SLIDESHOW

The 20 Most Anticipated Video Games of 2012

Check out our picks for the 20 coolest computer, console, and handheld video games shipping in 2012.

2012's Most Wanted

The most anticipated PC, console, and handheld games of 2012 are--you guessed it--another batch of sequels and remakes! But given some of these games' pedigrees, 2012 promises to be a huge year.

Here's our look at 2012's most talked-about games.

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Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3)

Square Enix's full-fledged Final Fantasy XIII sequel takes place five years after XIII's storyline ends, and involves many of the same characters. The sequel is supposed to be less linear and have real towns. The story will be darker and deal with the game's broader "Fabula" mythology, including the system's third deity, Etro (XIII obsessed over the relationship between two other godlike beings).

Combat will retain XIII's brilliant command-queue and "paradigm shift" setup, but enemies now appear on the battlefield at random. Oh, and you can manually jump--a first for the main series--implying more of an "explore the world" approach.

By: Square Enix

Expected: January 31

Twisted Metal (PS3)

Welcome back to vehicle combat with the clown guy from Insane Clown Posse (not really, but he's probably a groupie).

Twisted Metal--the reboot--will retain the series' trademark "demolition derby with missile launchers" vibe, only with an emphasis on multiplayer battles (4-player split screen, 16-player online).

At least one of the modes sounds promising: You and your pals square off against another team, the goal being to destroy the opposing side's statue--except each team's statue is dangling from a helicopter above the battlefield. How to win? Capture the other side's leader, sacrifice them to a missile launcher, and then guide the missile to the target. Best of all: Developer Eat Sleep Play was co-founded by David Jaffe and Scott Campbell, two of the original game's creators.

By: Eat Sleep Play

Expected: February 14

Syndicate (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Cyberpunk first-person shooter Syndicate, which looks like a cross between Crysis and Deus Ex, is actually a reboot of an old top-down tactical shooter game developed for PC in 1993.

The new and improved Syndicate is pure action, and we're looking forward to blasting our way through the dystopian near-future as a bioengineered agent for a monolithic corporate syndicate. With a DART 6 biochip implanted in your skull, you can hack the world around you, slowing down time and invading the minds of enemies and civilians via their implants. Four-player co-op should also be available when the game comes out on all major platforms next February.

By: Snowblind Studios

Expected: February 21

Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PS Vita)

Nathan Drake gets his first mobile adventure in this full-fledged Uncharted prequel from Sony subsidiary SCE Bend Studio. No, the makers aren't Naughty Dog (the Uncharted series creator and primary developer), but Naughty Dog is working closely with them, and they're known for respectable games like the Syphon Filter series as well as the latter's PlayStation Portable incarnations.

We don't have a lot of details on the game itself, but here's what we know: It's a prequel, you play as Nathan Drake, and the game will take advantage of the PS Vita's special touchpad and motion controls. What we're pretty sure about: At least in the demos, it looks incredible--as detailed as any PlayStation 3 game.

By: SCE Bend Studio

Expected: February 22

Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D (3DS)

We got our first hands-on with this one way back at E3 2010, and even then it looked terrific.

Sure, it's just a port of a PS2 game with a no-glasses 3D angle, but it's a port of what is arguably the best game in the Metal Gear Solid series, and who wouldn't want a portable version of that?

Here's the iffy part: It'll be compatible with the 3DS's new "circle pad" attachment, which adds a second right-hand thumbstick by way of a clumsy-looking snap-in tray. Thumbs up for dual-analog support, but thumbs-ick for Nintendo's kludgy peripheral (with any luck, we'll see a version of the 3DS with a built-in thumbstick in 2012).

By: KCEJ

Expected: February 2012

XCOM (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

XCOM, the X-Files-meets-mini-wargaming tactical puzzler, is returning after years in IP limbo courtesy of developer 2K Marin--but not as you might have imagined (or hoped).

The turn-based strategy game "X-COM" has been rebooted as "XCOM," a first-person shooter. Before you balk, though, remember that 2K Marin also brought us the first-person shooter BioShock 2, one of 2010's very best.

