Thu, Jul 19, 2012 | 20:33 BST
Sequelitis: top franchise picks from the 2012 crush
A console generation is closing, making 2012 one of the most sequel-riddled years the industry has ever seen. We outline the most anticipated follow ups hitting throughout the silly season.
August 14 US, August EU
Vigil’s love letter to the Zelda formula was one of the first hits of 2010 and it feels like forever since we last trotted around Joe Madureira’s beautiful post-apocalyptic universe. THQ’s been very, very careful with Darksiders 2; despite its financial difficulties its thrown resources at what may prove its best bet for the rest of the year, delaying it without a backwards glance in order to ensure expectations are met. We’ve seen it in embryonic form a couple of times now, and come away impressed. Watch for this one during gamescom; it’ll be the last hit of the summer and the first of the release season.
September 18 US, September 21 EU
We’ve already said all we need to on Borderlands 2. There’s simply no other game to match the 2009 shooter RPG’s blend of genres, co-op action, and appealing loot cycle. Gearbox has expanded its sci-fi horizons beyond the deserts of the first game but seems to have captured that magical frontier feel. We’re looking forward to this one going on the show circuit so we can get hands-on with it, and even more looking forward to it eating our lives for weeks on end.
September 25 US, September 28 EU
There’s really not much you can say about why FIFA 13 is important. It’s going to sell like hotcakes, and for every moan about how little it adds to the annual formula there’ll be plenty more obsessive fans deconstructing all the ways in which it improves on, builds up and even demolishes what has come before. EA Sports has been doing this for a long time now and has never failed to produce a hit. If you want a bit of multiplayer footer this northern autumn there’s really no other choice.
Resident Evil 6
Recent comments from Capcom staff makes it clear the publisher is buttering its toast with Western Star. The shooter emphasis which began developing in Resident Evil 4 and grew into full-blown co-op action in Resident Evil 5 just isn’t going to please old-school fans, but the new fanbase lapped it up and will no doubt do so again. We’re going back to the generic urban US setting which proved successful in early entries, and taking some of the franchises best-loved characters with us, so even while you grumble about the lack of mind-bending haunted house puzzles, there should still be plenty for diehards to enjoy.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter
October 23 US, October 25 EU
This is the only entry on the list which is a bit of a coin flip. Medal of Honor is a series with roots, but in many gamers minds those roots stretch only as far as 2010′s reboot, which didn’t exactly light fires. Danger Close seems to have some clever tactics this time, such as the jingoistic multiplayer pitting various national special forces against each other, but it’s hard not to wonder if the bundled Battlefield 4 beta access won’t prove to be one of Warfighter’s key attractions. Let’s see how EA’s “off year” shooter fares.
Assassin’s Creed III
October 30 US, October 31 EU
PS3, X360 (PC, Wii U undated)
After churning out an annual sequel since launch, you’d almost expect Assassin’s Creed to be ready to fall down in exhaustion. Nevertheless, everything we’ve seen of the long-anticipated conclusion to Desmond’s tale show a healthy property in the throes of much-needed evolution; we’re looking at a jump at least equal to that between the first two numbered games. The secret? Ubisoft’s been plugging away at this third one for ages, while Brotherhood and Revelations kept the dream alive. Should be worth the wait, especially if the last two didn’t push all your buttons.
Halo popularised the Xbox and Halo 2 popularised online multiplayer. There are grown men and women who will burst blood vessels if you make the slightest suggestion that Master Chief is not a veritable god among game characters. 343 Industries has huge shoes to fill but it’s almost guaranteed that regardless of what it does, Halo 4 will dominate Xbox Live for months to come. Even Call of Duty may tumble before this one.
Hitman never really qualified for major franchise status, largely thanks to its unforgiving approach to failure – not everyone can handle the trial and error you need to complete missions. IO Interactive has gone back to the drawing board and built a kind of escape-hatch into Absolution, allowing those who hate loading screens to shoot their way out of messes should they so wish. That’s much more likely to bring in the big money, but the pure at heart can replay for stealth-fueled high scores to show off to their friends. That sure sounds like a winner to me.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Obviously no end-of-year sequel list is complete without the latest Call of Duty, the modern touchstone for annualised franchises. It’s interesting just how attractive this year’s offering looks, though; Treyarch is sticking to the Black Ops title but plunging into near-future tech and accompanying narrative and gameplay consequences. That’s not the only innovation – it’s setting up synergy between multiplayer and single-player and even a little light story branching. The Call of Duty fanbase is too numerous and diverse to fairly call it conservative but it’s still a bold decision to mess with what has worked so well so far.
Far Cry 3
November 29 EU, December 4 US
This one’s high up on the VG247 priority list because of the special place Far Cry 2 holds in our hearts. Previews out of E3 suggest far Cry 3 is going to provide the same sort of mad sandbox approach to encounters, but without all that tiresome malaria and checkpoint business. The controversial content is far more likely to generate sales than diminish them, which will hopefully make it easy to find partners for the new co-op mode.