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The Globe and Mail

In Pictures: Season's hottest video games

Load up your console with the latest games for all ages. Mothers need not apply

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Assassin’s Creed III: Mostly set during the time of the American Revolution, this adventure game has players getting caught up in a centuries-old battle between an order of assassins, who believe in free will, and the Templars, who want to control culture and society. One of the characters played by gamers in Assassin’s Creed III is Connor Kenway, a young man with an English father and Mohawk mother. (Ubisoft; $60; rated M)


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New Super Mario Bros. U: This game is reason enough to consider getting a new Wii U console for the household. The first Mario game for the Wii U has gamers playing co-operatively, with one player navigating Mario through the platforming levels, and another using the touchscreen on the GamePad tablet controller to attack enemies and place platforms for Mario to step on. Be forewarned that siblings playing together might be inclined to make the experience more competitive than collaborative. (Nintendo; $60; rated E)


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Sleeping Dogs: Fuelled by adrenalin and a free-running aesthetic, Sleeping Dogs is the nearest thing to playing in one of John Woo’s classic action films. This is an open-world game in which the protagonist, Wei Shen, is a cop undercover as a member of the Triads. He moves through Hong Kong in vehicles or by free-running, completing missions both for the police and for the gangsters. Sleeping Dogs steeps players in an authentic criminal underworld that proves to be a place of moral grey. (Square Enix; $60; rated M)


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Sports games in Canada: If it’s not hockey, it’s soccer, and the sims created in Burnaby, B.C., by EA Sports are getting ever closer to the real thing. NHL 13 (EA Sports; $60; rated E 10+) has improvements to the way players move on the ice. For the first time, two female athletes, Hayley Wickenheiser and Angela Ruggiero, are included as playable characters. FIFA 13 (EA Sports; $60; rated E) includes teams from 30 soccer leagues worldwide, and the players dribble and trap balls with the same kind of finesse as their real-world counterparts.


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Skylanders: Giants: The characters for this game actually exist in real life. The toy figures, which join the game when they are placed on the “portal of power” peripheral, are not just cute and collectible. Information about them is stored on the toy itself, including any improvements and enhancements they gain while being used. The toys aren’t console specific, so your kids can take their PS3 characters to friends’ houses and use them on the Xbox 360. The game itself provides a simple and fun introduction to action platformers for young players learning the ropes. (Activision; $75; rated E 10+)


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Nike+ Kinect Training: This fitness video game, developed in conjunction with the athletic shoe and clothing manufacturer, is like having a personal trainer in a box. It will help you come up with a personalized workout plan, and because the software can assess how you’re doing and identify where you need to improve, your program evolves over time. Even better, it delivers real-time feedback so you can make sure that your lunge is worthy. (Microsoft; $50; rated E)


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Mass Effect Trilogy: Packaged together for the first time, this edition combines all three games in the action role-playing series as well as all the downloadable content released since the series made its debut in 2007. It tells the story of Commander Shepard – players choose whether the protagonist is female or male – on a mission to preserve sentient life in the galaxy from an inevitable and predetermined attack. Decisions made by players are tracked through the three games, and they influence the story being told. (EA; $60; rated M)


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Halo 4: The latest game in the storied first-person shooter series is a breathtaking affair. Super soldier Master Chief wakes from stasis and finds himself stranded on a strange planet populated by a race of technologically advanced beings known as the Prometheans. In addition to the exhilarating single-player game, Halo 4 includes both competitive and co-operative multiplayer game modes, and the developers will be releasing free missions for weeks after the game’s release. The gamers in your house won’t soon tire of Halo 4. (Microsoft Studios; $60; rated M)


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Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two: Once again Mickey Mouse comes to the rescue of the residents of the Wasteland, a place for cartoon characters who have been forgotten. But in this game Mickey has help, in the form of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. While Mickey wields a magical paintbrush, with which he can restore objects using paint or remove them using paint thinner, Oswald uses a remote control to defend against enemies and manipulate the environment. (Disney Interactive; $50; rated E)


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Dishonored: This first-person action game is set in an amazingly detailed steampunk world modelled after Victorian England. And it's as credible as the infestation of rats spreading plague throughout the fictional city of Dunwall. The protagonist is a man framed for murder. In trying to avenge himself, he can either act stealthily or overtly, and it's up to the player to decide the best course of action. (Bethesda Softworks; $60; rated M.)


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Borderlands 2: Raucous, hilarious and fun, this over-the-top action game series is set on a distant and dangerous planet with a Wild West-like frontier. There’s a story to be discovered about the struggle between individuals and large corporations, but really the Borderlands games are about killing the bad guys and taking their stuff. Loot, in this game, is the raison d’être. (2K Games; $60; rated M)


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Call of Duty: Black Ops II: The latest first-person shooter in the Call of Duty series poses an interesting question: What happens if the computers that control all the military drones are hacked by terrorists? Black Ops II is set during the Cold War of the 1970s as well as a new cold war in 2025. In a first for the franchise, the player's success or failure in certain missions will affect the story being told. (Activision; $60; rated M)


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