Looking Ahead to 2012's Comic Book Video Games

2011 was really something when it came to comic book-related video games, as you could probably tell from our recent Year In Review. "Batman: Arkham City" made an expected killing. Spider-Man headlined a new game that featured the futuristic 2099 incarnation of the character sharing the spotlight. "DC Universe Online" saw a number of fan-pleasing expansions. And "Marvel vs. Capcom" made an impact not once, but twice.

But the truth is, all of that may have just been a warm-up for 2012, because we're in for another great year of portable comic book-licensed gaming. Whether it's your favorite heroes from the Marvel Universe or a long-awaited visit from the Transformers or the Simpsons, gamers have got some great stuff to look forward to. Here, then, is our preview for the twelve months ahead!

Fighting On the Go

"Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3" already did solid business for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011, but it'll reach out to a whole new audience later this spring when Capcom releases it for the PlayStation Vita. Players will be able to choose from over 40 combatants, including familiar heroes like Wolverine and "Street Fighter's" Ryu, along with newcomers like Strider Hiryu, Firebrand (from the "Ghosts n' Goblins" series) and Ghost Rider. And with the system's built in Wi-Fi capabilities, you'll be able to take on all comers, worldwide. Bring on the fighting action!

"Marvel Pinball" Flips Out

Zen Studios has done big business with its "Marvel Pinball" releases, which it expanded upon last month with the release of four new tables in its "Vengeance and Virtue" collection, and the developer is just getting started. The company recently confirmed several new tables were on the way, with the first one set to feature the Hulk. And these will be more expansive tables than ever, featuring story arcs and, dare we hope, "The Avengers," just in time for the movie this May. The game will see release on multiple new game systems as well, including the PS Vita, the Nintendo 3DS and the upcoming Wii U.

Have a Cow, Man

Ask any given fan of "The Simpsons" what their favorite game is, and they're likely to say it's the classic 1991 Konami arcade game, where players take control of Bart, Lisa, Marge and Homer Simpson as they fight off evil cronies in a bid to save baby Maggie. Well, get ready for a blast from the past, as several ratings companies have listed "The Simpsons Arcade" for getting a release sometime this year on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. It shouldn't be a surprise that Konami is considering a home release, since it previously released other multiplayer arcade games like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "X-Men: The Arcade Game." While not officially confirmed by the company, these official ratings definitely look official to us. Look for a release date and price to be revealed soon. (Sorry, no donuts. Doh!)

Avenging Forward

In the wake of news of THQ's cancelled first-person project based on the franchise , Marvel has yet to announce any details on video game plans for "The Avengers," something that would tie in with the movie when it debuts this May. The House of Ideas did state something was in the works during a panel at New York Comic-Con, stopping short at explaining exactly what it is. A new game for mobile platforms? A downloadable adventure for Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network? Or perhaps an updated port of the Data East arcade classic "Captain America and the Avengers?" We're not sure, but we're bound to get the information sooner rather than later. We hope, anyway.

A Batty New Year

Just because the Dark Knight saved the day once again in "Batman: Arkham City" doesn't mean WB Games is ready to take a break on the franchise. Though Rocksteady Studios will be busy for a while cooking up the third game, Monolith Studios is just about finished with development on "Gotham City Impostors," a multiplayer, first-person shooter featuring both Bat and Joker-related teams taking on each other throughout Gotham City. The game is set for release in the middle of this month for both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

Outside of that, no new plans have been announced for any "Batman"-specific games, but don't be surprised if new downloadable content for "Arkham City" is released, featuring the further adventures of Catwoman or other side-characters like Nightwing or Robin. For that matter, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for Rocksteady to let loose some exclusive content that ties in with July's "The Dark Knight Rises." We've already seen a "Rises" skin get released, so who knows what else to expect? A fur coat or voice-changer for Bane, perhaps?

Step Into "The Darkness"

2012 is set to be a tremendous year for 2K Games, between such original releases as "Borderlands 2," "Spec Ops: The Line" and the highly anticipated "Bioshock Infinite." But let's not forget about "The Darkness II," the long-awaited follow-up to Jackie Estacado's original adventure. This time around, his demon powers are expanded, as they can now rip enemies to shreds with gory fatalities and throw objects like car doors and street posts. In addition, the story features a few twists, including a dangerous new foe that wants The Darkness all for itself. Featuring the full support of Marc Silvestri and a strong voice cast led by the returning Mike Patton (from Faith No More), there's simply no resisting this Darkness.

The Return of Joe Mad and Company

Comic book superstar Joe Maduriera and his team at Vigil Games have been hard at work on the follow-up to its dark yet superb "Darksiders," and this summer we'll get to see the fruits of their labor on both Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, as well as the Wii U somewhere down the road. "Darksiders II" will put us in control of Death as he vows to justify his fellow horseman War, who is being accused of crimes he didn't commit. The journey won't be easy, but hey, since when is it, even for someone like Death? We'll see just how sweet this game is in a matter of months.

We Are the "Men In Black"

A new "Men In Black" movie is set to hit theaters this May, returning Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones to the off-beat science fiction universe. Activision is preparing for their return by prepping a video game that ties in with the film, putting players in control of agents as they ward off alien attacks using an abundance of high-tech weaponry. We don't know much about the game just yet, but stay tuned for more details and a first look very soon. Hopefully we won't be neuralized afterwards.

Look Out, Here Comes the "Spider-Man"

The "Spider-Man" franchise get a relaunch this summer with the release of Marc Webb's "The Amazing Spider-Man." Likewise, Beenox will give the webslinger new life in the video game arena around the same time. This latest Spider-Man game returns our hero to an open-world type of adventure, like the previous games on PlayStation 2 and Xbox, where Spidey has to complete side missions while tackling the Lizard and other diabolical enemies. If Beenox can nail the same vibe the earlier games had, we're in for a swinging good time, indeed. We'll find out on July 3.

Me Grimlock No Bozo -- Me King

2012 will be a huge year for the "Transformers" franchise. Even though there won't be a crazy, over-the-top Michael Bay film in theaters, Activision and the team at High Moon Studios are bringing plenty of action on their own with "Transformers: Fall of Cybertron." Once again, players choose between Autobots and Decepticons as they fight for control over the troubled planet, completing missions and earning upgrades along the way. The game will feature improvements in gameplay and multiplayer functions, and fans will be thrilled to take control of Grimlock for the first time. Watch out for that dino breath!

The Return of the "Lego" Heroes

Last but definitely not least, we've got a comic book style game that's bound to be a hit for players of all ages.  "Lego Batman 2: DC Heroes" has been officially confirmed for release this summer, not only bringing back the Dark Knight, but also adding Superman, Joker, Lex Luthor and other heroes and villains to the mix, ready to do battle once Lego piece at a time.  Expect lots of co-op related fighting fun and puzzle solving, along with amazing new worlds to explore and plenty of laughs!

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