Before we knew it, December was upon us and all the games had arrived in stores in time for everyone to buy them as presents. We've got the reveal of our Game of the Year coming after Christmas, but for 24 days starting December 1 we'll bring you a new contender for the title. Please note that these games are in no particular order, but feel free to speculate on where they might appear in our final list.
Martin Gaston, Reviews Editor
Look, I love Halo to bits and I love Halo 4. This is probably not a surprise - Halo 4 doesn't go to any great lengths to change the series, so a plasma pistol here is as good as any plasma pistol which came before it. Yet 343i's first stab at the series is an impressive, towering affair of sights and sounds. Halo, at its best, makes players feel like they're taking part in a whizzy sci-fi adventure, and Halo 4 does that as well.
One thing I think goes unsaid a lot of the time is that I think this is a distinctly 343i take on Halo. This doesn't feel like a Bungie game in spirit and tone, and 343 Industries seem to be far more compelled on trying to make you feel sad and mournful as you fire that plasma pistol. Which is a little weird, because the only thing I feel as I pull the trigger is wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Halooooooo.
Also, one sequence is ripped straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark and it's like a space version of that. You'll know it when you see it. So that's great, too.
Tom Orry, Editor
When people talk about how Halo is the most overrated series in gaming I simply can't believe what I'm reading. Halo has delivered the goods (in a variety of ways) every time, and Halo 4 is for me up there with the best in the series. It didn't leave me with the same feeling I had after completing the original, but it's easily the best FPS I've played in 2012, the game with the slickest production values, and a game I'll happily replay numerous times in the future. I love halo, and any worries I had about 343 taking over from Bungie were wiped out completely. This is big budget gaming at its best, and gives me great hope for the series on Microsoft's next console.
David Scammell, Deputy News Editor
If you'd have told me ten years ago that Halo 4 would be a romance, I'd have told you to take a running jump off a ledge. We could all see the ending coming a mile off, of course, but Halo 4's heartrending tale was so potent (and masterfully well-expressed, given the relative lack of dialogue), that - for me - it ranks up there alongside the tales of Cloud & Aerith, and Ico & Yorda, as one of gaming's greatest love stories.
That 343 successfully managed to create a story that tugged on the heart-strings quite so insistently is a true achievement, of course, but crafting it around a sci-fi shooter was even more impressive. And what a shooter it was. Halo 4 took all of Bungie's finest qualities, added an element of sparkle and delivered a truly magnificent space odyssey.
There was a downside, of course: I don't think Spartan Ops was the mode many people had been expecting, and one or two levels during the game's midpoint felt relatively flimsy. But as a complete package, Halo 4 is one of the year's very best, and a shooter that will likely be remembered as one of the generation's finest.