3. "Dishonored" (PS3, Xbox 360, Windows; rated M)
"Dishonored" puts players in the role of supernatural assassin Corvo, who's framed for the murder of an empress and the kidnapping of her daughter. Utilizing a wide variety of powers, from possession to teleportation, the game provides interesting ways for players to take down assassination targets as they try to clear Corvo's name.
Want to go in stabbing everything in sight? That's fine. But so is opting to knock everyone unconscious and move their bodies out of sight. It's possible to get through the entire game without killing a single person.
In the vein of the "Deus Ex" and "Thief" series, "Dishonored" is all about choice. This new IP (intellectual property) is a breath of fresh air from an otherwise stale market of sequels.
2: "Borderlands 2" (PS3, Xbox 360, Windows; rated M)
Okay, sure, I just complained about the stale abundance of sequels in gaming, but "Borderlands 2" is an exception. Like its predecessor, this cel-shaded combination of "Diablo" and "Halo" is an over the top romp through a beautiful, alien world.
The five character classes, four-player online multiplayer (two player local) and randomized loot are enough to warrant a purchase. Throw in the fact that the game provides a whopping 30-60 hours of fun and has four packs of downloadable content (two out now and two on the way), and it's a must-have. "Borderlands 2" is a game with great bang for your buck.
1: "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" (PS3, Xbox 360, Windows; rated M)"
A remake of the 1994 cult classic "UFO: Enemy Unknown," this turn-based strategy game should contain a warning label to caution players on how easily addicted they can get.
Wisely managing your funding and development of XCOM, a group formed by the world after an alien invasion, is surprisingly fun, as are the actual battles with the aliens ... until you realize that character deaths are permanent. It's easy to grow attached to a character you've developed for six hours, only to have them killed off in a flank maneuver from the enemy.
"XCOM: Enemy Unknown" is built entirely on a risk/reward system, and your choices either result in a white-knuckle victory or a fiery defeat. If you don't have this one in your collection, you seriously need to rethink your gaming choices.