This year has been chock full of games. With the holidays approaching we've rounded up some gift guides covering all sorts of bases for you. Price range, platform, etc. But what if you just want to refresh your memory of this year's highlights?
Here are all of our reviews of the biggest games this year. Hopefully it will help in your holiday purchases, and to occupy your non-family time with some good game choices.
If you don't see a title you're interested in, try Kotaku.com/review where you'll find a full list, including hardware and even snack reviews.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted is a laser-focused, unblockable gut-punch of constant acceleration. Speed freaks, rejoice. More »
Because it may not be the best Assassin's Creed but it is a refreshing recharge to a well-made series. It's an important game about America, about killing bad guys and about climbing beautiful trees. More »
Assassin's Creed Liberation brings the series to Playstation Vita in strong fashion and adds inspired new mechanics to an already strong formula. More »
Halo 4 is an emotional, beautiful look at Master Chief's struggles in war. More »
Nintendo Land is the best way to experience all the wonderful weirdness of the Wii U. More »
Far Cry 3 does so much right: It's an exhilarating and empowering adventure that marvelously combines player freedom with shiny technical polish. More »
Hitman: Absolution is a sprawling, satisfying game that offers dozens of vicious possibilities with each new scenario. More »
Like most Mario games, it never stops feeling fun. More »
Black Ops II feels great to play, especially when futuristic weapons are involved, yes-but it also makes you think. More »
It offers a continuation of the World of Warcraft experience, but at this point that experience just isn't quite enough. More »
Medal of Honor Warfighter is slipshod, uninspired, unpolished, and unfun. More »
007 Legends is not only terrible a homage to James Bond, but it's a mediocre shooter too.
Skylanders Giants, like Spyro's Adventure before it, gives collecting colorful pieces of plastic a purpose. It's a chimerical combination of two passions, and hey, the kids seem to dig it. More »
Forza Horizon lets down its parent brand's hair and gives you the fantasy lifestyle of racing gorgeous cars in the prime of your life. More »
XCOM: Enemy Unknown takes a classic PC strategy game, improves it then makes it playable for console owners as well. More »
Where most games have strict rules and guidelines, Dishonored has suggestions. Suggestions that it encourages you to mess around with at every turn. Blending the do-what-you-want structure of Deus Ex with the masterful world design of BioShock, this game is really something special. More »
NBA 2K13 serves the flashiest sport and sports lifestyle in North America with rich gameplay and deep career modes. More »
The interesting changes in this Resident Evil can't save it from feeling bloated and boring. More »
You have to catch all the things, and revisiting old friends and exploring the aftermath of events two years prior is an entertaining way to do it. More »
With a mix of familiar MMORPG tropes and new, modern approaches to delivering them, Guild Wars 2 is an excellent, welcoming take on the genre. More »
A fresh style, new stages to tear apart, and expansive story / training mode and solid online play, this is a Dead or Alive sequel that's finally worth its new number. More »
Torchlight II is a sprawling, ambitious game that does one thing very, very well. It gives you a world you'll want to explore, filled with enemies you'll love to destroy. More »
Borderlands 2 is a charming, funny, hell of a cooperative game with lots of style and personality that you can spend hours with. More »
It is one of the most unique games to come out of Japan in the last decade. More »
NHL 13's skating and AI refinements make it a very lifelike, very strategic interpretation of a real-world sport long abused by the speed and power of video games. More »
The offline action represents one of the best Tekken games in years and the online portion is promising, though it still needs to be properly tested by hordes of players. More »
For a real-time physics engine that keeps you in the action, and a brilliant career mode that unites players of all levels of interest. More »
It's the grown up version of grabbing a bunch of Transformers from your toy box and acting out the final days of their doomed home world. More »
Like putting on your favorite sweatshirt or curling up in bed and re-reading a great book, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a familiar, warm, comfortable story. More »
Although the game is entertaining and fun to play, the sheer number of bugs encountered in the PS3 edition really need a patch. We're waiting for confirmation on if the Xbox 360 and PC versions are plagued with the same issues or not. More »
Sleeping Dogs is both great at making a beautiful Hong Kong your playground, as well as portraying the drama hidden in its streets. More »
It's a nice change of pace to see an MMORPG in a modern setting, the class-free leveling is nice, and the attention to story, detail, and setting are fantastic. More »
Spec Ops: The Line is a considered and thought-provoking game that deserves to be experienced for its flaws as well as for its successes. More »
