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It has been a bang-up year for shooters.

Zombies, aliens, Nazis, mutants, vampires and terrorists by the legion have been blasted on digital battlefields. However, some of these battles could be more painful than playful. Do you remember the frustrating “ArmA”? Probably not. Probably for the best.

To help you avoid such traps, here’s a rundown of the 2007 shooters that are the most fun to play.

These are the games that beckon us to return again and again — luring us with enthralling game play, good graphics and intriguing stories. The best titles also offer plenty of opportunity to play alongside other gamers — as either friends or foes.

So here’s a Top 5 list — balanced to account for different platforms and experience levels — plus one “guilty pleasure” that I couldn’t resist.

1. Halo 3Platform: Xbox 360Rated: MWhy it’s fun: The detailed graphics, interesting characters, cool weapons, engaging story, smooth game play and plentiful online options are terrific. However, the major factor in putting this atop the list is the co-op mode, something that’s sorely lacking in most of the following shooters. In gameland, there’s nothing sweeter than you and a buddy taking on the universe as Master Chief and the Arbiter.Not so hot: Online play often resembles a death match between over-caffeinated squirrels thanks to the game’s popularity among overly caffeinated teenagers.

2. Call of Duty 4: Modern WarfarePlatforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PCRated: MWhy it’s fun: It delivers the most realistic graphics available. Its game play is perfectly tuned. Its campaign is enthralling. Its online play is addictive, boasting solid action, interesting maps and frequent rewards. It probably should have topped this list, but it has a glaring flaw …Not so hot: There’s no co-op mode and no split-screen mode for online play. This seriously detracts from the value of the game — unless you live in Mom’s basement and always play alone.

3. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2: Advanced WarfighterPlatforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PCRated: TWhy it’s fun: This is co-op heaven. Up to four people can play together in campaign and skirmish modes against AI foes. They can also go head-to-head on the same console or join a wide range of online matches. In addition, the solo campaign is interesting and offers some of the best squad-based action available.Not so hot: Its graphics, game play and story are solid, but not quite as robust or smooth as those in the titles above.

4. Metroid Prime 3: CorruptionPlatform: WiiRated: TWhy it’s fun: The motion-sensitive controllers enable you to become fully immersed in the action. You can point your controller directly at a foe and pull the tripper —no fiddling with joysticks. The game play is smooth, the graphics are pretty good and the story is compelling. It’s the best shooter available on what appears to be the season’s most popular console.Not so hot: No online or co-op play. Obviously, Samus only works alone.

5. Medal of Honor: Heroes 2Platforms: WiiRated: TWhy it’s fun: Its arcade mode is very accessible to inexperienced gamers — perfect for the Wii and its legions of new players. The mode puts you on a rail to carry you through the action, which means you don’t have to do much more than aim, shoot, reload, duck and toss a few grenades. Hey, noobs deserve to have a little fun, too. In addition, the game offers some solid online play, which is still relatively rare in Wii games. A final bonus: It’s compatible with the gunlike Wii Zapper.Not so hot: Sticklers for historical detail won’t find it here. The story is rather fanciful and the action — even in campaign mode — is on the arcady side. The graphics aren’t the best, even for the Wii. No co-op mode.

One more: BlackSite: Area 51Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PCRated: TWhy it’s fun: It just is. Sure “BlackSite” has some issues, but standing your ground against hordes of mutants and gigantic worm thingies in Downtown America is cool. Some of the levels are well constructed, with some interesting challenges and a creepy post-apocalyptic feel.Not so hot: When a game’s lead designer publicly complains about its development process, it’s not a good sign. That happened with “BlackSite.” The game is prone to visual and processing glitches. The storyline and much of the action is pretty predictable. Many of the foes are rather dimwitted and the allies can be unhelpful. No co-op play. But who needs perfection?


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