Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release: March 12
The original game was a right old mess and yet defied critics, QA testers and any sense of worldly justice with some two-million plus sales. Its sequel promises to rectify the mistakes, ditch its more gung-ho shooter sections and return to authentically stealthy sniping action. The CryEngine 3 makes it all look rather spiffy, and will hopefully curtail the number of instances when the player tumbles through the floor into infinity.
“A dumb shooter that feels like a rubbish stealth section dragged out across the length of an entire game.” Turns out Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 wasn’t much cop after all.
Publisher: 2K Games
Release: March 26
Bioshock was set in an underwater objectivist utopia gone awry and its successor is not so much a sequel as a funhouse mirror; transporting the action to an alternate universe, another time – 1912 – and yet another failed experiment in utopianism. This time set in a flying city called Columbia, Bioshock’s art deco gives way to neo-classical sobriety – built as a testament to American exceptionalism, but now shredded by vying factions. You play as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent, dispatched to Columbia to retrieve a girl with incredible powers – who then remains your near-constant companion, establishing the emotional heart to the game and expanding your tactical options when faced with a horde of crazed Columbian citizens. Though the gunplay still feels very Bioshock, with handheld spells called “vigors” allowing you to ignite people or summon clouds of crows the actual structure of the game feels more like the directed experience of Half-Life 2 than the hub-like environs of Rapture. The interplay between Booker and his charge, Elizabeth, meanwhile, may set a new watermark for player-AI relationships.
Read what we thought of BioShock Infinite in our review, hear us out as we implore you to play Irrational’s game on Hard, and join us in our spoilerific quest to untangle Infinite’s spectacular ending.
Release: February 19
The first Crysis sent the player sneaking, dashing and leaping through extremely open, dense, jungle settings, while the second trapped you in a gorgeously drawn but lamentably trammelled New York – necessarily restricted so the game could fit onto those dinky little consoles. In its third supersoldiers-vs-aliens outing, Crytek attempts to meld the two, unleashing you in a New York some years after its reclamation by nature. Its certainly a showcase for the tech beneath, and Crysis has always offered an interesting array of combat options with the protagonist’s nanosuit allowing you to switch between super strength, speed and stealth. But it’s always come unstuck in its enemy design – the aliens just proved little joy to fight, and it doesn’t look like they’re being left out of the picture here, unfortunately.
Read our Crysis 3 review for our full verdict.
Day Z Standalone
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive
Release: TBC 2013
Our mod of the year in 2012 is getting a proper standalone release in 2013. You play a survivor on a huge open island populated by countless zombies and dozens of other players. Food, ammo and medical supplies are scarce, and the people you meet are as likely to kill you for supplies as help you. The mod was wonderfully tense, but unstable servers could mean hours of frustration for those trying to log on. If the standalone release can spruce up the interface and add a much-needed bout of polish, this could be sensational.
Red Orchestra 2: Rising Storm
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Release: May 30
Developed as a collaboration between Tripwire Interactive and the Red Orchestra 2 modding community, Rising Storm is a total conversion that moves the action from Stalingrad to the Pacific theatre. Previous games have had slightly shaky singleplayer campaigns, but proved their worth online, with single-shot death, shellshock and clumsy weaponry conjuring a tremendous sense of oppression and panic.
Rising Storm went down a, well, storm when we reviewed it earlier in the year.
Dead Island: Riptide
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release: April 25
Riptide follows on directly from the events of the original game – an openworld shooter RPG set in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse on a tropical island. Though seemingly rescued at the end of the last game, a tsunami sets the survivors back at square one, and so begins again the process of collecting resources and aiding fellow non-zoms in distress. Hopefully building upon their existing work will allow the dev to focus on squashing some of the game-wrecking bugs players encountered first time round.
Alas, it didn’t, although Riptide did introduce a bunch of hilarious new glitches and bugs. Also boats. Find out more in our review.
