Sony’s answer to Halo, this newest installment of the popular sci-fi run-n-gun odyssey wows with its intense firefights, variety of inventive set pieces, and gob-smacking visuals (also available in 3D on compatible TVs). Blowing holes in glowing-eyed adversaries across snowy arctic environments and lush jungles, or shooting jetpack-equipped adversaries out of the sky, fighting for survival in a variety of hostile environments. Cleverly upping brutality levels and offering a more sophisticated melee system, its aim happily proves right on target.
Sony / www.playstation.com / PS3
Dead Space 2
A sci-fi survival/horror outing that not only sees you creeping about a futuristic city while dismembering mutants and walking corpses limb-from-limb, but also shrieking your way through suicidal scenarios. Emphasizing fast reactions as you plummet through thin air or face hordes of chittering horrors that explode from air ducts, its adrenaline-soaked blend of puzzle solving and mayhem strikes a surprisingly spine-tingling chord. Options to use telekinetic powers to wield shards of shattered glass like flying daggers? They’re just a nifty bonus.
Electronic Arts / www.ea.com / PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Test Drive Unlimited 2
Skillfully straddles the line between solo racer and massive multiplayer rubber-burning outing, offering immense seaside environments to explore in the company of friends. Less about flooring the pedal and more about enjoying the scenery, it wows with a humungous range of striking vistas, unlockable goodies, and play options to discover. While not all will appreciate the title’s laid-back approachit accurately captures the feel of cruising better than any other outingadded support for custom car clubs and extensive online connectivity provide endless miles to the gallon.
Atari / www.atari.com / PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Old-school arcade fighting action takes top billing as comic book staples (e.g., Iron Man, The Hulk, Wolverine, etc.) trade claws and laser beams with popular gaming heroes (e.g., Street Fighter’s Chun-Li and Resident Evil’s Chris Redfield). Gorgeously animated and unexpectedly deep, teams of three characters compete to knock each other senseless with increasingly complex chains of combo attacks, ensuring that the game’s best experienced in smack-talking multiplayer standoffs. Play for a one-way trip back to 1995 . . . and, yes, we mean that as a compliment.
Capcom / www.capcom.com / PS3, Xbox 360
DC Universe Online
A massively multiplayer online title where you don the tights of a caped crusader or masked super villain and slug it out alongside or against favorite comic book heroes, (e.g., Batman and Wonder Woman). Delivering a more action-intensive alternative to the typical snooze-inducing role-player and live adventures alongside hundreds of fellow closet geeks, extensive storytelling and character customization options make it a winner. From strolling notable locales like Arkham Aslyum to turning friends into living punching bags, good luck logging off.
Sony Online Entertainment / www.soe.com / PC, PS3