Grizzly Gaming

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grizzly Gaming's Almost-Most Anticipated Games of 2012

I’ve already gone over my most anticipated games for 2012, a list that includes soon-to-be hits like “Mass Effect 3,” “Borderlands 2,” and “Bishock Infinite.” And while those are going to wind up in my collection sooner rather than later, there are plenty of other games slated for release this year that are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Far Cry 3

Slated release: Sept. 4 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC

Games with open-world settings have enjoyed huge popularity in recent years. The GTA and Saints Row series’ have become synonymous with open-world, sandbox gaming but numerous other series such as The Elder Scrolls, Red Dead Redemption, Prototype and even Dead Island have made stellar use of the open-world setting. Though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each series named above, one series returning this year is arguably one of the most intense and immersive open-world series’ of all time. On Sept. 4, Ubisoft’s incredible first-person shooter series Far Cry returns with “Far Cry 3.”

As noted above, Far Cry is known for being an incredibly immersive series. For instance, Far Cry 2 was set in Africa with you taking on the role of a mercenary who is hunting down a weapons dealer named The Jackal. From the moment you started a new game of FC 2, you assumed the role of your character and everything from servicing your weapons to checking your map takes place in real time in-game. You could even catch malaria in FC2 and need to take pills (and possible go on missions for more pills if you run out) every 30-40 minutes to combat the illness. Immersion and realism on that level is undoubtedly too much for some to handle but I’ve been giddy thinking about what the next game in this series could bring.

You'll spend plenty of time in Far Cry 3 evading armed guerillas

Similar to the first game in the series, Far Cry 3 takes place in a tropical setting. Players will take on the role of tourist Jason Brody, vacationing on a chain of tropical islands with a friend and his girlfriend. Unknown to them, the islands are in the midst of a violent local conflict and in early videos for the game, Brody and his group are kidnapped by a violent psychotic man named Vaas. Brody, a man out of his element, fighting for his survival, manages to escape Vaas after his friend is murdered but remains on the island, eluding his captors and trying to devise a plan to rescue his girlfriend and escape the island.

I read that at first, Brody was going to be a man who has some background in self-defense and survival but was turned into an every-man forced to adapt to a life-threatening situation, which, to me, is a great change. Being an underdog, or rather a regular guy facing trained soldiers, makes his situation seem that much more dire and should give an intensity to any confrontation, no matter how minor. I’ve also seen that Ubiosoft is claiming the size of the map in FC3 dwarfs any previous map which will give Brody tons of time to hone his skills before tracking down his kidnapped girlfriend.

Vaas will be your main antagonist in Far Cry 3, hunting you down after

kidnapping your girlfriend and killing your best friend

Though the depth of the character immersion in FC is pretty overwhelming at times, that kind of freedom allows you to tackle missions and objectives however you see fit. For instance, in the last game, you might be driving around the African savannah and see what looks like something in the grassland up ahead. Pulling your vehicle to a stop, you get out and use your binoculars to scan the area and sure enough, directly in front of you is a small mercenary outpost. You could bypass it completely if you’re low on supplies or have other tasks you want to complete – but where’s the fun in that? Moving in closer, your map gives you a zoomed in view of the area, allowing you to take advantage of the terrain. As you move in, you can mark targets like enemies, supplies or other points of interest to use in your assault. After determining the best place to strike, you can go in quietly, using stealth to silently take down guards and hide their bodies or you could go in guns-blazing like Arnold in “Commando” and mow everyone down. It’s rare that first-person shooters give players the amount of freedom as, say, a GTA title but that is exactly what you get with FC and FC3 should only, hopefully, be an amplification of those qualities.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Ubisoft sticks with the hardcore immersion of past games for FC3. It would be great if they did but I’m sure they’ll be looking to make FC3 as friendly to casual gamers as possible and wouldn’t be surprised if they add RPG elements to allow for a more customizable experience.


Prototype 2

Slated release: April 24 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC

Bioterrorism, though a very real threat, is something that we luckily haven’t had to deal with in real life. Traditional terrorism is horrifying enough without throwing in the possibility of unleashing some unknown but deadly substance onto an unsuspecting population. In 2009’s “Prototype” this sort of scenario plays out with unimaginable consequences. In the first Prototype, players took on the role of Alex Mercer, an unwitting test subject who has been infected with the Blacklight virus. The virus, a military-created bio-weapon, has infected the entire island of Manhattan and Mercer, who has no recollection of his life prior to infection, attempts to reconnect with and discover the origins of the infection, not just in the city but within himself.

