We've already run up a somewhat prematurely titled list of the best Xbox 360 games of 2013, together with a list of 2013's greatest mystery projects - but in the wake of both articles, I became aware of a strange and unholy disturbance in the Force.
There are other games out there, whispered a voice in Guinness-esque tones, games that are matters of public knowledge, but sorely under-discussed. Perhaps you should write about those games too? On closer inspection, the voice turned out to be that of Jonty, who has a bad cold. Fixing me with the bulging-eyed glare of a true believer, he handed over a copy of issue 94, out today - another wonderful slab of pulped wood and gaming knowhow which contains (among other things) a staggeringly insightful feature on 2013's most promising titles. After perusing the latter, I've got six additional, somewhat less well-known names for your wishlists.
The reinvention everybody hated till 2K announced a faithful reboot of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, whereupon everybody forgot about it, which is a bit of a shame. Now that rancour about the publisher's handling of the license has subsided, it's high time we all realised that XCOM the shooter could be rather special. The battles look smart, requiring both a feel for positioning and punctual use of secondary abilities and gadgets; the aesthetic turns on a fun mixture of dowdy retro Americana and eerily fractal alien architecture; and the research/base management component seems every bit as involved as in Enemy Unknown.
There's room for worry, however, when you consider that the game's been in development since 2006, and has moved developers at least twice since then, cue some "aggressive" changes of direction. We've yet to hear anything about XCOM itself that we outright dislike, however. In particular, current (touch wood) developer 2K Marin appears to be aiming for a similar depth of political reference as Bioshock, broaching hot-button issues like the persecution of "sexual deviants".
2. Strike Suit Zero
Strike Suit Zero is a mission-based space combat game modelled on the likes of Freespace, featuring starfighters that transform into giant mechs and a score care of Homeworld composer Paul Ruskay and designs by Steel Battalion artist/ex-PlatinumGames man Junji Okubo and glarghlglarglglagle - oh, I'm sorry. I seem to have dribbled all over my keyboard. Allow me to rephrase: IT'S A SPACE GAME! MECHS! STEEL? HOMEWORLD COMPOSER?! KIND OF LIKE FREESPACE!?! BATTALION! PLATINUM?!!? MY MEDICATION, QUICK - WHERE IS MY MEDICATION?
It's slated for release on PC in January, with an Xbox 360 launch tentatively down to follow in Q1 2013. I literally can't remember the time I saw dogfighting in a trailer, and there's dogfighting aplenty above, along with capital ship standoffs that glaglaglgaghle. OK, PC gamers. Let's get something straight here. You're going to buy this game in droves, and make it a massive success, and thus ensure that I get to play it on a console too. Failure to satisfy these victory criteria will result in angry, tearful men throwing copies of Colony Wars at your bedroom window.