Metro: Last Light
Release: May 14
Publisher THQ’s money troubles may have done a great service to Metro: Last Light – its constant discounts and Steam firesales have meant that the game’s excellent predecessor, subterranean supernatural shooter Metro 2033, has ended up in many more hands than it might have otherwise and whet appetites for the sequel. Set in the labyrinthine tunnels beneath Moscow – which connect its nuclear-shielded subway system with cold-war-era military bunkers and underground rivers – Metro told a linear tale of survival following a man-made apocalypse. Monstrous mutants stalk the remnants of humanity, while other supernatural phenomena ravage the lands, and mankind struggles with itself – different factions forever at war in the gloomy echoing caverns. This sequel hopes to recreate the claustrophobic tension of the original, with its cumbersome weaponry and weary sense of embodiment.
…And it made a pretty good job of it too. As our review puts it: “A brilliantly realised world wrapped around a story-driven shooter that occasionally forgets you want to play it.”
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive
Release: September 12
There’s over 320 square kilometres of military sandbox in this latest instalment in the super-realistic military shooter series, now relocating the conflict to a near-future mediterranean. Alas, two of the principal developers of the game were arrested for spying while on holiday in Greece – on the very island on which the game’s environment is based. Production has slowed while Bohemia Interactive petitions the Greek authorities to see sense.
One of the most exuberantly silly names for a shooter it might be, but its doing serious business: Warface already has millions of players in Russia, with the free-to-play multiplayer shooter coming to Western shores as soon as they’ve settled on a regionally-appropriate business model and infrastructure. Though it looks like grimly realistic shooter fare, this is actually a giddily fast-paced team-shooter with outlandish perks and buffs.
Release: April 10
Supporting the Trackmania-style framework of creative tools and online tournaments, Shootmania is a sort of pro-player shooter sandbox, allowing you to build levels, tweak game variables to your satisfaction, organise competitive matches and livestream it all from within the game itself. Being so malleable means it lacks a potent aesthetic of its own, however.
Sir, You Are Being Hunted
Publisher: Big Robot
Release: TBC 2013
A procedurally-generated world inspired by bleak British moorland is the setting for this indie survival game – moorland populated by exceedingly gentlemanly robots intent on killing you for sport. Pitched as a tweedpunk anglophile Stalker, it looks to be a complex game of interacting dynamic systems: different robot factions can be lured into conflict with each other, giving the player a chance to slip through the damp bracken unnoticed.
Rise Of The Triad
Publisher: Apogee Software
Release: July 31
The original ROTT was a frivolously chaotic FPS from the era of sprite-based shooters. It had an inventive arsenal, oodles of gore and a breakneck pace – all of which seem to be returning in this loyal remake. The Unreal Engine 3 brings it up to speed visually – with the evil cultist’s monastery offering architecture with complexity far beyond that possible in the first game’s modified Wolfenstein 3D engine. But that doesn’t mean the devs will be messing with the game’s irreverent tone: this is no gritty reboot. Early glimpses see the player collecting coins, detonating gigantic explosions and otherwise causing carnage worthy of the original’s name.
Read our review for our verdict on this peculiarly old-fashioned first-person shooter.
Release: October 29
The beta access promised as part of Medal Of Honor: Warfighter’s pre-order bonus spilled the beans on Battlefield 4’s existence. Though few can have been surprised that DICE would make another game in the series, it’s early announcement, and the fact that that it would be slated before another Bad Company game, has raised eyebrows. And perhaps for this reason, DICE have remained silent on when we can expect BF4’s beta to actually open or what it might entail. Our hopes for the series: a return to huge, non-linear, highly destructible environments instead of the gung-ho COD-alike singleplayer bombast. Also, more vehicle horns. Honk!
Call Of Duty: Ghosts
Release: Late 2013
Along with flooding in the south west of England and country-wide, bum-crippling outbreaks of the norovirus, a new COD game is a certain fixture for late 2013. It’s since been revealed as COD: Ghosts, yet another sub-series – after Modern Warfare and Black Ops – and one that takes place in the near future. Activision and Infinity Ward have made a big deal about its A.I. dog Riley, a trained German Shepherd under your control.
Publisher: Zero Point Software
Release: TBC 2013
This ambitious indie sci-fi shooter has been knocking around for nearly eight years now, but recently built momentum thanks to the release of some playable demos and the increased popularity of pre-order-based crowdfunding. Even so, Zero Point failed to hit their lofty $600k Kickstarter goal for the Prologue chapter of Interstellar Marines. The full game is nonetheless coming – with its promises of non-linear gameplayer, open-ended level design, rich storytelling and four player co-op intact.
