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Best Action And Adventure Games of 2012: The Ones To Watch

JGaskill
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Posted December 21, 2011 - By Jake Gaskill


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Best Action And Adventure Games of 2012: The Ones To Watch

2011 was one of the biggest, blockbuster-packed years for gaming in a long time, but looking over the list of games heading to consoles in 2012 is the perfect way to make your bank account burst into uncontrollable fits of weeping and curl up in a little ball in the corner. But in a good way.

Of all the genres seeing huge releases next year, none has a more diverse and impressive lineup than action/adventure. As such, we should probably get down to business. Let’s do this.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss Gameplay Trailer »


Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Release date: February 2012

Dashing adventurer Nathan Drake returns (technically for the first time since the game is set before Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune) for a brand new adventure in Uncharted: Golden Abyss albeit it with two slight changes. 1) Naughty Dog has passed the Drake reigns to SCE Bend Studios, and 2) It’s on the PlayStation Vita. While these are certainly noteworthy points, everything we’ve seen and played of the game so far suggests the series is in good hands (even if we’re still not totally sold on the Vita’s ability to deliver the same kind of blockbuster experience as the series’ console iterations, as we learned in our most recent Golden Abyss hands-on preview).

Max Payne 3 Gameplay Trailer »


Max Payne 3
Release date: March 6, 2012

We have yet to get our hands on Rockstar Games’ latest, most grizzled installment yet in its stylish and brutal shooter Max Payne 3, but we have seen it in action a couple times, and thoroughly examined the various gameplay trailers that have been released, so we have more than enough fuel for our anticipation mill. Rockstar Vancouver has done a ton of work on the combat design and animation systems for the new Max, which promises to deliver fluid and visceral gunplay and one of the most cinematic action experiences of the year. Max Payne 3 also includes multiplayer for the first time. Thankfully, Rockstar took a cue from Ubisoft by giving the multiplayer mode a narrative thrust of its own that also ties into the single-player story. We haven’t seen it for ourselves just yet, but we like what we’re hearing so far.

Darksiders 2 "Death Lives" Cinematic Trailer »


Darksiders 2
Release date: TBD

If you thought assuming the fiery role of War in Vigil Game’s apocalyptic action title Darksiders was a power trip, that’s nothing compared to what’s in store for you once you strap on the (assumedly black) boots of Death in Darksiders 2 come next year. In addition to bigger and badder combat and an overall smoother gameplay experience, Vigil’s sequel introduces deep RPG elements that will ensure each player has a unique and personal journey. Tougher puzzles, a more expansive game world, and more gothic themes than a Igmar Bergman retrospective, Darksiders 2 has all the makings of a truly killer sequel.

Grand Theft Auto 5 Debut Trailer »


Grand Theft Auto 5
Release date: TBD

Well, obviously. Despite what your hindsight-driven feelings are towards Grand Theft Auto IV, a new GTA release is always a big deal. And with three years (four when it launches next year) between releases--not counting the fantastic add-ons Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony--you better believe expectations will be as high as they have ever been, especially given the success and acclaim THQ’s “latest GTA parody that actually is much more than that and is a genuinely great game,” Saints Row: The Third, has enjoyed this year. Outside of the reveal trailer (and our subsequent breakdown of said trailer), details are few at this point, but expect to hear plenty more after Max Payne 3 ships in March.

Hitman Absolution Cinematic Trailer »


Hitman Absolution
Release date: TBD

The bald wonder returns in IO Interactive’s first true next-gen effort, Hitman Absolution Built from the ground up using the team’s shiny new Glacier 2 engine, Agent 47’s latest outing finds him once again doing what he does best: stalking fools from the shadows and then using a gong to efficiently and stylishly end their lives. Okay, so the gong thing (and the other new dynamic environmental kills that have been added this go around) isn’t entirely “classic Hitman,” but it’s all part of his evolution as the world’s deadliest and most inventive hired gun. We’ve seen some lengthy gameplay walkthroughs of Absolution--no hands-on time yet unfortunately--and it’s clear that the tone, mood, and vicious takedowns are all in place. Whether the stealth and AI can match the next-gen presentation is the biggest question mark at this point, but hopefully that will be answered via more in-depth looks at the game in the coming months.

