The games of October 2011

We're in the thick of it now

October 18

Batman: Arkham City

Platform: PC (November), 360, PS3
EU:
October 21

We won't lie: The huge number of villains in Arkham City might be overdoing it. Seriously, Penguin, Freeze, Deadshot, Harley, Joker, Riddler, Killer Croc, Two-Face, Zsasz, Hugo Strange and Poison Ivy? Developer Rocksteady wowed us so thoroughly with Arkham Asylum, however, that we have to give the team the benefit of the doubt. Not that our worries amount to much anyway. We're beyond psyched to see the inmates run the city, to explore a huge area of Gotham, and just to play another Rocksteady Batman game. The gadgets, challenge maps and sweet statue in the special edition are the icing on a cake we've been wanting for a couple years. The development cycle's already been longer than that of Arkham Asylum, and the developer knows what worked best – we're hoping that means the finale to an amazing experience isn't a totally lame final boss fight.

Dungeon Defenders

Platform: PC, 360, PS3
EU:
October 19

Cross-platform play between PS3, PC and iOS users leaves 360 gamers cold and alone, but at least they have each other. This terrific tower-defense game keeps up with what's been working best for the genre lately, and it's involving. You take part in a fantasy monster smackdown with magic missiles, sword slashes and towers. It's gorgeous, filled with loot and leveling, and is generally one of the coolest of its kind. Don't miss it.

Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest

Platform: PS3
EU:
TBD

We were less than enthused about this when we saw it at E3, but we'll take a step back. A Move-driven fantasy hack-and-slasher on rails, Deadmund's Quest is as basic as they come, and it's proud of it. It practically plays itself (although as a 1:1 sword-slashing game, it requires you actually put some force behind your swings), and the handful of unique Move gestures make it easy to swap between close-quarters and ranged attacks. It's goofy, cute, and best for kids. Ahem. There. That wasn't so hard.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact

Platform: PSP
EU:
October 21

Well. It's another CyberConnect2 Naruto game. That is to say, it'll probably be good and it'll definitely be pretty. This might be the only PSP release for the rest of the year, too, so if you're desperate for a new UMD...

PowerUp Heroes

Platform: 360
EU:
October 7

Giving our Avatar superpowers so it could beat the shit out of other Avatars is indeed our dream, Ubisoft! No, really, Kinecting our way through enemies, stealing their superpowered suits and hijacking their powers actually does sound pretty cool. Avatar-on-Avatar violence is the real reason we’re into this, even if the gestures look to be limited to simple arm movements. This one has potential.

Professor Layton and the Last Specter

Platform: DS
EU:
November 25

Ever wanted to know how the dashing and brilliant Professor Layton met his totally annoying yet still whimsical and likable sidekick Luke? The Last Specter is a prequel to the past three Layton puzzlers, so it's as good a place as any to jump into the series if you're unfamiliar with its intoxicating blend of minigames and mysteries.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Platform: PS3
EU:
October 21

Insomniac is picking up the slack most co-op games can't be bothered to tighten. It's adding to its first co-op Ratchet game an element sorely lacking in multiplayer games these days: cooperation. All 4 One forces four players to genuinely work together, whether it's in combat or during platformer/puzzle segments.Attacking enemies as a team amplifies the total damage you deal, a clever mechanic that'll assuredly have us screaming at everyone for help in hectic firefights. Communication is key, as is thwacking things with wrenches, collecting bolts and buying goodies, as usual. It may be more linear than past Ratchet games, but we'll sacrifice exploration if it means doing more cool stuff together. Plus, Qwark is as much a star as Ratchet and/or Clank this time. That's a big bonus, because that goofy dude rules.

Rocksmith

Platform: 360, PS3
EU:
N/A

Conceptually, Rocksmith is exactly the kick in the ass the music genre needed. Rather than bundle itself with a bunch of phony instruments, Rocksmith opens itself up to existing musicians already using, or willing to pony up the dough for, a real guitar. Plug any electric guitar into the appropriate console hole and you've got yourself as legit a rock star sim as you could get – the game displays chords corresponding to each licensed song's notes. Using a real guitar, you'll play or learn real riffs. Pretty rad, huh? Our Editor-in-Chief Gary Steinman dug it so much he sat his sexy mug down in front of a camera to share his enthusiasm (see above!). Truly, the game's interface needs some work, but we won't complain about it too much before sinking some serious time into it.

Serious Sam 3: BFE

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
EU:
October 21

Don't expect any depth here – just violence and yelling. BFE is a lot like the other Serious Sams, with guts and explosions and endless racket that sets off your entire set of old-school PC gaming nerves in all the right ways. It also has 16-player co-op, which is just incomprehensible and awesome.

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS
EU:
October 21

It's been a long time since we've played a Spyro game, and we're hoping we'll need more than our nostalgia to fall in love with the purple dragon's 3D platforming again. We aren't ecstatic about his edgier look, but Skylanders is a beautiful game overall, and reminds us a lot of the PSOne original in the best ways.

Stronghold 3

Platform: PC
EU:
October 21

Building castles is all well and good, but using siege armies to sabotage your enemies' painstakingly crafted castle walls is where Stronghold shines. The hook with this strategy sequel isn't any one major feature, but a bunch of little ones – nighttime sieges, an optional economy focus and fancy-pants new graphics, for example. Physics is the biggest of this itty-bitty bunch, though. Walls and buildings crumble and burst realistically based on object speed and trajectory. Neat stuff for the hardcore, indeed.

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