Tales of Xillia 2 (10)

The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 might have been replaced by their successors, but that doesn’t mean you should just totally ignore them from here on out. In fact, I’d go so far as to say these console still have the far more impressive line-up leading into 2014. Most “next-gen” games scheduled for release will be cross generational anyway, so when counting the exclusives only, there really is no comparison.

Believe it or not, nearly all of these games are Japanese games. Maybe its because the dwindling console space in Japan has left developers to focus on the systems that are already a success, or maybe its because secretly, Japan knows neither is going to take off with phenomenal numbers. Regardless, Japan still says the previous generation rocks in 2014, and I agree.

Here are a few reasons why.

Ace Combat Infinity/SoulCalibur: Lost Swords

Namco is relaunching two more of its major franchises for the PlayStation 3 using the free-to-play model. Both Ace Combat: Infinity and SoulCalibur: Lost Swords are the first step from a Japanese company to prove that AAA and free-to-play can go hand in hand, making Namco Bandai a journeyman of sorts.

Ace Combat: Infinity is the return of Project Aces amazing flight aerial combat series. It’s bringing back the older style of storytelling, and the HD graphics give it some majestic scenery fit for a king. I’ve always loved this series, and I can’t wait to play it for free.

SoulCalibur: Lost Souls has me scratching my head because how can you have a fighting game that is strictly one player? Namco Bandai is hyping this as a loot hunt to build new weapons for the reason to keep coming back, but even so, I want to take my weapons against my friends’. We’ll see.

Tales of Zestiria/Tales of Xillia 2

Speaking of Namco Bandai, it also has the most prominent major RPG series on the market as well. Tales games have been churning out at a blazing pace, and 2014 will see both the fifth and sixth game released in six years.

Fans have been waiting for Tales of Xillia 2 for quite some time. Namco Bandai promised that the game would be localized if the first one sold enough, and it is making due on that promise. Good for you, guys!

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series, the company also announced Tales of Zestiria, a brand new game that will be seeing a worldwide launch in 2014. If two games aren’t enough, then the company is also releasing Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, an HD remake of the fan favorite Gamecube classic.

All Tales games in 2014 will be exclusive for the PlayStation 3.

Dark Souls II

The big fish on our list also comes from Namco Bandai, who could very well end up the biggest and most important Japanese publishers of 2014.

This game really needs no introductions. Dark Souls was a huge hit for the company, and FromSoftware is looking to deliver another punishing game in this sequel. More monsters, more choices, more armor, more social interactions, and more pain. Sequels have been cut and dry over the last few years, but for games this good, I’ll turn a blind eye.

Dark Souls II is coming to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC this coming March.

Earth Defense Force 2025

Oh yeah! Because blowing up giant ants, spiders, robots, limbless dinosaurs, and the alien mother-ship wasn’t enough the first time around in Earth Defense Force 2017, we get to do it all over again in this long overdue sequel.

Sandlot is going all out with Earth Defense Force 2025. The number of units has been cranked up, the mission variety expands beyond simply “kill everything,” the arsenal packs more heat than ever, and most importantly, there are many many more monsters to kill: Dragons, bees, flying ants, UFOs. Everything except the kitchen sink is an enemy in this game.

It’s a glorious mesh of the most wonderful horrible ideas you can think of, slammed into a video game far to good than it has any right to be. Earth Defense Force 2025 is already Game of the Year 2014, and I won’t take no for an answer. It’ll be out for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on Feb. 4.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Yes, this series still has one last hurrah. I’m not a fan, and neither is Japan considering how badly this game tanked in its home country.

Final Fantasy XIII does have its loyal followers, and those dying to see the conclusion of Lightning’s non-existent character arch, or just want to play dress-up with her, need to buy this.

It’s coming out for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on Feb. 11. And I’m done…

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

GASP! A Western developed game… published by a Japanese company. MercurySteam’s first interpretation of Castlevania turned out quite a nice surprise, unless you hate backtracking across discs that is. This new one is even more ambitious, and it will make you believe that Konami is more than just Metal Gear Solid these days.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2 is taking the hack n’ slash formula into an open world because that’s the only way developers know how to evolve a genre these days. Dracula awakens from his sleep and picks a fight against Satan in a battle of all out evil.

Dracula vs Satan… my money is on Dracula.

Castlevania is one of the few remaining classic series from Konami, a company which is sadly but a shadow of its old glory. It might have a new image, but this is one series that needs to stay alive. It being released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on Feb. 25.

Drakengard 3

Hack ‘n Slash again. When you can’t take it to an open world, then how about adding RPG elements? Drakengard 3 is a budget game from Square Enix which surprisingly got the green light for localization to appease… a certain kind of gamer.

It stars a promiscuous female lead who goes on a rampage to murder her goddess sisters for complete control of a peaceful kingdom, sending the realm into war. Themes of murder, betrayal, lust, and whatever other dark and tainted thoughts are in the minds of the former deranged Cavia are bound to appear.

Again, this is for a certain kind of gamer who likes his entertainment raw and frustrating. The weak willed and close minded need not apply. It will be an exclusively digital release on the PlayStation 3 sometime in 2014.

Murdered: Soul Suspect

Continuing right along with Square Enix, we have this mysterious game which pops up every now and again for a quick hello before disappearing again. Murdered: Soul Suspect stars a detective who has to solve his own mystery before the shadows of the afterlife consume his soul.

Not too much is known other than he acts behind the scenes of crime scenes and listens in on interrogations, piecing the puzzles together himself. Of course, he shoots ghosts because what’s a detective game without guns, right?

No release date for this one yet, but it should be out before the end of the year. Developer Airtight Games is a blossoming young international studio with a lot of potential. I’m more excited about this one than you might guess.

 Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Comcept and Spark Unlimited are teaming up to create this spin-off of the beloved Ninja Gaiden series. Our anti-hero Yaiba is seeking revenge against series protagonist Ryu Hayabusa and has to cut his way through hordes of cybernetic zombies to get to him.

Yeah… just because zombies and ninjas! Wahoo!

A lot of hate has been piled onto this one, but that is from fans who can’t accept an offshoot. The hate speaks nothing of the game’s quality, and admittedly, it isn’t a masterpiece. It’s just good old fashioned fun and will be a great $15 – $20 when it finally gets released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and iOS on Feb. 27.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Our sole Western published game is the oft delayed South Park: The Stick of Truth. Obsidian is behind the wheel and has done a decent job replicating the look of the show and tying in a Final Fantasy inspired battle system. The only thing that really remains is a release so we can finally play it.

Ubisoft has that for us and will be releasing South Park: The Stick of Truth on March 14 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Persona 5

Persona 5

At last, we have the biggest and most important game on this list, and we don’t even know anything about it. Just the title alone guarantees my PlayStation 3 will have a spot on my entertainment shelf for years to come.

Persona 5 follows in the tradition of its predecessors by being released after everyone has declared the console dead. Where did that land Persona 3 and 4? Well, it landed them the reputation of two of the greatest games ever made. No doubt Atlus wants to replicate the unfathomable success that this series has brought it by rinsing and repeating.

Again, I know nothing about it. All I know is that I want it.

Persona 5 is going to be huge, and it is going to be a PlayStation 3 exclusive when it gets a release by the end of the year. Deep down, I knew a new Persona game would be the only announcement that could feed my cynicism of the new consoles, and I was right. What has Sony or Microsoft shown off that could possibly make me more excited than Persona 5? Absolutely nothing.

Here’s to a wonderful year of brilliant gaming on outdated technology.