2012 Under the Microscope: Just What Can We Expect?
Written Wednesday, January 04, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Let’s be honest... 2012 has its work cut out if it’s going to be even half the year that 2011 was. Hell, you only need to look at January alone and you know it’s not going to be as good a year... where’s this year’s Dead Space 2, huh!? It doesn’t exist... unless you think Final Fantasy XIII-2 is going to one-up it, which is a tough ask. It will however not be a year that disappoints, and just looking at some of the titles that are already slated for release, there’s more than enough to keep you going from February through to December. We just get that feeling though that the fourteen 90+ titles that 2011 brought us will be incredibly tricky to beat this year.
"Shepard is shaping up to be the year's first triple-A title"
We’ll kick things off this year – like we did last year, actually – with our Publisher of the Year from last year’s Game of the Year awards: EA. After an incredibly strong 2011, EA might be a little bit more bare bones in terms of titles this year - well, from what they’ve announced so far – but their hopes for 2012 seem to be resting firmly in BioWare and Mass Effect 3’s court, which isn’t a bad title to pin your hopes on in actual fact. The other stable of announced titles are all unproven franchises in truth. That said, there’s potential in all of them, whether you’re talking about Elder Scrolls’ Ken Rolston & co.’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning or Starbreeze’s Syndicate reboot. FIFA Street was looking good last time we saw it and SSX could go either way if we’re being honest. Of course, they’ll have their usual stable of sports updates, including the Grand Slam series which makes a return in 2012. The rest of EA's year is up for speculation and while titles like Medal of Honor are all but certain thanks to leaks galore, whether we’ll see Insomniac’s Overstrike or Respawn Entertainment’s debut IP is slightly less certain. You’re more likely to see the former than the latter, that’s for sure, especially seeing as reports suggest we'll see it in 2015.
In terms of other EA owned IPs though, we wouldn’t be totally surprised if the publisher took out some time this year to announce Dead Space 3, the rumoured Army of Four or even a Dante’s Inferno’s sequel – after all, Visceral has to be working on something. What we’d really like though is a Mirror’s Edge 2 announcement, but we’re fairly sure that’s not happening any time soon and that’s our hearts speaking, not our heads. In terms of EA Partners stuff, whether we’ll hear anything regarding Epic’s Fortnite (which we assume Epic will partner up with EA for, if it’s a console game, based on past relationships) or whether we’ll hear about Valve resurrecting Half Life or Crytek UK’s supposed work on TimeSplitters 4, well, we can only cross our fingers.
"BioShock's Columbia is a glimpse into what could have been"
The first of two publishers who seem to be moving in the right direction in recent years is none other than 2K who seems to have a strong line-up this year. Kicking things off in February with The Darkness II, which is showing a great deal of potential, then seeing XCOM – which honestly we’ve lost track of with the slew of delays and such – Spec Ops: The Line, Borderlands 2 and BioShock Infinite, which is obviously their ace of the pack; you know that they’re a publisher to take notice of this year. Whether those titles will sell remains to be seen though and that said, despite all of these titles showing great potential, we can’t help but think one of those will miss out on a 2012 release... maybe BioShock Infinite or Borderlands 2. Let’s hope we’re wrong.
The second of those publishers on the rise is of course, Square Enix, who off the back of the brilliant Deus Ex have a stable of games in 2012 that could match Deus Ex in terms of quality. Sure, Final Fantasy XIII-2 looks to be taking into account fan feedback after FFXIII, but our eyes are firmly fixed on Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider, which is looking more akin to Uncharted – in a good way – and IO Interactive’s Hitman: Absolution, which could really put the franchise and Square Enix back on the map. We hope we’ll hear from Eidos Montreal and their work on Thief 4 in 2012 also, but fans of Just Cause 3 shouldn’t really expect that to hit in 2012 if the words of Avalanche Studios are anything to go by.
Ubisoft has a strong year ahead in terms of retail titles, and with Ghost Recon: Future Soldier touching down in March, they’re looking to start the year strongly. Fans of Assassin’s Creed should expect the next title in the series - presumably Assassin’s Creed III - while shooter fans should be gearing up to head back to the tropical jungle in Far Cry 3 after its impressive debut E3 showing. It’s already clear that Rainbow 6: Patriots is heading for a 2013 release, but when we’ll see the wacky Gearbox developed Brother In Arms: Furious 4, is currently unknown. It’d be nice to see more of Beyond Good & Evil 2 in 2012 and we wouldn’t put it past Ubisoft to announce the next Splinter Cell title. A big E3 unveiling sounds like a decent bet to us.
