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Most Anticipated of 2012: Alice's Picks

by Shack Staff, Dec 27, 2011 9:00am PST

There's a lot to be excited for in 2012, and the Shacknews staff each have five games on their radar. The editorial team at Shacknews outlines their most anticipated games of 2012 individually. Next up we've got staff writer Alice O'Connor's list of 2012 titles.

Dota 2

"That guy is permanently invisible," I explain. "No, this one bought an item that lets him teleport," I add. "And yes, that lady's spell does one-shot kill you at this point."

I've been playing an awful lot of the Dota 2 closed beta with former Shack writer Nick Breckon, trying to teach him a little of what I learned from hundreds of hours in the original DotA mod yonks ago, and it's been awkward. When you start, it's not at all clear who any of the characters are, what they do, what their items do, what your items do, why you're supposed to attack your own allies, and how you died in two seconds when three enemy heroes materialised out of thin air.

But getting reacquainted with Dota, and seeing Nick pick it up, reminds me of why I enjoyed it so much, and why I'm so keen for Dota 2 to launch. We're constantly improving, whether it be learning a new way two of the dozens of heroes can combine abilities, keeping a better eye on the wider battlefield, improving our positioning in combat, refining skill builds, or simply getting better at landing the final hit on enemies.

When that knowledge and skill come together with perfect execution, it's a colossal rush. I can spend 45 minutes losing horribly but still come away thrilled with how I played for a 10-second burst.

Dishonored

I've seen very little of Dishonored, but I'm quite happy to stay blissfully ignorant and continue quietly look forward to it. Arkane Studios doesn't have a long list of titles to its name, but it's made some solid and fun games, and having Harvey Smith of Deus Ex fame on the team is a big selling point for me. Not that one man made the game, of course, but Deus Ex.

It's also being presented as slightly Deus Ex-y, with an open-ish world and supposed freedom in how you play. Talk of emergent solutions coming from a toolkit packed with possession, stopping time, swarms of rats, and other strange tricks is hugely appealing to me. Set it all in a strange steampunk world where my actions supposedly have wider consequences and yes, that'll do nicely for me.

But that's all I really know, and all I want to know for now. Yes, I am looking forward to a game I know very little about. If I could, I'd go into every game knowing as little as possible. Unfortunately, this line of work makes it awfully difficult to avoid games. Fingers crossed I can achieve this small victory.

Diablo III

It's another Diablo, see? The third one. That's why there's a three on the end. Is that not explanation enough for you? Oh.

Right, so, Diablo, yeah? Blizzard's seminal action-RPG series. You click and numbers go up--experience; levels; stats; skills; items. It's really fun as the numbers go up, and everything's bound together with wonderful presentation and polish. I've played hundreds of hours of Diablo II, and only ever stopped because I got sick of running the same areas over and over again. A fresh new world with new classes, enemies and skill setups will do me quite nicely, even if I did never finish Diablo II at the highest difficulty level.

You see, I'm a devout Hardcore mode player. Dozens of Diablo II characters lie permanently dead thanks to my own greed and foolishness, reluctant to pop a potion until the last second, or rushing in to rob a 'unique' monster of its lovely number-increasing items before checking whether it'll spew electricity as I hit it. Those who live by the numbers, die by the numbers.

More numbers, please.

BioShock Infinite

BioShock introduced a wonderful world with a strong narrative but faltered when it came to the game's primary activity of shooting faces. BioShock 2 made combat a treat, but suffered from being shoehorned into a story which was essentially concluded. BioShock Infinite, then, will hopefully manage to draw upon the strengths of both games.

Infinite's set in another awe-inspiring world where a philosophy's gone a bit wonky. Yes, by some great surprise, it turns out that people who take the idea of 'American exceptionalism' a bit too seriously end up killing each other, and the floating city of Colombia ends up in tatters. Being introduced to Rapture's underwater world was an absolute treat, so I'm quite keen to poke around this bright world of marble columns and steampunk stylings.

That'd probably be enough to satisfy me, in all honesty, so it's nice that the game looks pleasant on top of that. Companion characters rarely work out well in video games but Elizabeth adds useful tricks to your toolkit, and seems a solid story-delivery mechanism. From what's been shown so far, combat looks solid.

As with Far Cry 3, gameplay trailers released so far have looked worryingly scripted, but such is the nature of marketing. One hopes so, anyway.

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 2, then. Yes, guns would often jam, and enemy checkpoints would have respawned by the time you tried to escape back out of them, and malaria would strike at inopportune moments, and your grenades would roll down hills back towards you, and that's all part of why it was so lovely. It was a huge and wonderful open-world where you would carefully pick your weapons, form a strategy, and then try desperately to survive when everything went wrong. Glorious!

Right, so Far Cry 3. There are several reasons to be less than wholly stoked for it. There are the E3 demos, for starters--carefully orchestrated slices of gameplay which makes it look slightly like Ubisoft thought people liked FC2 for its strange, slightly psychological perspective than the open-world shenanigans. All E3 demos are essentially scripted, though, as jazzy scenarios intend to grab the attention of an audience mostly interested in how many guns a game has, so let's not be too put off by that.

Then there's the fact that a different team is developing the game, spread across several studios. Ah. All right, that is a little discouraging.

But still, Far Cry 2 you guys. It's hard not to be excited by a follow-up to that lovely game. I may well be disappointed, but I'm keen to see.





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