TOP 10 – Most Anticipated Games / Film of 2012

Here we are nearing a conclusion to 2011, the economy sucks, civil unrest continues in many countries, and some people are predicting doom based on the abrupt limitations of the Mayan Calendar. Based on what is known, I’ve decided to throw together what I consider to be the bucket list of video games and TV/FILM. If the world ends before we witness the release of any of these items, it will indeed be pretty lame. Alternatively and more likely, the wheels keep on turning and I’ll be making a top 2013 list this time next year. In either case:

My TOP 10 – Most Anticipated Games / Film of 2012

10. Man of Steel

Surprisingly this made my list, I’ll admit I’ve never been the biggest SuperMan follower. Most of my life, I’ve actually wondered how anyone could be a die hard SuperMan fan. As a protagonist he is practically invincible (on Earth), he has one prominent weakness which is available and abundant when plot calls for it, and his powers are so diverse with a generic lame excuse for their origins. SuperMan is almost NEVER in mortal danger, so there is little suspense that he is ever being threatened. The enemies of Super Man, now there’s an interesting bunch. I still like Superman, I just find him to be one of the less interesting comic heroes.

That being said, comic movies are getting big budget attention these days and I am hopeful this film will be treated with the same polish as Nolan’s Batman or The Avengers. Superman has yet to be properly adapted to the big screen. We have the Donner films of the late 70’s early 80’s, which were pretty goofy and were never meant to be taken too seriously. Followed a few decades later by the tripe that was Brian Singer’s weak attempt to recapture and conclude the story that Donner told.

Superman needs a modern film interpretation free of Donner’s influence. I have hopes that Man of Steel will at least go toe to toe with the Avengers franchise. Aside from Nolan’s Batman, DC has not performed quite as well as Marvel on the silver screen. Brian Singer’s absence from the project is a beacon of hope to say the least.

9: The Avengers

This movie has been hyped up since 2008 when Iron Man came out. An ambitious plan to to setup films for Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, then ultimately have them culminate into one movie about The Avengers. To preface this, I’d like to lightly touch on my opinions of the setup films.

  • Iron Man – Perhaps my favorite Marvel movie to date. Downey Jr. is excellently cast and excels at delivering quick witty dialog. (BTW watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang if you enjoy Downey in these type roles)
  • The Incredible Hulk – A much better Hulk production than the Ang Lee attempt in 2003. Edward Norton was a decent Bruce Banner, it is unfortunate that he will not be reprising his role for consistency sake in the upcoming Avengers film. This means we’ll have 3 separate Hulks in a matter of 9 years. I think this one ranks the lowest out of the Avengers films for me.
  • Iron Man 2 – A fun sequel, as much as I enjoyed this entry, I think it would have benefited from a couple additional action scenes. Again, consistency is a pet peeve of mine and was slightly disappointing that Terrence Howard didn’t reprise his role as Rhodey. Don Cheadle is a fine actor, but he plays Rhodey with a more stern attitude which only accents the differences in the casting. Not to mention Howard and Cheadle look nothing alike.
  • Thor – Parts of this were exceptional while other parts were mild or stagnant, the Ice Giant battle was the greatest part of the movie and it came too early.The greater part of the movie is Thor hanging out with Natalie Portman in the desert and forming a forced relationship. “Say girl, I met you 3 days ago, but I love you!”
  • Captain America: The First Avenger – I really enjoyed this one. Chris Evans does a fine job and kudos to the creators who were able to successfully make a Captain America movie without him looking utterly ridiculous in his costume. Hugo Weaving as Red Skull was a bit underwhelming though.

Yes I am eager to see how this comes together and if it will be awesome enough to live up to the hype. I am looking forward to the friendly japes that will be had between Stark, Thor, Rogers, Fury, and the rest of the gang. I’m anticipating some crazy action scenes that will showcase each of the Avenger’s abilities.

8: Half Life 2: Episode 3

If I had a “Most Anticipated Top 10” list for the previous 4 years, this title would have definitely been on there. Half Life 2 is one of my favorite games, including the episode 1 / 2 that followed it. The narrative and story is brilliantly told for a FPS. Though Gordon Freeman is a silent protagonist the story is not hampered , the environment and the situations tell the story. There is no need for long narrative cut scenes or walls of text to drudge through.
Overall Half Life is an experience; a world and story brought to life.

All of this anticipation is amplified due to the cliff hanger we were left with in 2007. I was conflicted to include this game on the list due to it’s nature of being postponed continually.

7: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Yep I’m a fan of Tolkien’s work and I enjoyed Peter Jackson’s films. Finally the legal battles between New Line Cinema and Wingnut films has come to a stalemate and the Hobbit can finally come to the big screen. Consider me overjoyed that this is finally going to see a release after 4-5 years of development hell. Peter Jackson’s return to the franchise is a good thing, he should help bring some consistency to these entries of the franchise. Other series veterans are also reprising their roles: Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Ian Holme, Christopher Lee, and Ian Mckellan returning as Gandalf the Grey.

6: The Dark Knight Rises

Although I am extremely excited to see this movie, I think we are all in for a bit of disappointment.This film has some serious pressure built up behind it, I’m some what skeptical that it will be able to live up to The Dark Knight .

