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Mid November - December
November (15th - 30th)
Not a few months after the release of the original, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 was released as a stand alone title for a discounted price. New fighters were added to the roster, including Nova, Frank West, and the highly desired Pheonix Wright. Additional characters, stages, modes, and tweaks to the existing formula were implemented to round out a more refined experience.
Ubisoft closed out the Ezio/Altair trilogy with the release of Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Hosting a new city full of assassin's, Ezio set out on one last mission to discover Altair's final message. New to the series included the addition of bombs to set traps and add distractions to Ezio's arsenal. There was also a new RTS game to defend Assassin Dens from the Templar, as well as first-person puzzles delving into Desmond's history.
Saint's Row the Third let the player take control of the Third Row Saints once again in the expansive city of Steelport. Story in the game evolved through interactions with three gangs, and each decision. New additions included an "Initiation Station" that allowed players to upload their character creations for others to test out. Though removing any competitive multiplayer, the game focused heavily on a co-operative mode for players to progress through missions together.
For classic side scroller fans, Rayman Origins offered another unique platforming experience. Simultaneous play with up to four players for drop in, drop out co-op was available for both online or local players. A large cache of collectibles, puzzles, and pick ups lay strewn about each level and the player's ability increases with each find. Abilities such as running up walls, shrinking in size, or gliding are steadily unlocked as you move from each level. Coupled with a stylish look and humorous characters, it is one of those platforming gems that stood out this year.
Racing enthusiasts need look no further than Need for Speed: The Run. Players took the role of Jack Rouke who is on the run after becoming a marked man for his debts, which he plans to pay back with illegal street racing. The characters and plot are carried forward by actor Sean Farris and Mad Men's Christina Hendricks. Powered by Frostbite 2's engine, the game provides physics accordingly, with car physics affected by all the elements. An experience point system handles unlocks of additional cars and features to keep ahead of the rest. With a 16 player multiplayer and expansive single player, it is a shining racer to close the year out.
Halo fans in need of a fix until Halo 4 got their hope with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Addition. Remastered HD graphics have the ability to be toggled on or off at any time, allowing players to relive the game with a new look or classic look. Complete with new maps with the Halo: Reach engine and Kinect features, it was a love letter to the Halo fans.
The close of the month belonged to one of the more anticipated titles of the year; The Legend of Zelda; Skyward Sword. Link again sets off in search of a kidnapped Zelda, hoping to fulfill his destiny as the Hero from the Sky. Featuring Wii Motion Plus controls, the combat became much more challenging as sword swipes registered direction this time around. In addition to combat changes, RPG item crafting was also included to improve weapons and items with various materials. The classic feel and impeccable dungeon design, led to another fantastic adventure that fans will relive again and again.
Platforming fans looking to close out the year on a good note were treated with Trine 2. A sequel to the his title from last year, the game offered more puzzles, baddies, and bottomless pits to traverse than the previous title. Featuring an online and offline 3 player co-op, the experience was heightened as all three travelers sought passage across each trap. With an upgrade system and slew of collectibles to uncover, it was a nice treat to close out the year in downloadable gaming.
Mario Kart 7 made its return on the Nintendo 3DS. For the first time, the kart racer took the competition to the skies and even under water. Featuring the familiarity we have come to love from the franchise, all the classic items made their return. While the classic tracks made a return, the new tracks were a treat; offering such vistas as Music Park where you slide down a giant piano.
December came to a close with one of the most anticipated MMOs to date, Star Wars: The Old Republic. With Bioware at the helm, fans of the universe were able to craft a Jedi, Sith, Smuggler, or anything they could imagine and set it loose in the world of the Old Republic. Featuring exclusive class story missions, multiple Flashpoint dungeons, and PvP arenas; the experience was unlike anything in franchise history.
It has been a fine year for gaming in 2011. With so many big name titles, there will be a hefty backlog carried in to the next year. Though favorites will be chosen, every title on this list is worth investing a look into. Here's hoping 2012 will hold just as many stellar games.
Part 1 (January - April)
Part 2 (May - August)
Part 3 (September - Mid November)
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