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Release: March 20 (NA), March 23 (EU)
Platforms: 360, PS3, Wii U
After a letdown of a sequel, Ninja Gaiden is about to make a comeback in a big way thanks to a third entry in the series from a newly reorganized Team Ninja. With an increased emphasis on story and a new, more welcoming difficulty level available from the start, Ninja Gaiden 3 hopes to offer bloody samurai action to fans and informal players alike. Can the third game recapture the series’ magic?
Ryse is no less mysterious now than it was when first announced under the working title Codename Kingdoms at E3 2010. And we’re no less curious, either – imagining what Crytek, the developer of stellar action series like Far Cry and Crysis, could do with Kinect motion controls and an ancient Roman warrior concept is enough to earn the game, though not yet confirmed for 2012, a place on the countdown.
Release: March 2012
Platforms: 360, PS3, PC
In the same way that BioShock demonstrated the power of water, Spec Ops: The Line is looking to showcase the unforgiving force of wind and sand. A confronting third-person shooter is on the cards, with the desert wonderland of Dubai serving as the backdrop for your squad-based exploits. But if bullets weren’t enough, you’ll also have to contend with wild sandstorms - The Line whips them up with random force and timing, turning the tide in your favour just as easy as throwing you into it without a lifeline. Developers, we have two words for you: Burj Khalifa. You know what to do.
Platforms: PS3, PS Vita
There’s a reason that die-hard baseball fans have made the PlayStation 3 their console of choice: it’s hard to beat Sony’s first party baseball game at this point. Last year’s game offered up Move support, online co-op, and a new analog control system. Right now, details on MLB 12 are enigmatic, but we’re especially curious how the Vita version will utilize the new platform’s touch controls when you step up to the plate.
Release: Possible 2012 (NA), February 24
The Wii may be winding down, but the system still has some gas left in the tank with JRPGs like this. The Last Story is the most recent game from Hironobu Sakaguchi, the original director of Final Fantasy, and it has his trademark emphasis on story and lovely art design. It’s been out in Japan for a while and is planned for release in Europe this year, but if American fans want to play it, perhaps they should support entry 24 on this list.
Release: June 12
It’s annoying how “MMO” means “MMORPG” in gamers’ minds, but we’re happy developers are daring to break the mold –End of Nations is an honest-to-god MMORTS. Imagine a map with up to 50 players on it. Five-times-ten armies. You also have a permanent base, a “character” which levels up as you play, and the game even has “raid bosses” that require multiple players to take down. Oh, and original Command & Conquer devs are involved.
Platforms: XBLA, PSN
Despite the ‘90s-style fighter overload going on now, Skullgirls is a fresh kick in the ass for the genre, literally and figuratively. It’s a three-on-three tag-team fighter that doesn’t need to be played in tag-team, thanks to scalable team-sizes and damage handicaps. Want three-on-one? It’s perfectly doable. Couple in subtle but smart, innovative mechanics for dealing with infinites and cheap mix-ups and you have a clever fighter as fair and friendly as it is bright and breezy.
Release: Spring 2012
Platforms: 360, PS3, PC
Brothers in Arms is traditionally a super-serious World War II sim, but the last major release – Hell’s Highway – was something of a dud. So seeing the series opt for fancifully over-the-top, two-fisted action isn’t a wholly unwelcome change, and the plot – which sees four eccentric commandos hunting Hitler himself – seems like a refreshing change from more historically accurate depictions of World War II. If nothing else, we’re interested to see how this one develops.
Release: March 2012
The fifth game in the Yakuza series, Dead Souls represents some radical changes for the franchise, taking the emphasis off exploration and martial-arts beatdowns, and putting it squarely on gunfights. And, oh yeah, it's also the first game in the series to feature a citywide infestation of the walking dead. Among other changes, Ryuji Goda from Yakuza 2 returns with a gatling gun for an arm, which we're sure has a reasonable explanation behind it. We're looking forward to finding out what that is soon.
Release: February / March 2012
Though not the full sequel some fans of the original Alan Wake hoped for, American Nightmare blends the narrative and storytelling techniques that made A. Wake unique with an increased emphasis on action. Wake is a much more of a hero this time around, with a much bigger armory backing him up in his battles with the shadows. The Twilight Zone-flavored downloadable might be just what the doctor ordered for the troubled writer.
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