The games of October 2012

The heaviest release month of the year (so far) is finally upon us

October 7

Pokemon Black/White 2

Platform: Nintendo DS
EU: October 12

The Nintendo DS release schedule has fallen off dramatically since the debut of the Nintendo 3DS, but it still has a towering lead in terms of installed system base – which probably explains why the two new Pokémon games aren't designed for the latter. Black Version 2 and White Version 2, respectively, are sequels to last year's originals, delivering new storylines and play mechanics, not to mention a bevy of Pokémon not included in Black and White. Of course, both work perfectly on the 3DS, and even work with a pair of eShop downloads, though you won't see any visual enhancement to the games.To see what we thought, check out our Pokemon Black/White 2 review.

October 9

Dishonored

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
EU: October 12

In a holiday season expectedly packed with sequels and franchise extensions, it's admittedly reassuring to see a totally original IP generating some serious buzz. Dishonored hails from Arkane Studios and Bethesda, and presents a stunning steampunk-inspired vision with fantastic art design and in-game visuals alike, plus a first-person action approach that blends optional stealth, knives, crossbows, and even mystical powers. Despite the linear campaign mission approach, the levels are yours to tackle however you choose, whether silently or violently (as shown in our video playthroughs), giving this anticipated title yet another standout element.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
EU: October 12

2K's FPS reboot of the XCOM franchise has returned to the shadows for now, but what's taken its place has been much more warmly received by fans of the long-running strategy series. XCOM: Enemy Unknown, from Civilization studio Firaxis Games, hearkens back to the classic turn-based, tactical strategy approach of the older titles with an impressive new aesthetic. Moreover, console players will receive the full, complex experience here, though PC players get a unique mouse-friendly UI instead of a half-baked port. We've been impressed with the game's mix of depth and accessibility in recent previews, and look forward to seeing this once-great franchise thrive yet again.

Fable: The Journey

Platform: Xbox 360 (Kinect)
EU: October 12

Fable: The Journey has been something of a question mark since its dubious debut at E3 last year, but as noted in our latest preview, "The more we see Lionhead’s Kinect-controlled, first-person adventure, Fable: The Journey, the more impressed we are with how far the title has come." As a first-person, motion-controlled action game, The Journey is no doubt a sharp departure from the earlier role-playing affairs. But we've enjoyed casting spells and riding horses using our hands, and despite the shift in approach, it's distinctly Fable – and "one of the more promising games to come out for the Kinect," we predict, based on our time with it so far.

Just Dance 4

Platform: Xbox 360 (Kinect), PS3 (Move), Wii
EU: October 2

In the three prior core Just Dance games and myriad spinoffs, you'd do essentially one thing throughout: just dance. Way to keep it literal, Ubisoft! Based on what we've seen of Just Dance 4 on the current crop of consoles, the series doesn't seem to be slowing down or significantly changing gears, as you'll still mimic the motions of a variety of colorful clips set to popular tracks. Just Dance 4 introduces multiple challenges per stage, as well as a dance battle mode, and expectedly brings a fresh set of tracks and routines to match. The later Wii U version, meanwhile, will add the Control Pad-enabled Puppet Master party mode.

Dragon Ball Z for Kinect

Platform: Xbox 360 (Kinect)
EU: TBD

Instead of the usual gobsmackingly huge (but utterly familiar) new controller-based Dragon Ball game this year, Xbox 360 owners are getting Dragon Ball Z for Kinect, which requires the motion-sensing peripheral and lets you jump into the role of Goku and others, tossing punches and fireballs from the first-person perspective through an array of cel-shaded missions. It sounds like a perfect fit for Kinect, but we'll have to see if it's a deep enough experience for the die-hards. And if not, you can save your money for the Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection which updates a pair of PS2 fighters for Xbox 360 and PS3 come November.

Harry Potter for Kinect

Platform: Xbox 360 (Kinect)
EU: October 12

Seems this "Big Franchise for Kinect" trend is catching on, then. The Harry Potter series didn't have much luck with Kinect in Deathly Hallows Part 1, but this brand new release spans all eight films and is designed around the peripheral, even letting you create your own witch or wizard using the Kinect camera. From there, you'll be able to take part in rollicking games of Quidditch, or launch spells in wizard duels, plus there's an array of other Kinect-based activities, such as riding a mine cart, evading attackers in a hallway, and pummeling a bathroom-smashing ogre. Has Potter fever faded quite yet? We'll find out when this Kinect offering debuts.

Port Royale 3: Pirates and Merchants

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
EU: Out

For those who have long dreamed of a simulation that'd let you commandeer a ship in the 1500s, sailing the Caribbean as you either trade or battle – well, Port Royale 3: Pirates and Merchants is clearly for you. The game debuted on PC earlier this year and wasn't smashingly received, but the console versions are just on the horizon and we're keeping an open mind for this tropical-set sim. Distinct adventurer and trader campaigns offer variety, with the former delivering maritime combat while the latter is all about swapping goods; and the open approach lets you wade through the ample content however you see fit. Check out our hands-on preview for more.

Code of Princess

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
EU: TBD

Seemingly inspired by classic beat-'em-up Guardian Heroes (and sharing some creators with that old favorite), Code of Princess is a new Nintendo 3DS brawler from Atlus that offers four-player co-op via the Nintendo Network as you hack and slash your way to victory. Thanks to character design by Street Fighter vet Kinu Nishimura and input from anime studio Bones, the game looks rather slick on the 3DS screens, especially during the cut-scenes, which spotlight colorful settings and occasionally the nearly-nude heroine. And in typical Atlus fashion, those who pre-order the game can expect goodies in the form of the soundtrack disc and a compact art book.

Spy Hunter

Platform: PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS
EU: TBD

Has enough time really passed for another Spy Hunter reboot? Warner Bros. seems to think so, as it's teamed with TT Fusion for a new handheld entry on PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS. From what we've gathered, the game sports a notably more cartoonish aesthetic – a departure from the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson-starring Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run from 2006 – but otherwise serves up much of the familiar driving-based action from earlier entries, thanks to ample firepower, spiked wheels, and explosives, as well as surveillance gadgets. Will this be the first step towards a wider brand revival?

Imagine Babyz 3D

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
EU: October 26

Ubisoft's survival horror experiences enters a whole new dimension with Imagine Babyz 3D (Imagine Babies 3D in Europe) for Nintendo 3DS, where you must prevail as a babysitter tasked with watching and bonding with infants aged six to 18 months. Wait, no… it's a kids' game, apparently. Sounds like survival horror to us! Anyway, this follow-up to the Nintendo DS original spotlights the above premise and features a wide array of babies to dress up and hug, plus you can talk to the babies using the 3DS microphone. No longer must you imagine 3D babies, thanks to… Imagine Babyz 3D.

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