Despite a heavy reliance on traditional massively-multiplayer role-playing mechanics, Tera's addictive active combat system is a breath of fresh air in a relatively stagnant genre. More »
Slicing up zombies with a chainsaw is incredibly fun, and you get to experience endearingly stupid humor fighting in boss battles. More »
If you want an engaging open-world RPG with action combat to spend way too many hours playing, there are plenty that do what Dragon's Dogma fails to. More »
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier can feel a bit ungainly, but for the most part it successfully balances stealth, tactics and all-out action. More »
The action role-playing game that launched a thousand clones remains the most viscerally entertaining way to click your mouse several hundred thousand times. More »
This unrelentingly grim thriller boasts great storytelling, sharply implemented mechanics and inventive multiplayer. It's the total package. More »
More than just demonstrating some truly spectacular superpowers in an open world, you're doing them with a great character, James Heller, even if the game's story doesn't take any risks. More »
Fez is more than just adorable. It's a world that makes you want to explore every corner, and solve every obscure puzzle. More »
Despite its many flaws, Xenoblade is a great fix for MMO junkies and sidequest nuts. This is a world you'll want to breathe in. More »
If gameplay upgrades are a key demand made by consumers of annual sports titles (ones rarely fulfilled) then Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13's improved swing control, by itself, makes the title recommendable. More »
It's a tedious, uninspiring mess that neither pleases the franchise's old fans nor appeals to a new audience. More »
The three-part chaos is fun but there's not enough to make this Resident Evil feel like something you need to experience. More »
The drama might be lessened but the fighting engine is has improved significantly and the character roster ridiculously huge. More »
It's still the only Major League Baseball game on the Xbox 360. That's not a hell of an endorsement, but MLB 2K12 is an improvement over MLB 2K11 in gameplay. Its visuals are plainly a disappointment, though. More »
Technically, it's a smooth next step in a well-loved franchise and narratively, it's still haunting me days after finishing. More »
Street Fighter X Tekken brings together two of the greatest fighting game franchises of all time in a game that's incredibly accessible to new players. More »
It takes all the best things from old-school RPGs and brings them into a modern format. More »
Journey is a gorgeous, meditative game that combines disciplined design, cutting-edge technology and beautiful art into something remarkable and moving. More »
A beloved extreme sports franchise gets rebooted with realism and asynchronous online play. More »
The unusual combination of storytelling styles, along with the vibrant and detailed art design, make this short experience worth the while. More »
Syndicate challenges your brain's flexibility in chaotic situations, while testing your ability to adapt to new threats. More »
It's like being the Game of Thrones. You build castles and invade Kingdoms, but you also get to bang courtiers and humiliate that disappointment of a son you banished to Wales. More »
For mixed martial arts fans, it's an astoundingly deep offering that could be the only game you play for long stretches. For fighting game fans, there are enough symmetries in its gameplay to make the introduction into a simulation sports title. More »
After all these years it's still the best the vehicle combat genre has to offer. More »
The allure of a portable Uncharted game is strong, but Golden Abyss feels for the most part like a cut-rate version of 2007's Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. More »
The four-arm action is the only interesting thing about this game. And you can get that, and a better overall experience, in the original game. Everything else feels like a step backwards. From a game that came out five years ago. More »
It's an extremely well-crafted action role-playing experience with all the bells and whistles fans of the genre crave and countless hours of quality hack-and-slash entertainment in a fully-realized new fantasy world. More »
The core fighting remains as sharp as ever and gets tweaked with interesting changes. Also: you can fight a furry, or be a furry. More »
It improves upon Final Fantasy XIII in nearly every way. More »
It's a superb Resident Evil game and easily one of the 3DS' most impressive games. More »
Seriously. I've spent the last couple of days occasionally "chatting," shopping and playing dress up with a virtual boyfriend while playing the game Boyfriend Maker. Yes, I'm aware that this is a game meant for pre-teen girls. I can tell by looking at other games in its suit—like Bride and Groom Maker as well as apps where you can take a picture with a hot anime dude of your creation. Even so, my friends and I can't stop playing this game.
Thing is, Boyfriend Maker is hilarious. You never know what your boyfriend is going to say—it might be on-topic, or it might be absurd, or both. He seems to follow the conventions of conversation... almost. The game reminds me of Cleverbot in this way.
