So here's some of what I'm looking forward to the most this year (part 1).
Aliens: Colonial Marines: As a die-hard fan of 2001's Aliens vs. Predator 2 I had high hopes for Rebellion's reboot in February of 2010. It didn't satisfy my hopes to say the least, and here I am once again getting worked up over a new game in the Aliens franchise. At least this one is being developed by Gearbox whom I have more faith in than Rebellion.
Antichamber: Formerly known as Hazard: The Journey of Life and sporting a brilliant aesthetic along with an emphasis on exploration and discovery, the only thing that could keep this off my hype radar for 2012 is the possibility of it not coming out in 2012. Still, odds are good that we'll get our hands on this delightful looking indie title this year.
Asura's Wrath: Asura's Wrath had me excited from the time it debuted at TGS, and after having played the demo I'm just as excited for it. It's a bit mashy and mindless, but the over-the-top scenarios and the consistency of the QTEs make for a ludicrous experience reminiscent of Fist of the North Star, and it's hard to not giggle at them. Maybe I'll do an article on the place of QTEs in games down the road, but that's for another time.
A Valley Without Wind: Everything about this game has my attention; the crafting, the combat, the platforming, and especially the procedurally generated world. The folks over at Arcen are adopting the Mojang approach to betas in which early adopters gain access to the full game at a discount. I'm not sure that it will have the depth or the long-term appeal of some other recent indie games, but it certainly looks fun.
Awesomenauts: Awesomenauts is a 2D DotA-style game with the charming art style of Fat Princess. They can pretty much just take my money now.
Babel Rising: I learned to love From Dust, but it wasn't quite what I wanted it to be which was an authentic God game. With any luck Babel Rising will be the game I wanted From Dust to be. I might just be setting myself up for disappointment again, but even if that does happen and it turns out that Babel isn't quite what I expect it to be, I'm sure it will still at least be good.
Battleblock Theater: Not only is it a super fun looking platformer from the guys who made Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers, the trailer gives me hope that the co-op will be second to none.
Bioshock Infinite: Do you know what the biggest difference between Bioshock and Bioshock 2 was? Ken Levine and his studio, Irrational. If you loved the first game and you were disappointed by the 2nd, you need to have your eyes on Infinite.
Blazblue CS Extend: It's a shame that Blazblue hasn't caught on the way some of its contemporaries have. Granted, series like Tekken, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Street Fighter have lengthier and richer pedigrees. Still, Blazblue's brilliant systems, its cult following (in the US anyway, I can't speak for Europe and Japan), and the love Aksys has for the series fills me with hope. Maybe Extend will be the release that kicks off a firestorm. Maybe not. It can't possibly be a bad game though given that it's essentially a port of the arcade version, Continuum Shift II.
Borderlands 2: Borderlands is a bit like Diablo if Diablo were an FPS. It was one of the most compelling, both in the good and bad sense of the term, and purely fun experiences of 2009, but it was also deeply flawed. The ending was a let down, the world lacked variety and it often felt barren, and very few of the guns felt truly unique. This is a perfect example of a game that needs a sequel. The first game was good, it had major flaws in need of correction, it sold well enough to warrant a sequel, and its in the hands of developers capable of learning from their mistakes. In addition, Anthony Burch, former features editor of Destructoid, is going to be writing the story for the game.
Class3 (Codename): The zombie genre is an old dog, and I love her, but sooner or later it's going to have to pass. On the bright side, we'll get a younger and healthier dog soon. Sure, it won't be the same, and we'll miss that ol' girl, but that's life. Still, I'm not convinced that it has shown us all of its tricks yet. Depressing dog metaphors aside, Class 3 looks to be focusing intently on the survival aspect of a zombie game, and I'm all for that.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: I'm long passed the point where I'll buy any game developed by Valve before needing to see any of its content. Innocent until proven guilty, err, great until proven shit I guess. Still, I didn't love Source, so I'm about as cautiously optimistic as my fanboy heart will let me be. If they can capture the feel of 1.6 while managing to broaden the viable weapon variety and maybe spice up a few other elements of the game, I'll be satisfied.
Darksiders 2: Darksiders had quite a few odds stacked against it. It released in January 2010 following the holiday season that saw the release of Modern Warfare 2, Borderlands, and Assassin's Creed 2. Furthermore, it released without a lot of hype behind it, it came out alongside Bayonetta which did have a considerable hype train backing it, and it was developed by an unproven developer, Vigil, whose only major claim to fame was having Joe Madureira on board as the game's creative director. It did well with the critics by shamelessly aping off of Zelda, Legacy of Kain, and God of War, and doing so fantastically, and it thankfully sold well enough that THQ thought it deserved a sequel. I loved Darksiders, and this might be my most anticipated game of the year.
Diablo 3: Scroll up two paragraphs. Replace "Valve" in the first two sentences with Blizzard. Diablo 2 consumed me for about 5 straight years, maybe more. I don't know if Diablo 3 is going to be able to get its hooks into me like its predecessor did, but then again, that's a nigh impossible standard to live up to. Blizzard has its work cut out for them, but I trust them above almost any other development studio to produce something high in quality.
Dishonored: From the concept art and the apocalyptic scenario I can't help but think of Half-Life. Which makes sense because Viktor Antonov was attached to both Half-Life 2 and this game. Harvey Smith, of Deus Ex and Thief fame is also on board for this project. Oh, and the studio developing it is the studio responsible for Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Seriously, just imagine that for a second. Half-Life 2, Deus Ex, Thief, and Dark Messiah all stirred up in a pot. The game itself might not be that incredible polygamous marriage, but the marriage of creative talent behind it certainly makes this one something to watch out for.
Defenders of Ardania: While I love the direction tower defenses have been going - hybridizing with real-time action oriented genres, there's still room in my heart for traditional tower defense and Defenders of Ardania is looking like its going to be just that.
Dragon Commander: I don't know how Larian intends to merge real-time aerial dragon combat with turn-based strategy, but between that and the steampunk aesthetic...let's just say they have my attention.
Dragon's Crown: The giant breasts that swing hypnotically like the pendulum of a grandfather clock seem a bit beyond gratuitous, and that disappoints me, but the rest looks fine. I love the art style and monster design (the character design less so), and I'm sure it'll be good for some mindless fun and drunken co-op. Oh, and kudos to whoever coined the term 'bro-op.'
Dragon's Dogma: The scale of the encounters is reminding me of Shadow of the Colossus. That alone makes me hopeful for Dragon's Dogma. Besides that, all I really know of the game is that it will be published by Capcom and that Hideaki Itsuno and Hiroyuki Kobayashi will be two of the main names attached to the project. As long as it isn't anything close Lost Planet 2 I'll be happy.