published Friday, December 28th, 2012

Gearing up for games: 12 highly anticipated titles set for early 2013

The release date for "Devil May Cry" is Jan.15.
The release date for "Devil May Cry" is Jan.15.

With the wrapping paper freshly removed from the holiday season's biggest releases, many gamers are probably hoping for a lull in the new year so they can dive into their recent acquisitions. But game makers have a different plan. In the early months of 2013, they'll be hitting gamers with a flood of AAA releases, including a pair of highly anticipated reboots of classic franchises.


• Release date: Jan. 15.

• Summary: Set in a parallel universe to the original "Devil May Cry" series, half-angel/half-demon protagonist Dante recovers from a hangover to find himself in Limbo City, where he eventually is recruited to join an organization cleansing the city of demonspawn.

• Why it's hot: More than a decade after the release of the original "Devil May Cry," Capcom and "Heavenly Sword" developer Ninja Theory have rebooted the over-the-top shooter/brawler series with a new, more-Western look. A younger Dante has access to new combat abilities divided between his angelic and demonic halves.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360; $50, PC.


• Release date: Jan. 22.

• Summary: A young boy enters a parallel world on a quest to bring his mother back from the dead. Along the way, he meets alternate versions of his friends and teams up with creatures he encounters for use in battle.

• Why it's hot: "Ni No Kuni" was developed in coordination with celebrated Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli ("Spirited Away," "Howl's Moving Castle"). The seamless blend of role-playing elements with fluid animation created an interactive film/game hybrid that was well-received when it debuted in Japan in November.

• Age rating: Everyone.

• Price: $60, Playstation 3.


• Release date: Feb. 5.

• Summary: After crash landing on a frozen planet, engineer Isaac Clarke and soldier John Carver search for a way to end the threat of the necromorphs that have terrified gamers in the series' earlier entries.

• Why it's hot: "Dead Space" (2008) and its sequel were well-received for their oppressive, horrific environments and clever dismemberment-based combat system. New to the third entry are improved controls, a cover system, drop-in/drop-out cooperative play during the campaign and a weapon development system based on scavenging parts.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60, PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.


• Release date: Feb. 12.

• Summary: As Cpl. Christopher Winter of the U.S. Colonial Marine Corps, players participate in a mission to investigate the site of the original xenomorph attack on LV-426 and search for survivors.

• Why it's hot: "Colonial Marine" has been declared a canon entry in the "Alien" franchise and serves as a sequel to "Alien 3." The game embraces the film series' signature, foreboding atmosphere and features a minimum of onscreen information to heighten the tension. Up to three friends can drop in or out of the campaign for cooperative play.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360; $50, PC; $100, Wii U.


• Release date: Feb. 19.

• Summary: Four years after "Metal Gear Solid 4," cybernetic ninja Raiden raises money for his family as a member of a private military corporation fighting against a rival, renegade company.

• Why it's hot: Unlike previous "Metal Gear" games, new developer Platinum Games has thrown stealth out the window in favor of all-out, cinematic action. The combat features a mode in which the action slows and Raiden can use his sword to dynamically slice anything and everything to pieces. A new ranking system after missions encourages replay for higher scores.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.


• Release date: Feb. 19.

• Summary: The corrupt Cell Corp. has enclosed New York City, the site of a massive alien invasion, in a giant dome. Nature has retaken much of the city, creating a jungle-city that players explore on a revenge mission as nanosuit-wearing super-soldier Prophet.

• Why it's hot: The "Crysis" series is known for bleeding edge graphics, and developer Crytek declares this third entry has eked out every ounce of power from current consoles. New features in the third entry include a compound bow weapon for stealthier combat and levels that blend the open layouts of "Crysis" with the sequel's more linear environments.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60, PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.


• Release date: Feb. 26.

• Summary: In 1912, Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent, investigates the floating air-city Columbia, which is engulfed in civil war. There, he rescues a mysterious young woman and together they flee from her terrifying guardian.

• Why it's hot: The "Bioshock" shooter/role-playing series is one of this generation's most-acclaimed franchises. The third entry won numerous awards at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo and takes the action from the dark confines of underwater metropolis Rapture into a brighter, more open setting. Transportation and combat revolve around the novel use of a "skyhook" to navigate a roller coaster-like rail system.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60, PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.


• Release date: March 5.

• Summary: Series star Lara Croft and her shipmates crash on an island and are captured by a group of mercenaries. Initially overwhelmed by her circumstances, Croft must overcome her reluctance to violence to save herself and her friends.

• Why it's hot: When it debuted in 1996, the original "Tomb Raider" was lauded for its then-novel 3-D exploration but derided for its unrealistic, hyper-sexualized heroine. This reboot maintains a sense of adventure while focusing on a more human protagonist and her struggle to adapt to a terrifying situation. New survival mechanics and roleplaying elements give players control over Croft's development skills and attributes.

• Age rating: Mature.

• Price: $60, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360; $50, PC.


• Release date: March 5.

• Summary: "South Park" mainstays Stan, Cartman, Kyle and Kenny join a new arrival to town in a citywide live-action roleplaying campaign pitting them against terrifying foes such as hippies, Mongols and crab people.

• Why it's hot: Developer Obsidian ("Fallout: New Vegas") have worked in coordination with "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to hone the look and story for "Stick of Truth." The result is a traditional role-playing game featuring "South Park's" iconic cutout animation and tongue-in-cheek trappings that maintain the show's twisted sense of humor.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60, PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.


• Release date: March 12.

• Summary: Months after he is tricked into murdering his wife and child, demi-god Kratos is imprisoned for breaking his oath to Ares and fights in search of freedom and revenge.

• Why it's hot: "God of War" is one of Sony's can't-miss franchises. Set a decade before the events of the original game, "Ascension" offers players a new, more-human perspective on Kratos that adds perspective to his rage in latter entries. It also offers competitive multiplayer, a series first, in which players align themselves with one of four Olympic deities and earn favor by completing objectives.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60, Playstation 3.


• Release date: March 12. n Summary: The second entry in Blizzard's "Starcraft II" trilogy, picks up where 2010's "Wings of Liberty" left off, focusing on the Zerg race and its hybrid human/alien leader's quest for revenge against humanity.

• Why it's hot: Blizzard Entertainment is known for crafting highly polished and balanced releases and "Starcraft" titles have always been among the most popular on the professional gaming circuit. In addition to a new 20-mission campaign, "Heart of the Swarm" builds on the original "Starcraft II" by adding new units and tweaking existing ones to create even more options in multiplayer matches.

• Age rating: Teen.

• Price: $40, PC.


• Release date: March 19.

• Summary: Long before Marcus Fenix rejoined the Coalition of Ordered Governments, his future squadmates Daimon Baird and Augustus Cole were already fighting the Locust hordes on the planet of Sera.

• Why it's hot: As a prequel to the original "Gears" trilogy, "Judgment" lets players step into the boots of two of the series mainstays while also introducing a pair of new faces. The series' popular multiplayer has been giving a once-over as well and will feature a pair of new gametypes, Free-for-All and OverRun, the series' first class-based mode.

• Age rating: Pending.

• Price: $60, Xbox 360.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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