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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Best 10 racing game in 2017

What is the best PC racing game? So many elements contribute: the genre’s not only about graphical fidelity and hair-raising sound design – though both certainly help – it’s also about pulling you into the action as if you’re there in the driver’s seat, eyes strained as the asphalt whips past at 240kph. From honing your timing for a perfect gear shift to kicking out the back-end for a sublime drift, a quality racing game just feels right.

Don’t go asking, “How could you forget about Grand Prix Legends! Where’s Geoff Crammond?!” When versions of those games surface on Steam or GOG, we’ll be the first in line to play them again… and inevitably find they haven’t aged as well as we hoped. So for those of you who are just looking to hop in and fire up the engine of a superb racer, whether that’s an intricate sim or an arcade thriller, these are the best racing games to play right now.

The most realistic PC racing games

Dirt Rally

Codemasters’ Dirt Rally has surpassed its predecessor, Dirt 3, and is arguably the best game Codemasters have made in years. With a far more authentic handling model, Dirt Rally does away with many of the arcadey touches that continue to persist in the core series.
That also makes it a proper rally game in a way gamers haven’t seen in a long while. It’s not just that these races happen to be set on dirt tracks with loads and loads of slidey sideways driving, but that you’re actually taking part in the kind of endurance racing that rallying is all about. You have to take care of your car through every race stage, which introduces an element of strategy and resource management that’s all too rare in sim-racing.
Now that it’s been out a while, Dirt Rally has also accrued a dedicated and meticulous modding community that regularly put out tweaks and fixes that massively improve the core game, especially for rally aficionados. Everything from gorgeously rendered car skins to the most subtle of weather and lighting changes are available to elevate the core game just that little bit higher.

Shift 2

Shift 2 might be the best compromise between realism and accessibility of any game on this list. It’s not just the ways the car handle – menacing, but capable – but the way it consistently thinks about what players need to perform at a high level. Rather than lock your view gazing out over the hood, or ask you to spring for TrackIR to let you turn your head, Shift 2 has a dynamic view that subtly changes based on context.
Coming up on a gentle right-hand corner, your view shifts a bit as your driver avatar looks right into the apex. For a sharper corner, your view swings a bit more so you have a sense of what you’re driving into, yet it doesn’t feel disorienting at all. It feels natural.
The thoughtfulness even extends to depth-of-field. This is a wildly overused visual effect but Shift 2 uses it to highlight where your attention should be. When someone is coming up fast on your tail, objects farther away get a bit fuzzier while your mirrors sharpen to razor clarity. As you move around in dense traffic, your cockpit gets indistinct while the cars around you come into focus. It sounds gimmicky, but it all feels as natural as driving a car in real life. Shift 2 is really dedicated to communicating the fun and accomplishment of performance driving, and it succeeds admirably.

Project CARS

Project CARS is not without its issues, and a plethora of minor but noticeable bugs have definitely dampened enthusiasm for what was one of the PC’s most exciting racers. Still, it’s one of the best racing packages on offer, with tonnes of rarely-seen racing series and UK circuits that set it apart from its competition.
Project CARS is not just beautiful, but its vehicles and tracks are lovingly recreated and wonderfully diverse. You can drive classic F1 deathtraps around modern race courses, or take a LeMans car around the dazzling and under-utilised Watkins Glen race track (which rivals Spa for hilly grandeur). Or you can say to hell with all that noise and hop into a kart. Just nobody mention Project Cars 2…

The best PC arcade racers

TrackMania 2: Canyon

Any genre veteran will tell you that good track design is an essential part of any quality racing title. While in most games a hairpin bend, g-force-laden camber, or high-speed straight might suffice, for TrackMania 2: Canyon track design takes on a terrifying, Hot Wheels-inspired new meaning. Sweeping barrel-rolls, nigh-impossible jumps, and floating platforms that stick up two fingers to physics are what set the TrackMania series apart from other arcade racers.
The real heart of TrackMania 2 can be found online, where the ingenious, convoluted creations of others take centre stage. The competition is fierce and frantic. A race can quickly devolve into a hilarious highlight reel of missed jumps and unforeseen corners. The racing mechanics make for an ideal pick-up-and-play title that you can lose hours to without noticing. That’s largely because of how easy the cars are to drive, and yet, once you hit the (often ludicrous) tracks, it’s anyone’s bet who’ll take first place.

