Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013. This year is shaping up to be pretty damn eventful in the realm of video games. However, January is more the calm before the storm. We’re getting a few noteworthy titles, two of which made our most anticipated of 2013 list, but unfortunately the year isn’t kicking into high gear until February. But either way, here are a handful of titles worth checking out this month if you’ve already plowed through the entirety of your 2012 backlog (question: what type of sorcery did you tap into to accomplish this feat already?!).
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3 / Release Date: 1.8.2013
Platinum Games’ (Bayonetta, Vanquish) online beat ‘em up finally comes to the States and Europe this month (it released in Japan last July). The game features a cast of characters pulled from past Platinum-developed games and quite a few completely new creations with fast and frantic gameplay to match the title’s insane style. If you’re interested in checking out a fighting game that’s a bit different from the rest of the pack, give Anarchy Reigns a shot.
DmC: Devil May Cry
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC / Release Date: 1.15.2013 (PC Jan. 25)
Ninja Theory takes a whack at the Devil May Cry series with this controversial reboot. We might have a younger Dante, but the gameplay looks just as smooth and badass as previous entries in the franchise. This might be a different Dante than you’re used to, but give Ninja Theory the benefit of the doubt before you immediately write this game off. After all, they are the ones responsible for the fantastic Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. DmC should serve as a great starting point for newcomers. And for the franchise faithful, you might just discover that change can be a good thing.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U, PS Vita / Release Date: 1.15.2013
We’re going to be brutally honest here. We don’t recommend you run out and pick up Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 right off the bat. The original game was not very memorable, so its sequel has a lot to prove. We’re really only including it here because January is such a light month for games otherwise. The core concept of the Sniper series is sound – an entire game built around the methodical nature of a sharp shooter – but the delivery left a lot to be desired last time around. Hopefully, developer City Interactive can tighten up this sequel with more memorable missions and a story that you don’t forget after 30 minutes. This one is worth a rental at best. If you find yourself liking it a good deal, then consider purchasing.
Update: Sadly, you can cross this one off the list of titles releasing in January. It's been pushed back to March 12, 2013.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Platform: PS3 / Release Date: 1.22.2013
Developer Level 5 teams up with animation house Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away) to create a Japanese role-playing game that follows a 13-year-old boy who travels to a mystical world with the hopes of saving his now-deceased mother (heavy…). If you’re familiar with Studio Ghibli’s films, then you know this game has the potential to be a moving experience from a story perspective. And as for Level 5, they're a development studio who's crafted some wonderful games in the past, such as the Professor Layton series, White Knight Chronicles and Dark Cloud. Of the few titles releasing this month, Ni no Kuni seems the safest bet.
Hitman HD Trilogy
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3 / Release Date: 1.29.2013
Maybe Hitman: Absolution wasn’t entirely your cup of tea, an opinion you would share with our own Joey Davidson. Maybe you yearn for a more traditional Hitman experience. If that’s the case, look no further than the upcoming Hitman HD Trilogy, a compilation collecting Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money in one box. These are the games that made the Hitman franchise what it is today, so if you missed them the first go-around, now’s your chance to experience the awesome, and oftentimes hilarious, sandbox gameplay for yourself.
Erik Norris is the Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @Regular_Erik.