Mad Mack: Three Things That Will Make 2013 A Phenomenal Year For Gamers
Aaaaaand, we’re back. After two weeks of eating our own body weight in turkey and gravy, drinking enough to drown a bus-load of puppies and moving just enough to stay sanitary and refresh our drinks, the Holidays of 2012 have finally passed. I am sure that many of you, like myself, are now a) broke, and b) filled with self-loathing at your new physique, which can best be described as ‘amorphous’. As a result, you’re probably not facing 2013 with the same optimism you might have felt at midnight on the 1st.
Well, mindful that the first few weeks of January are perhaps some of the most depressing of the year (for a variety of reasons – no money to socialise or buy things; post-holiday Blues; nothing to look forward to except the rest of a bleak winter; severe alcohol withdrawal; all of the above), I am going to attempt to cheer us all up with an uncharacteristically upbeat appraisal of what we can expect in 2013. And there really is a lot to look forward to.
Of the Next Generation consoles, it could be argued that the first one has already arrived in the shape of the Wii U. But given that the Nintendo platform’s current games library includes titles that are over a year old, I am not sure it really represents the step forward in graphical and processing power that would normally typify a generational leap. But I guess time will tell.
No, what I am really excited about is the one confirmed and two possible consoles that will be gracing our shelves in 2013. First, let’s look at the ‘possibles’. The X-Box 720 and the PlayStation 4 have both been beset with rumours now for nearly a year and, based on some rather interesting hiring patterns, look like both are well into the R&D process.
However, as Microsoft have apparently stated that their new console will categorically NOT be delivered by late 2013, that the X-Box 360 is expected to be in the frame until 2015, and Sony have shown some aversion to an early PS4 release, it is looking like we should not be getting our hopes up for either console. Of course, this could all just be misinformation to throw off the competitors and keep sales strong (current-gen sales will grind to a halt when the new consoles are announced officially, and will require aggressive discounting to shift any units), so we will have to see.
There is one shiny new entrant to the console market that has been confirmed for 2013, however, and its development is being led by none other than King Gabe himself.
I am, of course, talking about the Steam Box. What it will actually be remains open for some speculation, but it is looking like it will essentially be a PC in a box that will run a version of Steam and easily plugs into one’s TV. This is good for players, as we will not have to shell out thousands on top spec PCs to access PC quality games (hopefully), and it means console gamers get access to Steam levels of discount, thus disrupting the current fixed pricing of games that is being enforced by the existing console manufacturers. There are really lots of theoretical advantages to the Steam Box, though of course there will be some issues to resolve (things like the controller looking like a piece of shit). But it’s looking really promising.
In fact, the only downside to the Steam Box is that Valve are devoting time and resources to something that is not Half-fucking-Life 3. Talk about priorities!
Games! Lots of Games!
Holy bastarding shit. There are a metric FUCK-ton of great titles coming our way in 2013. The list is seemingly endless. I have a few personal faves that I am looking forward to, and we already covered some in another article. Here are my most-wanted:
Heart of the Swarm
If you went back to July of 2010 and asked the gaming public when they expected to complete the Starcraft 2 saga, most would have estimated a development cycle for episodic content to be around a year, so late 2012 at the latest. Well, it’s 2013 now and we STILL do not have our hands on the second instalment (never mind the third). What seems like forever has elapsed since Jimmy stopped the Queen of Blades once and for all, and we are no closer to stopping the Hybrids! But finally, FINALLY, the Heart of the Swarm is within our reach. And not a moment too soon.
I don’t really blame Blizzard for the slow development cycle. They are making bank as it is with Star Craft 2 E-Sports. Why rush things? Take your time and spread it out and really maximise your profits. That’s the way.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Mark Butler has already pegged this as one of the most anticipated games of the year, but that’s because he literally gets hard over horror games (at least, I hope it is the games that do it and not just the horror, because that is the sort of shit that leads to people being arrested for wearing someone else’s face). However, I am also excited for two other reasons.
Firstly, it’s because I love indie developers, and I love seeing a small team develop such a strong mainstream following, despite having fewer resources in total than the Call of Duty teams invest in scowley face models. And I love what the Amnesia team brought to the table – a new take on how to interact with the environment that to me was slightly reminiscent of Myst: click on an object, then move the mouse in the appropriate directions in order to move said object. It was (for me at least) a level of tactile immersion that was equalled only by all the nice touches in Metro 2033 (which I have banged on about at length already).
The second reason is the title. A Machine for Pigs. It is at once evocative and slightly frightening. While it could be describing a machine that process pigs into meat, it could also have much more sinister meanings. Human flesh is described as being pork-like (we are not called the long pork for nothing) and a pig is often used to describe a person who is gluttonous or over-indulgent, qualities that could be applied to all of mankind when you consider our collective greedy and self-indulgent natures. When I hear the name ‘A Machine for Pigs’, I am reminded of the industrial machine complex of the Holocaust, or the endless subterranean bunker complex and sadistic computer ‘AM’ in Harlan Ellison’s short but terrifying ‘I Have No Mouth but I Must Scream’, and I am left feeling disquieted. I just hope the game not only lives up to its predecessor, but also lives up to its name.
