With so many recent headlines about games in the very distant future like "Assassin's Creed III," "Bioshock Infinite," and the rumors about this year's new "Call of Duty" game in the Fall, one might think that nothing is coming out this summer. Sure, we're all excited for "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises," but isn't there something worth playing on your PS3? Of course. In fact, this season looks like it could be stronger than the one just-passed (which was highlighted by "Mass Effect 3," "Journey," and "MLB 12 The Show," the best three games of a mediocre year so far). There are some surprising sequels and a few interesting new titles lined up for the summer. Here's what we're most excited to play. Get out your calendar...
Of course, all dates are very subject to change.
Runner-Ups (five worthwhile alternates): "Anarchy Reigns" (7/3/12), "Game of Thrones" (5/15/12), "LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes" (6/19/12), "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier" (5/22/12), and "Transformers: Fall of Cybertron" (8/28/12).
Release Date: August 14, 2012
Genre: Fantasy Action
Why You Should Be Excited: The first "Darksiders" is one of the most underrated games of the last decade and all signs point to the sequel taking what worked about that title and making it bigger, better, and more entertaining. Players move from the awesome War to his brother Death in a similar-sounding "God of War"-inspired game that combines action mechanics and puzzle-solving with a story that takes place simultaneously with the first game. If you haven't played the first "Darksiders," you're missing a true gem of fantasy action and there's every reason to believe that this sequel will top it.
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Company: Warner Home Video Games
Why You Should Be Excited: "Juliet the Zombie Slayer." This is one that you'll have to play after the kids go to bed as the latest from Goichi Suda ("No More Heroes," "Shadows of the Damned") brings his twisted sense of hack and slash to a new potential franchise. Juliet is a cheerleader at a California high school when her alma mater gets attacked by zombies. Really, for the right gamer, that's all you need to know. She's tough, hot, and she runs around with her boyfriend's still-alive disembodied head on her skirt. And while a similar decapitation title from earlier this year ("NeverDead") didn't work, this has the potential to be 2012's "Bayonetta," the B-movie blast of the season in video game form. "Shadows of the Damned" was often a riot to play. This one could easily be better.
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Company: Rockstar Games
Why You Should Be Excited: Do younger gamers remember "Max Payne"? Other than the Mark Wahlberg movie? The first two "Max Payne" games (released in 2001 and 2003) were massively influential entries in the history of the shooter genre. Can a franchise that's nearly a decade old still make waves on the next-generation of consoles? Have you seen any of the footage, screenshots, or concept art for "Max Payne 3" yet? It looks stellar in every way. The developers at Rockstar Vancouver ("Bully") have taken over the franchise and made it one of the most anticipated games of the year, much less of the season. Did we mention that it was written by Dan Houser, one of the authors of the "Grand Theft Auto" series and "Red Dead Redemption"? What further reason do you need to pre-order a game other than to envision what the team behind some of the most revolutionary games of the current generation could do with the concepts of one of the most revolutionary games of the last one?
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Company: 2K Games
Why You Should Be Excited: There are not a whole lot of multiplayer entries this season as most of the interesting titles appear to focus heavily on single-player action. Something will have to fill the multiplayer void and 2K's "Spec Ops: The Line" looks like the strongest candidate among the warm weather shooters. Yes, it's been delayed a number of times (never a good sign) but the plot -- about a war-torn and destroyed Dubai that serves as a unique setting for shooter action that is allegedly inspired by "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad -- has enough intrigue to allow one to think that this could be the next "Battlefield: Bad Company 2," a title that takes a relatively smaller franchise (there hasn't been a "Spec Ops" game in years) and allows it to compete with the big boys. The visuals look beautiful, the details about the unlockable perks/weapons sound right, all the ingredients are there for an engaging shooter, even if it has taken forever to actually get to stores.
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Company: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Sci-fi Shooter
Why You Should Be Excited: The strongest competition for multiplayer action is this quasi-sequel to the hit Sony game "Warhawk," a title that has also been building buzz during a long development process, including a popular beta and a website that asked for gamer feedback. This sci-fi shooter takes the multiplayer basics we've come to love on Earth, including 32-player online battles and co-op modes, and takes them to space. With an emphasis on deep customization (vehicles, weapons, etc.) and enticing online play in tournaments and other events, "Starhawk" hopes to be the Sony exclusive of the season (although the Move-centric "Sorcery" could compete for the family gaming dollar).