Here are some choice screenshots of Boyfriend Maker shenanigans, courtesy of the Boyfriend Maker Tumblr, friends from Twitter, and myself. Blue is boyfriend, pink is "you."
If you're curious, the game is free and gets its information from another chat program that people can teach phrases and responses to, meaning that your boyfriend is always learning from interactions (though whether or not that includes those in Boyfriend Maker itself is unclear to me). That's how the boyfriend approaches seeming human-like in its responses—kind of like Cleverbot.
But unlike Cleverbot, we don't have a set of expectations that come with Cleverbot's "role." We know it's an AI, and will try to make that obvious when we interact with it. Someone being your "boyfriend," though, comes with certain preconceptions of what is expected and needed when it comes to intimacy, which is part of what makes Boyfriend Maker compelling and funny.
Also, you can't dress up Cleverbot, so my iPad boyfriend wins.
Happy Thanksgiving! Take a trailer for the upcoming remake of one of the greatest RPGs ever made. After some big delays, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition should be out next Wednesday for PC (and somewhere around then for iPad as well).
For more on the new enhancements coming in this edition of the iconic game, check out our previous coverage.
Trying to convince your family to play the Wii U with you?
Or maybe you're trying to escape your family so you can get some PC gaming in?
Celebrate or commiserate right here.
Up top: pics of the Pikachu and Sonic balloons from today's Macyy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Pikachu was snapped by journalism student Jennifer Arellano. Sonic was Instagramed by Sonic fan Willie Jackson.
Our deals partners at Dealzon have scanned all major retailers in North America for the video game offers of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when many Americans begin their holiday shopping.
Whether you're picking up something for yourself, a loved one or a friend, here's more than 60 deals on current video games, gaming hardware and digital downloads. Happy Thanksgiving and good luck out there tomorrow.
Update: Dealzon is back with a fresh batch of Black Friday gaming deals, 80 in all, both hardware and software. Here you go!
Green Man Gaming has a ton of deals resulting from new discounts and a 25% coupon that's good through Monday.
• Guild Wars 2 Digital Edition (PC download) is $43.50
• XCOM Enemy Unknown (PC download) is $28.12
• Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC Download) is $22.50
• Dishonored (PC Download) is $22.50
• LEGO Lord of the Rings (PC download) is $22.50
• The Sims 3 Seasons Limited Edition (PC download) is $15
• Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (PC download) is $15
• Doom 3: BFG Edition (PC Download) is $11.25
• Postal 3 (PC download) is $11.25
• Worms Revolution (PC download) is $10.12
• Borderlands 2 Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage (PC DLC) is $7.50
• Fallout: New Vegas (PC download) is $7.50
• Port Royale 3 (PC download) is $7.50
• The Book of Unwritten Tales (PC download) is $7.50
• Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD (PC download) is $3.75
• Anna/em> (PC download) is $3.75
• The Journey Down: Chapter One (PC download) is $2.97
• Cargo Commander (PC download) is $2.55
• Dell's Black Friday deal on Xbox 360 Live 3 Months Instant Online Code for $9.99 was still going into this afternoon. Perfect if you missed out on the now out-of-stock 12-month BF deals through eBay.
GameStop has a good variety of standout deals. Unlike many online retailers, they have some nice discounts on Wii U games. Also several price drops on popular PC Downloads, like Borderlands 2.
• Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition (Wii U) is $49.99
• FIFA Soccer 13 (Wii U) is $49.99
• Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U) is $49.99
• Dead or Alive 5 (360, PS3) is $29.99
• Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier Signature Edition (360) is $24.99
• Harry Potter for Kinect (360) is $29.99
• Ratchet and Clank HD Collection (PS3) is $19.99
• Wonderbook: Book of Spells (PS3) is $19.99
• Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 with Gun (Wii) is $39.99
• Medal of Honor Warfighter Limited Edition (PC download) is $29.99
• Borderlands 2 (PC download) is $29.99
• Need for Speed Most Wanted 2012 (PC download) is $19.99
Gamefly has lots of solid PC download deals led by Mass Effect Trilogy at $24 and Torchlight 2 for only $12.