UFO 2: Shadows Over Earth (also Xenonauts)
As you can guess from its title, UFO 2 is a sequel to a game called ‘UFO’, which was itself a spiritual successor to the original UFO: Enemy Unknown, a remake of which titled ‘X-COM: Enemy Unknown’ was launched in October last year, even though another game in development, called ‘XCOM’, is due out this year, which is supposed to be a spiritual sequel to UFO:Enemy Unknown, despite starting development as a FPS and now apparently being billed as a 3rd Person Shooter. With me so far?
Anyway, UFO 2 and Xenonauts (the FMV Eurogamer Expo 2011 Game of the Show) are games that are much more in line with the original format and feel of UFO:EU, and as a result might be right up my street. Either way, the X-COM remake has reminded me just how much fun turn-based tactical shooters with an integrated strategic layer are, so I am going to be gobbling up as many as I can, until I inevitably get bored.
I remember you. You were talked about in my very first FMV article, as being an abortion of a travesty that should die of AIDS-infused acid. Well, since Firaxis were apparently just fooling with us, and were secretly planning a turn-based strategy game all along, (which was great), I am now much more pleasantly disposed towards this former usurper.
If it was seriously proposed that this game captures the essence of UFO:EU, then it must have some pretty fucking unique features. I am sure it will be a fairly passable 3rd Person Tactical Shooter, but I am really keen to see how the ‘Geoscape’ will work, since the whole game seems set in small town, suburban, 1950s USA. Maybe, instead of countries, you will have individual households, and instead of interceptors and skyrangers you have Harley Davidsons and Cadillac Convertibles. And maybe instead of being a multinational alien combat force, you will be a group of oddballs gathered together as some sort of glorified neighbourhood wat-
Wait a fucking second. Is this a movie tie in?
Metro: Last Light
This has also been covered in another FMV article, but I have such a throb on for Metro 2033, I have to include it in my list for 2013 games I am going to make tender love to.
Like it or not, Battlefield 3 had the most amazing multiplayer I have ever experienced. It was absolutely phenomenal. Yes, the single player was pretty weak, and short, and to be honest I think it was a mistake to even include a single player. But the multiplayer experience was next level. I don’t think BF4 will be as good, because it will not seem as new and exciting to me as BF3 was. But still, I can’t help but look forward to it with some anticipation.
And, if they replace the single player with a fuck-ton of co-op missions, well then, I will be as happy as a pig in shit.
You know what, I could go on at length about the games I cannot wait to try. The list is just too damn long. Rome 2, Crysis 3, South Park, Aliens: Colonial Marines, DayZ Standalone, Company of Heroes 2, Bioshock Infinite, Gears of War: Judgement (please, please, let the writing be better), Rambo: The Video Game (admittedly I know nothing about this game other than the title), Carmaggedon. The list goes on and on, and caters to every taste.
2013 is going to be amazing for games.
Gamers finding their Voice
Don’t get me wrong: I am not referring to the normal brand of whining that gamers have been known to espouse (‘this game is shit, because of x’ or ‘I can’t believe the devs did this ZOMG’), of which I have been guilty of more times that I have had hot dinners. No, what I am talking about is using our ‘Voice’ (capitalisation intended).
For far too long, we have been afforded a real lack of respect from those who rely on us for their livelihoods. How many of us as children only got one or two games per year and were crushed when our one game that we so eagerly anticipated turned out to be complete shit? I will never forget completing Dynamite Duck on my Master System the very day that I got it for my birthday. Well this sort of shit is not relegated to our childhood – it actually happens to people all the time today. Whether you are of limited financial means, or are too young for a job or don’t have the time for games, there are too many people that do not have the resources (time, money or both) to invest in shit games or overhyped rip-off games.
Up until 2012, I would have said ‘too bad – you just have to try to stay informed and try to avoid getting duped’. That was until I saw what public opinion can do, and I realised that maybe, with the power of instant and global communication, gamers are no longer just seen as fatted cows to be milked for money, and that developers now have to keep us on side or risk future loses to revenue. In 2012 we made the Mass Effect 3 extended ending happen, because we demanded it, and Bioware listened; because they were already working on DLC and could not risk the bad publicity damaging that revenue. It was by no means an altruistic move on their part, but we all got what we wanted (or at least some of us did; there will never be pleasing some people).
In 2012, we stopped The WarZ in ITS TRACKS, by getting it pulled from Steam. This is a major setback for a company that seems to want to act like it is a big name developer (through its complete lack of respect for fans and gamers), but is actually as reliant on us as any indie outfit. I know they have not gone away, and I know that there will be plenty of other battles to fight, with The WarZ and with other shoddy developers, but we are making our mark.
Gamers, now is our time. Just there the developers huddle, sheer terror gripping tight their hearts with icy fingers….knowing full well what merciless horrors they suffered at the swords and spears of Reddit. Yet they stare now across the plain at *ten thousand* Bloggers commanding thirty thousand free Gamers! HA-OOH!