Man, has it really been seven years since we entered a new generation of consoles? It feels like yesterday that the PlayStation 3 struggled due to a steep price point, the Xbox 360 had more blinking red lights than downtown Pittsburgh and dedicated gamers cried to the heavens that motion controls would ruin gaming forever.
Now late into the console cycle, we’ve hit our stride. Games both look and play better than ever before, and you can buy either of the two HD consoles for less than half of their initial retail value. My shelf has stacks of quality titles whose development could only be realized through years of practice with the current technology, and I have enough console-related gear to open a moderately successful retail chain.
It feels good, right? Sure, I know the prospect of a new, shiny set of hardware sounds appealing. We’ve had entire trilogies completed on one set of systems, and sequel fatigue is beginning to set creep up. I won’t argue that we can just continue on this same path for even three more years, but do me a favor – enjoy what’s coming around the corner.
The games of fall 2012 have been talked to death, and you should be excited for quality titles like Hitman: Absolution, Halo 4 and PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. You’re going to have a great Christmas, dear reader, but the software set to release in early 2013 will blow you away. You can talk about the rumored specs and features for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 all day, and you know, I’d probably have fun joining you in that conversation. Yet, the consoles on the market still have plenty of life in them, and the following games are why I’ll be happy to be a gamer next year.
DmC: Devil May Cry (January 15)
There’s more to look forward to in Ninja Theory’s take on the classic Devil May Cry franchise than just new hair, and the developer’s track record should excite fans of the franchise for this reboot. Remember Heavenly Sword and Enslaved? Those were both beautiful new IPs that unfortunately were not embraced by the gaming community. That stands to change with DmC.
The same team behind those criminally underrated adventures now has a crack at something more mainstream, and DmC’s sharp new aesthetic has me excited to slay demons as Dante for the first time in years. The core action remains largely similar to the foundation Capcom built in 2001, but there should be enough new bells and whistles to keep players interested for the entire romp.
Linear, single-player experiences aren’t as popular as they were when the first Devil May Cry game hit the market, but it’d be mistake to let this game pass you by. If you’re not convinced, a demo will be available soon.
BioShock Infinite (February 26)
The original BioShock was an absolute revelation in 2007, and while the second journey through Rapture had its moments, Irrational Games’ next move was what fans of Big Daddies and Vita-Chambers were most excited about.
Well, we didn’t get the supremely ambitious BioShock: Infinite in 2012, but that’s just fine. The city in the sky may be begging to be explored, but if there’s one team we should trust, it’s Irrational. The men and women behind this project have the ability to create a living, breathing world better than any other developer out there today, and if they need more time to create an experience they’re satisfied with, I don’t think we can complain.
Without a multiplayer mode to worry about, Infinite is set to be one of the most polished, focused experiences releasing in 2013, and the snippets of dialogue we’ve heard between protagonists Booker and Elizabeth are setting the stage for what’s sure to be brilliant narrative. It’s time to say goodbye to Rapture and accept the politically corrupt city of Columbia with open arms.
Tomb Raider (March 12)
I haven’t been interested in a Tomb Raider game since… well, probably the late 1990s. Back then, I was just enamored with Lara’s slightly cone-shaped assets, but the efforts of Crystal Dynamics have me energized for a while new set of reasons.
The overly sexualized Lara Croft has been left behind in this reboot, along with the clunky combat that’s held all of her tomb raiding behind over the years. This is a modern action game with a heavy emphasis on plaforming, and while we already have a pretty damn solid series in Uncharted that checks those same boxes, the darker tone here promises a unique experience.
Do I still kind of have a crush on this Lara? Yes, but this time, it’s for all the right reasons. This is a stronger, more believable character placed in a game I actually want to play. We probably won’t see a new Uncharted title until the PlayStation 4 hits, but Tomb Raider should keep the world more than satisfied before then.
Beyond: Two Souls (First quarter)
No matter your opinion on the strength of Heavy Rain’s narrative and voice acting, it’s difficult to deny just how ambitious the game was. It’s rare to play a game these days doesn’t have perks, action-packed combat or multiplayer, but the character-driven tale of the Origami Killer managed to captivate audiences through a steady stream of intelligent quick-time events.
David Cage and developer Quantic Dream feel they can top that effort with Beyond: Two Souls. As of now it seems the inclusion of Ellen Page has been the biggest talking point of the project, but the promise of experiencing 15 years of a single character’s life is exciting. While Heavy Rain focused on multiple characters and their struggles, Beyond will invest us in just Jodie Holmes, and that should allow for plenty of emotional attachment to that specific person. A narrative tackling what happens after death will raise some serious discussion from players, too.
It’s a beautiful, mysterious title that seems to take all the criticisms Heavy Rain received into consideration, and with Quantic Dream having years to grow accustomed to the PlayStation 3’s technology, the final product will undoubtedly shine. There’s no solid release date quite yet, but expect to see Beyond: Two Souls in the spring.
Metro: Last Light (First quarter)
Flying under the radar is Metro: Last Light, a first-person shooter with heavy survival elements set in a post-apocalyptic world. Developed by 4A Studios (based in the Ukraine) and published by THQ, Last Light doesn’t have the most steam behind it heading into a busy 2013. Yet, if atmospheric journeys through organic worlds are what you’re into, you’d be remiss to skip this game.
A follow-up to the chilling Metro 2033, Last Light takes you through a dark, bleak environment low on resources. Each bullet that leaves your barrel may have been worth enough to procure that last loaf of bread needed for the winter, or the clean water that may keep you alive for a few more weeks. The striking-yet-dingy world presented here is short on hope, but to the delight of all you trigger-happy adventurers, it’s got plenty of monsters to keep you preoccupied.
This is yet another single-player game on this list, as the planned multiplayer has been pulled to assure the quality of the core campaign – but don’t let that turn you away. There was plenty of content in the original Metro, and with three years of development time devoted to this game, expect a fully featured, well-polished product in early 2013.
There are plenty more great games coming out in 2013, so what are you most looking forward to? Would you rather we just have new consoles right now? Let us know by leaving a comment below!