Indies or AAAs - which one floats your boat?
By Tim Colwill on December 28, 2012 at 10:00 am
At the end of each year, we gather our staff and regulars together and put the question to them: what were the most standout games for you? This one’s a bit different though: this time, we’re asking what you’re most looking forward to in the new year. Let’s gaze into our crystal balls…
Patrick Vuleta: Dragon Age III
I’ve a love-hate relationship with Dragon Age. Love, because Dragon Age always tells an emotionally nuanced, epic story. Hate, because the series has a disturbing tendency to banish every character you ever cared about into the dark, uncertain void of “[Your favourite character] mysteriously disappeared in a freak waterspout accident, but maybe you’ll catch their cameo in the sequel.”
Dragon Age III must come out soon: I can’t take this much longer. I have to know what happened to the Warden, Leliana, Merril, and Hawke. I have to know what convenient turn of events will have Sandal rocking up to say “Enchantment!” just like he always does. Good old, completely unbelievable, troll-freezing Sandal. And I have to have confirmation that Alistair died a messy, horrible death, and does not possess the plot armour of Leliana.
Matt ‘El_Funko’ Long: The Last of Us
The only games on the PS3 that I religiously buy and play are Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. When I heard they were making a new post-apocalyptic third-person survival action-adventure super-happy party-time game, I knew I was going to have to dig up my Dualshock controller. I know any Naughty Dog game is going to feature some of the best cinematic cut-scenes in between some quality action sequences, and I’m really looking forward to seeing their take on the post-apocalyptic setting.
Alice Lynton: Bioshock: Infinite
This game sounds amazing. I don’t care if the shooting turns out to be the equivalent of Duck Hunt and the Vigors are all so unbalanced you can break the game six ways in the first hour. I want to go to the flying city; find out what the heck is up with Elizabeth’s powers; get her about a thousand miles away from her weird Stockholm Syndrome captive; fly around on the Skyhook; and maybe even throws bees at someone – I’m not fussy. Ken Levine’s shown us he can tell a story and tell it well and that’s pretty much all I want from 2013.
Brendan Keogh: Grand Theft Auto V
If any other studio made the claims to the sheer size of their open world that Rockstar have made about Grand Theft Auto V‘s re-imagined San Andreas, I would expect a barren wasteland of repeated, identical skyscrapers and soulless streets and plateaus. But Rockstar have long since earned my trust as master craftspeople of worldbuilding. They don’t create spaces; they create places. No other developer’s worlds breathe with as much life as Rockstar’s. In no other developer’s worlds do I feel like just another life among countless others. So when Rockstar, of all developers, claims to be creating a phenomenally massive world, I get lightheaded at thinking about the hours I am going to lose in that world, learning its contours, stumbling upon its secrets.
Tim Colwill: Watch Dogs
I know it’s a bit wide-eyed of me to get all weak at the knees from an E3 trailer, but if you saw the trailers for Watch Dogs and didn’t get excited about the possibility of an open-world game where you can hack the bejeezus out of everything and force it to behave the way you want then I question your priorities. From the live demonstrations we saw on the show floor there seems to be a huge variety of playstyles available, and for Ubisoft to unveil this project almost literally out of nowhere and at such an advanced stage indicates they’ve got a lot of confidence in it. And it’s a new IP. A new IP, from Ubisoft. I know, right. Did the world really end in 2012, because this just seems wrong.
Toby McCasker: Dragon Age III
Humblebraggedly, I’ve had the luxury of sampling a great deal of next year’s “biggest” releases – Devil May Cry and Tomb Raider chief among them – and can safely say that, while fun, I couldn’t really give a crap about 99% of the so-called AAA stuff lying in heavily marketed wait. I was really hoping for Prey 2 this year and didn’t get it, and there’s no word on whether we’ll even get it next year, if ever. But that’s what I want. I want to go to spaaace. Okay, so: Dragon Age III if I can’t go to space, because I will not settle for a silver medal, only the complete opposite.
Jess Colwill: Aliens: Colonial Marines
I’d have to say Aliens: Colonial Marines. I’m a huge fan of the Aliens films, but none of the games so far have really interested me. Colonial Marines is just the sort of thing I’m looking for, some co-op multiplayer shooting xenomorphs in the face. Something like Left 4 Dead but with xenomorphs instead of zombies, in fact. I’m very excited. Of course, the next season of The Walking Dead should come out some time in 2013, so that should get an honourable mention as well.
James Pinnell: SimCity (5)
There’s nothing on Earth that makes me excited like a new SimCity. It has been far too long since the long-running citysim’s fourth incarnation, and the constant dripfeeding of trailers, dev diaries and previews is only making things worse for my itchy mayor finger. The brand new engine looks to significantly increase the intelligent “free will” of your city, and simplify some of the more frustrating systems, like creating subway systems or working highways. We can only hope that, finally, going bankrupt isn’t a goal that is so easily attainable so early on in the game. But then again, building a city from scratch isn’t exactly supposed to be cheap, or simple. Counting down the days until March 7, 2013.
Alex Walker: Star Citizen Alpha
Star Citizen, the space epic-love child of Wing Commander and Freelancer creator Chris Roberts, shone a spotlight on the crowd-sourcing model at its best and its worst. The campaign first on his website, then on Kickstarter, then through Paypal, supplemented with more stretch marks than a Biggest Loser finalist, was incredible. Many commentators questioned whether Roberts would actually be able to quantify his grand claims, such was the breadth and vision he’d outlined. $5 million was required just to make sure the game, which is built on the third iteration of the CryENGINE, had the same amount of playable systems as Privateer. Extra community updates was even listed as a stretch goal, for Christ’s sake.
But you had to back him. This is the guy that made space sims memorable — hell, he made FMV games memorable. And the tantalising thought of combining a world as large as Freelancer, with something as rich and engrossing as Wing Commander, with a trading system and economy that would rival EVE Online and a flight system just as good as what we remembered in the old days … you couldn’t let the man down. We won’t see the full product till 2014, but an alpha should come out late next year. And then we’ll know just how good Chris Roberts really is. I’m a believer.
What does next year hold for you? Let us know in the comments below.