The Biggest Games Still to Come In 2013

As much as I love “GTA V” (which, if you were wondering, is more than waking up to all the presents you wanted for the year on a white Christmas morning), trying to find video game news not related to Rockstar’s magnum opus is becoming quite the epic adventure itself.

Since the ghosts of video game present are a little tied up at the moment building their shooting skills (got to hit up Ammunation), to find something non “GTA” related to talk about, we’ll have to look towards the future.

It’s been something of an odd year for video games as even though it has seen some of the most high quality games in recent memory, they all seem to have been released early on, rather than continuing the traditional holiday season release rush. As such, while we may have a pretty good idea how the game of the year talks will shape up, here are some of the biggest games still left to get excited about, once your “GTA” addiction has subsided.

Watch Dogs


What was one of the most touted games on the video game horizon has slipped a little bit in hype due to some questionable current gen graphics shown in a recent gameplay video, and something of a media silence since the last E3 showing, but still remains the biggest name left in 2013.

It’s easy to say that its got an even tougher path to glory in a post “GTA V” world, but while it may be an open world game, it’s unique hacker mechanics and the possibilities they provide when it comes to interacting with the world in previously unexplored ways, makes “Watch Dogs” more of an original superhero style game in the vein of “Crackdown” or “Infamous.”

Obviously when you’re mentioned in the company of such titles  you’ve got some raised expectations to try to clear, but so far “Watch Dogs” looks primed to provide a unique and memorable experience at the least.

Batman: Arkham Origins


While “Origins” initially drew concern from fans who were unsure if the “Arkham” name could maintain its level of excellence away from developer Rocksteady, the more and more we discover about this game, the easier it is to get excited for it.

Drawing more design cues from the “Mega Man” series than any previous “Arkham” installments, “Origins” will see the dark knight take on some of the highest profile members of his rouge gallery on his never ending quest to save Gotham City. Though it serves as a prequel to the high profile original titles, “Origins” looks to  take Batman games in an interesting new direction that mixes old school gaming ideas with previous series features, and some fresh ideas (including an intriguing multiplayer mode), to form a best of all worlds experience.

Like “Watch Dogs,” this ones has some lofty goals  to live up to, but appears to be coming together well.

Beyond Two Souls


Continuing the trend of wild card games that could really go either way on the quality scale, this spiritual successor to “Heavy Rain” is already causing some seriously divided discussion.

“Beyond Two Souls” continues to look like a different game every time we see it and, even as more and more of the game’s basic plot becomes clear, remains shrouded in mystery regarding what the overall product will look like and play like. We do know that fans of “Heavy Rain” will be happy to hear that it retains the interactive film gameplay of that title, while detractors will no doubt roll their eyes at the same news.

Quantic Dream has proven that they know how to create a game that differentiates itself from every other on the market, and can get people talking, with their distinctive style of game design. While it would be easy then to say that you can use your reaction to their previous games as a gauge for how excited to be towards this one, given the ambitious and exciting nature of “Beyond,” it may well be worth a trip outside of your comfort zone.

South Park: The Stick of Truth


As someone who suffered through the dreadful “South Park” games of the PS1 and N64 days, its hard to imagine that an adaption of the influential animated series could actually prove to be something worth getting excited for.

Yet that is exactly the situation I find myself in. Surviving the closure of THQ, “Stick of Truth” has continued to look better and better with every showing. In marrying the series with basic RPG elements, developer Obsidian Entertainment has found the perfect outlet to showcase the deep cast of memorable characters, and ever expanding list of scenarios and worlds the show has crafted during its long run. Their execution of the source material’s style and humor has been dead on so far and, given the developer’s track record with RPG games, there’s more and more reason to get excited for the possibilities.

The only question now is if the game will actually honor its 2013 release date. If so, don’t be surprised if this ends up being a dark horse on some game of the year lists.


Those That Downloaded GTA V through Playstation Store Will Have to Wait Just a Little Longer to Install it


It’s lately been all quiet in the gaming world, as we all live through the calm before the storm that is the final days before Tuesday’s bombshell release of “GTA V.” While the industry lays low in fear of opposing the gaming juggernaut, we all look to the sky and wait patiently for the arrival of what could very well be the greatest game of this generation.

Unfortunately for those who chose to download the game through PS3’s store, the wait may be slightly longer than anticipated.

Sony had initially announced that those who download the game through their store would be able to pre-load it starting today, and access it immediately at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday. However, they’ve recently retracted that statement saying that you’ll have to wait until Monday to install the game.

It may not sound like a huge deal, but when you take into account the HUGE filesize of this game, and the fact that gamers no longer have the weekend to let it install. Not to mention that since the hype for this game is at critical mass, any announcement of a delay of any time is sure to cause an internet explosion of an unprecedented degree.

No explanation of the move has been provided, though it is likely related to the high profile leaks that occurred through PS3 earlier this month.

Ultimately those who per-ordered should be able to have the game installed in time for its launch. However, should anything go wrong with that process just a day before, you can expect to hear the cries of anguish from any point on the globe.


Is Sony Ready To Enter the Virtual Reality Market?


