I think that we can all agree that this last year in gaming was one to be put in the history books as having one of the most insane holiday release schedules of all time. If the gaming industry were Hollywood, it would have been the year in which Avatar, Jaws, Titanic, a Harry Potter movie, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The Dark Knight and Gone with the Wind all coming out in the space of 2 1/2 months! Basically, gaming this last year was at an all-time high, being one of the most lucrative media platforms and is projected to equal the film industry soon in terms of total worth.
Typically, with the start of each year there is a huge amount of excitement about the biggest releases of that particular year. The short-list of the biggest games of last year for me was:
(Shane is going to hate me for this) Star Wars: The Old Republic
and that doesn’t even include mobile games or major re-boots (e.g. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition, etc.. Duke Nukem is purposefully left off of all lists, because it’s better that we all forget that it ever happened, just like the last 2 “Matrix” movies).
Now, you may be thinking: “Well, hey, couldn’t last year also be considered a huge sequel year?”. The answer is “yes” and “no”. “Yes” because the majority are sequels, and “no” because L.A. Noire and to an extent Skyrim can be considered “new”. Yes, there is that pesky little pre-title of “The Elder Scrolls V:”, but as a game experience and in terms of general story arc, Skyrim is self contained. You don’t have to have played Morrowind or Oblivion to understand it, you’re not continuing with the stories of the characters from the previous games. Even though you are on the same planet and the back-stories and books all fit with the lore of the games and tie them together, they aren’t truly sequential in the traditional sense.
Now, just for your contemplation, here’s a little list of the biggest games of 2012:
Not to mention that the Wii U is coming out this year and that there have been rumors about the possibility of Valve releasing something somewhat related to the likely continuing development of the idea of Half-Life 3 (please please please don’t be “Half-Left 4 Portal Fortress” and it’s logical extension “Half-Left 4 Portal Fortress: Death Match”, and then obviously, they would make “Half-Left 4 Portal Fortress 2”, but by the time that came out, our sun probably would have gone super-nova and we would have definitively proved that Valve cannot, in fact, count to three). Of course, Gabe Newell probably hasn’t signed off completely on every single pixel and texture in the game, nor has the QA team had the chance to completely rid the game of all possible bugs that may occur in any quantum paradigm both with and without the Higgs-Bosun and considering every possible mass of electron, proton and neutron and every possible gravitational constant our universe could ever have, so here’s to hoping that a Half-Life Sequel comes out some time before the next millennium comes about. Again, you may be thinking “Well, Tomb Raider could be called new i.p., right?”. Wrong. It’s not new i.p. especially because 1) It’s still Laura Croft and 2) it’s still all about Laura Croft, even though she’s not as much of a bodacious gamer sex icon as she has been in the past.
Honestly, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, sequels are a great thing that really help smaller or struggling developers grow their fan-base (Frozenbyte, THQ, etc.) and pour money into the pockets of the biggest (here’s looking at you Activision and EA). At glance, 2012 can look feeble in comparison to what 2011 was, but looking a little further, we can find some of he biggest and best games of all time, and not just the ones that every foul-mouthed and bigoted 12-year-old in the world buys to scream inappropriately phrased and classlessly executed obscenities into a mic as their butts are getting handed to them by the other team. Of course, I may be exaggerating a little, but that seems to be the simple majority of all online Call of Duty players at the moment. Can we all just form an online police-force that would have the right of both blocking the purchase and use of these games by these people, but that also actively performs raids that remove the discs and play files from their possession? Pretty Please?