Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Craig's Most Wanted Games of 2013 (So Far)

Does exactly what it says on the tin.  These most certainly won't be the only games I buy over the next calendar year - I've got a lax understanding of fiscal responsibility - but they're the ones I'm really anticipating, and would definitely put money aside for in advance if I had that kind of sense.

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies (3DS)
The Professor Layton series has been a pretty recent obsession of mine.  I completed the first game, Curious Village, almost 2 years ago, then forgot about the series, and only recently remembered them in the run-up to the arrival of the most recent game, Miracle Mask (also the first 3DS outing, and developers Level 5 made the transition very well).  Since then I've beaten Pandora's Box, Lost Future and Miracle Mask and am in the midst of Spectre's Call.  Whilst the simple logic puzzles are addictive in their own right, it's the quirky world, characters and stories that form each game's framework that have made me a fan, and with the promise that game 6, Azran Legacies, will both wrap up the overarching plot of the 'prequel trilogy' and be the last game to feature Layton himself as the protagonist (!), I'm very anxious to get my mitts on this one.  It's due out in Japan in February, but given the massive volume of text to localise, I'm not expecting it to drop in the UK until much later in the year.  It'll be worth it.

Aliens: Colonial Marines (multi-format)
Probably the most imminent arrival of everything on this list, Gearbox Software's love letter to Aliens doesn't look to be the most original or daring FPS I or anyone else has ever played, but it does look set to play to the strengths of the Marine campaigns in the various AVP games (typically the best parts of those titles) and the universe of Aliens is the sort of world I never mind returning to.  It helps that the devs have been hyping up the Wii U version as the 'best' version, though what this means beside using the GamePad as a movie-accurate motion tracker is beyond me.

Dead Space 3 (multi-format)
This one I'm worried about.  Dead Space took everyone by surprise; a brand new IP arriving with absolute confidence in itself, crafting a believable world with interesting story material and built around solid gameplay mechanics and a better understanding of how to build tension through sound design and pacing than almost any other mass-market game in memory.  Dead Space 2 upped the action quotient and added a pointless multiplayer mode, but stayed true to what made the first so great...which is why I'm trying so hard to give Dead Space 3 a break despite everything it's showing off in previews.  The oft-remarked similarities to Lost Planet aren't the issue; there's no reason an arctic environment can't be scary and it's a nice break from spaceship interiors.  What does bug me is the co-op mode, which while optional seems to have sucked much of the horror out of the game's pacing in favour of bigger enemies and more explosions, and the addition of human enemies to shoot at you, something that wasn't remotely scary when Resident Evil 5 tried it so why anyone thought it would work here is beyond me.  I'm still going to buy it - hell, I bought Extraction for the Wii at full price, which was a mistake in hindsight - but I'm really worried.

Tekken Card Tournament (browser/iOS)
Announced just this week and already perplexing me, TCT is a competitive card battle game designed for tablet computers, smartphones and (thankfully for me) web browsers, using an as-yet-undescribed turn-based combat system with cards based on characters and attacks from the Tekken series.  Whether or not the game is actually good is kind of immaterial to me at this point; what excites me is the promise of an accompanying collection of actual physical cards, compatible with the game through some sort of augmented reality properties.  A Tekken trading card collection is the sort of largely-worthless but desirable tat my Minimate-hoarding side would sorely love to waste all of my money on.  Need it.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
Luigi's Mansion should have been one of Nintendo's all-time greats, except for the slight tiny problem that you could finish it in about 3 hours and had no incentive to replay it.  The fact that it's taken this long for such a (typically) franchise-happy developer to go back to this well is kind of crazy, especially when dealing with a game starring one of their best-known mascots, but the time has finally come for the Mean Green Machine to get another moment in the sun...or the spooky gloom, as it were.  The promise of multiple mansions at least implies a much lengthier experience this time, and what footage I've seen shows familiar mechanics twisted into new shapes, rather than a comeback satisfied to rest on its laurels.

Lego City Undercover (Wii U)
I've not always been satisfied with Traveller's Tales' Lego Insert-Franchise-Here games, although the more recent additions (particularly Lego Batman 2) have shown a refreshing trend towards shaking up the formula, and the core mechanics are still solid if sometimes too simple.  What excites me about City - other than it being Wii U exclusive and designed to take advantage of the GamePad - is the prospect of TT's slapstick humour and undeniable charm used to craft a world that's entirely theirs and not just a copy of an existing property.  That the early trailers have been full of laugh-out-loud moments and cute references to all manner of random things, not to mention a tone and approach that does a better job spoofing Starsky & Hutch-esque cop shows than the actual Starsky & Hutch movie ever did, just cements my increasing crush on this game.

