We've had a relatively quiet first quarter in the gaming world, with only a few titles from January to March receiving widespread critical acclaim. Mass Effect 3 was one of those titles, gaining an impressive Metacritic score of 93 (for the Xbox 360) and a 9.5/10 from us, although fans were more than just displeased with the ending to the series, prompting BioWare to state they are "working hard" to deal with the issues.
Other titles that received praise were Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the new fantasy role-playing game and original IP from 38 studios and EA, and the extreme snowboarding game SSX; both games received Metacritic scores over 80. On the other side of the scale, games like Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and Ninja Gaiden 3 both failed to impress and received mediocre reviews.
The other big launch for the first quarter of 2012 was the PlayStation Vita. The system itself was praised for having outstanding and very powerful hardware, however the selection of launch titles wasn't particularly strong. Games that were received well on the system include Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Rayman Origins, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend and MotorStorm RC; with others such as Ridge Racer, Asphalt: Injection, Little Deviants and Dungeon Hunter: Alliance getting poor reviews.
Anyway, as we look forward to the second quarter of 2012 we should be seeing some fantastic new AAA games heading to your favorite gaming systems. Read on to see what is coming out between April and June this year.
Prototype 2 | April 24 | PS3, X360
The first major title that will be released in the second quarter is Prototype 2, the sequel to 2009's Prototype by Radical Entertainment and Activision. The game takes place 14 months after the original events of Prototype, where Manhattan has been quarantined from the deadly Blacklight virus. The game ditches the protagonist (Alex Mercer) from the first game, instead bringing in James Heller who not only wants to stop the virus but also wants to kill Mercer.
Prototype 2 will feature an even larger area of New York City to explore and the shape-shifting gameplay has been enhanced with more powers and abilities. Many other things have been tweaked that should see the game as a fantastic sequel and one that should be picked up by fans of the original.
The game will hit North America on April 24 and Europe on April 27 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A Windows PC version is coming, but has been delayed until July 24.
Starhawk | May 8 | PS3
While not technically a sequel to 2007's Warhawk for the PlayStation 3, Starhawk is a "spiritual successor" to the game, featuring expansive battles both on foot and in vehicles. Instead of the modern-day setting that was present in Warhawk, Starhawk features a future universe that includes large flying (and controllable) mechs known as "Hawks", amongst other vehicles. There is also a new gameplay element that allows you to build defenses during gameplay, similar to that of a real-time strategy game.
For the first time, Starhawk includes a single-player campaign alongside 32-player online multiplayer modes and 2-4-player splitscreen; there is also a co-op mode that is supposedly similar to Horde Mode in Gears of War 3.
Starhawk is a PlayStation 3 exclusive title and will launch on May 8. It's definitely worth a look if you enjoyed Warhawk and you're a fan of third-person vehicular combat shooters.
Diablo III | May 15 | Win, Mac
After waiting an incredibly long time for the game to be released (almost 4 years since the announcement), Diablo III is finally launching this quarter in what could possibly be the biggest PC-exclusive launch of the year. Developed by Blizzard, Diablo III is a fantasy action role-playing game that sees you as a hero that must save the world of Sanctuary from various evils. Generally speaking the game features hack-and-slash combat from an isometric (but 3D) viewpoint, and an enormous amount of quests as an RPG should.
Online player-versus-player (PvP) modes will be coming to Diablo III, but due to development decisions it will not be included in the launch version, instead coming at a later date via a patch. For more information about the eagerly anticipated game, check out our previous coverage.
Diablo III will be finally available for both Windows- and Mac OS X-based PCs on May 15 in both North America and Europe.
Max Payne 3 | May 15 | X360, PS3, Win
On the very same day as Diablo III, another highly anticipated game will be released: Max Payne 3. As a sequel to 2003's Max Payne 2 (yes, it has been that long), the game continues the story of Max Payne, now eight years older and living in São Paulo, Brazil. Working for the private security sector, Max hopes to escape his past but is instead pulled into a web of conspiracy and double-crossing.
Bullet-time, made famous by the original games in the series, makes a comeback in Max Payne 3 along with third-person shooting and dodging mechanics. New to the series are cinematic action cut-scenes, which instead of the usual movie-like sequences will be interactive and seamlessly integrate into the gameplay, along with the elimination of loading screens. Multiplayer will also be included that will see players form "crews" to perform tasks across dynamic maps and game modes.
May 15 is the North American launch date for Max Payne 3 on the Xbox 360 and PS3, with the EU to follow on May 18 and PC versions to come in late May; it should be a must-play for fans of the series and Rockstar Games.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier | May 22 | PS3, X360
Originally slated for a March 2012 release, Ghost Recon: Future Solider is said to be a futuristic take on the Ghost Recon tactical shooters but will still remain a third-person shooter. You will be taking control of a 4-man Ghost team as they fight behind enemy lines against the Russians. New mechanics will be available in this Ghost Recon game, including destructible environments, active camouflage and highly customizable weaponry. It will also make use of the Xbox Kinect.
We included this game in the list of upcoming games for Q1 2012 but it was delayed until May 22 for North America and May 24 for Europe. A PC version was originally canceled but apparently it's back in development with an unknown release date.
Darksiders II | June 26 | PS3, X360, Win
Yet another sequel game is launching in the second quarter of 2012, this time it's Darksiders II: the parallel sequel to the critically acclaimed Darksiders of 2010. Where in Darksiders you take control of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, this time you take control of his brother Death as he goes on a series of missions to prove the innocence of War. According to the developers, THQ, the game takes place across maps that are cumulatively twice the size of Darksiders.
The gameplay itself is hack-and-slash-style action adventure, which sees you visiting numerous cities and dungeons as you go about your ways. Loot will be included in the series, allowing you to improve and enhance Death's powers throughout the game. At one stage the game was reported to have multiplayer, but this will not be included due to issues with the system.
Darksiders II will be seeing a launch on June 26 for North America and June 29 for Europe, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PCs.
Other Games: Some games have a tentative or possible release date for the second quarter of this year. This includes Resistance: Burning Skies, Silent Hill: Book of Memories and LittleBigPlanet for the PSVita, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Lego Batman 2
So, which game takes your fancy from those coming out this quarter? Let us know in the comments and hopefully everyone will enjoy another good quarter of gaming