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We’re going to need a bigger bank account.
When you put together a countdown of the 100 – yes, 100 – most promising, intriguing, exciting games of the year, and names like Sonic, Star Wars, Tom Clancy and World of Warcraft don’t even crack the top 90, you’d better start clearing your schedule. And fortifying your wallet.
The premiere of brand new franchises. The return of beloved old favorites. Innovative risk takers and classic throwbacks. Massively budgeted blockbusters and easily overlooked indie underdogs. Our 100 has a bit of everything, but if we missed something you personally can’t wait to play, tell us in the comments. And while there, share your top five of 2012.
Final note: Any of these games could be delayed into next year or beyond. Some almost certainly will be. For now, though, the following are confirmed – or at least rumored – for release this year, so let's bask in the glow of anticipation while we still can.
Why is Kinect Star Wars at the very bottom of our list? What gameplay we’ve experienced so far seems disappointingly simplistic and frustratingly linear. Then why is Kinect Star Wars on our list at all? Because Star Wars. And Kinect. The mere potential of this combination, and the never-dying dream of a proper motion-controlled lightsaber, keep us hoping. If nothing else, at least we’re guaranteed a badass R2D2 360 in 2012.
Likely Fall 2012
World of Warcraft is adding Kung Fu Pandas and Pokémon. Well, not exactly, but it’s adding in the Pandarian race, the Monk class, and the ability to capture and battle animals and monsters. So, yeah, Blizzard is adding in adding Kung Fu Pandas and Pokemon. It’s silly, and we’re not sure how well it will mesh with the rest of the… ah, who are we kidding, Blizzard can add anything to World of Warcraft and we'll take it as a welcome excuse to jump back in to Azeroth with all of our friends.
Platforms: 360, PS3
Though DoA has been around in the form of portable titles and pervy volleyball games, there hasn’t been a proper release in the main franchise for six years. Dead or Alive 5 is Tecmo’s chance to redefine the series and show that it’s more than jiggling breasts – it’s about the combat, too. The newest catch includes an emphasis on stages filled with cinematic action moments and QTE battles to spice things up without getting too carnal. Can it be at the top again?
Platforms: XBLA, PSN, WiiWare
Sad times when new Sonic is only 97th on a list of exciting games, but we are cautiously anticipating this one nonetheless. Why? Because despite its “unusual” physics, Episode I was actually strong, especially if you started playing it at speedrun pace, where it truly shone. All it needed was a different physics engine and a different graphics engine (cough)… both of which we're getting here, along with Tails and Metal Sonic to boot.
July 2, 2012
Platforms: As many as possible
The last couple of Spider-Man games weren't awful, but they missed one of the most important characters: New York City. This game, based on the film reboot of the same name, has Spidey webslinging his way through the Big (open world) Apple once again, which is exactly where he belongs. Will this be as revolutionary as Spider-Man 2 was all those years ago? Probably not, but it could be at least the best Spider-Man game in recent memory.
Platform: PS Vita
It might be mostly more of the same rolling and gathering action, but Touch My Katamari has still managed to pull us into its inescapable gravitational well. The bright colors of the Katamari world look amazing on the PS Vita screen, and the King of All Cosmos is as charming and saucy as ever.
By now, we’re really not expecting any major changes with a new Professor Layton game. Developer Level 5 has its formula down and because it’s such a great formula, we’re still looking forward to the jump to 3D. We expect another engaging tale of mystery and will be ready with our puzzle hats on to solve anything they throw at us.
February 21 (NA), February 24 (EU)
Platform: 360, PS3, PC
Syndicate appears to be a generic sci-fi four-player FPS, but darn if it isn’t super-slick and sexy. What we’ve played has a fantastically polished feel, and the co-op dynamics where you face super tough enemies and can heal each other constantly from across rooms gives it its own flavor. It’s designed to be endlessly replayable like Left 4 Dead, with randomly placed enemies, and it features two full, separate single-player and co-op campaigns.
February 14 (NA), February 17 (EU)
Platforms: 360, PS3
We’re happy to see that THQ decided to ditch its yearly cycle with UFC games – with the extra time it has managed to improve the basic gameplay, add in a submission system that won’t give us blisters, and add in Pride mode, which is almost like including in a second game. A second game where we can… kick people in the head while a Japanese announcer screams in a language you can’t understand. In other words: game of the year.
Release: May 22
(NA), May 24 (EU)
Platforms: 360, PS3
Finally. Five years after the last major installment in the franchise, Ghost Recon returns with the same strategic, squad-based shooter gameplay fans remember, but evolved and enhanced with futuristic new tools like active camouflage (that makes you nearly invisible), a camera drone (that you can now manually steer through the sky) and simultaneous team headshots (that are too satisfying to describe).
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