2013 is looking to be a great year for video game releases. We’ve got a ton of great titles that were pushed into this year from the holidays, we’ve got a bunch other games coming later in the year — not to mention the inevitable console launches of both Microsoft and Sony. To get everyone hyped up about how great the year is looking, Ron Burke and I have gone through the current lineup for 2013 and listed a few of the games we’re both looking forward to. It’s pretty telling that once we got started, it was pretty hard for us to stop listing off the games we can’t wait to play — the first quarter of this year alone is jam-packed with awesome looking games. Check out the slideshow below (click the arrows at the sides of the picture to advance), and sound off in the comments if we missed your favorite!
1. DmC: Devil May Cry [PC, PS3, 360]
Ok, yes, Dante’s got black hair this time. But DmC: Devil May Cry (despite the incredibly redundant title) looks to capture the same essence of Hideki Kamiya’s original series, while still adding Ninja Theory’s unique twist to the story. Set in an alternate reality to the main series, Dante’s been labeled as a terrorist by a mysterious group known as “The Order,” and he’s got to clear his name all while bringing down the bad guys. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about this title, but after spending some time with the demo, I have to say that I’m impressed that Ninja Theory has kept the same Devil May Cry feel within the combat, while adding their own cinematic flair to the environments and gameplay. Dante’s got several different weapons at his disposal, and by holding down the shoulder buttons, he can switch between them on the fly, chaining together epic combos in a fantastic ballet of guns, swords, and carnage. I shouldn’t have doubted Ninja Theory; Enslaved: Journey to the West remains one of my favorite action games of the generation, and DmC looks to follow suit. DmC: Devil May Cry is right around the corner, releasing on January 15th on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and January 22nd on PC.
2.Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch [PS3]
January kicks off the PS3 exclusive train with a bang, as Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch aims to prove that Japanese RPGS are just as relevant now as they’ve ever been. Ni no Kuni puts players in the shoes of young Oscar as he experiences the death of his mother first hand. As he is overcome with sadness, he notices that the doll his mother made for him has come to life, and guides him into another world where the possibility for saving his mother may exist. Combining top-notch JRPG design from Level-5 (Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy) with art direction from world-renowned animation house Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Ponyo), Ni no Kuni aims to combine beautiful graphics with classic RPG sensibilities (world maps are back!) along with its own unique take on monster collection and training. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch will be released on January 22nd, and that day can’t come soon enough. ~Release Date: January 22nd
3. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time [PS3]
It’s been about eight years since we’ve last seen Sly and the gang, and their return comes not a moment too soon. Despite being handled by Sanzaru Games (the team responsible for porting the Sly Cooper Collection to PS3) rather than original developer Sucker Punch (who have been busy lately with InFamous), Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time looks like it’s going to capture that same platforming/stealth magic the previous entries handled so well. Whether Sanzaru can pull it off remains to be seen, but the return of Sly’s lovable sidekicks Bently and Murray, as well as antagonist/love-interest Carmelita Fox, they’ve certainly pulled out all the stops to make sure it lives up to fan expectations. Once again Sly and co. will be pulling off heists in large, open levels, but now players can collect costumes to blend into their environment or gain new abilities. For only .99 players will receive both the PS3 version as well as a copy for the PlayStation Vita for play on the go -- and there are even some hidden augmented reality tricks for players who use the Vita with the PS3 version of the game. Unless Sanzaru has completely dropped the ball, this one seems like a complete no brainer when it comes out February 5th.
4. Dead Space 3 [PC, PS3, 360]
Isaac Clarke seems to be getting better. In the first game he couldn’t talk, in the second title he found his voice, and for Dead Space 3 he’s finally making friends! He’s also finally got enough sense to take cover when things get crazy. With a new cooperative drop-in, drop-out system, the game takes Isaac to a new ice-covered planet where he hopes to destroy the Necromorph scourge at it’s source. (Small spoiler - he’s gonna fail as this series is WAY too popular to kill off) The first two titles nailed down atmospheric scary moments, and I have no doubt that Visceral Games can make that happen with this title. We’ll get a chance to try it out for ourselves on January 22nd for Xbox 360 and PS3. 360 owners get a nod of the hat with access a week early if they sign up on the official website. ~Release Date: Feb 5th
5. Aliens: Colonial Marines [PC, PS3, 360]
Very few people can quote movies like the staff here at GT can, but everyone knows the “Game over, man!” line from the movie Aliens. While the next Alien movie remains (perhaps thankfully so) in script Hell, we have had a few decent runs with the xenomorphs. Developer Gearbox, hot off the massive hit Borderlands 2, is set to give us a true sequel to the movies. Taking place just after the events of Aliens 3 this title has the Colonial Marines searching for Ripley, Corporal Hicks, and the rest of the marines that were sent to LV-426. Penned by Battlestar Galactica writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, the story is so well done that it’s considered to be part of the official canon! We got a chance to talk to Brian Martel, the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of Gearbox Software (while standing in front of the original Queen prop from the movie!) as well as a look at the story via a sweet trailer on the same, it’s clear that Sega and Gearbox are pretty damned proud of it. After much anticipating, hand wringing, and even a little delay, the game is finally hitting shelves on February 12th. If you’ve not excited yet, know that there are objective-based multiplayer modes, 6v6 deathmatch, and even drop-in, drop-out cooperative for the campaign. Yep...thought that might work.
6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance [PS3, 360]
I think I know how the pitch meeting for this title went. Kojima and clan likely read through a ton of reviews lambasting his games for having 45 minutes of cutscenes and 4-5 minutes of gameplay and then said “FINE! Let’s give them all this gameplay they want!!” and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was born. The very last appointment I had at E3 2012 was with Konami, and the last title I got to put hands on was this one. With Raiden as a main character, the combat is FAR faster than it was with the aging Solid Snake, creating a Metal Gear experience we’ve not had yet. There might be a reason for that - Kojima isn’t making this title. If you’ve not kept up with the development, you might have missed that Kojima passed the reins to Bayonetta-developer Platinum Games. While you ponder the implications of that, let me reassure you that the game is still 100% a Metal Gear title. The combat is frantic, but also features the cutting concepts that Kojima wanted to use when the title was first announced, giving players the chance to execute enemies with a single stroke of the katana. The title is just around the corner, but I’m eager to see a new take on the Metal Gear universe - look for our coverage as we head towards the February 19th release date.
