Last week, I took a final look back at 2011 and handed out my Game of the Year awards. This week, it's time to focus on the future.
There was no shortage of great games released in 2011, from our GOTY winner, "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim," to other instant classics like "Batman: Arkham City" and "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception." Given last year's outstanding crop of games, it would be easy to assume that gamers are due for a letdown in 2012. After all, many of last year's top efforts were sequels, and very few franchises are built to see yearly releases -- "Call of Duty" being the most notable exception to that rule, of course.
So while many of the industry's most recognizable brands take this year off to, perhaps, begin the transition to the next generation of hardware, the door is open for a new crop of titles to emerge and wow gamers in 2012.
Of course, new games aren't the only things I'm looking forward to in 2012.
Sony is rolling out its latest handheld, the Vita, in February here in the U.S. The device, which features a touchscreen display and a second touchpad on the back, is the most powerful handheld gaming system ever designed. The reception to the Vita in Japan, where it launched late last year, has been lukewarm, as best. But with a solid launch lineup that includes an all-new "Uncharted" adventure and the endless possibilities that come along with the system's ability to interact with the PS3, it's hard not to be excited for the Vita's arrival. The Vita releases in the U.S. on Feb. 22 in two flavors -- a WiFi-only model for $249.99 and a 3G version (that requires an AT&T data plan) for $299.99.
Also this year, Nintendo is also expected to release the WiiU, its successor to the ultra-successful Wii console. Nintendo has been keeping quiet about the WiiU since unveiling it to the public at last year's E3, but its unique controller promises to reel in casual gamers while the improved processing power should appease the hard-core crowd, too. Basics like a release date, price and launch titles remain a mystery, but I fully expect Nintendo reveal all that information and more when it makes the WiiU the focal point of its E3 presentation this year.
Turning our attention back to games, here is a look at the 10 titles I'm most looking forward to playing, and why they should be on your radar, too, in 2012:
"Bioshock: Infinite" (2K Games, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- The original "Bioshock" remains one of my all-time favorite games, and even though "Infinite" isn't directly related to that game, the similarities are hard to miss, which makes this one a can't-miss in my book. If the floating city of Columbia is anywhere near as engrossing as "Bioshock's" Rapture, this could be another classic.