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EU release: October 22
If you've played either of the first two Professor Layton games, you know how high the bar is already set, but we have it on good authority that the third entry will be the best one yet. Technically the final entry in the first Layton trilogy, Unwound Future begins with Layton receiving a message from his loyal protégé, Luke – from 10 years in the future! So the Professor and young Luke travel to London to investigate an alleged time machine, and end up traveling to the future and meeting the older Luke, who of course challenges them to a puzzle battle.
The first two Layton games presented similar mysteries – each revolved around a small town secret shrouded in a complex illusion. What intrigues us about Unwound Future is that the story seems like totally new territory. But, like their adventures in the past, we wonder if everything is as it seems – is future Luke really who he says he is? Is time travel really possible in the Layton universe? We can only assume that the puzzles will be as impeccable as always, so the big question is what surprises future London has in store for us. Bring it, Luke!
Oh hey, Halo, didn't see you standing there. You're coming out this month, too, huh? That's cool.
Platform: Wii, DS, PSP, PS2, PS3
EU release: September 17
The good? A new Lord of the Rings game in which you get to play as Aragorn and experience all of the major moments from the books and films. Plus, Gandalf co-op! The bad? This particular Lord of the Rings game – the first from Warner Bros instead of EA – was clearly designed for the Wii, and for a younger demographic. The visuals are cartoonish, the controls are motion-based and, in between action levels, you take on the role of a baby Hobbit exploring the Shire.
Before you give up on this title entirely, however, consider that the developer – Headstrong Games – also made last year's shockingly entertaining House of the Dead: Overkill. Not a bad pedigree, if you ask us.
(PS3 version with Move support releases two weeks later, on September 28)
This RPG series is much more popular in Japan, but those in the niche will be happy that Sega is including free online play with the latest entry – when the company shut down servers for Phantasy Star Universe on PS2 and PC, a surprising number of gamers were furious. Thus, Phantasy Star Portable 2 will feature four-way multiplayer, co-op or versus. But sadly, remains on PSP.
Really love the idea of a Star Wars MMO, but too impatient to wait for BioWare's sure-to-be-superior The Old Republic? Well, this one is free… if you don't mind losing out on premium content. And this one does include Jedis and lightsabers… if you don't mind seeing them rendered in the style of the Cartoon Network. Oh, but if you hated Galaxies? Might want to steer clear, as Clone Wars Adventures is also being made by Sony Online.