The wave of new video game launches is behind us, and it’s left a painful scar in its wake — to gamers’ bank accounts, anyway. So many awesome games released recently for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS (even the last-gen consoles — the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii — got in the mix) that it’s hard to keep track of them all, let alone purchase each one and play them all to completion. But that’s what the holidays are for, right? Steep discounts and Black Friday sales will allow you to grab those games you haven’t made time for on the cheap and play to your heart’s content as Christmas and the holidays roll around.
But which ones are worth paying attention to? A ton of great titles may have come out in what’s felt like only a few weeks, but surely you haven’t played them all. Fortunately, we’ve got the goods on most critically games that released within the past three months. Read on to see which ones you’ve missed.
1. Sunset Overdrive
What’s great about Insomniac’s latest venture is how it doesn’t take itself too seriously — or at all. Run on walls, grind on power lines and jump off buildings all while trying to destroy the mutants that run rampant after drinking FizzCo’s newest energy drink. The world is as colorful and zany as your fully customizable character, and crazy weapons and funny respawn animations keep the good times rolling whether you’re downing baddies or they’re downing you. If you’re a fan of Insomniac’s other work like the Ratchet & Clank series, you can’t go wrong with Sunset Overdrive.
Price: $49.99 (17 percent off MSRP)
- Tons of customization
- Fun traversal
- Engaging combat
- Huge, stylistic world
- Repetitive missions
- Fetch quests
- Boring NPCs
2. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty is one series that has withstood the test of time, with releases spanning more than a decade and three console generations. The franchise has tackled everything from World War II-era battles to modern-day combat. The newest entry in the series, Advanced Warfare, takes place in the future, where jetpacks and hovering grenades are staples in military technology. Sure, it might look like Titanfall at a glance, but Advanced Warfare is a title all its own, and it’s bound to be a best seller just like its annually released brethren. I mean, even IGN gave it a 9.1.
Price: $59.00 (2 percent off MSRP)
- Futuristic weapons and gadgets
- DLC drops first on Xbox
- Zombie mode is back
- Kevin Spacey
- $50 season pass
- Average campaign
- Set pieces everywhere
- Same ol’ Call of Duty formula
3. Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
If you don’t love the Pokémon games, I question what kind of childhood you had. People like to make fun of the unconventional designs of the new Pokémon, but the truth is that weird-looking Pokémon have been around since Pokémon Red/Blue hit store shelves in the ’90s. Another thing that hasn’t changed is how fun these games are. I’ve poured close to a thousand hours into the series. There’s nothing quite like breeding, training and raising hundreds of fighting critters in a quest to be the very best. Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire bring with them new mega evolutions, the 3D graphics of Pokémon X/Y and new features to make capturing and fighting Pokémon even more fun. If you’re itching to play through the original stories of Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, there’s no better time than now to nab Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire.
- More mega evolutions
- Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire remade in 3D
- New features from old games
- No new Pokémon
- Needs even more mega evolutions
- Somewhat easy
- Distracting content
4. Far Cry 4
Do you like first-person shooters set in a giant open world? How about ziplining, hang gliding, big game hunting and killing bad guys? If so, Far Cry 4 is up your alley. The newest addition to the series steps away from the lush environment of the tropics from Far Cry 3 and drops you in the middle of a civil war in the Himalayas. Besides moving your way through the story, there will be distractions to keep your entertained. The most attractive feature is a new one that allows players to invite friends who don’t even own the full game into their world to conquer cooperative missions together. If allowing your buddies to game with you free of charge to them isn’t a great idea, I don’t know what is.
- New wildlife
- Massive open world
- Drop-in co-op
- Free limited edition with pre-order
- Unwarranted cover art controversy
- No bonuses for killing war elephants
- Not much has changed since Far Cry 3
- Server issues at launch
5. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
In 2011, Microsoft published Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, a high-definition remake of the original Halo from Bungie. Porting the infamous first-person sci-fi shooter to the Xbox 360 proved to be a wise decision, and fans clamored for a re-release of Halo 2 in the same vein. Microsoft did them one better: Halo: The Master Chief Collection takes the four numerical Halo games and puts them in glorious HD for the Xbox One. Players are now able to seamlessly jump from one game to the next while reliving Halo‘s unforgettable campaign and unique multiplayer matches — when the matchmaking works, that is.