7. Crysis 3 [PC, PS3, 360]
The folks at Crytek knew that they had a hook when they gave us the first Crysis title. The weapons were mostly the run-of-the-mill, but the Nanosuit was something special. Allowing players to, for a short time, be far more powerful than any enemy in the game, the Nanosuit became the star of the show (though the graphics engine certainly wowed audiences). Crysis 2 handed that suit over to Prophet and upgrades allowed the player to combine powers (briefly) to great effect. Crysis 3 brings Prophet back to New York city only to find that it has been overgrown as a lush urban jungle. The city is now also protected by some sort of force field Nano Dome, but things are not as simple as they might seem. Giving Prophet a special new bow to allow him to bring more stealth to his Nanosuit, the game looks to give players more of a “predator” feeling. I got a bit of a guided tour of a downtown New York area that gave me optional sub-objectives and complete freedom of how to achieve them. I like that kind of open world gameplay, and when it is matched with the freedom to tackle it any way I please, it makes for something great. When it looks as it does powered by CryEngine 3, it’s just icing on the very pretty cake. Crysis 3 is slated for Xbox 360, PS3, and the incredible-looking-when-maxed-out PC on February 19th.
8. Rayman Legends [WiiU]
To say that Rayman Origins was a beautiful game is a huge understatement, and Rayman Legends seeks to improve on Origins in every way. Legends features the same hand-drawn whimsical art style of Origins, as well the same oddball and distinctly French sense of humor. The first time I got a chance to play a demo of Rayman Legends was inside of a crowded GameStop. One of the levels I tried forced me to run for my life as fast as I can to the right, while a version of Black Betty played in the background. Every jump and attack I made was in rhythm of the beats of the song, and all of the verses were sung in gibberish by the enemies. I was so surprised and charmed by this that I couldn’t stop laughing in a store filled with people. And that’s why Rayman Legends will be an instant purchase for me on February 26th.
9. SimCity [PC]
There are games that define a generation, but very few that actually define an entire genre. While Populous likely gets the crown for inventing the God Game genre while dipping its toes into the City Building genre, it was visionary and Hall of Famer Will Wright who brought us SimCity. In 1989, the world hadn’t seen anything like it, and despite a deluge of imitators, hasn’t seen anything as good since. After a few missteps (SimCity: Societies) and a bevy of offshoots (super-series The Sims, for instance), we’ve finally got our hands on a sequel. Sporting updated graphics, an incredible new simulation engine (check out the four-part video on GlassBox), and full multiplayer collaboration between player cities, this title looks to deprive builders of precious sleep for a long while. ~Release date: March 5th
10. Tomb Raider [PC, PS3, 360]
Tomb Raider has ebbed and flowed in terms of quality. I can recall some fantastic times exploring as Lara Croft, running and gunning as I performed epic and incredible leaps of faith all over the world. Well, the series did wobble a bit and even Crystal Dynamix recognized that it was time to take a new approach. After a short hiatus for the series, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamix have rebooted the series, fully retconning the previous titles. This new game, simply titled “Tomb Raider”, will explain the young Lara Croft’s change from spoiled rich girl on vacation to hardened explorer and antiquities hunter. Half action-adventure, half survival-horror, the game looks and sounds fantastic. This title also has the distinction of being the first Tomb Raider title to earn an anticipated M rating. Previews have been universally positive, and my own experience with the game gave me a good feeling that this title could be something special when it hits on March 5th. The game is slated for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. ~Release date: March 5th
11. South Park: The Stick of Truth [PC, PS3, 360]
Every once in a while I decide I’m going to ‘catch up’ with my TV programs. I had watched South Park in the past (who hasn’t?) but when my work schedule shifted I just didn’t keep up with the series. Well, thanks to the power of Netflix and a few bits of downtime over the holiday season, I have powered through all 16 seasons of South Park. To say that I’m ready to review South Park: The Stick of Truth might be a bit of an understatement! Several episodes has the Colorado-based miscreants playing pretend, but one of the best episodes was The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers. In that episode, the boys accidentally deliver a porn flick to Butters’ parents, which puts them on their “Greatest adventure” to recover and destroy the ‘ring’. If you’ve not seen the episode, I won’t ruin it, but suffice it to say that you should hit the Comedy Central site and see it for yourself. Well, obviously the team at Obsidian was inspired as well as they’ve teamed up with series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and South Park Digital Studios to bring that entire series to life as a full roleplaying game. Matt and Trey are writing the script, and the voice work will be official, so there is literally NOTHING stopping this game from being completely super sweeeeeet. That is...unless this business with THQ goes sideways. GOD DAMN IT! If all goes well, look for The Stick of Truth to hit in March of this year. ~Release date: March 5th
12. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow -- Mirror of Fate [3DS]
Originally slated for the holiday season last year, Castlevania suffered a fate shared by many other titles in being pushed back to 2013, but it appears to be on track to hit its March 5 release on 3DS this year. As a direct sequel to the surprisingly good Castlevania: Lords of Shadow reboot, Mirror of Fate takes the 3D action game and brings it back to its 2D roots, with a gameplay style similar to seminal PSOne classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night while keeping the same fluid combo system of its 3D counterpart. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a solid 2D exploration-based Castlevania game, and with a demo coming to the eShop before its release, we should all have a chance to see for ourselves soon enough. ~Release date: March 5th
13. God of War: Ascension [PS3]
We’ve had snippets of backstory interspersed with the “Kill every God on the block” approach of the mighty Kratos, but it’s the intention of Ascension to fill in the gaps of how the ashen-colored warrior became the “Ghost of Sparta”. Still over-the-top, Ascension gives us a new single-player title, but also introduces a series first - multiplayer. Aligning yourself with a specific God (Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, or Hades), you will do battle in the arena to earn new weapons, armor, and powers in a bid to rise to the storied title of Legend of Olympus. It’s not all PvP, the game also features three other modes - Team Favor Rush and Capture the Flag join Deathmatch, with the final mode remaining yet to be revealed. The God of War series has remained consistently in the low to mid 90s in aggregate scores, so let’s just sit patiently knowing that the game will be awesome when it ships on March 12th.
14. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm [PC]
StarCraft has the distinction of being one of the most highly recognized e-sports in history. Still pulling in millions of players, the series has spawned more fans than almost any other PC game to date. While the sequel didn’t set the world on fire as much (though we enjoyed it quite a bit), there is no doubt that it brought StarCraft to a whole new audience. With a vastly expanded story, decision points in the campaign, and all-new units in the mix, StarCraft II has also introduced a concept new to Blizzard - pre-announced expansion packs. Currently in closed-Beta, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is the second of three planned titles, this time focusing on the story behind Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades. With over 20 new levels (that’s 5 or so more than you got for each faction in the title’s predecessor), a new levelling system for the Swarm’s capabilities, all new units, and a new Battle Focus upgrade system for Kerrigan herself, you could say that Blizzard has done a great deal more than any expansion pack they’ve done before. ~Release date: March
15. Lego City: Undercover [WiiU]
This game looks surprisingly good. The first unlicensed Lego game to come along in a long while, Lego City: Undercover aims to be a much more open world that the previous Lego games, almost in the vein of Grand Theft Auto -- except for kids! Players control undercover Lego cop Chase McCain as he runs around a giant city, driving all sorts of cars and piloting helicopters and putting the hurt on the evil-doers all while maintaining the same tongue-in-cheek attitude of all of the other Lego games. Lego City: Undercover also makes some interesting uses of the Wii U’s Gamepad, like catching criminals with an onscreen scanner. When Nintendo first showed this off, I didn’t really know what to make of it, but after they’ve shown off some more of the gameplay features, it’s actually shaping up to be quite the impressive-looking game. Budding crime fighters should be able to hit the streets on March 18th.
16. Gears of War: Judgment 
I sat next to Epic Marketing Director Kendall Boyd during the Microsoft E3 presentation, and let me tell you - that man was damned excited about this title. Giddy like a schoolgirl, he cheered plenty loud when the Judgment trailer hit, but afterwards I could see why. Co-developed by People Can Fly and Epic, the combined teams have sat down and listened to our criticisms and feedback and promise to make this Gears of War the best yet. Tom Bissell and Rob Auten are taking over writing duties for the title, reducing the bombastic bromance insanity and trying to bring a better story for this universe to bear. In addition to two new mulitplayer modes (OverRun and Free-for-All), the “pick left or right” options are gone and replaced with a new system called “Classifications”. These secondary challenges that you can accept or reject give you some additional narration in the game, but removed the “Choose your own adventure” aspects of the game. Yea, we did savage the previous titles in our recent article on stories in games, but it sounds like we’ve got something new in Judgment. We won’t have to wait long to pass our own judgment - the game ships exclusively on Xbox 360 on March 19th. ~Release date: March 19th
17. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon [3DS]
While people were mostly saying “WTF?” when Luigi’s Mansion kicked off the GameCube launch, time has been rather kind to the game, with most of the haters coming around and recognizing it as a unique little puzzle/adventure game. Nintendo noticed this and has decided to bring Luigi’s Mansion back -- in a really big way. The overall mechanics remain the same -- pointing Luigi’s flashlight at a ghost will cause it to become vulnerable to the ghost vacuum, allowing the player to lock on and reel it in -- but Dark Moon promises more. With several different mansions to explore, along with a much heavier emphasis on puzzle-solving and discovery, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon promises to be a highly entertaining addition to the 3DS library on March 24th.
18. Bioshock Infinite [PC, PS3, 360]
Ridiculous controversy over the cover aside, Bioshock Infinite has an interesting distinction in my house - the entire family is looking forward to it. Completely enamoured with the other two titles, everyone was very excited when I showed them the sky-world of Columbia. The character depth in Bioshock was amazing, and the twists and turns in the storyline makes the original title a must-play. Creating the same claustrophobia as the water-surrounded world of Rapture, the sky-world of Columbia creates a historical steampunk world fit with real-world names from the year 1912. The environment is like nothing we’ve ever seen before, but it was the addition of something we have seen that piqued my interest. There is a mode in the game that takes the safety guards off the game, allowing the player to make decisions that can actually prevent the player from winning - when game developers say that decisions have consequences, this is what they mean but never deliver. Early buzz from press that got hands-on with the title describe it as revolutionary, mind-blowing, and incredible. Few games capture my imagination like this series has, and I couldn’t be more excited for a chance to see what else Ken Levine and his crew at Irrational Games have in store for us... ~Release date: March 26th
19. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Western RPGs and JRPGs have had a few head-butting moments in the last few years, but there is still very much a market for JRPG action. Final Fantasy XIII was well received, selling over a million copies in Japan on day 1. The new battle system was a departure for most fans, granting control to just one character, and the main character was at least more likeable than previous leads. XIII-2 was...well, less so. Taking Lightning out of the equation left us with the far more annoying younger sister as a main character, and the storyline was even more convoluted and nonsensical than the first. The Historia Crux system added more side missions, and a dash of time travel tried to break the linearity of the previous game, but DLC like arena monsters, entire swaths of the casino, and clothing felt like a money grab, and fans didn’t enjoy the storyline in that title. Well, pulling back a bit, Square Enix has taken a look at what made the first title so enjoyable and are taking a swat at the story one more time. This go-round Lightning will be the only character, but she will get advice from universally-reviled character Hope as she wakes for her crystal prison with only 13 days before the end of the world. Toriyama-san promises that this will be the most polished Final Fantasy ever, so let’s hope they can deliver on that promise. I have faith in you Square! ~Release date: Fall
20. Dust 514 [PS3]
This is a title that has another common name - many folks have taken to calling it “Eve: Dust 514”, which clearly reveals the obvious connection to the developer’s super-title, Eve Online. CCP is bringing this free-to-play title exclusively to the PlayStation 3 and immersing players in the same universe as Eve Online, giving players an FPS experience with a still-unknown maximum number of players on the field (but no less than 64!), along with a slick and gorgeous visual presentation. Supported by microtransactions, similar to many other F2P titles, the game has a very ambitious approach that asks players to build their own world. Placement of buildings and corporate power struggles are controlled entirely by those in the game, expanding on the incredible macro-economy that Eve Online has given us. A more modular approach to player classes (and vehicles as well) gives more flexibility to gamers, but it’s the commander role that promises to take the game to 10,000 feet. Players on the ground are charged with taking down the opposing side’s mobile command center, but will also have to keep their own fueled and in the air. Could this be the game that brings cooperation and teamwork to the online FPS? Sony’s own PlanetSide 2 is showing that it certainly can be done, and this game looks to bring that to the PlayStation 3. The game is currently deep into beta, so expect this title to release very soon.