Continue to be skeptical about virtual reality. Go ahead, it’s ok. After all, what has the concept ever done but crash and burn in the form of one half-assed peripheral after another? Hell, if it wasn’t for virtual reality, none of us would have had to suffer through the terror of the “Lawnmower Man.”

In fact, being cynical about virtual reality is your duty as a responsible consumer.

That being said, that little sliver of hope that exists from countless sci-fi works that the idea can work, has to be getting bigger and bigger every time another jaw dropping impression of the Oculus Rift hits the web. It’s new approach to the concept continues to look better and better with every showing, and may just be a more significant release than any next gen console at this stage in their respective development cycles.

Perhaps realizing this, and no doubt being aware of the Rift team’s insistence on not being bought out, Sony appears to be throwing their hat into the VR market as news broke today about a new model of their HMZ headset that will emphasize immersive capabilities similar to that of the rift. While the only official response on the subject is a cryptic “We don’t talk about that” from a high ranking Sony official (making the subject the hardware equivalent of a trip to Ravenholm), the official announcement a new model of the headset will debut in mid November (likely alongside the PS4) suggests there is some truth behind the rumor.

Now whether or not this particular model is Sony’s answer to the Rift, or if one is truly in the works at all, is debatable, but it’s not hard to fathom other major gaming companies wanting in on the action, as any exciting idea that can potentially lures in the ultra casual gamer dollars is deeply coveted in the industry, as evidenced by the motion control craze kicked off by the runaway success of the Wii.

It’s not irresponsible to continue treating VR as a pipe dream not ready for the big time, but ironically continuing to ignore the popularity of the idea entirely is becoming the fastest way to live in a reality truly different from our own.


One Saints Row Producer Is Upset with the Promotional Focus on Porn


Featuring a level of absurdity that would make a “Looney Toons” segment roll its eyes, the “Saints Row” series features only the barest resemblance to real life, and instead promotes a sandbox world where absurdity rules the land, and you are encouraged to exploit every corner of it with maniacal glee.

Nobody really takes it seriously, is what I’m getting at.

Well actually make that almost nobody. Producer of “Saints Row 4” Kate Nelson not only cares about the quality of the game, but is also concerned about the image of the game as it relates to the use of porn stars to promote the title. Particularly, the labeling of porn actress Tera Patrick as one of the game’s executive producers, a move which Nelson has criticized as it grants an important title within the game to someone with virtually no involvement whatsoever in it.

This wouldn’t mark the first time the series has used these tactics either, as former publisher THQ used Penthouse models, other porn actresses, and various scantily clad ladies of all walks of life to promote the game in one way or another.

Besides serving as something of an insult to the development team, the larger issue that is being brought up is that such moves cheapen certain elements of the game and instead put the focus on the outlandishness, or particularly the sex elements. Even though that is certainly a part of the series, putting all attention towards those elements does mean that the freeform inventive gameplay the series truly revolves around, starts getting downplayed not only in media coverage, but potentially in design philosophy as well.

It’s no secret that sex and video games is an awkward topic, due in large part to the awkward way that it has been handled in the medium to date. While “Saints Row” isn’t exactly a paragon of virtue when it comes to the representation of women, the buck has to stop somewhere when it comes to exploiting the matter, and even in a series as outlandish as this one, it’s nice to know there is someone behind the scenes who is thinking about the effect the matter has on gameplay above all.


The NCAA Pulls its Football Video Game License From EA


The NCAA revealed today that they are no longer providing its football license to EA, effectively spelling the end for college football video games as we know them after the release of “NCAA 14.” While briefly touching on the issue, the real elephant in the room  that caused the decision is the use of player likenesses for which the included students receive no profit. It’s an issue that has been haunting all aspects of college sports for some time now, and the removal of this license is just an example of a larger problem that has no clear answer in sight.

EA, for their part, says they will continue to make college football games, but without the NCAA license. A move that will likely work as well for them as it did for that non NFL licensed 2K football game.

To be honest, first my reaction to this was somewhere between “Who Cares” and “Good Riddance.”

While a little pessimistic, that’s a reaction founded somewhere during the years of “Madden-Lite” NCAA entries, which turned a game that used to be on every cinder block built book shelf next to the Einstein posters and dirty laundry pile in every college dorm room in America ,into another half-hearted EA series.

Yes, if you don’t remember there was in fact a time when the “NCAA” team embraced and implemented the college spirit into their annual entries, and came up with a game that was separate, but equal in many ways to the usually more popular “Madden” franchise. Sporting its own cult fan base, it wasn’t unusual for someone to say they were a fan of “NCAA,” but never played “Madden.”

Of course, as the years went on, the only way to really distinguish the two gridiron series was by identifying the team’s logos (which, of course, are no longer available).

But the more I think on it, the more it becomes clear that this really is sad, due mostly to those years when NCAA was a classic franchise. It was once a rite of passage for every college football fan to have that “one game” that they would forever remember with their college roommate/best friend, and be able to recite play by play upon any future drinking occasion.

Now, barring some serious legal changes, that’s likely gone forever.

Ultimately, it’s true that the quality of the games would have had no bearing on the final decision. However, if the series had been able to maintain that former glory, then maybe this would be a story not entirely built around money, but memories as well.


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