Thursday, January 24, 2013

The five games I'm most looking forward to this year

There's only one (official) sequel on my list of most anticipated games of 2013 (are you listening Hollywood?), three of these games are Kickstarter projects, and the last one is by Obsidian (Neverwinter Nights 2Fallout: New Vegas) - who also had a successful Kickstarter project recently.

In order of projected release:

  • South Park: The Stick of Truth (March)
  • Greed Monger (April)
  • Double Fine Adventure (June)
  • Grim Dawn (August)
  • Total War: Rome II (October)

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Obsidian Entertainment has a good history of developing impressive RPGs, although historically they’re known for taking an existing IP and engine and expanding on it. Neverwinter Nights 2 followed BioWare’s Neverwinter Nights, Fallout: New Vegas improved and expanded Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 3, but in 2010 they released their first original title: Alpha Protocol, which was met with mixed reviews; anywhere from 84% (Games Master) to 2/10 (Destructoid), and a Metacritic score of 72/100 on PC. Despite owning Alpha Protocol – due to a moment of weakness during one of the many Steam Sales – I've never played it, but it sounds like my kind of game. South Park: The Stick of Truth isn't an original IP, but Obsidian has done a great job of faithfully reproducing the unique art style of the show, and they've got the South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who approached Obsidian Entertainment directly, writing the game and providing the voices of the characters. As a fan of both Obsidian and South Park, this game is one I'm looking forward to.

Greed Monger

The first of the three Kickstarter projects, Greed Monger is a "Crafting Focused Sandbox MMORPG", in addition to the crafting other marketed features include economics and politics. I do not believe this is going to be a game for everyone, it's a litmus test for the genre, and it will need an enthusiastic community to survive. This game, of any on my list this year, is the long shot. I won't say much more, but if this is something you think you might have some interest in, I would urge you to check out the information on their Kickstarter project page.

Double Fine Adventure

There's not much I can tell you about Tim Schafer's upcoming adventure game - there's just not much information out there - but I can tell you a lot about Tim Schafer. He began his career at LucasArts working on familiar titles like The Secret of Monkey Island, and its sequel Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. He co-designed Day of the Tentacle (Maniac Mansion II), before going on to design the winner of GameSpot's Game of the Year award of 1998: Grim Fandango. Tim Schafer left LucasArts in 2000 and founded Double Fine Productions, designed the odd-looking platform game: Psychonauts (2005), and the action-adventure/real-time strategy mashup: Brütal Legend (2009). Since then his studio has worked on smaller games like Costume Quest (2010) and Stacking (2011). The Double Fine Adventure was arguably responsible for putting on the map, the projects success proves that PC gamers still want an old-fashioned point-and-click adventure game, and I can't wait to try it.

Grim Dawn

Another successful Kickstarter project! Grim Dawn is being developed by Crate Entertainment, I wouldn't blame anyone for not recognizing the name - they're a new studio formed by ex-members of Iron Lore (Titan Quest (2006), Dawn of War: Soulstorm (2008)). It's a good story actually - Iron Lore was struggling to find another publisher to fund their next project and decided to close. One of the unfortunate consequences of the closure was the loss of their own Titan Quest game engine; however, the newly formed Crate Entertainment was able to license its use for their new game: Grim Dawn. Described as a “Victorian era, fantasy action role-playing” game, the updated Titan Quest engine looks beautiful, the action looks packed, and the monsters rabid. It's not really a sequel, but it is undoubtedly spiritual successor to Titan Quest. It sounds like non-linear exploration will play a huge part in the experience, players can unlock new sections of the map by “repairing bridges, defeating enemy blockades, etc.” – some other action-RPG developers should be taking notes. Titan Quest was one of my favourite co-op games of the last five years, I'm glad the developers are able to keep making games, and they deserve every penny they raised during the Kickstarter. I truly believe that thanks to Kickstarter, this is the beginning of the resurgence of PC gaming, the second golden age, and I couldn't be more excited.

Total War: Rome II

The Total War series began with Shogun, set in feudal Japan; I never played it, I wasn't sure at the time if it was a game that appealed to me. It was 2000, and I was still playing Total Annihilation. I didn't have the patience for turn based strategy games, and managing the unbelievable number of units in breakthrough battle system seemed a bit anorak-y to me. The first time I saw a Total War game first hand was Medieval, in early 2003. I convinced my friend to let me borrow the game, and thoroughly enjoyed it for the better part of a week, staying up far too late most nights (just... one.. more.. turn). When Rome, the third game in the series arrived, I bought it. I bought it again some years later on Steam, or rather the gold version came included in the Total War Mega Pack, which has since been replaced with the Total War Master Collection. I skipped Medieval II (2006), but did buy Empire (2007) as it was part of the aforementioned Mega Pack; Empire: Total War was an odd game that I was never able to get in to. In Medieval and Rome it’s easy enough to invade a neighbour (usually Gaul), and start building an empire; but in Empire it’s already built, and not the way I would have done it; my play style required a paradigm shift, and I wasn't ready. The last two Total War games, Napoleon and Shogun 2, came and went without attracting much of my attention – there’s other contributors here that could tell you a thing or two about Napoleon: Total War though. So, will Total War: Rome II be the one that re-engages me? I hope so. I consider Rome the best of the Total War games – the sequel is going to be bigger, prettier, and hopefully more of what made the first one so addictive. I'm especially excited about diplomatic options – something that CIV5 still doesn't get right! October is months away yet, and I could see Creative Assemblies 8th Total War game slipping to 2014… but let’s hope not – because I can’t wait to play it.

Is there a game that you think I missed? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Since we're both on the Greed Monger Kickstarter I'll begin with that.

    I'm with you in saying this game is a long shot. It's less of an investment in a long term MMO experience and more an investment in something I believe in and want to see in other games. What is that thing? The return to community. Everything I've read on it makes it seem like the only way to be successful is to work with (or against) your fellow players. You can play WoW, KOTOR, and any number of other current MMOs and never be forced to talk to another player, let alone actually cooperate.

    If Greed Monger can be even remotely successful maybe Blizzard, Sony, Funcom, Arena Net, and the rest will take notice and say "Amazing, we should be implementing more stuff like THAT in our big, pretty, polished MMOs."

    On to the Total War series of games. You didn't play Medieval II? You are missing out! That's Rome, but better, with more stuff to kill. I have to say that Rome is, by far, my favorite in the series. I ran a mod for it, which for the life of me I forget the name of now, that allowed you to play as a single unified Republic. The map was expanded in basically every direction, going all the way east to India.

    This is, and always will be, the strength of the Total War (and Civ) games; the ability to mod the heck out of them.

    My only apprehension about Rome II (and believe me, it's a silly one), is that I only just got into Empire and Napoleon. I've barely given Shogun II a chance, and likely won't until the Empire flavored ones have run their course with me... and if that doesn't happen before Rome II comes out, forget it. Rome II will wait for no one!


    Speaking of, do you think they have better voice actors for this version of Rome? The battle narration guy in the first Rome sounded like a Muppet. Not the British-ism meaning "a foolish person" I mean he legitimately sounded like a voice from Sesame Street or The Muppets.

    "Rome demands victory from her generals. The day is ours... yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" Arms flailing and everything.

  2. I, too, am excited about Greed Monger (except when it comes to its title). It seems to be do everything it possibly can to bring the spirit of community back to MMOs.

    As for Rome II: Total War.... oh hells yes.