My preference for games has shifted over the decades.
As I get older, I have less time to play games, and my attention span has gotten shorter as well.
However, I still keep an eye out for triple-A titles that I am interested in. 2012 is a bumper year for some highly anticipated titles for me, and below is a list of the top five PC games I’ll definitely try out this year.
5. Bioshock Infinite
The Bioshock series is made by Irrational Games, a games studio that I had my eye on after my sublime experience with System Shock 2. If you have not heard of this decade-old 1999 classic, check it out.
Bioshock, like System Shock 2, is a mix of great gameplay with atmospheric storytelling. The environment design, varied mobs, RPG-like leveling character development, varied paths to victory,
and an intriguing backstory made the game a huge hit.
And with Bioshock Infinite being designed as the true sequel to Bioshock (not Bioshock 2, which fans derided as a money-spinner), I’m cautiously optimistic about this game. The cinematic trailer and gameplay videos look gorgeous.
4. Diablo 3
Diablo needs no introduction.
This classic game by Blizzard is the spiritual grandfather of almost every game in the action roleplaying genre.
That alone, would make Diablo 3 worth recommending. Check out the beta review Techgoondu did of Diablo 3 last year.
I’m certain Blizzard will deliver on peerless quality before they release the damn game, which has been in the making for four years since they announced it in 2008. In the meantime, fans of the genre can check out Torchlight or Bastion to get their fix.
And I’ll bet that Torchlight 2 will be released before Diablo 3, given Blizzard’s well-known tardiness in the industry. No matter, as fans of the game will patiently wait for it anyway.
3. Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect, when it debuted in 2007, was a great shooter and RPG-lite mashup.
It had all the elements of a classic, grand space opera of intergalactic war.
A brilliant score, evocative voice acting, and tight storytelling papered over the slight gameplay flaws, like the horrible Mako driving sequences and essentially extremely linear gameplay.
The second installment Mass Effect 2 in 2010 made the game even better. The gameplay was refined, and the story of Shepard’s quest to find out the threat posed by the Reapers was even better than the first.
I remember the storyline fondly, and thus Effect 3 is definitely on my “must try” list.
A caveat and rabid note from a fanboy, though, to Bioware: If you screw up Mass Effect 3, like what you did with Dragon Age 2, you will lose a customer forever. (I tried playing Hawke in Dragon Age 2 for half hour before I gave up in disgust). Please do not screw ME3 up.
2. Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
There is probably no other game I played in 2011 more than Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty.
Blizzard has produced yet another “must try” game for my personal list. Beyond the single-player campaign that tells an epic story of love, war and betrayal, the main reason why I come back to this game again and again is because the multiplayer gameplay is sublime.
My aging reflexes are not as good as they once used to be, but I really enjoy the seamless multiplayer RTS that is Starcraft 2.
30 minute quick match-ups meld into hours as you get lost in the rhythmic flow of zealots and zerglings waging war on each in the network ether.
And with Kerrigan, the queen of blades, taking the spotlight in the second installment of Starcraft 2, this is a game that is a must buy for me.
1. Guildwars 2
I’ve practically stopped playing MMORPGs.
Yeah, I’ve fond nostalgic memories of being the main healer in my World of Warcraft Alliance group, participated in mass brawls in Warhammer Online, and even wandered around for a bit as a travelling cleric in war-torn Rift.
Somehow, coordinating yet another loot run through some dungeon isn’t as fun when you’ve seen the dungeon countless times.
The skills are different, the environments and settings are different, but don’t let that fool you: Most MMORPGs are grindy timesinks, as you grind to get better loot to defeat harder bosses.
After a while, this type of gameplay simply becomes stale. Nevermind the stunning graphics or pleasant musical scores, quest structures of the “kill A to get B” variety simply lose their luster.
Guildwars is the only MMORPG that has really kept me coming back because it is so different from traditional MMORPGs. I spent a ton of time playing arenas for the heck of it — because it was fun and not for some reward.
Throw in the requisite gorgeous graphics, haunting score, distinctive painterly-style artwork, and make it free to play forever, and you have a monster hit on your hands.
In fact, over the Christmas holiday period I logged in to my old account and had a blast playing my main Mesmer character in some quick matches in the random arenas. How many can say that of a game that is almost seven years old now?
ArenaNet has promised that Guildwars 2 will be similar and yet break new ground. No tank, heal, or DPS classes. Players can move in out of frontline and backline roles, depending on positioning and skillsets brought to the fight.
An ambitious objective, to be sure. But with ArenaNet’s pedigree, and given how much I loved the original Guildwars and expansions, this is the one MMORPG game that I’m dying to play.