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1. Grand Theft Auto V Publisher: Rockstar Games Developer: Rockstar North For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
1. Grand Theft Auto V Publisher: Rockstar Games Developer: Rockstar North For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

The best video games you’ll be playing in 2013 Add to ...

The next 12 months are going to be incredibly busy for the video game world, with new consoles for the end-of-the-year holiday season looking increasingly certain.

Not only does that mean there will be a slew of next-generation games released in the latter half of the year, publishers are also racing to release one last crop of big titles during the first six months.

As such, it’s hard to pick just 10 games we can’t wait for, but we tried anyway. With no further ado, here are the 10 most-anticipated games of the first half of 2013. (All release dates are subject to change.)

10. Guacamelee

For: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita

Release date: Early 2013

The past year was a big one for independent developers, especially those based in Canada. Toronto’s DrinkBox Studios had a hit with Tales From Space: About a Blob, a humourous side-scrolling game that starred an ever-ravenous green blob. The studio is following that up with Guacamelee, a Mexican-themed fighting platformer for both of Sony’s main systems. Given the developer’s penchant for quirky design and humour, this one is probably going to be just as good if not better than the blob.

9. Dust 514

For: PlayStation 3

Release date: 2013

This first-person shooter from Iceland’s CCP is an intriguing experiment for several reasons. One, it’s going to be free-to-play, with Sony generating revenue through in-game micro-transactions. Two, the game is going to be linked to the EVE Online massive multiplayer PC game, allowing players on both platforms to interact with each other. The effort could either represent the future of games, or it could fall flat.

8. Dead Space 3

For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Release date: Feb. 5

There are few franchises out there that are as atmospheric or scary as the sci-fi survival horror Dead Space. The third instalment not only puts players back in the shoes of the armoured engineer Isaac Clarke, it will also feature a fully co-operative storyline that differs when played alone or with a partner. As with Dust 514, that’s a feature that’s either going to be a home run or a big failure.

7. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist

For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Release date: Spring 2013

The past few Splinter Cell releases haven’t exactly set the world afire, so it’s fitting that Blacklist is something of a reboot, in several ways. For one, it’s the first game from Ubisoft’s new Toronto studio. It’s also the first Splinter Cell game to not have veteran Toronto actor Michael Ironside playing the role of super spy Sam Fisher. Instead, Edmonton-born Eric Johnson is taking the reins in what Ubisoft is touting as the most advanced performance capture technology ever used in a game. The pressure’s on, but Blacklist has looked good in previews so far.

6. Beyond: Two Souls

For: PlayStation 3

Release date: 2013

Quantic Dream’s previous game, Heavy Rain (2006), wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea since it was more of an interactive movie than proper game. But with that type of game gaining momentum, especially thanks to the big success of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead in 2012, the stage is set for Heavy Rain’s follow-up, Beyond: Two Souls. The game, which utilizes performance capture from Canadian actor Ellen Page, promises to be a moving character drama in which the main character interacts with her mysterious ghost-like partner.

5. Gears of War: Judgment

For: Xbox 360

Release date: Mar. 19, 2013

Gears of War games have always been full of eye-popping set pieces and thrilling run-and-gun action, but they’ve also been notable for their jaw-droppingly stupid writing and dialogue. For the fourth instalment, Epic has brought in noted game critic Tom Bissell to co-handle writing duties. A Gears of War game with decent writing? Where do we pre-order?

4. Watch Dogs

For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Release date: 2013

Ubisoft stole the show at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last summer when it debuted Watch Dogs, an upcoming open-world game in which players can hack anything and everything. One part Blade Runner, one part Assassin’s Creed, the third-person shooter looks like the culmination of everything Ubisoft has been working on over the past half decade or so. Moreover, the game is supposed to feature interactivity with tablets and/or smartphones, which makes sense given its themes. The game impressed E3 attendees so much, many pegged it as a next-generation-console release, yet Ubisoft swears it isn’t.

3. The Last of Us

For: PlayStation 3

Release date: May 7, 2013

There’s little doubt that one of the best series to come out of the current generations of consoles is the Indiana Jones-esque Uncharted, so naturally, whatever developer Naughty Dog has coming up next is going to be exciting. The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic third-person shooter that focuses on the relationship between a man named Joel and his daughter Ellie. In early previews, the duo showed off an unusually high level of artificial intelligence, both in regards to their environments and each other. An Uncharted-like game with smart and touching characters is definitely something to get jazzed about.

2. BioShock Infinite

For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Release date: Mar. 26, 2013

The first two BioShock games took the first-person shooter genre to new heights by building a game world based on intellectual philosophy run wild and injecting moral ramifications to the player’s actions. Infinite moves the action up out of the undersea city of Rapture and into the clouds, to an airborne empire called Columbia. The game promises to be an exploration of American values and assumptions. What’s not to like about a shooter that also makes you think?

1. Grand Theft Auto V

For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Release date: Spring 2013

Grand Theft Auto is one of those rare franchises that transcends the world of games – they’re cultural events. From Grand Theft Auto III onward, the sporadic releases from Rock Star have epitomized the open world format, non-linear gameplay, total player freedom and incredible sound and graphics. And oh yes, they’ve usually been funny as hell, too. In V, players will control three separate criminal protagonists, all of whom are aiming to make it big. Each successive GTA game has gotten bigger and more ambitious; there’s no reason to expect anything less with this one.

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