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Fall videogame preview: 24 we're dying to play

Want to be an assassin, a guitar god, or even a cute ball of yarn? Us too! We rank the drool-worthy games we can’t wait to get our hands on

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Want to be an assassin, a guitar god, or even a cute ball of yarn? Us too! We rank the games we can’t wait to get our hands on, starting with the most drool-worthy.

1. Disney Epic Mickey
(Wii) Can a Mickey Mouse videogame possibly be cool? Believe it. Buzz is building for this clever adventure from game-designer whiz Warren Spector (Deus Ex) that has Mickey attempting to save a world populated by forgotten Disney characters. (December)

2. Little Big Planet 2
(PS3) Sony’s charming burlap heroes are back in the sequel to their DIY masterpiece, now with all kinds of new customizable gameplay. (11/16)

3. Civilization V
(PC) The addictive build-your-own-nation franchise gets a graphical face-lift and some smart tweaks to its warfare system that value strategy over brute force. And just like that, whole weekends disappear. (9/21)

4. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
(PS3, Xbox 360) Picking up the story from last year’s blockbuster Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood finds the previous game’s master assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, forming his own fraternity of killers in Renaissance-era Rome. Plus, you can now stalk and execute your friends in a new multiplayer mode. (11/16)

5. Halo: Reach
(Xbox 360) This prequel to the massive first-person-shooter franchise takes place shortly before the events of the first Halo. With new special abilities like a distraction hologram and jet packs to help in your fight against the Covenant, it should be harder to shake than a sticky grenade. (9/14)

6. Gran Turismo 5
(PS3) It’s been a five-year wait, but this latest installment of the king of racing-simulation games seems to have the goods: the series’ first online mode, compatibility with 3-D TVs, and one wicked racetrack creator. (11/2)

7. Kirby’s Epic Yarn
(Wii) The titular bouncing pink ball makes his Wii debut transformed into a tangle of colorful string and transported into an arts-and-craftsy universe of fleecelike fabric and shiny beads. Is it possible for a game to overload on adorableness? (10/17)

8. Super Scribblenauts
(DS) This sequel to Scribblenauts (last year’s hit side-scrolling puzzler) features 10,000 adjectives, allowing gamers to summon practically anything simply by typing out various words. (10/12)

9. Fallout: New Vegas
(PS3, Xbox 360, PC) Drive carefully and come back soon to the expansive and detailed world of Fallout, this time set in a postapocalyptic version of Las Vegas. Can we expect a radioactive Wayne Newton? (10/19)

10-14. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii; 9/28)
Power Gig: Rise of the Sixstring (PS3, Xbox 360; October)
DJ Hero 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii; 10/19)
Def Jam Rapstar (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii; 10/5)
Rock Band 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii; 10/26)
More music games than you can shake a drumstick at. The new Guitar Hero adopts a fantasy-film plot, Power Gig offers authentic guitar playability endorsed by Dave Matthews, DJ Hero 2 blows out the multiplayer mode, Def Jam lets you rap. We’re guessing Rock Band 3 will rock them all with revamped graphics, a true-to-life guitar, and a Pro mode that teaches real musicianship.

15. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
(PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC) A slick and witty cops-chasing-joyriders racing game souped up with sweet customizable real-world rides, ridiculous weaponry, and an ambitious social-media component. (11/16)

16-17. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars(PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC; Date TBA)
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC; 10/26)
The toy-brick version of the Clone Wars cartoon will click with kids, and the older-skewing sequel to 2008’s disappointing Unleashed boasts all-around improvements.

18. Fable III
(Xbox 360) John Cleese, Simon Pegg, Ben Kingsley, and Stephen Fry lend their voices to a twist on the role-playing-game genre, which follows a hero’s quest to overthrow his brother. (10/26)

19. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
(PS3, Xbox 360) In this new take on the monster-slaying franchise, pit your weapons against many creatures. (10/5)

20. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
(PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC) Reality has been fractured, and it’ll take four versions of Spider-Man to put it right: steampunky ”Noir,” black-suited ”Ultimate,” futuristic ”2099,” and regular-flavor ”Amazing.” (9/7)

21. Medal of Honor
(PS3, Xbox 360, PC) This reboot of the once-popular heavy-metal war franchise is looking to steal back the thunder swiped by Call of Duty by introducing an Afghanistan setting…and allowing you to play as a Taliban terrorist. Bill O’Reilly, meet your new Pop Culture Thing to Hate. (10/12)

22. Tron Evolution
(PS3, PSP, xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC) Bridging the gap between the 1982 film and Disney’s upcoming sequel, this action game promises plenty of high-tech combat, parkour-inspired acrobatics, and — bring it on! — Light Cycle racing. (12/7)

23. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
(DS) Tackle more than 165 brainteasers while traveling around London with a Holmesian professor in this gorgeously animated puzzle game, the third installment of a much-loved series. (9/12)

24. Goldeneye 007
(Wii, DS) The updated remake of the classic N64 shooter will feature the face and voice of Daniel Craig, and now that the movie franchise is in trouble, this might be the last time you’ll get to see Craig (or anyone) portraying 007. (11/2)