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The Most Exciting Games of Early 2013

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2012 was an undeniably disappointing year in games. Except for a few stand-out titles, there was a notable lack of ingenuity in game development as it felt like most studios were spinning their wheels in anticipation of the next wave of consoles. Will that pattern continue in 2013? Believe it or not, there are a number of upcoming games that seem to indicate that it will not, that we will have at least one more great year before we move on to the PS4 and XBox 720. Titles beyond the first quarter like "The Last of Us" and "BEYOND: Two Souls" look potentially amazing while sequels like "Grand Theft Auto V" get the blood racing in anticipation. And you might not even have to wait that long for gaming greatness. The first quarter of 2013 looks remarkable. Even potentially cool titles like "Devil May Cry," "Aliens: Colonial Marines," "South Park: The Stick of Truth," and "Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel" are mere runner-ups when compared to the six most exciting games of early 2013, in order of release date:

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Image © Namco Bandai

Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Genre: Role-Playing

2012 was notably lacking in original IPs but the first major one of 2013 couldn't come from a more creatively vital place -- Studio Ghibli, the people behind "Princess Mononoke," "Spirited Away," "Ponyo," and dozens of other animated masterpieces. Imagine a game that replicates the boundless imagination of the best of the Ghibli world. This Winter, we'll be able to explore a world that has only been presented to us as inactive participants through fiction and film. There have been few RPGs or kids games worth playing in recent years. Imagine a family-centric game with role-playing elements and the kind of creative spark that has made Oscar-winning films.

Dead Space 3

Dead Space 3
Image © EA

Publisher: EA
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Genre: Shooter

The first two "Dead Space" games are among the most accomplished shooters of the last decade, near-perfect balances of action and tension. After the underrated and brilliant and 2011 installment, where does the franchise go from here? Two elements seem to be unique to this sequel when compared to the first two games -- co-op play and a more explorable world. In this game, Isaac Clarke and John Carver have to team up after crash-landing on an icy planet. How will co-op play impact a franchise so heavily built on a foundation of isolated fear? There also seems to be a more open-world concept this time with side missions and a planet to be explored. It's exciting to see such a great franchise taking risks. We'll know if they paid off in just a few weeks.

Crysis 3

Crysis 3 Cover
Image © EA

Publisher: EA
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Genre: First-Person Shooter

The graphics engine that started a revolution has been improved yet again as a new version of CryENGINE from Crytek promises to deliver the first blockbuster multi-player shooter of the year. The previous games are so heavily reliant on graphics capabilities that it makes sense to hope that this installment would be even more action-packed than 2011's underrated "Crysis 2." And there seems to be a strong focus on nothing but action. New York has been turned into hunting ground, complete with seven distinct environments that should allow for a wide variety of customizable gameplay.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider Cover
Image © Square-Enix

Publisher: Square-Enix
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Genre: Action Adventure

Can Square-Enix turn around two comatose franchises in less than four months? The company is proving to be one of the most creatively relevant right now after the unqualified success of "Hitman Absolution" and the building anticipation for the relaunch of Lara Croft with this very promising game. Reports from those lucky enough to have gotten their hands on the title claim that it blends action and exploration in ways that sound loyal to the franchise's legacy while also pushing it beyond the lackluster installments that sunk it.

God of War: Ascension

God of War: Ascension Cover
Image © Sony

Publisher: Sony
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Genre: Action Adventure

When Sony suggested that the saga of Kratos was ending with "God of War 3," pretty much everyone laughed at the suggestion that this multi-million-dollar franchise would come to a close. In fact, it was shortly thereafter that "Ascension" was announced, a prequel to the "GoW" trilogy that also includes a deep multiplayer offering, something new to the series. Will a plot that promises a more human Kratos disappoint fans still coming off the non-stop action high of "GoW 3"? The few visuals that have been released look expectedly stunning and given the fact that "God of War" games are five for five (the three games and the two PSP offerings) in terms of being worth your money and playing time, who wants to bet against the streak?

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite Cover
Image © 2K Games

Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Genre: First-Person Shooter

Every image, every video, every piece of information about the third "Bioshock" game has increased anticipation. Sure, the delays and reports of problems behind the scenes have led some to be understandably wary but my eyes trump my brain every time. I think that there could be reasons to worry and then I see a new trailer and my worried mind is blown. There's every reason to think that this is the frontrunner for 2013 GOTY given the artistic success of the first two games, the incredible ambition of this title, and what we've seen so far. Late March can't get here soon enough.

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