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May - August
May played host to a handful of great titles. DiRT 3 returned to bring the rally racer back into the lime light. A new mode called gymkhana consists of obstacle courses in which the player must perform various tricks to earn points. The gameplay and overall look of the game were praised, as well as its ability to upload replay clips directly to Youtube.
RPG fans were in for a treat with The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. Bringing forth a more challenging hack and slash experience, Witcher 2 offered a rich and lush world filled with epic battles and hours of side content. Not only did the game play well, but it was a visual marvel with its lush environments and character models. The game's developer has even addressed most of the complaints of the game with a patch including a tutorial and arena mode.
The month was overtaken by L.A. Noire. This free roam detective game had players running around 1947 L.A, jumping from traffic cop cases to homicide to solve murders and more. The biggest distinction was the new facial recognition used to track the voice actor's expressions, which played a huge part in the interrogation sequences. L.A. Noire received overly positive reviews, and word of mouth led it to sell over 4 million units.
After spending years in developer hands, Duke Nukem: Forever was finally released. Gearbox took the helm in bringing back the humorous hero Duke Nukem, as he once again defends the world from an alien threat. Subtle touches like replacing the health bar with an "ego bar" were the little things that made the game enjoyable and hilarious at the same time. However, it was received negatively by critics, citing the dated game play and long load times.
The fourth installment of the Red Faction series made its debut, with Red Faction: Armageddon. Keeping true to the series, the environments were fully destructible and visual eye candy as they collapsed with each big explosion. There was a great arsenal of weapons to choose from, including one of the best weapons ever included in a game; a unicorn that farts rainbows.
F.3.A.R continued what made the series great, allowing you to play as either Paxton Fettel or Point Man; each with varying play styles. While the campaign left a bit to be desired, the multiplayer shone through, containing a mode simply dubbed "F***ing Run", in which you fight your way through baddies while running from Alma's Wall of Death.
Shadows of the Damned was a new IP that featured a unique environment for a third person shooter. Garcia pursues the lord of demons known as Fleming, using his trusty sidearm "Johnson". Johnson switched between a pistol, automatic rifle, and shotgun; culminating in solving puzzles to eliminate darkness from various rooms. The challenging boss fights and varying gameplay held many gamer's interest, and it was perceived as another great new IP to round out June.
This month held many titles, but none more anticipated than Infamous 2. Players once again took control of Cole Mcgrath as he set out to hold off the impending "Beast" from destroying the world. Giving the same free roam superhero feel of the first game, Cole's arsenal was expanded based on morality with ice augmentations for morally good players and fire augmentations for morally evil. The game also included a create your own mission mode, that gave players the tools to share their created mission online.
July was a slow month, but not for the Arcade titles that swept across the interwebs.
From Dust allowed players to act as a tribal deity, paving the way for your followers to survive the harsh elements of the new world and cultivate a civilization. The physics and visual appeal of the game were stunning for an arcade title, and the multiple side objectives and challenge maps gave it plenty of life beyond the single player experience.
Ms Splosion Man continued the fun of the Twisted Pixel simple platformer. Featuring a continued co-op mode and new features like the voluptuous "Mandy" bot, the game was as enjoyable in the single player as it was in the multiplayer.
For non-arcade fans, there was the release of Catherine. Players took control of Vincent, who during the day must keep a handle on his relationship and at night he must escape his nightmares in a puzzle platformer. Choices made affect the development of Vincent and story route, offering multiple scenarios that can play out.
If there was one arcade title that became a must-play, it was Bastion. The action/RPG took place after an event dubbed "The Calamity", and your actions are guided by an ominous narrator as you awake to the mayhem. The incredible presentation, enjoyable RPG gameplay, and unique soundtrack combined to form one of the best Arcade titles to ever grace a console.
The calm before the storm, August gave a breather before the downpour of games, but still held a few gems of its own.
A new third person adventure game, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron had art fanatics in a stir. The cel shaded visuals of the game were jaw dropping, as the color wheel was showcased like never before as you progressed through each level. Coupled with the unique look was a satisfying combat system that was both challenging, and easy to pick up without growing stale.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution highlighted the month, acting as a prologue to the critically acclaimed PC series. As Adam Jensen, the game gave host to a slew of gameplay varieties; featuring third person cover shoot outs, social dialogue, hacking, and stealth. Each room was a veritable sandbox, as you could approach it however you desired; guns blazing or silent and deadly. Deus Ex has shipped over two million units as of September.
Part 1 (January - April)