What else do we know about it, besides its unholy removal of a dash? Very little, save that it's set in the early 1960s, and that you play as a man named William Carter, an FBI field intelligence officer whose job is to eliminate extraterrestrials--and who apparently is no relation to the William Carter who in the 1970s became the namesake for Billy Beer.

By: 2K Marin

Expected: March 6

Mass Effect 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Mass Effect 3 is the final chapter in the story of Commander Shepard's heroic struggle to save our galaxy from alien invasion. A lesser developer might have fumbled such a generic and cliché premise, but Bioware has used it to build one of the greatest role-playing franchises ever. Mass Effect 3 goes on sale next March and includes new minigames, branching skill trees, and a "Galaxy At War" multiplayer co-op mode. But that's all gravy for the meaty story, which promises to account for hundreds of different decisions your custom-tailored Shepard has made over the course of the previous two games to deliver a closing chapter tailored to your tastes.

By: Bioware

Expected: March 2012

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (PC)

The second chapter in Blizzard's StarCraft II trilogy features a stand-alone campaign, new units, and significant changes to the game's multiplayer mechanics. This time you play as the Zerg, a swarm of insect-like creatures (and the StarCraft series' most memorable antagonists). We're expecting about 20 missions total, all sold at a reduced price--making this an "expansion" with content worthy of a stand-alone product.

By: Blizzard

Expected: Q2 2012

Minecraft (Xbox 360)

We're sure you've heard of Minecraft, the craft-anything Java game for PCs where the world is molded from giant Atari 2600-style 3D cubes; where you're building gizmos and gadgets either for the sake of building or to defend against wolves, "spider jockeys," and ghoulish ghasts that come looking to pulverize your handiwork at night; and where you can throw together Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, or craft an honest-to-goodness working 16-bit CPU.

Well, it's coming to the Xbox 360, exclusively, and--surprise, surprise--it features full-on Kinect support.

By: 4J Studios

Expected: Q2 2012

Halo 4 (Xbox 360)

Reportedly, Halo 4 will be the first game in a new "Reclaimer" trilogy and will star the indefatigable John "Master Chief" 117. Does "Reclaimer" sound too much like Mass Effect's Reapers, the alien things waiting out beyond the stars somewhere to eat everyone?

Maybe it's just us, but we really hope this turns out to be more than another aliens-want-to-scarf-down-the-universe riff.

By: 343 Industries

Expected: Q4 2012

Metal Gear Solid Rising (PS3, Xbox 360)

The much-anticipated Metal Gear Solid Rising is scheduled to come out sometime next year. First announced in 2009 during the Microsoft E3 press conference, Metal Gear Solid Rising is a stealth-action game that recounts how Raiden became a cybernetic swordsman after the events of Metal Gear Solid 2.

Metal Gear Solid fans should be excited about Rising because Raiden's no solid snake--there's a greater emphasis on high-speed action and complex melee combat maneuvers.

By: Kojima Productions

Expected: TBA 2012

BioShock Infinite (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

"Infinite" sounds a little Buzz Lightyear, but so what? Do you want to fly around a floating steampunk city-in-the-clouds that its creator compares to the Death Star?

Irrational Games' upcoming title, BioShock Infinite, is part first-person shooter, part mind-bending dystopian tale. It's not a sequel to BioShock or BioShock II, but a stand-alone game with stylistic connective tissue. Expect more parallels with the best and the worst of various international ideologies as you attempt to infiltrate the city and rescue a woman who has been held there for more than a decade.

By: Irrational Games

Expected: TBA 2012

Diablo III (PC)

We hope your mouse hand is well-rested, because Blizzard is finally releasing Diablo III in 2012, and it's shaping up to be just as action-packed as the first two games. Franchise fans will be excited to return to Tristram and save the dark fantasy world of Sanctuary from the forces of Hell one last time.

The debut of Diablo III heralds many interesting changes for the series, including new classes (such as the monk), a fresh single-player campaign that requires a constant connection to Battle.net's servers, and an in-game auction house that will allow players to spend real money for in-game currency and items.

