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The 25 best PC games of 2012

Looks like it will be a vintage year for PC owners...

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16. Mass Effect 3


The third instalment of BioWare's space-based action-RPG (and the final part of the trilogy, although we're promised plenty more from the world of Mass Effect) needs little introduction - if you've never played a Mass Effect game, there's no hope for you. As those who played Mass Effect 2 may have guessed, Mass Effect 3 starts with the Reaper invasion that Shepard has been banging on about for ages - and those pesky, unstoppable machine life-forms start off by laying waste to Earth. Gameplay-wise, it's familiar stuff - thankfully, given how superb it already is. But it looks even more stunning than before, and for the first time, supports four-player co-op (albeit with from-scratch characters rather then old favourites like Shepard, Garrus, Liara and so on). There will be other multiplayer elements, under the banner Galaxy At War, but BioWare hasn't yet shared those with us.

17. Max Payne 3


The third starring vehicle for the world's most deadbeat ex-cop has an interesting provenance: the mighty Rockstar Games has taken over the reins from previous developer Remedy. As ever, Max Payne 3 is a third-person shooter, featuring the legendary Bullet Time. But because of Rockstar's involvement, we can expect all manner of innovations, some of the most hard-boiled storylines and dialogue ever and new levels of atmospherics - the game is set in Sao Paulo, where Max works in security for the wealthy Rodrigo Branco. Combine an expanded set of Max's abilities with Brazilian street gangs and Rockstar's unparalleled story-telling skills, and we'd say that you're onto a winner.

18. Prototype 2


If you like your games dark and freaky, Radical Entertainment's Prototype 2 is well worth checking out. Set in a quarantined Manhattan in the grip of a deadly, mutant-inducing outbreak of the Blacklight Virus, you play James Heller, a man endowed with incredible powers - shape-shifting, turning people into BioBombs, consuming their memories, chucking heavy objects around using tendrils that sprout from his arms and the like. Again a non-linear, open-world game, Heller's overriding mission is to cause havoc to the shadowy military organisation Blackwatch and ultimately destroy the Blacklight Virus. Heller's implacable hatred of Alex Mercer, the player-character from the first game, adds an extra bit of spice to proceedings. Prototype 2 has cult hit written all over it and PC will be the best platform to play it.

19. Sleeping Dogs


Never heard of it? You can be excused for that: Sleeping Dogs was originally going to be the rebooted third iteration of the True Crime series, until original publisher Activision chucked it in the bin. Luckily for us, Square-Enix picked up the publishing rights (although not the naming rights, hence the new moniker). It's still going to be a gritty, Hong Kong-based open-world, third-person crime-drama, combining shooting with the ability to use whatever comes to hand for meleeing. Rather like a Hong Kong version of Yakuza, in other words, except you play a cop rather than a gangster. With Square-Enix at the helm, we can expect some polish and quality, and we're certainly looking forward to it.

20. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2


Despite being published by the previously unfancied City Interactive, Sniper: Ghost Warrior was a rather big hit. Admittedly, that was in large part due to its being as cheap as chips, but it also offered plenty of quality, no-nonsense sniping action. And that's exactly what we can expect from its successor. We know Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is going to look fantastic, as it's powered by Crytek's CryEngine 3. It will add a pinch of stealth, some nice takedowns and even, we're promised, a decent storyline. Which is all good news for those who feel happiest when staring down a virtual PC scope, holding their virtual breath.

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