Call of Duty: World at War
The latest entry in the terrific first-person-shooter series returns to World War II battlegrounds after last year's present-day Modern Warfare outing. And it's an awesome experience. The single-player campaign brings poignancy to a genre usually fixated on body count. Like Modern Warfare, World at War (available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) truly comes alive during online play. The new co-op mode is particularly intense.
Carnival Games MiniGolf
The original Carnival Games suffered from some really wiggy controls and games that just weren't that much fun. This follow-up (for the Wii) focuses entirely on miniature golf challenges on nine increasingly difficult courses. There are games set in prehistoric times, during the Wild Wild West and in the jungle. More than 100 virtual prizes are up for grabs. Best of all, players can distract opponents by shaking their remotes and doing other things that would get them booted from a real round.
Guitar Hero: World Tour
Guitar Hero's answer to Rock Band is every bit as tremendous. It's all about a full-band experience, with guitar, drums and microphone included (add another guitar for bass). There are more than 80 songs here, including cuts by Michael Jackson ("Beat It"), Van Halen ("Hot for Teacher"), the Sex Pistols ("Pretty Vacant) and, um, Coldplay ("Shiver"). Many more are available for download. It's available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and Wii.
(Sony Computer Entertainment America)
One of the best - and cutest - games for the PlayStation 3 is all about making brand new worlds out of your surroundings. After creating your very own Sackboy (think a vaguely human-looking sock monkey), explore a terrain filled with puzzles, other creatures and tons of customizable items. Coolest feature: Online players can share their original environments with others, who can bring their Sackboys along for the ride. One of the year's top games.
Remember that fantastic parkour scene in Casino Royale where James Bond leapt from rooftop to rooftop in pursuit of the bad guy? Now you too can get in on the action in this quick-moving game (for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC) set in a future where freedom of information is forbidden. That's where you come in as a "runner" who delivers messages, packages, etc. while dodging bullets and worse. The gravity-free environments are spectacular … and just a little bit nauseating.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
In the latest outing of one of the all-time classic arcade games, Kombat faves take on some of the planet's greatest superheroes, including Batman and Superman. There isn't much deviation from the usual MK gameplay (two characters square off in fighting arenas, perfecting bone-crushing finishing moves), but the ass-kickings are tons of fun - especially when Superman blasts an opponent with his heat vision or the Flash bitch-slaps Scorpion across Metropolis. It's available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Quantum of Solace
Pulling together elements from both Casino Royale and the latest big-screen James Bond adventure, this action game (for pretty much every console out there) borrows a lot from the superspy's playbook. It's not all gun-blasting carnage; occasionally you gotta sneak up on enemies and move in for the perfect kill. It's a huge rush the first time you take out someone with your bare hands. Plus, the multiplayer mode is a real time-sucker. The best 007 game since the original GoldenEye.
(Sony Computer Entertainment America)
One of the year's best PlayStation 3 games picks up where the original Resistance: Fall of Man left off, with a virus-stricken soldier fighting ruthless monsters across the nation. It's one of the most sprawling first-person shooters we've ever played, with equal doses of engaging storytelling and flesh-shredding gore. Best of all, the online multiplayer features a whopping 60-player combat field.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
Spidey's latest adventure (for almost every console known to man) combines the comics' zippy style with the movies' action-packed environments for one of the more satisfying superhero games released this year. Lots of villains and pals show up along the way. And the fighting engine - which takes gamers from street to rooftop with a flick of the wrist - packs a solid punch. Plus, the webslinger looks super-cool kicking ass in his awesome black suit.
The best music videogame since Guitar Hero and Rock Band revolutionized the genre turns the Wii remote into a variety of instruments: piano, drums, mandolin, triangle. You can also suit up like a dog and bark your way through songs. Wii Music is the most fun with a group of friends, with everyone shaking their remotes in harmony and making beautiful (or not so beautiful) music together. Best of all, you can save your performances and build a virtual CD collection out of them.