19. Hunted: The Demon's Forge (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
This dark fantasy co-op actioner has you and a monster-bashing buddy hacking, slashing, and spell-casting through hordes of demonic beasties of the fanged, horned, and clawed variety. Behind the baddie-piercing projectiles of archer E’lara or the blood-letting blades of warrior Caddoc, you’ll collect loot, sip potions, and pile corpses like cordwood.
Why We’re Excited: Because mysterious female character Seraphine is voiced by geek goddess Lucy Lawless. (6/1)
18. Alice: Madness Returns (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
This macabre retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic makes Tim Burton’s twisted take look darn right tame by comparison. Reimagined as a blade-bearing goth girl, Alice battles bizarro fairy-tale menaces, solves puzzles, and platforms through richly detailed environments, while attempting to rescue Wonderland — and her own fragile psyche — from the clutches of all-consuming madness.
Why We’re Excited: Because Alice can deal death from behind a Gatling gun-like pepper grinder and a poison-spewing teapot. (6/4)
17. Dungeon Siege III (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
Loot, level, and lay waste to armies of mythical monsters in this updated take on a dungeon-crawling classic. Four unique, highly customizable character classes, an expansive fantasy world begging to be explored, an engaging Tolkien-esque tale, and more collectible treasure than you can shake a Broadsword of Smiting at ensure wizard and warrior wannabes will be adventuring into the wee hours.
Why We’re Excited: Because the gorgeous visual presentation is more appealing than a freshly-poured village-tavern mead. (6/21)
16. Call of Juarez: The Cartel (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
Taking a cue from contemporary Westerns such as Justified, this third entry in the Call of Juarez series replaces peacekeeping cowboys with modern-day law enforcers, and forgoes bootlegging bandits for bling-sporting drug lords. From bumpin’ L.A. nightclubs to stretching Mexican deserts, players shoot, drive, and deal a brutal brand of justice that’d even have Al Swearengen soiling his chaps.
Why We’re Excited: Because we’ll take a rocket launcher over a six-shooter any day. (6/28)
15. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Nintendo 3DS)
Hyrule’s princess-saving hero returns for a familiar adventure with a fresh perspective. Powered by Nintendo’s glasses-free 3-D tech, this all-time classic is complemented by a pop-off-the-screen presentation and intuitive touch-screen controls. We’ll come for the extra dimension and new navigation, but it’s the ageless Triforce-collecting, time-traveling, Ganondorf-defeating gameplay that’ll ultimately have us wielding our sword, er, stylus again.
Why We’re Excited: Because you can’t play your old Nintendo 64 on the subway. (6/30)
14. Captain America: Super Soldier (XBOX 360, PS3, Wii, DS, 3DS)
Suit up in the red, white, and blue for this original, interactive take on Marvel’s upcoming blockbuster-to-be. Behind Captain America’s iconic shield and patriotic fervor, players solve environmental puzzles, platform through enemy-infested strongholds, and, of course, drop bad guys aplenty with the deadly disc.
Why We’re Excited: Because the shield can also deflect bullets back at gun-toting baddies. (7/19)
13. Dead Island (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
It’s gonna take more than a thick layer of SPF 30 to keep this survival-action-horror’s threats at bay; thankfully, players can take on the sun–and blood–soaked resort town’s foot-dragging foes with an inventive arsenal of limb-lopping, head-rolling, intestine-spilling weapons. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit…and a chain saw!
Why We’re Excited: Because we like Bloody Marys better than mojitos anyway. (8/30)
12. InFamous 2 (PS3)
Sony’s edgy superhero series continues to put the spandex-clad crowd to shame with city-leveling powers and special-effects-spitting set pieces that’d have Bruckheimer taking note. As morally challenged hero Cole MacGrath, players can save–or destroy–the world, barbecue baddies with lightning, and explore a fresh New Orleans-inspired open world.
Why We’re Excited: Because you can’t fry your foes as that do-gooding, day-saving Spider-Man. (6/7)
11. Thor: God of Thunder (XBOX 360, PS3, Wii, DS, 3DS)
The titular Son of Odin takes on an increasingly threatening lineup of screen-eclipsing enemies such as trolls and giants in this film-to-game entry. Luckily, as the blond-maned badass, players are armed with his universe-shaking hammer and enough upgradable elemental powers–wind, thunder, lightning–to keep those lumbering foes on their hairy toes.
Why We’re Excited: Because we can think of few weapons better suited for videogame-driven destruction than Thor’s monster-mashing mallet. (6/7)
10. Red Faction: Armageddon (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
Return to the Red Planet in this sequel to 2009’s sledgehammer-swinging hit. As humanity-saving Darius Mason, you can still tear the world a new one, but now you’re also able to reassemble it courtesy of environmental-reconstructing Nano Forge technology. Of course, you can also use your high-tech toys to free aliens of their limbs.
