We've only just said goodbye to 2012 and all the great games that came with it. The new year has only just begun, and there's an impressive array of game releases on the horizon.
They stretch across genres and platforms, from interactive story games to fast-paced shooters. Here you'll find the five new games of 2013 that we're most excited for and the reasons it should be an amazing year for gamers everywhere.
5. Star Wars: 1313 Release date: Sometime this year
The Rundown: The fact that this is a new Star Wars game warrants it an automatic spot on this list. After all, it's the first Star Wars release from LucasArts since 2008 that isn't an MMO, a LEGO game, a Kinect game, or a mediocre sequel (Looking at you, Force Unleashed II). That isn't to take away from MMO's or LEGO games -- each have their own merits.
However, the last truly memorable Star Wars game from LucasArts was Star Wars: Battlefront II, and that came out in 2005. While it's unlikely 1313 will measure up to that masterpiece, the Star Wars nerds everywhere can definitely hope.
The player will control a young bounty hunter as he tries to survive first and make a living second in the seedy underworld of Coruscant. The game won't feature Jedi or lightsaber combat and will instead focus on those not trained in the use of the Force. It's played from a third-person perspective and involves the use of weapons and gadgets to complete levels. After watching the gameplay trailer, its combat looks similar to that of titles like Mass Effect 3.
Why We're Excited: While we have to temper our expectations somewhat because of LucasArts' mediocre record of accomplishment in recent times, we're excited for this title for many of the same reason's we're excited for the new Star Wars movies. It's a chance to dive back into one of the richest sci-fi universes ever created, and we'll jump at any chance to do that again.
4. The Last of Us Release date: May 7
The Rundown: The words "apocalypse" and "zombies" have become almost synonymous. The Last of Us takes a new spin on the end of the world ... The culprit? A fungus. It's a scary fungus, though, called Cordyceps. It's a deadly organism that normally attacks insects, but in The Last of Us it migrates to humans. However, the game doesn't fully escape the zombie trope -- the player must fight those infected by the killer fungus, which has turned people into mindless monsters.
The story follows Nathan Drake clone Joel, a hardened smuggler, as he survives living under a harsh government that has quarantined the remaining population and maintains martial law. He promises an old friend that he will help a young girl named Ellie escape the regime, and the two begin a journey across what remains of the United States. Along the way, the pair will fight off not only the infected, but also government agents determined to capture the escaped Ellie.
Why We're Excited: While the gameplay footage we've seen was impressive, we're most excited for the story of this game and the level of immersion it promises. It has the potential to create a memorable universe and compelling plot beyond what players have come to expect from video games. Players may well overlook mediocre gameplay if the game has a strong plot and cast of characters, but there's no indication that its gameplay will be mediocre. The Last of Us is easily a contender for game of the year if it's everything it's hyped up to be.
3. The Walking Dead: Season 2 Release date: Sometime this year
The Rundown: Speaking of apocalypses, Telltale Games will be releasing a sequel to its first massively successful title based on Robert Kirkman's graphic novels. The Walking Dead recaptured the fun of a point-and-click adventure game and accompanied it with a great story and interesting characters. Players will eat up anything involving The Walking Dead's universe, so a second installment should be another great success.
Telltale hasn't released much information about the new season other than the fact that it will utilize saves from the previous season. It's unclear who the main protagonist will be in the second season -- it could be Clementine (a previous protagonist), or it could be an entirely new character with his or her own story and group of survivors. The good news is that players' actions in the first installment will influence the plot of the second, so characters will likely be returning in some form.
Why We're Excited: We're looking forward to this release for some personal reasons as well. Here at the New Times we indulged in some major spoilers for the first season before playing the game, which somewhat ruined the experience. The game focuses much more on story and character development than it does on actual gameplay, so any spoilers have a pronounced effect on one's enjoyment of the game. We won't make this mistake a second time, though, so we're very excited to experience Telltale's second installment, whether it be from the perspective of an established character or a completely new one.
2. Watchdogs Release date: Sometime this year
The Rundown: The gameplay demo trailer for Watchdogs took E3 2012 by storm. It highlighted the game's unique mechanics centering on the themes of hacking and surveillance. The demo showed a player jamming cell phones, tapping a call, manipulating traffic signals to cause a pileup to trap his target and escaping by raising a bridge at the right moment and jumping over it.
The story will focus on the idea of information warfare and the ethical dilemmas that society faces with the use of technology. It's an open-world game, but from what we saw in the gameplay trailer, the open world seems to be more realistic than other titles--NPC's seem to be carrying on their own conversations and daily activities rather than just wandering about the city randomly.
Why We're Excited: We're most excited for Watchdogs' new mechanics. The ability to control an entire city via hacking is a fresh idea that should make a great gameplay focus. We can only hope that will mean thee will be less third-person, cover-based shooting. It's sure to involve some of that, but it's also said to feature stealth mechanics and parkour as alternatives (or accessories) to violence. Another great thing about this game: it features a co-op mode that allows a friend to play a character integral to the plot instead of a tacked-on sidekick.
1. GTA V Release date: Q2 2013
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The Rundown: It's been more than four years since the last major installment in the Grand Theft Auto series. While Rockstar has released expansionary titles in the past several years, GTA V should dwarf them all in sheer size and scope.
The game will be Rockstar's biggest open-world title to date, set in fictional Los Santos, a placeholder for southern California. The game world will be larger than the worlds of Red Dead Redemption, GTA: San Andreas and GTA IV combined. The story will follow three main protagonists, with the player jumping between each one throughout. Rockstar has touted improved gun combat and has promised a huge array of vehicles that will handle better than in previous titles.
Why We're Excited: GTA games are an experience. Despite the existence of "GTA clones," the series has always maintained the top spot in the genre. The part of the game we're most excited for is exploring the city and seeing how many different things there are to do. As technology improves, open world games only get better as they add size and activities. Four years is a long time, and there's a world of possibilities for this new title.