Most Anticipated 2013: Steve's Picks
by Steve Watts, shacknews.com, Dec 27, 2012 9:00AM PST
There's a lot to be excited for in 2013, and the Shacknews staff each have five games on their radar. The editorial team at Shacknews outlines their most anticipated games of 2013 individually. Next up, we've got staff writer Steve Watts with his list of next year's titles.
The Walking Dead: Season 2
The Walking Dead wasn't this year's most mechanically perfect or visually stunning game. But in the ways it did stand out, it did it so artfully that I can't help but think that we may have just witnessed a game that will have ripples for years to come. As game narratives continue to evolve, I truly believe that the first season of Telltale's opus will be placed in the pantheon of influential examples like Super Mario Bros, Final Fantasy VI, and BioShock.
I have no idea how Telltale could even attempt to top the breakout success of the first season. It may be an impossible task, since the shock of the new will have worn off entirely. What I do know is that I feel more connected to and invested in these characters than I ever have in a video game before, and I want to continue shaping and steering their stories. I want to continue having meaningful conversations with close friends about our divergent but equally ethically justifiable approaches to situations. And I need to know what happens just after that credits sequence. The next five episodes are sure to turn me into an emotional wreck, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
If only this hadn't needed to be on my most anticipated list twice. It was actually my most anticipated game last year, but the long delay forced it to repeat. I went on at length last year about why Ken Levine is an auteur of the game medium, and how the power of games as a narrative device is still largely untapped. I can probably chalk up a large portion of my interest up the side of me that loves picking through political discussions, which is almost certain to feast on BioShock Infinite's heady ideas. And I'm sure whatever meta-narrative is going on with Elizabeth's warp gates will break a part of my brain so that I can have fun putting it all back together again.
The point is, I've loved the ideas in BioShock Infinite for a long time. That wouldn't be enough to earn a spot on my most anticipated list again, because it would be redundant. Over the course of this year, though, we got a clearer picture of the game itself. All the philosophy and politics wouldn't make a bit of difference if the game weren't fun, and the trailers this year have convinced me it looks like a hoot. Add in the fact that Irrational has cut multiplayer to focus fully on perfecting the campaign experience, and it simply has to be on my list.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Over the last several years, I've grown convinced that old-school RPGs were always meant to be played on handheld systems. I can't believe the amount of time I spent as a child grinding out levels on a TV screen, when clearly this is an activity better reserved for when I can divide attention between it and brainless TV watching. I always keep an RPG in my rotation for this very purpose, and Fire Emblem: Awakening will be fitting the bill nicely next spring.
But it's not just idle time-wasting that makes me interested in the tactical RPG. The previous games have been the next-best-thing to a proper Final Fantasy Tactics sequel, and the conversations and character bonding systems in this game sound like they could borrow some elements from games like the Persona series. My tactics are rusty, but I'm looking forward to Fire Emblem whipping me back into shape.
Star Wars 1313
I'm a pretty unabashed Star Wars fan. Even if I don't keep up with all the permutations of the Extended Universe anymore, Star Wars games pique my interest--especially when they look to be taking a new approach to the subject matter. I don't need to be a Jedi for the thousandth time as long as I have an interesting setting and story to latch onto. So naturally Star Wars 1313, which seems utterly divorced from the magic mysticism of the Force, has me curious to learn more. Coruscant has such potential for telling expansive stories in that universe, it's a wonder more authors and games writers haven't thought of it.
This one is also somewhat colored by my anticipation for the next generation. I'm an early adopter for consoles, and the game could potentially be a launch window game to ring in the new systems. If this time next year I'm bringing home my next Xbox or PlayStation with a brand new Star Wars game in its shrink-wrap, I'll be 11 years old again.
As the old saying goes: when it rains, it pours. Many years can go by without a single great platformer, but in 2011 we got two. Though Super Mario 3D Land ultimately edged out Rayman: Origins among my favorites for the year, it was a tighter race than most have managed against Nintendo's plumber powerhouse. I'm not privy to Nintendo's plans (who ever is?) but I'm glad to see Ubisoft is bringing the character back in Rayman Legends for another round of gorgeous 2D mayhem.
It's the little things that make this Rayman stand out. The game carries its on off-kilter humor that's unlike any other games. It might actually make meaningful use of the GamePad peripheral instead of simply using it as a second screen. And, for whatever reason, their rendition of "Black Betty" in the demo has gotten stuck in my head more than most pop songs.