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Twenty-eleven is coming to a rapid conclusion and game makers are preparing to cash in on the holiday season by unleashing some of the year's finest titles. Although some of our most anticipated games wound up being duds on some level (Brink, Crysis 2, Duke Nukem Forever, Homefront, to name a few), there's still hope for the tailgunners of 2011.
In keeping with tradition, we've assembled a list of 16 PC games that should be on your radar for the frigid months ahead. Titles are ordered by their North American PC release date – no earlier than September 15 and no later than December 31. Again, realize this is covering PC entries only, so don't be surprised by the lack of major console exclusives such as Gears of War 3 or Uncharted 3.
85 12 Reviews The latest version of Codemasters' venerable racing simulator maintains the harshly realistic gameplay that Formula One purists demand, but introduces several new elements. Folks can join other racing buffs with the split-screen multiplayer and co-op championship modes, not to mention support for up to 24-driver races (16 people and 8 AI). You'll also find two new tracks, revamped weather effects as well as a complete day and night cycle on Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
91 14 Reviews It can be difficult justifying the purchase of every rehashed annual release, but this is definitely a must-buy year for FIFA 12 (or PES 12 if you follow that franchise instead). The update brings a radically overhauled presentation system, new arenas, a polished user interface as well as an improved impact engine and dribbling mechanics. Additionally, a new tactical defending system offers refined gameplay by placing equal importance on positioning, intercepting passes and tackling, while smarter AI will better adapt to their team's advantages and disadvantages.
77 27 Reviews Although Rage frustrated early adopters with buggy gameplay, most of its kinks have been ironed out. Glitches aside, some reviewers criticized the game's lack of story, dry characters, repetitive quests and annoying save system. However, most tend to agree that underneath the quasi-RPG elements, there's a respectable shooter waiting to be experienced. Between its lackluster launch reception and the inevitable holiday games discounts, you're bound to find Rage for at least 25% off sometime in the near future.
91 9 Reviews Bummed about the recent NBA lockout? Lace up and hit the courts with Visual Concepts' latest entry in the NBA 2K series, which is said to deliver TV-quality presentation, lifelike animations and a slew of game modes. You can assemble dream teams of iconic names such as Michael Jordan and Larry Bird along with present-day players, control any player's career, create your own all-star with the revamped My Player mode, and team up with 29 of your friends to face off against others with the online career mode.
88 42 Reviews Hailed as the direct successor to 2005's critically acclaimed Battlefield 2, Battlefield 3 vowed to deliver the finest military combat experience to date. While opinions vary, the general consensus seems to be that DICE kept its word. Besides folks who are still (understandably) disgruntled about the PC's browser-based platform, BF3's multiplayer component lives up to expectations with awesome graphics, unmatched war sounds, polished vehicular combat, a broad selection of weapons and diverse map environments.
82 26 Reviews Activision's Call of Duty franchise has captured much of the military shooter market with its refined competitive multiplayer and consistent yearly releases. The third iteration of Modern Warfare is being crafted by the usual suspects at Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software. Along with updating the killstreak reward system and receiving a survival mode, Modern Warfare 3 will address some of the community's largest demands, including the return of dedicated servers (but nothing on the graphics front).
89 19 Reviews L.A Noire kicked off on consoles earlier this year but has since been ported to PC as part of "The Complete Edition," which includes all of the DLC released by Rockstar. Praised for its methodical storytelling, diverse conversation system and impeccable facial animations, the post-war thriller brings plenty to the table. It's set in 1947 Los Angeles and tasks players with investigating crimes as Cole Phelps, a former Marine turned LAPD beat cop who's determined to climb the department's ranks and clean his city up in the process.
94 39 Reviews Set 200 years after the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (though not a direct sequel), Skyrim represents the culmination of Bethesda's decades-long efforts and is easily the most anticipated RPG of 2011. Crafted by a team of roughly 100 developers, the latest chapter puts players in control of an unknown prisoner who fulfills the prophetic role of the last "Dovahkiin," a dragon hunter tasked with defeating the god of destruction, Alduin. It features sprawling mountainscapes, 150 dungeons, 70 voice actors and tons more.
We are not done yet... another 9 HOT Holiday PC game releases await on the second page...