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The games of fall '09


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PC, PS3, 360, Wii)
Release Date: Nov. 10

Questioning whether Infinity Ward's new first-person shooter is any good is like asking whether the Lakers' Championship MVP Kobe Bryant is any good. Yes, friend, this is the MVP of first-person shooters. It's quite good.

Modern Warfare 2 further removes the Call of Duty series from the trappings of World War II by turning this episode into a modern day James Bond spy-thriller, replete with snowmobile chases, rock climbing, and tried-and-true multiplayer components. Technically, it's as sharp as they get, and from every video, demo, and session we have attended, this heavy-duty action game promises to be the king of the shiznits.


Assassin's Creed 2 (PC, PS3, 360)
Release Date: Nov. 17

Heralded as amazing by some and criticized as annoying by others, Ubisoft's top-selling new action-adventure franchise transitions from the Holy Land of the 12th century to 15th century Italy, where its developers are hard at work on improving the sequel's every aspect. Your missions are delivered via carrier pigeons, you've got a concealed gun under your robe, you can fly and your name is Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Yes, that's right,we said you get to fly and wear a robe. That's entertainment!

Left 4 Dead 2 (PC, 360)
Release Date: Nov. 17

When a developer like Valve only makes good games, is it biased to assume that Left 4 Dead 2 is going to be anything other than an awesome zombie-killing masterpiece of multiplayer mayhem? OK, then! We're biased. The first Left 4 Dead rocked like nobody's business, and so, you know, this second one might just have a fighting chance.

This sci-fi-based, zombie-filled first-person shooter makes a simple request: play as a team. Here's our recommendation: leave the witch alone, have a good time exploring the Louisiana swamps, and keep an eye out for the brutal Charger. He's a really big bastard.

Dragon Age: Origins (PC, PS3, 360)
Release Date: Nov. 17

Do you like crushing enemies' knees into dust with enchanted axes? Casting magic spells that melt evil orcs' faces off? Or having sex with hot witches? Well, then you'll like BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins, the spiritual successor to the wildly popular Baldur's Gate RPG series. By the way, do you like fighting dragons? There are a few of those in here. How about collecting gold? Oh, and um, what about having sex with hot witches?

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
Release Date: November (exact date TBD)

Nintendo rarely strays from its little candy garden, but that's because it always grows such wonderful treats. Adding four-player co-op to a side-scrolling Mario game isn't a new idea, but it's a new flavor for Nintendo, and its addition proves to be sweet, sweet fun.

The game looks and plays like the old familiar standbys from the NES and Super NES, but it plays differently when three friends join in. You'll see oodles of power-ups and items, but because these are split between four players, grabbing them quickly is crucial. When players die, they re-appear in a bubble, giving you and your friends the chance to tease each other by not popping the bubble right away. You’ll also be able to pick up friends to keep them out of trouble. Expect to find a lot of familiar hidden areas and warp pipes, along with propeller suits to help you reach even higher ones. Skip this at your peril.


Tony Hawk: Ride (PS3, 360, Wii)
Release Date: Nov. 17

It's hard to decide: Is Tony Hawk: Ride Activision's pathetic, last ditch effort to resuscitate the worn-out skateboard series? Or is it a brilliant new way to play a skateboard videogame? Whichever you decide, this fact remains self evident: the new developer and board are long overdue. Just how fun it actually is, and how many folks buy into it, has yet to be seen. We like the premise, so we're hoping the game lives up to the hype.

James Cameron's Avatar: The Game (DS, PC, PS3, PSP, 360)
Release Date: Nov. 24

We have heard nothing but fanatical rants about how cool James Cameron's new Avatar movie is going to be (on the web, of course). Unfortunately, the game demo we observed didn't stir the same lusty fanboy glee as the movie did. Will Ubisoft pull a Peter Jackson's King Kong on us? Or will it deliver the same love that Prince of Persia and Assassin's Creed brought? We won’t know for sure until it’s out.