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The games of August 2012

August 17

The Expendables 2

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade, PC
EU: August 17

Just released on PlayStation Network via the PSN Play promo, The Expendables 2 is set to launch on Xbox Live Arcade and PC on August 17 – the same day the testosterone-filled film delivers a hilarious number of action stars on the silver screen. The licensed tie-in takes the form of a four-player co-op romp, in which absurd bullet counts and ample explosions are the norm. Film tie-ins don't often launch as bite-sized downloads, but that may actually work in the game's favor, as the simple, arcade-style approach may even hold thrills for those who wouldn't otherwise pay the franchise a lick of attention.

August 19

New Super Mario Bros. 2

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
EU: August 17

Nintendo certainly doesn't need any lessons on making bank, but now Mario seems to have his mind on his money more than ever. Case in point: New Super Mario Bros. 2 for Nintendo 3DS doesn't simply bring the old-school-turned-new formula of the past entries to the 3DS handheld, but it also makes coin-grabbing an unexpectedly central focus. We recently went hands-on with the final version due out later this month and found it to be perhaps the most challenging traditional Mario game to date. And we can't mention a new Mario without noting the simultaneous release of the Nintendo 3DS XL, the super-sized handheld with 90% larger screens and amped-up battery life, which sells for $199.99. Treat yourself to both!

August 21

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
EU: August 24

"It's more of the same, only better" isn't a bad way to describe any beloved game, let alone the sequel to the best Transformers game ever and one of the most impressive licensed titles of our time. But that's exactly what Transformers: Fall of Cybertron looks to deliver, as it keeps the core approach and fundamentals of 2010's celebrated War for Cybertron while digging much, much deeper into series lore. Case in point: the appearance of the Dinobots, which has fans in a tizzy. Add in competitive multiplayer on top of a diverse campaign and the entertaining co-op mode from the original, and Fall of Cybertron looks to continue the truly unforeseen success of its predecessor.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC, Mac
EU: August 21

One of the all-time biggest brands in online gaming returns with a fresh entry later this month thanks to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a collaboration between Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment that mixes classic content and new elements for an online shooter releasing on multiple platforms. Keeping the objective-based nature of the series, as well as some familiar maps from the original release, Global Offensive also adds a new Arsenal mode, which includes a couple of variants of the much-loved Gun Game mod of the previous PC versions. It's not reinventing the formula, but Global Offensive brings a refreshed version of Counter-Strike to consoles and Steam, which should be plenty exciting enough for the old CS vets out there.

Retro/Grade

Platform: PlayStation Network
EU: August 21

Playing a backwards space shooter with a guitar controller is one of the less obvious game ideas we've seen in a while, which is part of what makes Retro/Grade so darn interesting. We featured it as one of the 10 excitingly original indie games we wrote about last fall, and now the dazzlingly flashy download is set for release as part of the PSN Play promotion. Playable with either a plastic guitar or standard controller, Retro/Grade finds your ship working backwards in time, shifting between paths to suck back previously fired bullets and avoid enemy attacks – all to keep up the space/time continuum. Expect ample challenge and a whole lot of goofy fun with this charming little indie.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD Ver.

Platform: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade (8/22)
EU: August 21 (XBLA: 8/22)

With many of the more obvious HD remake candidates taken care of (or on the horizon), Capcom is digging deeper into its past niche catalog – and arcade-to-Dreamcast fighter JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is definitely an oddball affair. Based on a popular manga series, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure finds the middle ground between Street Fighter-esque duels and the wacky, high-energy of the publisher's Versus series, and this upcoming HD release offers the usual amenities: optionally smoothed-over visuals and online play with Capcom's now-familiar matching system. With a new JoJo's fighter in the works at Namco Bandai, this HD Ver. offers a prime chance to catch up with the series.