We rarely get the chance to feature such a magnificent beard on our cover. Total War: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai has given us that chance. In our six page feature, we take an in-depth look at the fascinating standalone expansion for Shogun 2. It's set during the twilight years of the Shogunate at a time when incoming imperial technology threatens the stability of Japan's ruling classes, and it's looking rather exciting. To celebrate, we're giving every reader Empire: Total War's Warpath Campaign free in this issue!
Also, THE TOP 100 IS HERE. Yes, the sexiest list of the year has arrived, in which we deliver our infallible and entirely correct list of the 100 best PC games in the world right now. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll want to write a strongly worded letter of disagreement. You can argue the case for your favourite games in the top 100 discussion happening on our forums right now.
The issue hits shops today and subscribers (opens in new tab) should have had it for about a week. It's also available online (opens in new tab) , through Zinio and through the Apple Newsstand (opens in new tab) . Read on to find out what else lies behind the beard.
In our previews section this month, Tom Francis takes to the lanes in Dota 2, Chris Thursten takes to the planes in X-Plane 10, then takes the reins in Warlock: Master of the Arcane. Tom takes the blame in Faster Than Light and Chris uses hammers to maim in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, winning the previews section by a score of 3 -2. Elsewhere, Will Porter takes a look at Mass Effect 3 and Henry Winchester checks out Sniper Elite V2.
The reviews section doesn't rhyme quite as well as the previews section this month, but it's full of exciting games. Reviewed inside: Star Wars: The Old Republic, Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand, Trine 2, APB Reloaded, Anno 2070, English Country Tune, Ignite, Sonic Generations, Serious Sam 3: BFE, Magicka: The Stars are Left, Rochard, InMomentum, Cave Story+, Fractal: Make Blooms not War, Grotesque Tactics 2: Dungeons and Donuts, Waves, Dead Island: Bloodbath Arena and For The Awesome.
In Extra Life we recount some of the funniest and strangest things that have happened to us in games recently. Rich McCormick becomes an accidental cannibal in Skyrim, Henry is way ahead of the criminals in LA Noire, Tom F dons a jetpack in Spelunky and Chris bribes all the space pirates he can throw money at in Sins of a Solar Empire.
Then there's our top ten free downloads section, in which we gather together some great Shogun 2 mods and go slightly insane playing Worry of Newport. Tom Senior returns to Terraria to explore the huge 1.1 patch in Update, and Duncan Geere discovers how Bioshock was made in a four page feature we decided to call "The Making of Bioshock."
There's tons more inside, like Adam's hardware report on a way to use SSDs to speed up your system, our round-up of the best heatsinks for your CPU and our special report on this year's most promising racing sims. If you subscribe (opens in new tab) you'll get each issue, cheaper, earlier, and clad in our cover-line free cover (as seen above). You can also buy it online (opens in new tab) , through Zinio , or Apple Newsstand. Enjoy the issue!