So, to honor the occasion, we picked out the 10 games we're most excited to play in the next couple of months. A few have recently been released. Which would defeat the purpose of this being a strictly preview type of article. We're sorry. It's hard to pick 10 without putting stuff like “Lego Lord of the Rings” on here, fuck you.
Anyway, the list:
10. Furious 4, December
A World War II first-person shooter… /head falls to table, begins drooling.
Woah, woah. Sorry about that. My narcolepsy tends to bounce back whenever I write, read, or say the phrase “World War II first-person shooter.” It's not the most exciting thing in the world, is it? Haven't we all played these so many times that we probably have a general sense of what the entire geographical region of Normandy is like? Down to the last stone wall?
But Furious 4 promises, at least, to be different from the well-trodden norm. You, along with three other buddies, are a part of an American squad going after the Fuhrer himself. Along the way, you face super-soldiers who have been secretly genetically engineered by Hitler.
Wait you mean like?
WOLFENSTEIN! I'd kill to play Wolfenstein again.
But actually, judging by the above trailer, it's looking way more like a play off “Inglorious Basterds” and any revisionist history story with out-of-period technology. Which should be insane and fun.
9. Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse, Nov. 20
This is a game I admittedly know very little about, and the information about it online is scarce. Here's what we do know: All the voice actors are on board. It's based off the episode “Road to the Multiverse” from season eight, which had the clever (and Emmy-winning) premise of Stewie and Brian traveling to various parallel animated universes via a remote control. And the game can't possibly suck any worse than the last “Family Guy” console effort, “Family Guy Video Game!” I'd rather be powerless during Hurricane Sandy again than suck up power playing that atrocity.
8. Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Oct. 30
The Need for Speed franchise took a step back last year with The Run, a sometimes fun game that was hurt by a ridiculous story and a silly premise: A “Cannonball Run”-esque cross-country race. This year, Criterion Games has gone back to the basics, focusing on the driving physics and open-world environment that makes this series fun.
Plus, look at how pretty it is. Will we ever get tired of seeing the sun hitting a car's hood?
7. WWE '13, Oct. 30
Some of my greatest video game memories involve wrestling video games. Anyone ever play WCW Nitro back in the late '90s? (Oh no, Krum, I'm being nostalgic!) Getting down the button combinations and figuring out the exact way to perfectly execute Goldberg's spear or Kevin Nash's choke slam was an artform. And with limited Internet access, you had to go through a painstaking process of probing friends who knew the combos for information. You'd probe them at the lunch table, you'd write Triangle, X, X, Triangle, Up on a napkin that would ultimately get smothered with peanut butter, and then you'd never learn the fucking thing. Maybe that was just me.
Anyway, wrestling games are a little different now. The controls are more fluid, the graphics aren't somewhat recognizable pixel versions of Sting, and you can do things unimaginable in 1998, like create your own jacked-up alter ego. Perhaps the coolest part of this year's WWE game, though, is the single-player campaign based on the Attitude Era, a game addition that actually allows you to reenact important moments during the peak of wrestling's popularity, the late '90s. A good sign you'll enjoy that game mode? Try not to watch the entire video above. I've been sucked into it three times now.
6. Assassin's Creed III, Oct. 30
I'll keep this preview brief, because I have a feeling that anyone who has thought about playing this game probably already has purchased it. Assassin's Creed III is a huge step forward for the popular game series. It's a hyperdetailed look at the American colonial era, an important one that's never been done well in a video game. Even if a few of their attempts at entertainingly presenting American historical figures end up being groan-worthy (and after the cheesy portrayal of Leonardo da Vinci in Assassin's Creed II, you'd think they learned their lesson), it's admirable, and very cool to walk around 1770s Boston.
Plus, there are few more satisfying things than smashing your tomahawk into a redcoat. 'Merica.
5. Far Cry 3, Dec. 4
Far Cry 2 is, without a doubt, one of the weirdest and most frightening first-person shooters I've ever played. You pick a character whose goal is killing the head arms dealer of an African failed state, and you spend most of the game navigating between two warring factions, the APR and UFLL, both of whom contain really, really smart enemies you spend half your time hiding from, like a little bitch, in dense savannah underbrush. It's uncanny how certain enemies will hunt you down over vast amounts of territory and find you. You never really feel safe.