21. Company of Heroes 2 [PC]
Everyone was tired of World War II. We’d had shooter after shooter putting us in the boots of some entrenched soldier. Everyone was tired of dirt-farming RTS titles that turn into a rush play or crushing harvesters in a cheap fashion. Well, Relic put both of those ideas on their ear in 2006 with Company of Heroes, revolutionizing the real time strategy genre with new approaches to building, asset acquisition, and line-of-sight combat engagements - it still holds the highest score for an RTS, ever. Honing their skills with their Warhammer 40,000 titles, Relic is back with Company of Heroes 2, bringing with it destructible environments, incredible weather effects (your troops have to struggle through snow), and a new system called TrueSight that better approximates visibility when factored against the environment. If you’ve got a mental picture of troops struggling to pull their boots out of the slush while a blizzard limits their view to just a few feet, you’ve got the right idea. Having gotten my hands on the game, let me tell you that Relic has outdone themselves in every way. ~Release date: Early 2013
22. Metro: Last Light [PC, PS3, 360]
Dmitry Glukhovsky put together a pretty awesome book series, and fans agreed when Metro: 2033 took the gaming public for a ride through a nuclear-burned dystopian future and how a young Russian named Artyom ends up either damning or helping to save the world. The game gave us a completely new economic system - bullets. Acting as currency as well as for causing casualty, each bullet you fired was one that you couldn’t use to trade for better weapons. Similarly, power for your flashlight was fleeting and had to be hand-cranked to keep it burning. The world of 2033 was fairly horrible, but it made for an awesome and immersive setting for this title. Fast forward 10 years and we have the setting for Metro: Last Light. Though it won’t follow the book Metro 2034, Glukhovsky is collaborating with the team from 4A Games once more, and this time it looks like the world is even more gritty and vicious. The demo we’ve seen had Artyom battling flying demons, rat-like creatures, and more while continuously wiping gore off his mask. The lack of polish on the first title had me swearing in frustration, but this newest title looks like 4A has pulled out all the stops. The game is slated for a March release, but like some of the other titles on this list, it truly may depend on the fate of publisher THQ. ~Release date: March 31st
23. Fuse [PS3, 360]
The haters need to calm down. Sure, it had a snarky comic-book styled attitude when it was originally called Overstrike, but the talented developers at Insomniac Games wouldn’t change something if they didn’t believe in it. Despite its more mature and realistic style, Fuse still showcases some crazy/insane over-the-top high-tech weaponry -- you know, stuff Insomniac is known for. Gaining experience by helping fellow teammates achieve their kills is immensely satisfying, and I walked away from my hands-on experience back in August very impressed. With drop-in/drop-out co-op, the ability to switch operatives at any time (as long as they aren’t being directly controlled by a player), several unique skill trees per character, and a persistent experience system that carries over into the as-yet-announced competitive multiplayer mode, Fuse has got a lot going for it. Some may think that it looks “generic,” but I think it looks like it’s going to be a highly satisfying co-op game. Maybe the haters will finally quiet down once it’s released in March 2013.
24. Shadowrun Returns [PC, iOS, Android]
Funded as a Kickstarter initiative last year, Shadowrun Returns will help wipe the awful taste of Shadowrun for the Xbox 360 out of our mouths. It’s going to be completely accurate to the pen and paper title. You know how I know this? Jordan Weisman, the creator of the Shadowrun tabletop RPG is leading developer Harebrained Schemes to build it. Eschewing the 3D trappings, Shadowrun Returns is an isometric 2D turn-based RPG that reminds you just how much bullets and magic can hurt. If nostalgia for the fantastic NES / Genesis version of Shadowrun rises to mind when you read this, you have plenty to be excited about. The game was set to release this month, but a little extra polish pushes the game to early Summer.
25. Army of Two: Devil's Cartel [PS3, 360]
Visceral Games is set to release Dead Space 3 shortly, but they are also prepping to release Army of Two: Devil's Cartel on March 26th. The second bro-fest title on our list, Devil’s Cartel will bring two new operatives, unimaginatively named “Alpha” and “Bravo” as they prosecute missions against a Mexican drug war. While we may hack on titles like this that seem to have simple stories, there is a LOT to be said for a game built from the ground up with cooperative play in mind. This series holds a special place for me as it was the first game I got to play through with my father-in-law, so obviously I’m looking forward to doing it again in March.
26. Darkstalkers Resurrection [PS3, 360]
Lilith, Jeddah, Pyron, Huitzil, Rikuo, Morrigan, Felicia, Talbain, Demitri - if these names are permanently locked in your brain in a 2D plane, you’ve likely played a Darkstalkers (Vampire: The Night Warriors in Japan for you importing purists) title in the arcade. While some players go ga-ga over Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, I always enjoyed Darkstalkers just a little bit more. With online play, HD filtering, YouTube replay uploads 8 player tournament bracketing, and optional side-objectives that unlock bonus content like artwork and other goodies via a new “Vault” system, it’s easy to get excited. If you are a new to this series, you’ve got till March of this year to pick up an arcade stick (or two) for your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 - it’s the only way to truly experience Darkstalkers.
