<i>By <a href=http://twitter.com/LucasSiegel>Lucas Siegel, Newsarama Editor</a></i> <p>The landscape of video games continued to change in 2011 with new record-breakers, sequels galore, and a bevy of big budget blockbusters alongside downloadable delights. <p>But if there's something that can always be said about gamers, it's that as soon as they have their hands on the new big thing, they're looking forward to the <i>next</i> big thing. <p>It will be another big year in 2012, with franchises culminating and returning, and even a few new ones. While there will be some new announcements and surprises, we sifted through what's been revealed so far and picked out ten games (well, 10 entries... we've stretched the limits with a bit of creative categorizing) that are at the top of our watch list this year. <p>Click Start Here to see what we're watching, and let us know on social media what's on your list. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i>
Blizzard Entertainment. You may have heard of a little franchise of theirs called "Warcraft." But they haven't forgotten about another beloved franchise (and hope you haven't either), called <b>Diablo</b>. With <b>Diablo III</b>, the company wants you to return to hell in a new action-RPG, and to call it anticipated would be an understatement. <p>Will <b>Diablo III</b> actually hit in 2012? Probably. The Beta has been going for some time now, with select players getting to jump into the hack, slash, magic, strategy world and see it in action. The game was mysteriously downplayed at Blizzcon 2011, but PC gamers anxious for some action should still have this one on their tentative calendar. And significant others of guys and gals who love this franchise should rue that day.
Already out in Japan, 2012 sees the PlayStation Vita across the rest of the globe, and this little portable packs a huge punch. With graphics being compared to the PlayStation 3, franchises old (<b>Uncharted</b>, <b>Resistance</b> anyone?) and new, tons of inputs offering new ways to play games, and a screen that should be appealing to multimedia users on the go. <p>But will it really gain ground where the PlayStation Portable couldn't? Even Nintendo's mobile machine ran off the rails a bit in 2011 with the Nintendo 3DS, which did not perform to their expectations and received a massive price drop just a few months after release. <p>Sony hopes the Vita will show some more life (pun intended, sorry), and initial impressions seem to indicate it will. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if Sony can break it big in the mobile market currently ruled by iPhones and Androids in late February.
What do you get when comic book legend Todd McFarlane teams up with an A-list novelist, a baseball player who loves games almost as much as America's pastime and a team of developers who have a story to tell? Number 8 on our list, that's what. <p>This new property comes from some big minds, and started off as an MMO, moving into the action-RPG genre later in its life. With a huge world, vibrant set pieces, and characters from the mind of McFarlane, you know there will be some twists and turns just on the general scale. Throw in a story by R.A. Salvatore, and the lead designer of <i>Elder Scrolls 3 & 4</i> Ken Rolston, and you should have high hopes for this single player adventure. <p>You don't have to wait too long for this one, with a February release worldwide. In keeping with the creativity of those involved, there will be a lot of customization and replayability for each character; hopefully all these cooks came up with something good in the kitchen.
A big theme for 2012 is returning/rebooted franchises, and these three games are the biggest. <b>Syndicate</b> made a huge splash with a debut trailer in the Fall of 2011 that showed off a new style of smarter shooter. <p><b>DMC: Devil May Cry</b> takes the classic "younger, hipper" approach. Will the game just be a more "extreme" and "other buzzwords" filled romp, or can this really take the action adventure slasher and bring it back to the forefront of gamers' minds? We'll find out in 2012. <p>Last (well, of what we're talking about individually here) but not least, <b>Tomb Raider</b> gets a new first game, with a... younger, hipper (and slightly more realistically proportioned) Lara Croft. We're looking at this game closely after a stellar E3 2011 demo that seems to put Lara back in the ranks of Nathan Drake as a true explorer who happens to be in an action game, rather than eye candy in a bug-filled adventure.
Guys, it's a new <b>Halo</b> game. There's not much else we really need to say, is there? While this one will be the first <i>not</i> made by developer Bungie, any appearance by Master Chief is one worth noting. After the last Bungie title followed the tale of some earlier Spartans, it'll be nice to suit up with Chief once more. What will 343 do with the vaunted franchise? We're sure to see some at E3 this year, and next fall will almost definitely be dominated by sticky grenades and no-scope shots by scores of Xbox 360 players.
