Games we want in 2013

Fri, Jan 4, 2013, 00:00

Game makers this year will serve up a storm of chaos, creativity . . . and Cartman, writes JOE GRIFFIN

We know you’re probably elbow-deep in Christmas games right now, but 2013 is looking pretty promising: This list (which could have been twice as long) is a mouth-watering reminder of some of the phenomenal – and diverse – talents working in the games industry, offering innovations in graphics, game-play and storytelling. We’ve seen some tantalising glimpses of what’s to come – a storm of chaos, creativity, and Cartman . . .

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Made with the full blessing, writing and – best of all – voice talents of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park: The Stick of Truth takes the action role-playing game and filters it through the imagination of the South Park kids. Play as the new boy in town as quests are fulfilled, weapons and powe r-ups are sought, vulgar jokes are made and little children hit each other with sticks. The original show’s animation is low-fi, so the game can recreate its look and sound perfectly.

(Xbox, Playstation 3, PC. ETA: April)

The Last of Us

Early footage of this survival game shows huge potential, as a gruff man and a teenage girl become unlikely allies fighting common enemies: shady military forces, ruthless scavengers, infected humans and The Judean People’s Front (I made up that last one). The story will follow the pair on a strange, violent odyssey across the US. We look forward to thrilling set pieces, strong characterisation and engaging storytelling (with more than a few surprises) from Naughty Dog, creators of the classic Uncharted series.

(Playstation 3. ETA: May)

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft gets an overdue reinvention in this rain-soaked, mud-caked, ship-wrecked origin story. Expect more improvised weapons and stealth gameplay than in previous outings, and less cleavage and fewer one-liners. Clips have already emerged showing Croft fighting off a would-be rapist, which never happened in the original Tomb Raider games or the cheesy Angelina Jolie movies. Remember the difference between Batman and Robin and Batman Begins? We’re hoping for a similar creative leap.

(PC, Xbox, Playstation 3. ETA: March)

Beyond: Two Souls

Could Ellen Page be the first true crossover movie-to-game star? The Juno actor will play a troubled soul in an epic game that covers nearly two decades of a young woman’s life and mixes paranormal elements with action and adventure. The motion-capture graphics have beautifully recreated her expressive face. Think The Fugitive mixed with The 6th Sense, but told with more panache than either film. Quantic Dream are behind the wheel, and their last title, Heavy Rain, was one of the most cinematic games of all time. Check out the trailer online. It’ll make every hair on your neck snap to attention.

(Playstation 3. ETA: May)

Grand Theft Auto V

Five years after Grand Theft Auto IV, the king of the open-world crime games returns to reclaim its crown. Having wreaked havoc across fake versions of New York, Miami and San Francisco, the latest stomping ground looks a lot like LA: perfect for the series’ mix of amorality, carnage, decadence and satire. The trailer promises the usual mix of exploration, gunplay, car chases and, of course, black humour. With LA Noire and Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games have been on a roll lately, so this is a fine time for them to return to their biggest brand. We’ve seen countless GTA imitators (from Sleeping Dogs to Saints Row the Third), but none has surpassed the original.

(Xbox 360, Playstation 3. ETA Summer)

Bioshock Infinite

The horror/shooter franchise continues. This time, the action will be moved from under the sea to above the clouds. From what we’ve seen, this steam-punk world looks dazzling; with a brightness and colour palette hitherto unseen in Bioshock games. And we expect the gameplay will, once again, involve outlandish weapons, philosophy, moral ambiguity and a wealth of detail. If you only play one game that discusses controversial philosophies within the confines of a violent, first-person shooter, make it this one.

(PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360. ETA March)

Sim City

One of the most influential franchises on the list, SimCity has inspired countless god-simulation games, especially Facebook stalwarts such as Farmville. The latest version will capitalise on recent technological leaps (not least the much-discussed GlassBox Engine and improved horsepower of the average PC) while maintaining the humour, colour and detail that makes the series so loveable.

(PC, Mac. ETA March)

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Let’s overlook the fact that Revengeance isn’t a real word. Instead, let’s focus on two other words that describe the main character: cyborg ninja! The demo for the latest MGR promises innovative combat, slick graphics and story and setting that’s (as always) complex to a fault, which suggests the iconic franchise will be back with a (re)vengeance.

(Playstation 3, Xbox 360. ETA February)

Metro: Last Light

A likely 2013 contender for Most Harrowing Game, Metro: Last Light throws the player into subterranean Moscow for a bout of combat and survival horror. Viral videos for the game have been compelling and terrifying short films in their own right, and if you’re not among the nearly four million people who’ve watched the trailer on YouTube, you should rectify that oversight immediately.

(PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3. ETA Spring)

Watch Dogs

One of the most talked about games of 2012 didn’t come out in that year: Watch Dogs has already received numerous awards since its E3 showcase, including Best PC Game of E3 (from IGN) and Best of Show (from Gaming Excellence). It’s an action/crime game in which you can manipulate some of your artificial surroundings. Change those traffic lights to engineer a crash, for example, or hack mobile phones to listen in on your enemies. Ubisoft – best known for the Assassin’s Creed franchise – have a great reputation for stealth/action titles and, if it delivers, Watch Dogs could be one of the year’s most innovative games of the year.

(PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3. ETA sometime in 2013)

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