Top games of 2013
Why you don’t need a PS4 and Xbox One
The next generation of consoles is almost upon us – with the Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 set to duke it out for gamers’ affections this Christmas. But there’s still plenty of life in your Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 says Stuff.tv’s Stephen Graves. There’s no need to upgrade just yet.
These five upcoming titles are set to push the old warhorses to their limits – and should make the wait for the next generation that bit more bearable.
1 Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360, PS3)
Release date: September 17, 2013
The goliath of gaming franchises returns for one last go-around on the current-gen consoles, and it’s set to be truly mind-boggling in its scope. This time, you’ll be controlling not one but three career criminals – retired mobster Michael, repo man Franklin, and lunatic Trevor – as they commit a series of bravura heists across Rockstar Games’ satirical take on the West Coast.
Rockstar Games promises that GTA V’s open-world map will be bigger than those of GTA IV, GTA: San Andreas and Red Dead Redemption combined, customisable cars and weapons, and an array of activities from hunting to golf to scuba diving. Oh, and its usual bitingly satirical social commentary on modern America – having eviscerated America’s War on Terror in GTA IV, Rockstar’s turned its attention to the global financial crisis, with the widening wealth gap, foreclosures and the 1% figuring heavily in the storyline.
2 Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Xbox 360, PS3)
Release date: August 23, 2013
The veteran stealth-’em-up returns, once again putting you in the combat boots of Sam Fisher. This time he’s working with the newly-formed Fourth Echelon, in a bid to take down terrorist group The Engineers before they work through a series of attacks codenamed The Blacklist.
While early teasers pointed towards a more action-oriented game, the developers are taking a more multi-faceted approach, with three possible gameplay styles – you can sneak around and use non-lethal takedowns in Ghost mode, brandish assault weapons in, er, Assault mode, or go for a mix of the two in Panther mode. You can also mark multiple targets and gun them down in quick succession using a new Killing in Motion mechanic.
3 Gran Turismo 6 (PS3)
Release date: November 28, 2013 (rumoured)
The “real driving simulator” returns for a victory lap on PS3 – and this is no mere spit and polish refresh of GT5. Series creator Kazunori Yamaguchi has popped the bonnet and completely overhauled the game, promising a new rendering engine that’ll squeeze every last ounce of power out of the ageing PS3 hardware.
The game’s physics engine has also been reworked from the ground up, using real-world race data that Polyphony’s acquired since the last game – giving the cars more heft as they hurtle around the tracks. Ah yes, the cars – there are 1200 this time around, all customisable. And 71 different layouts of 31 tracks to drive them on, including the infamous Goodwood hill climb.
4 Batman: Arkham Origins (PS3, Xbox 360)
Release date: October 25, 2013
The Dark Knight returns in this prequel to the wildly popular Arkham Asylum and Arkham City – set five years before the previous games, it pits the Caped Crusader against a gang of assassins hired by master criminal Black Mask. At Christmas, no less. A Batman’s work is never done.
The scope of the game has been massively expanded, with a map that’s twice the size of the already-impressive Arkham City. Arkham Origins also tackles a much-neglected aspect of the Batman character – his detective skills. You’ll be able to piece together clues and solve crimes, help the Gotham City Police Department tackle crimes in progress and hunt down supervillains outside the main storyline. Think LA Noire, but in tights.
5 Dark Souls II
Release date: March 2014
The absurdly difficult action RPG returns to punish gamers once again – and despite claims that it’s going to be “more accessible” to newcomers, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easier. Far from it – the enemy AI has been upgraded, and foes won’t let up on the attack now. Yup, even when you’re retreating or healing, the bosses will be looking for an opening.
Fortunately, you’re not completely defenceless – the new game adds the ability to dual-wield weapons, an ability that’s emphasised by the new game engine, with its more fluid character animation. You can also carry torches to light your way in the dark now – though frankly that flickering light just makes it more terrifying.
Stephen Graves is the online deputy editor of Stuff.tv
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