• Mass Effect Trilogy (PC download) is $23.99
• Cities XL 2012 (PC download) is $15.99
• Torchlight 2 (PC download) is $11.99
• Jane's Advanced Strike Fighters (PC download) is $8.15
• Two Worlds 2: Game of Year: Pirates of the Flying Fortress Edition (PC download) is $7.99
• Agricultural Simulator 2012 (PC download) is $7.99
• Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC download) is $6.39
• Hotline Miami (PC download) is $5.99
• IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover (PC download) is $5.99
• Syndicate (PC download) is $4.07
Amazon has strong discounts on many console games, but their best offers are cheap PC Download bundles around $10 a piece.
• Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 with Top Shot Elite Gun (360, PS3, Wii) is $19.99
• Angry Birds Trilogy (360, PS3, Nintendo 3DS) is $19.99
• Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 (360, PS3) is $19.99
• Sniper Elite V2 (360, PS3) is $14.99
• Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (3DS) is $19.99
• Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (3DS) is $14.99
• Civilization V Game of The Year Edition and Civilization V: Gods and Kings (PC download) is $19.99
• NBA 2K13 (PC download) is $22.49
• Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete, La Noire Complete, and GTA San Andreas Bundle (PC download) is $14.99
• Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (PC download) is $14.99
• Majesty Bundle (10 PC Downloads) is $9.99
• Plentiful Paradox Package (6 PC Downloads) is $9.99
• Paradox War Chest (7 PC Downloads) is $7.49
• Bioshock Dual Pack (PC download) is $4.99
NewEgg dropped several decent titles to new lows of $15 and $20.
• Doom 3: BFG Edition (PS3) is $19.99
• Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (360, PS3) is $19.99
• Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition (360, PS3) is $19.99
• Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition (360, PS3) is $14.99
• Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (360, PS3) is $14.99
Best Buy had a lot of console titles early today that sold out quickly. But these are still around at lowest-ever prices. And Medal of Honor: Warfighter is $10 cheaper than Dell's "doorbuster deal."
• Medal of Honor: Warfighter (360) is $29.99
• Need for Speed Most Wanted 2012 Limited Edition (360) is $29.99
• LittleBigPlanet: Karting (PS3) is $24.99
• UFC Undisputed 3 (360, PS3) is $14.99
Tigerdirect made some noise with its Halo 4 at $39.99 after rebate but unfortunately it's out of stock. However, Black Ops 2 is still available as of writing.
• Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (PC) is $39.99 after rebate
Origin has plenty of good deals on sports titles with Madden, NHL, and FIFA 13 on sale for various platforms.
• Dead Space 2 (360, PS3, PC download) is $6
• The Sims 3: Supernatural (PC download) is $19.99
• Madden NFL 13 (360, PS3) $29.99 and (PS Vita) $19.99
• NHL 13 (360, PS3) is $29.99
• Endless Space: Admiral Edition (PC download) is $10.20
• Resident Evil 5 (PC download) is $6.78
• Toys 'R' Us offers "Buy One Wii U Game, Get One 40% Off" with eligible 26 titles.
• PS3 DualShock 3 Wireless Controller in Metallic Gold is $39.99, free ship from GameStop. List price is $55.
• Turtle Beach PS3 Ear Force P11 Headphones is $34.99, free ship from Best Buy. Next best is $45.
• Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 Gaming Headset is $34.99, free ship from Best Buy. Next best is $50.
• Samsung 256GB 830 Series SSD with Norton Ghost is $169.95, free ship from B&H Photo. Cheapest ever by $10. Next best is $214.
• Asus 23.6-inch VS247H-P-P 2ms LED Monitor is $119.99 after rebate, free ship from NewEgg. Cheapest ever by $30. Next best is $160.
• Asus 23-inch VS238H-P-P 2ms LED Monitor is $119.99 after rebate, free ship from NewEgg. Cheapest ever by $20. Next best is $140.
• Alienware M14x r2 laptop with Ivy Bridge Core i5-3210M, 6GB RAM, GeForce GT 650M is $899, free ship from Dell Home. Cheapest ever by $50. [Dealzon]
• Dell has an Alienware coupon for $100 off all systems $1699 and up.
• Alienware X51 desktop with Quad Core i7-3770, GeForce GTX 660 is down $200 to $1,149, free ship from Dell Home. [Dealzon]
• Microsoft Store sale started today with recent 360 titles for $24.99 and Kinect games as low as $9.99, all with free shipping. Below are titles that are at cheapest-ever prices. Sale is supposed to run through Monday the 26th, or while supplies last, which might not be long. As of 11am Eastern, Assassin's Creed 3 and FIFA Soccer 13 were already sold out.
