Hot Properties: The Best New Games of 2012 (Part Two)
- The Last Story
- Namco Bandai
- Epic Games
- Dragon's Dogma
Having filled Part One of our Best New Games of 2012 feature with such upcoming potential gems as Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic survival horror The Last of Us, Platinum Games’ off-the-wall fighter Anarchy Reigns and PS3-exclusive sci-fi shooter Starhawk, this time we turn our attention to demon hunters, dragon slayers and some seriously disturbed teenage girls. So without further ado, and remembering that this feature is all about brand NEW games not sequels, remakes, reimaginings and reboots, here's Part Two of Hot Properties: The Best New Games of 2012…
Formats: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Saber Interactive
ETA: February 10th 2012
What We Know: Messing with gravity has been done before in videogames; 2006’s Prey was hugely-underrated despite doing wonderful things with physics. Fortunately for Saber Interactive, it’s not something that’s been done an awful lot, and so their new 3rd Person Shooter, Inversion, will at least find itself in a fairly open market. It follows backwards-named cop Davis Russel as he searches for his lost daughter in the aftermath of a global invasion. Alongside his partner Leo Delgado, Davis's greatest advantage is the Gravlink device, a wrist-mounted (of course) gizmo that allows him to play with gravity willy-nilly. No cover on the ground? The Gravlink will allow you to flip gravity and take cover behind a handy wall-mounted shop sign or a hanging chandelier, while a little mechanic called “Pervasive Environmental Destruction” means you can destroy cover to get at your enemies or create cover from your surroundings.
What We Want: A bit of polish. The trailer shows some rather uninspiring Rage-looking mutant types, a lot of Gears-of-War-style posturing and man-tears and some decidedly iffy visuals. Destructive scenery was done to magnificent effect in the Red Faction series, while Prey’s gravity mechanic worked brilliantly within the context of the setting and story – citywide tomfoolery with Newton’s Laws sounds good, but it’ll need a steady hand on Saber’s part to get it right.
What We Expect: Not great things, to be honest. Saber Interactive are the development team behind 2007’s above-average Timeshift (another physics-bending title), but they’ve done little else of note. With Namco Bandai holding the purse strings there’s a good chance they’ll be given the resources to create something decent, and the premise is certainly ambitious, but it will take some big chops to pull it all off.
Formats: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Rebellion Developments
ETA: February 3rd 2012
What We Know: NeverDead is a 3rd Person action-adventure with an intriguing premise, given that you play an immortal – and not just a person who doesn’t age, but a person who literally cannot die. Protagonist Bryce can be stabbed, shot, poisoned, burned, drowned, dismembered, blown up, and kicked in the misters really hard without needing so much as a sit down. Having witnessed the murder of his wife at the hands of the Demon King Astaroth five hundred years ago, Bryce was cursed with immortality (sounds like a pretty sweet curse to us), and has spent every day since then hunting and killing demons. Aided by shapely and sassy (aren’t they all?) private investigator, Arcadia, Bryce must combat the demonic invasion threatening the Earth.
What We Want: Tongue-in-cheek, balls-out fun. With a premise like this and the ability to pull off your limbs to use as weapons and gadgets, there’s an almost Suda 51-style quirkiness to proceedings and the more of that we get, the better. A decent script would help, too, given the wise-cracking banter in the trailer. NeverDead is unlikely to win any awards, so it needs to stay light and rely on its unique premise and characters.
What We Expect: Hard to say, but NeverDead is likely to be a decent romp at the very least. Being able to manipulate the environment to, for example, crush your enemies under a tonne of rocks that can’t harm you has stacks of potential and, while Bryce can’t die, Arcadia certainly can – looking after her will provide the tension and working with her will help you solve NeverDead’s various puzzle sections.
THE LAST STORY
Developer: AQ Interactive / Mistwalker
ETA: February 24th 2012
What We Know: Developed by AQ Interactve and Mistwalker, The Last Story is a Japanese RPG set on the enclosed Lazulis Island, onto which a group of mercenaries led by a gent named Quark have come seeking work. Featuring interesting concepts such as the 'Gathering', which allows main character Zael (Elza in the Japanese version) to draw threat from enemies while his allies recuperate or cast spells, and 'Focus', which allows the identification and exploitation of an enemy’s weaknesses, The Last Story is definitely trying hard to stand out.
What We Want: Originality, for a start. The humble old role-playing game is rarely a unique beast, particularly when developed in the East, but The Last Story is at least attempting to break away by dumbing down the sci-fi elements and adding in a grab-bag of intriguing new mechanics. We’re hoping the 6-player co-operative online mode is balanced and, please, for goodness sake, easy on the whiny annoying sidekicks.
