Thursday, 27 December 2012

Things to look forward to in 2013

Now that the year is almost done, it's time to look forward to what we can expect in 2013.

One game that I'm really looking forward to is The Last Of Us. It's a zombie apocalypse game, and, to be honest, I can take or leave an apocalypse or zombies. However, the real reason I'm excited about The Last Of Us is that the core of the game seems to be the relationship between the protagonist (a fortysomething man who may be a military veteran) and his charge/sidekick, a girl of about 14 he's smuggled out of a secure facility. A pseudo-father/daughter relationship is pretty unusual for a game, and the voice-acting, from the clips I've seen, sounds tremendous. Not only that, the game appears extremely well-designed, the combat looks visceral and gruesome and the zombies aren't run-of-the-mill 'BRRAAAAIIIIINNNSSS' sorts. It comes from Naughty Dog, makers of the Uncharted games, but will strike a more gritty/realistic note. It should come out in May 2013, and is PS3 exclusive.

In March Tomb Raider, the unhelpfully titled reboot of Lara Croft's series, comes out for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Miss Croft has taken quite a spanking from Nathan Drake, so this game may mark the resurgence or loss of a series that's been around for ages (in gaming terms). It goes back to Lara before she was a seasoned adventurer and killer of endangered species, and will feature a reasonable amount of survival gameplay. I can take or leave Tomb Raider (I've probably played about three of them over the years), but the game does look like it has potential.

A day before Tomb Raider, on 4 March, the second season of Game of Thrones comes out on DVD/blu-ray. It's still bloody annoying to have to wait so long, but I'll be pre-ordering this for certain. The first series was hugely enjoyable, and the DVD extras (especially the commentaries) were surprisingly good.

March also sees the release of God of War: Ascension. It tells the tale, which I have a feeling includes quite a lot of violence, of how Kratos became the Ghost of Sparta, and his betrayal by Ares. It's PS3 exclusive and will feature the first multi-player offering of the series, although I must admit I find multi-player gaming as tempting as multi-player colonoscopies. A while ago I read an article indicating that Kratos would be slightly softer than his later self, and less prone to do things like murdering women. We'll have to wait and see if that's the case.

A possible release (Autumn 2013 is the present forecast) is Dragon Age III: Inquisition. Origins, the first game, was very popular, although DA2 was less so due to an obvious lack of time that led to environments being very heavily reused and music copied and pasted a lot from Origins. However, the Arishok was cool. Inquisition has had far more development time, and, according to one report, a single dungeon in it is larger than the whole of DA2. The game will take place in Orlais, and the plot is largely guessable if you played DA2 (big civil war: sort it out). Inquisition has a job on if it's to stand comparison with the likes of Skyrim, but it could be a very good game.

I'm hoping that Sworn in Steel (Tales of the Kin 2) by Douglas Hulick will be out next year. I think it was originally pencilled-in for this year, but it got pushed back. The first book was enjoyable and included some fascinating lore/world-building, and I've been wanting to read the follow-up ever since.

Another possibility is the next book in the Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson. The first book, Way of Kings, was a rather enormous book that I absolutely raced through, and I'm hoping that we get the second instalment this year. A word of warning, though. The Stormlight Archive is set to be a mega-series (akin to A Song of Ice and Fire, or Wheel of Time) so it's possible that later books might have long waits between them. However, Mr. Sanderson's a pretty snappy writer.

Using exhaustive and cunning research techniques (I googled it after nothing showed on Amazon) I've discovered more good news, with an October release planned for The Ace of Skulls, the fourth book in the Tales of the Ketty Jay series, by Chris Wooding. I really like this series. It has an unorthodox world, with approximately Victorian/early 20th century technology mingled with a more scientific approach to magic. There's also a great blend of drama and humour, which can sometimes be missing from fantasy.

Incidentally, if you got an e-Reader for Christmas and want to fill it with reasonably priced (free to $2.99) independent books, there's a fine list here (including Bane of Souls, a sure sign the list is of high quality):

Last but not least, I hope to have Journey to Altmortis published this year. There's still much work to be done, but, with luck, it'll be out in the first or second quarter of 2013.


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