Top 5 Games of GDC 2012

Assassin's Creed III  - 1098602

As Game Developers Conference 2012 came to pass, it was increasingly apparent that the industry is excelling at hyper speeds toward a bright future in the tablet, free-to-play, mobile, and re-invigorated PC gaming scene. Sitting in industry-speaker led sessions and partaking in behind closed-doors (aka hotel rooms) preview demonstrations helped gain a sense of where gaming is heading. And it doesn’t get anymore exciting than the following five titles that caught our interest throughout the show.

5. Mercenary Ops

Developed by Epic Games China, Mercenary Ops development team is made up of former Ubisoft Shanghai team members whom previously worked on Splinter Cell: Double Agent. In typical Epic Games fashion, the game makes use of a post-apocalyptic world with a color palette that consists of brown, light brown, dark brown, and, even black. Sarcasm aside, the engine behind the title looks to provide enticing multiplayer mayhem.

The multiplayer portion will pave way for a 16-player cooperative mode. This alone should turn a few heads as excellent co-op play is a valuable asset for any video game in today’s landscape. So while the title of the game and minimal storyline details don’t have us craving for more information, it can at least be said that Mercenary Ops is on our radar for the multiplayer warfare alone.

4. MechWarrior Tactics

It’s been a long time since the MechWarrior universe has been visited. The latest full retail release was 2001's MechCommander 2 for the PC. Sure, there were the MechAssault titles for the Xbox, but fans generally don’t consider those true MechWarrior titles, so it’s brilliant to see MechWarrior Tactics in development by A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games and Roadhouse.

As a turn-based strategy game within the free-to-play market, MechWarrior Tactics attempts to tackle the tabletop roots. With no single-player campaign in sight, Tactics instead revolves around multiplayer combat partaking in 3025. The real draw behind Tactics is the level of customization that will, of course, be boosted by downloadable packs to influence the player’s mechs. From new armor, weapons, resources, and heat sinks, the F2P model will come in handy for the publisher attempting to give everyone a little of everything through micro-transactions.

Even with the ugly buzz words of F2P and micro-transactions, I can safely say I am still excited for MechWarrior Tactics. Each mech will differ from each other, along with their roles on the battlefield. Whether it’s playing the part of a methodical defender or a speedy and agile combatant, the strategy behind the Battletech tabletop game should give PC fans a reason to invest in Tactics.

3. Quantum Conundrum

From the former lead designer of Portal comes Quantum Conundrum, an ambitious puzzle title that radiates charm. Influenced by the art styles of Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland (not the movie), Quantum Conundrum is a sight for sore eyes. Adorable as it is clever, Quantum Conundrum mixes a charming art style with mind-bending puzzles to test the wits of players.

Relying more puzzle-solving rather than action, Quantum Conundrum pits players in the role of a child who is visiting his uncle’s mansion. Things go awry as the kid’s crazy uncle, whom also is an inventor, goes missing and it’s up to the brave 12-to-14-year-old to figure out all the bizarre traps and pratfalls set before him.

Built as a game aimed for science geeks, Quantum Conundrum explores physics and alternate dimensions. Players are able to flip from one dimension to the next on the fly such as going from the Fluffy to the Reverse Gravity dimension to solve a puzzle. The demonstration didn’t pit me up against anything too heinous, but it did provide a glimpse of what’s to come as I leaped from flying desk to levitating diner table to escape a room.

Currently set to release on the XBLA, PSN, and Steam over the course of the next year -- timed-exclusives be damned, should we see this make its way into the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade program -- Quantum Conundrum appeals to every Portal fan out there looking for their next brainbusting puzzle fix.

2. Planetside 2

It has almost been 10 years since the original Planetside developed a cult following. Nowadays, the gaming masses often look to Sony Online Entertainment’s MMOFPS baby as the gold standard. So it’s no surprise that SOE is revisiting the game that set the bar for the genre and are doing so by implementing current industry standards such as going free-to-play.

Many MMOs are F2P, so don’t let that scare you away should you have already determined to avoid the current MMO standards of today. SOE is looking for the successful League of Legends for inspiration on its online model with options more in tune with customization rather than forcing players to buy guns or vehicles.

Within a persistent environment, players are capable of joining the battle in a variety of ways such as aerial, infantry, and ground vehicle combat. Maps are expansive and will eclipse anything console gamers have seen in their short history of online gaming. With an ambitious day and night cycle that is being included, the maps will undoubtedly look different throughout certain play sessions.

On an even better note, it’s a much-welcomed addition to the sci-fi FPS genre. Too many developers have tackled the modern warfare theme, so I’m glad to see SOE bringing back Planetside to give FPS fans an alternative to the standard AK-47 loving shooters that rule the top of the charts for many of the consoles and even PC.

1. Assassin’s Creed III

The game of the show was undoubtedly Assassin’s Creed III. At every panel, session, or party I attended, it happened to be one of the first topics on the minds of many. Ubisoft revealed it via GameInformer cover and it certainly made waves among the gaming industry in San Francisco last week.

Whether it was talk about the new protagonist, Connor, or being set during the American Revolution, Assassin’s Creed III was the top trending topic that the industry couldn’t resist talking about during the show.

While details are still scarce, outside of what has already been revealed via GI and undisclosed press meetings during the show, it cannot be stated enough that Ubisoft has continued to break new ground with the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Set for a Fall 2012 release, Assassin’s Creed III will garner a lot of press attention over the next few months as more information is divulged leading up to its release.

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Carter Washington
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