Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of March 2013

So you know about the games that are coming in the month of March? Which of the 35 plus games are you most exited to get your hands on? Still undecided?  Well here is one person’s point of view that might help you get some perspective on all things gaming in the month of March.

Top 5 Most Anticipated Games – March 2013

Following are the games that I am most excited for and ones which I can’t wait to get my hand on. So without further ado, here are the Top 5 most anticipated games of March 2013:

5# Soul Sacrifice
Publisher: SCE, Developer: Marvelous AQL & SCE Japan Studio, Genre: Action, Platform: Playstation Vita

There have been several comparisons of Soul Sacrifice to the Demons’ Souls and Dark Souls games. Not only because of the fact that all three have the word ‘Soul’ prominently placed in their title, but also because the Demons’ and Dark Souls are notorious for their difficult action gameplay.

I, being a staunch supporter of all things Demons’ and Dark Souls consider it a great disservice to the game to imply that it inherits its difficulty from the Soul series.

Soul Sacrifice is a game designed by longtime Capcom designer and the famed creator of Mega Man; Keiji Inafune. Yes, Mega Man, the original action game that dared to wear its difficulty like a badge of honor.

Inafune-san brings us a fresh new action RPG based around the concept of sacrifice. The core concept of the game revolves around the ability and need to sacrifice items, enemies and even your character’s own body to gain powers and abilities to overcome obstacles in the game.

The game offers a dark story revolving around a slave who happens upon a book which allows him to travel through the book’s stories and battle through monsters, sorcerers and other challenges in store for him in the book.

Players are able to play in a third person perspective in single and multiplayer modes and customize their characters’ roles to suit their play styles. They can choose to play as a tank, a caster or a melee specialist. Whatever abilities they chose, one thing is for certain, the road to victory won’t be an easy one and we gamers won’t have it any other way.

4# Sim City
Publisher: EA, Developer: Maxis, Genre: Simulation, Platform: PC

The game series that started the sim phenomenon, the granddaddy of sim games, the SimCity franchise has decided to grace us with its presence in the year 2013 with its 5th iteration, simply named; SimCity.

The original SimCity was a game designed by the legendary developer; Will Wright and published by Maxis in 1989. A game where players are given control over establishing, building and developing a city and spend their time in the creation and simulation of the city through the game’s simple yet addictive mechanics. The game was a phenomenon that sparked a slew of other spin-off “sim” titles and popularized the ‘god game’ genre.

While being a mayor in your own sprawling city has been an appeal prospect since the advent of the SimCity franchise, the ability to insert the building, defuse a situation and view city data has never been as easy as it is in the new SimCity.

While the new SimCity is still all about developing and controlling a dynamic city by undertaking construction projects, generating revenue and minimizing the negative effects of urban development, the 2013 iteration offers the players ability to monitor their city up close and view every happening in a visual perspective like never before.

Rather than look at separate menus for data in shape of lists, charts and graphs, players can now access the situation by visually looking at what is happening in the city. The improved level of simulation and system improvements allows the game to visually depict the events and the effects of your decision in such a dynamic manner that the player does not have to face the need for graphs and other data to understand the needs of the city.

Aside for the visual aids to help player strategy, the new game also requires an online connection to connect your city with others’ in the world. The game allows multiple cities to exist in its virtual worlds and be neighbors with in regions. However the unsocial person in us need not worry, the player can always set his or her region to “solo” and enjoy the game without any neighborly distractions.

On the whole, the new SimCity offers the players a refined gameplay experience and easier user interface, while retaining the complexities of its patented gameplay that has addicted players around the world for decades.

3# Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate
Publisher: Konami, Developer: Mercury Steam, Genre: Action-Adventure, Platform: Nintendo 3DS

The prince of darkness returns in the next chapter in the Lords of Shadow saga and this time, he has decided to grace the 3DS for this iteration of the Castlevania franchise.

While it is the sequel to Lords of Shadow and a prequel to Lords of Shadow 2, the game does not follow the 3D action adventure pedigree of its predecessor. Mirror of Fate deviates from the often and incorrectly termec “God of War gameplay” and offers play styles of a 2D Action-platformer akin to Castlevanias of yore.

No, the Mirror of Fate does not support the “Metriodvania” style of gameplay made famous by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The game delves deep into the roots of the franchise and resurrects the core gameplay not seen since the 1995 release of Castlevania: Dracula X.

