1. Assassin's Creed 3
Three years in the making Assassin's Creed 3 sees players sent to 18th Century America as Half-English Half-Native American assassin Connor. Thrust into the middle of this huge conflict gamers will experience a brand-new approach to Assassin's Creed with the largest map yet and an environment that completely changes with the seasons.
In Dishonored you play Corvo, an ex-imperial body guard who has been framed for the murder of the Empress. Corvo is also a skilled assassin, blessed with supernatural powers and these form the crux of his revenge mission against the man who framed him, known only as 'The Regent'.
As we've come to expect from Bethesda, the game world looks to be a highlight, a mash of influences which are both individually and collectively vibrant. The backdrop for much of the game is the industrial, steampunk city of Dunwall and though you don't have complete freedom of the city, you can tackle the game in any way you wish, whether that involves killing everything in sight, or never being seen at all.
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC | Dishonored Release date: Out now | Link: Dishonored review
3. The Witness
You may not have heard of Jonathan Blow, but you should be aware of his work. His is the mind behind Xbox Live Arcade's wonderful platformer-cum-brainteaser Braid, released in 2008. Well, now he and his team are back with a new game, primarily aimed at bending our mind-tanks in yet more ludicrous ways.
The Witness is an 'exploration-puzzle game' according to Blow's blog, and is set on an island. As you solve more of the puzzles, you gain access to more of the island. Details on a plot or story line are scarce (read: non-existant) but there's definitely an air of Myst/Riven about The Witness and if Braid was anything to go by, we're in for a real treat.
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3 | The Witness Release date: 2012 | Link: The Witness
We were ready to write this off as a lazy attempt at a 3D Angry Birds, but while Wreckateer openly takes its inspiration from smartphone's beat-the-leaderboard social challenge, there's genuine innovation, depth and charm here. Charged with demolishing a succession of increasingly complex medieval forts with a variety of wrecking balls boasting different powers (Angry Birds, see?), you have to use a responsive set of arm wafts to score points for damage, speed and flair.
Thankfully, Wreckateer truly gets the best out of Kinect, proving that the hardware's sometimes patchy response can be excellent when controls are kept slow and subtle rather than wild and manic. As you glide your flying shot, arms outstretched, into a hidden block of TNT and take down the east tower in one go, you instantly want to do it again – but this time from an angle so that it topples and takes out the west tower too. This way madness lies…
Platform: Xbox 360 (XBLA, Kinect)| Wreckateer Release date: Summer 2012| Link: Xbox
5. Twisted Metal
The original Twisted Metal was released on PS1 back in 1995, and the series as a whole is the Playstation's longest running exclusive franchise. Twisted Metal has built a strong cult following with its mix of frenetic destruction-derby combat and dark humour and the PS3 has long been overdue an installment.
Although a few iconic characters such as Sweet Tooth and Calypso will feature in the new game, it appears from the rest of the cast that this game won't pick up story-wise from the previous games. Nonetheless, you can expect the same adrenaline-fuelled gameplay along with split screen local multiplayer and juicy 16-player online battles.
6. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
How do you simplify an iconic war game that had the most complicated bespoke controller in history? You get rid of the controller completely and replace it with a motion-sensor and joypad combo, of course. The intensity of this war simulation is undeniable, with croaking colleagues and damaged weaponry result in panic-stricken real-time mission adjustments rather than a humble restart.
Yet with 20 different, very precise actions for Kinect to identify before you've even exited the tank, we'd be lying if we said we didn't die immediately every time we attempted to do anything more complicated than "look out of window". Yet with Kinect's casual approach under fire from some for dumbing down Xbox's core gamers, it's refreshing to see it injected into an experience that will test even the truly hardcore.
Platform: Xbox 360 Kinect | Steel Battalion: Heavy ArmorRelease date: Summer 2012 | Link: Xbox
7. Planetside 2
The original Planetside, for those that were lucky enough to play it, changed the way we thought about first-person shooters. Before then, FPS' involved running around a confined area with people, a literal deathmatch if you will. Planetside changed that - it invented the idea of massively multiplayer FPS' and created a real battlefield in a real world.
The idea with Planetside 2 seems to be: lets do things the same, but bigger, better and more balanced. Not much needs to be changed, and frankly, the idea of an update Planetside already makes us warm with joy. 300-man battles with heavy ground and air support, all controlled by players around the world? Bring it on.
