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Looking to play some new games with friends this holiday season? While 2014′s already brought us gems like Mario Kart 8Fibbage and Starwhal, there’s more great stuff to come. Check out these six titles!

Screencheat

PC, October 21
If you’re a fan of local multiplayer, you’ve been there: in split-screen games, you sometimes can’t help but look at opponents’ screens to see where they are and what they’re doing. Screencheat turns this into a mechanic, forcing you to find people that way because they don’t actually show up on your own screen. It may be a bit tough for people to get their minds around for a while, but triangulating positions this way is a fresh idea, and we’re interested to see how it pans out.
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arnosurge2

Relationships between party members have always been a mainstay of JRPGs. Why these seemingly random people who look like they have no business with each other on a normal day come together for a united purpose is usually beyond us. These relationships are usually touched upon, but never really go incredibly in-depth. But what happens when one developer decides to make that the central theme of the game? Japanese developer Gust gives us that answer. READ MORE

senrankagurashinoviversus2

It’s always been a bit crazy how Japan has managed to remain so different when it comes to video games. Senran Kagura is probably one of the biggest examples of this: a game based on Japanese myth, mixed with more modern themes, but not one that simply takes game mechanics from something already popular. While Shinovi Versus continues where Burst left off, the series really doesn’t feel like any game before it. Shinovi Versus builds on the earlier games, but adds quite a bit to it thanks in part to the increased power and control available on Vita. READ MORE

tearstotiara2a

When I first heard the concept behind Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord, I was skeptical. I was expecting yet another game in which a male main character goes through a reference-filled plot that only exists to tie battles together, with a bunch of women swooning over him the whole way. Given the series’ roots in mature visual novels, I figured that was only natural, but I am happy to have my assumptions proven wrong.

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alienisolation2

Few films have inspired a generation of action-focused science fiction, both in games and other movies, more than James Cameron’s Aliens. While the titles inspired by Aliens are generally excellent, the ones based directly on that property haven’t fared as well. This is where Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation comes in. Based entirely on the original horror film that spawned the franchise, Isolation is a subtler take on its source material and, as a result, manages to make more of an impact.

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sero_DKC

Last year, I was sitting next to my buddy at a hockey game at the Memorial Arena in Victoria, British Columbia. We obeyed the voice telling us to stand, removed our hats and welcomed some aspiring local vocalist to sing what would, no doubt, be a rousing rendition of Canada’s national anthem. After a quick internal check to see if my ears were working (sadly, they were), I confirmed that it was the national anthem I was hearing.

Oh, for it to be any other song, for the butchery and obnoxiousness wouldn’t pain me as much. A true Canadian wouldn’t derive anything but sadness from this version of O Canada. The singer was trying too hard, she hit high notes where there shouldn’t have been, she hit low notes where low notes should never go and she stretched it out with unnecessary wailing and impromptu head and hand movements. It was way too long and over-produced. I turned to my buddy and said, “you know, it’s not a cover.” He agreed. READ MORE

hyrulewarriors4

Do you remember the end of Skyward Sword? When Link had to plow through wave after wave of bokoblins as he made his way to the center of the Sealed Grounds? Wasn’t that an awesome change of pace for the Legend of Zelda series? Well, if you liked that, you will absolutely love Hyrule Warriors, which takes Koei Tecmo’s successful Dynasty Warriors franchise and applies Nintendo’s world of Hyrule and its storied history. READ MORE

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As with the previous game, Forza Horizon 2 takes the driving from Forza Motorsport and brings it to a more open, laid-back setting. The sequel leaves the original’s Colorado-based setting in favor of the surroundings of southern France, but the Horizon Festival remains, bringing with it the race events and championships for which it’s known. New locale aside, Horizon 2 once again centers around its open-world driving, both separating it from the Motorsport series and appealing to fans of games like Burnout Paradise. READ MORE

unplugged_ageofwar2

Risk is one of the all-time classics and is probably among the first five games the general populace thinks of when they hear the term “board game.” It’s also, to fans of modern board gaming, right up there with Monopoly as a horrible game design that just kills fun. That said, conquering the world with military force is still an attractive theme, so it’s no real surprise that “improved” versions of Risk have cropped up from time to time. READ MORE

shadowofmordor2

Like with any licensed property, games based on Lord of the Rings, and Middle-earth as a whole, have been mixed. There are certainly a few stand-outs, but there are just as many (if not more so) poorly made cash-grabs. With such a rich lineage from which to borrow, the potential for an excellent game in this universe seemed untapped. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Monolith’s take on the series, is different, taking a license in exciting directions rarely seen from larger studios.

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