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The best Xbox 360 games of 2013

What we're hungry for, and what we're less keen on

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Gears of War: Judgment
Boasting high octane Americanised spelling, a spawn system designed to make returning Gears players scream for mercy, and an interestingly grown-up narrative that's retrospectively told by way of a military tribunal, this could be the best Gears game yet, if not a true mold-breaker in the vein of People Can Fly's previous work, Bulletstorm. The multiplayer benefits from a new class system - a nod to Mass Effect 3, perhaps - and streamlined controls.

Gears of War: Judgment: Free for All, Overrun and rewriting history

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Tomb Raider
An accomplished-looking blockbuster which, by the sounds of things, toes the line drawn by Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and an interesting reworking of gaming's most famous/infamous female lead. The production values are second to none, supporting a gristly new horror vibe, and the combat ticks all the boxes, while seldom thinking outside them.

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Painkiller HD
The secret to Daniel Gardner's success? Running backwards around boxy maps, throwing everything and the kitchen sink at a hoard of survival-averse freaks and demons - and that's a fine analogy for what The Farm is trying to achieve with this HD update. Save for polished visuals, the blasphemies of the modern FPS designer have been sternly resisted, and the result (on the strength of an hour or so's hands-on) is a game that isn't so much a reminder of your childhood as a reminder of why you grew up.

Painkiller HD: Bulletstorm's ancestor shows that old school isn't better school

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Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Given the polished but unremarkable Splinter Cell: Conviction, It'll take a decent hands-on before we feel comfortable about Ubisoft's attempt to mix vintage stealth with popcorn excess. There's talk of some worthwhile features, though - a new finisher system which sees you Marking targets for Execution while you're Executing the previous set, dog sentries who can follow your scent, electrical kills and a multiplayer mode which interpenertrates with single player to a yet-to-be-revealed degree. "Only Godzilla would consider it stealthy," Jonty wrote of his E3 demo.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist - airstrike, electrocution or torture

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Battlefield 4
EA doubtless sold a fair few copies of Medal of Honor: Warfighter on the strength of Battlefield 4 beta access in autumn 2013. Given the quality of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the new Battlefield has much to prove. A Battlefield 2142 successor would be yummy.

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