Platform: PC | Planetside 2 Release date: 2012 | Link: Planetside 2 trailer
Yes, we know, it's another zombie game, but hold that thought: this is a good 'un. Set in 80s Seattle with a main character modelled on First Blood's "Homeless Chic Rambo", interiors inspired by The Goonies and a game mechanic heavily indebted to iconic PC sci-fi slab Flashback, this has serious cult pedigree. Throw in a heavy helping of The Walking Dead's comic-book horror, a Rorschach-like grizzled diary structure and Shadow Complex's expert melding of 2D action within a 3D world, and this is a claustrophobic adventure-cum-puzzler we're pigeonholing as "future classic".
Platform: Xbox 360 (XBLA) | Deadlight Release date: Summer 2012 | Link: Xbox
9. Soul Calibur 5
Soul Calibur is back... but it very nearly wasn't. It took a petition signed by Soul Calibur fans around the world to convince Namco to reinvest in the franchise after the disappointing reaction to the last two games. Thankfully, it appears that Namco are going back to the mechanics that made Soul Calibur 2, and the original Dreamcast games so good - an in-depth story mode and reaction-based, combo-heavy combat. Canonically this game is set long after the others, so expect plenty of new faces alongside comforting old favourites like Mitsurugi and Astaroth.
10. Trials Evolution
Everyone knows the Kickstart-esque motorcross might of Trials HD is the best Xbox Live Arcade bar none. Well, it just raised its own, perilously supported bar. The completely overhauled, consistently surprising single-player courses flirt with thematic inspiration as diverse as Saving Private Ryan (sand, gunfire and barb wire aplenty) and Limbo (the indie hit's moody environments recreated meticulously), and the in-depth level editor is so powerful it's a fully fledged game creator in its own right.
But it's the four-player on- or off-line multiplayer that will be running controller batteries down the world over, its clever regeneration engine keeping all players together while deducting points for lagging behind so that races remain thrillingly competitive till the death.
Platform: Xbox 360 (XBLA) | Trials Evolution Release date: Summer 2012 | Link: Xbox
After SSX 3 was so successful, it seemed strange that the SSX franchise just seemed to disappear into thin air, even if follow-ups such as SSX On Tour and SSX Blur were less than successful. You can count us among the scores of happy virtual slope-rippers who cheered when EA announced a new SSX at E3 in 2010, especially since the the stunt-heavy snowboard sim will feature real-world locations this time round, along with a slope-stomping new soundtrack to accompany some classic SSX gameplay.
12. Quantum Conundrum
Quantum Conundrum (XBLA)Portal creator Kim Swift returns to her cubes and experiments template by way of Luigi's Mansion in this cartoony, "Saturday-morning TV-inspired" take on Valve's physics-based classic. "It's all about restraints," Swift told us, suggesting that limiting the scope of the game fuelled creativity, and her 16-strong team has certainly delivered on the latter.
Instead of two portal guns you utilise the two trigger buttons to change a variety of blocks' properties from hard to light as you solve a succession of room-based challenges in an eternal search for an exit sign. Unsurprisingly familiar but with an altogether more accessible tone, although still packed full of challenge, Quantum Conundrum is set to be a Pixar-flavoured puzzler to cherish.
Platform: Xbox 360 (XBLA) | Quantum Conundrum Release date: Summer 2012 | Link: Xbox
13. The Last Guardian
Team Ico's latest game has been in development for nearly six years, and as with previous titles Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, mystery and speculation are rife. From what we can gather, you play as a young boy who travels around a castle-like world with a giant (friendly-ish) quadruped, cat-eagle thing. The last we heard Sony had put a tentative 2012 release date on it, but frankly if The Last Guardian finds its way into our 'Most Anticipated Games of 2013' list, we won't be surprised...
Platform: PS3 | The Last Guardian Release date: 2012 | Link: The Last Guardian trailer
14. Ninja Gaiden 3
Ryu Hayabusa is coming back in 2012, bring with him the long awaited Ninja Gaiden 3 - at last a genuine canonical sequel for Ninja Gaiden 2. The difficulty level remains as high as ever, although Tecmo has introduced an optional 'Hero mode', which automates some of your guarding and evasive manoeuvres when you're low on health. If you want to get a bit more active with your hack'n'slashery, Ninja Gaiden 3 also features Playstation Move compatibility, an idea that could make this game a real winner if it's done well.
15. Street Fighter X Tekken
Capcom and Namco are teaming up to deliver a fighting game mashup for the ages. You want to know who would win a fight between Ryu and Kazuya? Yoshimitsu vs. Ibuki? Zangief vs. Kuma? 2012 is the year you get to find out for yourself. Street Fighter X Tekken looks and plays like Street Fighter IV (albeit a bit faster and combo-heavy) but features a tag team system like that in Tekken Tag Tournament.
