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Halo 4 earns critical hallelujahs 

Plus, news on Mass Effect Trilogy, LEGO: The Lord of the Rings

Microsoft's new futuristic first-person shooter,Halo 4, the latest installment in the blockbuster Halo franchise, deployed on Nov. 6, just one week before Treyarch's highly anticipated Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

343 Industries, Halo 4's developer, and Microsoft can breathe a sigh of relief: The reviews are in, and they're good. Really good. Metacritic, which aggregates video game reviews from various publications and sites such as GameStop, Game Informer and IGN, gives games an averaged score ranging from 1 to 100. The ranking is considered a barometer for whether a title will sell, as many hardcore gamers depend on unanimous, universal praise for a game before they'll dish out the $59.99 to take it home. Many industry veterans and analysts consider a score in the mid-80s to be a certified hit. Metacritic has given Halo 4 an 87.

  • 343 Industries

Here's what reviewers are saying:

Destructoid: "343 Industries have done a remarkable job at continuing the Halo legacy. They've gone all out, creating a fantastic sequel that brought forth a major focus on storytelling while upping the visual and audio direction to a level that will be tough for anyone to rival with these few remaining years of the current console generation."

IGN: "Halo 4 is a masterstroke everyone can and should celebrate, and its two guaranteed sequels instantly make the next-generation Xbox a must-own system, with Halo 5 its most anticipated title. Halo has been rebuilt. It has been redefined. And it has been reinvigorated. The Xbox's original king has returned to his rightful place on the throne."

Polygon: "Halo 4 is most like the original Halo, where the novelty and wonder of exploring something really alien and different is a key factor. While Halo 4 continues the series' tradition of iteration on its own design more successfully than any one of its predecessors, that sense of awe, of discovery, has been light since the first game, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I played Halo 4."

Game Informer: "Halo 4 is a thrilling adventure, and takes the science fiction franchise headlong into the future. The magic formula is intact, but the new development team isn't afraid to put its own signature features into play, assuring that Halo is on a path to growth instead of stagnation."

BACK IN SEPTEMBER, BioWare announced that the Mass Effect Trilogy would be released for PC and Xbox 360 on Nov. 6 but kept quiet on a release date for the PlayStation 3. Well, on Nov. 1, Ryan Warden, External Producer at BioWare Edmonton, confirmed that the set will be available for PlayStation 3 owners in time for the holidays, hitting shelves on Dec. 4.

The Trilogy box set, which includes the original Mass Effect and its two follow-ups, will be available at retail for $60 — a pretty fantastic deal for three great games, if I may say so.

BioWare also detailed what PS3 fans can expect in the way of downloadable content for the Trilogy. The collection will include the original Mass Effect's Bring Down the Sky expansion, while Mass Effect 2 will feature the Cerberus Network package (which includes the Kasumi, Overlord and Lair of the Shadow Broker expansion packs). Mass Effect 3, however, will be exactly as it originally shipped.

LASTLY, FOLKS into "sci-fi action role-playing third-person shooter" video games (seriously, that's a real sub-genre) might enjoy LEGO: The Lord of the Rings from TT Games. Having already explored the worlds of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and DC's Superhero Universe, LEGO transforms J.R.R Tolkien's Middle Earth saga into a brick-and-block playground, just in time for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to hit theaters this holiday season.

LEGO: The Lord of the Rings has already been available for handheld devices like the Vita, 3DS and DS and was released this week on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and PC.

(Console Me, Creative Loafing's new electronic gaming column, consists of previews, reviews and commentary penned by Charlotte writer Adam Frazier, a regular contributor to CL and the websites Geeks of Doom and Hollywood News.)

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