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Gamasutra's Best Of 2011: Top 5 Most Anticipated Games Of 2012
Gamasutra's Best Of 2011: Top 5 Most Anticipated Games Of 2012 Exclusive
December 15, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

December 15, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi
More: Console/PC, Exclusive, Business/Marketing

[Gamasutra news editor Frank Cifaldi looks ahead to the games of next year, ranging from hotly anticipated sequels to interesting experiments on brand new consoles.]

In an industry as fiercely competitive and rapidly changing as ours, it's important to keep looking ahead toward the future to see where the trends are going. And, yes, while trends seem to be leaning toward the mobile and free-to-play sides these days, those games are so rarely announced in advance that we're hard-pressed to even name any that aren't already available.

Luckily, there are still plenty of promising games on the way to consoles and PCs, and we have a pretty good idea of which games to expect in those spaces next year. The following five titles are the ones we're most looking forward to: both as industry watchers and as fans.

5. Max Payne 3 (Rockstar Vancouver, Take-Two/Rockstar)

Grizzled film noire lead wannabe Max Payne returns in a third outing, and it's about time: believe it or not, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne came out over eight years ago. Kids who were 13 when it came out can buy a beer now.

More interesting to us, however, is the prospect of a new game from Rockstar Vancouver. The studio hasn't released a new game since 2006's Bully (though they did upgrade and port the game in subsequent years), and we're itching to see how this promising studio has honed its craft over these last six years or so.

4. Sound Shapes (Queasy Games, SCE)

Sony Computer Entertainment's Sound Shapes is looking to be the system defining show-off game for its upcoming Vita portable. It's brand new, it's unique, and it utilizes the unique features that make the Vita what it is.

It's difficult to describe the premise of Sound Shapes, though calling it a "puzzle game" is a good place to start. Players control an abstract shape navigating a retro-futuristic minimalist landscape that incorporates music and sonically evolves as you go, much like Rez.

The game is played with swipe and touch controls seamlessly integrated on both the front and rear touchpads of the Vita, making it a game that just wouldn't be the same on any other system. If the Vita's going to catch up with the 3DS, it's going to need quite a few games like these.

3. BioShock Infinite (Irrational Games, Take-Two/2K Games)

The original Bioshock is one of those rare games that still holds up as a talking point over four years later. When we talk about art, storytelling, and choices in games, we still refer to BioShock, whether we think those aspects of the game hold up or not.

While BioShock 2 was a fine game, BioShock Infinite returns the franchise to its creators at Irrational Games. Like the original, Infinite's art direction -- which combines the Utopian vision of a 19th century Worlds' Fair with endlessly stretching skies -- has captured our imaginations and has us itching for more.

2. The Last Guardian (Team Ico, SCE)

It might seem strange to call a game we know almost nothing about our second most anticipated game of the year (assuming it even comes out next year), but the output by Fumito Ueda and the team at Team Ico so far -- namely Ico and Shadow of the Colossus -- are so gorgeous and revered by people of good taste that the studio's next game just has to be a masterpiece.

The Last Guardian may go down as the most-delayed title in Sony Computer Entertainment history. Indeed, the game made the cut on our list last year, too, and would have probably been on our list for 2010 if we had made one. Team Ico has not shipped a game since 2005's Shadow of the Colossus.

Unfortunately, rumor has it that the project is in trouble, and departures by producer Yoshifusa Hayama and creative director Fumito Ueda are doing nothing to dissolve those rumors.

Ueda is committed to finishing the game as a contractor, but the damage is done: The Last Guardian will be the swan song of one of the most respected development studios in our history.

1. Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North, Take-Two/Rockstar)

Try as we might to steer our choices away from obvious sequels, the entire industry is watching and waiting for Grand Theft Auto V. No one does open world games like the studio that brought the genre into existence, Rockstar North, and the Houser brothers themselves still stand among the best writers in the industry.

There's no guarantee that the game will come out in 2012, but at the very least we're hoping to see more of the game next year.

According to a statement by Rockstar founder Sam Houser, the game "is another radical reinvention of the Grand Theft Auto universe." Obviously we can't confirm that just yet, but we can confirm that what we've seen looks incredible, especially in the lighting department.

Other notable 2012 titles: Diablo III, Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, Hitman: Absolution, Halo 4, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Rhythm Heaven Fever, Xenoblade Chronicles (U.S.), the sequel to that one game that you liked and the surprisingly fun social/mobile game that no one knows about yet.

[Other 2011 retrospectives: Top 5 Major Industry Events; Top 5 Major Industry Trends; and Top 5 Controversies.]

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Robert Boyd
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Gravity Daze, Diablo 3, Xenoblade, Bioshock Infinite, and Sound Shapes for me.

manou manou
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Mass Effect 3, Bioshock, The Last Guardian.

Bill A
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Diablo 3 . End of Story.

