The Games I'm Playing This Thanksgiving

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Amnesia The Dark Descent

Let's face it, we're rolling through a mediocre holiday lead-in for video gaming. Rock Band 3, Halo: Reach, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Fable III, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Fallout: New Vegas, DJ Hero 2, GoldenEye 007, Civilization 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops. All sequels (or remakes) warmed over. Monuments to that-thing-you-did-years-ago. Yesterday's games in disguise.

Rock Band 3 may represent the boldest leap in series with its transitional "pro" mode, but the music-rhythm genre's a little long in the fretboard. Pricey, too. The original Rock Band "band-in-a-box" kit sold for around $170 and included the game, guitar, drums, and microphone. Now you'll pay $60 for the game, $150 for the wireless "pro" guitar, $130 for the wireless drum set, $80 for the wireless keyboard (another $30 for a stand), $30 for the microphone, and various amounts for instrument extensions, like a $40 triple-cymbal kit. $170 in 2007 becomes upwards of $500 in 2010. Go inflation!

Did you enjoy Halo: Reach? Talk about deja vu. Who needs backward compatibility when Microsoft just reprises Halo every two or three years. I know, there's the story, if you're into the space marines versus E.T. thing, cribbed from writers like Larry Niven and Robert Heinlein. Rehashed or reheated, everyone loves space marines. Why else would Activision reportedly risk a version of its record-breaking Call of Duty series set in the future?

You already know what I think of Fable III and Microsoft Kinect. I'm working through Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood but after a strong start, nothing's compelling me to finish it. At some point I'll get to Fallout: New Vegas, fingers crossed it'll reverse my mixed opinion of developer Obsidian Entertainment.

Instead of those, I'll spend Thanksgiving with Digital Combat Simulation's A-10C Warthog and Frictional Games' Amnesia: The Dark Descent (pictured above). The former's a realistic flight simulation of the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II equalled in avionic fidelity only by its predecessor, a simulation of the Ka-50 attack helicopter. The latter's a survival horror game that emphasizes wits in lieu of weapons. The former isn't really a game at all, while the latter's a shoe-in for game of the year.

What's left before we shutter 2010? Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom (Xbox 360, PS3), a Zelda-like third-person adventure in which you solve environment puzzles. That's out today, along with dancing game Michael Jackson: The Experience (Wii, Nintendo DS, PSP).

Don't forget Epic Mickey (Wii), Gran Turismo 5 (PS3), and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (Windows, Mac), all due over the next two weeks. Epic Mickey's the most promising of those three, a hybrid action-roleplaying game that lets you erase or rebuild swathes of Disney-themed levels with a magic paintbrush. The other two hardly need an endorsement. They'll move millions whatever the press says.

And that's about it until we roll into January 2011, when we'll see stuff like Two Worlds II (Windows, Mac, Xbox 360, PS3) MindJack (Xbox 360, PS3), LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3), Dead Space 2 (Windows, Xbox 360, PS3), and DC Universe Online (Windows, PS3).

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