Black Ops is another game that shows why the Call of Duty franchise continues its stranglehold over the shooter genre. There's no question that Black Ops is a must-have game for both Call of Duty fans and shooter fans of any stripe. What's more significant is the divergent art direction and Treyarch's attention to detail in the cinematic narrative campaign. It's a sign of good things to come in the Call of Duty series, and it certainly lives up to the promise of a greatly improved and enhanced sequel to World at War.
God of War III is an epic, satisfying end to a legendary series that helped strengthen the concept of the ultimate against-all-odds protagonist. It's 10 to 12 hours of power with a conclusion that gives the player a hint that there could be more to come. If Kratos' journey is truly over, I can honestly say I enjoyed the ride, consequences be damned.
Donkey Kong Country Returns may not be the most innovative title on the market, but it makes up for that by having phenomenal level design, beautiful visuals and a top-notch soundtrack. The gameplay is incredible from start to finish, and DKCR even arguably manages to eclipse the SNES originals.
It is rare for a game to hit perfect marks in every category, but Pac-Man CE DX does just that. From the gameplay to the presentation, everything is incredibly polished and works flawlessly. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is everything you've come to love about the series, distilled down into its purest form. This is Pac-Man with everything turned up to 11, so don't hesitate to purchase this one. At a mere 800 MSP ($10), it's worth every penny.
The construction and maintenance of Outer Heaven is exceptionally addictive, and the myriad bonus missions and extra content it opens up are a lot of fun. Peace Walker is the sort of title that will keep players coming back for a long, long time.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is an old-school RPG with a lot of charm. The story structure is great for pick-up-and-play gaming and really benefits the DS format. There's some complexity and customization for hardcore gamers, but casual players will also be at home with the title. The amount of content and the incredibly charming world make the game surprisingly addictive.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 could have easily been a cheap cash-in with a few lackluster additional levels, but it expands on the gameplay and adds enough new twists and turns to feel like a full-fledged sequel. The new power-ups and levels work wonderfully together, and we rarely felt like we were retreading ground that Super Mario Galaxy had already covered.
Mass Effect 2 is an improvement over the original in almost every way. The characters and plot are interesting, the visuals are top-notch and complemented by solid art design and terrific voice acting. Mass Effect 2 is streamlined and simplified to the point where anyone can pick it up and play, while maintaining enough depth.
At 1,200 Microsoft points ($15), Plants vs. Zombies is a bit more expensive on the Xbox 360 than on the PC, where you can snag it from Steam for a mere $10. If you've never played the game, it is well worth the cost. Plants vs. Zombies is loads of fun, and you are guaranteed to get your money's worth and then some.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a game that was designed with its fans front and center. If you've played the prior games, then Brotherhood is going to feel much like Assassin's Creed 2.5, but you're still going to love every minute of it. The gameplay has been polished, the story expands on what you already know and the multiplayer component brings a fresh twist to the series.
Red Dead Redemption is one of the best sandbox games ever released and is an absolute treasure trove of freedom. You can spend your days as a hunter, a gambler, a bounty hunter, or whatever else comes to mind. It only gets better once you go online and play with other people, turning the entire world into your playground. In this respect, Red Dead Redemption has no equal. Fans would do well to pick up what can now be considered the best Western game out so far.