Xbox 360

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RedLynx’ hit series, Trials, began as a web release way back in 2000. It was a simple, mindless distraction, but one many couldn’t stop playing. It wasn’t long before the formula begun taking new form, shifting from a basic (albeit addictive) little game into something much larger. Trials Fusion, the latest in this series, features a new, futuristic coat of paint, but maintains everything that made it noteworthy to begin with.

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One of the grandfathers of stealth, Metal Gear Solid, has seen a lot of changes over the years. You can almost track the slow evolution of the genre with each iteration, going from traditional stealth with the original title to a more streamlined, varied approach with Metal Gear Solid 4. The prologue to the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, titled Ground Zeroes, pushes the series even more away from its roots, making it the most modern adaptation of the classic formula.

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Does a better game make for a better EDF? That was the question at hand with 2011′s Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon,  which took a more modern approach and serious tone courtesy Western developer Vicious Cycle. Many fans missed the distinct B-movie quality of the previous games, so with Earth Defense Force 2025, original team Sandlot returns to the helm. And while the game certainly makes some advancements over Sandlot’s last effort, EDF 2017, it is still — for better and worse — very much the 2007 budget game that preceded it.

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The original Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was a reinvention of the Castlevania formula and story, focusing on the very first Belmont, Gabriel, and his quest to resurrect his wife. It was a surprisingly fantastic game, managing to evolve the Castlevania series in a compelling way while also telling a worthwhile story. Lords of Shadow 2 sets out to complete Gabriel’s story and expand the original game’s formula, and does so with impressive results.

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South Park: The Stick of Truth is meant as an earnest effort by South Park Digital Studios and Obsidian Entertainment to make a game that truly embraces the license of the show. This has certainly been a problem in the past, as the South Park name has been slapped on all manner of horrible things since the series began its run. In this aspect, Stick of Truth is a resounding success: it doesn’t just feel like it’s faithful to the South Park name, it feels like an interactive, especially-long episode of South Park.

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The long-dormant Thief franchise is considered by many to be a pioneer of the stealth genre. Eidos Montreal, the team behind the successful revival of the Deus Ex series, is back with their take on this classic. This new game, simply titled Thief, brings the genre back to its roots by attempting to focus on what made the original games so compelling, while also making it more approachable for newcomers.

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Capcom’s Strider series began its life as an arcade action-platformer before slowly making its way to home consoles. Soon enough, however, Strider simply disappeared, relegating its lead character, Hiryu, to guest appearances in crossover titles such as the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Rumors of the return of this iconic franchise circled for years before a new game, developed by Double Helix, was announced. While this new Strider may not be a perfect recreation of the earlier titles, it differentiates itself by adding a new twist to a well-worn formula.

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After four years and two initially-unplanned sequels, the tale of Final Fantasy XIII is at last complete. Set centuries after the events of XIII-2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII gives Lightning thirteen days to save humanity from the end of the world. A harder task still may be saving the series from wearing thin after its less-than-universally-loved predecessors. READ MORE

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In the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, the characters felt real, the interactions felt genuine and and the adventure felt personal. You didn’t save the world, but you mattered immensely to Clementine and shaped the person she has become in the second season. Lee doesn’t make the return trip for season two, and instead of giving Clementine another caretaker, Telltale has taken the gutsy move of making a young girl the player character. READ MORE

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Contrast is an interesting game. I wish it were a better game, because the setting is great, the characters are interesting and the soundtrack did something that few others do: it caused me to stop playing, so that I could better appreciate the music. It’s held down, though, by what all games need to be successful: gameplay. READ MORE