"Borderlands 2" (2K Games, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- The original "Borderlands" was an unexpected smash hit, but there's no way this sequel is going to catch anyone by surprise. Featuring new characters, improved multiplayer and an even larger arsenal at your disposal, "Borderlands 2" is poised to be one of the year's top shooters.
"Halo 4" (Microsoft, Xbox 360) -- The first original "Halo" title developed by someone other than Bungie, "Halo 4" may be the most unpredictable title on this short list. The reason why is simple -- no one quite knows what to expect from 343 Industries, the team that replaced Bungie as caretakers of the "Halo" universe. Can the new guys capture the same magic that helped make Master Chief a household name amongst gamers? We'll find out soon enough.
"Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning" (Electronic Arts, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- The wait is almost over for this action-RPG from 38 Studios, the all-star development house created by former big-leaguer Curt Schilling. With a huge open world to explore, a vibrant art style and a deep combat system, "Reckoning" is one of the year's most exciting new IPs, and could give "Skyrim" a run for its money as the top RPG of this generation.
"The Last of Us" (Sony, PS3) -- Granted, there's no guarantee that this tale of survival from the creators of "Uncharted" will see the light of day in 2012, but no other game has captured my attention like "The Last of Us." Very little is known about the game as of yet, but the reveal trailer, alone, was enough to sell me on this post-apocalyptic adventure."Mass Effect 3" (Electronic Arts, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- The conclusion of Bioware's epic trilogy sees Commander Shepherd and the crew of the Normandy tasked with protecting Earth from a Reaper invasion. After spending the first two "Mass Effect" games shaping Shepherd through the decisions I've made, I can't wait to see how it all ties together in the end.
"Resident Evil 6" (Capcom, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- Of all the games on this list, I'm most worried about this latest installment in the classic survival-horror franchise. Make no mistake, I love "Resident Evil," but Capcom took the series in a new, decidedly action-heavy and zombie-free direction with "Resident Evil 5." The awesome debut trailer helped alleviate some of my fears that the franchise would continue to move further away from its horror roots, but I'm still trying to keep my expectations in check. Plus, the ability to play as both Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy has my fanboy juices flowing.
"Spec Ops: The Line" (2K Games, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- This squad-based shooter has been on my radar for a couple of years, and now that it seems ready for release I'm excited to see the role that player choice plays in the action. When a sandstorm cripples the affluent city of Dubai, it's up to your squad to go in and locate a group of U.S. soldiers who have gone off the grid. The decidedly mature tone of the game has drawn comparisons to "Apocalypse Now," and if the gameplay can back up the story, this could be something special.
"Tomb Raider" (Square Enix, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- It's been a few years since we've seen Lara Croft in a new console release, and this series reboot shows a new, grittier side to the iconic figure. With gameplay that looks to have more in common with survival-horror than the typical adventure that gamers are accustomed to from the series, I'm looking forward to seeing if the franchise can recapture the magic that helped make Croft one of gaming's most beloved characters.
"Transformers: Fall of Cybertron" (Activision, Xbox 360 and PS3) -- Forget last year's mediocre movie tie-in, "Dark of the Moon" -- I'm counting on "Fall of Cybertron" to deliver the same addictive thrills as 2010's "War for Cybertron." Oh, and there are Dinobots. You can't go wrong with Dinobots.