With 2011 behind us, what upcoming releases are the biggest blips on our gaming radar? Our writers break down the five that they’re excited to play.
Paper Mario (3DS): It’s been too long, my flat friend. We’ve been waiting almost eight years for a true entry in the series, and with the possibility of some fun 3D added to the aesthetic (and some more hilarious localization from the Treehouse crew), it should live up to the high expectations. You know, as long as it actually does release this year.
Mass Effect 3: With the level of personal investment that goes into a game that gives you so much choice in the story, it’d be tough not to be psyched to see that story to its conclusion. I get to take Graham Shepard, Paragon Sentinel, through the mission of a lifetime, and this time I also get to yell at squadmates and make my neighbors think I’m a crazy person. That’s a win-win in my book.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown: A new X-COM? And by the ludicrously-talented Firaxis crew? I can’t see this going wrong, except by virtue of this work making the next Civilization game a bit further off. But we don’t know much yet, and I’ll need to keep my eye on developments as its release nears.
Fire Emblem (3DS): Another one to file under “great 3DS RPGs from Intelligent Systems,” and under “may not release yet” as well. After the lifeless husks that were the DS remakes, it’ll be refreshing to see a new story, and also a spiritual successor to the more open world of Sacred Stones.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD: Hey, I loved the old Tony Hawk games, and I want that again. Don’t judge me.
Mass Effect 3: Mass Effect 2 went above and beyond any of my expectations and quickly became one of my favorite games of all time. Mass Effect 3 looks like more of what we got with ME2, but with much larger conflicts and improved combat mechanics that could be enough to put it over the sequel. I just hope that everything else I love about ME2 remains intact.
Twisted Metal: Wait a second, didn’t I put this on last year’s list? Despite the delays, I still couldn’t be more excited for this reboot of a classic franchise. Twisted Metal has always been one of my favorites, and with the series’ original creator, David Jaffe, back at the helm, I have nothing but high hopes for it. Maybe the days of car combat games are long gone, but if any game can bring this “genre” back, it’ll be the return of the franchise that practically started it all.
BioShock Infinite: As with Mass Effect 2, the original BioShock is one of those games I could easily place in a list of my absolute favorites. With a new setting, some really intriguing gameplay mechanics and a protagonist that actually talks, BioShock Infinite is looking like it could surprise us the same way that original game way back in 2007. I just get the feeling that we’ll be talking about this game when it’s time for 2012’s Game of the Year awards.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch: Level 5 joining forces with amazing animation team at Studio Ghibli to create a new RPG? Yeah, I’m pretty much sold right there. Not only does Ni no Kuni look pretty incredible, but it also looks remarkably fun, charming, and seems like it’ll be the best chance to actually play a Studio Ghibli film. 2012 seems like a good year for JRPG fans, but none of the other releases even come close to looking as good to me as this does.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Revenge… with a vengeance! It’s dumb, I know, but I enjoy saying that. It’s just something so ridiculous and stupid that I can’t help but love it, really. Fans cried foul when Konami announced this was going to be a Platinum Games project and that the gameplay would action-focused. First of all, did they ever even watch the original gameplay trailer? It was going to be an action game to begin with. And now they have a team that does action games right. Putting one of my favorite game franchises into the hands of one of my favorite developers and I really have no reason not to be excited for this one.
I’ve broadened my gaming tastes the last few years, I really, really have! But when there’s an RPG and strategy lineup this heavy-hitting, I just can’t help putting them on my list above pretty much any other games I’m looking forward to.
Final Fantasy XIII-2: When XIII-2 was announced, I couldn’t understand why they would want to continue the story of one of the most controversial entries in the series. Then I finally beat XIII and not only did it make sense, but I couldn’t wait to get back to Pulse and finish the story. Add the changes they’ve made to the few areas I had issues with, and I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.
Mass Effect 3: I’m still in love with the Mass Effect series, to the point where I gifted both games in the series to two different people last year. I plan to replay both games before the third drops too, so that I’ve got both a Paragon and a Renegade character waiting for me. Massive space operas are amazingly awesome when done well, and Mass Effect is done as well as any other universe ever.
Tales of Graces F: I know nothing about this game except that it’s another Tales game being localized. Since Tales of Vesperia is still my favorite JRPG of this generation, Graces F has high standards to meet. That said, I’m anticipating its arrival more than I ever have any non-Final Fantasy JRPG I can ever remember.
