handicapped multiplayer options, the slick but unobtrusive use of the GamePad’s touch screen, and OH MAN those rhythm-based levels all make me drool uncontrollably. This beauty will be platform bliss.
Metal Gear Rising: Reveangance
One of many recurring games from my most anticipated games of 2012 piece, Revengeance is still on track to be incredible. The story is becoming increasingly clearer as we now find Raiden a mere four years after his memorable role in Solid Snake’s final tale. Now working for a PMC to try and raise money for his family, Raiden’s found an excuse to don the cyborg ninja getup once again. But this time, he’s stronger than ever, capable of lifting and throwing entire Metal Gear Ray units around if he needs to. He’s a powerful fella these days.
Internet children are furious at this game’s existence, bearing the Metal Gear moniker yet focusing on fast-paced swordplay and explosions. But with series hero and mentally warped icon Hideo Kojima still overseeing production, this is a game that will not tarnish the name we all cherish. This may not the Metal Gear we know and love, but with the important part of the game’s story out of the way, it’s a perfect time to take risks with the franchise. At its worst, Revengeance will be unfamiliar; at its best, Revengeance will kick off a new series that we can wrap ourselves in just as much as the Solid series.
The Last Of Us
If there’s one thing Naughty Dog knows how to do, it’s craft a well-told story, create gorgeous, lifelike graphics, put us in marvelous set-piece scenarios that make movies look like first grade plays, and give us characters we fall in love with. Alright, maybe there are four things Naughty Dog knows how to do. REALLY WELL. The Uncharted series defined the PS3, but instead of milking it dry, Naughty Dog is taking everything they do well and going in a new direction with The Last of Us.
Set two decades after a catastrophe that infects the planet, kills millions of citizens, and makes way for nature to take over established cities, The Last of Us stars a survivor named Joel seeking to rescue a young woman named Ellie for an old friend. Breaking free of one of the established quarantine zones, Joel finds Ellie and the two of them try to make their way back, battling infected humans who want nothing more than to spread their virus. The gameplay looks tense and terrifying, and is designed for multiple approaches and a different outcome every time. Naughty Dog is evolving from “find cover, shoot enemies even though they refuse to die, then do some awesome platforming” formula and taking a more natural approach. Naughty Dog could very well be outdoing themselves in 2013.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Another game returning from 2012, South Park: The Stick of Truth has gained a subtitle and shown off some gameplay footage since I last anticipated it for the coming year. Written and overseen by series creators (and my personal heroes) Trey Parker and Matt Stone, The Stick of Truth will finally end South Park’s long-held reputation of terrible games based on it. One look at the most recent gameplay trailer will have any South Park fan crying and pitching a fit at the fact that they haven’t already played through it twice. I have tears streaming down my face as I type this.
The game looks like an episode of the show. The writing is just as hilarious as the show. The gameplay looks like it has elements of both Final Fantasy and Paper Mario in it. Trey Parker has compared it in scope and theme to being as big an undertaking as, if not bigger than, another movie. And we all know the South Park movie is basically perfect. Obsidian’s vague new release window of the game and THQ’s bankruptcy have me living in fear of cancellation or a horribly buggy game (Obsidian’s reputation for glitch-free games is not too hot), but Trey and Matt are not about to let anything bad happen with this game. If it’s even as half as good as it could be, it will easily be my personal game of the year for 2013.
Nintendo’s got a massive arsenal of iconic franchises and important, flawless games, but the Pikmin series is never mentioned among them. Easily the most underrated (and also adorable) franchise in Nintendo’s catalogue, Pikmin has gone an entire generation without a new entry. But 2013 will remedy that sinful situation when the world is finally blessed with Pikmin 3.
The original two games still hold up as far as photorealistic graphics and charming art design, so seeing Pikmin in HD makes it worth it alone. But Pikmin 3 also appears to use the GamePad better than any Wii U title so far, acting as anything from an overhead map to a full on control panel. Use the GamePad in whatever way makes you comfortable; however way you use it will sell you on the brilliance of the GamePad. Adding rock Pikmin to the mix and, as recently revealed, returning to the design philosophy of the original, make this a Nintendo release you won’t want to miss.
Ubisoft finished up the Assassin’s Creed series in 2012 (yeah right), so it’s time for something new and exciting to be the studio’s flagship title. Watch Dogs (or WATCH_DOGS, as Ubisoft want people to write it) was revealed at E3 2012 and impressed everyone ever, will hopefully be released sometime in 2013. It probably won’t, but let’s all pretend it will for a while because that’s what they’re telling us.
This alternate universe thriller takes place in Chicago, where everything from power to people’s identities are controlled by one central supercomputer – the Central Operating System, or CtOS. Hopping in the sweet feet of hacker Aiden Pearce, players will be able to hack everything in the city and use it to their advantage. The demo showed things like listening in on cell phone calls and controlling traffic lights, all while mixing in the intense action Ubisoft has found themselves so great at. WATCH_DOGS will comment on the interconnectedness of everything as a result of modern technology, showcasing the dangers of an overly-digital world. Let’s just hope it comes out in 2013.
