Holiday PC Games - Part 2
88 30 Reviews Gotham's revered vigilante continues dishing out unmitigated justice in this sequel to 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum. Set a year after the previous title, Arkham City follows the happenings in a segregated part of Gotham that's dedicated to housing criminals. It focuses on the same stealth action elements and features an even better hand-to-hand combat system as well as new and upgraded weapons. It also introduces several classic villains not encountered before, including Mr. Freeze, Catwoman and Penguin.
Need for Speed: The Run has been completely off our radar this year, and with 18 titles in the franchise now, it's easy to see how one would lose track. Nonetheless, there are certainly some elements to be excited about, including the use of DICE's Frostbite 2 engine -- the same framework behind Battlefield 3. Players will partake in illicit underground races on over 300km of track (triple that of Hot Pursuit) stretching from San Francisco to New York as they attempt to outrun a "mysterious criminal organization" and law enforcement.
85 23 Reviews Can't wait until Grand Theft Auto: V hits the streets? Saints Row: The Third should satiate your appetite for urban anarchy as you control the leader of the Third Street Saints, an infamous criminal organization that is vying for control of a fictional city dubbed Steelport. Like previous entries, much of the game focuses on gang warfare, but there's plenty new to see including the introduction of a leveling system ("respect" now earns experience points), new weapons such as airstrikes and even a giant phallus bludgeon.
Although it doesn't spell an end to the franchise, Assassin's Creed: Revelations will be the final installment set in the Renaissance era and the last to feature protagonists Altaïr Ibn La'Ahad and Ezio Auditore da Firenze. You can expect the same parkour-like traversal and stealthy combat, but there'll be various improvements too. Ezio now wields a handy hookblade, there's a new crafting system, Eagle Vision (now "Eagle Sense") lets you focus on specific characters, and side missions have been scrapped for random events.
81 4 Reviews Music games may have lost some of their allure with Guitar Hero, RockBand and related titles bleeding the genre dry, but Ubisoft has entered the market with a slightly different perspective. Instead of jamming on plastic toys, Rocksmith is compatible with real electric guitars and serves as an educational aide for novice guitarists. The game has been out for about a month on consoles and although critic reviews have been mixed, it has received high praise by users on Metacritic and Amazon who used the game as a learning tool.
Set 300 years after the events of the first two Knights of the Old Republic games and over 3,500 years before the Star Wars movies, SWTOR is BioWare's first MMORPG and centers on the struggle between the reemerging Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic. You'll be able to choose one of classic Star Wars classes (Jedi, Sith and others) in addition to sculpting the morality of your character (light, dark or somewhere in-between). Your ethics will affect the way you experience the world by opening or closing story elements and more.
We haven't heard much about the sequel to Frozenbyte's whimsical side-scrolling platformer, but after watching the trailer, we can say that the indie developer's second effort looks promising. You can expect superior graphics, environments and physics-based puzzles, more character abilities (the thief can slow down time and the Wizard can manipulate foes), and new enemies. Trine 2 also lets you save anytime you want instead of having preset save points and it receives online co-op for up to three players (the original Trine only had local co-op).
Currently stamped with a generic "2011" release date, Runic Games has some major improvements in store for everyone's favorite indie dungeon crawler. The developer will address what was likely Torchlight's greatest point of criticism by adding online multiplayer with support for at least four players and possibly up to eight players. You can also look forward to a revamped user interface, new customizable characters, more modding options in TorchEd, a new automap system, and randomly generated dungeons with more paths.
As mentioned in the intro, we only included PC games released between September 15 and December 31, but there are a handful of noteworthy titles that barely missed the cutoff. Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dead Island launched late this summer, while early 2012 is expected to bring Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and Diablo III -- or so we hope Diablo III finally arrives in early 2012, anyway. As always, you're welcome to share any titles we missed. Keep an eye out for our most anticipated games of 2012, which should be published in January or February.