Diablo III: Another holdover from last year’s list. Blizzard has once again disappointed me by not releasing a game in an entire calendar year. They surely can’t do that again, right? I mean, Diablo III has been in development for at least four years now, and Heart of the Swarm has been in development for at least three. At some point, even Blizzard has to release something. I’m betting on it being Diablo III, and I’m betting on it being absolutely amazing.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown: I never played X-COM. I don’t know anything about it. What I do know is Firaxis. I’ve yet to be disappointed by one of their turn-based games, so I’m justifiably excited about getting my hands on XCOM when it comes out later this year. It’s enough to make me completely forget about XCOM: Generic Alien Shooter #12.
Twisted Metal: It is hard to believe that Twisted Met:al Black was released back in 2001, and even harder to believe I still play my PS2 copy to this day. Why are there not more car combat games out there? While Rage helped scratch a small itch, it will take this release to put me in heaven again. Add to that a competitive multiplayer edge, and you most assuredly have an awesome game.
Mass Effect 3: My only hope with the end of this trilogy is that it is not the end of the Mass Effect universe. From the superb writing and action of the first two titles, this entry will probably end up on more than a few top ten lists of 2012. Hopefully Shepard will live to see that though.
Borderlands 2: A surprisingly-good game finally gets a sequel. From time to time, I still pull out the original to work on my second playthrough, endlessly grabbing more insanely-powerful weapons along the way. I am just hoping the twisted humor and larger-than-life battles make a big return as well.
BioShock Infinite: While some may question the strength of the second BioShock, nobody can question the strength of the series. Completely changing locales, the game will make us Rapture… but probably not for long. Brighter and more open, Infinite looks fun to play with the addition of zip-line combat and possibly constantly changing terrain. One question remains for me though: How many times will I fall off this floating city?
Final Fantasy XIII–2: More of an obligatory entry; the original FFXIII was interesting but not too high up on my all-time favorite Final Fantasys list. Regardless, Square Enix pushes boundaries with each entry, and I am keeping my hopes up that XIII-2 will continue to innovate. One thing XIII did right was introduce Lightning to the world, and the sequel looks to capitalize on her return.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: One of my favorite series ever gets an action game by what’s considered one of the best game developers around. Honestly, it’s not much of a surprise to say this is my most anticipated title of 2012.
Gravity Rush: It’s looking like this is one of the better Vita launch window titles, and it does look gorgeous. What I’ve seen of the game also looks like a blast, so I can’t wait to finally play it.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: I’ve been anxiously awaiting this game ever since the E3 teaser, which on its own shows that Sanzaru Games know how Sly works. It’ll be interesting to see what their take on the series is, though some interviews have shown that Sly 1 is their favorite, which only makes me trust them even more.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance: This is likely going to be my reason to get a 3DS, and it’s already looking like a very solid entry in the series.
Devil May Cry HD Collection: It may seem like a cop-out to include this, but hey, this is one of my favorites series getting the HD treatment and released to the current generation, so I’m not complaining. I get to replay two good games after all!
Rhythm Heaven Fever: As a particularly big fan of the DS game, my excitement level has been off the charts for this sequel. After a couple of preview videos of the game, I’m excited to interview a certain wrestler and see what other ridiculousness ensues. (More so since you can play with friends this time around.)
Xenoblade Chronicles: I heard nothing but great things about this game since its European release. A great story, a deep battle system, and gameplay spanning over 400 hours? I can only imagine how amazing playing this game will be.
Soul Calibur V: After riding off the high that was Soul Calibur I and II and experiencing the disappointment of the two games that followed, I’m really hoping this game will make me love the series all over again. The characters look as beautiful as ever, and the introduction of super moves should be an interesting element in fights. I’m also excited to see if the styles of my favorite characters make a return.
Street Fighter X Tekken: Two of my favorite fighting franchises finally coming together in a harmonious tag-team fighting game. There’s a couple of new things they added in, but probably the biggest things that stand out to me are the two new battle elements (Pandora and Gem System), and the fact you can cross costumes along the two franchises. Yes it’s silly, but I’m oddly excited about the costumes.
Mass Effect 3: Easily my most anticipated game of the year. The first two were stellar entries in the series and had an interesting story as well as characters that everyone loved. With the addition of multiplayer as well as several gameplay changes, I’m extremely excited to see how they wrap up this trilogy.