Preview The Final Year of Xbox 360, A look ahead at the Xbox 360's last year as the King.

Rocky Dec 30, 2012

  1. Ro

    Rocky Guest

    The original Xbox went out with a bang in 2005, delivering some of the console’s best games ever like Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, and Psychonauts. It seems history may repeat itself, as the Xbox 360 is also set to get a spectacular sendoff in 2013 in advance of the so-called Xbox 720/Durango next fall. Yes, of course, plenty of games will find their way to the 360 in 2014 – good ones, too! – but 2013 marks the final year that the current Xbox will be the flagship of the brand, with the entire world’s eyes (and dollars) fixed upon it.

    If you don’t see a game on the list below, odds are we either A) Didn't think it was good enough to make the cut, or B) Have reason to believe it will be an Xbox 720 game (i.e. Rainbow Six Patriots, Doom 4, Watch Dogs, Star Wars 1313, etc.).

    Oh, and one final note that’s equal parts exciting and terrifying: every single one of the games below is due out in the first half of the year, due entirely, in our opinion, to publishers not wanting their games to get lost in the next-gen hype/news cycle. That’s a lot of gaming to be done between now and E3 2013. Wow.

    With all that out of the way, let the Xbox 360’s swan song begin!

    Grand Theft Auto V

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    Release Date: Spring

    Why it’s Hot: You know why. Besides the fact that Rockstar has a better handle on creating beautiful, open-world sandboxes rife with humor and personality than anyone else, they’ve kept everyone waiting a long time. By the time GTA V releases – and it’s almost certainly going to be April or May, as 2K’s own BioShock Infinite was moved to the end of March in order to still make the company’s fiscal quarter, opening the door for GTA to pad the shareholders’ pockets in the following fiscal quarter – it will have been five full years since GTA IV came out. And we kind of like that. It simply wouldn’t be as much fun – nor would the game design evolve as significantly – if a new GTA was stamped out every other year like clockwork. As for the game itself, it’s giving off very San Andreas-y vibes, and not just because it happens to be set in San Andreas. Between tennis, dirtbiking, and myriad other activities, we might not even want or need any other games until the Xbox 720 releases.

    Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

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    Release Date: Q1

    Why it’s Hot: It’s no secret that we love Journey. It was our Game of the Year for 2012, after all. And we quite love Fable too, even though the haters on the Internetz are quick to mock the franchise. So to combine the two into one cinematic, story-driven experience – one written and directed by a decorated Swedish filmmaker – meant our interest was piqued. And after we saw the game, we knew: this is going to be good. Really, really good. Brothers is expected to clock in around 3-4 hours, so like Journey before it, it’s one you’re going to want to start and finish in one sitting.

    The Cave

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    Release Date: Q1

    Why it’s Hot: Two words: Ron Gilbert. If those two words mean nothing to you, then go play Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2, the two timeless classics that put him on the map. The Cave is Gilbert’s new baby, and it’s got his trademark dry wit, headlined by The Cave itself – a sentient character who narrates your quest. Unlike most adventure games, The Cave features platforming in addition to puzzle-solving, and it’s going to be highly replayable thanks to a large cast of characters – only three of whom you can play with at any given time. Did we mention that it’s an adventure game by Ron Gilbert?

    Splinter Cell: Blacklist

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    Release Date: Spring

    Why it’s Hot: Let’s be realistic here: it’s unlikely that Splinter Cell is going to return to the hardcore stealth ways of 2005’s classic Chaos Theory anytime soon. Instead, the “action-stealth” mash-up introduced by 2010’s Conviction is the future of the franchise, for better or for worse. Fortunately, Blacklist seems to operate somewhere between those two games, retaining action-y options if you want them but offering a wealth of silent, nonlethal tactics as well. We’re still upset that Michael Ironside is no longer voicing Sam Fisher, but we’ll get over it if the gameplay is awesome.

    Gears of War: Judgment

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    Release Date: March 19

    Why it’s Hot: We’ve already played lots of multiplayer – specifically the new OverRun mode, which is essentially a glorious mating of Horde and Team Deathmatch – but now we’ve rolled through some campaign as well, and we’ll tell you this: Judgment is going to be a very different Gears of War from the Marcus Fenix trilogy you’ve spent the last six years getting wrapped up in. Skill kills, brutal challenges – it’s going to remind you a bit of Bulletstorm in all the best ways. Not a surprise, given that Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly is behind the wheel for Judgment.

    South Park: The Stick of Truth

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    Release Date: Spring

    Why it’s Hot: Most of the time, licensed video games fail to live up to the ideal in our minds. Maybe they get farmed out to the lowest bidder. Maybe the budget is tiny. Maybe the developer just isn’t talented enough. The reason we’re so excited about South Park: The Stick of Truth – one of many, but the main reason – is because, for once, the planets are all aligned to create the ultimate South Park game. Show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are writing the game and voicing the characters. Veteran (and awesome) RPG studio Obsidian Entertainment is handling core development. The look of the game is 100% dead-on perfect. And it’s a damn role-playing game, not a cheesy kart racer or first-person shooter. Only one concern remains: will financially-troubled publisher THQ survive long enough to release it?