The game follows the action-adventure pedigree set by the Castlevania, Simon’s Revenge, Dracula’s Curse, Super Castlevania and Rondo of Blood. A play style focused less on the RPG elements and more on action and exploration. The action takes cues from the light and dark system introduced in Lords of Shadow and adds new combos, abilities as well as platforming elements to the formula.

Mirror of Fate presents the graphical style of Lords of Shadows and combines it with the side scrolling gameplay of 2D Castlevanias to offer a 2.5D gaming experience similar to the one offered in the PSP remake of Rondo of Blood in Dracula X Chronicles.

The game follows an original storyline, spanning 3 generations. It reintroduces the series’ renowned characters of Trevor Belmont, Simon Belmont, Gabriel Belmont as Dracula and his very own son; Alucard. The focus on the story aspect of the game is a source of excitement and fairly refreshing turn of events for a historically story light series like Castlevania.

Aside from the obvious reasons like the gorgeous graphics, solid gameplay and deep storyline that the game offers, the mere fact that we are witnessing the return of 2D Castlevania after half a decade and a break from ‘Metroidvania’ formula in just under two decades is the reason enough to get thrilled and eager for Mirror of Fate’s release.

2# Tomb Raider
Publisher: Square-Enix, Developer: Crystal Dynamics, Genre: Action-Adventure, Platforms: PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360

With glowing reviews already pouring in from every sides, one may argue that mention of the game is awfully suspect for a list that contains games that are untested and yet to arrive. However, since the game’s release date is still a few days off and these hands have not yet touched the game as of yet, I can safely justify its inclusion in the list of upcoming games. Moreover, the unanimous nature of positive reviews only raises the anticipation for the game to a fever pitch.

As for the game itself, not only does it promise to bring Lara Croft back into the realm of prominence, but also resurrect the brand name of Tomb Raider. A franchise that had seen its lowest days in the previous generation and had become equivalent of Batman movie franchise after Batman & Robin graced the theatres.

However, just like how Christopher Nolan brought the Batman franchise back from the dead and to new lofty heights through Batman Begins; Crystal Dynamics seems to have brought Tomb Raider back from the verge of indifference and to a level of quality and care that is, perhaps, even unrivaled by the original games as well.

The game follows Lara Croft on her journey from being a scared fragile woman who is ship wrecked to a fierce badass surviving the harsh wilderness. What sets this iteration of Tomb Raider apart from the previous games is the focus on character development and telling a personal story.

Taking a page out of the critically acclaimed Uncharted series (which itself was inspired by Lara’s exploits) the game offers a cinematic gameplay and solid action where the environment itself is an important character crucial to the player experience.

Another thing that the game aims to redefine is the portrayal of the Lara herself. While Lara Croft has always stood shoulder to shoulder with Samus and Chunli as the most recognizable female game character, she has not always been seen on a similar level as a role model to the female audience. While dominant and aggressive, she was always endowed with features that were clearly there to cater to the male audience rather than to add substance to the character herself.

Crystal Dynamics seems to have taken real steps to correct that and update the heroine to the standards of 21st Century. No longer is she an anatomically incorrect, hyper sexualized character. There is a lot more emphasis on her personality and personal struggle throughout the span of the game. Lara seems to exude an aura of relatibility while retaining her attractiveness.

All in all, Tomb Raider seems to be the epitome of all that the gamers have always wanted the Tomb Raider franchise to be; a game with breath taking visuals, action packed gameplay and cinematic and well-crafted storyline.

1# Bioshock Infinite
Publisher: 2K Games, Developer: Irrational Games, Genre: First-Person Shooter, Platforms: PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360

What can be said about BioShock Infinite that hasn’t been said before? The original developing team from BioShock returns to the helm of BioShock franchise. If you are experienced the joys of the original BioShock, you will understand why this is the most anticipated game for the month of March.

The first BioShock was a revolution in first person adventure. It offered a fresh approach to storytelling in games and popularized audio diaries which allowed learning backstory of the game world while still maintaining uninterrupted gameplay.

The game introduced us to the underwater city of Rapture which was brought to us through beautiful graphics, ambient sound and dense surroundings which gave the environment a dynamic and lived in feel.