Forza Horizon 3

We had to make do without Forza on PC for all of eternity, but that changed with Horizon 3. An absolute party of a racing game, the Horizon series abandons the main Forza personality traits of ‘steely’ and ‘serious’ and replaces them with the absurdity of a high-octane car festival.
Your job in Horizon 3, aside from racing a healthy variety of stunning motor vehicles, is to build your Horizon festival in the Australian outback. You’ll compete with attending guests in a variety of petrolhead events, from simple first-to-the-finish races to stunt jumps through cargo ships and multi-hour-long endurance tests.
Of all of Forza Horizon 3’s achievements, though, its open world is the one that will capture your heart. A stunning recreation of classic Aussie landscapes, you’ll find yourself pulling awe-inspiring drifts through dusty corners and hurtling past the perfect blue waves of the South Pacific. It’s a road trip you won’t forget in a hurry.

Driver: San Francisco

Every arcade racer should be as cool as this game. If Steve McQueen were digitised and turned into a videogame, he would be Driver: San Francisco.
While Driver: SF features cars and influences from a variety of eras, it approaches everything with a ’70s style. It loves American muscle, roaring engines, squealing tyres, and the impossibly steep hills and twisting roads of San Francisco. It may have the single greatest soundtrack of any racing game, and some of the best event variety, too.
It also has one of the most novel conceits in the genre. Rather than be bound to one vehicle, you can freely swap your car for any other on the road at the push of a button. So, in many races, the car you finish in might not be the one you started with, and in car chases, you’ll quickly learn to teleport through traffic to engineer a variety of automotive catastrophes just to screw with opponents. It’s bizarre, original, and perpetually delightful.

The best PC racing simulations

F1 2016

F1 fans have had to wait a long time since 2013 for Codemasters to steer their licensed F1 IP back on track. There were moments of brilliance along the way, like F1 2015’s revised handling physics and a steady increase in overall fidelity, but it’s only with the release of F1 2016 that we see the studio come good on their promise. It was a promise laid out back in 2010, actually: be the driver, live the life.
Simply put, it’s the most complete and compelling career mode to date. Shooting fish in a barrel compared to F1 2015, which lopped that mode out entirely, but nonetheless impressive. You can now lose your drive entirely if you’re underperforming, and on the other end of the spectrum it’s possible to upgrade a wayward mobile chicane like the 2016 Sauber up to genuinely competitive levels via mid-session testing and its upgrade system.
It’s the little things that really make the difference, though: virtual and actual safety cars. Tremendous weather effects. A surprisingly robust time trial mode. Customisable helmets. All these small details accumulate to let you know that Codemasters really, really care about this sport.

Race: Injection

You can’t put together a list of great simulation racing games without having something from SimBin. While the studio appears to have lost its way a bit with the dubious free-to-play RaceRoom Racing Experience, SimBin were sim racing royalty during the mid-2000s. Race: Injection is their capstone game, the package that combines just about everything they accomplished with the GTR series and Race 07.
These are hard games, but the race-modified sedans of the World Touring Car Cup should ease your transition into serious racing. Even a racing Honda Accord is still a Honda Accord, and the slightly more manageable speed and difficulty of the WTCC is a great place to learn the tracks and SimBin’s superb physics.
But there are muscle cars, endurance cars, and open-wheel racers to choose from in this package, all of them brilliantly recreated and offering unique driving challenges. For the money, you probably can’t do better than Race: Injection for sim racing.
Unfortunately, the Race series was also long in the tooth even as Injection was released, and there’s no concealing the old tech it’s built on. Don’t let the flat lighting and dull graphics throw you off, though. A few minutes with these cars, especially if you have a quality force feedback wheel, and you won’t even notice the aged appearance.

