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Plugged In

Oct. 9: The biggest gaming day of 2012

Plugged In

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The big guns of the 2012 holiday season are still in their holsters — and will remain there for several more weeks. But we're calling it right now: Today, Tuesday Oct. 9, is the biggest gaming day of the year.

Sure, Black Ops II and Halo 4 will sell more copies, but in terms of sheer quality, you're not going to see a day like today for a long, long time.Of course, an embarrassment of riches comes with its own set of problems. Short of quitting your job and cutting ties with the people you love, there's no way for you to consume all of this gaming goodness at once. That's a cross you're going to have to bear, though.

The trickle before the flood started on Sunday with the release of Pokemon Black/White Version 2. Starting today, Harry Potter Kinect and Just Dance 4 will keep the kids occupied.

But they may have to wait on practicing their Patronus Charms and cabbage patching, because the real gaming fun is for adults. Here's a look at the big titles that are hitting shelves today:

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Dishonored

Bethesda and Arcane Studios kick off this new RPG/action franchise with a game that is a little bit System Shock, a little bit Half-Life and a little bit Bioshock. The sum of those parts is an incredibly addicting game that lets you play pretty much any way you want.

You can be a bloodthirsty killer, a stealthy assassin who kills selectively, or even a pacifist, completing the game without a single kill. Whichever path you choose, the game adjusts, taking your actions into account. The game also creates characters you actually care about. The relationship between lead character Corvo and empress-in-waiting Emily humanizes your character -- and may make you reconsider your actions.

Dishonored currently boasts an 89 Metacritic rating, one of the highest of 2012, and is getting kudos from just about everyone.

"It's a rare game that feels so compulsively replayable, but Dishonored is such a game," says Gamespot. "The compelling abilities, the bold artistic design, the colorful characters, and above all, the freedom of choice--these are the things that mark Dishonored as one of the truly remarkable games of this year."

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown

This long-awaited turn-based strategy game (which was made by Firaxis, the developers of the Civilization series) is also earning an 89 Metacritic score — and is being applauded for the life-or-death decisions it thrusts the player into.

The original XCOM wasn't a cakewalk and neither is this one, but when you do make the right calls, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment that's rare in gaming.

"Charting a course through Earth's imminent destruction is as unashamedly difficult as it was in 1994's X-COM," says Edge. "It's possible, through bad planning and bad management, to doom the planet early on, making the game feel unfair. Get it right, however - survive the stresses of management, and the strains of aliens - and you'll feel like the world's greatest hero."

Polygon, meanwhile, calls it "one of the best and most artfully-designed strategy games in recent memory."

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The Walking Dead: Episode 4 - Around Every Corner

While there's no Metacritic score on this yet, the latest installment of the year's most pleasant gaming surprise has been one players have been hungering for. Developer Telltale Games warns fans things will only get worse for the band of survivors you've come to love. Gary Whitta, former PC Gamer editor-in-chief turned Hollywood screenwriter ('The Book of Eli'), penned this penultimate episode.  Suffice it to say that zombies aren't the only thing Lee and Clem will have to worry about this time around.

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