So here we are, the final block of five games. As we move into the top ten tomorrow we’ll switch to one article per game, taking a deeper look at those games that we’ve picked out as the cream of 2012’s crop. Before we get to today’s five picks though, you can take a look back at yesterday’s titles here.
15 Hitman: Absolution
For me Hitman: Absolution is probably in my top five games of next year, but with so many great games scheduled for 2012 I think sitting at number fifteen isn’t too poor of a showing for the first Hitman game in six years. It’s strange to think that Hitman: Blood Money was all the way back in 2006 but there you have it.
Absolution is one of the few games from next year that I’ve been lucky enough to see myself and I can honestly say that it looks absolutely fantastic. It’s a lot more cover based and, in some ways, feels similar to Splinter Cell: Conviction. However, that’s not to say that IO have just taken Sam Fisher’s latest adventure and swapped in Agent 47; in fact I’d comfortably say that what I’ve seen of Absolution eclipses Conviction.
Sticking to the core of the Hitman series, Absolution is really all about choices. Want to sneak through a level without raising the alarm? That’s doable, and in fact encouraged by the “Instinct” system that lets you see the path an AI character is going to take. However, if going in all guns blazing is more your style that option is open to you, although you might not find it quite as easy going.
The change that might cause the most controversy with the title is the addition of set-pieces. For example, in the portion of the game I saw a police helicopter flies by trying to detect you. You can stealth past the helicopter (and it’s probably the safest choice), but the helicopter will always appear no matter how stealthy you’ve been up to that point. That may annoy some who feels it’s locking off some of the openness of the previous games but in the example I saw it added to the level rather than detracting from it.
14 Far Cry 3
One of the biggest shocks from this year’s Ubisoft E3 press conference, Far Cry 3 seemed to come out of almost nowhere. It’s nice to see a trailer for a game and be genuinely curious about what it’s going to be, even if OPM had said that Ubisoft would be showing the game at E3. I was amazed by just how good the trailer for this game looked, it really was one of the stand out moments of E3 for me.
Similar to the original Far Cry, the game uses an island setting. However, that’s pretty much where the similarities stop. As with Far Cry 2, Crytek aren’t involved in the development and the game doesn’t even use the CryEngine. Fortunately, the engine it does use looks very interesting, mixing a realistic look with some very mild cartoon style elements. That’s not to say it uses cel-shading or any of the elements you’d traditionally associate with cartoon styled games, there’s just a very mild cartoon influence in the game’s art style.
As for gameplay the game remains an open world FPS, although reportedly the map is about ten times larger than Far Cry 2’s. Given that there are rumblings coming out of Ubisoft that the game will take place across multiple islands, the size increase does makes sense. Aside from that, Ubisoft have improved the stealth mechanics in the game, but that’s about all we know right now. Given that the game is aiming for a September release we’ll likely start to see more information soon.
13 Killzone Vita
Coming out of Sony’s originally named Cambridge Studio (I wonder if you can guessed where they’re based) rather than Guerrilla Games, Killzone Vita will be the second time the FPS series has made its way onto a handheld console. It’s also the first title in the Killzone series to not have Guerrilla Games developing, a factor that doesn’t seem to have counted against it when the TSA staff were casting our votes for the Top 100.
Beyond that it seems we know… well very little really. Presumably the game will see you take control of an ISA soldier, possibly it’ll be Sev, and shoot some Helgahst. Of course, perhaps Cambridge will mix things up and jump backwards in the series, filling in a chunk of story that was skimmed in the main series. We really don’t know, so anything we can say is just a stab in the dark. Hopefully the game will arrive at some point next year and clue us in.
Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s something along the lines of “But you already reviewed Catherine!” That’s very true, we did review it back in August. However, you need to remember that our Top 100 list is based on EU release dates, and Catherine isn’t arriving here until February 10th. I don’t know why it took over sixth months for the game to come make its way over from America, although it may well have something to do with the publisher changing from Atlus to Deep Silver in Europe.
If you’re unfamiliar with the game it follows Vincent, a man at a cross-roads in his life. He needs to decide whether he wants to settle down and marry his girlfriend Katherine, or continue with his fairly fancy free life. Whilst pondering this at his local bar, he meets a woman named Catherine who is exactly his type. The two end up going to bed together, and Vincent must chose between the two women.
Sounds fairly straightforward right? Well here’s where it gets a bit weird. The main gameplay mechanic of the game follows Vincent in a nightmare world where he must climb up a giant staircase, pushing and pulling blocks to open up paths. It is, to say the least, very, very weird.
It only gets weirder though as your responses to text messages in the waking world are used to judge what kind of person you are and provide the correct ending. Essentially you’re getting a game and a psychological profile all rolled into one. Could you ask for more?
11 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Featuring quite possibly the oddest sub-title in our Top 100 list, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was recently re-announced at the VGAs. After its initial announcement as Metal Gear Solid: Rising at 2009’s E3, it seems development at Kojima Productions stalled; they were finding it hard to build a full game around the cutting mechanic they had shown in the announcement trailer. The project was cancelled at the tail-end of 2010, although nothing was said about it in public as Hideo was seeking a new developer for the game. Earlier this year Platinum Games were approached to see if they’d be interested, and thus the game switched developer and title.
Now set after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, the game has broken away significantly from the mold of the Metal Gear Solid series. Although the original trailer for Rising didn’t look like it shared a huge amount with the stealth action of the main series, the game has now moved even further away and slots into the hack and slash genre.
Although we know that Rising will follow Raiden, we have little idea how it fits into his larger character arc from the Metal Gear Solid series. However, as the trailer said the game had been “rebooted”, it may well be that elements of his history have been retconned to fit into the game’s plot.