Opinion: Ten Most Anticipated Games Of 2013
Its development may have been slightly marred by unfortunate delays, issues with the (now-defunct) multiplayer and – slightly ridiculously – controversy over the game’s box art; but from all the previews we’ve seen so far, this bold evolution of the BioShock series seems to be every bit as lofty and breathtaking as its sky-high setting.
Everything looks terrific, from the environments and creature-design to the characters and mechanics. And though it will be difficult for Irrational to re-capture the awe-inspiring heights that the original BioShock inspired in gamers, with Ken Levine once again at the helm and some intriguing new ideas in the mix, you wouldn’t bet against it being a fine successor to that startling vision.
That a cutesy 2D platformer could be roundly hailed as one of the greatest games of last year really speaks volumes for how wonderful, imaginative and just damn good fun Rayman Origins was – and to say this Wii U exclusive follow-up is eagerly-awaited would be something of an understatement.
Making novel use of the console’s touch-screen controls and seemingly bursting with exuberance and excitement, it looks as though Rayman could be upstaging Mario on his very own turf; at least until the diminutive plumber gets his act together and releases another third-dimensional outing.
System-selling titles are few and far between. But this really could be one such gem.
The Last Of Us
Naughty Dog’s intriguing new IP caught the collective imagination from its very first reveal. And many months later that widespread enthusiasm remains undimmed.
It’s not hard to see why. Combining stealth, survival-horror, action and adventuring with a highly mature level of characterisation and storytelling, trailers and footage have demonstrated a post-apocalyptic thriller that seems to be simultaneously gritty and enthralling, with promising hints of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Graphically impressive but also offering potentially novel approaches to gameplay and narrative, it’s definitely odds-on to be a critical and commercial hit.
Metro: Last Light
It may have caused a certain division of opinion among gamers and journalists, but 2010’s Metro 2033 was absolutely cherished by those who found favour in its gloomy charms – and deservedly so.
A phenomenal blend of atmospheric horror, heart-stopping stealth and edge-of-the-seat action, its unforgettable journey through the treacherous tunnels of Moscow’s grim post-nuclear underground – and tense forays into the shattered, desolate city above – proved haunting, gripping and exhilirating in equal measure.
Looking to both re-capture and build upon that success, this sequel features both more of the glorious same while also promising a few bold new tricks. And any experience which can make an FPS seem like the least-tired thing in gaming is certainly deserving of your attention.
If you’re going to launch a big new IP then you might as well bring something bold and innovative to the table – and Ubisoft certainly seem to have done that with their much talked-about original.
A sandbox action-adventure armed with a fantastically nifty concept, Watch Dogs is a game that allows your character to hack into and disrupt technological devices and networks around the city they inhabit, opening up all kinds of interesting possibilities for achieving your shady goals: whether it be infiltrating a locked-down stronghold, or assassinating a very public target.
Taking the crafty side-quest solving possibilities of a series like Hitman and serving it up in a riveting new package, it seems that this is going to be a tantalizing experience for people who love gaming experimentation and action-packed problem-solving, not to mention those who just want to watch the world burn.
Total War: Rome II
The magnificent Total War titles haven’t really put a foot wrong over their 12-year history to date, with the spot-on implementation of map-based empire-building and real-time battles consistently adding up to one of the greatest-ever strategy series – as players conquer enemies and establish dynasties throughout the ages.
The original Rome: Total War was something of a game-changer, with its more fleshed-out and detailed 3D world map and suped-up visuals. And this welcome return to the ancient empire looks to have the makings of another significant leap forward for the franchise.
There’s a whole new graphics engine, the actual action looks more detailed and satisfying than ever before, and epic battles can now take place on both land and sea simultaneously; with your forces assaulting coastal cities using both ships and siege engines, for example. Fittingly for a Rome game, the political scheming between scraps also sounds as though it will be taken to a whole new level. So watch your backs out there, would-be Emperors…
Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs
Undoubtedly the finest horror game in years, and certainly the most influential, Frictional’s pant-wettingly terrifying Amnesia: The Dark Descent has become justly notorious for its uncompromising use of brutal psychological-oppression. If the trailers and previews of its forthcoming follow-up are anything to go by, however, then sinister sequel A Machine For Pigs could be even more intense in the nightmare stakes.
Developed by Dear Esther creators thechineseroom, that crucial atmosphere, vulnerability and sense of dreadful foreboding looks to have been maintained; but if anything, there’s something about the grimy industrial environments and decadent Victorian aesthetic that seems even more horrific. And that’s before we even get onto the grotesque porcine grunts and squeals you can expect from the title’s skulking enemies. It might not be fun exactly, but it could well be fear at its finest.
As a tongue-in-cheek contrast to Amnesia’s nerve-shredding seriousness, this Move-powered entry in the PS3 line-up looks to spin a fine-line in horror-comedy thrills and spills.
A slasher parody akin to Cabin In The Woods, it sees players take control of various teenage archetypes who have unwisely journeyed to a dark forest on the anniversary of a friend’s disappearance. And something nasty is, predictably, lurking in the shadows.
It all sounds like great fun for fans of classic teen-horror movies; finally allowing us to take part in our very own Scream or Friday The 13th flick. If developers Super Massive Games get the tone right, and make it both funny and creepy, it could be a real highlight.
Grand Theft Auto V
Speaking of highlights, it’s fair to say that many gamers are already counting down the days until this fresh installment in Rockstar’s record-breaking, headline-grabbing juggernaut gets unleashed.
And why not? Previous entries have deservedly established the franchise as one of gaming’s most ingenious and entertaining properties, and this new outing looks to have all the elements that people have fallen in love with (the humour, the open-world playground, the great dialogue), while also introducing a few extra dollops of intrigue.
So we have three protagonists now, all with their different backstories and motivations. Then there’s the fact that the gameworld will be simply colossal (bigger than San Andreas, IV and Red Dead Redemption combined) and packed with worthwhile new things to do. Yeah, the hype may be at fever-pitch. But it’s also pretty understandable.
Next year really does look particularly great for the horror genre – particularly given how poorly fans of chillers and thrillers have been served by the mainstream industry in recent times. Outlast is definitely one of the reasons to be optimistic.
Created by former Ubisoft and Naughty Dog talents, it’s a first-person scare-fest with a firm emphasis on flight rather than fight; placing you in the shoes of a journalist investigating an abandoned asylum populated only by freaks and grotesques – who must be dodged either by hiding, or by fleeing desperately away in heart-pounding parkour-style sequences that draw on Assassin’s Creed and Prince Of Persia for inspiration.
Throw in the use of night-vision cameras to explore pitch-black rooms a la [REC], and you have a perfect-sounding recipe for nightmares. Sign us up!