2012 is now well behind us (and the world didn’t end, yay!) so it’s time to look forward to remainder of 2013 and the various entertainments it will bring. There’s a lot to look forward to this year, from new music from well-loved bands to video games with spectacular trailers. (Whether those video games will manage to live up to their trailers is another matter entirely.) Here are the 10 things I’m looking forward to most in 2013:

10. New Video Game Consoles on the Horizon
Let’s face it: the PlayStation 3 and the XBox 360 are old. Both have spent over six years on the market, and with Nintendo releasing their new Wii U console late last year, the time is ripe for Sony and Microsoft to unveil their next-gen offerings.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Why would a PC gamer care about new consoles?’ I’ll tell you why: new consoles mean new multiplatform games, taking advantage of new technology. Right now, 2013 looks to have a veritable drought of new games after the first few months of the year, so I’m hoping that developers reveal what they’ve been working on for the next generation soon. I’m salivating just thinking of the possibilities. More detailed worlds. Smarter AI. Fancier effects. Better games.

Also, it looks like the neverending console wars are about to get a lot more interesting. A couple of Android-based consoles, the Ouya and the GameStick, are set to be released this year, and they’ll do one of three things: disrupt the market and change console gaming as we know it; carve out their own niche to be used by a small but loyal subset of gamers; or flop entirely, losing everybody involved a crap-ton of money. Plus, with PC gaming giant Valve working on something of a cross between a console and a gaming PC, consumers will have more options than ever before. For the most part, none of this will affect me, but it will be fun to sit back and watch it all unfold, popcorn in hand.

9. The Afterman: Descension by Coheed and Cambria
After the disappointing Year of the Black Rainbow, last year’s The Afterman: Ascension was a welcome return to form for the prog-rock quartet. This year, the second half of the double album, Descension, is set to come out. One track from the album, “The Hard Sell,” has already been released. I’m not too enamoured of it, but I’m quite excited to hear a full-band version of “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant.”

“The Hard Sell”:

 

“Sentry the Defiant” – acoustic version:

 

8. The Tomb Raider reboot
Call it the circle of life, if you will. When Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune came out back in 2007, it was mockingly referred to as “Dude Raider” for its similarities to Lara Croft’s adventures. Now, it’s 2013, and Tomb Raider is being rebooted in a way that makes it look uncannily like Uncharted.

However, that’s no concern of mine. I never owned a PS3, so I’ve only experienced Nathan Drake’s adventures through Let’s Play videos on YouTube. Furthermore, Tomb Raider isn’t a wholesale rip-off of Uncharted. True, both are action-adventure platformers with combat elements. But while Uncharted feels like an epic adventure movie, Tomb Raider is opting for a more serious tone. Gameplay-wise, Tomb Raider is also adding RPG elements and an open-world design. Whether those features are superfluous and/or detrimental remains to be seen.

At any rate, I’m just glad to see an action-adventure title with a solid pedigree come to PC. The developers may totally botch Lara Croft’s origin story, but I’m still excited to scale cliffs, use a bow and arrow, and of course, raid tombs.

 

7. Paramore’s upcoming self-titled album
Who knows what Paramore will sound like without the Farro brothers? Actually, we do kind of know from their digital download set, Singles Club. The answer is: more or less the same. And that’s not a bad thing. Paramore has always done well with their particular brand of post-hardcore-tinged pop-punk. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Well, word has it that they’ve been experimenting with electronics, which could be interesting; I’ve always wondered what Metric would sound like with a harder edge. Is it possible that Hayley Williams is the next Emily Haines? We’ll just have to wait until April to see.

6. Cougar Town, season 4
Okay, this one’s kind of cheating, because Cougar Town’s 4th season has already debuted. Nonetheless, we’re only one episode in, so it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, right? So far, having only viewed the season premiere, I can say that nothing has been lost in the move to TBS. I’ve named it my favourite TV show of the year for two years running. Is a three-peat possible? We’ll see at the end of 2013.

