The list of Xbox 360 exclusives for 2012 isn’t nearly as impressive as past years, but there are still a few worthwhile reasons to check them out. In that sense, they’re kind of like Will Ferrell movies. Great things were happening five years ago, but then we got Land of the Lost. No matter how many times I listen to the DVD commentary, I always feel like Will Ferrell could have done a better job… Anyways, the Xbox 360 isn’t getting as many AAA exclusive titles as in previous years, but what they’ve lost in AAA games, they’re making up for in XBLA games. Six of the exclusives on this list are just for the Xbox Live Arcade, which means it’s going to be a great year for the digital distribution service. There is also a lot coming for the Xbox 360 that we just don’t know about yet, so remember that and we may make a new list later this year; for now here our is our list of the top 10 Xbox 360 exclusives of 2012.
10. Crimson Dragon: This is the first XBLA exclusive title on the list. From “Grounding Inc., this Kinect-enabled action game is giving you complete control of a dragon that has a tendency to want to beat the sh-t out of other dragons. Sounds pretty cool, right? The game is on rails and takes you to a different assortment of locales ranging from forests to mountains as your battle against other dragons rages on. The idea of controlling a dragon is just cool enough to make our list.
9. Mark of the Ninja: From Klei Entertainment, the people that created the solid Shank side-scrollers, Mark of the Ninja is taking a stealthier approach to their classic aesthetic. Combining classic side-scrolling gameplay from the old school and reviving it with stealth mechanics from the newer gaming scene, we expect Mark of the Ninja to deliver a kick-ass experience for gamers of any background. Using distractions, traps, sneaky killing techniques, we expect this game to bring something to both genres that we have not yet seen before.
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8. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor: Have you ever wanted to pilot a gigantic bulky mech from your living room, but didn’t want to deal with the wake of destruction it was sure to leave behind it? Thanks to the Kinect and Steel Battalion Heavy Armor, you won’t have to worry about a fu-ked-up house and a pissed off mother/roommate/parakeet/etc. With Kinect and standard-controller controls, you’ll be able to pilot, you’ll be able to shoot, and you’ll be able to rehydrate your squad… Okay, that last note is pretty stupid, but the whole part about having a first person view from a mech’s driver seat sounds pretty sweet.
7. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition: Console gamers missed out on the Minecraft phenonema the first time around, but they’re not going to miss it this time. Unless they don’t own an Xbox 360… Microsoft seized the exclusive rights for this famous indie PC game, and it is supposed to land on the XBLA this summer. Minecraft is all about taking the elements and tools found within the game, crafting them into something bigger, using them to build something unexpected, and sharing this with the rest of the Minecraft world. The Xbox 360 version of Minecraft will be the same way, and the development cycle will also act similarly to the PC version. Like the original, the Xbox 360 version will not be released as a finished product, but as a beta, which will allow users and players to send in feedback as the developers continue to work on it. A pretty cool idea indeed, and we’re glad Microsoft’s certification process will allow it.
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6. Trials Evolution: The follow-up to RedLynx’s Trials HD, Evolution does everything the original did with a thick coat of polish. You’ll still be having fun, you’ll still be cursing at challenges, and you’ll still be addicted to those leaderboards. Multiplayer has been added, along with an array of stupidly-fun mini-games that don’t even involve motorcycles. The game is actually out now and you can read all about it in our Trials Evolution review.
5. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare: This is an example of a temporary exclusive. It’s just been discovered that Alan Wake’s American Nightmare has been placed on the registry for Valve’s Steam network. You think Microsoft would have had their sh-t together enough to get full exclusivity on this anticipated game, especially in a year when the company lacks just that: Exclusive titles. Nope. bi-ching aside, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a great expansion from its original source. The gameplay is tight, the visuals are fantastic, and the experience is just as spooky as the first. Read our full review here.
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4. Fez: Fez is an example of a game that got everything right, apart from its multiple estimated release dates. Sure it took 5 years for it to come out, but Phil Fish didn’t let internal problems, three re-designs, and a comment about Japanese games taken out of context, stop him from putting out an amazing game. Fez is a love letter from a developer who began gaming with the NES and was able to watch games evolve artistically, graphically, and conceptually. Anybody interested in independent games, puzzle games, or platformers will definitely want to check this game out.
3. Forza Horizon: Barely anything is known about Forza Horizons, but the fact that it’s a Forza game is enough. The teaser trailer announcing the game had a party going on in the background, so that means it has to be a good game right? People don’t throw parties for no-good reason. I never saw anybody throwing a party for the release of Yaris on the XBLA. Playground Games’ take on Forza Horizon is set to bring an arcade style to the typically-simulation-driven series and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
2. Fable: The Journey: Fable: The Journey hasn’t had the best exposure. It was first shown off at E3 2011 where the demo was perceived as an entirely on-rails experience. Peter Molyneux claims otherwise, but little has been shown since to disprove this common line of thought. We are very curious to learn more about this game, one of the bigger name RPGs of this generation. Let’s just hope Peter Molyneux and the gang can prepare a better demo for E3 2012. We expect to see something at Microsoft’s press conference since it would be a chance for them to show off an exclusive game and their Precious (Kinect).
1. Halo 4: Duh. You’d have to be a freaking idiot to think Halo 4 wouldn’t be the #1 on a list of Xbox 360 exclusives. Whether you like it or not, Halo is the reason the Xbox product is a successful one and Microsoft is not going to spare any expense in the making of Halo 4. The start of a brand new trilogy, Master Chief is fighting an evil even more threatening than the Covenant, which means the action is going to be more intense and the stakes are going to be higher. It is 343 Industries’ first test in expanding the Halo universe, and given that this game kicks off a trilogy, there is a lot riding on it. The concept art and gameplay we’ve seen so far has us confident that Halo 4 will be a solid experience, but will it be able to match up to the high bar set by Bungie? We will have to wait until November to find out.