27. Dark [PC, PS3, 360]
We haven’t seen a good vampire game since Vamprire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines, but Dark looks to to change all of that. Its blend of stealth-action and RPG skill development along with a comic-book and neon-drenched art design aims to set itself apart from the competition. Slinking around the shadows, teleporting near bad guys and sucking their blood to enhance powers is handled with incredible ease, and the Mass Effect-style dialog wheel and experience point-based upgrade system adds depth to an already exciting game. Look for Dark’s unique entry into vampire lore on Xbox 360 and PC in late April.
28. Fire Emblem: Awakening [3DS]
Those looking for a deep role playing/strategy game won’t have to wait much longer for Fire Emblem: Awakening’s February 4th release date. The hardcore perma-death gameplay returns, meaning players will have to be as careful as ever when maneuvering their troops, as one fatal mistake can mean permanent loss of key characters. In addition to the turn-based strategy gameplay we’ve come to know and love, players will also be treated to 40 different classes to upgrade, as well as the ability to customize their own Avatar, which will follow the player through each battle. Promising an epic campaign and additional downloadable maps to come in the future, this looks to be a great start to Nintendo’s core lineup.
29. Injustice: Gods Among Us [PS3, 360, WiiU]
After the sad death of Midway games it was uncertain what would happen with mega-series Mortal Kombat. Thankfully, NetherRealm studios was able to snap up the rights and they kept moving forward. Well, taking a quick break from their studio-defining series, they are now working on a new IP for parent-company Warner Bros. entitled Injustice: Gods Among Us. While it’s certainly been a Marvel universe the last few years, DC has a whole host of awesome characters, and wouldn’t be awesome if we could make them punch one another in the face? Well, now we’ll have our chance. Using a less combo-centric four button system, the game gives us the chance to play nearly two dozen highly-recognizable characters including Bane, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Superman, Joker, and Catwoman just to name a few. With comic writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti onboard to ensure that the characters stay true to form, there is reason to be excited. With the handful of times we’ve seen the game, it’s only gotten better every time. I just picked up a sweet arcade stick for my 360 so I’m ready for the April 2013 release. You can nab it for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U. ~Release date: April 16th
30. The Last of Us [PS3]
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that Uncharted is one of the most cinematic franchises of this console generation, and Naughty Dog seeks to take that cinematic aesthetic and bring it into their take on the “end of the world” scenario. A fungus has spread across the globe, killing millions and leaving the survivors in quarantined camps, and The Last of Us sees Joel and young friend Ellie travel across the country while avoiding both the Infected as well as roving gangs of bandits. Brutal combat mechanics and impressive AI look to make every single encounter with the world’s enemies carry as much weight and life-or-death importance as any other, and a fight against two can be just as harrowing as a fight against twenty. Naughty Dog’s pedigree almost assures that this combination of zombies and The Road-style apocalypse story will be something to look forward to. ~Release date: May 7th
31. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist [PC, PS3, 360]
I can remember trekking through the Phoenix metro area trying to find a copy of the demo disc with the first Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell on the original Xbox. The game brought a new approach to stealth coupled with a fantastic story and the epic voice work of Michael Ironsides. With a movie recently confirmed, you can bet that even after 6 games there is PLENTY of interest in the series. While the game does spell the end of the veteran voice actor’s involvement with the series, the game looks to bring a fresh coat of paint to the series. Bringing back aspects of previous games (the knife, distraction, etc.) while adding an entirely new system called “killing in motion”, the game essentially reboots the series. Third Echelon has been dissolved and only a small group has been kept in play to form a new organization dubbed Fourth Echelon, placing Sam Fisher as commander of the group. Their first job? Closing off the actions of Third Echelon. 2012 was clearly the year of the stealth reboot, and it’s great to see one of the best stealth titles of all time coming very soon. Look for me to talk incessantly about this title ahead of the August 20th release date.
32. Pikmin 3 [WiiU]
While some might not agree with with me, I feel like Pikmin 3 is Nintendo’s killer app for the Wii U. Sure it doesn’t have the popularity of something like Mario or the edgy appeal of Metroid, but Pikmin’s unique take on real-time strategy -- not to mention the adorable little plant people -- has always appealed to me, and I’m sure that Pikmin 3 will do the same. The Gamepad will aid players with maps of the environment as players control as many as four different protagonists at the same time as they search levels for one of several different types of Pikmin, using them to search for various valuables strewn about each of the levels. Some may have wished that Nintendo launched with a brand new Zelda or Metroid game -- and certainly, they’re coming -- but Pikmin 3 was the reason I bought a Wii U, and I can’t wait for its release in the first half of 2013.
33. Wii Fit U [WiiU]
As the third in the runaway success story, Wii Fit U poises itself to become the center of all of your workout activities. Included with all copies of Wii Fit U is a special pedometer, which will record your walks or jogs and log the amount of steps you’ve taken each time you log into Wii Fit U. Also included is a whole smattering of new minigames and workout routines, many of which incorporate the Gamepad along with the Balance Board. Supplement your workout routine with Wii Fit U when it launches in the first half of 2013.
34. Animal Crossing: New Leaf [3DS]
The last time I really fell down the Animal Crossing rabbit hole was back on the GameCube, and I think I’m ready to start saving up my bells to pay down my mortgage again. Buy a house, plant a garden, design a shirt, send presents to friends, fish, catch bugs -- all of the things that players have loved in previous Animal Crossing games have returned, along with a few new features. Some of them are small, like the ability to hang furniture on walls, as well as the readdition of park benches and lamp posts. Larger additions include enhanced customizability options, as well as the ability to become town mayor and customize the other houses and surrounding areas. New Leaf has seen enormous popularity over in Japan, selling well over 2 million copies since its release in the Fall of 2012, and Nintendo is poised to release it in North America in the first half of 2013.
