First-person shooters, dance games, role-playing fantasies… All games involve some type of “action,” yes, but not all of them fall into the Action/Adventure genre. Action/Adventure games aren’t laser-focused on specific activities like shooting, solving puzzles, or racing, although they may explore those mechanics. It’s a broad genre with a proud history reaching back to gaming’s infancy in arcades. Notable examples we would classify as action/adventure games include The Legend of Zelda, Grand Theft Auto, and Batman: Arkham City.
With that in mind, we thought it time to take a look at the big action games headed our way over the next 12 months. Behold: your year in fist fights, sword clashes, and explosions.
Capcom supports the genre well. For fans of undead nightmares, three different Resident Evil games are coming in 2012: Resident Evil Revelations (3DS, February 7), Operation Raccoon City (360/PS3, March 20), and Resident Evil 6 (360/PS3/PC, November 20). Capcom also has a potential surprise hit up its sleeve with Asura’s Wrath (360/PS3, February 21). That game is bananas. Casting you as an immortal muscle head battling demigods as big as the galaxy, Asura’s Wrath delivers action on a scale that dwarfs most other games.
Of course, exciting games can come in small packages. February 22 will bring to us a new portable system, the PlayStation Vita, and along with it an original entry in one of our most beloved modern action franchises — Uncharted: Golden Abyss. It’s the full cinematic Uncharted experience, now conveyable and boasting clever touch controls.
An upcoming action game that might not be providing the full experience fans were hoping for is Ninja Gaiden III (360/PS3, March 20). The series is known for being arduous and ultra violent. But from our time with Ninja Gaiden III so far, developer Team Ninja seems to have eased up on the difficulty and the ability to decapitate and delimb our enemies has been completely removed. The Team insists Ninja Gaiden III will let players feel what it’s like to slice through a person to the bone, so here’s hoping it ends up being that visceral. Perhaps a new adversarial multiplayer mode will make appease the bloodthirsty fans.
Prototype 2 (360/PS3/PC, April 24) is a sequel with the opposite problem of Ninja Gaiden III — instead of potentially scarring a cherished series, it has the unenviable task of improving on an original that received mixed reception in 2009. While Prototype sold well enough to warrant a sequel, it is sometimes considered the lesser companion to Infamous, a similar open-world action game. Lucky for Prototype 2, it doesn’t have to directly contend with Infamous this year. When you come home from a rough day at school or the office and want to unwind by destroying a few tanks, Prototype 2 could be your game.
While there are usually games planned to support the release of big action movies, the confusingly-named The Amazing Spider-Man: The Movie (every platform, July 3) is the only one announced so far for this year. Despite the subtitle, it’s a game that goes back to the open-world web slinging of Spider-Man 2 — and that has us excited.
If summer ends up being light on games based on movies, there will still be several action games keeping our consoles hot. Darksiders II (360/PS3/PC, summer) will finally deliver another dose of M-rated, Zelda-style adventuring. Also, Anarchy Reigns (360/PS3, summer), from the developer of Vanquish and Bayonetta, should live up to its name with what it is calling “Super Sexy Fists of Fire.”
And, as is to be expected, the year’s biggest action/adventure games will arrive in the fall. Suda 51′s Lollipop Chainsaw (360/PS3, Fall) should satisfy the Grindhouse/exploitation movie fans out there with its nubile cheerleader chainsawing her way through an undead outbreak.
Speaking of nubiles, Lara Croft is getting a long overdue makeover when Tomb Raider (360/PS3/PC, fall) is rebooted late this year. Borrowing elements from Dead Space and Assassin’s Creed, it’s a cinematic action game of survival. A 21-year old Lara Croft is shipwrecked on a hostile island where she must transform from a vulnerable, inexperienced young woman into the badass treasure hunter we know her to be. Action/adventure game of the year? Possibly…
Below we’ve put together a road map of all the big action games of 2012. There are sure to be more announced, but this is what we’ve got to look forward to so far. What action/adventure games are at the top of your list? Let us know so we can start planning hot coverage for you.