The 2012 Year in Games... a Preview That Has My Jaw on the Floor

Finish playing the best games of 2011. Then tape this to your refrigerator. This is a preview, of some of the biggest and/or most interesting games coming out in 2012 (with a heavy bias toward big-company consoles and handheld releases, since that's what gets announced earliest).

January brings us Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3, Xbox 360, 1/31), which is like Final Fantasy XIII but with towns. We get SoulCalibur V (PS3, Xbox 360, 1/31), a fighting game that includes Ezio from Assassin's Creed, and we get Neverdead (PS3, Xbox 360, 1/31), a third-person action game in which you're supposed to rip off your own body parts and use them as weapons, spy cameras and so on.

February's got high-hopes fantasy role-playing game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, 2/7) and Fallout New Vegas: Ultimate Edition (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, 2/7) which bundles up the 2010 game with all of its downloadable expansions. The PS3 gets God of War creator's return to his first big series in the form of his team's new Twisted Metal (PS3, 2/14). Crazy, tentacle-arm first-person shooter The Darkness II (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, 2/7) also hits that month. So does Binary Domain (PS3, Xbox 360, 2/7), which is the game you get when the guy who came up with Super Monkey Ball and Yakuza decides to take another left turn and make a sci-fi squad-based third-person shooter. Also: gravity-defying shooter Inversion (PS3, Xbox 360, 2/7), wacky Capcom action game Asura's Wrath (PS3, Xbox 360 2/21), the Jak and Daxter Collection that collects the series' three main games (PS3, 2/7), Resident Evil Revelations, which is an all-new but old-school survival-horror game (3DS, 2/7), Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (3DS, 2/14) and... (full disclosure, I'm pulling these early-'12 dates from GameStop and I can't believe how packed their schedule is either!)... Rhythm Heaven (Wii, 2/13) which is a music game that includes a pro-wrestling-interview mini-game, UFC Undisputed 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, 2/14), the revised, turned-into-a-shooter-but-it-seems-cool-nevertheless Syndicate (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, 2/21), the revamped SSX (PS3, Xbox 360, 2/28) snowboarding game and more.

Oh, and Sony's new handheld, the PS Vita will also roll out in mid-February, with a game line-up that includes Uncharted: Golden Abyss, a new Hotshots Golf, WipeOut 2048, Gravity Rush, Little Deviants, Escape Plan, ModNation Racers and more.

NOTE: Can we pause for a second? If you know much about who is making these games, you may notice that the majority of the aforementioned games are from Japanese developers and publishers, the exact set of game creators who played minimal roles in a fall that was dominated by Western-made games such as Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, Arkham City, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and Uncharted 3. Nintendo's fall line-up notwithstanding, hmmmm. ENDNOTE.

Yes, that new PokePark sequel (PokePark 2: Wonders Beyond) is coming out in February, too. (Wii, 2/27)

March brings more abundance. Ninja Gaiden 3, (PS3, Xbox 360, 3/20) which has competitive multiplayer (!). Mass Effect 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, 3/6) which has co-op multiplayer (!). Max Payne 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, TBD March) which has story-based multiplayer (!). MLB 2K 12 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PS2, 3/6) and MLB The Show 12 (PS3, Vita, 3/6), which have baseball-oriented multiplayer (.). Street Fighter X Tekken (PS3, Xbox 360, 3/6), which have cross-company fighting multiplayer. Mario Party 9 (Wii, 3/11) with.. oh, you get the idea. Resident Evil Operation: Raccoon City (PS3, Xbox 360, 3/20) with.. ok I can't resist... team-based competitive multiplayer... that's the point of the game! Res Evil, SOCOM-style.

Did I mention that Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS, 3/27) will have multiplayer?

Also due by the end of March: Silent Hill Downpour (PS3, Xbox 360), Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater (3DS, 3/13), Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure (Xbox 360, 3/20), the bigest game Capcom's ever made in the form of Dragon's Dogma, the next Tiger Woods (PS3, Xbox 360, 3/27), Yakuza Dead Souls (PS3, 3/30) and the intriguing, choose-your-destiny first-person action game Dishonored.

Enough?

Into April, things get fuzzier.

Open-world, ultra-violent action game Prototype 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) will be out on April 24. GameStop thinks April will also deliver the North American release of Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii), a Game of Thrones video game and maybe even the oft-delayed Spec Ops: The Line.

After that? Well, the second half of 2012 will bring us Nintendo's new console, the Wii U.

By the end of the year, we're supposed to get BioShock Infinite (featuring a floating city and new hero!) and Assassin's Creed III (featuring a new city and new hero!). Bet money on the next Call of Duty coming out this November and Halo 4 hitting around the same time. Microsoft will eventually release the delayed Star Wars Kinect as well as the intriguing Kinect-enabled role-playing game spin-off Fable: The Journey. Sony's got sci-fi combat game Starhawk, which is already well into its beta.

Other late-2012 probables include Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Borderlands 2, the revamped Tomb Raider, the Uncharted team's next big thing, The Last of Us, Darksiders II, Lollipop Chainsaw, new Madden, NCAA Football, NHL and NBA 2K games, and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.

In the who-knows-when-but-it's-gotta-be-2012 category goes the much-anticipated Diablo III (PC and...?) as well as the next LEGO games, which would include the first-announced Wii U game, Lego City Stories and perhaps the super-hero jam Lego Batman 2? Nintendo's got Luigi's Mansion 2 (3DS) well into development and has been promising new Paper Mario, Animal Crossing and Mario Tennis games for a while now, all for 3DS. Plus, on who knows what platform (my wild guess is HTML 5 browsers): Epic's Minecraft-meets-tower-defense Fortnight.

And in the 2012-maybe category goes Grand Theft Auto V, World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria, The Last Guardian and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.

And, finally, in the don't-forget category the people at Respawn, aka the crew mainly responsible for the current Call of Duty juggernaut just might have a new game for us to play by year's end.

ALSO... I've not factored in many downloadable games, any iOS or Android games, nor any Facebook games, all of which will likely have some excellent stuff to play in 2012. Apologies if I omitted your favorite game on any platform. The year is packed.

AND MORE... Looks like I forgot Hitman: Absolution. Sorry! TBD 2012 probably. Same with Guild Wars 2 and Journey (PS3) and The Witcher 2 (the Xbox 360 version)... and Aliens Colonial Marines (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U)?...plus Ni No Kuni (PS3), Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3), Counter-Strike GO (PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360).

I guess last year was the slow year. Have fun, everyone! Don't go broke.