35. Double Fine Adventure (Project REDS) [PC, iOS, Android]
The Double Fine Adventure is the first huge success story to come out of Kickstarter -- after raising over million dollars to make a point-and-click adventure game (of all things), they’ve been hard at work putting together what looks to be an absolutely magical experience. How do I know this? Well, people who funded their game have had access to behind-the-scenes videos, showcasing the entire process of the game’s creation, from inception to its (hopefully) inevitable release. Watching these videos has been both awe-inspiring and heartbreaking; here you have a studio so passionate in what they do, and wanting to do so much, that watching every sacrifice they have to make (be it how much they can work with certain people, or having to cut sections to meet financial obligations) hurts that much more. Not much is known about the game (we don’t even have a proper title), except for what I’ve been able to glean from the videos; it will be the story about a boy and a girl who live in alternate worlds that are somehow able to communicate with one another, all of it dripping in Nathan “Bagel” Stapley’s adroit art style. Despite DFA slipping from its original April 2013 release date, it’s still looking to be on track for a release by the end of the year. Adventure’s not dead, and Double Fine has proved it. ~Release date: Late 2013
36. Game & Wario [WiiU]
With the launch of new Nintendo hardware comes the inevitable Wario Ware title. While this one sounds more like an eclectic grouping of larger mini-games rather than a smorgasbord of bite-sized micro-games, it still promises to retain the title of “craziest franchise Nintendo publishes.” One mode in particular seems to channel into the Wario Ware craziness the best: in it, you’ll play as 9-Volt (the retro NES themed character), trying to catch some late night gaming in instead of sleeping. As you’re playing through a series of micro-games, you’ll have to keep an eye out for the TV screen to make sure your mom doesn’t catch you playing games -- placing the Gamepad horizontally to make 9-Volt pretend he’s asleep. Joining this interesting mode are 15 other mini-games, many of which Nintendo is keeping hush-hush until a later date. We’ll just have to wait until sometime during the first half of 2013 to experience the insanity.
37. The Wonderful 101
This is the other Platinum Games slated to release this year, but this one is an original concept: players are tasked with controlling around one hundred different heroes on the touchscreen, using the stylus to swipe and surround their enemies. The heroes will combine into various forms -- a giant fist, sword, etc. -- to defeat the numerous foes that will assail them on their journey to save the world. Being a Platinum Games release, expect the same type of crazy action found in their other games like Bayonetta and Vanquish, but this time with a more family-friendly Power Rangers vibe. The Wonderful 101 looks like it’s still slated for release in North America some time in the first half of 2013.
38. Grand Theft Auto V
Very few people can manage open worlds as well as Rockstar. They’ve given us storylines worth exploring, memorable characters, and solid gameplay in games like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV. With a slow-burn PR release of information that has only recently picked up speed, Grand Theft Auto V is promised to somehow trump everything before it. The game will not have just one protagonist, but three, allowing the player to see the interaction between their individual enterprises. The player can, at will, switch between them but when you aren’t controlling them they’ll handle their own criminal pursuits. I’m very much reminded of Breaking Bad, and that’s a great thing. With a combined city size in excess of GTA4, Red Dead Redemption, and GTA: San Andreas it’s a good thing that the most recent screenshots show a jet, a jet-ski, a blimp, a scuba suit, a submarine, and several other quirky conveyances. Take-Two and Rockstar have never let me down, and I don’t suspect they’ll start now. Look for GTAV to hit in Q2 on Xbox 360 and PS3, and maybe Wii U and PC if there is enough public outcry. ~Release date: mid-2013
39. Total War: Rome II [PC]
Republic! Republic! Republic! Commanding SPQR soldiers in Rome: Total War was an incredible experience, requiring more strategy than any tactical title I’d play before or since. The authenticity of this title lead to it being used on the History Channel to recreate battles for military programs. It has been a long wait since 2004 to see a sequel to this well-regarded title, but thankfully Creative Assembly has decided that it’s time. Set for release in October of this year, the game will let us take our fledgling Republic and battle our way to become the Roman Empire we’ve read about in history books. Featuring decision points like those we played in Total War: Shogun 2, the game will also focus more on naval power than its predecessor, as well as a revamped diplomacy system to just name a few upgrades. If you are a history or military buff, you should check out the Battle of Carthage on Youtube. It’s easy to see why Creative Assembly has become the go-to place for this scale of warfare. ~Release date: Fall
40. Pokémon X & Y [3DS]
I haven’t really gotten into a Pokémon game since Pokémon Blue & Red. Sure, I’ve dallied with Pokémon Diamond, or Pokémon Black, but I haven’t been this excited for a new entry in the Pokémon franchise since the first time I partnered up with Squirtle. Pokémon X & Y features a brand new 3D graphics engine, which allows for dynamic camera angles -- both while running around the various towns you’ll encounter as well as spicing up the countless battles you’ll partake in. Sure, it doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but this is a long time coming, and it’s nice to see Game Freak and Nintendo changing things up a bit with Pokémon’s 3DS debut. With tons of new Pokémon to collect and train, including two new legendary Pokémon. Pokémon X & Y will also be the first in the series with a simultaneous worldwide release -- players in Japan and North America will be able to catch Poké-fever all over again in October 2013.
41. Bayonetta 2 [WiiU]
Much to the chagrin of haters everywhere, Nintendo has picked up Bayonetta 2 as a Wii U exclusive. There’s really nothing to complain about, though: this game wouldn’t exist if Nintendo hadn’t put the money forward for the sequel, so people should really be thanking Nintendo, rather than cursing them. Platinum Games is once again at the helm, promising the same incredibly over-the-top action fans can expect. Not much else is know about the game, other than its expected 2013 release. Nintendo is in dire need for some hardcore games to win back fans who may have left for other consoles. Whether Bayonetta 2 will be that game remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. ~Release date: 2013?
