Mass Effect 3
It’s hard for me to accept that Mass Effect 2 was released two years ago this month. While I really enjoyed Mass Effect, its sequel was a wondrous thrill ride for me that had me play through it twice, a rare occurrence for me when it comes to RPGs. Not only did it have a strong and smart DLC service that produced new content for over a year, it also allowed you to kill off the entire main cast, something that you never see in a game these days. It told an epic story and was easily the best RPG experience to have in 2010.
Mass Effect 3 is due to arrive this March and looks to be a more intense game than the previous titles combined. Whereas Mass Effect 1 & 2 were about preparing for war with an invading alien armada this new title is about the war proper, seeing the Reaper invasion of the galaxy (most notably Earth being a primary target) as it happens and the race against time to stop the assimilation of all sentient life. Mass Effect 3 will reincorporate many of the elements featured in the first game that weren’t in the second and the combat looks even faster and more responsive, pushing the boundaries for what an RPG can be. There’s no doubt that this conclusion to Commander Shepard’s story will be a great one and you don’t need to do any calibrating to see that.
Hooked Gamers coverage: Mass Effect 3
Twelve years was a heck of a long time to wait for the next Starcraft title for Blizzard fans but the anticipation for a third entry in the Diablo series has been just as tumultuous. Hinted at for years, Diablo III was a title that was announced in 2008 and only recently was publically playable in the form of a beta. This classic isometric dungeon crawler returns to the world of Sanctuary twenty years after Diablo II and sees the rise of new heroes to face the impending invasion of the armies of the Burning Hells.
There’s so much to offer in a Diablo title that it’s hard to even list them on a single page. Five classes to choose from, an online auction house, PvP arena matches, even a hardcore mode offers unique challenges to the player whether they play alone or cooperatively. Diablo III will easily be one of the biggest titles on the PC this year and you shouldn’t be surprised if a home console port is released in the back half of 2012, if not early 2013.
Hooked Gamers coverage: Diablo III
Grand Theft Auto V
Finding itself in the “everyone saw this coming” category, Rockstar’s biggest franchise announced its return this past November to universal excitement. The 2008 release of Grand Theft Auto IV was easily one of the most hotly anticipated titles of this generation and its possible that GTA V may exceed it. This new entry takes us from the ragged streets of Liberty City to the glamorous scene of Los Santos, Rockstar’s take on Los Angeles and one of the three cities from 2004 title San Andreas. We haven’t even met the main protagonist yet and we here at Hooked are already excited.
What’s probably more exciting than the game itself is the speculation everyone is putting to the title. Is the main character really a father figure? Will we see the return of classic characters like CJ from San Andreas? There are lots of questions that need answering and you can be certain that Rockstar will answer them later this year as the windup to E3 2012 begins.
Hooked Gamers coverage: Grand Theft Auto V
Hidden amongst the titles you read about above, Dishonored is a game that has come out of left field and looks to fill in a gap that hasn’t been properly tended to in years. In development at Arkane Studios, the studio responsible for 2006’s Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, this new IP looks to combine the player capabilities and plot intrigue of Bioshock with the parkour elements of Mirror’s Edge. If that combination doesn’t do it for you then you should be concerned for your mental wellbeing.
Set in the retro-futuristic steampunk-esque city of Dunwall, you play as royal guard turned assassin Corvo who is imprisoned after the Empress was murdered. This tale of vengeance that aids in the liberation of the city from the Lord Regent who has taken power in a game that has you altering the events of the world based on your actions therein. Dishonored not only stands out as one of the most visually unique titles of 2012, it also serves as representative for all those titles who deserve far more attention than the next inevitable Call of Duty title. It’s also the only title on this list that can only be described in word right now as there is no video content currently available to the public so I highly encourage you to read our preview of the game from Quakecon.
Hooked Gamers coverage: Dishonored
Far Cry 3
After Crytek went on to make what would eventually become the graphical juggernaut title Crysis during the last generation of consoles, Ubisoft retained the Far Cry title and published a series of ports to the Xbox and Xbox 360. In 2008 it released a sequel to the game whose only relations to Jack Carver’s adventure were in both name and scope of the world you play in. Though Far Cry 2 did well commercially and critically it didn’t scream that it needed a sequel. So, for myself and many others, it came as quite a surprise at E3’s Ubisoft Press Conference this past year when Far Cry 3 was presented to the world.
Returning to the tropical setting, this new Far Cry has the player attempting to escape from an island chain with crazed inhabitants. The game retains the open-world nature the series is known for as well as the gunplay and first-person actor characteristics that made Far Cry 2 a hit but also seems to tie in a RPG-esque leveling system like that seen in Borderlands. The game definitely gives off a sense of danger and excitement at every turn so if you want a shooter that doesn’t pit you against the Russian army this may be the one to get this year.
Hooked Gamers coverage: Far Cry 3
The Last of Us
Naughty Dog is a studio that is capable of tremendous things and has been demonstrating this since the last generation of consoles. With the seeming conclusion to the core Uncharted series for the inevitable future, the team from Santa Monica has decided to create a new IP and looks to venturing into a genre gamers are all too familiar with: zombies. Playing as Joel and Ellie, you survive in a world that has seen a deadly fungus wipe out most of the human population, the remainder of which either became infected, murderous cannibals or, to a far lesser extent, fight to survive in a world that sees nature taking our homes and cities back years after the world has ended.
Zombie games are nothing new and have thankfully begun to slow down in appearance and popularity over the past year or so but a Naughty Dog-developed title may be just what is needed to keep this declining genre shambling along. Naughty Dog is well known for their storytelling capabilities as well as smart, engaging gameplay and the potential for stealth and survival mechanics is definite possibility. The only thing you can’t be sure of is whether this game will find itself a 2012 release date but given the game’s wonderful announcement trailer we can’t wait to see more.
Hooked Gamers coverage:
The Last of Us
There you have it: the twelve titles destined for this year that deserve your attention. Some of these will be guaranteed purchases for you but others you may not even have been considering, let alone heard of. Sure, there’s the inevitable return of annual franchises like Call of Duty or that remake of that classic franchise but each of these are either new IPs or revitalized sequels that don’t come along very often. 2011 was a great year for gaming but, as hard to believe as it is, 2012 may be even better. Keep an eye out for more coverage of these titles and so many more as the year progresses.