If you've spent a few minutes cruising gaming websites lately, you're bound to have seen a lot of talk and speculation about the next generation of consoles. And, while developers may be getting early information on future plans from Sony and Microsoft, both companies have announced that they won't be revealing any public details at E3. The reason is simple: There are still a lot of games due out for the current systems in 2012 and 2013. While Spring is usually a slow time for new game releases leading up to E3, below is my look at the biggest games due out between now and the start of June, when E3 2012 officially begins.
For the past five years, Rockstar Games has focused on late Spring as the release window for its biggest games: Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and this year, Max Payne 3. Releasing on May 15, this third-person action game has ex-cop Max using his trademark Bullet-Time down in Brazil. Rockstar's goal with Max Payne 3 is to seamlessly blend together high-stakes action and cinematic storytelling, and based on the levels I've seen, the story is gripping and tense. This is not an open-world game by any means - instead, Rockstar has focused on big set-piece levels with varied gunplay and cinematic moments similar to the Uncharted games. Multiplayer is also a huge focus, including the addition of bullet-time in multiplayer and a mode called Gang Wars that adds an element of narrative as Max narrates your multiplayer story across different maps.
Rockstar brings Max Payne 3 to Brazil this May.
A decade after the last release, Diablo III arrives for PC in May.
Although both games are already out, how could I not include this year's two baseball releases in an April column, which marks the start of the MLB season? This year, the lineup of MLB titles is exactly the same as last year. For PlayStation fans there is MLB 12: The Show on PS3 and Vita, and for everyone else there is 2K Sports' MLB 2K12. MLB: The Show has long been one of the best-looking sports games, and this year's title keeps that crown. The pitching interface has been changed to a mode called Pulse Pitching, which quickens the pace of an at-bat. My favorite feature is a new cloud save mode that lets you save a game on PS3 and then finish it on your PS Vita on the go. 2K's MLB 2K12 beats The Show in a few areas such as better audio commentary and presentation, and perhaps the best feature is an unexpected one: There's an online contest where pitching a perfect game can win you a million dollars in the real world.
Yes, over a decade after the last game was released, Blizzard is finally ready to unleashed Diablo III to the world - well, at least the PC world. While a console version has long been rumored, on May 15 only the PC version will emerge from Blizzard HQ for now. Set again in the world of Sanctuary, this Action/RPG title delivers all the loot drops Diablo fans want, and rumors persist that you may finally head to the High Heavens at some point. While Player vs Player combat has been removed from the game at the last minute (it will be added in a patch), players will still get an epic adventure with heroes in five different classes, including the Barbarian, the Witch Doctor, the Demon Hunter, the Monk, and the Wizard.
The follow-up to the surprise open-world action hit from a few years ago, Prototype 2 returns players to the world of New York Zero for more mayhem with the Blacklight virus and shape-shifting abilities. You don't play Alex Mercer, the hero from the first game, but instead take control of James Heller, who is hell-bent on murdering Mercer for most of the game (hence the game's tagline, "Murder Your Maker"). New for Prototype 2 are tendrils, a mutation of the virus that lets Heller string up enemies in the air using mutated strands of virus in a Spider-Man-like web. The first Prototype was a rare example of a new intellectual property that showed a lot of promise, even though the game engine felt a little dated. The sequel looks much better visually and, while there is no multiplayer, the core action looks much more refined as well.
No one will argue that the PS Vita has a great screen. But, so far, there aren't a lot of big games announced for the system. There are two, however, that I'm particularly excited to play. The first is a music game, Sound Shapes, that doesn't have a firm release date as of yet. The other is a new Resistance game titled Burning Skies. The dual Analog Sticks on the PS Vita make this the first handheld well-suited for a first-person shooter. This is a brand-new Resistance story, starring a New York firefighter named Tom Riley who battles the Chimera in 1951 as they attack New York and the George Washington Bridge. With tons of new weapons (including an axe!), this is a full blown first-person shooter on a tiny screen.
Next month, I'll be back with a preview of the 2012 E3 Expo set for this June in Los Angeles. But, in the meantime, you can follow me for updates inside the GameFly App and also on Twitter @geoffkeighley.