Price: $50.98 (15 percent off MSRP)
- More Master Chief than you can handle
- Remade multiplayer maps with HD graphics
- Access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta
- Four thousand Gamerscore
- Twenty gigabyte day-one patch
- No Halo: Reach
- No Halo 3: ODST
- Multiplayer matchmaking issues
6. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Any The Lord of the Rings buff will feel right at home with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The game is set sometime between The Hobbit and Tolkien’s famous trilogy about Frodo’s quest to Mount Doom as Talion, a Ranger of Gondor stationed near the Black Gate leading into the evil land of Mordor, is forced to watch his family be butchered by Uruks. What follows is a classic revenge action game dripping with Tolkien lore. What sets Shadow of Mordor apart is its nemesis system, which grants military ranks to Talion’s enemies. The Uruks are constantly vying for dominance, and the player can manipulate them to his will using special powers and abilities, making each play a unique experience.
Price: $48.51 (19 percent off MSRP)
- Nemesis system
- Satisfying combat
- Lore, lore and more lore
- Somewhat easy
- Disappointing ending
- Repetitive locales
- Herb collecting
7. Dragon Age: Inquisition
BioWare is known for its ability to craft deep, intricate, personal stories. Just look at the best-selling Mass Effect series, which, in this humble editor’s opinion, is the best sci-fi universe to be created in any medium ever. The original Dragon Age was a critical and commercial success, with its long and detailed campaign where choices mattered. Dragon Age II didn’t hold up as well, though it’s still a great game. With Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare went all out in an effort to create one of the greatest fantasy RPGs ever. The developer’s track record proves they were capable of handling the task, giving players a sprawling world to explore, a brilliant story where player choice matters and a fun combat system players can tailor to their play style.
- In-game choices matter
- Style combat your way
- Customize your party and hero
- It’s not Dragon Age II
- Say goodbye to hundreds of hours of freetime
- Story is a bit cliche
- Combat could be more strategic
8. Bayonetta 2
Bayonetta 2 has everything you could ask for in an action game: high-octane combat, ridiculous weapons and moves, insane enemies and bosses and a strong and sexy protagonist. The original Bayonetta was challenging, but conquering its difficult encounters and over-the-top bosses was nothing short of satisfying. Witch Time, a slow motion move activated by dodging at exactly the right moment, made you feel amazing. All of that and more is back in a surprisingly robust sequel, but the fact you can only get it for the Wii U is a bit disappointing.
Price: $58.83 (2 percent off MSRP)
- New moves
- Powerful weapons
- Sexy heroine
- Comes with free copy of the original Bayonetta
- Not friendly to newcomers
- Crazy story
- Wii U exclusive
- Undeserved claims of sexism
9. Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo is a company revered for its amazing series. Sure, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid might be bright and cartoony compared to franchises like Gears of War and Halo, but the world needs video games like that! As long as the quality of games is excellent (and with Nintendo, it almost always is), who cares that the Wii U is geared toward younger, casual players, especially when Super Smash Bros., a game that borrows characters and elements from Nintendo’s (and others’) best video game series, is a thing? Smash Bros. has been my favorite fighting game since I was a wee lad, and now what’s possibly the best version yet is coming to the Wii U in glorious high definition, which means people like me are stoked. With a huge roster, tons of unlockables, eight player battles and endless hours of fun, what more could you ask for?
- Dozens and dozens of hours of play
- Tons of unlockables
- Eight player battles
- Can’t take it on the go like you can with the 3DS version
- Lackluster Smash Run mode
- No cross-system play
- Cheap Final Smashes
10. Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar Games knows how to make a living, breathing world. The Grand Theft Auto series is known for giving players absolute freedom in violent, crime-ridden cities parodying America’s most famous locales. In Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games allows for players to switch seamlessly between three protagonists: a rich family man struggling with maintaining relationships, a bonafide gangster and a psychotic hillbilly. Heists are a new addition that mimic the famous bank robbery mission everybody loves from Grand Theft Auto IV. All the other stuff people adore about GTA is there: guns, strip clubs, sweet rides and a solid story tying it all together. There’s a reason Grand Theft Auto V is sitting pretty at a 97 on Metacritic.
- Breathing world
- Three playable characters
- Excellent voice acting and story
- Multiplayer doesn’t live up to the hype
- Needs more heists
- Online play is somewhat broken