It’s here at last — 2012, a prophetic year. For millennia, this year has been tinged with either cataclysmic doom or welcomed renewal, depending on your point of view. So too in the gaming world. Gamers will either see a year that signals the demise of the current gaming generation or a year that reflects the pinnacle of our current generation.
This year will see the resurrection of some classic characters. In Hitman Absolution, the classic barcoded assassin Agent 47 returns. This promises to be a much darker journey for the hired gun. With Tomb Raider comes the return of that femme fatale Lara Croft. This prequel sees a younger Lara and will hopefully breathe new life into the franchise.
If you owned the original PlayStation, that action-packed grey box of beauty, there may be no other title you’re more excited to see than Twisted Metal. The thought of taking the helm of your chosen vehicle of mayhem, battling against Sweet Tooth and Mr. Grimm in Calypso’s Twisted Metal tournament may leave you with a hunger that won’t be sated until the game’s release in February.
This year also looks to continue a number of series. Bioshock Infinite flips the series from the undersea dystopia of Rapture to an equally dystopian city in the clouds called Columbia. Civil war is brewing. It’ll be up to you to assuage the dogs of war and rein Columbia in from the brink of disaster.
While it’s not clear whether Grand Theft Auto V will be released in 2012, Rockstar Vancouver, backed by the team behind GTA, is releasing Max Payne 3 in March. This is the Max Payne we’ve waited nine years for: older, cynical, and more refined at dealing out rogue justice. Written by Dan Houser (GTA series, Red Dead Redemption), we can trust that this will be an intense, character-driven storyline.
And then there’s Halo 4, one of the most anticipated titles of the year. The series that started it all for the Xbox returns and with it an old friend: Master Chief. But despite the colossal fan base and the prophetic return of the armour-clad Spartan, with developer Bungie no longer at the helm, a quintessential question emerges: Can a non-Bungie led Halo appease the die-hards, keeping the flavour true while also adding fresh ingredients? Personally, I think this will be the best Halo we’ve seen.
Last but most certainly not least — and number one on my personal list — Commander Sheppard will take his final bow as one of the most visually stunning, cinematically vivid trilogies of all time comes to a close. Mass Effect 3, flagship of Edmonton-based developer Bioware, will be released in March, bringing epic sci-fi RPG action to all.
On the other hand, this year is not all about breathing new life into old names. There are some new names coming through the gate in 2012. Devil’s Third is the first title from developer Valhalla, founded by Tomonobu Itagaki, the front man for the Ninja Gaiden series. Be ready for intense cross-genre, melee-gun action. Also Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is slated as a cross between Oblivion and God of War. Early screen shots of this epic action game look incredible and it’s set to be the sleeper hit of 2012.
While we wait for Microsoft and Sony to unveil their next-gen consoles, this new year is shaping up to have some real gaming gems in its final farewell to a generation of gaming. Stay tuned to a future column where you’ll be introduced to the Nintendo Wii U, the first console in the next generation of video game consoles.
When he’s not teaching junior high school, St. Albert Catholic High School alumnus Derek Mitchell can be found attached to a video game console.