The long-awaited sequel to the Diablo franchise is finally in the hands of eager hack-and-slashers everywhere, and the last two weeks or so have been a non-stop flurry of blood, gore, and loot. But now that some of us are finally emerging from our self-induced seclusion to bash our way to hell and back, a frightening realization has begun to dawn: 2012 isn’t even half over yet.
With huge games like Diablo III, Max Payne 3, and Mass Effect 3 (and a whole bunch of other games that weren’t the third game in their series) having already been released, what else is left to look forward to? We asked our writers what titles are on the horizon that have them the most hyped up for the second half of 2012. As E3 rapidly approaches, these are the games that we’ll be paying close attention to for every juicy detail.
Hit the break to see what’s keeping us going.
I have never played a Persona game in my entire life, but the new fighting game from Guilty Gear and BlazBlue studio, Arc Systems, really makes me want to. Persona 4 Arena is reimagining the series as a fighting game, and the results are just awesome.
This game absolutely oozes style, and is reminiscent of another classic Japanese fighter: Jo Jo’s Bizzare Adventure. In JoJo, players could summon a “Stand,” a mystical guardian, to aid them in combat. Persona, drawing from its own mythos, seems to be channeling this classic fighter, but giving each player the aid of their character’s “Persona” in battle. The game is fast and viscous, similar to Guilty Gear or Blazblue in speed and combat, but is in another league of its own as far as style and art direction are concerned.
Honestly, it’s the character designs really interest me. Persona has always had fairly well designed characters, but, for what basically amounts to a Highschool fighting cast, the characters are definitely endearing. My gut choice for prospective main? Kanji, the chair wielding delinquent, or Labry’s, who has a color swap similar to Baiken from Guilty Gear (my all time favorite fighting game character.) Mechanically, I’m interested to see how the Personas perform, but knowing Arc Systems this game will at least be *fun,* if not genuinely novel.
While there might be thousands of people out there buying Armed Assault 2 for that DayZ mod, I’m one of the people who bought the game long before that because the idea of a totally realistic military shooter sounded awesome. And it was. These games are made by the same guys behind the original Operation Flashpoint. These ArmA games are the true successors to that game, not the crap that assumed the same identity since. These games are based off the same engines and systems they use to make actual training simulators for the US military. 90% of the game is walking around, waiting for something to happen, and 10% of it is actual action where you can’t see what the hell is going on and only know it’s all over when there hasn’t been a shot fired for the last 10 minutes.
It really doesn’t get anymore realistic than that. It’s not the bombastic action explodey Call of Duty, not the melodramatic “no man left behind unless they’re already dead!” Medal of Honor, not whatever the hell Battlefield 3 was supposed to be. This is, pretty much, actual combat operation. There’s nothing quite like seeing there’s a town up ahead, doing some reconnaissance around the perimeter, identifying enemy locations and then moving in to clear it as quickly as possible. Just to be clear, this isn’t any one level or event in the game’s story. It’s just something that happens on your way from A to B. The game world is huge and one big map. The entire game happens there. ArmA3 looks to push it to new extremes with a size of 400 sq. km. For comparison, BF3′s biggest maps are about 2 sq. km. The ArmA series is also the only game I’ve ever seen use the entire keyboard to play the game. It’s no wonder they had to scrap the console ports, there’s just no way to play the game there without the infamous Steel Batallion controller. It’s not simply a shooter, there’s also a whole command interface and squad order interface. There’s all sorts of tools you have at your disposal to use at any time. There’s vehicles, AI support and a whole command structure. ArmA games just go beyond just a game.
So what’s ArmA3 going to bring? Even more of everything. Better graphics, better physics, better sound, bigger maps, better AI. It basically gets more realistic. While most people would just be interested in the game to see what new zombie mod could be made, a lot of people are still excited to get as close to authentic military experience as they can get while still enjoying Dr. Pepper and Doritos while doing it.
What am I looking forward to this fall? The obvious answer is BioShock Infinite. BioShock was, and remains, one of my favorite games of all time, with it’s unique setting and inspired story, it’s hard not to love. With Irrational back at the helm of the franchise we should see more of what made the original such a success. Wait… you’re telling me BioShock Infinite was delayed? Okay, that’s fine, I’ll pick something else.
Aliens: Colonial Marines looks promising, and after Borderlands, I’ve got plenty of trust in Gearbox. The Aliens series has been in need of a quality video game adaptation lately, especially after the fiasco that was the new Aliens vs. Predator. From what we’ve seen that game looks to capture that atmospheric terror famous in the series. It should… so, this one was delayed too, huh? Okay, no problem, I’ll recover.
The new South Park should be fantastic. It’s got one of my favorite game studios behind the helm and is being written by series Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, so it’s got the genuine South Park quality that all of the show’s other adaptations are missing. It… Goddamnit! I give up, I hope the entire games industry crashes and burns this fall.
