Every year the market is flooded by video games and the volume and variety leaves many players agonising over the decision on what to invest in.
A large number of really fantastic titles will make their way into the hands of eager players, but we have selected the top ten that we simply cannot wait to play. This year will see an unusually big number of sequels and reboots hit the shelves, so hold on to your control panels!
1. Grand Theft Auto V
The GTA franchise has been the dirty uncle of the gaming industry ever since the titles moved from a top-down format to a more modern third-person perspective. Not shy of causing controversy, the games have explored drug use, prostitution, armed robbery and cold-blooded murder – and have sold millions of units in the process. Just like a bad car-crash, gamers cannot help but pay attention to it. The much-anticipated fifth version of the hugely popular franchise was officially announced late last year, and it promises to be no different than the previous titles – if not even more gruesome, debaucherous and stocked to the brim with tons of law-breaking and siren-inducing violence.
Release date: Q2
2. The Last of Us
Uncharted developer Naughty Dog has thrown their weight behind one of the games that promises to be one of the best of the year – the survival horror action-adventure game The Last of Us. The title centres on an adult and child who wander through post-apocalyptic streets of rumble – streets that formerly belonged to modern cities in the US. Players will take direct control of Joel, the adult, and the plot revolves around the pair’s mission to get as far away as possible from the Infected, humanoid creatures who spread a cordyceps-type fungus that has already killed millions. Although Joel and the young Ellie are not related, Joel has made a promise to take care of her, and will do everything in his power to save her from harm. Gamers look set to experience an engrossing story, coupled with great graphics and dialogue that is due to tug on the heart strings.
Release date: 7 May
3. Battlefield 4
The Battlefield franchise actually needs no introduction, as the series of war shooters have become so popular over the years, that developer Electronic Arts does not need to invest in marketing. It also came as no surprise last year when EA announced there would be a follow-up from Battlefield 3, which is arguable EA’s most successful shooter. (EA’s Medal of Honor Warfighter was a dismal failure). While details on the next title has been non-forthcoming, it can be expected to have updated graphics, larger maps and be tons more fun.
Release date: Not confirmed, but speculation points towards the end of the year. A Battlefield 4 beta is planned for Q3.
4. Watch Dogs
Another title that has not received a firm release date for this year is Watch Dogs. Being developed by Ubisoft, it will focus on a ultra-connected modern world in the future where everything is online and connected. Taking on a GTA feeling, players will have the ability to change traffic lights and control the power to entire city blocks simply by logging into their smartphone. The game has also been touted as a launch title for the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles, but that cannot be confirmed. Watch Dogs is built around the concept of information warfare, and players will assume the role of hacker Aiden Pearce, who gets roped into doing various tasks for a number of rather unsavoury characters. A game-play video has already been released, and the graphics look amazing, with fluid controls and heaps of action.
Release date: late 2013
5. BioShock Infinite
As the third instalment to the BioShock series, Infinite looks to be something of incredible beauty – which gamers will definitely appreciate. While it bears the same name, it does not form part of the storyline of previous BioShock games – but will be similar in design aspects and themes. Gamers will be taking control of agent Booker DeWitt as he sets off for the floating city Columbia in search of Elizabeth, who has been held captive there for over 12 years – but everything is not what it seems to be with young Elizabeth. Through a number of in-game images, trailers and promotional material, BioShock Infinite looks to be a candidate for the prettiest title of year, with colourful scenery and great graphics. But do not be fooled by the bright colours as BioShock is not known to let up on scares, tense moments and thought-provoking plots.
Release date: 26 March
Gamers who took to computer games in the early to middle 80’s will remember the original and iconic city-builder title SimCity. The title spawned a number of sequels, but this year will see the much-anticipated remake of the first title. With the technology of today’s games development to back it up, the title will bring smiles to many happy gamers as they relive their glory days of city building – but this time it will be on a much bigger scale. The graphics have naturally been bumped up to take full advantage of the latest graphics cards and systems. Apart from spectacular graphics, the title will also a finite number of resources, so users cannot mine to their heart’s content – they will have to manage their mining and resource-gathering very carefully. Lovers of the original SimCity games will definitely get a kick out of this one!
Release date: 8 March
7. Gears of War: Judgment
The Gears of War franchise has been entertaining gamers since 2006, and players have had to mow down hundreds of Locus warriors through three separate games. The series has also been expanded into a number of books, graphic novels and there was even talk of a film about the franchise. But Judgment comes with a bit of a twist, in the sense that it is actually a prequel. The events in Judgment will take place before the action of the other three games, and the gamers will not be in control of Marcus Fenix – the previous main character. Instead of playing as Fenix, gamers will be at the helm of Damon Baird and Augustus Cole (regulars from the previous games), and will flesh out their stories prior to meeting up with Fenix.
Release date: 20 March
8. Beyond: Two Souls
For fans of psychological or thriller video games, Beyond will be a treat. The studio that is currently developing the title, Quantic Dream, is the same studio that was behind the hugely-successful Heavy Rain title for the PS3. And gamers can make themselves ready for more of the intense storytelling and player interaction that they have come to love in Heavy Rain. The game’s plot revolves around what happens after death as players will guide main character Jodie (played by actress Ellen Page) through 15 years of her life. As with any Quantic Dream title, the graphics will be superb while the storytelling will be top-notch.
Release date: 2013
9. Tomb Raider
It seems as though the most anticipated games of the year will either be remakes or sequels, and Tomb Raider is no different. Gamers were introduced to – and came to love – archaeological explorer Lara Croft in the early 90’s and this has driven the franchise far enough to result in films, game sequels and marketing merchandise. But while Miss Croft has been given the real-life face of Angelina Jolie, players will be in for a bit of a surprise with this title. The game will be a reboot of the original title and players will explore the origin story of Lara Croft and how she came to be such a warrior. Croft gets stranded on an island and in order to survive she has to defend herself against vicious animals, as well as blood-thirsty mercenaries. It is a coming-of-age tale, but not one gamers’ would expect.
Release date: 5 March
10. Dead Space 3
Any gamer who does not think space has the potential to be an incredibly scary place after playing through the first two Dead Space games are either psychotic or just oblivious as to what might happen. Well, the events in the Dead Space franchise are maybe a stretch for what goes on in real life, but they are nonetheless enough to make gamers jump in fright. The third survival horror third-person shooter title will follow on from the previous two titles, and will see protagonists Isaac Clarke and Sergeant John Carver try to rid the frozen planet of Tau Volantis of the very angry Necromorph one last time. What makes this title different from previous ones is that it has a very strong online element to it. While players will take control of Clarke when playing alone, a second player making use of the drop-in/drop-out co-op will control Carver. The game promises to deliver a lot more horror, a wealth of new scares, a ton of shiny new guns and hopefully put an end to the Necromorphs once and for all. Naturally the graphics have been given a firm upgrade and the soundtrack is bound to make players look over the shoulder very often.
Release date: 8 February
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor