With the dust just settling from our three weeks of Game of the Year discussions we are already looking forward to what is to come in 2012. This is a tough proposition as the second half of 2012 is just beginning to take shape. That didn’t stop our group of editors as they take on the challenge head on and look at some of our most anticipated games of 2012.
Jake: The Darkness II
Like a lot of gamers I’m getting pretty tired of the modern combat style of first person shooter. I hope the Darkness II can provide some much needed variety to a genre that has been stagnating lately. The first Darkness game was a great collection of creepy visuals, solid gameplay, surprisingly great voice acting, and fantastic storytelling that was authentic to the comic series. I’m a big fan of the Darkness comics, so seeing the world come to life was a real treat. The Darkness II seems to continue the excellent tradition of the first game despite a change in developer with a script written by Paul Jenkins, a comic book author who worked on the comic series and wrote the first game, and redesigned graphics that make the game look more like a hyper stylized comic book. The new co-op mode which features four unique characters also looks like a lot of fun and will go a long way towards giving the game more replay value.
It is not a super high profile game, but it’s one that I could really see having awesome gameplay and a poignant story. Also, I met Paul Jenkins last year and he scares me. Not to mention, I think he knows where I live, so I’m going to make sure to buy it to ensure my physical safety.
Adam: Metro: Last Light
The original Metro 2033, by THQ and 4A Games, was one of the nicest surprises of 2010. Based on the novel of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, it told the story of Russian apocalypse survivors struggling to get by in the Moscow subway system. Best described as “first-person stealth horror”, it proved to be a refreshing, claustrophobic, and gripping journey into the lives of soldiers trying to defend their loved ones against enemies both desperate and monstrous. Furthermore, it provided a cast of Russian characters that were not only sympathetic, but a great deal more nuanced and admirable than the knee-jerk pinko parodies found in most games.The sequel, again by 4A, is now coming to PS3 as well as 360 and PC. I’ve kept myself in the dark on preview coverage, because I’m hoping to enjoy the same sense of surprise and slow-burning intensity that the first game displayed. I’m also holding out hope that 4A can address a few of the AI bugs and glitches that marred the first game from achieving total greatness. If they can accomplish that, and deliver another intriguing narrative, then there’s a strong chance that 4A’s command of the post-apocalyptic genre will be unassailable.
Stefan: Max Payne 3
After a troubled development rife with restarts, Max Payne 3 finally arrives in early 2012 featuring a bald Max working security in an outlandish Brazilian ghetto setting. Fan skepticism is abound, and with such a big departure from the film noir roots of the series they can be forgiven for initially thinking that Rockstar may have completely lost the plot.
But if you follow the excellent making-of documentaries, you will see that most of what makes the Max Payne games great is still in there: a gritty plot, the reprise of key series voice actors, bullet time, cinematic camera spins, and amateur acrobatics powered by the creepily realistic Euphoria technology seen in GTA4. Multiplayer is also making its series debut. And with an endorsement from original creators Remedy, the game is seeming like one of the most worthy of hype next year – even if some people will never be truly happy with its direction.
Crystal: Mass Effect 3
With its scheduled release for March 2012, the final chapter starring Commander Shepard begins where the Mass Effect 2 DLC Arrival left off as he/she has to face trial for his/her actions. During the trial, Earth is attacked by Reapers and Shepard is forced to flee Earth. He/she now has to save the galaxy and deal with getting the rest of the civilizations to help you out in doing so, especially with Cerberus turning against you. You get to continue with the character you’ve created from the first one, but if you’re new to the series, then you don’t get a backstory. All of the decisions you’ve made throughout the series will affect you in ME3. I’m looking forward to see what they’ve fixed or left alone.
I really want to see how the multiplayer co-op works out, since it’s supposed to be with four players, I’m guessing we all can’t be Commander Shepard. If you played throughout the series and you had a love interest, then it’s going to keep the love story with whomever you picked. So what if you picked 2 different love interests (one in ME1 and another in ME2)? The “love triangle” should be resolved by the end of the game. It should be an interesting outcome.
Jon: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
With a packed development team over at 38 Studios it’s hard not to have high expectations for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The studio, owned by MLB pitcher Curt Schilling, contains some great talent such as Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore, and Ken Rolston the lead designer of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The game itself has been said to be a mix between deep RPG experiences like The Elder Scrolls and combat focused third-person games like Fable or God of War. The game has many features that are reminiscent of MMO type games, such as character classes, a large open world to explore, and quests to complete but it is single player in nature.
