Hark! A new dawn rises moving us closer to January and with it 2013. The year is shaping up to be an absolute blockbuster with a promising new game coming out almost every week of the first three months, plenty lined up to provide satisfaction later in the year and the widespread expectation of the earnest beginning of the next generation with Ouya, the Steambox and the next consoles from Sony and Microsoft all being released. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer indeed, but it’s always best to keep a reign on how much you’re looking forward to at any given time. With that in mind, we’re focussing on the first month of the year and listing for you the three biggest single player games for your consideration.
DmC: Devil May Cry
Release Date: 15th January (PS3/X360), 25th January (PC)
Capcom’s ultra-slick action series is making a return after almost five full years dormant. But this isn’t the devil we know and that fact is still prickling some long-term fans more than two years on from its announcement. Helmed by Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory, this latest entry takes extreme liberties with almost every element of the series, with the designs and even the roles of stalwarts Dante, Vergil, Mundus and Sparda being reimagined in a contemporary setting with a decidedly punk edge. Revelations that the console versions will feel slower due to the 30-frame-per-second refresh has some fans worried that the insane speed of previous iterations has been taken away with the recent demo only slightly assuaging such fears. And, although it is now more aerially focussed than previous games, the patented combat depth seems to be returning in spades. With Ninja Theory developing, we can also expect a more thoroughly fleshed out story than we have seen before, with a particular focus on the family ties of the main characters and the reasoning behind Mundus’ hatred of them as well as the Nephilistic miscegeny of Dante. It’s shaping up to be a sumptuous feast for the senses and quite possibly one of the most well-rounded, if not necessarily best, games of 2013.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Release Date: January 22nd/25th (PS3 – NA/EU)
Widely considered one of the great hopes for the JRPG genre, Ni no Kuni is a collaborative effort between veteran development studio Level-5 and acclaimed anime house Studio Ghibli. The game tells what promises to be a heartfelt tale as you take control of Oliver, a 13 year old boy whose grief at the death of his mother brings to life a doll that she gave to him, which grants him the ability to use magic and enter the fantasy realm of Ni no Kuni. The nature of this story content isn’t all that different from other Ghibli fare, but this isn’t the only area in which the studio’s influence is felt on the game. With a delightful watercolour aesthetic that perfectly matches their films and music composed by Joe Hisaishi and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the production values are guaranteed to be utterly jawdropping. The gameplay isn’t entirely dissimilar from Level-5’s previous PS3 effort, White Knight Chronicles, but has proven more appealing than the MMO stylings of that series thus far. With it being highly regarded upon its original Japanese release over a year ago, and a focused localisation effort on the part of Namco Bandai, this one should be on the radar for anyone looking to take a break from the grittiness that dominates most of the market.
Hitman HD Trilogy
Release Date: January 29th/February 1st (PS3, X360 – NA/EU)
The recent Hitman: Absolution seems to have disappointed more than a few long-term fans with the changes made to the core gameplay and the missions themselves simply not being as invigorating as those found in previous games. It seems as though IO Interactive and Square-Enix have recognised this and are making up for the lacklustre outing with the Hitman HD Trilogy, which bundles together Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Contracts and Blood Money, providing over 40 classic missions. We’ve seen a number of shoddy HD “upgrades” in recent times and the short period between the announcement and release of this one, as well as the lack of any official media, could prove worrisome. On the other hand, we first heard rumblings about the possibility way back in June, which could allude to a six month cycle that should be more than long enough to patch up the flaws. And, while it hasn’t been announced which platform the ports are coming from, there are very good odds that it’ll be the consistently superior PC version, in light of the fact that it received a Trilogy pack back in 2007.