Every year has its big releases. Even with highly anticipated, colossal games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Gears of War 3 and Battlefield 3 already present and far from disappointing there’s still that underline craving for bigger and better games – thankfully though our addictions can be satisfied as we’ve already been served a healthy dosage of announcements.
But before I oversell games that I have yet to mention, and inadvertently advocate the use of drugs, it’s worth mentioning that there aren’t just 5 great games being released in 2012. The games covered here are games that have had either a long series hiatus, have been surprisingly overlooked or have just been surprising to us in general.
Now that’s out of the way, let us dive into the sweet, selective pinch of titles and have a look at why they might be so mind trippingly good.
Can you believe that BioShock was released 5 years ago!? I think it speaks to its legendary status that I still vividly remember playing the game, from the moment you hit the water in its impactful opening to its genuinely surprising twist making it the ‘Usual Suspects’ equivalent in the video gaming world.
BioShock 2 was then somewhat forcibly released, and now we’re back to its original developer and original inspirations with BioShock Infinite.
The announcement of this game came with a trailer and I don’t think I’m the only one whose initial reaction was disbelief that this series has been turned on its head, literally. From underwater metropolis to sky metropolis seemed a bit too obvious a direction, but as the cliché saying goes ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.
I think this lengthy gameplay trailer confidently proved that.
BioShock Infinite tops this list for the sole reason that its originality makes bemusing to explain, yet watching its footage it still captures that ‘BioShock’ unexplainable bizarreness. Your character, Booker DeWitt is named and talks, but who is he? You’re here to save a woman called Elizabeth who has mysterious time splitting powers, why? She’s being chased by a giant mechanical bird in the middle of what seems like an 18th century civil war, and all of this takes place on a floating city propelled by hot air balloons. What!? But that’s perfect because, without doubting the quality of any of the Call of Duty games, this game is the opposite in terms of mechanical familiarity.
So, out of past brilliance and sheer curiosity, BioShock Infinite strikes this list with confident precision.
BioShock Infinite will be released on October 16th in North America and October 19th in the rest of the world for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Assassin’s Creed 3
Assassin’s Creed’s well extended franchise has had a history of being turned from an exciting gameplay concept to a highly involved and slightly confusing multi-plane, multi ancestral focused story.
Taking place in the far flung future of… now, you play as an estranged self-discovering protagonist called Desmond Miles who finds himself in a bit of an inadvertent catastrophe. This is a character who’s being pursued by a suspiciously evil group called Abstergo looking to get him in a magical chair to harness his bloodline ancestry to master great power, he is then ‘rescued’ by a smaller group of modernised, nerd like assassin equivalents looking to obtain this power before the Abstergo.
For a game that consists of Desmond mostly sitting in a chair, these games are pretty good, and after Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed II, and a couple of subtitle sequels, we finally, with a sigh of relief, have the announcement of Assassin’s Creed III.
The American Revolution is the choice of setting. This game’s change in age after 4 games of greatly similar environments is part of the reason why this game is a potential must have.
Assassin’s Creed was one of the founding masters of the par core like gameplay and to test this system in what seems like a mix of open plains, forests and cities, is something that should peak anyone’s interest. Just the image of running up a tree, skipping along its branch and toppling onto an unlucky British redcoat before landing the finish punch with not a silencing wrist blade, no, a brutal tomahawk.
But that’s not all to look forward to; if you’re at all at least an acquaintance with history you’ll appreciate cameos such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. These games obviously aren’t historic re-enactments but the historical characters are fictional depictions, which takes a lot of gut tackle and is also a history lesson that I think we can all enjoy.
Assassin’s Creed III will be released on October 30th in North America and October 31st in Europe for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Max Payne 3
Max Payne can be seen as a cult series due to its acquired taste of dark, noir comic book featured storytelling. But it can be seen as groundbreaking for introducing slow motion gameplay mechanics.