Assetto Corsa

Less a great racing game and more a great handling model with a game built-up around it, Assetto Corsa feels like driving a real car around a real track, to the point of being uncanny at times.
The presentation is kind of crude outside the races themselves, but on the track it’s exactly what it needs to be… right down to some terrific AI driving. These aren’t slot-car drivers, but convincing opponents who will overcook it going into a turn, lose control as they try to get back onto the track, and even give you a love-tap as you race side-by-side through a turn. It’s definitely a great option for people who need something that combines modern, attractive graphics and good AI with high-fidelity simulation.

iRacing

Welp, here we go. The Grand Poobah of simulation racing.
iRacing blurs the line between play and work. Its cars and tracks are recreated with a fanatical attention to detail, and its league racing rules are about as serious as you’ll find in any racing club or at any track event in the world. This is a racing game for people who want the real thing and are willing to spend hours training for it. It is perhaps the pinnacle of Papyrus legend David Kaemmer’s career. For those of us who cut our teeth on the IndyCar and Grand Prix Legends game, that name alone is recommendation enough.
iRacing is not cheap – though, at $50 a year, it’s better value than many an MMO. Nor is its emphasis on graphics. But its rewards are aimed at a specific and demanding group of players. When you’ve outgrown the Codemasters games, and even stuff like Race: Injection is wearing a little thin, this is where you go.

The Best 4 Games on iPhone

You’ve got yourself an iPhone and you want to play some games on it. You might not want to just plunge into the App Store—it’s a jungle, full of deadly spiders, wild animals, and bad games. Here, let us help you.

Below, we’ve listed the 12 games we feel are a great starting point for iPhone gaming.

Hitman games are famous for their open-ended sandboxes. At their best, they let you creep around a party or a museum, find your target, and creatively take them out. Hitman GO… doesn’t really do that. What it does do, however, is offer a bunch of smart, tightly designed puzzles that gradually become more complicated as you go, but are never too complicated to finish off in the space of a single bus ride. With its stripped down board-game aesthetic and abstract violence, it may not look much like a Hitman game, but it still manages to capture the series’ meticulous, satisfying nature.
A Good Match For: Hitman fans, puzzle fiends, people who like imagining what it means when one board game piece “assassinates” another board game piece.

 2. Super Mario Run

In Super Mario Run, Mario runs forward of his own accord. Your primary job is to tap the screen to make him jump, which you’ll have to do to help him collect the hundreds of coins strewn throughout each level. That may sound simple, but the creative designers at Nintendo have added a healthy amount of depth to that basic formula. There are touch-pads that stop Mario in his tracks, multiple paths to each objective, and each level can be replayed several times with increasingly complex coin configurations. The more you put into Super Mario Run, the more you’ll get out of it.
A Good Match For: Mario enthusiasts, fans of touchscreen platformers like Rayman Run, those who like replaying levels and perfecting them.
Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for a Mario game with traditional controls, people who only want to spend a buck or two on phone games, anyone who can see themselves blowing through each level once and never replaying them. Also, anyone who plays a lot on planes or subways: Super Mario Run requires a data connection to work.

 3. Drop 7

AreaCode’s numerical puzzle game may be the most perfect short-session game ever created. As falling numbers land on a 7×7 grid, you need to make them disappear by matching the number of vertical or horizontal spaces match the digit. Yes, it sounds tedious but when the rules finally click in your head, it’s a lifetime addiction.
A Good Match For: Anyone who spends a lot of time waiting for things or people. Whether you’re stuck at the airport or waiting on a queue at the bank, a few quick levels of Drop7 will make any kind of stationary drudgery more bearable.
Not a Good Match For: Those hoping to stay productive. It take superhuman willpower to resist the siren call of Drop7 and if you want to get anything done after installing it, make sure your iPhone’s out of reach.