What We Expect: Japanese RPGs are a mixed bag at the best of times. Very occasionally something unique emerges in the genre, but more often than not it concerns an androgynous, floppy-haired, rebellious youth on a quest for some kind of revenge with a group of equally androgynous, increasingly-irritating companions. Wii-exclusive The Last Story is the tale of Zael, an androgynous, floppy-haired rebellious youth on a quest for revenge of some kind… Actually, we’re being facetious. In fact, The Last Story was released in Japan to unsurprisingly-high review scores and then imported here where Edge Magazine gave it a hefty 8/10, too. There’s a fair chance that AQ Interactive and Mistwalker’s title will stand above the usual JRPG fare.
Formats: PS3, Xbox 360
ETA: May 1st 2012
What We Know: As already stated, RPGs are very rarely unique. Capcom are aiming to break the mould by featuring pitched battles with huge creatures of legend from dragons to griffons to multi-headed hydras (or hydrae, possibly). Having been resurrected by a mysterious benefactor, you’ll run around accompanied by an AI controlled party of three, looking for the dragon who ripped your heart out and left you for dead by killing anything with more legs, heads or eyes than you. Being able to grab hold of the might foes is the game’s unique selling point, as you can then target specific areas, tussle with a dragon mid-flight or cut re-sprouting heads off hydras (pretty sure it’s hydrae) until your heart’s content.
What We Want: Having had a bit of hands-on time with Dragon’s Dogma earlier in the year and finding it to be somewhat… ropey, we’re hoping to see a lot of refinement before the release date.
What We Expect: Something new, at least. The concept of getting right in the face of a mythical beast and not just “hacking at its shins”, as put by director Hideaki Itsuno, is intriguing, and while it’s unlikely to trouble the legendary Shadow of the Colossus (to which it has been compared), the potential for a decent Action RPG is definitely in the formula.
Developer: Epic Games
What We Know: Like Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, Fortnite was unveiled at this month’s Spike TV Videogame Awards via a CGI trailer that gave the impression of a Minecraft-inspired, monster-infested defense game. Likely to revolve around building defenses during the day to repel hordes of nocturnal creatures at night (as in, building your fort to last the nite) Epic’s shiny new IP will feature an awful lot of things we never expected to see in an Epic game. Lead Designer Lee Perry was tweeting merrily away just after Fortnite’s announcement to suggest that it was likely to feature “weapons crafting, traps, lvl system, underground exploration, boss fights and rare loot”.
What We Want: Ingenuity and content in heaps. Epic are aiming to prove that they can do more than bromance and sci-fi, and so Fortnite should distance itself from titles like Gears of War as much as is humanly possible, and it looks like this is certainly the case.
What We Expect: Well, legendary motormouth and all-round top bloke Cliff "Cliffy B" Bleszinski (otherwise known and Epic’s Design Director) confirmed that Fortnite would contain “no dudebros”, which can only be a good thing. Epic have hinted at moving in new creative directions for many a moon, and now they’ve got the chance to showcase something other than bullets and biceps they’re unlikely to let the opportunity slip. With only the brief trailer and Lee Perry’s tweets to go on, though, we can only base assumptions on the interesting premise, the Team Fortress 2-style visuals and Epic’s tendency to deliver quality titles over and over again.
Formats: PS3 (Playstation Network), Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)
Publisher: Autumn Games
Developer: Reverge Labs
ETA: Q1 2012
What We Know: 2D fighting games have been around since the early 17th Century, so it’s unusual to see anything particularly original, but Reverge Labs’ Skullgirls looks like it’s got more than a few tricks up its crazy sleeves. For a start its setting, Canopy Kingdom, is quirky and interesting, and the premise is more than the usual global-fighting-tournament pap that such games are often based around. Instead, Reverge’s title is all about the Skull Heart, a mysterious artefact that will grant a young girl’s wishes. As long as she is pure of heart, all will be well, but if the Heart judges her otherwise she becomes a Skullgirl and her wish will only come true after a fashion. Seven years ago, the Kingdom was plunged into darkness when the Queen wished for peace and found herself transformed into a Skullgirl. Quite how this develops into eight incredibly-weird, oddly-proportioned young girls battering each other senseless with a variety of wacky weapons is anyone’s guess, but bring it on!
What We Want: Balanced, well-crafted fighting and enough fresh ideas to overpower the bat-shit mental storyline.
What We Expect: Lots and lots of fun. Skullgirls looks unique in many ways, particularly in terms of the character design. Filia, for example, has a demonic, parasitic entity called Samson living in her hair, while the charmingly-named Painwheel is a leather-faced nightmare teen with a huge rotating blade surgically attached to her back. Gameplay elements like the anti-infinite combo system that stops players from repeatedly spamming cheap attacks, and the Variable Tag Battle system that allows players to mix-and-match odd-numbered tag-teams (one vs. two or two vs. three, for example) should keep things original and exciting.
So what do you think? A little more excited about 2012, yet? Tweet, comment or egg our doors to let us know just how ecstatic – or indeed, not – this little lot gets you, and we’ll be back shortly with Part Three.
Words by Mick Fraser (Twitter: @Jedi_Beats_Tank)
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