Top 5 Games of January 2012


  • Final Fantasy XIII 2
  • Gotham City Imposters
  • Neverdead

Lands from the Rising Sun
The video game is a rare creature this January. Or at least the decent video game is. So much so, I found myself compelled to pinch from February in order to compile this short list. Thrice!

That said, for all you closet JRPG fans, rest assured January 2012 is very much Japan’s month. Inside the next four weeks gamers have the nostalgia of silent hills, the eccentricity of villainy in Gotham City, the abnormality of poorly constructed, immortal demon hunters and the grand scope of a Final Fantasy sequel to draw them in.

Title – Silent Hill HD Collection
Developer – Hijinx Studios
Publisher - Konami
Released – January 24th

With Horror Superbrand Resident Evil monopolising gamers, the Silent Hill franchise played second fiddle, perhaps unfairly, the first time around. Let’s pray this re-release garners more recognition for these cult classics. And considering the villains roster includes knife wielding babies and blokes with Pyramids instead of skulls, it’s a uniquely haunting franchise.

Besides including what is widely regarded as gaming’s pinnacle of psychological terror, Silent Hill 2, this collection boasts 5.1 sound, 720p resolutions and, most interestingly, entirely new voice actors. Because god knows the delivery of cringe worthy dialogue has come along leaps and bounds in recent years!

Title – Gotham City Imposters
Developer – Monolith Productions
Publisher – Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Released – January 10th

If you were to splice rampant gun crime with theatrical vigilantism inside the confines of a prison for the criminally insane, the result might look something like Gotham City Imposters. I said might!

From the development team that brought us the seriously underrated Condemned and the appropriately rated F.E.A.R., this DLC wraps a reportedly average FPS mechanic up in the most colourfully customizable, stylishly silly coating this side of Team Fortress.
The categorically whimsical tone is complemented by weapons such as hang gliders, chemical catapults, Jack in the Box explosives and PVC pipe bombs.

No publisher in their right mind would invite a comparison with 2011’s Arkham City. And intelligently, GCI has the sense to legitimately distance itself from Rocksteady’s masterstroke while adding an unforeseen layer to the Batman franchise.

Title – Soulcalibur V
Developer – Project Soul
Publisher – Namco Bandai Games
Released – Feburary 3rd

Full disclosure, I’ve always viewed the ‘Soul’ games as wasted potential. To me, it seems a poor man’s Street Fighter, but with swords and spears. It should be a taught simulation on weapon combat. It’s far from it!

Where combat should centre around blocking, evading, parrying and that one critical, fatal, ending strike, instead it focuses on juggling combos and shrugging off mortal wounds.

But apparently the rest of the world disagrees so I’ll just keep my trap shut! A lot of the former chaff has been cut: parries and critical finishes are kaput! However a new ‘super’ gauge has been included, character creation expanded and multi-layer stages (a-la Mortal Kombat) integrated.

Juggle this with 30 unique combatants, notably a special appearance from everyone’s favourite Master Assassin, Ezio Auditore, and you have a brawler to satisfy even the most violent among us. At least until Street Fighter X Tekken rocks up anyway...

Title – Neverdead
Developer – Rebellion Developments
Publisher - Konami
Released – Feburary 3rd

An unlikely, and distinctly Japanese, effort from the Oxford based development company, Neverdead certainly has potential. Though the core gunplay seems stiff and outdated, Neverdead offers a unique protagonist who is truly immortal, though not simply invincible!

Voiced by veteran voicer David Lodge (check out Naruto and Bleach dubbings), Bryce Boltzmann is a a 500 year old demon hunter who often quite literally falls to pieces!

And it’s through this very dismemberment mechanic that the title might shine. Guns and Swords aplenty populate the demonic battlefields, yet the skilful combining of hazardous environs and detachable, flammable, explosive body parts promises the most gleeful carnage.

Flaming bullets? Set yourself alight. Need a sentry? Tear off an arm. Awkward air duct? Chuck in your head! The combinations, if done correctly, could be innovative and fresh.

Also Megadeath performs the theme tune, which certainly didn’t hurt the likes of Duke Nukem 3D...

Title – Final Fantasy XIII 2
Developer – Square Enix
Publisher - Square Enix
Released – Feburary 3rd

It would be some accomplishment to be a gamer in this day and age and not know of Final Fantasy. Most of us will have a strange love hate relationship with the series i.e. we loved FFVII and have been struggling since.
Well not so Japan!

Launched late last year, it shipped 524,000 copies in a single week. No mean feat, particularly considering it also garnered perfect scores from game critics Famitsu and Dengeki. So that's a 40 and a S respectively!

Admittedly, from the sheer multitude of digits flashing onscreen, I reckon one needs the mathematical proficiency of an aspiring Einstein to make sense of the sparkling graphics, copious QTEs, frantic ballistics and frankly bonkers cinematics.

Your personal feelings for mechanical, steam powered, shimmering seven foot long broadswords notwithstanding (Love them!), the launch of Final Fantasy XIII 2 is 2012’s first major gaming event.

So, assuming you can hack the hamtastic English dubbing, start the year as you mean to continue!

Top 5 Games of January 2012 on
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