Dishonored (360) $24.99
Madden NFL 13 (360) $24.99
Borderlands 2 (360) $24.99
Just Dance 4 (360) $24.99
Resident Evil 6 (360) $24.99
Disneyland Adventures (360 Kinect) $19.99
Dance Central 3 (360 Kinect) $14.99
Forza Horizon (360) $14.99
Fable: The Journey (360) $14.99
Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure (360) $9.99
Kinect Nat Geo TV (360) $9.99
• Through Saturday BestBuy.com offers their classic "Buy 1 Pre-owned Video Game, Get 1 50% Off" sale on 360, PS3, and Wii games.
• Another used games sale at Gamefly: Buy 2 Used Games, Get $12 Off with coupon. If you bought Batman: Arkham City and Max Payne 3 this way, you'd pay $17.98 vs the $29.98 they would otherwise cost.
• Assassin's Creed 3 (360, PS3) is $34.99, free ship from Best Buy. Next best is $54.
• Battlefield 3 Premium Edition (360, PS3) is $29.99, free ship from Best Buy. Cheapest ever by $10. Next best is $54.
• Persona 4 Arena (PS3) is $29.99, free ship from GameStop. Cheapest ever by $6. Next best is $40.
• Sleeping Dogs (PS3, 360) is $24.99, free ship from Best Buy. Cheapest ever by $15. Next best is $30.
• Dishonored (PS3) is $24.99, free ship from Best Buy. Cheapest ever by $23. Next best is $30.
• Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC) is $24.99, free ship from Best Buy. Cheapest ever by $10. Next best is $30.
• Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3) is $12 from Amazon. Cheapest ever by $8. Next best is $20.
• Assassin's Creed: Revelations (360) is $7.99 + $3.50 shipping from Best Buy. Cheapest ever by $1. Next best is $30.
• Sports Champions 2 (PS3) is $9.99 from Amazon. Cheapest ever by $20. Next best is $40.
• Doom 3: BFG Edition (PS3) is $19.99, free ship from NewEgg. Cheapest ever by $10. Next best is $40.
• Ridge Racer: Unbounded (360, PS3) is $14.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $41.
• Dungeon Siege 3 (360) is $9.99, free ship from NewEgg. Cheapest ever by $3. Next best is $25.
• Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS) is $18.99 from Amazon. Cheapest ever by $1. Next best is $28.
• Shinobi (3DS) is $9.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $17.
• World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC/Mac) is $14.99 + $3.50 shipping from Best Buy. Cheapest ever by $12. Next best is $38.
• Sunday's release Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (360) is $49.99, free ship from Amazon, matching Target's price drop. Elsewhere $55 and up.
• Monday's release Sonic Adventure 2 (PC download) is $7.16 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $9.
• Tuesday's release Hitman: Absolution - Professional Edition (PC download) is $32.50 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $45. Best deal for the 360 and PS3 consoles is $59.99 at Best Buy with a bonus $10 Gift Card.
• Tuesday's release Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse (PC download) is $39.99 from GameFly. Next best is $45.
• Tuesday's release Assassin's Creed 3 (PC download) is $39.99 from GameFly. Next best is $50.
• Today's release Iron Sky Invasion (PC download) is $32 from Green Man Gaming. Elsewhere $40.
• Steam Autumn Sale has discounts on many PC downloads this week. Notable titles: XCOM Enemy Unknown $33.50, The Walking Dead Game $12.50, Darksiders II $16.99, ARMA II: Combined Operations $17.99, and Sid Meier's Civilization V Gods and Kings $14.99. Sale ends Cyber Monday, Nov. 26.
• Green Man Gaming has three PC download deals resulting from Thursday-only instant savings and a 20% coupon: Max Payne 3 $14.99 (prev low $30), Secret Files 3 $12 (next best $30), and Death Rally only $2 (next best $10).
• Green Man Gaming will start their Winter Wonderlands sale tonight at 7pm Eastern. There will be hundreds of games with instant savings discounts, plus you can use a 25% off coupon code that will stack with most games.
