Alright, the New Year is here, and that means we’re through with all of that wistful, backward-glancing, year-in-review stuff. Instead, we’re diving headlong into cynical, speculative, forward-looking articles. Rejoice! Let’s kick off this year in a positive way, by checking out the five upcoming games I’m most excited for.
Top Five Most-Anticipated Games Coming Out In 2012, Of Which Only Two Have Actual, Concrete Release Dates
5) Metal Gear Rising: Revengence
The game title that coined the best, most-nonsensical gaming term since “Metroidvania,” Metal Gear Rising: Revengence (it’s so bad, and I love it) is a sidestep for the series, focusing on wimpy-kid-turned-ninja-badass Raiden. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, mostly because I’m absolutely awful at stealth games, so Revengence‘s new emphasis on hack-y, slash-y, stylish action is a welcome departure for me. Plus, it’s being developed by Platinum Games. Platinum Games! The goodwill I have for Bayonetta alone is enough to convince me to rush out and buy this one, no questions asked.
4) Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
I’ve already discussed how much I love Alan Wake, so the prospect of a follow-up is always welcome. Unfortunately, I haven’t actually finished Alan Wake yet, and because of my efforts to avoid any plot-related spoilers, I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about American Nightmare. Based on the trailer shown at the Spike VGAs, though, I can make a few educated guesses. American Nightmare looks to take place in the American Southwest, inside an episode of Night Springs, a television program that protagonist Alan Wake used to write for. In addition to combating the darkness now teeming through his new surroundings, Wake must contend with Mr. Scratch, a live-action mad man claiming to be his double. American Nightmare will be part of Xbox Live Arcade’s House Party promotion starting on February 15, which means I have some serious catching-up to do before Wake’s return to gaming.
3) Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD
Tony Hawk suffered probably the most painful, easily-followed journey from riches to rags in gaming history, going from universally acclaimed (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2) to universally reviled (Tony Hawk Ride) in the span of eight short years. After taking a year off, the Birdman is back, and returning to his roots. THPS HD is a download-only XBLA and PSN game, and an attempt to recapture what fans loved about the series (fun, tight skating mechanics) while getting rid of what they didn’t (content-bloat; skateboard peripheral; Bam Margera; etc.). I spent entirely too much of my youth perfecting virtual kickflips and finding hidden tapes, and the prospect of doing it again in HD greatly excites me.
2) The Last of Us
Yet another reveal at the Spike VGAs, The Last of Us is the newest original game from Naughty Dog, who, after three stellar Uncharted entries, could convince me to buy an up-resed version ET for the Atari 2600 if they claimed they developed it. Little is known about The Last of Us, but the trailer’s choice to focus on character interaction rather than straight-up zombie shootin’ is a telling one; besides, Naughty Dog knows a thing or three about how to create compelling characters, and I see no reason for them to stop now. With luck, The Last of Us will do for post-apocalyptic zombie games what Uncharted did for action-adventure games.
When SSX first premiered last year under the subtitle Deadly Descents, I was worried; gone were the whimsical, Uber-tricking antics that made SSX Tricky and SSX 3 so gargantuan and fun, and in their stead was a new, grim tone, more befitting of Call of Duty: Black Ops than Cool Boarders. Since then, EA has released a bevy of new screenshots, trailers, and gameplay showing that, yeah, SSX will be just fine. Demonstrating the same over-the-top flair as previous entries while adding new elements like wing suits and the brand new Survive It mode, SSX is back to show the Shawn Whites and Stokeds of this generation how snowboarding games are supposed to play. February 28 cannot come soon enough.