The best year for gamers since..ever?
From big-name hits such as Devil May Cry, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and Tomb Raider to even bigger misses (Aliens: Colonial Marines), 2013, while still in its infancy, certainly isn't easing into what is set to be the most stellar array of games and consoles we've seen in a very long time - if ever. Let's take at a few of the most highly-anticipated installments and platforms soon to hit our shores, and our hip pocket.
Our official preview touted BioShock Infinite as "unlike anything we’ve experienced before", and by all accounts so far, Irrational Games have created an experience we've all been waiting for since we first fell in love with the series back in 2007.
Gone is the underwater city of Rapture and in comes the floating wonderland of Columbia. Players familiar with the series will recognise the return of plasmids (now called "Vigor) and the basic mechanics of the game, for the most part, remain unchanged.
This time around, though, you'll assume the role of Booker DeWitt - a former Pilkington agent with a shady past - in an alternate version of 1912. Essentially, you're sent to Columbia to escort a girl you know only as Elizabeth back to New York. And as you'd expect, it's far from the usual handling mission.
Mystery is one of the key themes Irrational Games has built BioShock Infinite upon, and come March 26, for better or worse, we'll have our questions answered.
Arguably the most anticipated title of 2013, GTA V is set to redefine the open-world genre as we know it. Developers Rockstar Games have essentially stated they've created the largest in-game world we've ever seen, whilst adding a slew of new improvements and additions to the series we know and love.
GTA V will be the first title in the series to feature three playable protagonists, each with their own interwoven story. In terms of activities, players will be able to partake in yoga, tennis, scuba diving and even base jumping, while the game also possesses more vehicles than any of its predecessors.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us marks the first time acclaimed developer Naughty Dog has introduced a second new intellectual property in one hardware generation (the first being Uncharted), and we're sure glad they are.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world two decades after a fungus-based plague has wiped out most of the world's population, TLOU will blend third-person mechanics we've seen before with a narrative and encompassing world we didn't believe to be possible on current-gen hardware.
With various ways to approach situations (ultimately causing alternate outcomes) and a brand new AI system to match, it's no surprise why TLOU is on top of the wishlists of gamers the world over.
Microsoft's next-gen console
Nothing has been set in stone from Microsoft as of yet and I'm not a huge fan of commenting on rumours and speculation, but gamers can surely expect a console on par with the power of the PS4.
Microsoft and Sony established themselves as the "power players" of sorts this generation and there's not a chance in hell they will let Sony blow them out of the water.
Don't be surprised to see a reveal within the next month - presumably it'll release alongside its rival in the PlayStation 4 later this year. I do get the feeling this generation will be won with software, services and games, more so than hardware, though.
Nintendo's untapped first-party Wii U catalogue
While many consider the Wii U's launch period to have been slow, Nintendo still possess many an ace up their sleeve. With titles such Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (not to mention a brand new Zelda game as well) all in the works, the company is sitting atop a gold mine.
Big-names such as Zelda and Mario may be able to push consoles, but will Nintendo be able to sustain their player base?
Ouya marks the first time a real, open-source console has been made available to the public, all thanks to Kickstarter. After raising over $8.5 million on the fundraising website, the console soon gained the backing of notable figures such as Robert Bowling (former Creative Strategist at Infinity Ward) and companies like Square Enix, who announced Final Fantasy III would be a part of the system's launch lineup.
Just what the heck is it, exactly? To put it simply, Ouya is a tiny box running its own version of Andriod's Jelly Bean software, and is completely open-source and user friendly. Where other companies will void your warranty for attempting to open up the console for modification purposes, Ouya encourages it.
It's the first time a console can be simultaneously used as a development kit, and while many are sceptical, it's easy to see the huge potential in the tiny hardware. It might not be the most powerful console to hit the market, but its creative possibilities will open the doors for indie developers across the globe.
Revealed only three weeks ago in what turned out to be an E3-like press event, the PlayStation 4, at this point in time (we don't know what Microsoft are doing with their next-gen console yet), is the most powerful home entertainment system we've ever seen.
Featuring hardware up to 16x more powerful than that of the PS3 as well as a multitude of new software capabilities, Sony is placing a huge emphasis on the social aspect of gaming with the PS4. Whether you want to share a photo or video of your gameplay with friends or even spectate them in real-time, the console's powerful new hardware will allow gamers to create experiences we never dreamed possible.
While the hardware and software may be impressive, a console is nothing without its games to back it up. We know titles such as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Watch Dogs and returning IPs Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall will all (hopefully) make an appearance alongside the system at launch - and that's presumably merely a snippet of what Sony have let on.
In saying that, let's hope the company can keep the hype train rolling - another successful showing like last month's reveal and Sony could have one of the biggest console launches of all time on their hands.
NVIDIA came out and shocked us all earlier in the year by announcing their first foray into the console market - albeit in the form of a handheld. Project Shield will be released in Q2 of 2013, and promises to deliver not only your favourite Android games to the palm of your hand, but the power to also stream PC titles.
Project Shield will feature "the world's most powerful mobile processor" in the NVIDIA GeForce GPU as well as a multi-touch display and Android Jelly Bean software.
Razer Edge Pro
Where NVIDIA's Shield will allow you to stream PC games from the comfort of your home, the Razer Edge Pro will play any title, anywhere. It's the first tablet that can genuinely rival the power of a gaming PC - while $1,000 and up may prove too steep for some, for others it's a small price to pay to take your favourite games with you wherever you go, on powerful, dedicated hardware.
It's completely multipurpose too - if you want to take a break from gaming it also doubles as a fully-fledged tablet/PC (as you'd expect), to cater for all your browsing needs.
By Jake Galouzis