Remedy, now moved onto another acquired tasting series called Alan Wake, has now passed the Max Payne gauntlet to the original games’ publisher, Rockstar. In any other scenario passing on a much cradled and loved series such as this to another developer might come across as iffy, however, Rockstar are infamous for making quality titles, Grand Theft Auto anyone?
Max Payne 3 has our spotlight to see what modernised changes can be made, how Rockstar will leave their characterised stamp on it and also to finally see what it plays like after such a long and seemingly painful development cycle. – Max Payne 3 was meant to be released in 2009.
I not so long ago experienced the game in action, and I can say for certain some of that gritty comic book style has been replaced with something a little more ‘modern’ and colourised, and although that seemed a shame at first you can help but ask yourself whether you really just want a Max Payne clone with updated graphics. Gameplay wise there is no doubt though, as the action seems to reflect an adapted Red Dead Redemption engine in terms of its realistic physics, and that reacts nicely with the classic slow motion manoeuvres Max can somehow still pull.
Also, any of the lasting worry from core fans of the series can be completely subsided when Remedy’s own head had high praise of Max Payne 3’s current state.
“We’ve been blessed with being able to actually see the game and give some feedback. We’ve been meeting with Rockstar and looking at Max 3 – it looks absolutely phenomenal – the nice thing is we’ve been giving our feeling on the game but at the end of the day we don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting, which is nice. Rockstar don’t make bad games, so you already know it’s going to be good. Just like we hope the Remedy brand is a seal of quality, you know that Rockstar’s brand is a seal of quality. It’s been nice to be part of the process, but we don’t want to take any of the limelight. From what we’ve seen it’s going to be absolutely fantastic.”
Max Payne 3 will be released May 15th in North America and May 18th for the rest of the world for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. For PC, May 29th in North America and June 1st for the rest of the world.
Darksiders 2 (or II, if you’re picky)
The original Darksiders is both notorious and distinguished for its blatant reworking of the Zelda series. Everything about this game doesn’t just make a nod at the series; it grabs it by both hands and takes it for a ride. And you know what? Because it’s blatant, that makes it just fine.
Darksiders isn’t known by everyone so for the lament this game is an action adventure where you play the anti hero, War of the four horsemen of the apocalypse to be specific. You take part in hack & slash combat similar to that of God of War and take on well known platforming based puzzles all with a commonly comic stylised theme. This doesn’t sound too inspired but it actually executed these familiar gameplay features with proficiency and was an involving game to play.
Darksiders 2 is a worthy list participant as it is not only expanding the semi-open environment but now evolving the series to be something a little bit more unique; introducing more customisable and progressive RPG elements such as side-quests and loot that actively power-up your character. You also play as a different character this time, Death, which will open up a completely new yet related story.
It will be interesting to see what else Darksiders can surprise us with nearing its release date.
Darksiders 2 will be released June 26th in North America and June 29th in Europe for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC.
Borderlands is one of those surprising games in the sense that leading up to its release the game didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be, with art styles changing very late in the development cycle, and that the developer Gearbox Software’s only original games previously was the very self-serious, historically attached series of WWII shooter Brothers in Arms. To then make an action RPG that’s cel-shaded, contains flying hit numbers, names such as “Bone Head” and be competent is a bit of an eye opener.
Borderlands was all about character progression and loot with the valuable inclusion of co-operative multiplayer. It was enjoyable though because it excelled in each of these elements to form arguably the most addictive game since Diablo 2.
Borderlands 2 looks to provide much of the same but develops upon each, adding four new individual player characters, a varied and more customisable weapons bank and a new more intelligent AI that will react and adapt to player actions instead of running carelessly like cannon fodder – which to be honest was quite welcome when you just wanted to brag about your brand spanking new weapon.
Although iterative, this is one of those games that is rare in appearance and needed a mastered sequel to fulfil its potential. If you were one of the few that didn’t experience the wonderfully rewarding and dangerously addictive game that is Borderlands be sure not to miss this one, as it can only get better – you’re welcome, D:Ream.
Borderlands 2 will be released September 18th in North America and September 21st in the UK for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.