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Aaron Bioshock Infinite
Probably the same choice for a lot of people concerning the games they are most looking forward to in 2012. I'm not just excited to play it because it's the Bioshock, but also because it seems to be the first game since perhaps Ico where a partner character actually is very important. You will care about Elizabeth over the course of the game, not just for gameplay reasons, but story, motivation and whatever other crazy stuff Booker and Elizabeth ultimately end up encountering.
I'm so excited to experience it for the first time, whenever it releases. In this same year, we're also getting Mass Effect 3 and Diablo 3, two other games I'm looking forward to, but I think Infinite is going to be another one of those "moments" in gaming, like with Bioshock where we all step back and say "God, I love video games."
For me, there's no question as to what game
I've been waiting for. The amount of time I've invested into multiple
playthroughs, toiling over who to save, who to sacrifice, is all culminating in
this next title. It also, according to Bioware, is the end of Shepard's
story and that is going to be incredibly bittersweet to me. Technically,
Shepard is me. I am the one that has made each and every one of these
decisions in Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. I chose to save Kaiden
over Ashley and to talk Wrex down from a certain death. I negotiated a
peaceful coexistence between my Quarian and Geth squadmates and turned Cerberus
operatives against their leader. I've infiltrated a Batarian stronghold
in order to save a prolific scientist in an attempt to stop the Reapers and
save the galaxy from certain extinction. Shepard is the vessel through
which I deliver justice in this rich fantasy universe.
To me there is no greater game looming on the horizon than Mass Effect 3. The time I spent with the demo at PAX Prime gave me a glimpse into the gameplay improvements. Moving from cover to cover is now far easier and more efficient. The gun play is enhanced and the streamlined leveling system in Mass Effect 2 is now more robust in 3 without looking as cumbersome as it was in the original game. Of course, the possibility for a let down is always feared and with the hype that is building, it certainly could happen. Bioware though, is known for delivering AAA quality games and I will reserve final judgment until I finally have my greedy hands on my PC Collector's Edition of Mass Effect 3. Until then, I shall remain super psyched up for March 2012 and stay away from Mass Effect news as much as I can to stay spoiler-free.
Joe Ninja Gaiden 3
I was of two minds as to whether or not this is, in fact, the game I’m looking forward to the most in 2012. There are games coming out next year that, when I think about playing them, get me excited, but there is nothing that I need to play more than Ninja Gaiden 3 right now. The action game genre is in a very weird place at the moment, and a game like Ninja Gaiden is sort of a dinosaur when you think about how the games have been structured in the past compared to how games are now. In short, they are brutally unforgiving games that you must invest a significant amount of time into in order to get the most out of them and there is no way to avoid that. You can look at all the guides and videos you want, but the execution is always in your hands, which is the main reason why I love these games so much and also why I would do any number of things to get my hands on the upcoming sequel.
In the interest of brevity (as I know most of you probably have games to play), what I’ve seen so far hasn’t impressed me at all. The core action does look similar to the previous games and while it appears Team Ninja have attempted to mix the best parts of the combat from Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden 2, there is something about it that looks very undisciplined and erratic. It still annoys me that no footage has been shown of the Master Ninja mode either. If they at least showed off some footage of the enemies being more aggressive and tactical, and the player having to act accordingly, then I might be more optimistic, but nothing in that sense has been seen yet. Just Ryu making absolute mincemeat of very weak enemies and being made out to be some kind of anti-hero, that will most likely be the subject of a feature I will write at some point. I haven’t got long to wait now, but March cannot get here soon enough. Team Ninja have a lot at stake next year and if Ninja Gaiden 3 doesn’t perform well, odds are it could be the last we see of the franchise entirely.
Ross Bioshock Infinite
I was a really big fan of the first Bioshock. Every video that I had seen leading up to it made it look like one of the best and most interesting games that I had seen. From the incredibly unique setting of Rapture to a compellingly deep story with good gameplay, Bioshock really captured my attention, and quickly became one of my favorite games on the Xbox 360. Then came the release of Bioshock 2 in 2010 (the original was released in 2007), and while Bioshock 2 still did well, it never seemed to capture the hearts of consumers like the original did. One of the reasons this may have happened is due to the involvement of Irrational Games with each of the projects. With Bioshock, Irrational Games was one of the head developers, and the game flourished. Yet with Bioshock 2, Irrational Games took a much more backseat role, and while the game was still very good, it just didn’t have the same pop as the first.
Enter Bioshock: Infinite, the upcoming release which finds Irrational Games taking a much more central role behind development, as opposed to a more tertiary role. Everything that I have seen from this game makes it look like it will end up being a huge hit. The setting has changed from Rapture to Columbia, and with the change of setting comes a pretty large change in style. Instead of the 1950’s theme that was found in the first two, Bioshock: Infinite is sporting a much more steam punk inspired world, and the style of everything that I have seen just seems…right. I think that the hook mechanic could make for some really interesting, if a bit confusing, encounters, and it also looks like the gameplay will be excellent, as per the Bioshock standard. While there is a release date of TBA 2012, it seems like they have released so much on the game that we can probably expect to see it sometime in the first half of the year, and I could not be more excited to play it.