PS3 gamers shouldn't be forgotten, and thanks to their favorite developer Naughty Dog, they have an all-new intellectual property to look forward to next year. With members of the <i>Uncharted</i> teams focused on this survival-horror action-adventure hybrid, it's safe to say you should be excited. Go ahead, freak out about this team taking on a new genre, we'll wait. <p>Okay, you good? Not a ton is known about this game just yet, as it was only announced in December 2011. The game has two main characters, and will focus its story on their father-daughter relationship, rather than the actual post apocalyptic world they're living in. Naughty Dog defined and refined what an action-adventure could be with the <i>Uncharted</i> series, and we can't wait to see what <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/games/uncharted-neil-druckmann-interview-110602.html>Druckmann</a> and company have in store for survival-horror.
New. Grand. Theft. Auto.
Comic book based video games have been big business for years, but with the <b>Batman: Arkham</b> franchise, they've been shown to be strong contenders for game of the year, too. <p>2012 will see a few comic book games hit the market once more, and we'll be watching to see if these can jump into the quality level of a true triple A title. <p><b>The Amazing Spider-Man</b> is based off the movie reboot of the same name, but the game looks like it will have more in common with EA's <i>Mirror's Edge</i> with a white-washed open world Manhattan and the promise of some first person action. <p><b>The Darkness 2</b> meanwhile is going for all-out insanity, with quad-wielding (two guns and two Darkness tentacle arms) action in single-player mode, and a four-player story that compliments the main one with some added humor to boot. The first game was criminally underrated, and this one looks better in every way based on what we've played so far. <p>The LEGO series of games always provide a good time, and the second <b>Lego Batman</b> should not disappoint. In addition to the Dark Knight and his cast of villains and allies, guest stars from across the DC Comics Universe are rumored to be stopping by, with the Man of Steel and others stopping by to help wage the endless war in Gotham.
One of the pleasant surprises of E3 2011, <b>BioShock: Infinite</b> takes a franchise from under the sea to far above the clouds. But the big setting change isn't the only selling point for the new game. The story follows a pair of primary characters this time, as they're trying to escape the floating city of Columbia. While it may not share much with the prior games aside from the title and the steampunk aesthetic, the fast pace, crazy stunts, and laugh-out-loud dynamic between characters playable and otherwise make this game look like it'll be on every list of "Best of 2012" <i>next</i> year. Basing that off simple trailers and gameplay demos may be a bit bold, but well, this game just looks plain awesome.
Yup, this was on our list for 2011, but due to honing and the addition of a multiplayer component, this one got pushed into 2012. With a firm release date of March 6, 2012, the galactic war fires its first salvo in just two months, and it should be a doozy. <p>We sated our intense desire for more <b>Mass Effect</b> in the meantime with the <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/games/10-must-know-facts-mass-effect-novels-comics-mass-effect-3-110707.html>novels and comics</a> that tie into the world, but nothing quite replaces the feeling of strapping on your N7 armor and taking control of Commander Shepard, even if it will be for one last ride. <p>BioWare has teased the return of every major character from the first two games, plus a few from those tie-ins we mentioned. New class powers, an expanded RPG element, and yes, that multiplayer component offer new toys to play with in the <b>ME</b> universe, but what we really want to see is the end of Shepard's epic story. This time around, she's not just collecting team members, she's collecting entire races, building an army against those giant space-shrimp, the Reapers. Until then, guess it's time to go play <i>Mass Effect 2</i> for the seventh time (yup, we're completely serious there). <p><b><i>In the Corner of Our Eye</b></i> <p>Yowza are there a lot of high-profile games coming next year. Big sequels like <b>Final Fantasy XIII-2</b> hope to build on (and be better than) the first. The year of the sequel is definitely an apt subtitle for 2012 once again, with new <b>Resident Evil</b>, new <b>Max Payne</b>, new <b>Prototype</b>, <b>Borderlands</b>, <b>Metal Gear</b> (sort of) and <b>Transformers: Fall of Cybertron</b> joining the ranks of the other sequels already mentioned on this list (seven of the entries are from existing franchises, in fact). Any way you slice it, 2012 will once again be a huge year for video games, especially familiar ones.