Zeno Clash 2
Release: April 30
The original stands out as one of the most inventive games of recent years, set in an alarming, bizarre reality of Zenozoik, populated by alarming, bizarre man-creature hybrids, who you could then punch to death in the firstperson. Sweet. The sequel looks to pick up where the first game’s unsettlingly Oedipal story left off, though takes the action to a Zelda-style open world (now powered by Unreal Engine 3 as opposed to Source). It’s a thrillingly ambitious project from one of the most brazenly barmy imaginations in game development.
When you’ve finished punching Father-Mother in the face, why not box your way through to our review?
Release: Q3 2013
Bedlam is to be both a game and a book – the first foray into sci-fi by Scottish crime author Christopher Brookmyre. In fact, the game hopes to be part of a trilogy of FPS games, offering a meta-narrative to the book’s own FPS-influenced themes of alluring, violent digital fantasy.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
Release: March 19
With Telltale’s unprecedentedly brilliant adventure game adaptation drawing to a close, the way is clear for this FPS TV-series tie-in from Terminal Reality. It’s a prequel, following TV show characters Daryl and Merle Dixon, as they fight their way through dead-heads in the countryside of Georgia. Early signs don’t get the pulse racing, but then few predicted how good Telltale’s adventure game would be either.
Call Of Juarez: Gunslinger
Release: May 23
After the ill-advised lurch into the present with The Cartel, the ever-shonky six-shooter series is back in the wild west with Gunslinger. Though technically unpolished, the games have always had a few intriguing mechanical innovations and some colourful characterisation among the grizzled outlaws you encounter along its linear path. This time, Techland has ditched the multi-character epics for a sleeker downloadable title. Here, you’re cherry picking episodes from the memory of a gunman of the old frontier, who variously teamed up with big-name bounty hunters and their big-name bounties. Expect slow-motion gunfights and plenty of frontier dust.
Read our review for our verdict on this quality budget-priced shooter.
Release: September 20
With the likes of Ghost Recon now tumbling headlong into the big-budget FPS furrow left by COD, many wish for the days when the Clancy brand stood for bitter realism and tactics. Takedown is stepping up to fill this gap, and their promised return to squad strategy of the original Rainbox Six and later SWAT games has netted them $200k on Kickstarter. Tangos beware.
Publisher: Splash Damage
Release: Late 2013
The company behind Brink and Enemy Territory bring us another class-based multiplayer shooter – this time a free-to-play terrorism-tussle set in the heart of near-future London. Early footage shows many of their classic class paradigms and abilities continuing into this new game. How it’ll be monetised is yet to be revealed, though surely anyone would put down a fiver just to nuke Croydon.
Publisher: 505 Games
Release: August 13
Overkill’s ‘heist simulator’ sequel wasn’t quite as fully featured or expanded as was promised, but it’s finally escaped its Left 4 Dead-inspired origins at least. Payday 2 is still the best video game adaptation of Heat there’s ever been, and in a few patches/DLCs time it may yet live up to its enormous potential too.
It would be criminal to miss out our Payday 2 review. You know, because it’s a game about heists. *Cough*.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Release: May 1
Blood Dragon takes Far Cry 3’s tale of douchebags trapped on a tropical island and transforms it into the sort of ludicrous 80s-style sci-fi Michael Biehn was literally born for. (In fact, he voices the main character, one Sergeant Rex Power Colt.) In place of pirates and foliage you’ll find cyborgs and neon; in place of komodo dragons you’ll find actual dragons, which naturally fire lasers from their eyes.
Blood Dragon’s neon sci-fi aesthetic was a far cry from the tropical wub-wub of the third game. Read our review to find out more.
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release: September 26
The original Shadow Warrior was essentially Duke Nukem with a katana, containing more dodgy, unedifying elements than a microwaveable kebab. Unlike Duke Nukem forever, however, much of that appears to have been sanded down for Flying Wild Hog’s reboot, which nevertheless remains a distinctly gory and old-fashioned FPS. You’re Lo Wang, and you can do some pretty cool things with a katana in first-person – something that’s still fairly unique to this day.