The games of November 2011

What a ridiculous, ridiculous month for videogames

November 11

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

EU: November 11

For many of you, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim may be the biggest reason you're excited about the month of November. Assuming that's the case, might we recommend ignoring all other game releases for some time to come? We've logged some hours in the game across a handful of previews posted over the past several months, and even from those limited sessions, it's abundantly clear that this game offers a wicked amount of life-absorbing content. Hell, our last preview was simply titled "63 amazing things we saw and did in Skyrim," and that was based on just a few hours spent wandering around in awe. Clear your schedule. Expend those sick days. Skyrim's coming.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, 3DS, PSP, DS

EU: November 18

Opinions varied on the previous LEGO Harry Potter game, likely due to the malaise imparted by numerous such LEGO entries over the last few years, but we loved it – and if you're like us, you should be stoked to hear that the second half of the series is due in just a couple weeks. Granted, Potter fever has passed to some extent, and this adorable action game might've made a bigger splash a few months back, but the opportunity to play through the last four films (or three books) as iconic LEGO mini-figs should still hold thrills amidst this packed holiday season. Also, this seems to be the widest multiplatform release of the month. Cheers for that, WB Games.

November 13

Super Mario 3D Land

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

EU: November 18

Super Mario 3D Land is the game we’re all expecting to justify our Nintendo 3DS system purchases, especially those of us who plunked $250 down earlier this year. Hey, no pressure! Unsurprisingly, our time with the game thus far has been pretty amazing, as the awkwardly titled handheld original blends 2D side-scrolling gameplay with 3D elements, delivering a core Mario experience that both feels like some old favorites and still seems completely fresh. We don't want to jump to any conclusions at this point, but… aw, screw it. Super Mario 3D Land seems pretty fantastic, so if it's not already dead-center on your horizon, fix that pronto.

PlayStation 3D Display

EU: November 18

It's not a game, but the PlayStation 3D Display is still a pretty notable release right smack in the middle of the holiday season. While 3D support continues creeping into more and more major releases, 3D TVs remain a pretty niche purchase – but Sony hopes its PlayStation-branded display will help turn the tide. Priced at $499, the 24-inch display includes a pair of glasses, an HDMI cable, and a copy of MotorStorm Apocalypse, plus it boasts the rad SimulView feature that displays a separate full-screen image for two players instead of splitting the screen. It strikes us as a fair deal for an entry-level 3D display, and we're pretty certain it'll work with your Xbox 360, as well, assuming you're keen on crossing the streams like that.

November 14

Fossil Fighters Champions

Platform: Nintendo DS

EU: N/A

Even though the Nintendo DS release schedule has thinned out faster than many of us expected, Nintendo's still trying to keep those handhelds busy while folks mull possible 3DS purchases. The original Fossil Fighters took a little flak for being an unremarkable Pokémon clone, and honestly, Fossil Fighters Champions (formerly Super Fossil Fighters) sounds pretty similar. You'll excavate and clean fossils, then turn the remains into wicked dinosaurs that do your bidding in battle. But if that odd premise won you over the first time, chances are Champions will scratch your itch once more. Everyone else? Snag the original second-hand if you're still curious.

Carnival Games: Wild West 3D

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

EU: N/A

Carnival Games cultivated a fanbase with its original 2007 Wii release, and has since appeared on Nintendo DS and Xbox 360 (via Kinect), and 2K Play no doubt hopes the winning formula reaches an all-new set of players on Nintendo 3DS with Carnival Games: Wild West 3D. Like its predecessors, Wild West 3D is a minigame collection, with 25 activities included in the bunch, but the advent of gyroscope-based games and augmented-reality diversions may help set this Carnival Games experience apart from the rest – for better or worse.

