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Plugged In

Eight big games to watch for in May

Plugged In

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Diablo III (Blizzard)

Times are tough for the video game industry. Sales keep on slipping, and with a good six months until the holiday season brings out the blockbusters, things are looking a bit bleak.

Luckily, we've got May — historically a big month for gamers, at least in terms of high-quality releases. Case in point: the great May of 2010, which brought us Red Dead Redemption, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Split/Second, Blur, and Alan Wake within a stunning two-week span. Suffice to say, sick days were taken.

This year, another crop of big-name games is lining up to give the month a shot at stopping the sales slide — or at least slowing it down. Here are a handful of May's top titles:

Diablo III -- Y! Games top pick

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Release Date:  May 15

Platform: PC, Mac

It's scary to think that a dozen years have passed since Diablo II turned us into a nation of mindless, loot-clicking zombies. Even scarier? We're totally ready to do it again. Hands-down one of the year's most anticipated games, Diablo III brings back the franchise's gloriously addictive dungeon crawling and adds new classes and gameplay tweaks to the formula. Get some sleep now, because you won't get any come mid-May.

Starhawk

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Release date: May 8

Platform: PS3

The sequel to 2007's Warhawk, Starhawk has been flying a little under the radar for the past year or so. That's an oversight, because this chaotic action doozie looks like all sorts of fun. Players can zip around on foot, smash into each other with vehicles, soar over the battlefield in various aircraft and even stomp around in giant mechs in epic, 32-player matches.

Minecraft (Xbox Live Arcade)

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Release Date: May 9

Platform: Xbox 360

The award-winning, game-changing, block-building phenom is finally making its way to consoles, and we're expecting that to be a very, very good thing. It's the same basic game -- you'll craft weapons, items, and eventually fortresses by chipping away at blocks in an effort to survive nights filled with monsters -- but the XBLA version adds incredibly handy guides and recipes built right into the game's menu system. How crafty!

Max Payne 3

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Release Date: May 15

Platform:  Xbox 360, PS3 (PC version coming May 29)

If you're more hard-boiled cop than hard-hitting barbarian, Max Payne 3 is your pick of the month, if not the year. Players will catch up with Max in Sao Paolo, Brazil, where his time spent running security for a local wealthy family is about to come to an ugly end. Written by Rockstar Games honcho Dan Houser — the same scribe who penned Red Dead Redemption — it's shaping up to deliver thrilling, bullet-time firefights alongside what should be one of the year's most intriguing video game stories.

A Game of Thrones

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Release Date: May 15

Platform:  Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Having already conquered bookstores and cable television, the epic high fantasy series marches to game systems. It's not the first 'Thrones' effort — an ill-fated strategy title came out last year -- but it's shaping up to be the most authentic.  You'll play as both a member of the Night's Watch and a Red Priest in this role-playing action game, which runs parallel to the events in the first book/season. Featuring actors and likenesses from the show, it could be just what Westeros needed…other than a new king.

Mario Tennis Open

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Release Date: May 20

Platform: 3DS

We're the first to admit that Mario is at his best hopping on Koopas and banging his head on Coin Blocks, not playing sports. But Mario Tennis Open actually looks like a lot of fun, thanks to various control schemes, smart use of the 3DS tech, and full online multiplayer support. But even cooler are the Special Games, including one that lets you whack tennis balls at a scrolling, old-school game of Super Mario Bros.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

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Release Date: May 22

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3 (PC version coming in June)

The fourth official game in the respected Ghost Recon series isn't just another military shooter.  For one thing, it's filled with future tech, letting players tinker with cutting-edge military toys like optical camouflage and battle drones. It's also got one of the deepest weapons customization features we've ever seen. If you like playing with guns, you'll want to enlist this one.

Resistance: Burning Skies

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Release Date: May 29

Platform: PlayStation Vita

One of the coolest features of the PlayStation Vita -- the coolest feature, some might say -- is its dual-analog stick control. And what better use for two control sticks than a first-person shooter based on Sony's acclaimed Resistance franchise? In addition to a big single-player story starring you and those pesky Chimera, Burning Skies features Vita touch controls and 8-player online multiplayer matches.

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