1. Max Payne 3
Simply put, Max Payne 3 is the crown jewel of the summer. No game released this year so perfectly combines a great story and voice acting with all the right technical elements—great graphics, sound, and gameplay. If you’ve followed the series since the original Max Payne, you’ll probably appreciate this more, but it’s a standalone game in its own right. Payne is the ultimate bad cop, a self-loathing, alcoholic John McClane, but without the sense of humor. His only talent in life is using a gun, which is good, because after he calls it quits in the NYPD, he takes up personal security for a rich family in South America and absolute hell breaks loose. When “bullet time” made its debut in the original Max Payne, it seemed like just another attempt to cash in on the slow motion special effects popularized by The Matrix. But the gimmick has aged remarkably well, and now you can slow down your last kill in each area to really savor a job well-done. It seems like a sick thing to say, but once you get your hands on Max Payne 3, you’ll be doing the same thing, and loving every second of it.