It’s clear over the course of Prototype that Mercer is an anti-hero of sorts – he battles forces of the US military as well as a special forces group known as Blackwatch – but his motives are very personal and in the course of achieving his ends, unknown multitudes dies at his hands and by way of his actions. The protagonist of “Prototype 2,” James Heller, is one of those affected by Mercer’s actions. A former police officer, Heller is infected with the virus during the initial outbreak and swears to both stop the virus and hunt down Alex Mercer. Heller’s motives are much more personal than Mercer’s quest for knowledge – Heller also believes that Mercer’s actions are directly responsible for the death of his family.

Heller's infection has mutated to allow him to

create and use tendrils that inflict massive damage

Heller is unique in that he is able, to some extent, control the virus, much like Mercer. However Heller’s infection has mutated and granted him new abilities that Mercer did not possess, such as the ability to create tendrils which he can use for numerous purposes. Think of the tendrils as Spider-Man’s webs, only much, much more disgusting and are used more for dismemberment of enemies than care-free swinging around the city.

James Heller is a more clearly defined hero, opposed to Protoype's Alex Mercer

Much like the first game, Prototype 2’s map will be set up into Green, Yellow and Red zones. The Blacklight virus has spread to the other boroughs of New York, with Manhattan as the epicenter of the outbreak. Alex Mercer still lives on the island, a Red zone, where the virus grows unhindered. Yellow zones will be where the majority of the city’s inhabitants continue to reside, under constant threat of the encroaching infection. Green will be where the Blackwatch and military presence is strongest as they hope to somehow contain the spread of the virus. Unlike the last game, Heller will discover missions for himself by hacking into Blackwatch’s computer network and will take him through each of the varying zones of New York.

I’m interested in Prototype 2, if only to see the level of crazy destruction and violence it can present. Honestly, that was the original game’s biggest strength – it’s outlandish, utterly cartoonish take on a real-world threat like bio-terrorism. As a protagonist, Alex Mercer was unstable, unyielding and had little concern for anyone but himself and his family, giving his infection and attacks a brutal, uncontained aggression. Heller appears to be a much more clearly defined hero character which will hopefully be emphasized by the range, scope and use of his powers. Obviously, running up the sides of skyscrapers and ripping tanks apart with his bare hands will still be very much a part of Prototype 2.

Believing him to be behind the spread of the infection,

Heller spends much of his time searching for Mercer in Prototype 2.

Heller’s Blacklight infection almost assures his relative dominance over anyone who isn’t Alex Mercer which gives the player a feeling of unbridled, unchallenged power. Mercer was able to take out large groups of soldiers and heavy vehicles with little to no problem and I wouldn’t expect any less from Heller. Giving the player unmatched power is what Prototype is all about. It seems that there will be a stronger focus on story (which will again be revealed through stolen memories) which is definitely a plus for the series – though it was fun to tear up Manhattan as Mercer, without a stronger reason for the carnage, it got stale after a short time. I’d love to see Radical Entertainment perhaps add some sort of “karma” gauge to Prototype, some sort of system to show whether Heller is still using his powers for good or whether he is allowing his the infection to control his mind, just like it did Mercer. But I’d really doubt that we’ll see anything like that.

The initial Prototype wasn’t an immediate buy for me and I’ll be taking the same sort of “wait and see” approach with this title as well. But after some time on the shelves and a price drop, I would definitely love to see what Radical has in store for Prototype 2.


Darksiders 2

Slated release: June 26 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U (really?) and PC

With the growing popularity of first-person shooters and sandbox games, action/adventure titles have gotten lost somewhat in the shuffle. Though the genre has always thrived on Nintendo consoles, Xbox and Playstation gamers have seemingly moved away from the genre in favor of deeper, more customizable experiences (like Skyrim) or more hyper-violent action fare (such as Gears of War or Call of Duty). However, 2010’s Darksiders changed all that, proving that dungeon crawlers akin to Legend of Zelda don’t need to be all happy colors and fairy magic.

Darksiders tells the tale of the Apocalypse, when the forces of heaven and hell meet on earth to decide the fate of the universe. But more specifically, it tells the story of how one of the Four Horsemen – War – is accused of starting the end of times too soon and must quest across the ruined earth to clear his name and undo the damage done.

“Darksiders 2,” which is slated for release this summer, tells the story of War’s brother, Death, whose story takes place at about the same time at the first game. Upon hearing of War’s “betrayal” Death embarks on a journey to the Nether Realms to gather support for his unjustly maligned brother.