 4. Device 6

You could call Device 6 a text adventure, but that would be selling the game short. What it is, rather, is one of the strangest, most mysterious and downright elegant games made for touchscreen devices… and it just happens to involve a lot of reading. Call it multimedia-enhanced interactive fiction. As you rotate and flip your device, chasing the winding map of description and design, you’ll find yourself drawn into a strange and sinister adventure complete with one of the catchiest pop tunes ever included in a game.
A Good Match For: Spy fiction buffs, Lost fans, mystery novel readers, anyone with even a passing interest in typography or visual design.
Not a Good Match For: Those who want a lot of action or replayability, people who hate reading.

Hardest games ever

Ghosts ‘n Goblins (Capcom, 1985)
Capcom’s side-scrolling platformer used the ever-present threat of death to create a uniquely intense adventure. One hit reduces protagonist knight Arthur to his heart-patterned boxers, and the second kills. Unpredictable enemies spawn everywhere, power-ups can be traps, and most players never see past the first stage. Those that reach the end find out that they’ve either failed to bring the holy cross, which means replaying the last two levels, or that in bringing it they’ve fallen for “a trap devised by Satan”, and have to do the whole thing over again. On an even higher difficulty setting. Capcom, you rascal.
Ninja Gaiden II (Tecmo Koei, 2008)
Challenge was always part of the Ninja Gaiden series, but 2008’s Ninja Gaiden II hit a new peak of demanding insanity. These enemies rough-house the player on even “normal” difficulty but, once the setting is at Master Ninja, they attack relentlessly with brutal health-chewing grabs and projectiles. In later levels, foes have cannons for arms that are fire with unerring precision and regularity. It’s impossible to survive at times, nevermind kill anything. Naturally, the internet means someone has done the whole thing in four hours without being hit once.
God Hand (Capcom, 2006)
God Hand’s commercial failure means many of the best ideas are yet to be stolen, one being the on-screen difficulty meter that responds to a player’s skill. There are four gradations, from level one to level DIE (the highest level), and if you’re getting smacked around it stays low. Once you get good at this (already tough) game however, it amps up how enemies attack, where they’ll attack from, how much damage they do, and increases the rewards for defeating them. Few games make the demands that God Hand does, and none tie difficulty and performance together with such elegance.
UFO: Enemy Unknown (Mythos Games, 1994)
This is where the XCOM series began, a deep strategy game with an unforgiving attitude towards lax play. The designer, Julian Gollop, had made many great turn-based titles in 2D but XCOM’s isometric perspective and implementation of fog-of-war added a terrifying strategic dimension – so many soldiers lost to a dark corner you never checked. The aliens exploit mistakes, cut down your soldiers ruthlessly, and back at base force you into hard choices in the desperate scramble to keep humanity safe. If this is anything to go by, we’re screwed.
Fade to Black (Delphine Software, 1995)
Flashback’s sequel was an early attempt to bring a successful 2D design into 3D – and underestimated just how important precision controls are. Though a forward-thinking third-person design in some respects, Fade to Black was undone by many enemies that could kill in a single hit – one terrifying example being a tiny hard-to-target blob that flips towards the player character before dissolving all their flesh on contact. The lavish cutscenes created by the developer for each possible death make you wonder whether the tail was wagging the dog.
Smash T.V. (Williams Electronics, 1990)
Smash T.V. is an arcade classic and exemplifies a school of design that’s now largely dead: to make people desperate to see the next screen. The setup is perfect, a future gameshow where contestants move through rooms filled with death-dealing nasties and gain more prizes the longer they stay alive. Even the first room won’t hesitate to kill unwary players and, from then on, the gloves come off as Jarvis (again) and co-designer Mark Turmell squeeze as much colour, shrapnel, and explosive ordnance on-screen as possible. “Total carnage,” shouts the announcer. “IIIIIII love it!”
The Simpsons (Konami, 1991)
There could be any number of arcade beat-em-ups in this spot – TMNT, X-Men, even Final Fight – but in terms of efficiently guzzling coins through gorgeous presentation and artificial difficulty, it’s hard to top The Simpsons arcade game. The visuals, animations, enemies and scenarios are exceptional and clearly a labour of love (unlike the script) but the game beneath them is a brutal slugfest that especially enjoys stunlocking players – where one hit leads to many more.

