Dec. 28, 2012 at 2:12 PM ET
The holiday shopping season is officially over and that means the spasm of big game launches is over as well, right? Well, no. In some ways, the rush of video game releases is just getting started.
For a variety of reasons, some of the games we were most looking forward to getting our thumbsticks on in 2012 had launch dates pushed back into early 2013. Quite a few hotly anticipated games are stacked up for a debut in the new year ... and some are just weeks away from arriving on shelves.
And while the spring game line-up is crowded, the rest of the year is looking pretty packed as well. Quite a few best-selling game franchises will make a big return in 2013 while some brand new titles are getting ready to tempt players with original stories and intriguing new gameplay.
Below you'll find 10 of the games we're most looking forward in 2013. Stop by the discussion section to let us know which titles you're saving your hard earned gold coins for.
"Dead Space 3," Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC - Feb. 5
The space-faring fright fest that is the "Dead Space" series gets a new entry in the next few weeks. But while the previous games dropped players into terrifying solo mission filled with grotesque creatures known as Necromorphs, this newest game encourages players to experience these monstrosities (and the fear they inspire) with a friend.
Two-player, drop-in/drop-out co-operative play is the name of the game as you and buddy head to the icy planet of Tau Volantis to discover the source of the Necromorph plague. Sure, you can go it all alone, but you'll get more out of the survival horror story if you partner up. Also, you'll have someone to hug when the undead leap at you from the dark.
"Aliens: Colonial Marines," Wii U, Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3 - Feb. 12
Speaking of a good space-faring scare, the "Alien" franchise is about to get another installment, in the form of a video game. Not only has Gearbox Software billed "Aliens: Colonial Marines" as the spiritual sequel to Jim Cameron's "Aliens" — the second "Alien" movie — but the game is even considered part of the canon by 20th Century Fox.
InGame editor Todd Kenreck got an advance look at "Aliens: Colonial Marines." Check out his video above.
As the name suggests, you get to play a U.S. Colonial Marine on a mission to investigate the U.S.S. Sulaco spaceship, and find out what happened to Ellen Ripley and her crew. As you play, you'll get to visit some of the most famous locations from the films and wield some of their most iconic weapons and equipment. And we're hoping that, at some point in the game, we'll also get to utter the phrase, "Game over man, game over!"
"Rayman Legends," Wii U - Feb. 26
The bright, colorful, zany platforming game "Rayman Origins" was one of my very favorite games of 2011. And "Rayman Legends" — a direct sequel to that game — looks like it will offer even more music-filled, action-packed, wacky fun — but with a new twist. That is, "Rayman Legends" — originally scheduled to arrive in November — will launch exclusively for Nintendo's new Wii U game machine in February instead. And since it's a Wii U exclusive, that means it will be putting the machine's unique tablet-style GamePad controller to use.
I gave "Legends" a try at the Penny Arcade Expo earlier this year and loved the way one player could use the GamePad controller — and its touchscreen — to assist up to four other players using standard Wii Remote controllers. You can use the GamePad to do things like grab and pull creatures out of the ground, open secret paths and knock enemies out of the way. I dare say "Rayman Legends" is a very good reason to pick up a Wii U if you haven't already.
"Tomb Raider," Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC - March 5
The forthcoming "Tomb Raider" game is another title that found itself delayed from 2012 to 2013. But hopefully that extra time will mean extra polish for this reboot of one of the most famous series in video game history.
The action-adventure/platforming game is set to re-imagine leading lady Lara Croft's early, formative years. And while it has already inspired its fair share of controversy due to an alleged sexual assault scene, we can't wait to see the new places the developers take this storied franchise. From what we've seen so far, Croft has been given a darker, grittier backstory (a la the character reboot we've seen in the new Batman/Dark Knight films). It's a backstory that makes her more human and less of a (top-heavy) caricature. And to that we say: It's about time.
"Bioshock Infinite," PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC - March 26
Earlier this year, the team at Irrational Games told us we'd have to wait until next year to get our hands on "BioShock Infinite" because they wanted more time to make it "even more extraordinary." Needless to say, after all this waiting, our expectation for this game — the third in the critically acclaimed BioShock franchise — are very high.
