Top 10 Games To Watch For In 2012By Dustin Mendel | January 4, 2012 | Features | 5 comments | Share
Another new year of gaming is upon us, and 2012 looks to be just as exciting as 2011. DeltaGamer has already listed some of the huge games to look forward to this coming year, like Mass Effect 3 and Halo 4, but there are always games that manage to slip under the radar for one reason or another. There’s no guarantee they’ll all be instant classics, but here’s a look at some of the games to watch out for this year.
10. Gotham City Imposters
Batman fans have been exceptionally lucky over the past few years. Since Christopher Nolan rebooted the Dark Knight with his 2005 film, Batman Begins, we’ve been treated to one of the best comic book storylines since Knightfall, a movie sequel that won Heath Ledger an Academy Award, and two video games that were both Game of the Year contenders.
With The Dark Knight Rises scheduled for release later this summer, you may be looking to tide yourself over with some Caped Crusader goodness, but if you’ve already seen everything there is to see in Arkham City, you won’t have to wait long for a new, albeit very different, Batman game. Next week, Monolith Productions is set to release Gotham City Imposters, an online first-person shooter that pits fans of the Dark Knight against costumed associates of The Joker.
Those who have played the beta referred to the gameplay as a Call of Duty clone, but players will have access to an arsenal of weapons and gadgets inspired by Batman and the Joker, like grappling hooks, glilders and jack-in-the-box grenades. It remains to be seen if this will translate into an experience people will put down games like Battlefield 3 to play, but Monolith is definitely pulling out all the stops to create a downloadable game fitting of the franchise it represents. If the game turns out to be fun, it should make the wait for Bane’s arrival that much easier.
9. Asura’s Wrath
If 2011 was the year of the FPS, highlighted by the almost simultaneous releases of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, 2012 is looking like it may be the year of the hack and slash. The first such game on the list takes games like God of War and punches them in the face with a fist the size of a neighboring planet.
Hack and slash action games have undergone a transformation over the past two generations of console, thanks largely in part to a renewed interest in the genre from Japanese developers. Games like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden 2 and Bayonetta have reinvented the action game, with massive boss battles, over the top violence and hysterically fast gameplay. Capcom has collaborated with developers CyberConnect2 to put their own mark on this growing genre with Asura’s Wrath, which looks to combine elements from games like God of War, Bayonetta and God Hand.
Asura’s Wrath makes several interesting tweaks to the now standard formula for a game like this. Players will be given the opportunity to control Asura during cutscenes, often with unbelievable results, and Asura’s abilities and fighting style will change throughout the game to adapt to the player’s situation. I’m not expecting you to get excited over a list of specs though; if you saw the trailer from last year’s E3, you know exactly why you should be looking forward to Asura’s Wrath when it drops in February. If you haven’t, prepare to have your mind blown.
8. Lollipop Chainsaw
There’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of Lollipop Chainsaw, much in the same way you probably knew about Snakes on a Plane long before it came out; the sheer inanity of the name pulls you in, leaving you begging for more details. In this case, we still know very little about the game itself, but the fact that Suda 51’s Grasshopper Manufacture is responsible for Lollipop Chainsaw should tell you everything you need to know.
Fresh off their last game, Shadows of the Damned, Suda 51’s development team is back to bring us the story of Juliet, a cheerleader by day, zombie hunter by night. Based on the game’s teaser trailer (and that’s really all we have to go off, despite the game set to release this March), some or all of the game will take place in Juliet’s former high school, and Juliet will have an arsenal of weapons, acrobatic attacks and her trusty chainsaw at her disposal. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer with more decapitations, upskirt shots and a million dick jokes.
There are two constants when it comes to Suda 51 games: they’re always incredibly solid games, and they sell horribly. Hopefully the winning combination of sex and zombies, two of North America’s greatest loves, will help things along.
7. Luigi’s Mansion 2
For a long time now, Nintendo fans have had to sit with folded arms, waiting months at a time for each first party release. Over the lifespan of the Wii and for much of the 3DS’s existence, Mario, Link, Samus and Nintendo’s other stars have made increasingly fewer appearances, forcing hardcore gamers to go elsewhere for their fix. 2012 looks like another bleak year for the Wii in terms of games, and news on the Wii U remains slim, but luckily, the 3DS has pulled its digital socks up, and in a big way.
