PC gamers: it's time to brace yourself for what promises to be a rollercoaster ride in 2012. This year's roster of PC games is going to be simply monstrous in terms of both quality and quantity.
So you might want to invest in a new graphics card, and splash out on that flash gaming keyboard/mouse combo you've had your eye on. And perhaps have a word with your bank manager: 20-odd must-buys adds up to a pretty penny. These, then, are the upcoming PC games we're most stoked about - arranged in alphabetical order to avoid any suspicion of favouritism.
1. Alan Wake
Not before time, Remedy's third-person action-adventure, studded with plot-twists, surreal episodes and a heavy dose of horror is endowed with an agreeably intelligent storyline that would grace a best-selling psychological thriller. Thanks to Nordic Games, which picked up the PC game's publishing rights, its stunning Pacific Northwest landscapes will be lusher than ever, with the graphics cranked up to the max now that it has been unleashed on PC freed from the constraints of the consoles. It may not be all-new, but PC Alan Wake oozes quality.
2. Aliens: Colonial Marines
This one is a real labour of love, fuelled by Gearbox's eternal love for James Cameron's film and promising - with plenty of justification - the most authentic Aliens experience ever. With jaw-dropping graphics, meticulously modelled xenomorphs and storylines that fill in many of the film's narrative gaps, Aliens: Colonial Marines the PC version positively drips with malevolent atmosphere. Unless you're a diagnosed psychopath, it will give you nightmares. And you shouldn't be annoyed that it has been delayed until later in the year - that's merely a manifestation of Gearbox's extreme perfectionism.
3. Arma 3
Bohemia Interactive's fierce open-world military sim represents the nearest you can get to experience modern warfare without running the risk of getting a fist-sized hole blown in your head. A graphical illustration of the franchise's realism occurred in 2011, when ITN got in trouble after running footage of Arma 2 in a news report, presented as the real thing. Still, that's the power of the PC for you, wouldn't get that from a console version would you? Arma 3 is set in 2030, on a meticulous mapped and modelled rendition of the Greek island Limnos. You get to play as an SAS man, too, which is always good. Meat and drink for the most fanatical military nuts among us - and far too hardcore for those wussy console gamers. This promises to be outstanding on PC soldier.
4. BioShock Infinite
This should reaffirm the faith of those who found BioShock 2 disappointing. For a start, it marks the return of BioShock creator and guru Ken Levine and it looks like nothing you've ever seen, especially on PC. The game world is a city called Columbia which floats in the air, suspended from dirigibles, with a spaghetti junction of rails, onto which you can hook, providing a means of traversing it. It's set in 1912, so it's Steampunk central. And you play Booker DeWitt, a private eye who teams up with Elizabeth, a teenager with psychokinetic time-warping powers who has managed to escape the clutches of a giant robotic bird called Songbird. Everyday sort of stuff, then. With a fat-cats versus workers storyline that will resonate with the Occupy brigade and insane, plasmid-injected gameplay, BioShock Infinite is a shoe-in must-buy for PC
5. Borderlands 2
It's going to be a busy year for Gearbox - so much so that there's a question-mark over whether the second instalment of its much-loved, open world, fps-meets-RPG franchise will make the shops before the end of the year. Frankly, we want it now and especially the PC incarntion. The original was fantastically addictive, and Borderlands 2 adds new character classes such as the Gunzerker, for whom dual-wielding rocket-launchers is a breeze. With drop-in-drop-out co-op, a complete lack of linearity, a procedural weapon-generation system, comic book-style graphics and a completely over-the-top game world to romp around, what's not to like?