The international setting is not the only thing that separates True Crime: Hong Kong from every other GTA clone. The undercover cop at the center of the game really knows how to fight, using martial arts moves and environmental attacks to take down enemies. And staying undercover with the Triads requires players to act the part: wear the right clothes, date the right girls and keep the right friends.
89 - Ms. Splosion Man (XBLA)
It isn’t surprising that Twisted Pixels’ biggest hit to date, Splosion Man, is getting a sequel. And it’s even cooler that the sequel is taking such an old school approach of naming the new star Ms. Splosion Man and making her pink with a bow. But this isn’t a more feminine expansion pack; the devs say they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeves to make it a full sequel.
88 - Gun Loco (360)
Japanese companies like Square Enix keep trying to create games to appeal to Westerners, and when said games look as weird as Gun Loco, us Yankees are ready to give it a try. With bizarre characters, over-the-top gunplay and hopefully a good sense of humor, we really want this one to realize even a sliver of its potential.
87 - Dust: An Elysian Tail (XBLA)
Make up for not buying Muramasa or Odin Sphere (let’s face it, you probably didn’t) by paying attention to this one. With similarly beautiful hand-painted graphics and similarly intricate, side-scrolling melee combat to Atlus’ games, it’s a delicate little flower of an action RPG, and looks to be one of this year’s most exciting XBLA releases for those of us who appreciate the real artistry of games.
86 - The Secret World (PC)
In a time when every MMO seems to feature elf babes in day-glo bikini armor, the gritty, legitimately gothic Secret World stands apart. It explores the blackened, decaying edges of reality, where everyday people wield sword, sorcery, and heavy firepower in a war against nightmarish gothstrosities ripped from H.P. Lovecraft’s hidden diary.
85 - Rock of Ages (PS3, 360, PC)
Quick, go watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Now, imagine that same medieval setting, oddball comedic personality, and 2D clip-art cartoons mixed with tower defense, Angry Birds and a pinball game. You must send your giant boulder careening along an obstacle-strewn path until it bashes down the enemy’s castle. We smell an underground hit.
84 - F1 2011 (PS3, 360, PC)
Better damage modelling. Fewer bugs. This is the great thing about incremental updates, especially when the first game was so good. Just give us some driver interaction and a chance to 'play the podium' and we'll be happy. Ecstatic if it comes out on PSP2 and 3DS too.
83 - Ni no Kuni (PS3, DS)
Ni no Kuni's pedigree alone makes it sound too good to be true. Co-developed by Studio Ghibli and Level-5, it represents Ghibli's first foray into videogames since the animation studio was founded in 1985. It must be something incredibly special to entice Ghibli, with its impeccable track record in film, to finally enter the interactive medium after holding out for all these years. The DS installment is already out in Japan, but a PS3 version is also expected sometime in 2011 – no word yet on a US release for either.
A sequel to the gaming equivalent of an enjoyable B-movie, Insect Armageddon returns with the dumb fun of flying around a city and shooting giant bugs. Co-op has been added to the sequel, but let’s pray that the devs don’t improve the production values too much, as the cheap feel was part of the original’s charm.
81 - Rayman Origins (XBLA, PSN)
Just when we’d grown bored of characters that couldn’t make the cut in 3D “returning to their roots,” all that cynicism was wiped away with the announcement HD Rayman game. The limbless wonder never shined brighter than in 2D, and the hand-drawn look of the game is one vibrant step toward our childhood dreams of playing a cartoon.
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