PC Gaming

With the action movie, Jack Reacher, in theaters on Dec. 21st, we take the time to look back at our favorite action games.

There are shooters and there are action games. Shooters feature action, but action games don't always involve shooting. Over the past five years -- what most of us would consider the meat of the current console hardware generation -- we've seen a diverse assortment of action titles from any number of talented developers. Soon enough, possibly even as soon as 2013, the gaming world will be starry-eyed for the next generation's slate of hardware. 

Before you start celebrating what's to come, why not take a look back now on the best action games of this generation. From the must-play sleepers to the AAA marquee blockbusters, these are all backlog titles that you should make a point of finding some time for before they're all outclassed by the video game industry's shiny, new toys.

New Batman: Arkham City Screenshot And Artwork

Batman: Arkham City

Rocksteady Studios took everything that worked about Batman: Arkham Asylum and dumped it into the content-filled open world of Arkham City. The improvements are legion. Exploration gets a renewed focus thanks to a wider offering of Riddler puzzles and a hefty helping of secondary story arcs, each of which amounts to a multi-mission challenge. The combat continues to be just as tight as it was before, with the added bonus of respawning bad guys and an open world that supports any number of approaches to a given challenge.

Wrapped around all of it is a Batman story that knows exactly who its audience is. This is a comic book game for comic book fans. The characters are elevated by top-notch performances by the likes of Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Troy Baker. The main narrative thread carries actual consequences within the fictional world, a daring-yet-successful move. This is a game that can be enjoyed by a Batman fan of any stripe, and it continues to stand as one of the most entertaining action experiences of this generation.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic Expands In Spring 2013

BioWare's free-to-play MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, will be getting its first proper expansion pack in spring 2013, a post on the game's official website confirms. Rise of the Hutt Cartel introduces a new set of story missions, a new planet in Makeb, and a five-level boost to the cap, upping the ceiling to 55.

The final release date isn't set, but those who pre-order the expansion by midnight on January 7, 2013 will score themselves five full days of early access to the content when it doesn launch. The price is set at $19.99, but those who are still monthly SW:TOR subscribers can knock 50 percent off that price, bringing it down to $9.99.

The 2 Player Productions documentary Minecraft: The Story of Mojang makes its world premiere on Xbox Live this Saturday, December 22, 2012. The film will be free to watch for Xbox Live Gold subscribers in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, France, Finland, and Sweden, according to Major Nelson.

There's no disputing the high-profile nature of premiering on Xbox Live or the relevance of Minecraft there. That said, Mojang's Minecraft was born as a PC game, so it's a little strange that the doc wouldn't make its world premiere on the game's platform of origin. Fortunately, I game in Minecraft on my PC but I also have an Xbox 360, so I'll be tuning in. How about you?

Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are running a multi-part video series that highlights some of the headline features in Tomb Raider, which is out on March 5, 2013. The game revisits Lara Croft's origins as a treasure hunting survivalist, dropping players into an open environment that offers up an assortment of dangers. Even this early look draws many comparisons with Ubisoft's recently released Far Cry 3, which is hardly a bad thing.

The first video in this survival guide series peeks at the upgrade mechanics in Tomb Raider, accessible from the game's Base Camps. It appears that Lara will make us of a variety of tools as she explores and that each one can be upgraded using a currency called "salvage." Character development also comes into play, with earned experience translating into skill points that can be spent to improve your starting abilities.

Players who spend much of December 2012 soaking in the open world survival of Far Cry 3 will probably see a lot to like in this glimpse at Tomb Raider's gameplay.

The Crysis 3 web series from Electronic Arts and Crytek, titled The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3, is now officially live on the Internet. As we learned last week, the multi-part series is produced and directed by Albert Hughes, one half of the sibling filmmaker duo behind modern classics like Menace II Society and Dead Presidents.

The first episode, One Hell of a Town, sets up the basic story of Crysis 3 in the opening moments before shifting gears to a mixture of HUD-less gameplay and various establishing shots. "Pretty" is the operative word here, with the HD footage no doubt being processed by some monolithic beast of a gaming PC. 

It's not clear if this first episode is highlighting the "wonder" of beautiful visuals or multi-faceted combat. Hopefully we'll see more of a common thread emerge as this week's second episode arrives.


Borderlands 2 DLC Details Leak Ahead Of Release Date Reveal

We recently learned that the title of the third Borderlands 2 DLC pack is most likely Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt, but further data mining over the weekend has led to some additional details as well. A Reddit user who took the time to dig through the game's recent PlayStation 3 update uncovered a load of info on the coming DLC pack as well as additional details of planned character customization content packs.

Some of this info falls into spoiler territory, so here's a text buffer for those who would prefer to be surprised by what's coming in the third Borderlands 2 DLC. If you absolutely can't wait and need to know more, hit the jump for the full rundown.

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Rage 'The Scorchers' DLC Is Out This Week, To Everyone's Surprise

Rage, the id Software-developed, Bethesda Softworks-published shooter released during the 2011 holiday season, will be the recepient of a campaign-expanding DLC pack this week. 'The Scorchers' adds six new areas to the game and sees you fighting alongside the residents of the Hager Settlement against the titular bandit clan.

In addition to the new storyline, The Scorchers also brings back more Mutant Bash TV and introduces a handful of new mini-games as well as the new Nailgun. Finally, the DLC also adds an Ultra-Nightmare difficulty mode and an Extended Play option that allows you to keep exploring the open world after the endgame credits roll.