Vigil Games, developers of the Darksiders series, has stated that in terms of size and amount of content, “Darksiders 2” blows away its predecessor. The sequel, consisting of the same “hub world/dungeon” layout, is allegedly double the size of the first game, with some hub worlds in the second game dwarfing the size of some entire levels from the first game. To fill that much more game space, Vigil has reportedly added more RPG elements to “Darksiders 2” to allow players more customization of Death with more weapons, armor pieces and other items that can, in some way, increase Death’s powers.

Death is more lithe and agile than War and that will

be apparent in his movement and combat

I only got around to play Darksiders last year at some point and it was a huge surprise for me – surprising in that I hadn’t heard more about how great it is. The original Darksiders used the popular “Metroid-vania” method of level progression, in that players will often come across inaccessible areas that can only be opened up by obtaining some new power or weapon. I would imagine Darksiders 2 uses a similar method of progression, just on a larger scale, ensuring that there will be plenty to do and accomplish for even the biggest completionist. Along the same lines as huge levels, Vigil claims that “Darksiders 2” will have some truly outlandish and unbelievable bosses. Game Informer magazine recently ran a feature about Darksiders 2 where it was stated that many bosses in Darksiders don’t even compare to Darksiders 2 minibosses, let alone end-of-level bosses.

Darksiders 2's minibosses and bosses are reportedly

much larger than any found in the first game

One of my favorite aspects of the original Darksiders was the art style used by the game’s creative director and famed comic book artist Joe Madureira. The design of the numerous hell-beasts was truly frightening and yet they still seemed like no match for the Horseman War, with his bulky frame and gigantic, two-handed sword Chaoseater. Though Death is supposed to be more lithe and quick on his feet than the bruiser War, he will still be a force to be reckoned with. Allegedly, Death will handle more like Ezio Auditorre or the Prince of Persia than Kratos, alluding to platforming perhaps taking a bigger role in the level design of Darksiders 2.

Death will have access to just as many powerful weapons as War to aid his journies

Darksiders 2 is coming out during a time of the year when quality new game releases are few and far between. I honestly didn’t even realize until recently that this game was slated for a 2012 release and if I had, it definitely would’ve been higher up on my radar. If the reviews and the buzz are positive for Darksiders 2, I’ll definitely be picking it up sooner rather than later.


Street Fighter X Tekken

Slated release: March 6 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC

Though Street Fighter may have been the first game to truly legitimize the fighting genre, I’ve always been a much bigger fan of the Tekken series. Though both make use of outlandish fighters, location and moves, the open, 3D movement of Tekken and the simpler combos it allows has always appealed to me more than Street Fighter. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent a fair amount of time with the SF series, I’ve just spent way more time with the various iterations of Tekken, especially 3, 4, 5 and Tag Tournament (which I recently learned they are making a Tekken Tag Tourney 2, finally).

Though I’ve tended to pick games for this piece that haven’t been released yet, (SFXT was released on March 6), this game was too interesting to pass up looking into. Combining two universes in this manner, where characters who wouldn’t normally meet battle it out for supremacy, has always interested me – I was a huge fan of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (and even had a copy of it on PS2 which, I didn’t know until it was too late, was on the rare side for a video game) and recently picked up Ulimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I also wanted to point out that there is also a “Tekken X Street Fighter” game, allegedly, in the works that but uses the mechanics and settings of the Tekken series as its base, rather than the SF series. I’m, honestly, way more stoked about that game but as far as I know, relatively little work has been done on that game.

Chun-Li (SF) and Nina Williams (T) square off

While Mortal Kombat finds its hook in ultraviolence and Soul Calibur in its outlandish characters and their unique weapons, Street Fighter and Tekken have always sought to portray real-life characters with actual fighting styles. Though, both series’ make plenty of room for the absurd with characters like green-skinned, electrified Blanka, the Mr. Fantastic-esque Dhalsim, cyborg Jack and literal bear Kuma. Along with the whacky characters named mainstays of both series such as Sagat, Chun-Li, Ryu and Zangief (SF) and Paul Phoenix, Law, Nina and Kazuya (Tekken) also appear (for a full list, check the game’s Wikipedia page).

Ryu of Street Fighter and Kazyua Mishima of

Tekken throw down for fighting series supremacy

So pretty much just the idea of being able to pit Heiachi Mishima against M. Bison (for craziest overlord) or Paul Phoenix against Guile (for best blonde flat top) is pretty much worth the price of admission, to me. Albeit, I wish I were able to host that bout in Tekken’s 3D environment and not the 2D SF levels but there’s not much I can do about that, is there? Well, maybe wait until Tekken X Street Fighter comes out but right now, who knows when that’ll be out.


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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