The Preemptive 2012 Game Awards

If you pay close attention to anything for long enough, you're going to develop a sixth sense about it. Pay enough attention to the game industry, for example, and you'll be able to predict, with some degree of accuracy, how good a game is going to be before you even get a chance to play it. You're also going to want to start speculating about that, usually all the time, but especially whenever game releases are slow and there's not a whole lot else to talk about besides which games on the distant horizon have us the most excited. (Here's 100 of them, for a start.)

These are just (educated) guesses, of course. The year ahead is littered with all kinds of unknown variables, like unforeseen delays and monster gaming juggernauts that haven't even been announced yet. Based on what we know now, though, here's our best guess as to what's going to draw the most praise in the months ahead.


Guesstimated Award Probability: 65%

This deep into the console cycle, it’s getting harder and harder to call out specific games for looking better than the rest, but out of what we’ve seen so far, Far Cry 3 is kinda breathtaking. With its lush jungle foliage, striking waterfalls and crazy-eyed thugs, the demo we saw at E3 last year has stuck in our minds more than most of the other stuff we saw – although to be fair, that might have more to do with the “definition of insanity” speech in the demo.

Far Cry’s always been about setting players loose in big, untamed environments, and even at its most buggy, it’s always been beautiful. And seeing the series return to a colorful jungle setting after its tour of duty in the brown African savanna is a refreshing change. Whatever Far Cry 3’s other faults may end up being, its good looks are indisputable.

Runner-up: The Last Of Us

Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic something takes second place for two reasons: first, all we’ve seen of it is a trailer that, while generated by a PS3, isn’t actually gameplay. Second, we’re not actually sure it’s coming out this year. Even so, Naughty Dog’s been doing some extremely impressive visual work lately with Uncharted, and we’d expect any successor franchise to push the boundaries of what’s possible with current-gen hardware even further. Or just look more amazing than everything else. That’s a reasonable expectation, right?


Guesstimated Award Probability: 74%

You know what? We get it. It’s always hard to adjust when an iconic character gets a radical overhaul. And at first, we were right there with the knee-jerk-freakout reactionaries when the wraps were pulled off Dante’s “emo” new look. Since then, we’ve come around, though, because let’s face it: "old" Devil May Cry had a good run, but what was once considered super-badass gradually became stale and silly. (And really, nothing says “we’ve run out of ideas” like making the second half of your game about backtracking through its first half.) 

So while turning Dante into a brooding, brunet teenager might be a questionable move, the series could really use a good shakeup, especially if it comes from Ninja Theory, makers of the underappreciated-but-brilliant Heavenly Sword and Enslaved.

Above: It helps that this looks like something we’d actually want to play

Runner-up: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider is a franchise in dire need of rescue. Not because its games are bad, mind you, but because its fans seem to have stopped caring a long time ago. Lara Croft has been sliding into irrelevance for years, repeatedly upstaged by the likes of Nathan Drake, so seeing the hypercompetent adventurer reborn as a scrappy, skin-of-her-teeth survivor is a premise with a lot of potential. And while we’d applaud it just for trying something new, the fact that it’s doing something new and interesting actually has us excited for a Tomb Raider game for the first time in a long time.

DEADLIEST TIME-MURDERER: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Guesstimated Award Probability: 100%

Oh, what, you’re not still playing this nonstop? And you won’t be for the foreseeable future? Really? Oh, fine. Guess it’s just us, then. OK, well, how about…

Diablo III

Guesstimated Award Probability: 76%

Back before MMOs became the go-to receptacle for PC gamers’ endless clicking, Diablo was the original time-sink. And while there’s no shortage of potential hour-devourers on the horizon, especially on PC (Dota 2, XCOM and the endless updates to League of Legends spring to mind), there’s every reason to believe that Blizzard’s tireless (and somewhat tiresome, to be honest) perfectionism and dedication to nailing Diablo’s formula will result in one of the most endlessly addictive loot-hoarding and mouse-clicking sims ever devised. Friends, lovers, spouses, children – remember that we love you. But you will never, ever see us again.

Assuming it actually comes out this year, that is...

Runner-up: Borderlands 2

As near-perfect a trap as Diablo III is, it has two fatal flaws: it’s not on consoles, thereby effectively immunizing those players against its harmful effects, and it doesn’t have tons of over-the-top firearms. Borderlands 2 will correct these flaws, thus ensuring that nothing ever gets done and society eventually grinds to a slow, juddering halt.

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  • TheGuy0526 - February 8, 2012 12:33 p.m.

    I'm curious to see how Prey 2 holds up. I like the looks of it, but we'll see how much attention it gets with Mass Effect 3 on the way.
  • charlie_ruskiy - February 7, 2012 8:13 p.m.