We’ve already touched on the highly anticipated return of Kid Icarus, but another big return should have you just as excited. Eleven years after headlining the launch of the Gamecube, Luigi is back busting ghosts, presumably because bustin’ makes him feel good.
It was uncharted waters having a Nintendo console launch without a Mario game accompanying it, but Luigi’s Mansion was a welcome, albeit brief, addition to the Nintendo family. The gameplay, which featured finding and catching ghosts in a modified vacuum cleaner, worked well on a Gamecube controller but seems custom made for the touch screens and motion controls of the 3DS, and Luigi’s Mansion 2 promises to be longer and deeper than its predecessor.
6. Escape Plan
The 3DS may have had a rocky start, but Nintendo’s track record with handheld devices allowed gamers to sit back and patiently wait for the great games to roll out, but Sony doesn’t have that luxury with its new handheld, the Playstation Vita. The Playstation Portable, Sony’s last foray into handheld gaming, was best known for a handful of pocket-sized ports and the ease in which the system could be hacked, and Sony tried on several occasions to “reboot” the PSP with ad campaigns, despite a serious lack in software. The Vita is certainly intriguing with its impressive hardware and swanky features, but games will make or break the Vita, and luckily Sony seems to have their bases covered.
Of all the games set for the North American Vita launch, Escape Plan is easily one of the most talked about, thanks to a trailer from last year’s E3 that shows off gorgeous black and white visuals and unique gameplay. Escape Plan forgoes using buttons to control the two playable characters, relying instead on the Vita’s two touch screens and the handheld’s motion controls. Players will guide Laarg and Lil through rooms filled with deadly traps, completing puzzles and avoiding obstacles.
Escape Plan is one of the most unique looking games on any console, and offers an early look at what the Vita is capable of, not only visually but whether the system’s different gadgets can create an immersive game without feeling gimmicky.
5. Hitman: Absolution
After a surge in popularity thanks to games like Metal Gear Solid, stealth games seem to be disappearing back into the shadows as of late. Series like Splinter Cell, Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed tend to rely as much on direct combat and high energy action as they do stealth, and there are rarely consequences if the player chooses to go through a game, guns blazing. It’s unlikely that gaming is going to steer back in the direction of the original Thief game any time soon, but return of one of the genre’s godfathers should have stealth fans very excited.
This past May, IO Interactive announced that Agent 47 would be coming out of retirement in Hitman: Absolution, due out later this year. A near-20 minute gameplay video was eventually released which, while a bit disappointing at times, looks very promising. As with previous Hitman games, Agent 47 will have to make use of disguises and items littered throughout his surroundings to carry out his missions; during the gameplay video, 47 makes use of a statuette to knock out a cop, and later dons the outfit to walk through a sea of police officers, casually munching on a donut. The Hitman series has notoriously featured very stiff animation and movement, but 47 is surprisingly fluid as he makes his way through a darkened library, dodging flashlight beams and the keen eyes of your assailants.
Absolution will also feature what look to be tightly scripted action scenes as well, as shown in a tense hostage situation and a rooftop helicopter chase. This may sound like the very thing I was railing against moments ago, but it only ratcheted up the tension even further. Make no mistake, the game, from what we can tell thus far, is still all about stealth, and simply running through a level will get you killed in a hurry. IO has made attempts to make the game more accessible for new players as well, providing visual cues (which thankfully can be disabled) which show the path guards intend to take.
4. Torchlight 2
Back in 2009, unknown developer Runic Games managed to do in eleven months what it’s taken Blizzard Entertainment eleven years to do: create a worthy follow up to Diablo II. Torchlight was one of the biggest surprises of the last few years, providing a fresh take on the formula established by the first two Diablo games at a bargain price. It was lacking in online and the game’s story was largely non-existent, but Torchlight filled a massive void that Diablo III still hasn’t filled, three years later.
All signs point to Diablo III finally seeing the light of day this year, but so too will Torchlight 2, complete with some monumental improvements. The sequel will feature online co-op, a more fleshed out story with cinematic sequences, customizable characters, a larger hub world and a wealth of other changes. Whereas the original Torchlight was praised as being a great Diablo clone, Torchlight 2 looks to set itself apart from the competition as its own game.