The Best PC Games of 2017

Let’s get one important fact out of the way before we dive into the deep end of the pool: This is not a historical examination of the most groundbreaking PC games. Not. Even. Close. Sure, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain redefines stealth-based action and Forza Horizon 3 is the definitive open-world racer, but they didn’t make it into this guide based purely on those metrics. Simply put, this an ever-expanding collection of all-around excellent titles you should buy if you own a gaming desktop or laptop.

To clarify, games don’t need to have been released in 2017 (or even 2016) to qualify for this roundup. Any game that’s still available and still considered excellent when ranked against the best of today is eligible. We think that’s the most useful approach to helping you decide which video games deserve space on your PC’s hard drive, and which aren’t worth consideration even when their prices are cut by 85 percent during a Steam sale.

Gaming the System

Compiling this guide was no small undertaking. PCMag’s in-house and freelance editors have played a ridiculous number of PC games over the years, so creating inclusion criteria was essential. Here’s what we came up with. To be included,
• a game must have been reviewed by PCMag,
• it must still be available,
• and it must have received a rating of 3.5 stars or greater.
The first requirement is to ensure that we can give you more insight into a game. Yes, this guide goes into some depth on each game entry, but the ability to link to a full review benefits those looking for a deeper cut. The second point we’ve already covered. The third point required a bit of pondering. We didn’t want to set the star rating so low that damn near every PC game qualified for the guide, yet we didn’t want to set the star rating so high that we exclude quality B-tier games, such as Killer Is Dead and Transformers: Devastation. For now, three stars is the happy medium, but, as we review more games, we may have to be choosier, to keep the list at a manageable size.

Digging Into Our Picks

There are currently more than 100 games in this PC gaming guide, so making navigation as simple as possible was an extremely high priority for our creative commandos. The games are grouped alphabetically by genre, and the titles in each category are listed in alphabetical order. Simply select a genre, say Fighting Games, and the page jumps to that section. Easy!
Please note that we are currently working to fill in a few thinly populated genres. Commenters have noted the dearth of horror and MMORPGs in previous incarnations of this guide, so our editorial team is focused on reviewing more titles that might warrant inclusion in those categories. This, friends, is all about you.

