The best PC games of 2012
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Based on the characters of the Alien film series, Aliens: Colonial Marines sees another wave of doomed soldiers stranded in Hadley’s Hope following the catastrophic destruction of the atmospheric processor.
Prepare to be dragged into vents and impaled on tail-spikes as you and up to three friends find yourselves in a running battle for survival against H R Giger’s most famous creations. Gearbox’s devotion to the franchise shows in the details, from the sound design (in space, everyone can hear if you get the pulse rifle noise wrong) to the wintry gloom of LV-426 and sparse, loaded banter between squadmates. Where additions have been made, care has been taken to stay in step with the films.
Hopefully this will be the first Aliens game to capture the camaraderie that is so central to the films, and so fundamental to the space marine shooter. LV-426 is, after all, where it all started.
Far Cry 3
After Far Cry’s technical chops and Far Cry 2’s relocation to Africa, the next installment in Ubisoft’s open-ended shooter series is taking another step sideways. Far Cry 3 is a meditation on madness: the island you’re stranded on is populated by sociopaths. It’s a drama as much about making you think as about making you wildly fire an AK-47 over a bit of cover.
The assault on a compound shown at E3 confirmed that freeform combat is still central, but the sequence is bookended by scripted events that tie it all together.
The scope of combat has expanded to include context-sensitive takedowns, such as killing a guard with his own knife before throwing it into his mate. I’ve got no idea where protagonist Jason Brody learned this, but it’s presumably the same place where he learned to blow up bridges and hijack helicopters. He might just belong on that island after all.
Miner Wars 2081
Publisher: Keen Software House
Taking the role of a spaceship pilot, you’re free to make your own paths through huge asteroids, and shoot fellow players. A totally interesting concept, but we’re slightly wary of zero-G shooters following the dull as dishwater Shattered Horizon.
Iron Front - Liberation 1944
Publisher: Deep Silver
Based on Arma II’s engine, Iron Front is a recreation of the Soviet offensive of 1944 in southern Poland. Taking the role of either a German or Russian soldier, you’ll be able to take control of tanks, planes and your own feet to destroy the enemy. Expect clips from it to show up in forthcoming ITV documentaries haplessly pretending to be real life battle action.
Gotham City Impostors
Publisher: Warner Bros
A very different kettle of bats to Arkham City, it’s a jokey online first-person shooter, with Batman, Catwoman and Joker impersonators battling to the death in a brightly-lit version of Bats’ home town. Developers Monolith have already proved themselves in comical shooters with the still-great No One Lives Forever, but they’ll have to pull out the stops to take on TF2.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
What started as a port of CS: Source for consoles has become a wholesale revamp for the great-grandfather of the modern military shooter. Billed as a ‘bestof’ compilation of CS 1.6 and Source, Global Offensive is expected to boast detailed matchmaking to lower the barrier to entry for new players. Time to brush up on your bunnyhopping
Publisher: Cronix Games
Taking Point is an indie FPS that promises multiplayer action on par with Call of Duty or Battlefield. It’s certainly ambitious, but there’s little of the game to see so far beyond a gallery of gun renders and early map designs. In that regard, at least, it’s making us nostalgic for the golden age of FPS modding. Those were the days.
A free-to-play online shooter from Crytek, the smart folks behind Crysis. Features co-op and class-based PvP in a variety of modes as well as all the expected visual flare. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be the bestlooking free FPS on the market, but it’s not the only one with cool robot suits. ‘Welcome to Warface, soldier’ barks the trailer, remarkably keeping a straight face as it does so. Oh, Warface, how you amuse us.
The original was an interesting, innovative title that never quite added up to the sum of its gravitydefying, portal-planting parts. Prey 2 immerses us in an alien world, with a US Marshal waking up to find he’s a bounty hunter on a distant planet. Its emphasis on shooting and neon-lit visuals make it look like a Mass Effect quest in a Tron universe.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Patriots
Ubisoft’s attempt to consolidate their place on the modern military shooter bandwagon. The hype describes it as a mix of tactical squad-based combat with ‘unprecedented levels of humanity’. Footage released by Game Informer caused a bit of a stir, not least for its nowinfamous wife-kissing quicktime event. Heavy handed, but the production values are there.
Ghost Recon Online
A free-to-play modern military shooter with customisable skills and equipment. It’s looking far prettier than direct rival Battlefield Free 2 Play, and the presence of cloaking devices and other high-tech abilities suggests that it’s not taking itself too seriously. Ubisoft invite you to ‘become the ultimate ghost’, which we suspect we will achieve by dying a lot.
Publisher: Perfect World
A fast-paced free-to-play multiplayer shooter set in a slick cyberpunk metropolis. It’ll be supported by microtransactions, but these look to be mostly cosmetic. It features jetpacking robot hardsuits and cool helmets that’ll allow you to see through walls and detect flaws in enemy armour. Seriously, 2012. We turned 14 years ago. You can stop trying so hard.
Sniper Elite V2
Rebellion’s game of sitting very still and summarily executing people from far away has been built specifically to take advantage of the PC’s more powerful hardware. Based on the teaser trailer, we can expect operatic music, dramatic pauses, and Nazis getting shot in the neck in slow-mo X-ray vision. It really is grotesque. But hey, it’s not gratuitous if you’ve waited a long time to make the kill, right?
Metro: Last Light
Metro 2033’s tense, oozing atmosphere covered a lot of the game’s flaws. The follow-up aims to fix them, with THQ’s Danny Bilson reckoning that it “Improves on the original in every way.” The tunnel rats and mutants are back, too. An ongoing civil war over a doomsday device provides the backdrop. And everyone loves a fight to avoid the threat of total violent annihilation, right?
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive
PC gaming’s premier hiding in a bush and trying not to die simulator returns with a vast Mediterranean island to explore. In addition to the usual comprehensive array of weapons and vehicles, the singleplayer campaign boasts a renewed focus on narrative. For us, it’ll always be about emergent multiplayer madness and the mods.
Zone: The Battleground
Publisher: Xitol Softworks
Release: Sniper: Autumn
Details on this indie sci-fi FPS are scant. There’s plenty of concept art and soundtrack material doing the rounds on the internet, but actual footage of the game or screenshots are near non-existent.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2
Publisher: City Interactive
For a game about dressing as a Christmas tree and shooting people from afar, Sniper: Ghost Warrior did rather well, selling enough units to warrant console ports. This time you’ve got a spotter at your side.
It may have ditched isometric strategy for the fi rstperson, but the new Syndicate is looking no less cerebral than the original: it’s just that ‘cerebral’, in this case, means ‘hacking people’s brains and making them shoot themselves’. Ace!
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