16. Diablo 3
RPG-nerds rejoice - Diablo is coming back this year and it looks absolutely stunning. All the hacking, slashing, archery and magical shenanigans you loved from the previous games is back in shed-loads for Diablo 3. Although the series used to be confined to PC, it is looking increasingly likely that the third iteration of the top-down RPG will be available on home consoles, as developer Blizzard has hired staff into a console development division for the game.
Platform: PC | Diablo 3 Release date: 2012 | Link: Diablo 3
Due for release on Playstation Network this year, the premise sees you playing as a robed figure, journeying through the desert towards a large mountain. There is no map, and no objective other than to reach your distant destination. Through your journey you will meet other players from around the world with whom you can work (if you want to) but you cannot communicate in any way. According to designer Jenova Chen, "it's about two strangers who meet online. They don't know who they are or how old they are. All they know is, that is another human being." Sounds pretty intriguing from where we're sitting.
18. Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar have made Grand Theft Auto into one of the world's most anticipated franchises. The days of top down criminal shootery are long gone, but Rockstar's cash cow rumbles on and the latest instalment is bound to make a big impression when it arrives. GTA V returns to Los Santos, a fictional representation of Los Angeles that you may remember from GTA San Andreas. Apart from that, expect more guns, explosions and general criminal skulduggery. We can't wait.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 and PC | Grand Theft Auto V Release date: 2012 | Link: Grand Theft Auto V trailer
19. Aliens Colonial Marines
Inspired by cinematic events from ALIENS, the atmospheric first person shooter will require your best Xenomorph-killing skills. Co-op mode lets players drop in and out of the action, while enemy AI means aliens will jump through grills from the floor and launch attack from the other side of the room, suitably scaring the hell out of you.
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC | Aliens: Colonial Marines Release date: 07/09/2012 | Link: Aliens Colonial Marines trailer
20. FIFA Football
Okay, so it's already been knocking about on the Xbox 360 and the PS3, but its arrival for the PS Vita could be one of the titles that ensures that Sony's next generation portable enjoys decent first year sales. Based on the same gameplay engine as the PS3 version, you can expect HD graphics, in-depth Career and Be A Pro modes, and the all important ability to play online head-to-head matches.
21. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
In the latest instalment of the Ghost Recon franchise Kinect body tracking and voice recognition has been integrated, while in a special 'Gunsmith' mode you can customise your weapons from the different individual parts. The good news is that Ubisoft also announced that all future Ghost Recon titles will support Kinect.
22. Last of Us
Having teased us at the Spike TV Awards, the folks behind Uncharted could be on to another PS3-only winner with this survival horror offering.The trailer focused on a post-outbreak United States almost completely reclaimed by nature; plant life poking up through the concrete and cars rusted out by the roadside. Through the desolation, a sour-faced Max Payne lookalike and flick-knife-toting teenage girl are surviving day to day, looting abandoned buildings and hiding from fast-moving infected humans. We hope it plays as good as it looks and sounds.
Platforms: PS3 | Last of Us Release date: 2012 | Link: Last of Us trailer
23. Max Payne 3
The third person shooter may have been pushed back a couple of months, but the former New York detective will still be hitting the streets Sao Paulo Brazil with new online mulltiplayer features also set to be brought to the series for the first time. Rockstar's Sam Houser says it is keen to deliver a game, "that’s both incredibly cinematic and very, very intense to play."
24. Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D
It's fair to say that we have been none too impressed with 3DS games that landed in 2011, but this year could see the glasses-free portable finally reach out to the hardcore gaming public with the help of Naked Snake. A re-interpretation of the PlayStation 2 title, Konami is set to integrate key 3DS features such as the camera and 3D to deliver a unique gaming experience.
25. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
Three new Resident Evil titles were on show at E3 2011, but the third person shooter set around events from Resident Evil 2 and 3 caught our eye. Taking events back to Raccoon City, you take control of an Umbrella Security Services soldier (U.S.S) where you can play up to four player co-op in a game which is a break from the RE norm, but should deliver for fans of the series.
