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Batman: Arkham City (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
Arkham Asylum's Bat-tastic sequel puts players under the cowl and pits them against a lineup of baddies that make the FBI's Most Wanted look like Boy Scouts. Thankfully, fans face this iconic cast of criminal crazies with a utility belt full of wonderful toys.
Why we're excited: Because this highly cinematic experience rivals even Christopher Nolan's Bat blockbusters. (Available now on XBOX 360 and PS3; on PC 11/22)
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Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3)
Nathan Drake's third knuckle-whitening ride sees the globetrotting, treasure-seeking swashbuckler uncovering fortune, glory, and plenty of life-siphoning threats as he deciphers the secrets of a fabled city buried in the sands of the Arabian Desert.
Why we're excited: Because its seat-of-the-pants set pieces and nail-biting scripted events could make Michael Bay blush. (Available now)
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
Sky-eclipsing beasts, cloud-parting peaks, a sprawling open-world, and more loot than you can shake a fireball-spewing stave at await brave armchair adventurers in this massive, do-what-you-want role-playing epic.
Why we're excited: Because the high fantasy franchise is finally allowing fans to introduce the business ends of their broadswords to those pesky dragons. (Available now)
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
The most cinematic modern-military shooter returns to the front lines with all the special effects-spitting action we've come to expect from the adrenaline-spiking series; fill evil-doers full of hollow points, foil terrorist plots, and maybe save the world from the comfort of your couch.
Why we're excited: Because the campaign's just a teaser to the trigger finger-taxing online action. (Available now)
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Assassin's Creed: Revelations (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
Ezio Auditore's third historically rich adventure finds the seasoned assassin gutting more goons, unraveling new conspiracies, and acrobatically navigating the streets and rooftops of a picturesque Constantinople. An eye-popping presentation and engaging narrative complement the graceful throat-slitting action.
Why we're excited: Because the series' original blade-baring badass, Altair, returns to bring the story full circle. (11/15)
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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Thanks to lighting-quick Wii MotionPlus controls, Link's latest princess-rescuing quest puts players behind his famed Master Sword like never before. When not brandishing the sacred blade, Hyrule's heroic green-clad lad can soar through the skies atop a magical winged beast.
Why we're excited: Because this fantasy-fueled tale serves as a prequel to the series' high point, Ocarina of Time. (11/20)
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Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (XBOX 360)
The console shooter that made Master Chief a household name and introduced a sci-fi saga to rival anything George Lucas ever committed to celluloid returns with an eye-pleasing HD paint job, re-mastered multiplayer maps, and online co-op campaign support.
Why we're excited: Because we can't wait until Halo 4 to crush the Covenant all over again. (11/15)
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Saints Row: The Third (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
This obscenely over-the-top open-world romp makes Grand Theft Auto's city-leveling antics look comparatively tame. From surfing on the wings of jet planes to skydiving naked into swimming pools, there's no shortage of ways to express — and expose — yourself in this Mature-rated playground.
Why we're excited: Because no other game lets us beat up zombies with a purple, um, neck massager. (11/15)
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Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
The Goomba-stomping, coin-collecting, princess-saving plumber leaps to the 3DS in an adventure designed specifically for the game-changing hardware; in addition to supporting touch controls and glasses-free 3D, Mario's latest sees the return of his fan-favorite, raccoon-tailed Tanooki suit.
Why we're excited: Because we don't mind seeing ''The princess is in another castle'' when rescuing her is this much fun. (Available now)
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Battlefield 3 (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
This military shooter forgoes claustrophobic firefights in favor of large-scale battles encompassing land, air, and sea combat — don't settle for peering over the iron sites when you can unleash hell from the cockpit of a tank, jet, or naval transport.
Why we're excited: Because it doesn't get any better than fragging fifty or so of our closest friends online. (Available now)
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LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 (XBOX 360, PS3, PC, Wii, 3DS, PSP, DS)
Packed with the personality and pick-up-and-play appeal the family-friendly franchise is known for, the latest LEGO entry lets wizard-wannabes relive the events of the last three Potter books in a world populated by blocky characters and constructed from colorful bricks.
Why we're excited: Because Voldemort hasn't been truly vanquished until he's been reduced to a pile of plastic. (Available now)
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Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom pals speed onto the 3DS for a fresh take on the addictive kart racing formula; in addition to the series' signature charm and car-combat gameplay, it packs vehicle customization, new tracks, power-ups, and characters under its hood.
Why we're excited: Because now we can race above the clouds and below the sea. (12/4)
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Star Wars: The Old Republic Online (PC)
Like World of Warcraft for the lightsaber-wielding crowd, this massively multiplayer online role-playing game encourages Star Wars fans to carve their own path through the galaxy far, far away. From cinematic storytelling to dynamic combat, the Force is strong with this one.
Why we're excited: Because it's in the capable hands of Mass Effect-maker BioWare. (12/20)
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Lord of the Rings: War in the North (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
The first Mature-rated Lord of the Rings game forgoes frolicking in the Shire in favor of eviscerating Orcs from behind sharp steel and piercing projectiles. As a human, dwarf, or elf, players lop limbs, spill entrails, and otherwise bathe Middle-earth in buckets of blood.
Why we're excited: Because the three-player co-op allows us to form our own Fellowship. (Available now)
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Need for Speed: The Run (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
The arcadey, tire-screeching series shifts gears, introducing an action movie-inspired story to support its signature speed limit-defying gameplay. Players compete in a cross-country race while trying to outrun the law, the mob, and even the occasional avalanche.
Why we're excited: Because it's like The Cannonball Run without the cheesy banter between Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise. (11/15)