Are you prepared to take pre-orders on this year's biggest blockbusters? James Batchelor takes a look at the hottest games that retailers can expect throughout 2012
Q1 2012: HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING
January may have been quiet but there's no denying the supply of new titles into retail is picking up in 2012's opening months.
We've already had new entries in high-profile franchises such as Resident Evil and Final Fantasy, and that continues in the next few months with a slew of big ‘3' titles. Arguably the biggest is Mass Effect 3, the climax of EA and BioWare's critically acclaimed sci-fi trilogy.
There's also stealth action with Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D and Ninja Gaiden 3. And Kinect fans can dance along to the third Zumba game with Zumba Fitness Rush.
Nintendo 3DS will mark its one year anniversary with a strong offering that ranges from flagship titles Kid Icarus to casual hits like Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns.
And survival horror fans are in for a treat this spring with new Resident Evil and Silent Hill titles.
Zumba Fitness Rush (505 Games) –February 24th
Mario Party 9 (Nintendo) – March 2nd
Mass Effect 3 (EA) – March 9th
Asura's Wrath (Capcom) – March 9th
FIFA Street (EA) – March 16th
Kinect Rush: Disney (Microsoft) – March 23rd
Ninja Gaiden 3 (Tecmo Koei) – March 23rd
Resi: Operation Raccoon City (Capcom) – March 23rd
We Sing Pop! (Nordic Games) – March 23rd
Ridge Racer Unbounded (Namco Bandai) – March 30th
Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo) – March
Metal Gear Solid 3D (Nintendo/Konami) – March
Silent Hill: Downpour (Konami) – March
Harvest Moon: Two Towns (Rising Star) – Q1
Rune Factory Oceans (Rising Star) – Q1
Q2 2012: BRINGING THE PAYNE
May has always been a time for blockbuster titles, dominated in the past few years by Rockstar Games offerings such as L.A. Noire andRed Dead Redemption and THQ's UFC Undisputed.
Rockstar hopes to maintain its reputation for May blockbusters with Max Payne 3, the long awaited homecoming for gaming's original Bullet Time action hero.
But the GTA firm faces competition this year from Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
Q2 will also host the battle of the snipers. City Interactive aims to follow up its 2010 surprise hit with Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 but 505 Games has the title in its sights as it mobilises Sniper Elite V2.
Kinect Star Wars (Microsoft) –April 3rd
Prototype 2 (Activision)–April 24th
Risen 2: Dark Waters (Deep Silver) –April 27th
Battleship (Activision) –April
Dirt Showdown (Codemasters)–May
Sniper Elite V2(505 Games)–May 4th
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (Ubisoft) – May 25th
Max Payne 3 (Rockstar)–May 25th
Darksiders II(THQ) – June 29th
Spec Ops The Line (2K Games) - June 29th
Pandora's Tower (Nintendo) – Q2
Akai Katana (Rising Star) – Q2
Diablo III (Blizzard) Q2
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 (City Interactive) – Q2
The Amazing Spider-Man (Activision) – Q2
Q3 2012: THE SUMMER DROUGHT
It's looking like another quiet summer again this year. But that's not to say there are no potential hits heading to shelves. Far from it.
Instead, retailers can look forward to the arrival of Warner Bros' LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Not only is this the sequel to the biggest-selling LEGO game of all time, it also coincides rather conveniently with the silver screen debut of hotly anticipated Caped Crusader flick The Dark Knight Rises.
Speaking of which, there is a stellar line-up of summer movie blockbusters that will almost certainly have video game adaptations, including Marvel's The Avengers, Pixar's Brave and Dreamworks' Madagascar 3. Expect these to tempt movie buffs into stores throughout the summer.
Plus, there's the not insignificant event of the London 2012 Olympics. As well as a new Olympics title from Sega, last year's Mario & Sonic title stands to benefit from a second wave of sales.
As September arrives, the High Street can depend on unannounced but inevitable follow-ups to some of the industry's annual surefire hits, such as EA's FIFA 13.
Other safe bets include Codemasters' F1 2012 – until then racing fans can enjoy next week'sF1 2011 on Vita.
LEGO Batman 2 (Warner Bros)–Summer
London 2012 Olympics (Sega)–Summer
Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft) – September 6th
Borderlands 2 (2K Games) – September 21st
FIFA 13 (EA)–September
Sleeping Dogs (Square Enix) – Q3
Anarchy Reins (Sega) – Q3
End of Nations (Trion Worlds) –Q3
F1 2012 (Codemasters) – Q3
Q4 2012: THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
Christmas 2012 is sure to bring with it plenty of massive blockbusters and guaranteed best-sellers.
It's only February and the line-up is already looking like a winner – who knows what other surprises lie in store at E3, Gamescom and other trade shows.
Firstly, you can always rely on the annual smash hits. A new Call of Duty is confirmed and perhaps we'll even see the Vita entry teased at last year.
Naturally, EA will fight back with its own shooter, with Medal of Honour II on the cards – plus a Need For Speed for racing fans.
New iterations of Pro Evolution Soccer, Skylanders and WWE are also due, along with new chapters in some of gaming's biggest sagas: Halo 4, Resident Evil 6 and a new Assassin's Creed, with the latter expected to introduce a new hero.
Aliens: Colonial Marines (Sega)
Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft)
Call of Duty(Activision)
Medal of Honour II (EA)
PES 2013 (Konami)
Resident Evil 6 (Capcom)
Skylanders Giants (Activision)
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (Activision)
2012: THE UNDATED
The games discussed thus farare just those with a confirmed release window.
There are countless more floating around with the ever vague 2012” date, including eagerly awaited behemoths like BioShock Infinite, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Hitman: Absolution, Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider – the list goes on.
There are even expansions to online hits, such as World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, and more HD collections, including the Vita version of this month's Metal Gear Solid compilation.
And let's not forget the arrival of the first next generation home console, Wii U. And the tantalising prospect of Grand Theft Auto V arriving in time for Christmas. And whatever surprise announcements lurk around the corner.
Buckle up, retail – 2012 is going to be a rollercoaster ride.
Batman: Arkham City(Warner Bros)
Borderlands 2(2K Games)
BioShock Infinite(2K Games)
Dead or Alive 5(Tecmo Koei)
Grand Theft Auto V(Rockstar)
Guild Wars 2(NCsoft)
Hitman: Absolution(Square Enix)