26. Bioshock Infinite
The trailer which made its debut at E3 last year suggests that the third entry in the Bioshock series could well be the best. Set in the flying city of Columbia, two violent factions (the Founders and Vox Populi) are at war as you zip around on single-track skylines to explore another beautifully crafted world.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 and PC | Bioshock Infinite Release date: 08/06/2012 | Link: Bioshock Infinite trailer
27. Far Cry 3
Far Cry 2 was a great game, and it was fairly successful but also enormously under-appreciated. We should be thankful that we'll get to see a third instalment in the coming year. The story pits Jason Brody, a stranded tourist, on an island inhabited by violent armed militia. We've played the previous two Far Crys and along with the trailers, we have a pretty good idea what this game is going to be about. From what we've seen so far, the visuals look absolutely stunning and if the story is up to scratch this could spring a few surprises this year.
28. Final Fantasy XIII-2
Another huge video game franchise with a title set to land in 2012. Lets be honest, a year without a Final Fantasy title is extremely rare but reaction to XIII was so wide-ranging that it will be interesting to see what Square Enix do with this tie-in. Whilst the combat system was the best ever seen in a Final Fantasy game, the game in general was linear and mainly involved walking down corridors towards an objective marker. Here's hoping that Square Enix address some of these criticisms but regardless, Final Fantasy games are always a big deal.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 and PC | Final Fantasy XIII-2 Release date: 03/02/2012 | Link: Final Fantasy XIII-2 trailer
29. Halo 4
After a couple of relatively disappointing games, Bungie redeemed themselves with the excellent Halo: Reach before passing the torch on to 343 Industries. Admittedly, 343i did a good job with the HD remake of Halo: Combat Evolved but this is a new game, the beginning of a new trilogy indeed, and 343i have a huge legacy to do justice to. Specifically, we know that this trilogy will begin with the return of Master Chief, which should immediately excite anyone familiar with the franchise. Halo 4 will be one of the biggest games of the year, regardless of the quality.
Platform: Xbox 360 | Halo 4 Release date: Q4 2012 | Link: Halo 4 review
30. Hitman Absolution
As trailers go, Hitman Absolution has already sucked us into the world of Agent 47, the cold blooded assassin set to star in the third person shooter. Showcasing IO Interactive's new proprietary Glacier 2TM technology Hitman fans can expect similarly slick gameplay while the new 'Instinct' mode means 47 will evaluate situations before ploughing bullets into a horde of enemies.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 and PC | Hitman Absolution Release date: 24/09/2012 | Link: Hitman Absolution trailer
31. Mass Effect 3
In the quest to defeat the war reapers, the third FPS in the series gives you the option to take a tactical, stealth-like or a run and gun style approach to proceedings. Choosing which parts of the galaxies you want to investigate, there will also be Kinect support for choosing dialogue and sending strategies to your team mates. It looks amazing, and we can't wait to get some more time with it.
32. Star Wars Kinect
The trailer leaked ahead of its announcement in 2011 giving us a taste of what we can expect, and now the LucasArts title is almost with us. So, you can swing your light saber in the air courtesy of Kinect full-body recognition. Jedi training will never be the same.
Platform: Xbox 360 | Star Wars Kinect Release date: 03/04/2012 | Link: Star Wars Kinect trailer
33. South Park RPG
THQ has denied reports that they plan to cancel games from its upcoming line-up, and we hope they keep to its word, for the sake of the role play adventure inspired by the animated TV series. Working with creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, we could finally see a game that is a fitting homage to Cartman and company, and with only screenshots to go on, we are hoping for some gameplay footage in the near future.
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC | South Park RPG Release date: 2012
34. Tomb Raider
Lara is back, but like you've never seen her before. Shipwrecked on a mysterious island, the locals don't appear to be too friendly towards young Lara. Early gameplay footage paints a gritty and dark affair that should offer something distinctly different from Nathan Drake's Indiana Jones inspired antics.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC | Tomb Raider Release date: 25/10/2012 | Link: Tomb Raider trailer
35. Borderlands 2
If you never played Borderlands, all you need to know is that it was a game about shooting stuff with increasingly ridiculous guns. If you did play the original game, you should immediately notice the increased colour palette of Borderlands 2, which features an equally expansive but far more vibrant game world. Generally speaking, you should expect more shooting stuff with big guns and the same RPG-style loot system that made the first game such a joy to play.
36. Resident Evil 6
It seems like so long ago that we first stumbled into that mansion as a member of S.T.A.R.S Alpha team. Well, actually it was an incredibly long time ago, 15 years ago to be precise. So here we stand on the brink of 2012, ready to head anxiously into another Resident Evil game full of the Capcom's latest nightmarish creations. Resi-regulars Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield will finally appear in the same game, though whether they will actually meet is still uncertain as the trailers appear to show them in separate story arcs.