Jeff Jensen
May 27, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

L.A. Noire
The newest boundary-pushing offering from Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto) is interactive pulp fiction filled with hard-boiled dialogue, twisty story lines, and atmosphere as thick as cigarette smoke. The rendering of 1940s Los Angeles is meticulous and deep; the motion-capture performances (led by Mad Men‘s Aaron Staton) are nuanced and engaging. You not only play a police detective, you also do hardcore police-detective work: To advance in the game, you must interrogate suspects, read their faces and body language, and deduce if they’re lying or telling the truth. The action sequences are riveting — and optional. But when the cars are retro-cool DeSotos and the weapons are nifty nickel-plated revolvers, we doubt you’ll be skipping the tough-guy stuff. (Rated M; out now)

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean
Until now, Lego has found blockbuster success by having fun with (and making fun of) self-serious fantasy worlds like Star Wars and Harry Potter. But with Pirates, the leading purveyor of videogame whimsy is paired with a pop culture property with a creative sensibility that perfectly matches its own. (Rated E10+; out now)

Child of Eden
First-person shooters typically involve beefy men with huge guns blowing away aliens. Child of Eden — a surreal Star Wars for Xbox 360’s Kinect — shatters the mold. Using their hands and Kinect’s motion-detecting tech, players jab, clap, and wave at the screen to combat enemies that produce music when destroyed. The visuals? Trippy. Abstract representations of nature; vibrant swirls and swooshes of color. It’s an interactive laser show adapted for the living room. (Rated E10+; June 14)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The original version, released in 1998 for the now-obsolete Nintendo 64, is considered one of the all-time greats, and a high-water mark for the beloved Zelda franchise. So this spruced-up reboot for the Nintendo 3DS is a sure winner. (Rated E10+; June 19)

Dead Island
Left4Dead by way of Lost, Dead Island is a zombie survival game that’s earned huge buzz for its brilliant trailer, a violent yet emotional reverse-time chronicle of a girl’s transformation into a flesh-eating monster. If the game can match it in thrills and depth of feeling, we’ll kill to play it. (Rating TBD; Aug. 1)

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