42. Elder Scrolls Online [PC]
Arena, Daggerfall, Redguard, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim - combined you are looking at nearly 1000 hours of absolutely incredible entertainment. While we are still salivating for the next Skyrim expansion pack, the team at Zenimax Online has been hard at work to add something unheard of to the Elder Scrolls universe - mulitplayer. The Elder Scrolls Online goes beyond that though, they are building an MMO. There has been very little access to the title by the press, so there has been near radio silence on this title, but it is one of the only traditional-model MMOs on the horizon for 2013. With three factions warring over the center mass of Cyrodil, the game is set up for PvP right out of the gate. The game is set up to play with the mechanics of Skyrim (action-oriented combat, vast customization, etc.) while maintaining the flexibility of never truly locking you to one class. Being a rogue/healer is as much a possibility as a mage who lobs fireballs while swinging a two-handed sword. Set 1000 years prior to the events of Skyrim, there is an incredible amount of foreshadowing and lore that can be used to build this world. It will be one to watch. ~Release Date: 2013?
43. BEYOND: Two Souls [PS3]
Quantic Dream makes odd games. Those odd games also happen to be absolutely awesome. Omikron: The Nomad Soul (with David Bowie!), Fahrenheit (you know it as Indigo Prophecy here in the States), and the mega-hit Heavy Rain pushed the envelope for visual quality. If you want to show off what the PlayStation 3 is capable of, Heavy Rain is the title you show to your friends. As amazing as it looked, somehow BEYOND: Two Souls looks even better. Just as Heavy Rain featured some solid Hollywood talent, this title features Academy Award nominated actress Ellen Page as the main character. Guiding players through her life from age 8 through 23, this game tackles the age-old question of what happens after death. The Sony E3 brief last year was amazing and very well received, and it was easy to see why. Running in real time, the game looked amazing on the PS3 and will feature Move controls right out of the gate - a well-received immersion add-on to their previous title, Heavy Rain. The title was rumored for a May release, but this was quickly debunked - I’d guess we’ll be seeing it at the beginning of the holiday 2013 season. ~Release date: Late 2013
44. The Last Guardian [PS3]
This one’s on our “don’t hold your breath” list, but one can hope that 2013 will be the year we finally see something new about the latest game from Team ICO. Still not much is known about Fumito Ueda’s PS3 opus, other than the game will be about the adventures of a boy and a giant griffon/fox/bird thingie. Expect the game to tug at your heartstrings -- either when you can finally get your hands on it or when the inevitable disappointment comes when it’s been pushed back into next year. ~Release date: 2013?
45. Until Dawn [PS3]
I can’t say that I’m still 100% convinced on the Sony Move, but here is a chance for Sony to convince me. With a nod to Summer teen slasher flicks, this title pits eight teenagers in a spooky cabin against the unseen powers of evil. With over 30 endings and a script written by a yet-unnamed Hollywood cult screenwriter, the game plans to push the interactivity of the Move to bring campy slasher-film survival horror to life. Developer Supermassive pretty much eats and breathes Sony Move, so there is a good chance that the controls will be tight. The game is also built on the Killzone 2 engine, so there is no doubt that it’ll look fantastic - we’ll see for ourselves when the game ships at some unspecified point this year. ~Release date: 2013?
46. Deadpool [PS3, 360]
The Merc with the mouth got a pretty bad rap in the Wolverine: Origins movie, but every time he’s been in a game is has been absolutely hilarious. Well, the folks at Marvel are planning on forgetting the mess they made previously and are marching towards a full-fledged Deadpool movie, and thankfully we won’t have to wait that long for the hilarity that is Deadpool. Fresh off the fantastic Transformers: War for Cybertron, High Moon Studios and Activision are teaming up to bring us a game simply titled “Deadpool”. The game will feature Cable, Domino, Death, Psyloche, Wolverine, and many others as well as Nolan North returning as the voice of the titular character. Noted comic mastermind Daniel Way has penned the storyline and the game absolutely screams authentic. The fact that Deadpool can’t die, his intense regeneration, and his hilariously apparent breaking of the 4th wall are all staples of gameplay, as are over-the-top crazy gunplay. Most games take themselves very seriously - it’ll be a treat to play one that is not only funny, but where the main character is aware that he’s starring in “yet another videogame”. No release date has been set by High Moon or Activision yet, but it is confirmed for Xbox 360 and PS3 sometime this year.
47. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes [PC, PS3, 360]
TT Games and Warner Bros. have brought us some fantastic LEGO adventures, giving us a new way to experience Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, and now we get a completely original storyline to take the Marvel Super Heroes for a spin! LEGO Nick Fury will call upon Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Deadpool, Black Widow, and many more of our favorite characters in the DC universe to stop Loki and Galactus. If this doesn’t sound awesome to you, you might want to check your pulse. The game is confirmed for nearly every platform under the sun for Fall of 2013.
48. Dark Souls II [PS3, 360]
Hidetaka Miyazaki doesn’t like you. In fact, he'd like to see you die, a lot. Actually, it’s nothing personal - he just likes a little challenge. Miyazaki is, of course, the director behind Demon Souls and Dark Souls. He’ll be putting you through your paces once again with this year’s release of Dark Souls II. Though developer From Software promises that they are making some small adjustments to the game to make it more accessible to new players for the series, there is no doubt that it’ll be just a brutal as the previous game. We’ve only seen a little bit of gameplay and a solid bit of CGI, but the game will also feature a new engine, as well as a yet-to-be-revealed new multiplayer system. Just a word of warning - there is just as equal chance that this title could slip to 2014, so keep your anticipation in check until we know a little more. When it does it, it’ll be on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
49. Prey 2 [PC, PS3, 360]
Somewhere around my place I have a copy of PC Gamer that had a cover for one of the many false-start painful moments in 3D Realms history. Despite a decade of development, somehow 2K Games and Human Head Studios managed to pull a coherent product together that was actually fun to play. Featuring a portal system that could make you puke through your eye sockets with vertigo, the game hit the sci-fi sweetspot and featured the first memorable Native American character that wasn’t tripping over himself with tropes and stereotypes. With the first title well-received, Human Head and 3D Realms set out to co-produce a sequel, but with a new publisher - Bethesda. This new title will be open-world and kicks off the story of a new character - U.S. Marshall Killian Samuels. Samuels, experiencing a plot point straight out of the sci-fi movie Millenium, is pulled through some sort of rift, crashing into the Sphere (you see this as a side-note in the the first Prey title). Rather than telling the story of the marooned Marshall at length, the game instead pushes us forward a few years. Samuels has accepted his place on the world of Exodus and has taken a role as a bounty hunter. The early demo we saw featured some awesome parkour, a few cool gameplay elements that allowed the player some flexibility on how they prosecute bounties, and a pretty rock-solid graphic engine. Ok, and now the bad news...this game has fallen into development Hell. While nobody is officially saying the game is cancelled, it does look like it might have succumbed to the delay-as-normal 3D Realms curse. Could this be #26 on the list of cancelled 3D Realms games? With the potential I saw...I sincerely hope not.
