Top fifteen most anticipated console games of 2012

Last year teemed with amazing releases. Blockbusters like Portal 2, Batman: Arkham City, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim kept gamers stuck to their television screens, and breakaway hits like Bastion and Dungeon Defenders brightened the downloads section. With 2012 just beginning, gamers can count down the days until their next favorite games arrive in stores. Whatever your genre or console of choice, we've got you covered with not ten, but fifteen of the biggest games of 2012.

Twisted Metal (February 14)

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Surprise your honey this Valentine's Day with the reprisal of a PlayStation classic: Twisted Metal. Developer Eat Sleep Play wants to add some clowns and burning cars to your evening of romance, giving the Hallmark holiday a brand new paint job. With the focus on multiplayer, you can go head-to-head with that special someone, firing missiles in between smooches. The new Twisted Metal for the PS3 also includes a port of Twisted Metal Black, originally for PlayStation 2.

SSX: Deadly Descents (Feb. 28)

ssx deadly descents

The upcoming SSX game is sure to excite fans of the seemingly outdated snowboarding game niche. Deadly Descents, from EA Canada, updates the genre by giving gamers real-world topography to traverse. Thanks to geotagging data acquired by NASA (how's that for cutting-edge?), the developers at Electronic Arts built extensive, realistic representations of mountain terrain, such as the ones in the Himalayas and Antarctic. EA is removing the invisible barriers that plagued older snowboarding games and emphasizing the open world. The game features single-player and multiplayer modes. Deadly Descents is being produced for the PS3 and X360.

Max Payne 3 (March)

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Developed and published by Rockstar Games, Max Payne 3 brings back the surreal third-person shooter series. The classic run-and-gun shooting and bullet-time sequences inseparable from the Max Payne brand remain, but interactive cut-scenes are new. For the first time, a multiplayer feature is also included. Eight years after the events of the second game, Max has left New York in exchange for São Paulo, Brazil, where he works in private security for a wealthy family. Max Payne 3 is coming to the PS3, X360, and PC.

Street Fighter X Tekken (March 6)

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As the name implies, Street Fighter X Tekken pits the characters of Capcom's popular Street Fighter series against those of Namco's Tekken series. Crossovers like these can help keep the genre afloat, and this type of mash-up provides an opportunity to answer some pressing "Who would win?" questions long debated by fighting enthusiasts. The game is set to release for the PS3, X360, PC, and Vita.

Mass Effect 3 (March 6)

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The third Mass Effect game is a big deal for fans: It marks the third and final chapter of the trilogy and completes Commander Shepard's story. The action-RPG follows events from the Mass Effect 2 DLC expansion, Arrival. Shepard must now unite the galaxy into launching a counter-attack against the Reapers. Despite the franchise's once Xbox exclusive label, Bioware is preparing the game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (as well as PC). The game supports single-player and co-operative multiplayer.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (March 20)

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Another guaranteed hit is the upcoming Operation Raccoon City from Capcom and Slant Six Games. This latest console Resident Evil challenges gamers to work as a team with Umbrella members, either fighting alongside AI or fellow players online. The game presents another side of the Raccoon City incident that unfolded in RE2 and RE3: Nemesis. The title introduces new characters as well as classic ones, who are available for play in "Heroes Mode." Players can now run and shoot simultaneously, a major step for the series.

Diablo III (Q1)

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Nothing quite says "highly anticipated" like Diablo. Blizzard's third installment, which combines elements of hack-and-slash and dungeon crawlers with a dark fantasy theme, is almost upon us. The game has been confirmed for PCs and Macs, but the developers are also seriously considering a console version—internet connection required, of course. While non-computer gamers will have to wait and see what Blizzard decides, many patient (and impatient) fans will have their copies sooner rather than later.

Bioshock: Infinite (June 1)

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After the disappointing Bioshock 2, fans of the series are eagerly awaiting the sky-high, first-person shooter adventure of Bioshock: Infinite. Scheduled for PS3, X360, and PC, Infinite promises a return to form thanks to Irrational Games' (previously known as 2K Boston) renewed involvement. The game takes players to a city of blimps, balloons, and American pageantry to rescue a young woman named Elizabeth from a prison guarded by the mechanical Songbird.

Borderlands 2 (July 30)

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The sequel to 2009's sci-fi role-playing FPS Borderlands is tentatively marked down for late July, and considering the success of the first game, this one is guaranteed to sell rapid-fire quick. Gearbox Software holds its position as developer, marketing the game for PS3, X360, and PC. The cel-shaded style, multiplayer modes, and skill trees and mods make a comeback, now with better customizable weapons, smarter enemies, and revamped physics added in. Also, the four playable characters are all new.

Tomb Raider (Q3)

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Crystal Dynamics has enjoyed an unexpected surge in popularity recently, and their announcement of a Tomb Raider reboot was one of the biggest reveals of 2011. This much more vulnerable take on Lara is the most refreshing she's been in years, and given what Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light already did for the stagnant franchise, it's safe for fans to put their faith in Crystal Dynamics to pull Lara out of the mud. Expect to see the action-adventure game for PS3, X360, and PC.

DmC: Devil May Cry (TBA)

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Also shipping sometime in 2012 is the controversial Devil May Cry reboot, developed by Ninja Theory and published by Capcom for the PS3 and X360. The game stars a younger Dante as he travels through Limbo City, located in a parallel universe to the rest of DMC. The ever-fluctuating city environment poses as much of a danger to Dante as the enemies he must face along the way. Although the character's altered looks have gained the game early criticism, there's no predicting whether the gameplay will surpass expectations or fall short.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (TBA)

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The recent Sly Cooper Collection put the old cartoon stealth platformer back in the gamer consciousness and then topped it all off with a hidden teaser for the upcoming Thieves in Time. Sucker Punch Productions seems confident that Sanzaru Games can instill the same authenticity in Sly's fourth outing for the PlayStation 3 as in Sly games of old, and early impressions suggest they may be spot on. The mischievous raccoon and his band of friends must set out to recover Sly's family heirloom, the Thevius Raccoonus handbook for thieves, which has become lost in time.

Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance (TBA)

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Under development by Platinum Games, Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance is a mouthful and a curiosity. In the action hack-and-slash spinoff, players control the cyborg Raiden sometime after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. Although Platinum has named the PS3 the central console for the game (to amend for Bayonetta's poor performance on the system), Revengeance will also be landing on the 360 and PC.

The Last of Us (Q4)

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One game has made a surprise splash of late, and many are hoping it'll be released before the year's close. The Last of Us is Naughty Dog's new PS3-exclusive project (good tidings for Sony this year, perhaps?), a third-person action-adventure game where together two characters must survive a deadly outbreak. A recent trailer displayed the narrative strength of the game, piquing the interest of many prospective players. Lead designer Neil Druckmann that those who were led astray by the emotionally dramatic cinematic trailer for Dead Island can rest assured: The Last of Us will adhere to the tone of its trailer.

Grand Theft Auto 5 (TBA)

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It's uncertain whether 2012 will see the release of the next Grand Theft Auto, but the game is already a hot topic in search engines and in the gaming industry. Rockstar Games is basing the open world game in modern-day Los Angeles, which has been transformed into the fictional Los Santos. As gamers stay on the lookout for new developments, the pressure is on for Rockstar to create a Grand Theft Auto not only equal in quality to past iterations, but also more polished in every way.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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