And, indeed, "Infinite" will take us back in time and high up into the sky, as we play agent Booker DeWitt, a man sent on a mission to the airborne city of Columbia. His mission: to find a young woman named Elizabeth (recently modeled by Russian gamer/costumer Anna Moleva). This first-person shooter promises to drop players into a intrigue-and-adventure-filled alternate vision of America during the Age of Steam, while bestowing upon us some unique powers.
The waiting isn't over yet, but in the meantime you can check out the new video above, which offers a preview of the first few minutes of "Bioshock Infinite."
"Injustice: Gods Among Us," Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U - April
There is an age-old question asked by geeks of all ages: Who would win in a fight ... Batman or Superman? Flash or the Green Lantern? Catwoman or Wonder Woman? The forthcoming fighting game "Injustice: Gods Among Us" will, at last, provide us with the answers we seek.
The game drops many of your favorite heroes and villains from the DC Comics universe into "a world where the lines between good and evil are blurred." And it's here that the developers at NetherRealm promise "Injustice" will give us "heroes and villains engaging in epic battles on a massive scale." A look at the trailer above shows they aren't kidding. When superheroes collide, mere mortals better run and hide.
"The Last of Us," PlayStation 3 - May 7
Brought to us by the developers behind the critically acclaimed Uncharted games, "The Last of Us" not only promises to blend survival and action gaming elements in unique ways, but to take us on a story-driven journey with deep, well-crafted characters.
The game takes place 20 years after a plague decimated the population, leaving civilization in ruins and the survivors not only fighting off infected humans but fighting with their own fellow survivors as well. It's in this setting that we meet the grizzled survivor Joel and the 14 year-old girl, Ellie, that he's charged with protecting. "The Last of Us" is the kind of game aimed at grown-up players looking for thoughtfully crafted, grown-up gaming. Fans of "The Walking Dead" should definitely be lining up for this one.
"Grand Theft Auto V," PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 - Spring 2013
At long last, Grand Theft Auto is hitting the road again. The GTA games have pioneered open-world gaming, giving players the freedom to roam immense digital landscapes filled with crime, adventure and some very colorful characters. And Rockstar says that "GTAV" — which takes place in and around the fictional Southern California city of Los Santos — will be its biggest game yet.
"Grand Theft Auto V" will allow players to switch between three friends/partners in crime and will center around performing heists. We'll get to play Michael, a wealthy ex-gangster; Trevor, a wise-cracking crazy man with a short fuse; and Franklin, a professional repo man. Sounds like a recipe for trouble ... and lots of crime-filled fun. Meanwhile, "GTAV" developer Rockstar Games recently revealed that the game will head underwater as well. And as the new screenshot above indicates, that means we better get ready for ... sharks!
"Pikmin 3," Wii U - Spring/Summer 2013
Nintendo recently announced that it was delaying its highly anticipated real-time strategy game until the second quarter of 2013. And while waiting is a bummer, we're used to it when it comes to this delightful series.
It's been eight long years since "Pikmin 2" let us control swarms of the adorable little ant-like creatures as they try to survive in the big BIG world. With "Pikmin 3," we'll be able to control these delightful Pikmin using either the GamePad or Wii Remote controller as we set them to various tasks such as breaking down barriers, harvesting food and taking out enemies. And for the first time ever, we'll get to see these creatures and their strange, wonderful world in gorgeous HD.
"Beyond: Two Souls," PlayStation 3 - Late 2013
"'Beyond' will be unlike anything else you've experienced before," David Cage, the director for this forthcoming PlayStation 3 game has promised. And we have good reason to believe him. "Beyond: Two Souls" is being made by the team at Quantic Dream, the development company that brought us the surprisingly compelling and emotionally mature cinematic game "Heavy Rain."
"Beyond: Two Souls" is described as a "psychological action thriller;" and it will star the excellent Academy Award-nominated actress Ellen Page as Jodie Holmes, a young woman who possesses strange, supernatural powers thanks to a psychic link to an invisible entity. Cage says the game will take players on a journey through 15 years of Holmes' life as it explore themes of death and the afterlife. Your decisions will determine her fate. Very intriguing indeed.
Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.