Writers: Andy Kelly, Ben Griffin, Joe Hurst, Alex Dale, Iain Wilson
Space Year 2013 is going to be a knee-trembler for two reasons: 1. We don't have to wait until Christmas for all the big games. Richter scale-registering mega-releases like Bioshock Infinite, Dead Space 3, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider, Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, God of War: Ascension and Gears of War: Judgment all land before the end of March; and 2. Autumn will see the release of the next Xbox. Excited? You will by the time you've finished here...
SNIPER: GHOST WARRIOR 2
Format: 360, PS3, PC | Developer: City | Publisher: Namco | Out: 15 January
Despite being distinctly average, Sniper: Ghost Warrior inexplicably scoped its way to a million sales, making this sequel as inevitable as a Call of Duty on-rails section. However, just like its predecessor, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 isn't the realistic assassination sim that it might at first appear. Instead, this is a military shooter in the COD/MOH mould, giving focus to stealth kills, silent takedowns and gory limb-poppery. The titular sniping sequences are highly stylised, perfect shots rewarded with a 'bullet cam', following your projectile as it heads towards, and into, a target. The game will also allude to real-world events in its campaign, beginning with a take on the Bosnian war that might raise a few eyebrows. Thanks to the eye-melting power of CryEngine 3, it will at least look the part. Whether Ghost Warrior 2 can survive - and thrive - a second time in gaming's most competitive genre is somewhat less certain. JH
Format: 360, PS3 | Developer: Ninja Theory | Publisher: Capcom | Out: 15 January
Ninja Theory's revival of one of gaming's most notorious anti-heroes has infamously angered traditionalists, but the focus in DmC should be on how Dante handles, not how he looks. And he handles well, the developers who cut their teeth on (not great) hack-and-slasher Heavenly Sword, and cultivated an appreciation for pace and plot during (the much better) Enslaved, seem to have really found their feet here. Sorry haters.
While the combat isn't quite as deep as rival Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which drops a month later, DMC has the sheen and madcap plot beats to thrill. Set in a parallel universe, Dante awakens from a hangover completely naked, and after a Carry-On-style, nudity-dodging sequence calling on bits of pizza as makeshift censor bars, finds he's in a seemingly sentient city called Limbo. Predictably, it's packed with all manner of hell spawn, so as Demon Hunter, it's your duty to join The Order and call on your twin pistols Ebony and Ivory, the massive Rebellion sword, and alternate Angel and Devil modes, to end the threat. BG
AMNESIA: A MACHINE FOR PIGS
Format: PC | Developer: thechineseroom | Publisher: Frictional Games | Out: January
This semi-sequel to indie horror masterpiece Amnesia: The Dark Descent features a new setting, new characters, and, most importantly, new ways to scare you. There are now large, outdoor environments, and less predictable AI to make the creatures lurking in the shadows even more terrifying. But much will also be familiar: the sanity meter, the lamp with limited fuel, and the physics puzzles. The first Amnesia is easily one of the scariest games ever made, and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs' eerie, industrial Silent Hill-esque environments look like they'll make creeping through the darkness by flickering lamplight more nerve-wracking than ever. AK
DEAD SPACE 3
Format: 360, PS3 | Developer: Visceral | Publisher: EA | Out: 8 February
The Dead Space series has always been chilling, but its snowy second sequel is taking that vibe to a whole new level. Isaac Clarke's bug hunt is set primarily in and above the sub-zero planet of Tau Volantis. His mission: end the Necromorph outbreak once and for all. Easier said than done, as, not only are there new enemies like the Feeder - starved humans who turned Necromorph after resorting to cannibalism - there are also gun-wielding religious nuts the Unitologists to contend with. Oh, and huge new environments carved out of icy tundras, Zero-G space stations, and a brand new co-op partner who has lost his mind. Er, just like Isaac Clarke.
Still, former EDF officer John Carver might have lost his wife and, subsequently, his marbles, but he suffers psychotic episodes throughout the game that only he can experience - hallucinations and haunting music, for instance. Sure, his story sounds suspiciously, slightly unimaginatively, like Isaac's (dead wife = crazy) but he lends crucial extra firepower. There's no dedicated co-op campaign; instead, an extra man can drop into the single-player story whenever you want. In any case, Dead Space 3's colder, scarier and crazier than ever. BG
ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES
Format: 360, PS3, PC, Wii U | Developer: Gearbox | Publisher: Sega | Out: 12 February
Ridley Scott may have been reluctant to call Prometheus a true sequel to Alien, but Gearbox are embracing the chest-bursting franchise with both hands in Aliens: Colonial Marines. Seventeen weeks after losing contact with Hadley's Hope, a new team of cigar-chomping, flamethrower-wielding recruits return to LV-426, the rock that hosted James Cameron's seminal Aliens.
Action beats, courtesy of your pulse rifle, horror, supplied by your iconic motion tracker, and co-op thrills are laid on thick throughout the story. But perhaps more interesting is the multiplayer mode where you can not only play as the acid-blooded monsters, but upgrade and kit-out your characters as well in things like four-player Survival and Escape mode. BG