November 15

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3

EU: November 15

PC Release: November 29

As awesome as last fall's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was, it seriously skimped on the story details; by the time the credits rolled around, we had no better insight into exactly what had happened at the end of Assassin's Creed II. But Revelations promises to address that issue with real, hard-hitting story development – it's right there in the title! Not only is the game expected to close the tale of hero Ezio, but you'll also take the role of original series protagonist Altair, which should make for a large and interesting open-world campaign. Plus, the last game's stellar multiplayer is back with new modes and options. After the last two games, it's pretty tough to believe that Revelations will be anything other than excellent.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Platform: Xbox 360

EU: November 15

One decade ago, the prospect of a Microsoft-developed console seemed unclear – especially with that ridiculous controller – but once folks got their hands on Halo: Combat Evolved, many of the lingering questions subsided. With a spare year left until Halo 4 rolls around, 343 Industries saw fit to pay tribute to the original smash via this remastered iteration. Anniversary lets you swap back and forth between the original Xbox visuals and the updated 360 visuals at any time, and also packs in online co-op. Meanwhile, the online multiplayer is based on the engine of last year's Halo: Reach, and includes classic maps from Halo and Halo 2. And it's just $40 – a fair deal for this Frankenstein's monster of a refresh.

Need for Speed: The Run

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, 3DS

EU: November 18

Trying to pin down the current state of the Need for Speed franchise? Good luck. Within the last year, we've seen Criterion's Burnout-esque Hot Pursuit and Slightly Mad Studios' sim-leaning Shift 2: Unleashed, and now we're looking at the return of the earlier cinematic approach with The Run. Developed by EA Black Box, Need for Speed: The Run spotlights an illicit coast-to-coast race that follows a narrative structure and includes scripted on-foot segments and quick-time events, which have earned some derision from fans. The series has been on such a roll of late that we can't help but have some confidence here. Hopefully it's rewarded.

Saints Row: The Third

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

EU: November 18

While the original Saints Row was sort of an unassuming Grand Theft Auto clone, the sequel amped up the weirdness to give the series a unique flair of its own – and Saints Row: The Third seems poised to continue down that path. Packed with wacky gangs, larger-than-life weapons, and truckloads of blue humor, The Third seems to be the only major sandbox game out this season, and its bold aesthetic should further boost its profile. In a recent preview, we likened the game to "a fat man in a Hawaiian shirt and Groucho Marx glasses" who "[waves] a purple dildo in everyone’s face while ripping huge farts." Need we say more?

Rayman Origins

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii

EU: November 25

Rayman's back! Rayman's back! One of our favorite platform heroes of the past returns this month in Rayman Origins, a ridiculously gorgeous, hand-drawn 2D side-scroller that takes a cue from New Super Mario Bros. Wii with its four-player co-op. We took the game for a spin as a single-player venture in our most recent preview, and later dropped a lengthy, four-player Full Access Preview, and it's wowed us each time. Mid-November doesn't seem like the kindest time for it to launch, but we expect Rayman Origins to shine through this tough season regardless.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3

EU: November 18

Capcom might be pushing the re-release boundaries with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which follows just nine months after the original release, but at least it seems to be a pretty meaty upgrade. A dozen new fighters join the squad – notably Phoenix Wright and Frank West on the Capcom side, and Ghost Rider and Rocket Raccoon on the Marvel end – along with new stages, tweaks, and the ability to play as Galactus in a side mode. Is that all worth $40 to someone who dropped $60 on the first version back in February? That's the question facing fighting diehards in two weeks.

Kinect Disneyland Adventures

Platform: Xbox 360

EU: November 18

Who needs an expensive family trip to a Disney theme park when you can have a similar experience in the comfort of your own home? That seems to be the conceit behind Kinect Disneyland Adventures, though beyond the obvious queries of how well the game replicates the wonder (and rides!) of a real-life theme park, we doubt Disney would opt to leave its immense travel-related profits on the table in service of a console release. Still, it's an interesting idea – and we're curious to see how wandering through the virtual park compares to the real thing.

Batman: Arkham City

Platform: PC

EU: November 18

We don't know if you guys got the memo, but Batman: Arkham City is pretty damn amazing – like, legit fantastic, game-of-the-year material. We dropped a hefty 10 on the console versions last month, and PC owners will finally have a chance to guide the Caped Crusader through his overrun home on Nov. 15. Until then, be sure to read our lengthy Super Review on the console versions, and don't forget to bookmark our side mission and Riddler's challenge guides. You'll want those.

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