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The games of December 2011

F1 2011

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

EU: Out

We're big fans of the recent F1 franchise comeback on consoles, having awarded the last two releases (including this year's F1 2011) a 9/10, but the first Nintendo 3DS entry is sadly a very different beast. Our review just popped up earlier this week, and as evidenced by Justin's agonized takedown, the 3DS game offers a pretty weak rendition of the Formula One sim racing approach. Rough visuals (especially in 3D), bad A.I., and lame vehicle damage sadly sink this portable take. Hopefully next year's entry can do this resurgent brand some portable justice.

Outdoors Unleashed: Africa 3D/Alaska 3D

Platform: Nintendo 3DS


It took nearly nine months, but the Nintendo 3DS is about to get its first hunting game – two of 'em, actually. Courtesy of Mastiff, next week sees the release of Outdoors Unleashed: Africa 3D and Outdoors Unleashed: Alaska 3D, which look to offer pretty straightforward animal-shooting experiences with varying terrain and prey based on which $30 title you choose. Africa 3D boasts lions, elephants, and wildebeests, while Alaska 3D includes deer, elk, and grizzly bears; and both serve up more than 30 weapons along with licensed equipment.

December 7

Apples to Apples

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade


Apples to Apples is the perfect party-ready game, charging players with picking the best available person, place, thing, or activity card to match the dealer's card, which displays an adverb. Expectedly, inappropriate and offensive matches tend to win out (like pairing "Adolf Hitler" with "cuddly"), and starting next week, Xbox 360 owners can tame that same hilarious spirit with the official Apples to Apples adaptation for Xbox Live Arcade. THQ says the downloadable version will include single-player and local/online multiplayer modes, along with Golden Apple rule modifiers. A PlayStation Network release is also expected soon.

December 9

The Oregon Trail

Platform: Nintendo 3DS/Wii


Despite its sometimes brutal nature, edutainment hit The Oregon Trail has survived numerous hardware generations thanks to the power of nostalgia, most recently being revived as a downloadable game on various platforms by Gameloft. December sees the classic survival tale returning to physical media on both Wii and Nintendo 3DS, however, and this fresh take hails from Red Wagon Games with a different look and feature set, including four storylines (across three time periods) and manual control of your wagon. Both versions look nearly identical, though the 3DS game comes in at $30, while the Wii one is $20. Hey, that 3D isn't going to pay for itself.

December 13

Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

EU: Out

We're unfortunately behind on Professor Layton releases here in the States, so while the series spawned a Nintendo 3DS launch title in Japan last February, we only recently received the prior DS release, The Last Specter. But if you don't mind a different face under that familiar hat, consider Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights, a largely similar puzzle-solving adventure that stars the titular archeologist and his young assistant in 19th-century Paris. Though you'll directly control Lautrec at times, the puzzles and aesthetic are quite strongly inspired by Level-5's beloved franchise. Here's hoping it's a worthy "tribute" to Layton.


Platform: PC


We awarded the console versions of Rocksmith a pretty positive review following its original October release, ultimately deeming it "wildly cool, innovative technology sitting on top of a tired formula many of us have played to death" – and that rad (but familiar) concoction is finally making its way to PC mid-month. By the looks of things, it's very much the same experience: equal parts guitar instructor, video game, and digital amplifier, Rocksmith lets you plug a real guitar into your computer using the included USB converter cable and rock out in a variety of modes. It's a somewhat niche offering, but an ingenious idea and one-of-a-kind experience all the same.

December 14

I Heart Geeks

Platform: Nintendo DS


First revealed back in 2008, this completely under-the-radar DS game finds you building elaborate contraptions to help a smart kid overcome the jocks at his high school. The game includes more than 100 puzzles, and the core gameplay looks very similar to that of iOS hit Casey's Contraptions (or EA's Create or Sierra’s Incredible Machine, to some extent), in that you must arrange various common items to perform some task to pass each stage. It doesn't seem like a game that'd strike up much serious interest from seasoned enthusiasts, unless it reminds you of that youthful time you toppled oppressors with brains over brawn. In that case, it's the game for you!

December 19

Heavy Fire: The Chosen Few 3D

Platform: Nintendo 3DS


Heavy Fire: The Chosen Few 3D is the 3DS take on last month's Heavy Fire: Afghanistan, a budget-priced on-rails shooter akin to the stop-and-pop light gun shooters of yore. It's not fully clear how the 3DS version will function, but we're expecting a lot of touch screen tapping as you clear 20+ missions using a variety of firearms, with helicopter, tank, and truck missions popping up here and there. Seeing as the 3DS pretty much missed out on the holiday season's barrage of big military shooters, perhaps this simpler affair can help fill the void for on-the-go action.

December 20

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Platform: PC

EU: December 20

It seems like 2011's release lineup is set to go out with a bang via Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare's long-anticipated take on the MMORPG franchise that promises to deliver narrative in a way we haven't typically seen from the genre. Granted, the core experience isn't wildly different from World of Warcraft and other MMO favorites, but smart use of the source material, slick presentation, and full voice acting help make this one to really look forward to. We've played the game several times over the past couple years, so be sure to read our myriad impressions for a bit more insight, otherwise prepare your minds and wallets for what could be your new favorite time sink.