Game of the month, February 2012

It was a surprisingly busy month, with a shocking number of games released. What are the must-plays of February? These are our picks

Winner: SSX

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It took a little while for EA’s reboot of SSX to “click” with us, but once it did the controller-throwing, rage-inducing, tricky snowboarding ascended to another level. It’s as if we were suddenly gifted with a new set of eyes, ones that were capable of scanning the snowy, icy, rocky cliffs to see beyond the basic geometry. Rocks? They’re just ramps to burst off of at absurd speeds. Icy ridges? Pipes to grind on. Snow? Cushions to pad our fall after we tumble hundreds of feet through the air, spinning around while executing ridiculous tricks.

From the way the world is warped and rocked after a massive trick to the stellar soundtrack (supplemented by a wonderful remix of Run D.M.C.’s classic “It’s Tricky”), SSX hits the slopes hard, providing one of the best extreme sports experiences in recent memory. We’re not too sure if it bests SSX 3 for the “best in the series” crown, but it definitely comes close, and the inclusion of the brilliant autolog system means we’ll be competing with friends and shredding down the deadly descents for many, many months to come.

Runner-up: Lumines: Electronic Symphony

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At face value, it really doesn’t look like Q? Entertainment changed much with the Vita launch title. Under the hood, however, numerous elements have been reworked and modified, creating what is undoubtedly the best Lumines experience yet. The inclusion of avatars and new block abilities add just enough complexity to deeply affect the tactics without undermining what makes Lumines fun, and the new soundtrack is likely the best to date, including classics like The Chemical Brothers’ “Hey Boy, Hey Girl,” and Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker. ” New skins, strong leaderboard support, and wonderfully clean graphics take Lumines from a typical puzzler to an addiction we’re not looking to give up.

We recommend