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Japan May Present The Best Games of 2011

Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Screenshot - 817176

So far, two of our staff have revealed their most anticipated games of 2011 with titles such as L.A. Noire, Torchlight 2, Test Drive Unlimited 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Deus Ex. To continue our hype for 2011, we are ready to discuss 10 more games that should excite gamers worldwide.

2011 Preview: Pokemon, MMOs, Gangster Action & 3rd Party Wii titles Expect the Unexpected in 2011: The Last Guardian, XCOM, and Deus Ex

Codename D Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture Release Date: TBA Platforms: Xbox 360

Extremely little is known about this Kinect-based game, but I was hooked with the first live-action trailer of a baseball-toting protagonist about to enter a deranged carnival. Well, that's not completely accurate. I was sold the moment I saw Suda51's name in the press release. I'll admit, I'm a bit of a fanboy. The man gave us No More Heroes, after all.

Concerns: Plenty, seeing that we don't know squat about the game yet. The baseball hints at a rail-shooter, but Kinect lacks the swift precision of a light-gun. Then again, No More Heroes, and especially the sequel, featured a robust and strategic combat system using a simplistic control scheme. I'm sure that whatever Suda51 dreams up will at the very least be an interesting conversation piece.

Catherine Publisher: Atlus Developer: Atlus Release Date: TBA Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3

A character name Vincent, psychological horror, a massive tower in a dreamworld, and sheep – that's about the extent of what's known regarding the Persona team's first foray into HD. It isn't much to go on, but that's all I need. After all, Persona 3 and 4 rank as two of my all-time favorite RPGs. Catherine is not part of the Shin Megami Tensei series, but that might actually be a good thing, since I certainly don't want to see the series driven into the ground with unnecessary sequels.

Concerns: None, unless you count the agonizing wait for localization.

The Secret World Publisher: Funcom Developer: Funcom Release Date: TBA Platforms: PC (possible Xbox 360)

There is no guarantee that The Secret World is coming in 2011, but I am exceptionally hopeful. I've grown tired of medieval fantasies, slaying orcs, and of constantly being separated from my friends by levels. The Secret World takes place in a modern world on the brink of destruction as dark monsters invade. Progression and customization will be entirely dependent on the skills you pursue and the equipment you carry. In other words, no classes and no levels; two aspects that I can certainly do without. I still think that Age of Conan is one of the most underappreciated MMOs on the market, and I believe that Funcom is committed to delivering another stellar experience.

Concerns: Funcom needs to learn a few lessons about marketing. While Bloodline Champions is well-promoted, Age of Conan quickly sank into obscurity, and The Secret World remains as hidden as the name implies since debuting in 2007. A new screenshot pops up every few months to remind you it's there, and that's it. Meanwhile, potential competitors like Tera, Rift, and Earthrise have been steadily been building communities of fans. The Secret World could be the greatest MMO ever, but it won't matter if people don't know it exists.

Guild Wars 2 Publisher: NCsoft Developer: ArenaNet Release Date: TBA Platforms: PC

As much as I enjoy MMOs, I loathe the anonymity and sense of futility. It's hard to feel like a hero when you're waiting in line for a boss to respawn, and difficult to feel like an individual when you're running the same quests as everyone around you. One way Guild Wars 2 plans to stand out is by offering players choices within quests that can affect future storylines. More exciting though is the event system, which could thrust you into all sorts of epic battles if you happen to be in the right place at the right time. If it works, every player will have unique stories to tell their friends, as opposed to debating spell-timings and casting orders.

Concerns: Another medieval fantasy… *sigh* Moreover, I wonder how random events will be. If they run on a timer, I can assure you that they will be tracked, players will camp, and then something potentially special is reduced to a standard world-event.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release Date: February 15, 2011 Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3

Capcom rules the universe of 2D fighters. Naysayers need only look at the continuing popularity of the Street Fighter series and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 as proof. Capcom's fighters are accessible to newcomers, tuned for professionals, and spectacular to watch. I've had the good fortune to play Marvel vs. Capcom 3 on multiple occasions and it is a blast, especially with the huge lineup of new characters, including Chris Redfield, Dante, Amaterasu. Since we already know it's going to be an amazing fighter, all that remains to be seen is how many more characters Capcom can cram inside.