Journey Gamescom 2011 Trailer »


Journey
Release date: TBD

 Jenova Chen and his team over at thatgamecompany (Flower) have been tantalizing and teasing PS3 owners with this hauntingly simplistic yet wildly ambitious downloadable effort for quite some time now. We have floated past release window after release window like the red cloaked, blank faced characters that inhabit the expansive desert landscape in which Journey unfolds and yet we still have no official release date. However, there was a beta that gave us a chance to lose ourselves in Journey’s mesmerizing stillness for an hour or so and engage in the game’s unique take on co-op, which allows for you to cross paths with another totally anonymous player (based entirely on your location in the world and if someone happens to be nearby) and gives you the choice of teaming up or ditching them to go it alone. This kind of freedom, mixed with one of the most mysterious and enchanting game worlds we have ever seen, makes Journey an easy pick for our list of games we can’t wait to get our hands on in 2012.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Extended Trailer »


Metal Gear Rising: Revengence
Release date: TBD

After watching the recently released extended trailer for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, it’s clear that Bayonetta creators PlatinumGames has taken Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear franchise into uncharted territory: pure, unadulterated, kitana-frenzied action, action, and more action. Sure, it’s more of a spin-off than a true Metal Gear game, but Kojima is overseeing the project as executive producer, so it still fits into the Metal Gear universe, albeit in a somewhat skewed way. It’s had a tumultuous development, shifting from its original Kojima Productions team to PlatinumGames after being essentially dead in the water and reemerging as a post Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots slice-n-dice fest. Seeing the words “Metal Gear” and watching a dude tossing a towering mech into the sky via his sword is still a bit jarring, but that’s also why we are anxious to see more in the coming year.

Official Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time E3 Trailer »


Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Release date: TBD

With Sucker Punch fully invested in its electrifying inFamous series, it’s no surprise the studio would be unable to focus on resurrecting its beloved Sly Cooper series for a next-gen installment. Thankfully, the team at Sanzaru Games (The Sly Collection) were deadest on doing this very thing, and the result is Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. It was great jumping back into the classic Sly games in the HD-remastered Sly Collection, but after seeing our favorite raccoon hero in full on PS3-powered glory--like in this gameplay demo from E3--has us itching to join up with Sly and his band of colorful bandits for whatever his new adventure might entail. Smooth platforming, big boss battles, gorgeous environments, and loads of secrets to uncover are certainly tall orders, especially given the series’ pedigree, but Sly is in good hands, so we’re feeling pretty good about it.

Official Tomb Raider Cinematic E3 Trailer »


Tomb Raider
Release date: TBD

Of all the games on this list, none has us more anxious, excited, and downright terrified than Crystal Dynamics' gritty Tomb Raider reboot. Our time with the game has been disappointingly limited, forcing us to watch the E3 gameplay demo countless times to catch all of the nuances and bloody details that have gone into making Lara Croft’s origin story as painful and thrilling as possible. Seeing Lara in truly treacherous situations, genuinely fighting for her life at every turn (in a fully explorable open-world-ish setting) and without any of the cleanliness and lighthearted tone of the previous Tomb Raider games is the perfect way to reintroduce gamers to Lara and the series as a whole. And you better believe we’ll be watching this one every step of the way until its release.

Honorable Mentions (Fingers crossed for 2012, but perhaps 2013):

The Last Of Us Debut Trailer »


The Last of Us
Release date: TBD

Little is known about Naughty Dog's Nathan Drake-less, virus-based, apocalyptic survival game, but based on the debut trailer, it looks to star a father and daughter struggling to stay alive in an overgrown and collapsed metropolis. There’s a very good chance The Last of Us won’t be released until 2013 (a PS4 launch title perhaps?), but our fingers are crossed that it makes it to shelves next year. Not just because of Naughty Dog’s track record with the Uncharted series, and the fact that the game’s lead designer also worked on the tragically underappreciated Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, but…okay, those are probably the two biggest reasons we’re so excited. But we could be waiting for this one for a while, so we’ll keep our enthusiasm tempered for the time being.

Thief 4

Thief 4
Release date: TBD

Like the inevitably shady protagonist of Eidos Interactives perennially shadowy four-quel, Thief 4 continues to masterfully remain hidden from the world (aside from the occasional screenshot and game banner leak). Given how full Eidos’ franchise-loving plate is next year, between Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider, I would be shocked--ecstatic, but shocked--if we saw Thief 4 as well. I’ll put a bow and dagger by the fireplace every night before bed just in case.

Best Action And Adventure Games of 2012: The Ones To Watch
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