Lucas Smith – Lollipop Chainsaw
While this year has certainly been big on the AAA titles so far, I feel like we like we should pay homage to the little-er guys too. For that reason, Lollipop Chainsaw is my most anticipated title of 2012. Now I know what you’re thinking, “You only like this game because it has boobs!” While you’re not entirely incorrect, I’m anticipating this game simply because I’ve always been a huge fan of exploitation and Suda 51’s past acid trips.
As of late it seems that games have been focusing on story rather than gameplay. While certainly not a bad thing, is it too much to ask for a game that is just good old pure unadulterated fun? Even if it is, Suda 51 doesn’t care and that’s why I’m looking forward to Lollipop Chainsaw. It will be a game full of gleeful violence, pointless panty shots, cleavage and rainbows and it knows it. There is no subtlety to be found here! James Gunn, the game’s writer, has gone on record saying that they purposely made everything as over the top as they possibly could and, really, do you need anything else from a game about a high school cheerleader zombie killer?
I would like to end this with a question and please be honest. Have you ever wanted to kill zombies to the glorious sounds of Hey Mickey? Because you will be in Lollipop Chainsaw!
Every summer, I get the urge to crack open a new MMO. It’s as though the sun, warm weather, free time, and company of friends triggers a compulsive response in my brain, demanding that I deny myself all the beaches and fireworks to go joylessly grind for levels and wrap up quests in order to “make the most” out of a subscription fee.
The allegedly-impending release of Guild Wars 2 might bring relief for my Vitamin D-deficient summers. Rather than charging users an expensive plan for access to the MMO, the only cost of Guild Wars 2 is the box. So maybe I don’t get $15 of fun out of Guild Wars 2 in July because of a tragic firework incident- it doesn’t matter! As long as I accrue four months of good times in Tyria at all, the game has paid for itself. It’s definitely an improvement over how, with World of Warcraft, I would measure subscription costs to enjoyment every time Blizzard came by to demand my money like a surly landlord.
Obviously it’s still a bit of a gamble, as are most expensive purchases, and ArenaNet has specifically designed some aspects of the game to prevent the development of an extended endgame as is present in most modern MMOs. As soon as the player has finished all of the dynamic events, hearts, and dungeons, PvP is essentially the only remaining toy to play with until ArenaNet expands the game. Still, compared to most games for the same price, Guild Wars 2 is incomparably longer.
Even though I’m feeling down about 2K’s decision to postpone BioShock Infinite, I will have (almost) infinite hours of Guild Wars 2 to compensate for as many delays as Ken Levine requires. But ArenaNet just has to get the game into official launch soon. Please.
Well, it’s barely been 6 months since we last left Desmond in Revelations, and ALREADY we’re gearing up for the next Assassin’s Creed game.
I’m looking forward to this, but I honestly don’t know whether I should be. When a game company puts a sequel less than a year before it’s predecessor I have every right to be worried. Friends always tell me “But the company was working on both at the same time! That’s why the release dates are so close!” That is no excuse. That just divides the brilliant minds behind the games, instead of focusing them all on the next installment.
But regardless, my pre-order is already in with the rest of the sheep for the release date on the 31st of October for us Australians. I look forward to seeing whether it is any different from the last two games.
Matt Wells – Borderlands 2
What game am I anticipating? Easy, Borderlands 2. The original Borderlands had an incredibly fun atmosphere and unique landscape that struck a near-perfect balance of FPS and action-RPG. While the gameplay was easily solid enough to hold its own, it was the characters and setting of the original that made you come back for more. Characters like Scooter, Mad Moxxi and Claptrap were the icing on the already sugar-loaded cake.
It’s almost impossible to not be excited for Borderlands 2 when you look at the original and view Gearbox’s near-flawless catalog of games. I wouldn’t call them the best developer out there but they definitely nail the important aspects of a game (and in this case, a sequel). New classes and enemies, improved AI, more weapon variants, more vehicles, a bigger world all await you in Borderlands 2. When E3 comes around this year, you can bet I will have my eyes glued to see just what else is announced.
Johanna Armstrong – Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
I’m probably one of only a few people who have actually completed Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which is a shame because, other than some muddy graphics and annoyingly difficult puzzles, it’s a great game. Which is why I look forward to Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, expected to be released before Halloween 2012.
It will take place 60 years after the original, following Oswald Mandus, who falls into a Rip Van Winkle-like sleep after a tragic expedition to Mexico. He wakes up months later, to the sound of an engine and a strange machine starting up.
Amnesia is a unique title in the survival horror genre, because it executes the horror so well. You can’t fight yourself out of corners the way you can in games like Resident Evil or Dead Space—you have no weapons, only a select number of hiding places and a lantern to keep insanity from overtaking you. The only means you have to escape a horrific end is to run or hide, exacerbating the adrenaline rush you get since your “fight or flight” reaction is limited to just one, untrustworthy, option. It will be interesting to see how a Machine for Pigs plays with the mechanics, what monsters they create, what nightmare-inducing flashbacks they implement, and how (or if) the graphics have been improved or smoothed out.