• GamersGate Thursday-only deals on four PC downloads:
Alan Wake $8.98 (next best is $30)
Just Cause 2 Complete Edition $6.25 (next best is $15)
Batman Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition $4.99 (next best is $20)
Swords & Soldiers $2.49 (list price is $10)
• GamersGate also has Thanksgiving-only offers on these PC download bundles:
Tropico 4 Collection $20 (next best is $80)
Tomb Raider Collection $30 (next best is $60)
Empire Total War Collection $14.98 (next best is $40)
Galactic Civilizations Ultimate Collection $16.99 (next best is $25)
• F1 2012 (PC download) is $19.99 from GameFly. Cheapest ever by $19. Next best is $38.
• Ghostbusters: The Video Game (PC download) is $2.49 and comes with $5 credit from Amazon. Cheapest ever by $3. Next best is $10.
• Xbox 360 Live 12-Month Gold Membership is $34.99, free ship from NewEgg. This card will sell out today but on Black Friday there will be a similar deal at the same price on eBay deals.
• Wii U Console 8GB Basic Set is actually available at GameStop.com. It's full list price $299.99 + $10.99 shipping but until now has been sold out online for weeks.
• PS3 Slim 250GB Console with Uncharted 1 & 2 and Infamous 1 & 2 and Playstation Plus 30-Day Trial is $199.99, free ship from NewEgg.
• Xbox 360 320GB Console Halo 4 Limited Edition Bundle is $349, free ship from Microsoft Store.
• Xbox 360 250GB Kinect 2012 Holiday Bundle with Kinect Sports, Kinect Adventures, and Dance Central 2 Download Token is $299, free ship from Microsoft Store.
• Xbox 360 4GB Console with Kinect Bundle with Kinect Sports, Kinect Joy Ride, and 320GB Media Hard Drive is $299, free ship from Microsoft Store.
• Xbox 360 4GB Console with Kinect Bundle with Kinect Sports and Kinect Joy Ride is $199, free ship from Microsoft Store. List price is $390.
• Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Holiday Bundle with Kinect Adventures and Kinect Disney Adventures is $199, free ship from Microsoft Store.
• Xbox 360 4GB Console Bundle with Kinect Sports and Dance Central is $199, free ship from Microsoft Store.
• Xbox 360 250GB 2012 Holiday Bundle with Skyrim and Forza Motorsport 4 is $189.99, free ship from NewEgg.
• Xbox 360 4GB Slim Console is $149, free ship from Microsoft Store.
• Mad Catz Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel is $119.99, free ship from Buy.com.
• Razer Naga Hex Gaming Mouse is $56.99, free ship from NewEgg. Cheapest ever by $3. Next best is $65.
• HIS IceQ X Radeon HD 7850 2GB GDDR5 PCIe Video Card is $149.99 after rebate + $4.99 shipping from NewEgg. Next best is $190. [Dealzon]
• XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 PCIe Video Card is $119.99 after rebate, free ship from NewEgg. Cheapest ever by $10. Next best is $150. [Dealzon]
• Mushkin 240GB Enhanced Chronos Deluxe SSD is $174.99, free ship from NewEgg. Cheapest ever by $5. Next best is $200. [Dealzon]
• 14" Lenovo IdeaPad Y400 95232FU Ivy Bridge Core i7-3630QM, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD + 16GB SSD, GeForce GT650M, Windows 8 is $799, free ship from Lenovo. Next best is $1,349. [Dealzon]
• Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 20998NU Ivy Bridge Core i7-3630QM, GeForce GTX 660M, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Windows 8 is $799, free ship from Lenovo. Cheapest ever by $50. List price is $1,299. [Dealzon]
• Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 2093B7U Ivy Bridge Core i7-3630QM, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, GeForce GT650M, Windows 8 is $729, free ship from Lenovo. Cheapest ever by $20. List price is $1,249. [Dealzon]
• HP Envy dv7t-7200 Quad Edition Ivy Bridge Quad Core i7-3630QM, 8GB RAM, GeForce GT 630M 1GB, Blu-ray, Windows 8 is $749.99, free ship from HP. Cheapest ever by $100. List price is $1,000. [Dealzon]
• HP Envy dv6t-7200 Quad Edition Ivy Bridge Core i7-3630QM, Windows 8 is $679.99, free ship from HP. Cheapest ever by $85. List price is $900. [Dealzon]
• Asus A53SD-TS71 Quad Core i7-2670QM, 4GB RAM, 2GB GeForce GT 610M is $599.99, free ship from TigerDirect. Cheapest ever by $109. Next best is $811. [Dealzon]
• HP ENVY Phoenix h9-1340t Desktop, Ivy Bridge Quad Core i7-3770K, GeForce GTX 660 1.5GB, 12GB RAM, Windows 8 is $1,124.99, free ship from HP. Cheapest ever by $175. List price is $1,500. [Dealzon]
• HP ENVY Phoenix h9-1320t Desktop, Ivy Bridge Quad Core i7-3770, Radeon HD 7670, 10GB RAM, Windows 8 is $862.49, free ship from HP. Cheapest ever by $188. List price is $1,150. [Dealzon]
