Rounding Up for the Year
Platforms: PC, Wii, DS, PSP, PS3, Xbox 360, iPhone
Metacritic score: 66
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed introduced Darth Vader’s now fugitive apprentice, Starkiller, to the world. In the sequel, this unlikely hero returns with over-the-top Force powers and embarks on a journey to discover his own identity and to reunite with his one true love, Juno Eclipse. He is once again the pawn of Darth Vader, but instead of training his protégé as a ruthless assassin, the dark lord is attempting to clone his former apprentice to create the Ultimate Sith warrior.
With all-new Force powers and the ability to dual-wield lightsabers, Starkiller cuts a swath through deadly new enemies across exciting worlds from the Star Wars films. The game hasn’t done too well with reviews, but for fans of the franchise it’ll be a fun ride with superior controls, some new features, and a lot more action compared to the first game.
Metacritic score: 73
Players will be able to take their Sims into the bustling urban setting where they can become a local celebrity, member of a music band, mixologist, director, and more. To gain entrance into the most elite clubs in town, players need to keep their attitude in check otherwise they'll be given the cold shoulder by tough bouncers or find another way onto the list.
If chilling is the player's forte, their Sims can lounge at a chic club or dive bar or if they like to live on the edge, they can discover the secret of becoming a vampire. Whether embarking on a new career, painting the town red, or throwing a party on the rooftop of a penthouse, it's always up to the player to tell their unique stories with The Sims 3. The expansion pack requires that you have the base game installed on your computer, of course.
Platforms: PC/Mac, PSP
Metacritic score: 84
Depending on where you live, this game could go from barely noticeable to one of the most prominent soccer game franchises of all time, and wait for it, it's not even an actual gameplay simulation, but a strategy game that will test you on your knowledge about the sport and management abilities. While criticized in recent years for not bringing anything truly innovative to the table, gaming and football buffs from Eurogamer say "this year's FM is the deepest, most complete and cohesive offering Sports Interactive has produced for some years." That's quite the statement. Among the most prominent updates in FM2011 you will find improved interaction with your players, agents, and the press, a new live contract negotiation system, enhanced 3D match view simulation and a revamped training system.
Platforms: PC, Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, iPhone, DS
Metacritic score: 87
Call of Duty: Black Ops will take you behind enemy lines as a member of an elite special forces unit engaging in covert warfare, classified operations, and explosive conflicts across the globe. With access to exclusive weaponry, your actions will tip the balance in the deniable operations and secret wars that occurred under the veil of the Cold War.
Call of Duty’s signature multiplayer gameplay returns with new perks and killstreaks, deeper levels of character and weapon customization, and all new modes including Wager Matches, Theater Mode and Combat Training. The fan favorite Zombie mode is also back providing endless hours of Zombie-slaying entertainment, solo or Co-Op.
Platforms: PC, Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, iPhone
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit will launch you into a new open-world landscape behind the wheel of the world's fastest and most beautiful cars. From Criterion, the award-winning studio behind the Burnout series, Hot Pursuit promises to redefine racing games for a whole new generation. You'll experience stunning speeds, takedowns, and getaways as you battle your friends in the most connected Need for Speed game ever.
The game will challenge you to become Seacrest County's top cop or most wanted racer. For the first time ever in a Need for Speed game, you'll be able to play a full career on either side of the law. The Autolog online component not only connects friends for head-to head pursuits and races, but also enables players to compare performances and stats.
Platforms: PC, Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, DS
Dive into an immersive third-person action-adventure game that pulls the player into the unique digital world of TRON. Gamers explore cities in the Grid using the free-running phenomenon Parkour (which allows things like running-up-walls and other gravity-defying stunts), navigate among unique factions, and fight an epic battle against a dictator’s seemingly unstoppable army. Set during the era between the two films of the same name, TRON Evolution will give fans an insight into the past and the events that have unfolded since the original TRON movie was released.
As the third and largest expansion to the six-year-old MMORPG, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will bring a massive amount of new content and flip Azeroth on its head. The update includes two new races (Worgen for the Alliance, Goblins for the Horde), more race and class combinations, heroic modes for classic dungeons, flying mounts in Azeroth, a guild leveling and achievement system, an increased level cap (85), and entirely revamped zones.
That is all in addition to the usual round of new items, quests, creatures and abilities, of course. The expansion will also see the return of Deathwing, who causes a new Sundering and is the main antagonist of Cataclysm.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Developed by Lionhead Studios, Fable III is the latest installment to the action-packed and critically acclaimed franchise that has sold more than six million copies. Fans new and returning will now embark on an epic adventure, where the race for the crown is only the beginning of the journey. Five decades have passed since the events of Fable II, and Albion has matured into an industrial revolution, but the fate of the kingdom is at peril.
In Fable III, you will be called upon to rally and fight alongside your people, ascend to the seat of power, and experience the true meaning of love and loss while defending your throne. In your quest to seize power and defend your kingdom, the choices you make will change the world around you, for the greater good or your own personal gain.