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Spring's hottest videogames

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From a Greek warrior butt-kicker to a geek-tastic new Star Trek to a freaky grown-up mystery called Heavy Rain, here’s a look at what you’ll be playing between now and summer

Mass Effect 2
XBOX 360, PC
(In stores now)

The Scoop
A sci-fi action game that some have dared to call as good as, if not better than, James Cameron’s Avatar movie, Mass Effect 2 is certainly an entertainment that rivals the average cinematic blockbuster. The visuals are geek-candy pretty, and the supporting characters are way intriguing. While there’s an overarching narrative, the game encourages players to explore by rewarding them with extra story and nifty details.

Why we’re excited
Better than Avatar? We’d never make the comparison. All we know is we can’t stop playing it.

MAG
PS3
(In stores now)

The Scoop
The title stands for ”Massive Action Game,” and they’re not messing around. Set in the near future, this new game allows up to 256 players to blast away on one of several vast online battlefields.

Why we’re excited
Working our way up the ranks to command a company of 128 soldiers suits our power-mad dreams just fine.

Star Trek Online
PC
(Feb. 2)

The Scoop
Fans have never had a problem pretending to be Captain Kirk or Spock. But this multiplayer role-playing game is a veritable online holodeck, linking fans around the world.

Why we’re excited
For Trekkers, this just may be the final frontier of their obsession.

White Knight Chronicles
PS3
(Feb. 2)

The Scoop
Embark on an epic good-versus-evil adventure that’ll find you thwarting beasties and unearthing magic-granting treasures in a lavish, Tolkien-esque world.

Why we’re excited
While the game sports the expected oversize swords and scaly monsters, it separates itself with incredibly deep customization options and a rich online experience that allows you to save the world with up to three buddies.

Dante’s Inferno
PS3, PSP, XBOX 360
(Feb. 9)

The Scoop
Yes, this game really is based on Dance Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy. Artists who worked on Avatar and Hellboy helped shape its uniquely gruesome style, based in large part on Dante’s own descriptions. ”It’s a great portal into this amazing poem,” says exec producer Jonathan Knight, ”but it’s also this bone-crushing, demon-slaying, hard-hitting game.”

Why we’re excited
When else will there be a chance to romp inside hell and feel totally highbrow while doing it?

Bioshock 2
PS3, XBOX 360, PC
(Feb. 9)

The Scoop
Players return to the art deco undersea dystopia of Rapture about a decade after the first game took place, this time as a dive-suited Big Daddy fighting off zombie-like Splicers. You can also bang around Rapture with your friends in a new online multiplayer mode.

Why we’re excited
Expectations are high: With a twisting story straight out of an Ayn Rand novel, the first game, which came out in 2007, was an eerie, heady masterpiece.

Aliens vs. Predator
PS3, XBOX 360, PC
(Feb. 16)

The Scoop
You can choose to play as a human Marine armed with a pulse rifle and the iconic ”motion tracker” from the movie Aliens, as a tree-leaping Predator with cloaking capabilities, or as an agile Alien.

Why we’re excited
The multiplayer mode is a gory death match pitting all three species against one another.

Heavy Rain
PS3
(Feb. 23)

The Scoop
An interactive mystery that aspires to create drama in a way that’s totally unusual for a videogame. Explains creator David Cage: ”No weapon to use, no platform to jump on, no car to drive, no puzzle to solve — just moral choices.” Wow. Sounds like a ”mature” game that’s actually mature.

Why we’re excited
With its moody atmosphere and adult themes, Heavy Rain promises a deep, immersive experience that feels like the vision of a storyteller while allowing the player to impact the story. Most striking is its emphasis on emotion over monotonous brutality.

God of War III
PS3
(March)

The Scoop
It’s Clash of the Titans with heavy metal attitude. Director Stig Asmussen promises to up the quality of carnage this time. ”If this game puts a smile on the player’s face, I want them to feel a little guilty,” he says, ”then feel good about what they just did.”

Why we’re excited
They story promises to be full of great twists, turns and? awww, who are we kidding? You play a God of War game to unleash blood-spurting whup-ass.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
PS3, XBOX 360, PC
(March 2)

The Scoop
The fictional war between the U.S. and Russia from the first Bad Company continues, this time ranging from Alaskan forests to a Chilean port city.

Why we’re excited
Blowing up a tank piloted by a friend while perched in a combat helicopter isn’t exactly noble, but it sure is fun.

MLB 10: The Show
PS3, PS2, PSP
and
Major League Baseball 2K10
PS3, PS2, PSP, XBOX 360, DS, PC
(Both March 2)

The Scoop
The heated rivalry between these baseball franchises continues. The Show has routinely trumped 2K with its smoother animation and more authentic game mechanics. But 2K10 plans to put up a fight with new features like the My Player career mode.

Why we’re excited
We’ve been itching to teach the Yankees a lesson since the World Series.

Final Fantasy XIII
PS3, XBOX 360
(March 9)

The Scoop
With more than 92 million games sold since 1987, Final Fantasy is one of gaming’s most beloved series. As always, expect an engaging story line, glistening graphics, and a revised battle system.

Why we’re excited
Promising more than 100 hours of gameplay, FFXIII is as epic as games come. And each Final Fantasy title is a self-contained experience — no prior knowledge required.

Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver
DS
(March 14)

The Scoop
The Pokémon Gold and Silver games, released 10 years ago, get a visual spit and polish.

Why we’re excited
Fans get a chance to relive the glory days, and newbies get a chance to finally understand what the heck Pokémon actually is.

Just Cause 2
PS3, XBOX 360, PC
(March 23)

The Scoop
Secret agent Rico Rodriguez returns for more action. Set in postcard-perfect tropical environments, Just Cause 2 pits players against militants hell-bent on dictatorship…and killing you.

Why we’re excited
Like Grand Theft Auto on a Red Bull bender, it ups the adrenaline with over-the-top tools of destruction.

Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest
PS2, PSP, WII, DS
(April 13)

The Scoop
The movie series (sort of) lives on with this (unofficial) videogame sequel. Set after the events of Peter Jackson’s third flick, the game has Frodo’s pal Sam telling his kids tales of adventure.

Why we’re excited
Can’t wait to live out our orc-killing fantasies with a Wii wand.

Red Dead Redemption
PS3, XBOX 360
(April 27)

The Scoop
The folks behind Grand Theft Auto transplant their open-world style to the Old West, following an ex-outlaw as he tracks his old partners, lassos escaped prisoners, and helps foment bloody revolution south of the border.

Why we’re excited
Getting to play John Wayne make-believe while tucked comfortably into our couch? Uh, yes, please.

Super Street Fighter IV
PS3, XBOX 360
(April 27)

The Scoop
If you haven’t played this fighting game since its arcade heyday, don’t worry: You’re still flinging fireballs and throwing fists in a mad scramble of button mashing. Only now it looks much, much prettier.

Why we’re excited
All the arcade goodness without ever needing more quarters!

Splinter Cell: Conviction
XBOX 360, PC
(April)

The Scoop
Gadget-toting former secret agent Sam Fisher cracks clues and skulls while investigating the death of his daughter.

Why we’re excited
Conviction tones down the sneaking in the shadows that this series is known for in favor of more ass-kicking and attitude.

Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4
PS3, XBOX 360, Wii, DS, PC
(May 3)

The Scoop
The newest addition to the Lego game franchise takes on the first four Harry Potter book/movies, blowing each story out into its own treasure-hunt gaming world. You can play more than 100 chracters, from Harry to Hermione to Hagrid’s boarhound, Fang. ”Hogwarts is our biggest-ever environment,” says Jonathan Smith, Traveller’s Tales’ head of production. ”And you can ride brooms!”

Why we’re excited
Lego games always look amazing, so we can’t wait to see Hogwarts rendered as a Lego palace.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
PS3, PSP, XBOX 360, WII, DS, PC
(May 11)

The Scoop
With a movie adaptation (starring Jake Gyllenhaal) based on this landmark action-adventure series hitting theaters May 28, Ubisoft is releasing a new sequel.

Why we’re excited
Few characters are more thrilling to control than the insanely acrobatic Prince, who can manipulate both time and nature.

Split/Second
PS3, XBOX 360, PC
(May)

The Scoop
If Jerry Bruckheimer made a racing game, it might look something like this. Souped-up stock cars tear through an elaborate city set that’s wired to explode at any given turn.

Why we’re excited
Car-race games are everywhere, but this one — part NASCAR, part over-the-top action movie — promises to be a ridiculously riotous ride.

Alan Wake
Xbox 360
(Spring)

The Scoop
Wracked with writer’s block, a best-selling author escapes to a tranquil town in the Pacific Northwest. But when his wife goes missing, pages from a manuscript he doesn’t remember writing begin to seep into his real life.

Why we’re excited
Billed as a ”psychological thriller,” it looks a bit more like a spine-chilling television show than a videogame.

Mafia II
PS3, XBOX 360, PC
(Spring)

The Scoop
The follow-up to the 2002 hit follows small-time crooks with mobster dreams as they work their way up the organized-crime ladder.

Why we’re excited
With its emphasis on story, an ambitiously realized fictional world, and retro-cool style, Mafia II seems like an offer we can’t refuse. — Matt Cabral, Jeff Jensen, Adam B. Vary, and John Young


Top-Selling Games
What have you been playing recently? Here are the titles that have been flying off shelves.

1. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo)
Multiplayer Mario! Yet again, the Wii transformed a simple idea into endless hours of fun.

2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision)
Who says games are a niche market? This blockbuster has made $1 billion so far.

3. Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo)
Brilliant idea: a gym workout without sweaty machines and grunting meatheads.

4. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo)
Basketball, golf, archery, and…swordplay? We’re still trying to figure that last one out.

5. Madden NFL 10 (EA Sports)
Saints or Colts? Why wait until Feb. 7 to find out the Super Bowl champ?

6. Assassin’s Creed II (Ubisoft)
By far the coolest history lesson ever.

7. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Sega)
Curling enthusiasts, this game’s for you.

8. Wii Play (Nintendo)
Still the quickest way to get Grandma hooked on gaming.

9. Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo)
Picking up a Mega Mushroom on Rainbow Road will never lose its charm.

10. Left 4 Dead 2 (Valve)
Nothing beats a Sunday afternoon killing zombies with three of your best friends.

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