It’s no secret that 2011 was an outstanding year for videogames.
Typically, console generations are winding down by this point, with a few truly great titles acting as last hurrahs while most developers work on games for upcoming platforms. 2011 showed no signs of slowing down, and 2012 looks to keep this momentum going with an onslaught of excellent games. Just what should we be looking forward to this year? Well, lots.
I Am Alive (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Details have been slow to trickle out on this one, but since its initial trailer back in 2008, this has been on my radar. After something boring and generic-sounding called The Event occurs, everyone is struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Sounds pretty standard, eh? Well thankfully you aren’t fighting demons or anything stupid like that. In fact, the combat, while unfortunately there, sounds like it will be minimal. It appears the emphasis is on exploration, survival, and climbing, which I can totally get behind. If you’ve ever played the underrated PS2 games Disaster Report and Raw Danger, you’ll know exploring a world ravaged by disaster without getting into too many scuffles can be incredibly fun in a unique way.
I Am Alive definitely looks like it’ll capture the hearts of those who don’t want to fight constantly. With people to rescue, resources to gather, and your own health and safety to worry about, I Am Alive puts punching bad guys to the backburner and makes a game out of something a lot less common. This one should be exceptional.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 (3DS)
Many people were put off when the GameCube launched without a proper Mario title, and we were instead given Luigi’s Mansion. Who wants to explore a ghost house and vacuum up ghosts and not even platform a tiny bit? ME!
The original Luigi’s Mansion was an absolute blast. It may not have been a platformer, but it was an awesome game on its own merits. And now, 3DS owners are being given a sequel to this unloved delight. This time around, Luigi has multiple mansions to explore, each with their own theme, and apparently it looks gorgeous in three dimensions as well. 3DS owners have already gotten their Mario AND Zelda fix, so hopefully they’ll be a bit more kind when this one hits stores later this year.
Fez (Xbox Live Arcade)
Another game we’ve known about for too long without playing, Fez is a little indie title that proves why indie devs are among the most clever in the industry. The game takes on a 2D perspective, but in reality, it’s all 3D. See an obstacle in your way? Switch the perspective! A press of a button shifts the game world over to a new angle, allowing you to do things never imagined in your previous perspective. A long gap can disappear, automatically placing you on the other end. Can’t get any higher? Shift over a bit and you’ll see some vines to climb.
It’s a game that must be seen to be understood, but once you see it, you will want it immediately. I’ve been longing for this game since 2008, and very soon, it shall arrive.
Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney (3DS)
This was the very first game that made me go from wanting a 3DS to absolutely demanding one. The Professor Layton games are a load of brain-busting fun, and the Ace Attorney series is a personal favorite of mine, with more courtroom drama and hilarious writing than a DS can handle. Now these two puzzle-solving handheld heroes are going to MEET AND DO STUFF TOGETHER. That is awesome! Luke Triton joins the Professor and Maya Fey joins Phoenix as the duos cross paths in the mysterious Labyrinth City. There will be puzzle solving, witch trials, oh, and PROFESSOR LAYTON AND PHOENIX WRIGHT HANGING OUT. I passed out when I first heard about this game, and passed out three times writing this paragraph. This game will be incredible.
South Park: The Game (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
This is a dream come true for me. South Park is my favorite television show of all time, and since the late 90s there has not been a single videogame that captures the essence of the show. South Park is a story-based program, so first-person shooters, kart racers, trivia contests, and tower defense games are all horrible ways to convey a truly excellent comedic story. But you know what genre is perfect for telling stories? RPGs. And that’s what South Park: The Game is.
Developed by Obsidian, the fine folks behind Fallout: New Vegas, and being written, voiced, and overseen by series creators and my personal heroes Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it would appear we’ve finally gotten a game that will do the legendary series justice. The art direction makes the game look like any episode of the show, the story sounds like it fits into the series perfectly, and all of our favorite characters will be there. This is going to blow the minds of fans of good television and videogames everywhere.
Retro City Rampage (Xbox Live Arcade)
Once again, a game that has been in development forever (technically since 2002) may finally see the light of day in 2012.
Retro City Rampage is being developed by a single man, and is basically what would happen if Grand Theft Auto came out on the Nintendo Entertainment System. This is a top down open-world game with 8-bit graphics and sound, and acts as a love letter to not just gaming of that era but popular culture of that era as well. The game is littered with references to things like Back to the Future and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and mimics gameplay of titles such as Metal Gear and Bionic Commando. It looks like an absolute joy to play and should finally be hitting Xbox Live Arcade in February.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)
While fans can debate forever over the decline in quality of Final Fantasy titles since the SNES days, a much harder to dispute fact is the music.
Legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu has created some of the most gorgeous pieces of music of all time in the Final Fantasy games, and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy will showcase all of his best work as well as the other fine composers the series has seen in one of the most unique rhythm games to ever be released. In it, you relive classic moments from all 13 Final Fantasy games through musical numbers and rhythm gameplay. Whether you’re a One Winged Angel kind of person or you’re really struck by The Decisive Battle, every Final Fantasy’s score is represented here in a game that is essentially cheating to have the greatest soundtrack in videogame history by including all of the best songs in the series. A total treat for the ears.
Oh man. BioShock is one of the greatest games of all time, with a single story moment that proves without a doubt that games have it in them to one day tell stories better than any other medium. While BioShock 2 was lovely, it wasn’t made by the original team at Irrational Games. BioShock Infinite, however, is, and looks like it could very well be the best game to come out this year or even this generation.
Taking place in Columbia, a city in the sky (the opposite of BioShock’s Rapture, a city under the sea), players get behind the eyes of Booker DeWitt as he explores the city during a raging civil war, rescuing and protecting a mystical woman named Elizabeth who is beneficial to both sides of the conflict. There look to be powerups similar to BioShock’s plasmids, massive behemoths similar to BioShock’s Big Daddy, but an atmosphere, style, and story all its own. Gameplay videos have made people question whether the action was legitimately in-game, but oh, it was.
This game could very well define this generation, and in the process be one of the most thrilling experiences to ever grace a console. Get ready.
There are loads more obvious choices, naturally. We’ve got a new Mass Effect, some more Halo, a Tomb Raider reboot, sure, but personally, the games listed above are a bit more special, something new and exciting in one way or another. Look up any of the above games, and I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like them before, at least on that level. There are some truly amazing games coming out over the next year, and I cannot wait to get my hands all over them.
Let’s hope 2012 pulls a 2011 and blows our minds all year long.