Top Shooters Battle It Out For Gamers' Cash

Three new first-person shooters are going to explode on our screens next month, in what promises to be an intense battle for pre-Christmas sales.

Halo 4 will only be available on the Xbox 360, while Call Of Duty: Black Ops II and Far Cry 3 can reach out to more gamers by being available on the PlayStation 3 and PC as well.

Halo 4 is the first instalment in a new series of Halo games called the Reclaimer Trilogy. It takes place four years after the ending of Halo 3, and marks the return of the Master Chief and Cortana.

While previous Halo games were developed by Bungie, Halo 4 was developed by 343 Industries, Microsoft's own internal development studio.

The Covenant, an alliance of alien races who served as the main antagonists in the first Halo trilogy, will be making a return along with a new enemy, the Prometheans.

The game sees Cortana wake the Master Chief from cryogenic stasis on board the derelict spaceship Forward Unto Dawn. They are attacked by rogue elites and grunts and end up crashing on the planet Requiem.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 takes place in the near future, the original Black Ops game having been set in the Cold War of the 1960s.

The Call Of Duty (COD) franchise began with a WWII theme, shifting to an updated setting with Modern Warfare in 2007, and co-developer Treyarch has now taken the game series into the future for the first time.

Black Ops II - the ninth game in the franchise - features an interconnected story involving the 1970s, the 1980s and future warfare in the year 2025.

Alex Mason, the protagonist from Black Ops, is the playable character for the 70s and 80s sections, while his son David fights off robots, drones and narco-terrorists in 2025.

It is the first COD title to present branching storylines driven by player choice, with Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops generally being condemned for being competent but unimaginative shooters.

Far Cry 3, an open world FPS developed by Ubisoft, takes place on a tropical island group at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The main goal of the game is to escape from the islands and their crazed inhabitants.

The first Far Cry title was applauded by gamers, offering not just an open world, but numerous ways of taking on the enemy and completing the objectives.

Its sequel, Far Cry 2, shifted the action from the jungles of the South Pacific to the plains of Africa, but was generally not well received.

It was condemned for the massive amounts of driving needed when travelling between objectives, giving rise to the unflattering nickname "Car Cry", and the respawning enemy checkpoints.

This time the action is back in the jungle, with returning main character Jason Brody taking on psychopath Vaas and his equally insane underlings.

Multiplayer - which is an arguably more important component than the single-player campaign nowadays - is present in all three titles.

The other big-ticket first-person shooter, Medal Of Honor: Warfighter has already been released in the US to mixed reviews.

This means the battle between Halo 4, Blops II and Far Cry 3 will be a three-horse race.

All are sequels. None is original. So it remains to be seen how well these respective combat franchises have evolved.

Halo 4 is due out on November 6, Call Of Duty: Black Ops II is being released on November 13 and Far Cry 3 goes on sale on November 30.