While the second game brought us more of the same, with BioShock Infinite, the series’ third iteration turns the franchise on its head. Where the first game was located in enclosed, claustrophobic, dark and gloomy underwater corridors of Rapture; Infinite brings us to the vast, open and sun-soaked airborne areas of Columbia.

Where the first game was focused on a solitary experience, Infinite gives us a companion in shape of the woman known as Elisabeth. Unlike the faceless, one-sided conversations with Atlas, Elizabeth is an expressive person filled with questions and retorts. She is, in herself, a guide to the world of Columbia as well as looking glass into the past of the character we control.

Where Bioshock gave the players control over a nameless, faceless, purposeless protagonist; Infinite hands you to control Booker, a former-detective who is uncaring, self-centered, is focused on completion of his mission and isn’t shy to kill for it.

While BioShock introduced us to the story of Rapture through deep exposition, Infinite lets us intake the history of Columbia from the visual clues and dynamic environment presented at the outset. Instead of the dead, decrepit and abandoned areas of Rapture, Columbia is lively and full of people who live life in this floating city.

But of course, the game is still a shooter; it still affords us to use unnatural powers in combat and puzzles. Where there were Adam, Eve and tonics, there now are Vigor, Salts and Gears and the game offers a ton of ways for gamers to utilize these abilities. It allows the player to go into a blood haze of gunfire as well as employ stealth to access the environment and take down the obstacles.

With its amazing visuals, new advancements in gameplay, deep characterization, brand new storytelling and the developer; Irrational’s penchant for attention to detail, BioShock Infinite is completely ready to be named Game of the Year upon its arrival and it would be a real shock if it achieves anything less than that.

Notable Mentions

Star Craft II: Heart of the Swarm, Gears of War: Judgment,  God of War: Ascension
Is it insanity to choose portable games over console exclusives? Is it a crime to overlook a great RTS for a Sim game? Let’s look at the reasons why I chose not to include these fine games from the list above.

Let’s begin with the easiest one first. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is essentially the same game that was announced 6 years ago, back in 2007. With three different editions; a regular, deluxe and a collector’s edition, one might think of it as a full-fledged game.

No matter how much we want to believe otherwise, Heart of Swarm is a glorified DLC package and not a new iteration to the StarCraft saga. It basically requires SCII: Wings of Liberty to run and clearly does not fit into a description of a brand new game.

Now let’s move on to the Console exclusive behemoths; God of War and Gears of War. Aside from having the exact same initials, bulky macho heroes and a singular focus on gore and violence that would make Ed Boon blush, the franchise had a focused story that formed a trilogy of games and satisfactorily concluded the engrossing sagas in their third iteration.

Now, both of these brands have decided to make a triumphant return, in the same month, only 2 years after their last iteration. Both Microsoft and Sony could not keep away from their cash cow and had to resort to prequels to their darling franchises since their trilogies left no suitable room for a linked sequel. This is both a testament to the skill of the development team behind the trilogies and the lack of creativity and risk taking that encapsulates SCEA and Microsoft.

While there is little to no doubt regarding the quality of the franchises these games represent and it is almost a certainty that both of them will offer excellent and enjoyable gameplay experience to whoever will opt to play them. However this does not dissuade the fact that both Ascension and Judgment, are representative of the rehash routine that has permeated the bones of this industry. The colon residing between the names of all three of these games should be an indication of this.

Now before we all point out that only one of the games in the top 5 list is a new IP and number 4 through 1 are all part of past franchises. What is the difference between those iterations and the new iterations of Sony and Microsoft’s War franchises? The difference is that all these games are Comebacks not rehash.

SimCity is a sequel to SimCity 4, which was released 10 years ago in 2003. Mirror of fate is the 1st 2D Castlevania in 5 years and first non-metroidvania game since 1995. The Tomb Raider franchise rebooted after 5 years of absence. And while BioShock Infinite is only 3 years apart from its previous iterations (still 1 year more than GOW & GeOW) the fact that it offers such a radical departure in context and presentation and its unwillingness to cling on its source material and maintain a self-contained nature, makes it more of a reboot to the franchise rather than a sequel.

In the end though, everyone is entitled to agree or disagree with my assessment of the upcoming games of March and all of you are welcome to share your opinions in the comments section below.

Omar has been a hardcore gamer since the 80s, so you know he's going to act all superior and snobbish when you meet him. He's a fan of Stealth, Action and Fighting games, which hints ...