If Runic Games really wants to make an impact, they’ll release this game before Diablo III hits store shelves, but even if it gets overshadowed by Blizzard’s long awaited sequel, Torchlight 2 will only set you back 20 bucks, making it that much easier to get both action RPGs.
3. Bioshock Vita
If Escape Plan has the burden of showcasing the Playstation Vita’s features, Irrational Games’ Bioshock project has the burden of proving the Vita is more than just a pricey bundle of features, and capable of great games.
When Irrational’s co-founder, Ken Levine, walked onto the stage at last year’s E3 with a Vita in his pocket, it made a bolder statement about the future of the new handheld than any Sony IP ever could have. The original BioShock set a new standard in video games with its blend of storytelling, atmosphere and gameplay, and this year’s Bioshock: Infinite is already being looked at as a probable Game of the Year.
A pedigree like that should be enough to excite present and future Vita owners, but Levine did more than simply announce a game for the new handheld. He made it clear that Irrational Games is uninterested in simply porting over an existing Bioshock game, insisting that the Vita game would need to be “its own voice in the franchise”. Levine did mention that a Vita Bioshock game will be different from what we’ve already experienced, which resulted in hysterical gamers bracing for the impending announcement that the game would be an on-rails shooter, but such an announcement hasn’t come…yet.
2. Twisted Metal
Younger gamers may not know this, but once upon a time, vehicle combat was less about throwing banana peels at go-karts and more about destructible environments, homing missiles, and cursed serial killer clowns.
Sweet Tooth, it’s been too damn long.
This Valentine’s Day marks the return of a Playstation mainstay, last seen in 2001’s Twisted Metal: Black. Car combat games rarely make appearances these days outside of Flash games, but the crew at Eat Sleep Play have assembled what looks to be both a worthy successor to TM:B, and a fantastic multiplayer experience.
Twisted Metal’s gameplay has always suited online gaming, and TM:B actually received an online update on the Playstation 2, but this time around, the game has been built from the ground up, primarily as an online experience. Based on the information we have so far, the game seems to focus more on the different types of vehicles than the drivers themselves, although new weapons like sniper rifles, shotguns and helicopters will add several new changes to the straight up car-on-car action. Players can play four player split-screen and the game will include deathmatches and an all new mode called Nuke, which is a twisted (pun) take on Capture the Flag you’ll have to see to believe.
It wouldn’t be a Twisted Metal game without a campaign mode though, and ESP is doing something very different this time around. In an effort to break up the monotony that has always come from playing through the same set of levels with each character to see their respective endings, Twisted Metal will feature a much tighter campaign, featuring only a select number of characters. Depending on who you play as and the difficulty you’ve selected, you’ll get one of nine different endings.
1. South Park: The Game
Most of the games on this list will be great editions to an already awesome calendar year of games. South Park: The Game, on the other hand, could replace every other game set for release in 2012, just completely wipe all of them out of existence, and I’d still be a happy man.
Let me break it down for you: Obsidian Entertainment, the studio that most recently brought us Fallout: New Vegas, is teaming up with THQ and the two men responsible for the show, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, to create a fantasy RPG based on the characters, settings and stories of South Park. This is the kind of fantasy project nerds and incredibly high college kids dream of, whereas the 1998 South Park FPS made by Akklaim is the stuff of terrible, terrible nightmares.
South Park will put players in the role of a completely customizable new kid in town, before joining you up with the kids from South Park elementary. You’ll then have the option of choosing from several different classes, including the Paladin, the Adventurer, the Rogue and the Jew before setting out to battle hippies, Gingers and more. I can keep going, but if you’re a fan of the show, I have a feeling you’ve already left to pre-order the game.
For those of you still reading this, it’s fair to point out that video game adaptations of TV shows usually work as well as movie adaptations of video games, but Trey and Matt have a history of success in almost every project they’ve worked on (sorry Baseketball), and they’ve proven to have an interest in gaming, judging by the show’s references to the PSP, Wii and World of Warcraft.
In terms of gameplay details, we know the game’s combat system will be turn-based, similar to what is used in the Paper Mario games, and it will feature a weapon and summoning system similar to what we’ve seen in previous Final Fantasy games. If Mintberry Crunch makes an appearance, we can just wrap up 2012’s Game of the Year right now and be done with it.