The last of this winter's headline releases has released, and eyes are accordingly turning to next year's line-up. What's that? You say you're still playing this year's games and good heavens man, can't you give me a second to enjoy myself, why do you feckless journalists have to keep banging on about the Next Big Thing etc etc etc - oh, sorry, I stopped listening. I have this little problem with my attention span. Sorry, what was this article supposed to be about again?
2013 will be an interesting year. A concentration of big games in the first half - coupled with telltale radio silence about the contents of the second - points to the reveal of a next generation console or two in the summer, perhaps at E3. There are pros and cons to this. On the one hand, developers are now purportedly masters of the Xbox 360 hardware, capable of coaxing great feats of graphicsability from its elderly circuits as the generation winds down. On the other, a significant percentage of forthcoming titles owe their late-cycle positioning to delays and commercial wrangles like the old "avoid Call of Duty at all costs" tactic, which suggests last won't necessarily be best.
I've rounded up a few of the bigger names with thoughts on how they're coming along, including links to other coverage and some comments from Matt, who is away attending to Matters Of Import. We've probably missed something crucial, of course, and you should definitely let us know what. 2013's Xbox Live Arcade stand-outs will be treated to a separate round-up.
Matt came away reasonably enthused about this, despite sharing popular misgivings over the change of style since announcement. "I'm ridiculously excited about Insomniac's first ever Xbox 360 game, but not for the reason they're trying to sell it. Four player co-op sounds fun on paper, but I'm more interested in playing through it alone, hopping between characters whenever I fancy. The dialogue scripting and voice acting seem excellent, and the story itself has massive potential. Still unproven for now, but this is definitely one to watch."
The recently revealed boxart took a bit of the sheen off, but that's as deep as the damage goes. Irrational's new Bioshock is shaping up to be a twisty-turny marathon of freakery and political extremes, conducted on a city that thinks it's an airship. The combat should rival the likes of Crysis in terms of tactical positioning, thanks to Skyrails which ferry you speedily around each labyrinth of floating masonry, and the presence of a support character who can rip holes in reality should foster many an entertaining mindgame.
DmC: Devil May Cry
OK, classic Dante fan, we get where you're coming from. Like its frontman, the new Devil May Cry is a different beast - not quite as complex, a little more ponderous and thus, a little more accessible. But concede us this: it's a deeply promising action game in its own right. The combos, weapons and moves add up to a commendably intense, freeform combat system, and while the surreal, art-led style is at times a little too brash, there's no denying the charms of those restless, demonically infused environments.