Join the Conversation

If you disagree with our picks, or feel that we should review a game that somehow slipped through the cracks, sound off in the comments section below—we welcome your input! Just keep it civil.
Oh, and if you’re a console gamer who thinks that we’re biased toward PC gaming because we’re PCMag—you’re right! Still, our staff has assembled their top picks for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and 3DS. Those roundups aren’t quite as robust as this one, as the PC has a much deeper library and, well, this is PC Magazine.
Adventures of Pip
$14.99
Tic Toc Games’ Adventures of Pip is a side-scrolling action-platformer that’s based on an interesting premise: evolving and devolving a pixel-based hero between his 1-bit and 16-bit forms to fight through level after level of goons and bosses. The unique premise, rich environments, and fun gameplay combine to form a game with a lot of heart and charm, despite the limited scope of its weapons and power-ups.
Axiom Verge
$19.99
Developer Tom Happ, who is known for his work on EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour and NFL Street franchises, has gone indie and crafted a delightful tribute to the exploratory action genre (aka Metroidvania). This 2D platformer combines the best aspects of classic side-scrollers like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid to deliver a refined experience for newcomers of the genre and seasoned vets alike. Axiom Verge is a fun, engaging title, but plodding story elements and seemingly pointless weapons mar the experience a bit.
Batman: Arkham City
$10.75
“If you liked X, you’ll love Y!” might be the cheapest of critical plaudits, but sometimes nothing else will do. So here goes: If you liked Batman: Arkham Asylum, you’ll love Batman: Arkham City. Developer Rocksteady Studios borrows everything from Asylum that worked (thrilling fighting, excellent voice acting), though it delivers far less innovation. This makes Arkham City derivative, but the game’s packed with enough goon-busting fun that it still stands as one of the PC’s best action games.
Bayonetta
$19.99
The original Bayonetta is one of the best action games ever made, and it easily stands alongside such genre classics as God Hand, Devil May Cry 3, and Ninja Gaiden Black. It features explosive action, and it tests your combo prowess against every divine creature in the good book. Despite Bayonetta’s poor PlayStation 3 performance, this PC port is excellent. It delivers the action at a rock-solid frame rate and a range of uncommon resolutions, which makes this version the definitive angel-slaying experience.
Dead Island
$19.99
When Techland’s Dead Island trailer debuted, it featured one of the most moving video game sequences ever produced: a small child and her family being slaughtered by zombies against the backdrop of a soft, haunting Giles Lamb musical score. Dead Island’s gameplay doesn’t quite match the trailer’s promise, but the open-world action-RPG offers a very solid zombie-slaying good time as you craft weapons and try to stay alive in an island paradise gone wrong.
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record
$39.99
Frank West returns to zombie-slaying action in Dead Rising 2: Off The Record. Capcom’s reimagining Dead Rising 2 sees the gruff photojournalist facing off against a wider array of monsters, building new weapons, snapping photos, and best of all, mixing it up in a new open-world sandbox mode. Stomping the undead is fun—for a while—but bugs and repetitive gameplay keep Dead Rising 2 from achieving true greatness.
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition
$24.99
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition takes everything that made Capcom’s original 2008 release an impressive action game and expands on it. The game includes the Legendary Dark Knight enemy horde mode that was added to the original PC port, as well as three new playable characters, improved visuals, and subtle gameplay tweaks. Some of the weaker aspects of the original release, such as the repetitive story campaign, remain and slightly tarnish an otherwise brilliantly polished title. Overall, Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is a rock-solid action game that is well worth picking up for fans of the series and action buffs alike.
The Disney Afternoon Collection
$19.99
Disney Afternoon, the mega-popular 1990s animation block, spawned some of the best platformers on the Nintendo Entertainment System, thanks to developer Capcom. And, 20 years later, those games are back in the excellent Disney Afternoon Collection. The six games—Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2, Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, DuckTales 2, and TaleSpin—feature a crisp 1080p resolution, the ability to save your progress at any time, and a useful rewind feature that helps combat the infamous difficulties associated with old school Nintendo games.
Far Cry Primal
$59.99
With Far Cry Primal, developer Ubisoft abandons all political pretenses and focuses on what made Far Cry stand out from its peers when the series debuted: the open-world sandbox. You play as a Stone Age hunter named Takkar, and your goal is to secure a safe haven for your people, the wandering Wenja tribe, in the prehistoric realm of Oros. Melee combat and beast companions set Primal apart from past Far Cry games and make exploration feel much more personal and engaging. But its story is simpler and more straightforward, so if you were hoping for eccentric villains and outlandish melodrama, Primal may leave you a tad disappointed.
For Honor
$59.99
