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*For your chance to win an Xbox 360 console, a £500 zavvi voucher and a Tritton ‘Detonator’ gaming headset in our Games of 2012 competition – brought to you in association with Tritton headsets – simply click here. 

For two years in a row, our annual rundown of the very best games of the year has ended up quickly ballooning from a mere Top 10 into a hefty Top 25 list, and judging by what’s already visible on the horizon for this year, it won’t be much of a surprise if it happens all over again when December rolls around once more. Here is a countdown of our most anticipated games of 2012…

15. Spec Ops: The Line

Last year nothing quite threw us for a loop as much as November’s trailer for Spec Ops: The Line did. Entitled “The Journey” it felt more like a trailer for a psychological horror flick than a squad-based action game, and for something that we expected to be largely generic, it was an unexpectedly tantalising reveal. Its grim vision of a disaster-wracked Dubai is instantly compelling, and the dynamic weather system – in which sandstorms can unexpectedly create new pathways and shift the dynamics of a battle – sounds potentially captivating. It’s the work of a brand new German development team, but it looks like they’re more than ready to hit the ground running. Due in: Spring TBC

14. Aliens: Colonial Marines

No Predator gameplay. No Alien gameplay. Just a band of charismatic, profane meat-heads going toe-to-toe with a ceaseless army of unstoppable xenomorphs. Because it wants to be nothing more complicated than Aliens: The Videogame, Colonial Marines has a directness of approach that’s thoroughly gripping, and Randy Pitchford’s enthusiasm (he presented the game behind closed doors at E3 last summer and was pretty much bouncing off the walls for the entire duration) was infectious, but it has got so much potential. In addition to countless (welcome) nods to the classic 1986 movie. For more info on Colonial Marines at E3 2011, click here. Due in: Summer TBC

13. Lollipop Chainsaw

Grasshopper CEO and thoroughbred nutcase Suda 51’s last two games – the fantastic No More Heroes 2 and the even more fantastic Shadows of the Damned – never really found the wide audiences that they deserved, but with a visible boost in gameplay variety and the addition of the walking dead, Lollipop Chainsaw’s chances are expanded considerably. It looks a bit like a slightly more hardcore No More Heroes (no bad thing) and the launch trailer promises mucho gratuitous violence, ceaseless foul language and incessant, none-more-immature dabs of sexual innuendo. Business as usual, thankfully. Due in: Spring TBC

12. Luigi’s Mansion 2

Nintendo are slap bang in the middle of one of their trademark quality rolls at the moment, and although our recent hands-on time with Luigi’s Mansion 2 was relatively brief, it doesn’t look like that run is going to be ending any time soon. It’s an exceptionally good looking game that plays almost exactly as the original did, and smartly curbing the more open-ended nature of the first game doesn’t look to have dulled the appeal of this one even a bit. On this evidence it’s a hunk of consummate Nintendo fan service that slavishly plays to the strengths of its host platform; a potential classic. Due in: Spring TBC [FULL PREVIEW]

11. SSX

There has never been a bad SSX game, and with a dearth of real competition and a seven year gap since the last instalment (if you don’t count the stellar Wii-exclusive SSX Blur) EA have chosen what feels like the perfect moment to bring this classic series back to life. The addictive combo trick system returns, and the usage of NASA geo-tagging data (to recreate more than twenty real-life locations) suggests an open world that should broaden the scope for on-the-fly player invention. The game’s new ‘Ridernet’ system has clearly been inspired by Need for Speed’s tremendous ‘Autolog’, and an exhaustive set of inventive online modes should keep you busy until well into 2013. Due in: March

10. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

If there’s one thing that’s more likely to get us excited than a “proper” new Metal Gear Solid game, it’s a no-nonsense action blockbuster from the Vanquish and Bayonetta geniuses at Platinum Games. It’s no secret that Revengeance was born from the ashes of the abandoned Metal Gear Solid: Rising, but Konami appear to be allowing Platinum to go completely their own way with it; as you can see from the debut trailer (which can be seen here) it looks like a cross between Bayonetta and Vanquish, with a touch of Ninja Gaiden thrown in. It may be hugely disappointing that we’re not going to be getting an official, Kojima-penned Metal Gear sequel in the near future, but Revengeance is one hell of a substitute. Due in: Autumn TBC

9. Guild Wars 2

A videogame as staggeringly vast as Guild Wars 2 simply shouldn’t look as slick and refined as it does, but seeing it in action at last year’s Eurogamer expo made a lot of people sit up and take notice. But that glossy technical sheen is the least impressive aspect of it, as developer ArenaNet have clearly set out to alter as many staple genre traits as it adheres to. Because you can use all of your abilities during battle – without having to pause to employ them, as is the norm – it’s a thoroughly confident action title, and the game’s quests (or “events”) almost always have your character’s narrative at their forefront. It feels like a bold action RPG on a massive scale, rather than simply another MMO pretender. Due in: TBC

8. Tomb Raider

Many people would argue that after the terrific triple whammy of Legend, Anniversary and Underworld, the Tomb Raider franchise wasn’t in any real need of a reboot; but the dusky, Batman Begins-style origin route that Crystal Dynamics are taking this year is a rousing one nonetheless. Gone are the ancient temples and fiendish traps of the old Tomb Raider, and Croft’s role as the classic indomitable hero is bestowed upon her mentor instead, who may or may not become scarce after the game’s opening tier. This Lara is deeply vulnerable to her environment and far more sensible than the person that she eventually becomes, and the stripped-down gameplay that amplifies her journey couldn’t be any more refreshing. Due in: Autumn TBC