"Raiden looking a little worse for wear in Revengeance"
2012 seems like a busy year for Japan too, with SEGA, Namco, Tecmo and Capcom all gearing up to release an ungodly amount of titles. If fighting games are your poison, then 2012 has you covered whether it’s Tecmo’s Dead or Alive 5, Capcom’s Street Fighter X Tekken or Namco’s Soul Calibur V. If you’re up for action SEGA will ensure you're catered for with Binary Domain, Aliens: Colonial Marines (if it ships in 2012, that is) and Anarchy Reigns; while Namco has Ridge Racer Unbounded (kind of action... right?), Inversion and Armored Core V; and Tecmo has Ninja Gaiden 3. And how can we forget Capcom, what with DmC, Dragon’s Dogma, Asura’s Wrath and Resident Evil: Raccoon City? Then there's Konami, who have Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – which has to be the most stupid name ever – Silent Hill: Downpour and more. In terms of potential announcements... well, Dead Rising 3 – with Rick the mechanic – has been rumoured and it’s about time they announced Resident Evil 6. Amirite?
A couple of publishers keeping their cards relatively close to their chest are Codemasters and Bethesda. As far as Codemasters is concerned, we can expect DiRT: Showdown in 2012 and F1 2012 is almost a cert, but the question remains... when will we see GRID 2? Then there’s Bethesda who have Prey 2 and the impressive looking Dishonored in their lockup. Of course, we expect the Skyrim DLC to be rather "substantial" and impressive – especially if we’re heading back to Cyrodiil and Morrowind! – but is it a lot to ask for a Doom 4 announcement? Just maybe.
Elsewhere in 2012 you can expect your usual array of Activision titles: Prototype 2, a new Call of Duty, The Amazing Spider-Man and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron; although it’s probably still a little early to hear from Bungie’s super-secret project that the behemoth publisher is handling. THQ on the other hand is looking to make two of its franchises – both of which started strongly – staples on every gamer’s shelf; with those two properties being Metro: Last Light and Darksiders II. It’s almost certainly too early to see Homefront 2 though, but Metro and Darksiders should see them in good stead. Then there’s Rockstar who have the impressive looking Max Payne 3 finally hitting shelves in March 2012. As for GTA V, 2013 seems like the most likely release window there, but it would be nice to see Bully 2 finally come out of the limelight and get its official announcement – after all, Houser hinted at it being Rockstar Vancouver’s next project after Max Payne 3.
"Master Chief is kicking ass and taking names in 2012"
Last, but of course, not least, 2012 could prove to be a testing year for Microsoft. There seems to be a lot of reliance falling on the shoulders of new Halo developers, 343 Industries, who have Halo 4 out in 2012. Aside from that Microsoft have Fable: The Journey, the unknown quantity that is Ryse – formally Project Kingdoms – and Star Wars Kinect in their stable, which doesn’t really paint a positive picture. We do, however, expect announcements, otherwise 2012 could be a turbulent time for the publisher. That said, they d have the Xbox Live Arcade to rely on with Ubisoft’s I Am Alive and Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD hitting the service in 2012; along with their 2009 Dream.Build.Play winner, Dust: An Elysian Tail, and RedLynx’s Trials: Evolution. And who can forget Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, although publishing duties on that currently remains a mystery.
As for the Xbox 720 – or whatever it’s called – many believe that 2012 could be the year we see its announcement. What do we think? Well, we can’t see why Microsoft would announce a new console before the release of Halo 4 when its release could shift a megaton of Xbox 360s. Announcing a new console before then could almost certainly put the brakes on that... even if it wouldn’t come till 2013. Hey, funnier things have happened though and Microsoft will be keen to be first out the gates again, and if it doesn’t come, we fully expect to see another Xbox 360 price drop instead.
So, there are plenty of potential triple-A games coming out in 2012 and as always, there will be announcements throughout the year, so it’s still a good time to be a gamer, but what you can expect from us as a site? Well, the fact Mr Bradley’s on board now in a full-time capacity means more content – specifically more features – and we’ll continue to cover every major show on the planet, but 2012 will pave the way for a lot more features on X360A. And I mean a lot. Q1 will open the doors for many things that people have requested over the past year or so and maybe should have come out last year – rhymes with bone flap – and many of the areas that we’ve perhaps come unstuck on in the last few months will get totally revamped – rhymes with raymershards. We’re working on plenty more things behind the scenes too, as well as features and initiatives, and we’re constantly listening to your feedback. 2012 will be our best year, ever - that’s a fact - and we look forward to having you along for the ride. Thanks for your support thus far, here’s to a successful 2012!