For Honor is a medieval-themed combat game has two faces. One is a splendid multiplayer blend of large- and small-scale battles. The other is a forgettable single-player campaign that unfortunately requires an online connection. However, For Honor’s strategic combat—a resplendent combination of positioning, pacing, awareness, and timely opponent reads—gracefully lifts the entire package from the mediocre AAA bog that might otherwise have slid into.
Freedom Planet
$14.99
GalaxyTrail’s Freedom Planet is a retro-platformer that looks and feels like a long-lost 16-bit mascot game. Freedom Planet’s 14 levels are large, colorful, and varied. Almost all have Sonic the Hedgehog-style loops, ramps, and corkscrews. Each level also introduces its own unique elements, such as disappearing blocks, colored switches, and keys. These elements sound like basic platforming obstacles, but they’re so well-crafted and diverse that they always feel fresh and don’t overstay their welcome. The downside? Some cringe-worthy voice acting.
Jet Set Radio
$4.99
In 2000, Sega gave us a look into the future of funk with Jet Set Radio, a cel-shaded action game that starred a cute band of rollerblading miscreants who tagged walls, battled rival delinquents, and avoided out-of-control cops. This updated PC version flexes high-definition graphics, developer interviews, and all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a Steam game. Dripping in manga-influenced hip-hop flavor and boasting one of the greatest soundtracks ever crafted for a video game, the grind-happy Jet Set Radio is a title that belongs in the library of anyone who digs fast-paced action games, incredibly catchy tunes, and street culture.
Killer Is Dead: Nightmare Edition
$19.99
Goichi Suda (aka Suda51) is the Robert Rodriguez of the video game industry. The Japanese developer crafts projects noted for their style, edginess, and violence, but once you peep beneath the cool veneer, the work is exposed as a somewhat empty, if fun, experience. Such is Suda51’s Killer Is Dead: Nightmare Edition, a Steam game that stars a cybernetically enhanced assassin named Mondo Zappa who slays vampires, mystics, and other monstrosities for a government agency. Killer Is Dead is dripping with Suda51’s trademark humor, character swag, and fast-paced action, but it lacks the killer level design and supporting elements that would elevate the game to the top of its genre.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
$29.99
TT Games’s Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham squeezes in a lot of DC Comics fan service and silliness, while maintaining a whimsical and simplistic approach to its action and story. Whether it’s the subtle 1978 Superman theme that plays when the caped do-gooder is flying, or Nightwing reminiscing about his sidekick days while compulsively spewing “holy” exclamations, Lego Batman 3 is so filled with Easter eggs that it feels like a love letter to all of DC Comics. The gameplay doesn’t deviate much from the familiar Lego formula, but the experience is solid, nonetheless.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
$19.99
Lego Marvel Super Heroes is a near-perfect blend of three wonderful childhood staples: comic books, video games, and, well, Lego. Steeped in Marvel Comics goodness, Lego Marvel Super Heroes puts players in the role of superheroes—including the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man—who are tasked with recovering all-powerful Cosmic Bricks before top-tier baddies such as Loki, Dr. Doom, and Magneto get their hands on them. The open-world game features fun brick-bashing action and light puzzle challenges.
Mega Man Legacy Collection
$14.99
Capcom, in collaboration with Digital Eclipse, revisits Mega Man’s past with a package that does the original six NES Mega Man games justice. Besides featuring high-definition versions of the classic 8-bit games, the collection contains new trial challenges, leaderboards, video replays, and developer art. It’s one of the best retro compilations around. Besides the recent Rare Replay, Mega Man Legacy Collection is the closest to a video game equivalent of the Criterion Collection the medium has seen. If you’re a Mega Man fan, consider this a must-have collection.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
$29.99
Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series is known for its stealth-based gameplay, but its spin-off, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, is a straight hack-and-slash action game starring stooge-turned-badass, Raiden. Developer Platinum Games bundles the game with numerous goodies not associated with the original console version, including graphical enhancements and three DLC packages that were separate console purchases—all at a reasonable price. In short, if you liked the console version of Revengeance, you’ll dig this one, too, despite the occasional rough camera angle and frame rate drop.
Metal Slug 3
$7.99
Run-and-gun video games have a long history of thrilling fans with high-octane, shoot-everything-that-moves action, but few do it better than SNK Playmore’s Metal Slug 3. Originally released to the Neo Geo platform in 2000, the acclaimed Metal Slug 3 has appeared on nearly every console and handheld since then—and now it’s available for PCs. In this title, you control adorable, armed-to-the teeth soldiers who defend Earth from an alien invasion using guns, rocket launchers, and the eponymous Metal Slug tanks. Metal Slug 3 is a genre masterpiece due to its charming (and hyper-violent) cartoony graphics, tough-as-nails challenges, creative weapons, and varied level design.