50. XCOM [PC, PS3, 360]
Now, don’t confuse this with the 2012 title XCOM: Enemy Unknown, or the original 1994 UFO: Enemy Unknown (also known as just “XCOM”) this title has seen 3 different developers. Revived as a first person shooter, the game looked like a solid addition to the series, but jaded fans screamed for something else. Last year’s title gave them what they wanted, which makes me wonder what we’ll see with this title. Back to the drawing board several times, this title has also seen three different development teams since 2006. Normally the death knell for a game, the team at 2K have managed to turn calamity into greatness in the past, and I have no doubt that this could be the same. Since the early build we saw several years ago, the information on the official page talks less about the first-person perspective items and more about recruiting squads, planning your missions and equipping your team, and capturing enemy tech - all staples of the series. In a sea of sameness, I applaud the team for trying something new and hope to see the fruits of their labor. At last count, the game was heading to Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
51. Star Wars: 1313 [PC, PS3, 360]
Day 5 of E3 started with this title. A group of hung-over journalists and press members poured into a room that was decorated to look like a Republic dropship of some kind. We had no idea that our minds were about to be blown. The game revolves around a bounty hunter and his mentor/partner seeking out fugitives on the 1,313th level of city-world Coruscant. Powered by a heavily-modified Unreal Engine 3, the mo-cap shown in this demo was the result of the film team at ILM, Lucasfilm Animation, Skywalker Sound, and the game crew at LucasArts pooling resources to bring a level of quality like you might see in the movies to the small screen. The result is the sort of fidelity of sight and sound normally reserved for cutscenes that take weeks to render, all being fed to our eyes and ears in real time. We got a small taste of this with the PS2 / Gamecube title Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, but this title looks to take the gritty world of bounty hunting to a much darker (and deeper) place. This title also has the distinct honor of being the first Star Wars title that is set to earn an M rating from the ESRB. No release date has been announced, but based on the tiny little bits of information out there, I expect we’ll see this as a holiday title.
52. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 [PS3, 360]
Here is a game we know almost NOTHING about! All we have is a trailer that reveals that Gabriel will be playing Dracula as he prepares to defend against long-time adversaries, the Belmont clan. The game is going to tie directly into the Nintendo DS title, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate. Mirror of Fate (another title on our list, and winning awards for having the longest title I’ve seen in a while), is going to set up this title, so if you want the whole shebang, you had best invest in a Nintendo 3DS as well. Developer Mercury Steam did a great job with the first title, so there are high hopes on this one. It’s rumored that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 will hit Xbox 360 and PS3, but no release date has been set as of yet.
53. Watch_Dogs [PC, PS3, 360]
Anyone who went to E3 2012 would agree with me - Ubisoft won. Sure, Nintendo had the Wii U and there was plenty of buzz around some of the big mega-titles of the holiday season, but Ubisoft had the best showing of any company - hell, any two companies combined. The darling of the show that created the most buzz was one we didn’t know about until their press briefing - Watch Dogs. The game looked like a modern day Grand Theft type title mixed with Assassin’s Creed with a dash of Splinter Cell. Fans were blown away by the hacking and surveillance in the game, giving players the chance to tap into the vast amount of information we all carry in our pockets courtesy of cellular phones and tablets. Email, blood type, criminal history, sexual preference, marital status, and much more flows to the player as he walked through the crowd towards his target. With a quick action scene and some solid cover-based shooting out of the way, the game backed up, showing that this title is an open world multiplayer title - the crowd (including myself) went absolutely nuts. Amazingly, the game is set for release on this current generation of consoles and PC, and the current plan is for a late 2013 release. If Ubisoft can pull this off, if they can manage to deliver even half of the promise shown in that short demonstration, it could easily redefine what we can expect from an open-world game. If that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is.
54. Battlefield 4 [PC, PS3, 360]
We don’t really know anything about this title other than it is in development. It’s likely that DICE will want this to kick off things on the PS4/Xbox 720 as a launch title, but new-system development costs will also afford us an opportunity to play Battlefield 4 on the current-gen gear as well. PC players can sit back and enjoy not having to choose.
55. Dragon Age III: Inquisition [PC, PS3, 360]
With only an open letter from Mark Darrah, Executive Producer on the title, and a handful of art concepts for the title released, this is one of the titles I could expect to see slip into 2014. What we know so far is that this title will cover the culmination of the war between the mages and templars. We will play a completely new character (rumors that it’ll be locked to human-only choices), but Mike Laidlaw has said we might see our old characters in the world. Darrah and Laidlaw have stated that one level in Dragon Age III is bigger than all the stages of Dragon Age 2 combined, courtesy of a move to the Frostbite 2 engine. (this is the same engine that powers Battlefield 3) Bioware has also confirmed that choices will carry over, customization options will be deeper (including pets, player characters, armor options, followers, and even owning a castle), better reactivity to player choices, and a much tighter experience overall. This will be the first title without Bioware Co-Founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, but given that Laidlaw was the major force behind one of my personal favorite titles, Jade Empire, and Darrah was lead programmer on Baldur’s Gate 2 and Throne of Bhaal, I’m very excited to see what they can do.