BEST OVER-THE-TOP SLASHY-SLASHY: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Guesstimated Award Probability: 92%
No other studio can say “screw it, let’s just make this huge and ridiculous” with quite as much flair and panache as Platinum Games, and the work they’ve done so far on Revengeance looks badass with a capital “SSSSSSSSSSSSSS.” Slicing right the hell through robots and mercenaries as former Metal Gear hate figure Raiden is an appealing proposition no matter who’s in charge, but when Platinum throws superfast action, giant sword-fighting mecha and absurd physics into the equation, we know we’re in for a treat.
Above: How could we ever not want to play this?
Runner-up: Lollipop Chainsaw
BEST NEW CONSOLE WE’LL LINE UP AT 5 A.M. TO BUY AND THEN FORGET WE OWN A YEAR LATER: Wii U
Guesstimated Award Probability: 58%
The Wii U is probably going to be a great system, and we’ll probably all rush out to grab one at launch. So will millions of other people, which could lead to the return of console shortages, opportunistic eBay speculators, anxious web searches for console shipments and resigned lineups outside stores in the cold, early morning hours. That’s if the Wii U repeats the success of its predecessor, the regular old Wii.
If it repeats that success, though, who’s to say it won’t repeat its failures? With no announced launch lineup and rival systems rumored to start appearing this year or next, it’s possible the Wii U will repeat Nintendo’s sad console patterns of the past 15 years: sporadic first-party game releases, lackluster third-party game support, a cool gimmick that wears out its welcome quickly and a condemnation to gather dust until the next Zelda or Mario appears.
That, or the Wii U will permanently silence our whiny cynicism by being so amazing that it completely overshadows any competing console launches and marches on a road of its enemies’ bones, finally restoring Nintendo’s dominance among mainstream and hardcore gamers alike. Hey, we’re not psychic; it could happen. And even if it doesn’t, it’ll be cool while it lasts.
Runner-up: PS Vita
GROSSEST GAME WITH BLOOD AND STUFF: Resident Evil 6
Guesstimated Award Probability: 87%
After its trailer debuted a couple weeks ago, we’ve been pretty amped for Resident Evil 6, and with no Dead Spaces or Mortal Kombats (PSV version excepted) on the near horizon, we created this award specifically to shoehorn it into this list somewhere. So, uh… yeah. Resident Evil 6. It’s in this list now.
Above: It is in this list so hard, man
In all seriousness, splitting a game like this into three different play styles – one for each of its three main characters – is a damned intriguing proposition, and we’re awfully excited at the idea of a Resident Evil actually being scary again. And gross, with lots of blood. And… and guts. And gross bloody mutants with guts just hanging out everywhere. Yes.
Runner-up: The Darkness II
BEST GAME WE (PROBABLY) WON’T PLAY THIS YEAR: Grand Theft Auto V
Guesstimated Award Probability: 86%
We want it. You want it. I sure as hell want it, and if it actually comes out this year, I’ll be very surprised if Grand Theft Auto V doesn’t end up being at least a serious Game of the Year contender for us and every other outlet. The thing is, it probably won’t happen this year, and if it does, we’ll be very surprised. Past precedent is against it; Rockstar isn’t a studio that releases big games very often. It’s extremely rare for it to publish more than one in a year, and this year, that big release appears to be Max Payne 3.
It’s conceivable that the company could quietly be prepping GTA V for the holidays even as you read this, but a spring 2013 release – when GTA V could dominate everyone’s attention instead of rub elbows with the usual holiday crowd – seems a lot more likely at this point.
Runner-up: The Last Guardian
PREEMPTIVE 2012 GAME OF THE YEAR: Bioshock Infinite*
Guesstimated Award Probability: 53%
The first Bioshock was nothing short of amazing. The second, while somewhat less amazing, was no less memorable. And with the original developers returning to give us a time-bending, rail-riding, giant-fighting adventure in a 1900s-era city/war platform floating in the clouds, we already know that – short of any major screw-ups – this is going to be jaw-dropping. What little we’ve seen so far already has us super-excited for this one, and since nothing cooler has been revealed to us yet, we’re going out on a limb and calling 2012 for Elizabeth, Booker and Columbia.
Runner-up: Mass Effect 3
The star-hopping exploits of Shepard and crew have only gotten better with each successive game, and as the blowout finale to the trilogy, expectations are high that Mass Effect 3 will make 1 and 2 look like utter garbage (or at least provide a satisfyingly enormous conclusion). If past examples are anything to go by – and they usually are – we expect this to start by eating up most of our time in March, keep us hooked over the following months with generous DLC drops, and then spark a heated debate in December about whether it should be our Game of the Year. Tempers will flare, feelings will be hurt and fans won’t care either way, because they’ll be too busy playing.
*Unless GTA V comes out this year. Or The Last Guardian. Or it somehow turns out terrible. Who can say for sure? At least our predictions have always been pretty close in the past.