Portal 2 ■■■■◧
Call it fun with physics, as you use a gun capable of generating portable wormholes and paint that changes objects' physical properties (i.e., making sticky items slippery) to solve head-scratching puzzles. The secret: Finding ever more inventive ways to manipulate air currents, tractor beams, and other gizmos to successfully teleport items and individuals to seemingly unreachable areas. Guaranteed to test both your wits and reflexes, it's simple to learn, yet painstakingly difficult to master.
Valve / www.valvesoftware.com / PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Deus Ex: Human Revolution ■■■■◧
Think Blade Runner: The Video Game. This gripping futuristic role-player casts you as a bionically-enhanced badass whose mechanical implants imbue superhuman abilities, letting you use a seemingly endless array of approaches to tackle every scenario. Blending melee combat with puzzle-solving, hacking with stealth, it plops you into the midst of a global conspiracy, then demands you travel the globe to slowly unravel the mystery. Even sweeter, unique consequences for every action ensure different outcomes each time you explore its neo-Renaissance environs.
Square Enix / www.square-enix.com / PC, PS3, Xbox 360
An over-the-top, chest-thumping macho shooter that knowingly flips the finger at convention, challenging you to get creative with kills, and positively Neanderthal with running commentary. Forget simply annihilating adversaries with an eye-popping range of sci-fi weaponry. Here, you're actually encouraged to savor every fatality, whether strapping foes with explosives or kicking them into spikes. Chintzy one-liners add to its charm, as do wild, stage-ending showdowns with giant plants and corpse-juggling assaults designed to get as much testosterone flowing as adrenaline.
Electronic Arts / www.ea.com / PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Epic Mickey ■■■◧□
Putting a darker spin on the falsetto-voiced rodent's usual animated exploits, his latest adventure takes place in a grim world of forgotten Disney castaways that's filled with mischief and danger. Using paint to sketch objects and solve puzzles, or thinner to combat foes, you'll quickly realize it wows less for visual splendor than sheer subject matter appreciation. Flush with cameos by bit players and inside references, most will enjoy the game, but it's one that serious fans will truly savor.
Disney / buenavistagames.go.com / Wii
Tron: Evolution ■■■□□
Bridges the gap between the present-day Hollywood sequel and the 1982 celluloid original, offering action and adventure in a world where humans are sucked into cyberspace and pitted against digital adversaries. Cheesy premise aside, featured high-tech challenges include performing acrobatic stunts, hurling neon-tinted Frisbees at foes, and speeding about on computerized "light cycles"-just like former arcade rats might remember. Though predictable and largely play-by-numbers, it still manages to capture the essence of the geeked-out '80s cult classic.
Disney / buenavistagames.go.com / PC, PS3, Xbox 360