Players choose there race and start completing quests to level up and get more loot. 38 Studios and Big Huge Games have promised that the combat in the game will be much more in-depth and involved than a typical RPG and the story, created by Salvatore, certainly looks promising. With such an enormous staff of talent working on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and high expectations already set by the media we’ll see what the game has to offer come this February.
Charlie: Far Cry 3
Far Cry 2 did not live up to my expectations — the african setting was nice and all but the AI was moronic, the faction and malaria systems felt half-baked, and the amount of time you had to spend walking and driving was borderline ridiculous. How thrilling then that Ubisoft has decided to adhere to the first game instead, featuring a tropical island and survival-based gameplay where the player needs to salvage weapons and rig traps for unsuspecting enemies. So far the game looks pretty and much more open compared to most other shooters, which is sure to be a nice respite from all the linear, me-too military shooters that saturate todays video game market. In all, Far Cry 3 just seems like a fresh experience and coming from a shooter, that’s saying an awful lot.
Joel: Grand Theft Auto V
What could I possibly say that hasn’t already been said a million times already? Sure it’s not the first time someone has said they are looking forward to a Grand Theft Auto game but the years in between GTA IV and the recent trailer for GTA V has been salivating at another sandbox experience. Let us not forget it was only a year ago that the fine folks over at Rockstar Games brought us Red Dead Redemption what I consider to be far and away best open world action game. If Rockstar can take what they learned from Red Dead and apply it to their latest Grand Theft Auto title we have a potential Game of the Year candidate in the making.
Now if only we knew it was going to come out in 2012? In my humble opinion you can count on it.
Allen: Lollipop Chainsaw
Killer7. No More Heroes. Shadows of the Damned. What do these games have in common? They were all developed by Suda51 and each are incredibly insane. I love the guy for his bold sense of style, storytelling and his desire to take risks. While most people in the industry are comfortable with developing sequels and maintaining the status quo, I can always count on Suda51 to deliver a truly unique and memorable experience.After tackling assassins and demons from a quaint, European style hell, Suda51 is sets his sights on zombies with Lollipop Chainsaw. Unlike most games in the genre, this won’t be a bleak or depressing adventure. Juliet Starling is a cheerleader at San Romero High School who must do battle against a horde of zombies led by rock and roll gods. Accompanied by the disembodied head of her boyfriend, Juliet uses a pink and white chainsaw to unleash a second death on zombies.
Seeing the plot of Lollipop Chainsaw written out like that has got me even more excited to play the game!
Hiram: Prototype 2
Video games have almost always been about player empowerment- sandbox games doubly so. The problem with a lot of them is that you wind up just getting bored of wanton destruction, or all of the open-world stuff winds up going completely against the story and character that the studio has tried so hard to build. The ‘superhero’ sandbox offers something special, though, and the first Prototype is my game of choice for when I want to cut cars in half, rip tanks into pieces, karate kick helicopters, and explode into a mass of tentacles that kills everything around me.
Where Alex Mercer, the original protagonist, was just kind of a gruff, faceless anti-hero, developer Radical Entertainment is flipping the tables, making Alex the bad guy, and player character James Heller is out for revenge. They’re definitely looking to flesh him out (and not just in the exploding tentacle way) by taking him from suicidal soldier whose family died to a viral monster with a vengeance. Hopefully a new character means new powers, too, and I can’t wait to start ravaging Manhattan again with a whole new slew of abilities.
Michael: Bioshock: Infinite
The first Bioshock is a staple for this console generation. The story, atmosphere, and gameplay were all top notch and proved yet again that Irrational is one of the best in the business. They stepped away from creating the sequel and decided to take the series in a bold new direction with Infinite. Infinite is set in the sky in this massive floating city named Columbia filled with political quandaries and psychopaths. The most interesting aspect is watching the interaction between main character Booker Dewitt, let’s go ahead and nominate him for best character name of 2012, and Elizabeth who appears to have some crazy time warp ability.
Watching the trailer, you can see the depth this game has waiting for us just with the scope of the city you will be traversing and the way the game constantly throws new elements at you. The Big Daddy of this game is replaced by a creature named Song Bird who is out to take back Elizabeth, who has escaped from the crazy fowl himself. One area the ten minute trailer presentation tried to get across is the game is quasi open world, with each ballooned city platform attached together through skyhooks that Booker travels with. It’s exhilarating to watch Booker in the middle of a gun fight hop on the skyhook and end up in a completely different area, far away from Elizabeth. Bioshock: Infinite is definitely worth checking out for those who want to see gaming thrown in a new direction.