• HP Pavilion HPE h9-1315t Phoenix Desktop, Ivy Bridge Quad Core i7-3770, Radeon HD 7670, 8GB RAM, Windows 8 is $787.49, free ship from HP. Cheapest ever by $163. List price is $1,050. [Dealzon]
• HP ENVY Phoenix h8-1440t Desktop, Ivy Bridge Quad Core i7-3820, Radeon HD 7570, 10GB RAM, Windows 8 is $749.99, free ship from HP. Cheapest ever by $150. List price is $1,000. [Dealzon]
• Acer Aspire AM3970-UR14P Ivy Bridge Core i5-3450, 8GB RAM, Radeon HD 7570 is $499.99, free ship from TigerDirect. Next best is $715. [Dealzon]
• Dell XPS 8500 Ivy Bridge Quad Core i7-3770 (3rd Gen), Radeon HD 7570, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Windows 8 is $699.99, free ship from Dell Home. List price is $844. [Dealzon]
As always, smart gamers can find values any day of the week, so if you've run across a deal, share it with us in the comments.
To help spin the good spin in its current stoush with Hamas, the Israeli Defence Force has launched a program called IDF Ranks. Which is, essentially, a game about being a mouthpiece for the Israeli Defence Force.
It's aimed at young internet users, both inside Israel but especially internationally, who are told that by signing up they'll be joining "the ultimate virtual army", and be rewarded with promotions and medals for jumping on social media and spreading the good word about... well, war.
Enlisting the common man to do your propaganda work is a trick as old as war itself, but this kind of candy-coloured "gamification" is certainly new. And more than a little gross. Regardless on your thoughts on the conflict at large—as an Australian I'm about as distanced from the whole thing as you can be—I'd hope most people could see the problems, or at least poor taste, in making a game out of "spreading the truth" about one side's role in a war in which real people are dying.
Whoever it is, they're lucky! There are definitely a wide array of fancy gaming gift options. The new Wii U? A swanky headset? A gorgeous leather bean bag chair from Restoration Hardware that I really wanted to get my big brother for his birthday but holy shit is it expensive? Go wild!
Share your gift ideas below, as we post a few of our own.
In a year in which I reviewed demanding motorsports simulations like F1 2012, and NASCAR The Game: Inside Line, with Forza Horizon thrown in for good measure, I can guarantee the toughest racing game I'll play is Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed.
That is no joke. It's simply one of the least-accessible cart racers I have ever played which, for a cart racer, is saying a ton. Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed pours on the fan service in the callbacks made by its character roster and the courses it offers, but it forgot that a video game, especially a racing game, is actually fun when it offers a challenge that accommodates a user's creativity and skill.
Plainly meant for existing fans, either of this racing series, or the games to which it pays tribute, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed acts like it can't be bothered to include any newcomers. I dead-ended well short of the stars necessary to unlock the final race of the career mode, which I'll assume involves Eggman. The game is simply undone by a breathtaking difficulty spike from babying C-class racing to a brutal B-class.I have no idea what it takes to make the podium in A-class.
Developer: Sega/Sumo Digital
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360 (reviewed on 360). Versions with platform-specific features available on Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita (releasing Dec. 7) and Wii U.
Released: Nov. 16 (Europe), Nov. 18 (North America).
Type of game: Cart racer
What I played: Roughly 4.5 hours of the game's main campaign, dead ending for a lack of stars to progress further. Another hour of online multiplayer, time attack and grand prix modes.
My Two Favorite Things
My Two Least-Favorite Things
My guess is it involves hitting every boost pad and sliding through every drift with perfect precision and turning perfectly in every corner, and sticking every jump with a flip or a barrel roll to pick up the boosts they deliver. This may be the law of the jungle in cart racing. But Transformed dictating perfection at intermediate difficulty makes it less of a racing game and more of a note-highway puzzle. It also incites controller-throwing frustration in all the events where you engaged your drift a microsecond too late and understeered into the wall.