There's no release date announced in the Bethesda Blog post, though you can probably expect the typical mid-week rollout on your platform of choice. The Scorchers will be available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC for $4.99 (400 MS Points).

Splash Damage revealed its upcoming multiplayer shooter Dirty Bomb just a couple of weeks ago, but now you can have a clearer look at the game thanks to a newly released gameplay trailer. All we know from the initial announcement is that the game is planned as a PC exclusive and that it'll use free-to-play pricing.

The new gameplay trailer confirms that Dirty Bomb is DEFINITELY a multiplayer shooter. It seems that there are different classes filling different roles on the battlefield, but there's not much of a sense in this first look of how it all fits together. Splash Damage has a knack for doing interesting things with its multiplayer games (see also: Brink, Quake Wars: Enemy Territory), but any gameplay hooks that make Dirty Bomb stand out don't seem to be on display here.

Steam Adds Game Guides Section For User-Created Cheat Sheets

It looks like Valve is following the example set by websites like GameFAQs with a new Game Guides section on Steam. The feature, currently in beta, allows Steam users to share text, images, and embedded videos designed to offer tips and tricks for the various games available through the digital storefront.

The content offering is pretty light right now, as you might expect for such a new feature. That said, with the ability to call up a Steam overlay from inside of any game, there's a lot of potential here for quicker access to the help you might be looking for. Especially when it comes to games that aren't as friendly to tabbing out.

Borderlands 2's Third DLC Is Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt

The title of the third DLC pack for Borderlands 2 seems to be "Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt." The news comes from data mined PlayStation 3 files pulled from a recent update, according to a Gearbox forum post. In addition to the DLC's title, three PS3 Trophies are revealed as well, awarded for completing the mission "The Fall of Nakayama," compleing all Hammerlock's hunt side quests, and discovering all of the new named locations.

There haven't been any announcements from 2K Games or Gearbox regarding the third Borderlands 2 DLC, though two content drops are still coming before June 2013 under the terms of the game's Season Pass. In a statement, 2K re-confirmed that two more DLC packs are still incoming, adding that "we are really looking forward to sharing news about our third add-on campaign and other downloadable content soon."

Metro Last Light

THQ has yet to set a final release date to Metro 2033 follow-up Metro: Last Light, but the publisher has detailed the innards of the game's Limited Edition release in a morning press release. The highlight for many fans is the inclusion of Ranger Mode, a more "realistic" difficulty setting that was released as DLC for the previous game.

The Limited Edition package also includes a few other bonuses, such as the Ranger load-out (ie bonus currency to start with) and a modded AKS-74U. Last Light's Limited Edition release doesn't carry a higher price tag; it's simply a first-run printing upgrade that you'll be able to get either by pre-ordering the game or buying it shortly after release.

As an added bonus for PlayStation 3 users, those who pre-order the game on or after December 18, 2012 will receive a free Metro PSN theme immediately and a download of THQ's Homefront when Last Light launches.


Dead Space 3's latest trailer "Two Ways To Play" showcases the game's flexibility to tackle Necromorphs all alone or teamed up with a friend (via drop in/ drop out co-op). Is it just me or does this trailer make a co-op play through seem just as scary as a solo one? The trailer also makes it seem like Dead Space 3's story is a lot more robust when playing co-op.

Check it out for yourself (feel free to watch this trailer solo or with a friend):

How to do you plan on playing Dead Space 3? Me? I think I'm going to play it solo because most of my online friends are loot stealing, mood breaking bozos.

Albert Hughes, the Hollywood filmmaker behind modern classics like Menace II Society and Dead Presidents, is teaming with Electronic Arts and Crytek for the upcoming The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3 web series. The collaboration is teased in a series trailer that seems to suggest each episode will be focusing on a different environment inside of New York City's Liberty Dome.

This is, as far as I can tell, Hughes' first foray into the world of video games. He and his brother Allen are something of a filmmaking powerhouse, with Albert generally focusing on the technical elements of their projects while his brother handles the actors. It will be interesting to see how the Crytek-collaborating Hughes brother brings his talents to The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3 web series.

Borderlands 2 Enemy Preview -- Meet The Monsters

The latest Xbox 360 title update for Borderlands 2 is out, and among the many fixes and balance tweaks it introduces is one that restores lost Badass Tokens to those who were affected by an earlier glitch. Shortly after Borderlands 2 was released in September 2012, a chunk of players saw their profile-wide Badass Rank progress stunted when upgrades purchased with Badass Tokens disappeared.

Records of completed in-game challenges remained, but the actual rewards for completing those challenges went away. The title update doesn't restore the upgrades that you purchased, but it refunds all of the Tokens that had previously been spent, which is just as great. It seems that affected players are also receiving a gift of 10 Golden Keys. Either that or the server gremlins at Gearbox decided to shower me with riches (UPDATE: Yep, confirmed-- it's a make-good gift from Gearbox).

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BioShock Infinite Cover Art Revealed

The reception that BioShock Infinite's cover art received from members of the fan community... wasn't very welcoming. The box art, which features protagonist Booker DeWitt in a fairly familiar "burdened hero" sort of pose, was deemed too generic for a game franchise that challenges the notions of what sorts of stories interactive narratives can impart.

Irrational's Ken Levine reassured fans about the cover, explaining that the official art is aimed at selling Infinite to a wider audience. In a move meant to appease fans, a number of alternate cover designs are being offered up now on Irrational's website. They'll be voted on by you, the fans, and the winner will be printed on the game's reversible inner jacket. I went with #6, but #4 seems to be the leading choice right now. They're both gorgeous though. Take a look and cast your vote.

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