If BioShock isn’t in your top five games of this generation, you probably have terrible taste in entertainment. Or at the very least, you don’t like to think while playing videogames. BioShock made huge strides in the realms of storytelling and player agency back in 2007, and while its 2010 sequel was still outstanding, it failed to live up to its predecessor, due largely in part to the fact that it was not developed by BioShock’s Irrational Games. BioShock Infinite, however, is.
Maintaining BioShock in its title (it really should just be called Infinite, but we’ll let that slide) has tricked dummies into thinking that this game is some sort of sequel or prequel to BioShock. Everyone is hoping for Infinite to end in the creation of Rapture, or feature a young Andrew Ryan, or even see Elizabeth revealed as the first Little Sister even though she’s clearly in her 20s and this game is set decades before BioShock. And while there very well may be a connection or two established to the saga in Rapture, Infinite is its own game with its own merits that has more than enough potential to set itself apart from the 2007 game changer.
Delayed from 2012 to 2013, and then even further into 2013 (granted, only by a few weeks), BioShock Infinite has made it a point to remind us it’s alive with some unstoppably delicious videos in recent months. We’ve seen the first five minutes and its chill-inducing homage to BioShock, we’ve witnessed brutal battles with both firearms and vigors (the game’s equivalent of plasmids), and we have been sold on the fact that this game is its very own beast, one that will end this generation prematurely with a colossal bang. I can’t even begin to fathom just how perfect this game will be when it lands later this year.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto is similar to Call of Duty in that they are both legitimately well-made games that have broad enough appeal to make your average frat boy or bro mark out over it. Which makes it difficult, sometimes, to get super amped up about a new entry in the series. “If THEY like it, it’s probably not that good,” you might find yourself saying. I’ve seen many people deny the greatness of the GTA series because teens who like Adam Sandler movies and wear #YOLO t-shirts have a blast with it; the type who don’t even bother with the story and just like causing chaos and running over hookers. But there is no denying that the GTA franchise consists of well-made games with terrific writing, expertly crafted cities, endless activities, and sharp gameplay all around. Oh, and it basically invented the open-world genre, too.
Personally, San Andreas is tough to be topped as far as GTA games go. The state of San Andreas and its three wildly different cities made exploring the 1990s more fun than the real thing. But what I absolutely loved was just going for a drive. I loved that it took some time to get from Los Santos to San Fierro, and that you could take the highway or the backroads. There were miles of desert to explore, dense forests, huge beaches, and even smaller towns in between to make San Andreas feel like a real slice of the US. GTA IV, while an excellent experience, simply gave us tons of city and nothing else. But GTA V looks to remedy that.
The game world in GTA V has been declared larger than Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV, and San Andreas COMBINED. There will be mountains, forests, backroads, suburbs, and of course, a fully functioning main city of Los Santos. And you don’t have to explore it as just one character. GTA V is introducing the mechanic of three playable protagonists that can be switched between at any time. These aren’t just generic avatars, either – each of the three characters represents a different point in the life of crime. One man has made his money and is “retired” from criminal activity, another man is in the midst of his life as a criminal, and the third man is only just now being introduced to this scary world. A life of crime fully explored.
GTA V seeks to raise the bar once again, as if to set a record one last time so the next generation has some work to do. When it hits during the third quarter of 2013, all other open world games will have something new to beat. Well, this, and my last game…
Lego City: Undercover
Yes this is one of my most anticipated games of 2013. No it is not a joke. Did you ever play Lego Island for the PC? No? Why not? Go back in time, buy a copy, and give it to your 1997 self to watch your world immediately transform around you. Lego Island was an open-world Lego game, way before Lego characters had voices or were animated or had 50 TV shows. You could play as one of five characters, each with a set goal, as you explored Lego Island. And at the core of Lego Island was the villainous Brickster, an incarcerated crook who is eventually released to terrorize the island, and it’s up to YOU to stop him! Plus you could build cars, do some racing, deliver pizza, OH MAN there was so much to do. At least it was a lot back then. Obviously this game would be laughed at now (it probably was then, too, but these rose-tinted glasses look great on me), but when I was a child I would explore Lego Island for hours.
As far as I know, there hasn’t been a PROPER open-world Lego game since Lego Island. Enter Lego City: Undercover. It looks SO GOOD. It’s basically GTA with Lego. There looks to be action, platforming, vehicle building, and I’m PRETTY sure I saw the Brickster in there. I will lose my mind if the Brickster is in it again. I never did catch him as a youth. If it wasn’t for New Super Mario Bros. U, and Pikmin 3, and Rayman Legends, and Zombi U, and the inevitable new Zelda and Smash Bros. games, this would absolutely be a system seller for me. Come on. You know it will be fun.
Well that’s enough of that! 2013’s looking pretty sharp, isn’t it? We had some great stuff come out in 2012, but it was one of the weaker years of this generation. Mostly because half of my most anticipated games of 2013 were supposed to come out last year. So with all those games coming out THIS year, plus the other amazing titles due out, then 2013 could be a brilliant year to finish off an outstanding generation.
But let’s be honest. ALL of these games will probably come out in 2015.