2011 has come and gone, leaving a stack of backlogged games and discarded Christmas trees in its wake. Despite our need to finally spend some quality time with Skyrim, there’s no stopping the video game release schedule. It seems like every year is purported by someone to be “the best ever” and we’re sure 2012 will be no exception. This is going to be an interesting year, filled with games that might not be as assuredly a hit as the likes of Uncharted, Batman, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed. While entries in some of those series are hitting store shelves this year, there’s plenty of new IP and sequels to some of the gaming underdogs and bygone franchises. Here are a few of our most-anticipated video games of 2012.
After more years than we care to count, fans of Blizzard’s loot-lusting dungeon crawler have been eagerly awaiting its sequel. A recent beta may have satisfied their huger for awhile but the effect was temporary, at best. When Diablo III unleashes itself on the PC gamers of the world, prepare for some serious play-time. In fact, if you have a Diablo fan in your life, it’s best to get the goodbyes out of the way now. Recent spy-shots of Best Buy ads have tagged the release date as February 1st but those rumors have yet to be confirmed. Until then, we’re still calling this one TBD.
Mass Effect 3
The final entry in the epic space trilogy culminates in something that only comes around once every console cycle. If you stuck with the franchise since 2007, you’e no doubt become attached to that save file along with your Commander Shepherd and Normandy crew. Previews of the game show Bioware taking steps to improve the combat, include a new co-op mode, and retain the same storytelling and role-playing hooks that kept us so captivated. Expect Mass Effect 3 on March 6th.
If the name Twisted Metal conjures PS1-era memories of crazy car combat, you’re not alone. While the series has seen releases since the early days including PS2′s Twisted Metal: Black, the latest entry in the series feels like a modern-day throwback to what made us fall in love with Sweet Tooth and the gang all those years ago. Twisted Metal looks bigger than ever, with an increase in player count, scope, scale, and the sheer methods of madness. Director David Jaffe has emphasized the focus on fun and carnage and the footage we’ve seen shows they’ve nailed it. We can’t wait to get our hands on the game when it finally arrives on Valentines Day, February 14th.
The original Borderlands was a sleeper-hit in the fall of 2009. Developer Gearbox really nailed the combination of pitch-perfect first-person shooting with the unquenchable thirst for loot like so much peanut butter and chocolate. The sequel is a return to form bringing more loot and questing along with even more refined mechanics, new character classes, and lots of surprises. Let’s just hope they come up with a better ending this time. Borderlands 2′s release date is still TBD.
Playstation Vita Launch Games
This one’s a bit of a cheat as it’s not just one game but several. Sony is bringing the successor to the PSP state-side on February 22nd and, despite that fact that many are doom and gloom about the state of handheld gaming, we’re excited to see this thing in action. The launch lineup is certainly impressive, bringing Sony favorites like Uncharted, Wipeout, Super Stardust, Hot Shots Golf, Modnation Racers, along with third-party support like Lumines, Rayman, Katamari and promising new IP such as Gravity Rush.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
After being stuck in development limbo for far too long, many feared the Raiden-centric Metal Gear Rising spinoff had been canceled. Turns out it had but with the help of developer Platinum Games, makers of spastic hits Bayonetta and Vanquish, Kojima Productions has resurrected Rising, giving it a new focus, new combat, and manic sense of action. The pairing of Kojima and Platinum is a match made in gaming heaven and while we were, at first, lamenting the loss of the game we originally envisioned, this new title has certainly piqued our interest. No firm details on a release date but with Platinum’s track record of quick turnaround on titles, expect it some time in 2012.
Max Payne 3
Like Twisted Metal, Max Payne is another series of yesteryear getting a second lease on life on this generation of consoles. Rockstar is taking some bold moves with its beloved noir character, giving Max a new look, new setting, and new abilities along with his trademark bullet time diving. The game has been long-in-the-making but the Vancouver-based Rockstar developer promises the game’s action will be worth the wait. Taking a cue from the previous launches of L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar is putting this right in that cozy spring slot it likes so much. Expect Max Payne 3 in March, 2012.
No other game on this list has us as intrigued as the next incarnation of the Bioshock franchise. The game looks to merely wink and nod at the original Bioshock, choosing instead to form its own path in the gaming world. Set amidst the skies in the floating city of Columbia in 1912, the game’s mix of American pomp, breathtaking set pieces, mysterious characters Elizabeth and Booker DeWitt, possible time-traveling, and what will no doubt be a dizzying degree of storytelling mastery is enough to keep us up at night in anticipation. Bioshock Infinite does not have a firm release date but we’re betting on Holiday 2012, though that’s still TBD.
We haven’t even scratched the surface of what this year has to offer. In addition to annualized megatons like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, there are several big-time franchises seeing releases like Halo 4 and Ninja Gaiden III along with new IP like Dragon’s Dogma. The Tomb Raider series is getting a gritty origin-story reboot that looks promising, South Park is getting an RPG from the masters at Obsidian, Spec Ops: The Line is finally coming out, Darksiders 2 is the sequel to the mature Zelda game we all want, and let’s not forget Nintendo is bringing out a brand new console, the Wii U. Added to that, the continued release of 3DS software like Luigi’s Mansion 2, Kid Icarus: Uprising. Forgotten franchise Prey is getting a sequel that looks like it’s the Blade Runner game of our dreams and, well, you get the idea. Expect more news, reviews, and updates as the year in gaming continues.