Of course, the AI of the enemies isn't the strangest part of the game. That comes in the level of gruesome detail it goes into when you or a teammate are injured. You perform self-surgeries (think: ripping bullets out with pliers), and when a member of the crew you've surrounded yourself with is mortally injured, you sometimes have put them out of their misery (while they plead with you not to do it). It's all kind of unsettling. It's the anti-Halo.
Far Cry 3 looks to be a spiritual successor to Far Cry 2: An open-world first-person shooter that will take place on a Pacific tropical island you're trying like hell to get off, all the while avoiding the crazed inhabitants that populate it. Look for it to be as challanging (and hopefully rewarding) as its predecessor, while also possessing the difficult questions on morality that Far Cry 2 had.
4. Hitman: Absolution, Nov. 20
A different kind of game than the shooters that predominately make up this list, Hitman: Absolution promises to make you act stealthy when figuring out how to pull off the game's trademark assassinations. Judging from this funny preview by IGN's Ryan Clements, it will reward you for smartly getting around guards and henchmen you'd normally just mindlessly shoot at in other games:
The interior of the mansion buzzed with guards. Switching into a new disguise, I used 47's instinct much more selectively and avoided detection. Conversations were successfully overheard and the disguise was maintained. 47's target, now rooms away, taunted me from the mini-map. And it seemed that nothing stood in the way of a mission complete, until I unintentionally commanded that Agent 47 hop into a closest with several guards stationed nearby. This kind of activity, as you might expect, draws a great deal of suspicion. And subsequent gunfire.
The final gunfight in the main hall of the mansion was spectacular and featured everything you could ever want from a symphony of bullets. Vivid scenery. Slow-motion headshots. A panicked chef (really!). But in the clatter of discarded clips and swaths of blood, Agent 47 fell to the ground. In his last, pained moments of life, I could hear him whisper but a few words of regret: “I blame you, Clements.”
3. Halo 4, Nov. 6
I finally got a chance to play this yesterday for the first time. My very early impressions are this:
a. The graphics are amazing. I know this is said about every tentpole killer app, but Halo 4 is truly remarkable. In the first cutscene of the campaign's first level, I actually thought I was watching a filmed, live-action sequence (like the recent Forward Until Dawn series). It wasn't until I saw the faces of the other characters that I figured out it was CG. In multiplayer, the old maps from Halo 3 look new, and the new maps are pristine. You find yourself staring at a perfectly rendered tree until you're killed via headshot.
b. Which brings us to the actual gameplay. It's intense. Halo 4 has taken several cues from the Call of Duty series—you can run now, and there just seems to be more bullets flying around than before—and the sound and fury of the firefights is nothing like Halo 3. It's loud. And it feels more realistic than the fights in the past which, many times, boiled down to 10 guys bouncing around in funny-colored spacesuits. This is a positive development. (Actually firing the guns is also a different beast this year. The battle and sniper rifles, especially, respond so much better than they have in previous iterations.)
c. The story, which always is sort of an afterthought in Halo (and most games) is, at least according to several reviews, engrossing. I haven't played enough to speak to this, but we learn more about what makes Master Chief tick, and Cortana will play a major role in the game. She's always been one of the more interesting characters in the Halo universe, so it'll be nice to see her development.
2. Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Nov. 13
What can I tell you that you don't already know? Future warfare, ridiculous weapons, and what promises to be the highest selling (and best online experience) of any game this year. Just a few more days, friends.
And one to look out for…
1. Grand Theft Auto V, Q2, 2013
I couldn't write this list out without including a look at what promises to be the biggest and best game of 2013: Grand Theft Auto V.
Rockstar has been on a slow drip with the leaks for the newest installment of the Grand Theft Auto series—a screenshot here, a short trailer there—but in this month's issue of Game Informer, it delivered to us some amazing information about the game. The first, and quite literally biggest thing the makers revealed: The map will be larger than Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas combined. That's staggering, especially if you remember how big San Andreas' map, with its three connected cities, is.
Rockstar also said that there wil be three playable protagonists—a retired bank robber named Michael, a career criminal and drug addict named Trevor, and a street hustler named Franklin—which you can switch between at nearly any time. When you are not playing with the other two, they're off doing their own thing without you (presumably bowling or playing darts, like all of Nico's shitty friends in GTA IV). This should add a new wrinkle to the gameplay. And, finally, we learned that there will be randomized events similar to Red Dead Redemption. Those always made for some of the most fun moments in that Western, so we're excited about this development. And every development that comes out about GTA V. Release the fucking thing already!