The Sonic cart racing series has battled nonstop against the impression it copies Mario Kart After a year in which the much better Mario Kart 7 offered airborne and underwater portions of its course, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed gives you ... a car that turns into a plane and a boat. And at no point did I ever think to myself "alright, I'm in the plane now." As for the boat, I actively dreaded turning into that thing.
Cart racers are driven at top speed all the time, requiring minute adjustments to steering. The drift mechanism on the left trigger helps somewhat with this but I am no fan of manually engaging something that should be innate to racing physics. Drift is there in the water and air portions of Transformed but it is of no help, and the handling on these parts of the track is ultimately what makes this game so tough. There's a Nights Into Dreams track that is mostly flying; I think ninth was my best finish there in multiplayer.
For power-ups, you get the usual randomized selection of speed boosts and offensive blackjacks that demand use upon acquisition. There's a perceptible imbalance in the number of times All-Star, the invulnerable, super-speed mode, is awarded to AI racers (more often) than to you (rarely). You'll go two laps without any power-up interference from the bot racers. Then on the third, trying to salt away a podium finish, they will hunt your ass down and destroy it.
What surrounds the events in Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is actually quite good and well considered. There's a leveling system for each of the 27 characters on the roster that, if the actual racing was more enjoyable, strongly supports replay value overall. Leveling up unlocks additional vehicle setups, though you'll get the slower ones first. More characters are acquired with stars in the career mode (and in completing all of the grand prix events offered.) Characters will acquire experience in any mode in which you race them, which allows you to grind in single races or grands prix at tougher difficulties to make yourself more competitive in the career modes.
Visually, the game is very well done, and Sega fans will enjoy all of the tributes these tracks and characters make to their favorite games. (Though I'm still wondering what the hell Danica Patrick is doing in this game. And I have to call this out: in certain events the game's voice mispronounces her name.) I didn't pick up on the game's claim that the vehicles actually handle differently—that is, a balanced racing setup for Metal Sonic behaves differently from the same setup for Wreck-It Ralph. But they are well conceived creations.
Despite so much information on the screen, thanks to dynamic terrain and multiple drivers, the framerate remains is rock solid throughout (this was reviewed on the Xbox 360). Online multiplayer likewise saw no lag or skips. The racing environment itself is very strongly illustrated, and how the course races on lap one is different from two and three. These changes are themed well, too. A Panzer Dragoon track featured dragons drifting across the course, destroying portions of it or setting obstacles for you to swerve around. Afterburner's course saw you zooming off a carrier deck and dodging smoldering wreckage in the water.
I still come back to the basic gameplay, though, in why I have to pan this game, and for all the variety of the courses they come up short in an important area: Shortcuts. The course layouts do not give you any meaningful shortcuts to get back in contention when you make a mistake. They function largely as alternate views of the course.
Furthermore, the shortcuts will also change just as the main course changes lap-to-lap. This is necessary for consistency's sake but it, combined with the shortcuts' lack of advantage, removes a key feature of arcade racing: winning with course knowledge. I felt forced to play Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed according to the way it wanted me to play, and it wasn't going to give me much help in figuring that out, either.
Ultimately, that makes the entire experience so exclusive that I just no longer want to play the game. It's a sweet love letter to those nostalgic for Sega's greatest hits from its Dreamcast days and before. For those who figured out how to race with the drift control in 2010's Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, fine, get a second opinion, play it. But for newcomers, especially to the gameplay of Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, I don't see any reward, nor any compelling reason for its existence.
For nearly all of its pre-release marketing, Ubisoft has for some reason decided to focus on Far Cry 3's cast and weird stuff like animals. Instead of, you know, the things people like most about those games: free-roaming action.
This 16-minute clip, on the other hand, has almost nothing but, and is of the PC version to boot, so if you kick the video up to 1080p you'll get a look at some grass so nice it makes you want to skip through it in slow-motion.
Kirk reviewed the game earlier today. He thought it was pretty damn good.
Adorable. This is a clip by Pendleton Ward, Adventure Time creator, drumming up support for the wonderful-sounding LA Game Space.
And if that's not enough to get you interested? The venture has also convinced Katamari creator Keita Takahashi to release his next game to backers of its Kickstarter for only $5.
If people like this are so behind it, you know, it's probably worth getting behind.
Make LA Game Space possible and get 30 games for $15! [LA Game Space]