  • Heath Ledger’s untimely demise leaves the franchise lacking it’s most potent villain. I’m assuming the franchise would have went a totally different direction if Ledger were still around, the ending of TDK seemed to foreshadow the ultimate rivalry between Joker and Batman. Now this thread will go unsolved.
  • Bane has always been a more physical adversary of Batman, unless Nolan pulls something special out of his hat, this movie may suffer from a lack of depth and social commentary that the Joker and Two Face provided.
  • I’m still not sold on Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, I’m sure she’ll do a better job than Halle Berry but that’s not saying much… Then again, I was hesitant about Heath Ledger when I first heard he was cast as the Joker.

5: The Last Guardian

Team Ico is often heralded for creating video games that actually represent gaming as an art. Fumito Ueda has postponed the release of this title to ensure quality. Current release is slated for sometime in 2012. Even to this day I still look at Shadow of the Colossus as a vista.

I think the premise of a boy and a giant animal working together promise to have some very interesting game mechanics. There are certain to be some puzzles to work out with this unlikely duo, it should prove to be very entertaining.

4: Diablo 3

Much like Starcraft, Diablo’s next installment was a long time coming. Diablo 2 was released over ten years ago. Some may question Blizzards new design philosophies and the real money auction house, I’m really on the fence about these things. Honestly I won’t know how I feel about these things until release. I’ve lightly dabbled in the closed beta and it seems like a fine dungeon crawler so far. I’m main interested in partying up with a group of friends to pillage dungeons and troll the hell out of them, good times are to be had. Nothing like a solid co-op experience with some good friends.

3: Arrested Development Season 4

The best comedy sitcom of all time is slated to return for a 4th season exclusively to Netflix. After years of fans pleading, the series is being resurrected with all cast members supposedly on board. My only worry is: What if they cannot recapture the magic?

So we’ve seen Family Guy and Futurama revived by DVD sales and fan demand. I would argue that animated shows are easier to revive because the differences can be limited.

  • Sets / Props don’t need to be rebuilt – everything familiar can be animated as if no cancellation ever took place.
  • Characters won’t look different or aged because they can be animated just as they were prior to cancellation.

For a live sitcom, consistency issues arise. I’ll use Dead Like Me as an example. Coincidentally this show is a perfect example to compare with Arrested Development because both shows aired in 2003 and were cancelled within a year or so from each other.
Dead Like Me ran for 2 seasons and was canceled. Due to fan demand, a straight to DVD movie (Dead Like Me: Life After Death) was released in 2009 which was meant to be a followup or conclusion to the show.

The movie was met with mostly negative reaction from the DLM fanbase. This is due largely to consistency issues:

  • 2 of the primary cast members do NOT reprise their roles in the film. Rube is simply written out, while Daisy is re-cast.
  • ALL familiar sets  and locations are missing: Waffle House, George’s Home, Happy Time Office, etc.
  • Characters act differently or were written differently than they were prior to cancellation: Daisy, Roxy, and Mason all act very immature as if all of their character development during the 2 seasons of the show were wiped away. Instead they act like 2 dimensional stereotypes of themselves.
  • The way the movie was shot differed too much from the show: Cinematic filters were used to make it appear more cinematic. However it was really a departure from the standard white balanced series we spent 2 seasons watching.
  • More slight differences came about from the actors aging and appearance differences, a very minor quibble.

Overall the production lacked consistency (word of the day ^_^). It was too different from the original product. It almost felt as though it were a husk of the show fans once loved.

Let’s apply these issues to Arrested Development.

  1. It has been 6-7 years since AR was cancelled.
  2. It is possible that familiar sets may no longer exist: The Model Home, Lucille’s Apartment, and the Bluth office for example.
  3. LUCKILY so far all major cast members seem to be reprising their roles.
  4. Although cast members may have aged or appear different, this will likely be offset by the story picking up years later. Which shouldn’t be a big deal.
  5. Let’s hope the production team can recapture the look and feel of the show. Keep the major differences in lighting and filters to a minimum.

Regardless of my dismays, I  am seriously happy Arrested Development is getting a second chance.

 

2: Game of Thrones Season 2

A Song of Ice and Fire has quickly become one of my favorite stories of all time. I had never read the book series prior to seeing the HBO series. I was so intrigued and entertained by the TV series, that I immediately bought all 5 books and read them over the course of 3 months. I love this series so much, I even started a re-read. So far the TV production has been very true to the source material. I am anxiously awaiting the return of this show in April.

For those of you who have never heard of Game of Thrones, it is a very in depth story dealing with a web of complex and interesting characters. It is a dark fantasy story, heroes are not invincible, villains have motives, characters are developed, and the world is thoroughly fleshed out. My highest recommendation is to read the books, definitely the best decision I made all year.

 

1: Mass Effect 3

The Mass Effect series places amongst my favorite modern gen video games. No doubt I am supremely anticipating the conclusion to Commander Sheppard’s story. As far as hype goes, ME1 and ME2 were merely build up in comparison to the scale of events that should transpire in ME3. An all out Reaper invasion should be so intense it should dwarf any events that transpired in the first 2 games.

As far as the series “devolution” from an RPG shooter to a 3rd person shooter, I am completely fine with these changes. I always felt the combat and inventory systems were the weakest aspect to the first game. I love RPGs, but I just don’t think the mechanics were working. Playing ME2 was a huge relief for me when I noticed I didn’t have to spend an hour turning useless inventory items in to omni-gel after each mission. So overall I felt the pacing was better since I wasn’t spending half of my time on the inventory management screen. I also don’t miss the micro level skill system from ME1. You get a few points to spend each level, only to increase a skill by a fraction of a second. Add .4 seconds to my Lift skill!!!! AWESOME!!

In either case, I hope ME3 irons out any issues the previous 2 installments had and actually wins Game of the Year title.

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