Concerns: None. Diehard fans will undoubtedly be able to pinpoint some technical/balancing issues, but I'm more interested in getting my friends over to pummel the snot out of each other.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Eidos Montreal Release Date: March 2011 Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

The original Deus Ex completely changed my perception of first-person shooters and the capabilities of video games. Character-customization, multiple routes and endings, branching dialogue - these were the fortes of RPGs, not an action-packed cyberpunk adventure. The original game featured many distinctive locations, but I always had the feeling of being caged, which is why I am most excited to see what possibilities arise from modern technologies. New developments in AI, larger and more intricate environments, and even simpler advancements like breaking through a wall, have the potential to make Human Revolution another classic.

Concerns: I worry that Eidos Montreal is missing the point with character choice. The strength of the original Deus Ex was how ambiguous many options were, as opposed to being broken down into clearly defined segments of stealth, combat, and socialization. Some routes were so cleverly disguised as to lead players to believe that they discovered unforeseen possibilities.

Brink Publisher: Bethesda Developer: Splash Damage Release Date: April 12, 2011 Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

I'll admit to being one of those shooter-players who runs around, hopping along ledges and stabbing people in the back. It's not that I crave speed. It's because I'm a mediocre shot and an even worse sniper, but I've always been good at finding unorthodox tactics and infiltrating enemy lines. With the SMART system, Brink's parkour-infused gameplay allows players to utilize nearly every surface for movement, and thus, every mundane piece of terrain as a tactical tool. Because an opponent can come from any angle, Brink is a shooter with the potential to reward ingenuity as much as a fast trigger-finger. Having a fresh art-style and an abundance of options for customization is icing on the cake.

Concerns: I am most attracted to the multiplayer portion of Brink, but attracting and retaining players from other shooters will be no small feat.

Child of Eden Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Q Entertainment Release Date: Q1 2011 Platforms: Xbox 360

Like Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s previous game, Rez, Child of Eden is visually breathtaking and simultaneously mysterious. Screenshots do not do this shooter justice, if only because it’s difficult to tell which are mockups and which are pulled from gameplay. Child of Eden is the first game to get me excited for Kinect, although you can also use a standard controller. Excluding Dance Central, Kinect’s lineup has consisted of titles for gullible non-gamers and people who still think that money spent equals weight lost. If Child of Eden succeeds, perhaps it will set a standard and help Kinect avoid the shovelware plaguing Wii. Probably not, but at least we’ll get an awesome and beautiful shooter in the process.

Concerns: Even Mizuguchi has admitted that Kinect is not as accurate as Move, which is the last thing that hardcore shooter players want to hear. A standard controller can be used, but as numerous Wii games have shown, games designed around motion controls rarely work as well with a controller, and vice versa.

Red Faction: Armageddon Publisher: THQ Developer: Volition Inc Release Date: May, 2011 Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

It’s long past time people to started paying attention to this series. Initial sales of Guerrilla were solid, but tapered off quickly. It broke my heart to see my beloved game in the bargain bin. Other developers brag about walls and doors that take damage. Red Faction has been toppling buildings since 2001. Dual-weilding? Red Faction II beat Bungie to the punch by two years, and Halo: Reach’s armor abilities look pitiful next to the backpacks of Guerrilla. Let’s not forget the engaging storyline that has twisted through all three games and the amazing action-sequences born out of Guerrilla’s open-world gameplay. Not many games let you demolish a building by driving a dumptruck off a cliff, or surprise a multiplayer opponent by bursting through three floors of concrete. So, am I excited for Armageddon? You better freaking believe it.

Concerns: None actually. Although I don’t enjoy Saints Row, Volition Inc. has hit the mark with each iteration of Red Faction, while always adding something distinctive to the series.

Portal 2 Publisher: Valve Software Developer: Valve Software Release Date: February 9, 2011 Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Who would have thought that a puzzle game could turn into a cultural phenomenon? Sure, Bejeweled and Peggle have devoted fans, but I don't see them cosplaying, performing cover songs, and making papercraft homages. Portal 2 has some incredibly big shoes to fill, and Valve seems to be on the right track with a host of new puzzle elements, a charmingly funny sidekick, and cooperative play. Add in the return of a vengeful GLaDOS and Portal 2 has the makings of an epic adventure.

Concerns: Subtley was one of Portal’s charms. The story was all around you, written on the walls, carved into a secret chamber by an unknown individual, and hidden between the lines of GLaDOS’s speeches. Portal 2 is obviously going bigger and better, so I hope that the story doesn’t get crushed along the way.

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Brian Rowe
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