While the video game industry is just beginning to wrap up this home console generation — and rumors of new systems from Sony and Microsoft begin to pile up — a steady flow of quality titles continues to populate store shelves.
If you're on a limited budget, it can be hard to pick just a few games to put your hard-earned cash towards. Thankfully, we're here to help. We've picked through the new releases and found the freshest titles that simply can't be ignored. Regardless of your system of choice, there's a title on this list that will satisfy your craving for something fresh.
1. Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
The final chapter in the epic Mass Effect trilogy is already a hot topic across the web, but not for the reason you might expect: the game's ending is so controversial that gamers are demanding it be changed. Disgruntled players have held everything from online petitions to charity drives in order to catch the eye of the game's developers, and hopefully get them to weave a new final yarn.
While the first game in the series had the distinct taste of a role-playing game, both Mass Effect 3 and its predecessor are much more action-oriented. The newest title even offers you the ability to focus more on story rather than dispatching foes, making firefights brief while letting you hop between chunks of narrative without many speed bumps, even as your character attempts to save mankind from utter extinction.
Your decisions will ultimately shape what type of ending you encounter, and playing the roll of a renegade may produce a darker final note than if you focus on keeping the peace. Regardless of how it all pans out, the conclusion to one of the most popular gaming franchises of the past decade simply can't be ignored. In fact, you may want to do everything in your power to secure a copy now — and check out the ending that has everyone up in arms — before its history is rewritten.
2. Journey (PlayStation Network)
Every few months, the argument over whether video games can be considered "art" comes back into the spotlight. Journey is one of the rare titles that gamers can hold high during these arguments, as an example of the most artistic and creative uses of interactive digital entertainment.
Placing you in the dusty boots of a "sand sherpa," the game places you in the middle of a vast, windy desert. After a few brief control cues, the game sends you on your way, and it's up to you to figure out what to do next. Using your own instincts to guide you, you'll explore dilapidated ruins, unlock abilities like flight, and even run into other gamers exploring the same space online.
Journey is one of those rare games that is more about living in the game's world than filling in details to a story or vanquishing evil. It's a game that will both relax and confuse you, but you're likely to enjoy every second of it.
3. Unit 13 (PlayStation Vita)
Shooters are one of the most popular genres of video games, bar none. Unfortunately for most mobile consoles, they also require extremely precise controls in order to feel like you're the mercenary that you want to be. As you already know from our in-depth PlayStation Vita review, we absolutely loved the console inside and out, and its remarkably comfortable dual analog controls make it the perfect host for a mobile shooter, and Unit 13 is exactly what we were craving.
Unit 13 lets you play the roles of various members of an anti-terrorist military outfit. Each grizzled soldier has his own strengths and preferred weaponry, and you'll find that each adds his own specific flavor to the adventure. During the main campaign's 36 missions, you'll do everything from sniping enemies at range to taking down guards in silence using only your knife, and everything in between.
The best thing about Unit 13 — aside from the console-quality controls provided by the Vita — is that there is just so much to do. You can spend hours perfecting each mission, focus on unlocking weapons for specific soldiers, or even jump online and take out bad guys with a friend. It's the kind of game you'd expect to be playing at home on your HDTV, but the Vita lets you carry it around in your pocket.
4. Xenoblade Chronicles (Nintendo Wii)
Originally intended to be only released in Japan and Europe, Xenoblade Chronicles was at the center of a massive online movement aimed at getting Nintendo to localize the game for the U.S. market. After months of prodding, the game was finally released stateside in early April 2012, and we couldn't happier. It's simply one of the very finest games the Nintendo Wii has to offer.
Set in a world made up of two mammoth warriors caught in an epic battle — yes, the creatures themselves are large enough to hold entire civilizations on their backs — Xenoblade Chronicles is nothing if not a true fantasy adventure. After a vicious sneak attack destroys your character's home village, it's up to you to figure out why, and unearth some long-hidden secrets along the way.
For fans of role-playing games, Xenoblade Chronicles is an absolute gem which offers dozens of hours of exploration, option sidequests, and a story with more twists and turns than an amusement park ride. The visuals are stunning, especially considering the rather modest power of the Wii, and the game world is vibrant and worth exploring simply to take in its gorgeous vistas.
5. Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo 3DS)
After decades without a proper console sequel to call his own, the angelic Pit is back in an all-new Kid Icarus title. Uprising is a bit of a stretch from the Kid Icarus title that called the original Nintendo Entertainment System its home, but some fancy 3DS-powered flair and enjoyable combat make it a worthy successor to the 25-year-old original.
Uprising tasks you with defeating the evil Hades and foiling his plot to destroy nature, and presumably mankind as well. Playing as Pit, most of the action takes place in epic flying battles where you'll use your angelic powers to crush blast your foes into oblivion.
The 3D effects add to the excitement by giving some depth to these high-flying sequences, but even if you prefer to play with the 3D scale turned all the way down, the game looks rather impressive on Nintendo's newest handheld.
This article originally appeared on Tecca
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