Proper Super Mario Wii U (uh, Wii U)
Here's the part where I come off like a douche.  The Wii U launched with a Super Mario game, yes - but, it's part of the increasingly inaccurately named New Super Mario Bros. sub-series, and while it is one of the better instalments in that line, that still leaves it as a fairly predictable beast, with Nintendo trading heavily on past glories rather than pushing themselves forward.  Of course, I know Nintendo aren't lazy, or assholes.  They are working on a more substantial, revolutionary Mario game, as they are for most of their core mascot series.  But I'm expecting to see Mario before Zelda since the gap between Skyward Sword and now is pretty short, whereas Galaxy 2 or whatever is older.  These guys tend to take turns.  But yeah, if there's a new 3D Mario, I'm there.

Resident Evil Something (god knows what)
Yes, I have Resident Evil 6.  No, it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be.  And no, I don't expect another 'numbered' Resi game for at least 2 more years.  But even with the softer-than-expected sales of 6, Capcom know this is one of their bread-and-butter franchises, so just because we haven't got confirmation of a new Resi due this year doesn't mean there won't be one.  Question is, what?  Personally, I'd like a sequel to the 3DS' Revelations, a prospect the producer of said title has been enthusiastic about when asked. (he'd also like to try a Wii U exclusive Resi, but I'll stick with the more likely option) Revelations wasn't perfect, but it maintained the feeling of horror and dread throughout its fairly long campaign far more effectively than 5 or 6 ever did, and it sold a bucketload to boot.  Given the scarcity of big-name 3DS releases since then, a straight sequel should still command most of the market share, and would be a good counter-argument to everyone claiming in the wake of 6 that Resi is a series on life-support.

Pokémon X and Y (3DS)
Confession time: I haven't played a Pokémon title since I struggled through the first two gyms on a copy of Silver that had its text locked in Spanish.  That...was silly of me, yes, but since then the series has given me little reason to go back; the games still ran on the same engine, improvements were made at a snail's pace, and the later monsters lost much of the charm of the earlier bunch.  But, now that the series is giving itself a proper overhaul for the first time in forever, my curiousity's piqued enough to go catch 'em all again.  The new 3D worlds are admittedly basic but a damn sight more 'alive' than anything from the earlier games, and...well, that's all we know, really.  It's enough for now, even if the next 150-odd critters Game Freak think up make me want to claw my own eyes out.  Why can't I just have my Bulbasaur back?

Tekken X Street Fighter (multi-format)
Now you're just being silly, Craig.

Well, okay...I suppose, provided Harada and his boys don't suddenly decide to shower us all with lots more TTT2 DLC goodies, and that Card Tournament game proves as simple as it currently looks, then maybe we'll start to hear and see things of actual substance relating to the belated second half of The Most Ultimate Of Crossovers, and if so I shall surely squee.  But I don't expect for a minute to see it released this year, not after how quiet it's been since first announcement.  Plus, to get it on shelves this year would require Namco to break the habit of a lifetime and go console-first, skipping the arcade release (as Capcom did with their take on the crossover), and I really don't see that happening, for this or anything else ever.


  1. Aliens is one of my most anticipated games of 2013! It'll also be the first retail game I'll buy this year. Only a few days away!!!
    Also looking forward to MGR Revengeance, Bioshock, Tomb Raider, RE Revelations, Deadly Premonition DC, The Last of Us, Killer is Dead and so many more.. as if my backlog isn't huge enough already :-/
    I had trouble keeping up with 2012's releases (I tried, I failed) but 2013 is looking pretty much ridiculous already. There's no way in hell I'll manage to find time for all these games.. and I havn't even factored in nextGen stuff.
    This is a horrible hobby! Horrible horrible waste of time! Well, good thing I can't waste what I don't have, i guess. So it's all good :-(
    ..I might need to quit my job for 2013.

    1. Aw crap, I forgot Killer Is Dead and Bioshock Infinite for the list. I knew it seemed too short!

      If you haven't played Revelations yet, I'm sure you'll love it. Myself, I'll stick with my 3DS copy - not really keen on buying the same game twice. (says he who owns _4_ copies of Resi 2)