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The 25 best games coming before Christmas 2012 - 360, PS3, PC, Wii U

Shooters! Online worlds! Zombies! Football! Cars!

Entries by Tim Weaver (TW), Andy Kelly (AK) and Ben Griffin (BG)...

After a summer as barren as a Jimmy Carr joke book, we'd have welcomed an HD re-release of Pong, just so we had something to play. Luckily, the run-up to Christmas 2012 is looking all sorts of awesome - which is why we've gathered together the 25 best games coming before Christmas. Can't see your most wanted here? Give it a shout-out in the comments. Oh, and just so we're all clear: they're ordered by release date, not on a ranking scale...


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1. TORCHLIGHT 2

Play it on: PC Out: September 20

Now that Diablo 3 has finally delivered, playing out to a cacophony of mouse clicks and a fountain of coins, it's Torchlight 2's turn to shake the foundations of the dungeon crawler.The first game was well received by the PC community, despite its paper-thin story, and Torchlight 2 seeks to pick up where that game left off. In fact, it looks perfectly positioned for loot em' up fans tired of Blizzard's baby. New to the dungeon-raiding party is LAN co-op, vast overland areas and new hub towns, a revised interface for users confused by convoluted menus, and - excitingly - TorchED, an editor which lets players add new mods and content to the world. Let's not forget, however, about returning pets - they'll trot to town and sell your loot so you don't have to. BG


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2. BORDERLANDS 2

Play it on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC Out: September 21

One of Borderlands 2's biggest improvements over the original is that the entire game world is now connected. If you see something in the distance, you can travel there without an intrusive loading break. But don't expect a quick ride: this game is huge. Another important upgrade is that enemies now behave in interesting ways. They won't just charge blindly at you: they'll work in teams, and some larger enemies even have the ability to 'buff' their underlings. It's a layer of tactics that should add some variety to the RPG-style grinding that the game is famed for. A new class, the Mechromancer, can summon a huge robot helper made of scrap metal, but she'll initially only be available to people who have pre-ordered and have access to the so-called 'Premiere Club'. The first review in GamesMaster garnered an insane-o-score. Here at CVG, we're not sure it's quite that good - but, as you'll see in our review it's still seriously good. AK


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3. PES 2013

Play it on: Xbox 360, PS3 Out: September 21

If FIFA 13 is unsurprisingly good, PES 2013... isn't. Is. You know what we mean. Once the Nottingham Forest (European Cup winning version) of football games, it then became the Nottingham Forest (relegation to League 1 version) of football games - until this year. Back on riotously good form, Konami's vision of the Beautiful Game is different to FIFA, leaning heavily on iteration (often via finger-bleeding frustration), but few other games give you such profound 'Eureka!' moments. When you 'get' PES, when it finally makes sense, it's a proper epiphany, every one-two, every flick, every perfectly-weighted through ball feeling as dazzling, unique and important as its real-life equivalent. This year's PES/FIFA face-off is closer than ever, but they remain very different games. It's just a shame that PES still has such awful commentary. TW


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4. LITTLEBIGPLANET VITA

Play it on: PS Vita Out: September 21

It's fair to say that it hasn't been the best of starts for PS Vita. Despite looking the part, packing bundles of power under the hood, and - eventually, at least - being backed by some very, very big names, it's struggled to win the attention of gamers in a climate where you can now play GTA on the same device you make calls, text mates and surf the worldwide webulator on. Which is a shame because, without Vita, we would have missed out LittleBigPlanet Vita. Says CVG reviewer Andy Hartup in his upcoming review: "Nothing here feels like a novelty feature. It's all here for a reason, and that makes the single-player the best LBP campaign on any format." Add in intuitive touchscreen functionality and access to over 7m user created levels via PS3, and you have one of the biggest, best and most delightful surprises of the generation. TW


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5. WORLD OF WARCRAFT: MISTS OF PANDARIA

Play it on: PC Out: September 25

This is the first major World of Warcraft update since 2010's World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. It introduces the Pandaren, a race of giant talking pandas who specialise in martial arts. For the first 10 levels they're neutral, and you get to decide whether your character sides with the Alliance or the Horde. Their starting area is the titular Pandaria, an island directly south of Northrend. The new monk class uses a charge system. Regular attacks build up 'chi', which allows you to unleash more advanced attacks when filled. Pet Battle sees you entering your vanity pets into turn-based battles with other players', or creatures encountered in the wild. It's basically Azeroth's version of Pokémon, especially as pets you defeat are stored in a journal. AK

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