    Crysis 3

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    Release Date: February 19

    Why it’s Hot: The technical prowess of the CryEngine gets sharpened to an even deadlier point in the third Crysis, where the jungles of the original game and the Manhattan cityscape of the sequel merge to create a literal urban jungle. Oh, and the gameplay is right there to back up the eye candy, with the Nanosuit’s stealth and armor modes on tap to support your preferred play style. Expect a bit more freedom this time around, though there’s no word yet on whether or not Crysis 2’s eyeball-melting 3D TV support will return since, you know, 3D TV support seems to have dried up faster than Barry Bonds’ Hall of Fame chances.

    DmC: Devil May Cry

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    Release Date: January 15

    Why it’s Hot: We're talking about the reinvention of Dante here, and I don't mean his new look as a handsome meth-head. Ninja Theory makes games in a way few others do, and applying their design goals to the world of DmC gives us something fans don't know -- in turn, this opens up new opportunities for action. DmC drives Dante along by using his family as both motivational and combat hooks. Mom's angelic past gives him a speedy scythe while Dad's demonic lineage lends some heavier, nastier axe attacks to our main man. Each sub-weapon has its own set of upgradable skills, which means you'll have guns, a sword, a scythe, an axe, and even more ways to kick ass at once. Oh, plus DmC is, like, super pretty. Come on. Look at it.

    Lost Planet 3

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    Release Date: Spring

    Why it’s Hot: Like DmC, Capcom's taking a chance on outsourcing one of its major properties. With Lost Planet 3, what used to be an ambitious but underachieving shooter series (with robots) becomes a much stronger action game (with robots). The cover-based pew-pew is familiar, sure, but it works better here than it did in the past -- and the mech combat is way better, too. It's first-person, much more involving, and makes you feel like a super-powered robo-god. That said, ol' Jim, our hero here, is just a blue-collar sucker working on a snowy planet, so he weaponizes his not-very-combat-ready robot in interesting ways. Tethers, drills, and other tools take the place of rockets. Lost Planet 3 is a more focused version of what we always liked about the Lost Planet games, and that comes at the cost of cooperative multiplayer. It seems to be a necessary sacrifice to strengthen the impressive single-player stuff.

    Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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    Release Date: February 19

    Why it’s Hot: Watching Raiden rip robots to pieces in Metal Gear Solid 4 made even the most aggressive haters envy his new skills. Rising is the realization of all your cyborg ninja fantasies. Separate from the sadistic, satisfying cut-at-will mechanic, Revengeance is everything you want from an action game -- the melee combat is wicked-fast, the violence is over-the-top, and each encounter is challenging and interesting. Boss battles keep you on your toes -- wailing on grunts works wonders, but when it comes time to chop down Metal Gears and other bosses, you'll need to use all of Raiden's skills, upgrades, and unlocked weapons together. This is a goofy, lightning-quick Platinum game, so even if the story sucks and the cutscenes are too long, at least the moment-to-moment choppin' should keep everyone entertained.

    Super T.I.M.E. Force

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    Release Date: TBD

    Why it’s Hot: Detailed pixel art, robots, lasers, jetpacks, space ships, goofy aliens, platforming, and a lot of death -- Super T.I.M.E. Force is basically the modernization of Contra. The 2D shooty-jumpy thing has one-hit kills and is hard as balls. The more you die, the more of your past lives appear on screen when you try a level again. These ghosts don't just exist to rub it in, though. They become co-op allies, killing enemies and navigating paths to their inevitable death while you try again. It's a brilliant Super Meat Boy-inspired twist on an action game that already has nostalgia going for it. What's not to love?

    Aliens: Colonial Marines

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    Release Date: February 12

    Why it’s Hot: Let’s face it: there’s a lot riding on this one. It’s been in development for quite some time (it was publicly announced back in 2006!), and the last couple attempts at Aliens games have been OK, but haven’t lived up to our expectations for the brand. But Borderlands developer Gearbox is perhaps the perfect studio to bring a co-op-friendly Aliens first-person shooter to life, and now, with the finish line finally in sight, we can say that we’ve played it and it’s shaping up quite well.

    Dead Space 3

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    Release Date: February 5

    Why it's Hot: A series that started as a dipped toe into the survival horror waters has turned into arguably the finest franchise left standing in the genre today (sorry, Resident Evil). Isaac Clarke, besides having quite possibly the coolest name of any video game hero, is back. But like Lethal Weapon, more buddies are being added as the sequels start to add up. Fortunately, John Carver should prove to be a lot less annoying than a blond-haired Joe Pesci as your co-op buddy, and also give you a friend to hug when the Necromorph frights get a little too unnerving. In our unbridled excitement for Dead Space 3, we've had near-daily coverage of the game lately. Stop by our Dead Space 3 hub to check out all of it.