5. The Double Fine Adventure game
I’ve been skeptical of Kickstarter in the past, especially as a means of circumventing big publishers in the development process. That being said, the Double Fine Adventure wasn’t just any Kickstarter. The man behind it was none other than Tim Schafer, known for such weird and wonderful games as Grim Fandango and Psychonauts. I’m eager to see almost anything that comes out of his twisted mind, and so are a lot of other people, apparently; his Kickstarter raised over 3 million dollars.

Being the first high-profile video game Kickstarter, there’s a lot riding on the Double Fine Adventure’s shoulders. If it succeeds, it will be seen by many as a vindication of their faith in the crowdfunding model. If it fails, it will be a symbolic defeat for Kickstarter and a signal that the old models of project funding cannot be replaced. Either way, I’m excited to see the finished product.

4. The Americans
A new spy thriller starring Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell? Count me in. Plus, now that Homeland has gone off the deep end, I need another espionage drama to entertain me. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, this one promises to be a very fascinating show. Can they keep it up for several seasons? We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

(By the way, I have no idea why the above trailer loops thrice.)

3. Watch Dogs
Ubisoft wowed audiences at their E3 press conference with the unveiling of a new open-world action-adventure title, Watch Dogs. Though a firm release date hasn’t been set, it’s due to come out some time this year. Set in a cyberpunk near-future Chicago, the game looks to be a mix of the typical open-world activities of shooting, jumping, and driving, but it also includes the ability to hack into electronic devices either to gain or manipulate information. For example, the protagonist can hack into nearby cell phones to identify a target, but can also hack into traffic computers to cause a pile-up at an intersection. The video below shows the game in action. (Oh, did I mention it looks gorgeous? My graphics card is going to cry trying to render all that detail.)

 

2. Deltron Event II by Deltron 3030
This topped the list of things I was most looking forward to in 2012. Here it is again. I was exceedingly disappointed that the hip-hop supergroup didn’t release the much anticipated sequel to their Afrofuturistic space opera last year. All signs indicate that it’s set to come out this year, though, so fingers crossed! What I’ve heard so far (starting around 5:45 in the video below) sounds great, so you can bet I’m pumped.

 

1. BioShock Infinite
It’s weird that I’m so excited for this game. You see, I didn’t even really like the original BioShock. I haven’t yet completed the sequel. But Infinite seems like a different beast entirely. Whereas the underwater corridors of Rapture felt cramped and claustrophobic, the floating city in the sky of Columbia promises more open level design and more dynamic combat. The art direction is marvelous, combining 1920’s Americana with steampunk to create something wholly unique. Infinite is also dispensing with the silent protagonist, which should allow for a narrative that isn’t reliant on assorted audio tapes scattered throughout the levels.

Infinite also looks less lonely than its predecessors. Instead of taking place after a rebellion, the game puts you right down in the middle of the action, exactly when things start to get interesting. Moreover, an AI companion, Elizabeth, will accompany you throughout the game, using her magical powers to assist you when needed.

There were lots of thoughtful games released in 2012. Mass Effect 3 sought to expose the political and social ramifications of war, while Spec Ops: The Line deconstructed the myth of the all-American hero. BioShock Infinite looks to continue that thoughtful streak by putting American exceptionalism under the microscope. It’s a fascinating topic to tackle, especially given the jingoistic rhetoric spouted nowadays in political fora.

 

It might be premature to say this, but BioShock Infinite is looking like the game that the original BioShock should have been. If Infinite lives up to its potential and manages to marry a compelling narrative to exciting gameplay, then it could be one of the greatest games of the past few years.

Honourable mentions: New Jimmy Eat World album; Season 2 of Veep; Pedestrian Verse by Frightened Rabbit; Hummingbird by Local Natives; The Cave; Potential new material from The Tea Party, Treble Charger, and I Mother Earth; Remember Me; Season 3 of NTSF:SD:SUV::; Increasing adoption of HTML5 technologies; The Arrested Development reboot.

2013 is looking like a pretty exciting year, no? The world didn’t end last year, so onward and upward, I say! Huzzah!

What are you looking forward to in 2013? Feel free to sound off in the comments.

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