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Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Best of What's to Come: A Time Traveler's View of 2012


I know—you are still busy reading about the best of 2011. But due to an unexplained rip in the space-time continuum, I was able to jump ahead in time one year and find out what the best of the new year is going to bring us. And folks, hold on to your hats. Because 2012 is going to be awesome!

Movies:

There are a lot of good movies that will come out in 2012. For Twilight fans, there is the last half of Breaking Dawn. For superhero fanatics, there is Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, a movie that brings together a slew of famous names: Ironman, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Samuel Jackson (he’s called something else in the movie, but he really doesn’t need to be. He’s pretty much playing himself with an eyepatch.)
But having watched those and other movies during my jaunt to the future, I can honestly tell you that the winner of Best Movie goes to… The Hobbit
Seriously, you don’t need a time traveler to tell you why. Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins? Check. Ian McKellan back as Gandalf? Check. Andy Serkis as Gollum? Dwarves? Check. Smaug the Dragon? Check. Directed by Peter Jackson? Yes. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Most prequels face an uphill climb because it’s hard to make something exciting when you already know the ending. But in the case of The Hobbit, the finding of the One Ring is largely ancillary to the plot. The exciting bits don’t come from that, but instead from the battles against giant spiders and a massive dragon. Trust me, this movie will blow you away.

Books:

We thought we had bid Roland Deschain goodbye when Stephen King published his final novel in The Dark Tower series in 2004 (appropriately titled The Dark Tower.) Since then there have been prequel comics and rumblings of a movie and television adaptation (both by Ron Howard), but I never thought I would see another book in the series from the King himself.
So I was surprised to see The Dark Tower: The Wind Through The Keyhole top the bestseller lists for 2012. Released in April, I had a chance to read it quickly in my jaunt to the future and it may be the best Dark Tower book yet. Ostensibly set between books four and five of the series, the novel fills in a gap of what happened to Roland’s ka-tet on their way from Emerald City to Calla Sturgis. It also reveals more of Roland’s past and his ridings with Cuthbert.
More intriguingly, is this book really a prequel? Those who read the final volume of The Dark Tower know that in King’s world, things aren’t always what they seem.

Video Games:

If you follow game news, you know that 2012 is due to be a banner year. In addition to the annual Call of Duty offerings, several major releases are due, including Halo 4 and Bioshock: Infinite.
Yet it will come as no surprise to Bioware fans to discover that Mass Effect 3 was the best game of 2012. From its fantastic plotlines to its well-drawn characters, the Mass Effect series has been top-notch. Until ME3 was released, Mass Effect 2 was considered the best Xbox 360 game of all time.
But Mass Effect 3 raised even that high bar by going out on an explosive note. What made the conclusion so amazing was how it built on the choices you made in Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. Did you save the Rachni from extinction? Did your entire squad survive your trip to destroy the Collectors? Far from incidental, these decisions proved to have a significant impact on how Mass Effect 3 played. A lot of games have tried to make the role of choice important—but Mass Effect 3 beats them all.
The controversial decision to include multiplayer in the game, meanwhile, turned out to be an ace move by Bioware. No, you didn’t need to play it to enjoy the single-player finale, but it turned out that playing Mass Effect with friends was the blast you always knew it could be.
Mass Effect 3 will go down in history not only as one of the best games of 2012, but likely the best game of this console’s generation. 

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