Welcome to the Future - Potential Highlights of 2012
Just in case you hadn't noticed, it's 2012. I was under the impression that by now we’d be controlling games with our minds, playing in virtual worlds indistinguishable from our own and all from the comfort of our moon bungalows. Instead, we are two months removed from the umpteenth edition of Mario Kart, are still incomprehensibly wowed by 3D and are only weeks away from yet another relic of the past - a game dedicated portable - floundering its way through an underwhelming debut. Welcome to the future, by which I mean a very slightly different and infinitely more frustrating version of the past.
Although the 21st century has yet to pan out as Hollywood predicted there is still plenty for gamers to look forward to in 2012. I can't say that there is anything I'm overly excited for at present, though that is likely to change as some of these games near release. Besides, I still have lots of tasty leftovers from 2011 to feast upon - Assassin's Creed Revelations, Dark Souls, Deus Ex Human Revolutions etc. - before I need concern myself with the more expensive prospect of buying this year's latest and greatest.
Two of the biggest games that are certain to appear in 2012 are Mass Effect 3 and Final Fantasy XIII-2. Mass Effect 3 looks to be more of the same - I played a demo at TGS, but it was so similar to ME2 that I didn't think a write-up was worthwhile - which suits me just fine. I’ll need to make a decision as to which platform I’ll be playing it on; do I go the 360 route, allowing me to import my ME2 Shepard, or do I move the series across to my favoured PS3 and put my Xbox out to stud? Moving from West to East, I was initially non-plussed by the prospect of a return to Grand Pulse, but myhands-on with Final Fantasy XIII-2 last September turned me on to a game that has taken customer feedback to heart and made necessary changes, whilst preserving the essence of XIII.
As far as hype and sales go, Grand Theft Auto V would eclipse this pair if it were to be released this year, of which there is no guarantee. I'm ready for a return to GTA, though I won't be so easily impressed this time around after games like Red Dead Redemption, Just Cause 2 and even Skyrim have greatly raised my expectations for a sandbox adventure. Naughty Dog's The Last of Us would be a great addition to the 2012 roster, though there has been no indication as to when we should expect it. When it comes to the Last Guardian's chances of making an appearance this year I remain pretty sceptical, as I am far from convinced it will ever emerge from development hell.
2012 will be a critical year for portables, with Sony's already troubled VITA (is it too early to say that?) reaching Western shores next month and the 3DS looking to build upon a strong close to an otherwise disappointing 2011. I will almost certainly buy a VITA at some point, though not necessarily this year. I'm eager to play Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but not to the extent that I'm willing to spend £230 for the privilege, especially when I'd struggle to name two other launch-window games that I'm even slightly interested in playing. I'm sure I'll survive without VITA, especially since the PSP has at least one more trick up its sleeve in the form of Final Fantasy Type 0, which will play to my penchant for Square-Enix titles on Sony's fading portable. The only confirmed 3DS release that I'm anticipating is Resident Evil Revelations, which I've pre-ordered bundled with the second stick strap-on. And while we are on the topic of Nintendo, the Wii U is scheduled for a second half release, though I'd be surprised if we saw it over here before 2013.
This year looks promising for those of us who enjoy shooting things in the face. Gearbox have a busy twelve months ahead with Aliens Colonial Marines and the plunder-rich shooter Borderlands 2, which they'll be hoping can replicate the surprise success of its predecessor. Everyone and their mother seems to be more excited for Bioshock Infinite than I am; I enjoyed Bioshock but I wouldn't go so far as to call it memorable. I am far more enthused by Far Cry 3, and I'm also interested to see where Call of Duty goes after MW3. Is this the year that the franchise finally jumps ahead a few decades and gives us future warfare, or are Treyarch to be confined to a period between Cold War Black Ops and the present?
It was slim pickings for downloadable titles last year, so I'm happy to say that there are already two DL titles that I have my eye on. I'm all for a return to Alan Wake by way of Alan Wake's American Nightmare, though I am slightly concerned by the heavy emphasis on combat. Still, if it maintains the atmosphere and structure of the first game then I'll learn to live with the increased gunplay. Over on PSN, Journey will claim a chunk of the credit that has been sat, unclaimed in my account for the last few months and will hopefully be as memorable and striking as Flower.
We may come to remember 2012 as the year of the reboot, with a number of big franchises making a return with changes big and small. DmC: Devil May Cry already has fans foaming at the mouth, though I certainly welcome a reboot for a series that I feel outstayed its welcome long ago. Max Payne 3 has a lot to live up to, though I have every confidence that Rockstar will be up to the task of modernizing the bullet-time charms of the first two games. Crystal Dynamics will attempt to reset the clock on a well-loved franchise with the beautiful looking Tomb Raider, and the only thing I'm certain of with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is that it will be memorable, for better or for worse.
When it comes to new IPs, this year is already looking better than the last. We can look forward to Capcom's mental button-basher, Asura's Wrath, open world adventurer Dragon's Dogma, and Suda 51's unique take on American high school drama, Lollipop Chainsaw. I'm interested to see what Insomniac are capable of with Overstrike, and sticking with squad based third-person shooters, BinaryDomain will be a day one purchase after I greatly enjoyed the elaborate cinematics and demo at Tokyo Game Show. Toshihiro Nagoshi will also give us Yakuza spin-off Dead Souls (Of the End in Japan), which should go some way to alleviating my yearnings for Tokyo, minus the walking dead.
Game of Thrones will finally get a multiplatform video game, though I will temper my excitement until we know more. Finally, we poor tortured souls in Europe will get our hands on the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. As we learnt last year, the future is all about playing the same games we first played 10-15 years ago, only now in HD, or at least ones that closely resemble them. Still, when those games include two of my favourite of all time, you can't really complain.
What are you looking forward to in 2012?