7. The Last Guardian

Fingers across the globe remain steadfastly crossed that The Last Guardian is still due for release this year, in the wake of lead designer Fumito Ueda’s departure from Sony at the end of 2011. The publisher has insisted that the game is still on track for a 2012 release, and the recent announcement that Ueda continues to work on the project externally is hugely encouraging. The thematic sequel to two of the greatest (and most distinctive) Playstation 2 exclusives ever released, we’re praying for a relatively sudden, round-the-corner release date reveal; exactly what occurred with Gran Turismo 5 last year. The complete lack of new information only continues to make us more and more excited for it.  Due in: TBC

6. Borderlands 2

In an industry where successful new IP is depressingly scarce, Gearbox’s original Borderlands was the kind of breakout smash that you simply don’t see any more. It started off as a stellar cult hit and snowballed from there, but the sequel to one of 2009’s most passionately beloved games definitely isn’t taking its fan’s adulation for granted. Two players (using split-screen) are now able to go online, your enemies are going to react dynamically instead of merely charging forward, and a complete lack of invisible barriers means that you can now navigate the flamboyant wasteland utterly without strictures. The list of changes and tweaks is almost encyclopaedic. Expect a blockbuster. Due in: Autumn TBC

5. Far Cry 3

Almost everything that’s appealing about Far Cry 3 can be seen first hand by taking a look at last year’s official E3 Gameplay Trailer, which if you didn’t see, you can watch in full by clicking here. Returning to the lush tropical vistas of the first Far Cry, it all looks predictably sleek but the script, mo-capped performances and the new score-attack friendly nature of the gunplay are what impress the most. At E3 we also got to see a live gameplay demo of the section depicted in the aforementioned video, and watched as it was tackled in a quiet, stealthy manner which suggests an experience as open to experimentation and impromptu tact as Far Cry 2 was. Due in: TBC

4. Diablo III

In development for over ten years, the return of the connoisseur’s dungeon crawler is almost upon us. With a very well received beta test under its belt, the feverish devotees are now free to speculate on the controversial new player-to-player auction system, admire the polished new visual style (although it is perhaps a little too Warcraft-like for some) and marvel at the continued lack of skill points and progress trees. Every class now has their own customisable gear, in some cases the environments are interactive and can either hurt or harm your character during battle, and it’s all unrepentantly adult; and laudably bloodthirsty. If Diablo III looks like your bag, be very excited. Due in: Spring TBC

3. Mass Effect 3

A gun turret set-piece in a Mass Effect game? Some may want to cry sacrilege, but it’s all about context. Bioware’s newfound confidence in creating action scenes was clearly going to come in handy when they commenced work on what they’re calling “the main event”, and the beginning of the single most significant event in the Mass Effect saga’s sprawling timeline. The Reaper invasion (both visually and aurally) owes something of a debt to Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of War of the Worlds, and one new breed of enemy – the Cannibal tribe – may look like walking meatballs, but some of the AI that we’ve seen them engage in made them seem like the kind of smart-as-hell nightmares that are more commonly seen in Halo titles. We’re counting the days. Due in: March

2. Max Payne 3

The visuals are still simultaneously dark and glossy and the gameplay is still largely relentless, but for all the evidence of the narrative’s freshly seasoned pith and verve, Max Payne 3 remains a thoroughbred shooter at its core; with an extensive and thoroughly unusual multiplayer suite to boot. The incomparably dour James McCaffrey is still the voice of Max, painkillers continue to be your best friend and a hefty chunk of the plot looks like it’s going to be delivered via voiceover, but Max Payne 3 looks like it’s clever enough to bring exactly the right amount of quiet innovation to the table too. Due in: May [FULL PREVIEW]

1. Bioshock Infinite

The big one. Ken Levine – the mastermind behind the original Bioshock – is back at the controls, and the series’ much-deserved reputation for mindful storytelling and strategic action is clearly being maintained here; the first gameplay trailer was enough to comprehensively assure you of it. This is the first game in the series not to be set in the underwater lands of Rapture, but the celestial kingdom of Columbia is a counterpart that looks every bit as rich and compelling. There’s little doubt that Bioshock Infinite is going to be amazing. The only question is; how amazing? Nothing on this list looks more like a ready-made Game of the Year finalist than this does, and hopefully we won’t be waiting too much longer before we find out exactly how it measures up to all of our colossal expectations. Due in: Spring TBC

Honorable mentions… Brothers in Arms: Furious 4, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Street Fighter X Tekken, Twisted Metal, DMC: Devil May Cry, Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City, The Last Story, Darksiders II, Anarchy Reigns, Syndicate, Catherine, Binary Domain, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Hitman: Absolution, The Darkness II, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Soul Calibur V, UFC Undisputed 3, Silent Hill: Downpour.

*For your chance to win an Xbox 360 console, a £500 zavvi voucher and a Tritton ‘Detonator’ gaming headset in our Games of 2012 competition – brought to you in association with Tritton headsets – simply click here. 

Watch some gameplay footage from Bioshock Infinite below: 

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Team Zavvi

Team Zavvi


A collection of thoughts, opinions and news from the staff at Zavvi.