February 2009: PS3, Xbox 360, PC A hooded hero, a guiltless conscience, a barren memory, and trans-human abilities both awesome and bewildering together define Prototype, a sandbox action game set in a modern-day, open-world, shockingly authentic New York City. As the city falls to the ravages of a viral mutation and the government charges the streets to fight back the infected populace, Alex Mercer seeks only to learn who (and why) he is. As for the what, that's easy: Alex is a shapeshifter. He can absorb, consume, and take on the properties of anything-objects, creatures, enemies, and innocents alike. It will take all his abilities to beat back the city, and all of our patience to wait until 2009 when Prototype finally hits store shelves.
#38: Puzzle Quest: Galactrix
Fall 2008: XBLA, DS, PC Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords was a fiendishly addictive puzzle/RPG that used Bejeweled-like gameplay to simulate combat. Despite its outrageously enjoyable gameplay (it's still a favorite in the GamePro offices), Warlords had two problems: it looked awful, and its puzzle board was ho-hum. Like a good sequel should, Galactrix is evolving its take on puzzling with these three gameplay enhancements.
• 1. Complete graphical and environmental overhaul. As its name implies, Galactrix is going solidly sci-fi. The move into space has meant transforming the cartoony look of Warlords to a cleaner, more futuristic style that puts the cutesy fantasy setting to shame. The RPG elements of combat have also changed, and instead of managing the spells and health of a Warlord, you'll be watching the weapons and armor of your spaceship.
• 2. Pegboards are out; hexes are in. Perhaps the most important change coming in Galactrix is the puzzle board revamp. No longer is the playing field a square board with circular, peg-like tiles; now, both the board and tiles are hexagons. Tile-swaps can be made in any of six directions instead of four, multiplying the game's complexity.
• 3. Gravity is no longer on your side. Now that matches take place in space, new tiles no longer fall from the top of the screen every time you clear a set of three or more; instead, tiles will "fall" into play from any of the six directions, based on which way you're flipping pairs. That means you can create different chain combos by switching the same two tiles different ways, making strategy absolutely vital to success.
OUT NOW ON PS3, Xbox 360, PC! In 10 words: Extreme off-road racing with amazing graphics. Prettiest game ever?