    Am I the only who thinks Metal Gear Rising may very well repeat the successor of its predecessor and become GotY? At least thats what I hope will happen. :]
  • RyoonZ - February 6, 2012 3:32 p.m.

    Where's FF XIII-2? Most hated game in 2012 even people haven't played it and judge it in my country at least.
  • Darkhawk - February 6, 2012 9:24 a.m.

    :( I bought my PS3 for Last Guardian. If I don't get a proper hit soon, I'll have to cave and just buy the SotC HD upgrade to fill the void.
  • farsided - February 4, 2012 10:52 p.m.

    Thanks for the complete absence of Guild Wars 2 from the list /s. What's the matter? Didn't get into the press beta or something?
  • Lando81 - February 5, 2012 2:07 p.m.

    lol. You see that guys? Guild Wars 2 fanboys DO exist!
  • GR HollanderCooper - February 6, 2012 5:54 p.m.

    It was in the top 20 of our most anticipated games, but I guess we hate it?
  • farsided - February 6, 2012 9:54 p.m.

    Seeing as it was voted second only to Diablo 3 in GT's most anticipated game of the year, and has been voted as the most anticipated MMO of the year on a slew of sites, yes, I am surprised that once again, it received no attention from GR. Your coverage for the past year has been absurdly sparse, despite the massive number of innovations they've been introducing, and I'm frankly disappointed. You may not hate it, but you have ignored it heavily. My question still stands: did you not get into the press beta- which would result in an even further lack of coverage when they lift the NDA come the 20th? @Lando go back to your shitty wow clone. Maybe you'll eventually recognize that dropping a couple hundred mil for pointless voiceovers isn't a real progression of the genre, but until then, shut the fuck up when grown folks is talking.
  • TheGuy0526 - February 8, 2012 12:11 p.m.

    With a big MMO like The Old Republic just recently released, i'm not surprised its not on the list. I know i'm not all that excited about GW2. Resident Evil 6 and Mass Effect 3 on the other hand..
  • ObliqueZombie - February 8, 2012 5:44 p.m.

    Dude, you need to chill the fuck out. I realize you've probably been playing WoW since "Vanilla ages," but that doesn't give you a right to ignorantly--and wrongly--call a game a "WoW clone," a game which is probably SWTOR, and a game Lando never mentioned. So there goes a pretentious assumption. And I'm not saying Guild Wars is shallow, but, it's shallow. It's free, yeah, but that doesn't hold up to limited content and a level-20 cap. However, while I, and GamesRadar, have seen how different and how spectacular Guild Wars 2 is probably going to be, you can't just be an asshole and shove your opinions as facts down people's throat. And if you PLAYED SWTOR, which I'm sure you haven't (Beta doesn't count as playing), you'd realize that we're not such a shallow crowd. We care about the story and character progressions and writing and voice acting. We also realize how stable, if slightly un-innovative, the gameplay may be, but dammit, it works, and the it's all about WHAT is happened, rather than HOW it is happening. I'll shoot lighting out of my finger tips and scream at my enemies with pure Force energy before I become an elf and shoot arrows again.
  • MrBlister23 - February 4, 2012 9:30 p.m.

    Why is the Illuminati sign doing on the trophies and next to the title? Some suspicious mojo is going on around here...
  • k1DBLITZ - February 5, 2012 1:40 p.m.

    That is precisely what I was thinking. Also, the other day the advertisement for Dirt Showdown had an inverted pentagram on it.
  • LiaraLoveSlave - February 4, 2012 6:57 p.m.

    "hour-devourers" I like what you did there. Entertaining as always, Mikel.
  • NightCrawler_358 - February 4, 2012 6:43 p.m.

    So many great games this year, it's 2011 all over again! I'll probably sink alot of time into Borderlands 2, and I really don't know much about it, but Prey 2 looks so cool! (cool,cool,cool) I wish somehow Twisted Metal could've been squeezed into an entry. (most murderous clown...?)
  • amaro57 - February 4, 2012 5:56 p.m.

    We need Asura's Wrath as a contender for over-the-top action. :3
  • Yeager1122 - February 4, 2012 5:54 p.m.

    I never played any of the other Devil May Cry's before but the new one looks awsome who cares what the character looks like its the gameplay that matters.
  • FauxFurry - February 4, 2012 5:11 p.m.

    Kingdoms of Amalur doesn't get a preemptive nod for Deadliest Time Murderer? I guess that's one thing that it speculatively won't do better or as well as Skyrim.
  • Gibsonsg527 - February 4, 2012 3:54 p.m.

    Im almost certain that GTA V will come out this year.
  • winner2 - February 4, 2012 3:15 p.m.

    Agreed with the GOTY guess, infinite looks bat-shit crazy awesome
  • Spybreak8 - February 4, 2012 12:50 p.m.

    Best new IP: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Best Game for the Money: Guild Wars 2