Hot PC Games for the 2011 Holidays

Twenty-one is fast approaching and game makers are preparing to capitalize on the holiday season by winning some of the best titles of the year. Although some of our highly anticipated games have hit some level (Brink, Crysis 2, Duke Nukem Forever, Homefront, to name a few), there is still hope for the tailgunners of 2011.

Keeping up with tradition, we’ve gathered a list of 16 PC games that should be on your radar for months to come. The titles are ordered according to their North American PC release date – no earlier than 15 September and no later than 31 December. Again, realize this is only covering PC entries, so don’t be surprised by the lack of major console exclusives like Gears of War 3 or Unknown 3.

The latest version of Codemasters’ venerable racing simulator maintains the harshly realistic gameplay that Formula One purists demand, but introduces many new elements. People can join other racing enthusiasts with split-screen multiplayer and co-op championship modes, not to mention support for 24-driver races (16 people and 8 AI). You’ll also find two new tracks, modified weather effects as well as a full day and night cycle at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It can be difficult to justify the purchase of each rehashed annual release, but it’s definitely a must-buy for FIFA 12 (or PES 12 if you follow that franchise instead). The update brings a radically overhauled presentation system, new arenas, a polished user interface as well as an improved effects engine and dribbling mechanics. Additionally, a new Tactical Defending System offers refined gameplay by giving equal importance to positioning, intercepting passes and tackles, while the smarter AI will better adapt to its team’s advantages and disadvantages.

Although Rage disappointed early adopters with the buggy gameplay, most of its kinks have been ironed out. Glitches aside, some reviewers criticized the game’s lack of story, dry characters, repetitive quests, and annoying save system. However, most agree that beneath the quasi-RPG elements, there is a respectable shooter waiting to be experienced. Between its lackluster launch reception and the inevitable Holiday Games discount, you’re bound to find Rage for at least 25% off sometime in the near future.

Worried about the recent NBA lockout? Lace up and hit court with Visual Concept’s latest entry in the NBA 2K series, which is said to provide TV-quality presentation, lifelike animations and multiple game modes. You can assemble dream teams with current players from iconic names like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, take control of any player’s career, create your own All-Star with the revamped My Player mode, and Team up with up to 29 of your friends. Close against others with Online Career Mode.

Hailed as the direct successor to the critically acclaimed 2005 Battlefield 2, Battlefield 3 vows to deliver the best military combat experience ever. While opinions vary, the general consensus appears to be that DICE has kept its word. Aside from those who are still (understandably) dissatisfied about PC’s browser-based platform, BF3’s multiplayer component comes with terrifying graphics, unmatched combat sounds, polished vehicular combat, a wide selection of weapons, and diverse map environments. But it meets.

Activision’s Call of Duty franchise has captured the majority of the military shooter market with its sophisticated competitive multiplayer and frequent annual releases. The third iteration of Modern Warfare is being produced by the usual suspects at Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software. With the killstreak rewards system updated and Survival Mode gaining, Modern Warfare 3 will meet some of the community’s biggest demands, including the return of dedicated servers (but nothing on the graphics front).

L.A Noire debuted on consoles earlier this year, but has since been ported to PC as part of “The Complete Edition,” which includes all of the DLC released by Rockstar. Praised for its methodical storytelling, varied dialogue system, and impeccable facial animations, the post-war thriller brings a lot to the table. It is set in Los Angeles in 1947 and stars players investigating crimes as Cole Phelps, a former Marine defeats the LAPD, who seeks to climb the ranks of the department and clean up his city in the process. determined to do.

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