    Star Trek

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    Release Date: April 23

    Why it’s Hot: Far from a movie tie-in, the Star Trek game is actually a well-thought-out action-adventure built completely around co-op. Kirk and Spock must work together – sometimes directly, but sometimes by taking separate, divergent paths – in order to accomplish their mission. Having actors Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto on board to lend their likenesses and voices certainly helps the authenticity, and the fact that this one’s had plenty of time to beam down to our Xboxes will hopefully make it the latest in a recent run of genuinely awesome licensed titles.

    State of Decay

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    Release Date: Q1

    Why it’s Hot: Before you roll your eyes at the mention of yet another zombie game, consider State of Decay for a moment. It’s an Xbox Live Arcade offering that’s not so much about action as it is about survival. With an open world to explore, tower-defense elements within that open world (i.e. holing up wherever you want and then using found supplies to fortify that area), and the ability to add NPC survivors to your party who each have specialized skills that can complement the rest of your crew, State of Decay is an incredibly ambitious effort for any game, let alone a digital download that’s likely to cost no more than $15. Stuff like this is why we love XBLA.

    Tomb Raider

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    Release Date: March 5

    Why it’s Hot: Reboots come and go, but such sweeping re-imaginations that actually seem to take an established franchise in a better new direction than ever are rare indeed. Such is the case with Tomb Raider, the new “Lara Croft Origins” adventure that, if it’s as good as the bits and pieces we’ve seen so far, is going to set up one hell of an anticipated Tomb Raider 2 on the next-generation Xbox. Mixing parts of Uncharted with bits of Far Cry and, yes, plenty of the old-school Tomb Raider’s vibe too, the new Lara is a whole new heroine – and we love her for that already.

    LocoCycle

    Release Date: TBD

    Why it’s Hot: Twisted Pixel is one of our favorite Xbox Live Arcade developers for a number of reasons. First, they are simply unrivaled at character creation. Someone could develop a Super Smash Bros.-style mascot brawler solely with their charming heroes: The Maw, Mr. Smiley, ‘Splosion Man, Ms. ‘Splosion Man, The Gunstringer, and now LocoCycle. Second, the games they make are fantastic! From action to adventure to platforming, no genre seems out of their grasp. That’s why we’re so curious to learn more about LocoCycle, a racing/action game where you control a sentient motorcycle. Yes, you read that right. Microsoft bought Twisted Pixel for good reason, and we’re curious to see what LocoCycle – their first effort together – yields.

    Battleblock Theater

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    Release Date: March 26

    Why it's Hot: Ken Levine is admired and respected in the video games industry for very good reasons. Here are a few of them: System Shock 2, Thief II: The Metal Age, Freedom Force. Levine and his team at Irrational Games have proven adept at marrying smart game design to even smarter gameplay for over a decade, Infinite looks to up the ante again, eschewing traditional sequel expectations and instead aiming for the sky. Literally. The idea of Elizabeth as an integral, non-playable partner character is a risky one, albeit with a potentially huge payoff. But if there's anyone who can pull it off, it's Levine and the folks at Irrational. After an excruciatingly long wait (BioShock Infinite was first announced back in August 2010), the cloud-city of Columbia is finally about to open for business.

    Source - IGN

    Release Date: TBD

    Why it’s Hot: Castle Crashers remains one of the biggest and most popular Xbox Live Arcade games in the platform’s history. Suffice it to say, it made developer The Behemoth a lot of money – so much of it that they’ve been able to take their sweet time with their next game, Battleblock Theater. We played a far-along version of it seven months ago and we still don’t know when it’s out, but even from that experience we can tell you that this co-op platformer is cute and hilarious, with players able to both work together and, should they so choose, grief the crap out of each other as they try to complete each stage. This game is going to kill it when it finally comes out…whenever that is.

    BioShock Infinite

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  2. andygee1987

    andygee1987 XPGEE Lifetime Gold
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    Give me gta 5, crysis 3 and tomb raider! They will do me till i get my hands on next xbox

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  3. KaptainKrunch

    KaptainKrunch Compulsive Poster
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    It's stupid that they are releasing alot of games next year, if the new xbox get's released then it's just wasting money
     
  4. Deeked

    Deeked 3 Percenter Gold Subscriber
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    They will sell more copies on the 360 than the 720 because there are that many more 360's out there. And they are probably gonna be ready around those time frames anyways. No way would a company sit on all those expenses for a new game for several months, almost a year to get their money back and begin to profit on the sales.
     

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