By: Blizzard Entertainment

Expected: TBA 2012

Grand Theft Auto V (TBA)

It's been almost four years since GTA IV debuted to critical acclaim and financial success, so it's about time Rockstar unveiled a sequel. Not much is known about the next Grand Theft Auto game, except that it will take place in the fictional seaside metropolis of Los Santos (a thinly-veiled analog of Los Angeles), will likely feature multiple protagonists, and will probably be released in 2012. And frankly, that's enough: the GTA series has earned a reputation for great gameplay coupled with tongue-in-cheek takes on classic American culture, so there's every reason to expect GTA fans to lap up the newest entry when it debuts.

By: Rockstar

Expected: TBA 2012

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC)

Who knew that Kung Fu Panda 3 would be a World of Warcraft expansion? (I'm just kidding, but take a look at this thing--I fully expect DreamWorks and Blizzard to come to blows.) Mists of Pandaria is WoW's fourth expansion--this time with pandas. There's a new level cap of 90, a new monk class, and the game's first "neutral" race: the Pandaren, which you can play as either Horde or Alliance.

By: Blizzard

Expected: TBA 2012

Max Payne 3 (PS3, Xbox 360)

It's been almost a decade since Max Payne 2 arrived to critical acclaim;, and though many games have aped the "Bullet Time" mechanics that made Max Payne famous, nothing else out there delivers the same intoxicating blend of acrobatic third-person combat and acerbic melodrama.

Early previews of Max Payne 3 suggest that we'll be playing an older version of the eponymous hard-boiled detective as he moves from the dark alleys of NYC to the sun-drenched streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Little is known about the game beyond assurances that journeyman developer Rockstar Vancouver is dedicated to maintaining the same cinematic gunplay and gritty noir aesthetic that defined the previous two Max Payne games.

By: Rockstar Vancouver

Expected: TBA 2012

Borderlands 2 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

The original Borderlands was a breakout hit in 2009, earning critical acclaim as a satisfying sci-fi shooter with an addictive color-coded loot system, great co-op gameplay, and beautiful cel-shaded art. The sequel is coming in 2012 with more of what made the original great, including four new heroes to play, additional customizable weapons, and an all-new story to explore.

By: Gearbox Software

Expected: TBA 2012

The Last Guardian (PS3)

The Last Guardian has become something of a great white whale for Team Ico enthusiasts, delayed since we first saw leaked footage before the game was unveiled at E3 2009. The third-person adventure game is now expected to reach shelves sometime next year, and its development pedigree suggests that it should be worth the wait.

The Last Guardian is being developed by Team Ico, the studio responsible for such charming and atmospheric games as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. From the bits and pieces we've seen of it, The Last Guardian appears to be an improvement over Team Ico's previous masterpieces--both of which showcase beautiful characters and environments, as well as simple puzzles and dramatic combat scenarios--suggesting that this will be a must-buy for any PS3 owner.

By: Team Ico

Expected: 2012

Hitman: Absolution (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Don't be fooled by the violent film adaptation; the Hitman games have always been excellent puzzle games masquerading as slick third-person shooters. When Hitman: Absolution arrives next year players will step back into the polished loafers of Agent 47, a professional assassin with a troubled past who specializes in eliminating targets without leaving a trace.

Players are penalized for harming anyone other than the target, and the only way to earn a perfect score is to take out your target without anyone knowing you were there. Thus every level becomes a complex series of puzzles as players figure out how to shoot, sneak, or otherwise bypass multiple layers of security to take out their target and escape trace-free. Hitman: Absolution features a slew of new features, including an elaborate trap system, a new Instinct mode that looks like a darker version of Arkham Asylum's Detective Mode, and a new online component that may include online play.

By: IO Interactive

Expected: TBA 2012

Far Cry 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

The next Far Cry game leaves the lush African savanna that we explored in Far Cry 2 and revisits the tropical island we saw in the first game. Far Cry 3 takes place on a virtual archipelago that's expected to be almost ten times longer than the worlds in the previous games, and players will use a range of weapons and stealthy tactics to fight their way across it.

Players take on the role of island tourist Jason Brody, who is stranded on a remote island whose residents have been driven mad after years of bloody warfare. Early previews suggest that the game will offer various missions that players can choose to complete in any order, as well as an experience system with character progression similar to Modern Warfare's prestige system.

By: Ubisoft Montreal

Expected: TBA 2012