Why We’re Excited: Because the new magnet gun allows us to hurtle baddies toward one another with lethal results. (5/31)
9. Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters (XBOX 360, PS3, Wii, DS, 3DS)
Hal Jordan’s film-tied game refreshingly weaves an original yarn, supports co-op play (player two suits up as Sinestro), and allows fans to use that freakin’ cool ring; from conjuring screen-filling fists to an enemy-ventilating Gatling gun, there’s countless ways to show the galaxy-threatening Manhunters the business end of your bling.
Why We’re Excited: The perfect-for-the-part Ryan Reynolds contributes his voice and likeness to his videogame counterpart. (6/7)
8. Shadows of the Damned (XBOX 360, PS3)
Influenced by the pulpier work of Tarantino and Rodriguez (think From Dusk Till Dawn on a Red Bull bender), the action-amping, psychologically twisted Shadows puts players in a netherworld that’s nothing like the nine circles braved by Dante Alighieri. Its over-the-top grindhouse style is only matched by protagonist Garcia Hotspur, who delivers attitude and ass kickings in equal measure.
Why We’re Excited: Because cult-favorite game designers from the Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and No More Heroes franchises had a hand in creating it. (6/21)
7. Duke Nukem Forever (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
This throwback to ’80s-era, one-man-army bravado should appeal to anyone who thought The Expendables was robbed of an Academy Award. As the titular cigar-chomping, hand-cannon-toting meathead, players guzzle beers, ogle babes, and drop cheesy one-liners and extraterrestrial evildoers with excessive kick-ass-and-chew-bubble-gum style.
Why We’re Excited: Because just like Duke says early in the game: ?After 12 f—ing years, it better be good.? (6/14)
6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
One of gaming’s most revered series returns with an all-new conspiracy-riddled narrative, creepy-cool neuroprosthetic weapon enhancements, and a slick future-Renaissance setting. Supported by lightning-quick combat, role-playing depth, and absorbing sci-fi storytelling, Deus Ex aims to engage the mind as well as the trigger finger.
Why We’re Excited: Because this long-overdue sequel offers a rare mix of cinematic immersion and videogame-y action. (8/23)
5. Resistance 3 (PS3)
The alien-invasion, alternate-history shooter is back with the expected thumb-blistering action and an emotionally charged, against-all-odds story. 1950s America has been all but lost to the relentless Chimera, and as new protagonist Joseph Capelli, it’s our job to put a bullet between all six of their creepy eyes from behind an arsenal of creative killers.
Why We’re Excited: Because few other shooters get our pulses pounding in time with our throbbing trigger fingers. (9/6)
4. F.E.A.R. 3 (PS3, XBOX 360, PC)
A powerful, evil psychic and an undead cannibal? No biggie?unless they’re your mom and brother. Previously ordered to vanquish his kin, Point Man is back along with his vengeful mother and sibling ex-nemesis, who wants the dysfunctional clan to be a normal family.
Why We’re Excited: This third installment ensures isolation and unpredictability by generating a fresh slew of random events and enemy encounters each time you play. (5/24)
3. Brink (PS3, XBOX 360, PC)
Welcome to the Ark, a utopian floating city descending into postapocalyptic anarchy. Players can fight on either side of a civil war, and thanks to fully customizable characters and intriguing multiplayer integration, Brink’s replay value is off the charts.
Why We’re Excited: The SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) system, which allows you to execute parkour-style moves, could be a step forward for the first-person-shooter genre. (5/17)
2. LEGO: Pirates of the Caribbean (PS3, XBOX 360, WII, 3DS, PSP, PC)
Capt. Jack Sparrow goes bite-size and brandishes a plastic cutlass in this toy-block adaptation of Disney’s billion-dollar film franchise.
Why We’re Excited: Swashbuckling seamen should be a perfect fit for the always-entertaining LEGO series. (5/10)
1. L.A. Noire (PS3, XBOX 360)
With Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar Games established itself as the premier maker of open-world gaming. With Red Dead Redemption, the company looked to the past to produce a masterpiece. Now Rockstar moves up the historical timeline for its most ambitious project yet. L.A. Noire is an epic, film-noir-inspired murder mystery filled with vice and vintage atmosphere. The cast includes John Noble (Fringe) and Aaron Staton (Mad Men), who lend their voices and physical presence via an unprecedented use of Avatar-esque motion capture.
Why We’re Excited: Lots of games like to call themselves ”cinematic.” This one sounds genuinely worthy of the word. (5/17)