Feature Article
Roundtable: What are you looking forward to most in 2012?

With every new year comes new games. And with those games, us gamers get both the good and the bad. But with 2012 being one of the most anticipated sports gaming years to date, with the return of EA's NBA series and releases of old favorites (SSX, Blitz, FIFA Street), what are you the most excited to see?

Caley Roark: I'm looking forward to see the innovations found in both baseball games. While it's true that MLB: The Show typically takes a "don't fix what's not broken" approach, I feel like we've seen meaningful improvements in both games over the past few years.

I'm also excited for the return of Blitz, though I hope we get updated rosters. I know it hasn't happened for NBA Jam, but I am hopeful. Madden NFL Arcade saw a complete roster redo...even removing Kevin Kolb from the game in favor of Mike Vick.

Finally, I can't wait to see what OOTP does for 2012. If there's a game out there that's near perfect, it would be this perennially lauded baseball sim. I think user interface improvements could be made, but beyond that, I hope the game continues to dig deeper into the world of stats and historical simulations.

Phil Varckette: Lets call a spade a spade. We already know games like The Show, FIFA and NHL will be quality titles, but what I am most looking forward to is finding out if Madden and EA's NBA title will finally make a leap in quality. 

I am a little bit more intrigued this year though. With a new "Czar" in place, double the development team and some new and familiar faces joining the cast at Tiburon, one would think they are pretty serious about improvement. This big question I have is, is their definition of improvement the same as mine. 

Another intriguing element to 2012 sports gaming is EA's NBA franchise. Will it be Elite or will it be Live again? Personally I think Live would make for a better marketing strategy. Its familiar, and people miss it. But marketing or not, it better play well. In my opinion, NBA Live 10 was a step forward in the series. I can't help but think if they would have just stayed the course they wouldn't be in this mess they are today. 

Even with a two year development cycle, I don't see Live/Elite being as good or better than NBA 2K. In fact, I am sure it will have a long way to go. But having another NBA game on the market is a good thing regardless. Choices win championships in sports gaming. (I totally just made that up). You also have to give EA a little bit of credit for not forcing what would have been a disaster of a game on with Elite 11. 

I know if anything I just said is true, there will be a lot of happy sports gamers in 2012.

Steve Bartlett: I am eager to see what type of basketball gaming EA Sports brings to the table in 2012. NBA 2K clearly dominated the simulation market, even when NBA Livewas still being developed. EA Sports realized they could not overhaul a franchise in one calender year, and I commend them in that sense if they get it right this time around. 

To compete with the realism that simulation fans expect out of such a historic franchise in NBA Live, it requires top developers to deliver content that pushes sports gaming forward. I hope that the Tiburon team is creating a rich balance of simulation and excitement in their new hoops franchise -- balance being the key word. I want to see striking realism, innovative features and game play mechanics, with a mix of customization and user-friendliness -- that of which NBA 2K occasionally suffers from. The complexity of controls in NBA 2K leaves the door open for EA to fill a void in game play mechanics.

Bishop Tart: What will EA do in 2012? That's the big question I have going into the new year. 

Madden had a lot of problems last year. Can EA actually step up their game with the next iteration? I have faith in them, even after trading in Madden NFL 12 (the only one I've ever traded in), but they have a lot to work on for 13.

Like Phil stated, what will EA do with NBA Elite? Is is still set to release this year, and will we actually see some gameplay of it at PAX East (doubtful) or E3? I liked some of the things I saw in the NBA Elite demo, but there is no possible way it overtakes NBA 2K. However, if done right, EA can cut into some of 2K's profits.

As for other games, I'm looking forward to SSX. Everything we've seen of the game looks great. Snowboarding games have been a complete train wreck over this console generation, and if any one franchise can bring that genre back, it's SSX.

Aside from new games, the Vita is on my watch list. We already know MLB The Show and FIFA are set to be on the system, but I wonder if other big market sports games will arrive. 

Personally, I have more questions than anything about sports gaming in 2012. Will all of these be answered? Probably not. But one thing is for certain, 2012 looks to be yet another stellar year for sports games and their fans.

Matthew Coe: The most intriguing game for me in 2012 is the return of SSX. There hasn't been a great, or even a good, snowboarding game made on this generation of consoles. 

SSX, if it can re-capture the magic of the last gen games, could be one of the most satisfying gaming experiences we will have in 2012. With the promise of online integration including RiderNet (similar to autolog), and EA knowing that this reboot has to succeed, SSX could really be special.

Other than SSX, I will be extremely interested by NCAA 13's hype and potential consumer backlash after the issues with NCAA 12. But even moreso, I want to see what Madden 13 will be. EA never released tuners for Madden 12, and the general feeling is that 12 was the last game of the old development crew. Did the new crew send it out and wash their hands of it, focusing fully on 13? With a full year of new direction, Madden 13 could be the definitive version on next-gen, for better or worse.


What about you? What are your most anticipated games of 2012?