Bruno Xavier
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DotA II and Diablo III... Nothing else.

Jose Resines
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Max Payne 3?. GTAV?. Really?.

I could give you Bioshock Infinite, or Mass Effect 3 if it wasn't for Origin, or even Diablo 3 if it wasn't for the DRM, but those two?. No way.

Doug Fresh
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GTA V, South Park, and Bioshock: Infinite for me.

Joseph Caddell
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Halo 4, Diablo III, Ghost Recon Online, and Metro Last Light. :)

Eric Geer
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Xenoblade Chronicles, Kid Icarus, Metro Last Light, ME3 and Borderlands 2 are on my Get List. Maybe Last Guardian.

Patrick Davis
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The Last Guardian, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Street Fighter X Tekken. Diablo III pre-DRM and RM trading. Oh well.

Jonathan Escobedo
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Bioshock Infinite. The first one is one of my favorite games of all time, and while the second one disappointed me, Infinite looks more amazing every time I see it.

Also Diablo 3 and the US release of Xenoblade Chronicles.

Steven An
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Some other ones: The Witness, Metro Last Light, Spec Ops: The Line

Ben Lewis
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Dragon's Crown, The Last of Us, and BioShock Infinite for me.

Bart Stewart
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BioShock: Infinite probably, although I'm hoping the political stuff won't be too one-sided. ME3 may also be fun assuming BioWare haven't entirely removed all traces of classic RPG management in favor of talking, alien dating sims, and Baysplosions.

But there are other games that I'm personally more interested in seeing in 2012 than those listed:

Thief 4 (rumored in 2008, announced in 2009)

Dishonored (why is this game not getting more coverage?)

Traveller AR (augmented-reality iPhone MMORPG based on the classic RPG)

Half-Life 3 (in 2012 it will be five years since HL2 Ep.2)

STALKER 2 (sigh)

Ali Afshari
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Yes! I forgot to list's probably not going to happen but a new Thief game from Eidos Montreal would be awesome :)

Andrew Dovichi
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Tomb Raider comes out in 2012; unlike some of the other games mentioned.

james sadler
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For me its Bioshock: Infinite, Final Fantasy XIII-2 (yes I actually kinda liked FFXIII), Halo 4, hopefully Half Life 3 but we'll see, and Mass Effect 3. I'd throw Xenoblade on there if HL3 doesn't come out this year.

Luis Guimaraes
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My list:

Bioshock Infinite

Far Cry 3

Borderlands 2

Prey 2

Counter Strike Global Offensive

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations

Jan Kubiczek
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the last guardian. id personally take gta5 out and put tlg on top. ;-) lets hope it gets finished or at least - haha - they release the source code. :-D

Ali Afshari
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ME3, Bioshock Infinite, The Witness, The Last Guardian, Assassin's Creed III, the new Alan Wake game, is Hitman Absolution slated for 2012?...that too :)

Kevin Patterson
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More than 5, but here are the titles Im looking forward to.


Bioshock Infinite

Mass effect 3

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Prey 2

South Park RPG

Max Payne 3

Diablo 3

Hopefuls - (Thief 4, Halo 4)

Leonardo Ferreira
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Good to see "the sequel to that one game that you liked" making a comeback!

Hugo Morales
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Dust 514

Matt Cratty
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If those are the top 5 of the coming year, its good that I have a gigantic backlog of games to play.

Honestly, D3 is all I can think of.

Bob Stevens
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Tekken Tag 2, Soul Calibur 5, all 3 Blizzard releases. About covers it for me.

Justin Nafziger
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What a strange set of games in the OP. I'm curious how they were determined: was this an individual opinion or the consensus of the gamasutra staff? I noticed that they all fit your extra criteria of: "the sequel to that one game that you liked and the surprisingly fun social/mobile game that no one knows about yet"

That said, most of the top [six] games I'm looking forward to fit that criteria as well: Alan Wake's American Nightmare, Mass Effect 3, Project Draco, Mechwarrior Online, The Witness, and Halo 4.

Maurício Gomes
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FF Versus.

Seriously, I loved what the director of FF Versus did to the RPG Genre, and I am exceting a very interesting RPG (kinda more like FFXII instead of XIII)

But seemly that it is unlikely in 2012 too :(

Megan Berry
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Darksiders II


the Last Guardian

Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance. I have faith in Platinum because they rock :)

Asura's Wrath

Dragon's Crown

another Ghost Trick....well this one isn't real but pretty please Capcom?

Ronaldo Fernandes
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I am curious about Max Payne and I want to play Xenoblade, Last Story, and Metro Last Night. The last one only because I just read the book, although it seems that the first game, which I haven't played, followed it more closely.

Micheal Bailey
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The ones I am most looking forward to are:

Diablo 3

Kingdoms of Alamur: the Reckoning (thought I was going to be the only one with this one on his list)