Summer Games... 

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For gamers, there's never been a cold season like this one — Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Portal 2, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, Dead Island, Dark Souls, Saints Row The Third, Starcraft II, Bastion, Batman: Arkham City, From Dust, Gears of War: 3 and a wide selection of must-play sports and driving games — there was just no way you could play them all.

And because of online play, player-vs-player and multiplayer components there was no way to stop playing some of these titles. The value factor — cost of the game divided by hours played — was literally through the roof. I personally have 140 hours playing Dark Souls over six months, which works out to about 45 cents an hour. Skyrim was created to be endless, generating an infinite number of encounters and scenarios to guarantee that players will get tired of the game mechanics before they run out of things to do.

The only bad thing about the past winter's games is the fact that some great new titles are coming and hardcore gamers will be forced to set the old games aside, maybe prematurely — or wind up becoming one of those guys who still plays Donkey Kong 30 years later.

At the top of the list is Diablo III, a PC dungeon crawler by Blizzard that releases on May 15. Blizzard hasn't officially confirmed a console port for the titles, but it's a safe bet one is on the way at some point with over 60 million Xbox 360s and PS3s sold around the world.

May 15 is also the official console launch of Max Payne 3 by Rockstar Games, the studio behind the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead Redemption and other top-tier titles. The PC version will follow a few weeks later. This could be one of the top games of the year with incredible graphics, innovative multiplayer and — this could be huge — some kind of crossover with the next version of Grand Theft Auto 5.

GTA 5 won't be out this summer, but some have predicted a release in late 2012.

For years, the 3D strategy title Fez has been drawing rave reviews at Indie Game conferences, and it will finally be released this Friday, April 13 on Xbox Live Arcade.

On April 17, the critically acclaimed Witcher series will be coming to consoles with a port for Witcher 2. The game has sold about two million copies to date, but made headlines after deciding to forgo any digital locks to benefit customers, only to see three or four times as many copies downloaded illegally.

June 19 will see the release of The Secret World, a new online multiplayer game looking to take a share of the World of Warcraft audience. This title seems to have a lot going for it — no levels or grinding for loot, lifetime memberships for purchasers, massing group battles, mysteries to solve, covenants to join, and more. Go to YouTube and check out the trailer.

Summer is slow, but things pick up in September with the launch of Far Cry 3 on Sept. 4 — again, go to YouTube and check out the videos for this one — and Borderlands 2 on Sept. 18. Both are cross-platform releases.

BioShock Infinite, maybe the most anticipated game of 2012, is set to drop on Oct. 16, followed by Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Assassin's Creed III and Resident Evil 6.

Hawken, an intriguing, independently produced mech game that is turning heads, is scheduled for December — PC only right now, although console versions have been teased.

A lot of highly anticipated games don't have a release date yet — a new Call of Duty, Dead or Alive 5, Devil May Cry, Fable: The Journey, Halo 4, Hitman: Absolution, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Scrolls, X-COM: Enemy Unknown — to name just a few.

There are so many good games coming out that it's probably a good idea to have a strategy:

1) Play only the types of games you prefer — if you're into driving games then maybe pass on Witcher 2.

2) Limit the time you spend on side missions, levelling your character or collecting gold coins — how much optional gear do you really need? Does making yourself invincible really make it any more fun?

3) Give yourself two weeks maximum with the multiplayer — unless you're actually good at it, in which case you should play only until the self-esteem boost fades or a 13-year-old homophobe/racist schools your ass. The moment you find yourself raging against N00bz it's time to walk away.

4) Sell your old games so you won't feel tempted to go back to them. If you must keep them then hide them from yourself next time you've had a few drinks.

5) Play games on the maximum difficulty. It will take longer to get through the first playthrough, but you won't have to come back and play it again for the bigger challenge.

6) Don't worry about player points, trophies, etc. They have no real-world value. The only thing that should matter is whether you finished the game.

7) Watch speed run videos on YouTube for inspiration. And check out http://speeddemosarchive.com/gamelist/ to see what the records are for various titles, and compare them to your own times. If you want to play all these games, your only hope is to play them faster.

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