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Near Future: 2012's Killer Line-up, Part One

This is going to be a big year in games - so big, we can't contemplate it all in one go. Here's part one of our breakdown of what to expect in the next 12 months.

January kicks things off in style. On January 10, we'll see King Arthur II: The Roleplaying Wargame from PC specialist Paradox, and is quickly followed by Lexis Numerique's PSN and XBLA horror, AMY, on January 11 (although in the US, only a January 10 PSN launch has been confirmed). The Silent Hill HD Collection is expected on PS3 and Xbox 360 on January 24, compiling the second and third games. Still with survival horror, Resident Evil: Revelations arrives on 3DS on January 27 in Europe, with the US forced to wait until February 7.

Topping off the month is Soul Calibur V, due January 31, to the delight of weapon-based fighter fans everywhere. If the insane action of Ivy and co. doesn't do it for you on the final day of the month, how about Final Fantasy XIII-2, which Square Enix hopes will address criticism of its prequel? Sadly, Europe and other PAL territories must wait a few days more to get their sticky paws on this one. As if that weren't enough, Konami's action effort NeverDead also arrives on January 31, although again, we wait a few extra days outside North America. All three games arrive on PS3 and Xbox 360.

As for events, the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Shows is the only biggie. Although the show generally yields only a small number of gaming-related headlines, we're expecting something interesting from both Microsoft at the very least, and so many tech companies will be on site that we're almost guaranteed to see at least one crazy peripheral or innovative advance. The show runs January 10 through 13.

Moving into February now, a second Konami collection drops on February 3 - the much anticipated Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, bringing MGS 2, MGS 3, and the formerly PSP-exclusive MGS Peace Walker to PS3 and Xbox 360, complete with a shared save system called "transfarring" for those equipped with both Sony consoles. The US has had this for some months now.

Speaking of things the US has had for ages, Catherine finally arrives in Europe on February 10. Also during this week, 38 Studios' fantasy action RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning arrives on all three major platforms, as does The Darkness II, and Sabre Interactive's gravity-bending shooter Inversion hits PS3 and Xbox 360. For sports fans, EA Grand Slam Tennis 2 shows up on the two HD consoles, and Mario & Sonic at the London Olympic Games makes the jump to 3DS - a week later for US players.

Back in the US, Rhythm Heaven Wii drops on February 13, with a Europe release still only vaguely locked down for the second quarter. Sega's unusual shooter Binary Domain also appears for PS3 and Xbox 360, but in Europe, it's not due until the next week, on February 17, alongside Tekken 3D Prime Edition. The PS3-exclusive Twisted Metal and UFC Undisputed 3 on both HD consoles, both on Valentine's Day of February 14, in both the US and Europe.

In the final week of February, we'll get the very strange and hilarious Asura's Wrath on both HD consoles, Starbreeze's long, long delayed Syndicate on three major platforms, and in Europe, Mistwalker's The Last Story, one of the most hotly-requested Wii titles. On the very last day of the month, we'll receive the new SSX game - although Europeans hit the slopes on March 3.

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Soul Calibur V - January 31.

We're expecting the Jak & Daxter Collection in here somewhere, too, and the PC exclusive tactics revival Jagged Alliance: Back in Action. Gotham City Impostors has been delayed into February, too; this download-only multiplayer shooter from Monolith is expected on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, and will set players up in superhero and villain factions to battle it out through Gotham's streets.

Those of you with retail schedules might have noticed a few exclusions towards the end of February there, because we've saved them all up for this part. On February 22, Sony's Vita makes it's official Western debut, launching with Escape Plan; Everybody's Golf; Gravity Rush; Hustle Kings; Little Deviants; ModNation Racers; Motorstorm RC; Reality Fighters; Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen; Super StarDust Delta; Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3; Uncharted: Golden Abyss; Unit 13; and WipEout 2048.

The Vita itself launches in WiFi only and 3G forms, at $249/299, €249/299, AUD $349/449 and around £229/279.

It's a pretty exciting month for consumers, then - but industry types get their moments, too. The annual D.I.C.E. Summit (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) hits Las Vegas from February 8 through 10, bringing together some of the best minds in game design to talk about future trends. It might sound news dry, but we get terribly excited about it, and David Jaffe is giving a keynote this year, so we'll probably have some good swears.

If you thought the first two months of the year were big news, March will blow your mind. We start with the Bugbear-developed Ridge Racer: Unbounded on all three platforms, a surprising entry in a series recently known best for popping up exclusively for hardware launches. It hits Europe on march 2 and the US on March 6.

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Mass Effect 3: March 6 (US) and 9 (EU).

The racer is likely to be cast in the shade by the big guns: Mass Effect 3 fires on March 6 in the US and March 9 in Europe. This instalment ends Shepard's story, sending the commander off with a bang - quite literally, if you don't play your cards right and series history is anything to go by - and includes a multiplayer component to comfort you afterwards. It's expected on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, as is the 2K Marin-developed reboot XCOM. Street Fighter x Tekken, on the other hand, is hitting the HD consoles only at first.

Also on March 6, the US received Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, but Europeans have to twiddle their thumbs until later in the month before splashing out on the PS3 and Xbox 360 release. The multi-platform MLB 2K12 and PS3-exclusive rival MLB The Show 12 both hit the US on March 6. We can probably expect Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 during this week, too, though it's not confirmed.< strong>Mario Party 9 arrives for Wii on March 11 in the US, with European releases still to be dated. On March 16, the PS3-exclusive Yakuza: Dead Souls should hit.

Ninja Gaiden 3 and the multiplayer-focused Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City both fire up on March 20 in the US and March 23 in Europe, on HD consoles. Kinect Rush, which features Disney and Pixar characters, was down for March 20 but has gone a bit quiet since announce. Kid Icarus: Uprising, one of the first games ever shown for the 3DS, finally arrives almost a full year after the system's launch on March 27 - in the US, as once again, European dating isn't locked in.

Finally, putting a cap on a full month, Capcom expects to launch the biggest and most expensive game it has ever developed, Dragon's Dogma, so hopefully the publisher will start marketing it soon. The action RPG sports a number of interesting features including a kind of asynchronous online multiplayer where players can exchange AI companions and benefit from their experiences.

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May Payne 3 - March.

There are several more titles expected sometime in March - including the heavyweight Max Payne 3, Rockstar-developed follow up to Remedy's much-lauded shooter. Silent Hill: Downpour, the next core entry in the series but first developed outside Konami, is also due.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D should grace US shelves, although Europe's not expecting it until April, and FIFA Street is definitely down for March.

In the misty vagueness of "first quarter" - so presumably, before the end of the month - we're hoping to see Grasshopper Manufacture's Black Knight Sword; Romino's MOBA-like cartoon tribute Awesomenauts was pushed back to early 2012; Ubisoft is yet to lock down downloadable survial title I Am Alive; and indie fighter Skullgirls is on the cards. All are expected to go multiplatform. The Xbox 360 port of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings might arrive, too.

March brings one of the biggest events in the trade calendar, the flagship Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. We don't get much news out of GDC but there's usually loads of interesting retrospectives, tech debuts, and compelling keynotes. This year's show takes place between March 5 and 9 inclusive.

Have we missed anything? Has something changed? Let us know, and head back tomorrow to catch the next part of our rundown.

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