EU: November 13
Black Ops Declassified aims to strike a balance between the console and PC entries that many millions of players eat up every year and something a bit better suited for on-the-go action. The first Vita entry in the series certainly looks the part, doing a solid job of replicating the aesthetic of the original Black Ops, but you won't be taking on large-scale campaign missions here; instead, Declassified spans a series of quick-hit objectives designed to fit into commutes and other small gaps – plus it has 4-on-4 online battles. Sadly, Resistance: Burning Skies from the same studio sputtered, so playing will really be believing with this one.
360, PS3, PC, Wii
EU: November 23
LEGO The Lord of the Rings missed its October release window, but now it's set to launch in just a couple weeks. In the past, if you'd played one LEGO game, it felt like you'd played them all, though this film trilogy-inspired adventure carries on a couple of the significant additions from this summer's LEGO Batman 2 while treading fresh ground of its own. Like the Dark Knight's last quest, LEGO LOTR is fully voiced and features an open-world setting to roam around, though this journey takes on more of an RPG flavor with inventory management and such. Otherwise, expect plenty of laughs, plastic versions of iconic sights, and oh-so-many collectible bricks.
EU: November 16
Here's one we didn't really see coming. F1 Race Stars recasts the ordinarily serious and hardcore motorsport simulation as a Mario Kart-inspired action racer, with super-deformed licensed stars and colorful, looping racetracks that expand the real-life courses into fantastical territory. The cartoonish look is a gorgeous new twist for F1, and Race Stars checks the essential multiplayer boxes for a game like this, offering four-player local split-screen along with 12-player online showdowns – and even support for Codemasters' RaceNet. November's probably a tough time to bring an experiment like this into the market, but at least it looks plenty entertaining!
Nintendo 3DS, Wii U (11/18), PC (11/20)
Finally, a console Scribblenauts game! It just makes sense to bring the wickedly creative Nintendo DS favorite to the Wii U (along with the 3DS and PC), where it aims to one-up past entries with a bevy of new features. Chief among them is the ability to create and share your own items from scratch, though we're also excited about the stronger adventure focus of the game, as well as the multiplayer mode that loops in a second player via a Wii Remote. Unlimited has a bit of a staggered release, launching first on 3DS before appearing at the Wii U launch (with classic Nintendo characters in tow) and finally popping up on PC, but whatever your platform of choice, it's sure to be a charmer.
Midway might be dead and gone, but its legacy lives on via Warner Bros, which is issuing a rather robust arcade collection this month for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Midway Arcade Origins bundles together 30+ classics from the influential publisher, including titles like Gauntlet, Defender, Marble Madness, Joust, Spy Hunter, Total Carnage, and Rampage. It's got the requisite Achievements and Trophies, as well as local multiplayer and co-op action (no online play). Best of all, though, it's pretty reasonably priced at $30 on either platform.
360, PS3, PC
You might've missed this one when it debuted on PSP a couple years back (without the History Channel branding); most folks probably did, but the turn-based historical strategy affair actually notched very stellar reviews, despite the low profile. Now, History: Legends of War – Patton is mounting a renewed offense on consoles and PC, letting you jump into battle in World War II as the U.S. forces under George S. Patton's command; and if it's anywhere near as sharp as the PSP original, it could be a solid under-the-radar option for strategy buffs. After all, as the official listing notes, "Turn-based strategy games are taking over the world of video gaming."
360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS, Wii U (11/18)
EU: November 30
Cartoon Network's Ben 10 series hasn't gone a holiday season without a video game adaptation since the first dropped in 2007, and this year is no exception. Based on the newest version of the series that debuted a couple months back, Ben 10: Omniverse delivers a multiplatform brawler with 16 playable characters and a fittingly cartoonish aesthetic. Vicious Cycle, the studio behind last year's Ben 10: Galactic Racing and 2008's Ben 10: Alien Force, returns to tackle the console versions here, which also include a Wii U iteration due out a few days after the others hit stores.