GAMING REVIEW: Holiday video game gift guide
Chances are you have at least one child or adult gamer (or someone who’s a combination of both) in your present-buying circle. How do you buy them something great without asking and giving the surprise away? The Gazette’s gaming gift guide will point you in the right direction. With a little something for every type of gamer, the excellent titles listed here are sure to bring a smile to your loved ones’ faces.
If the person you’re shopping for eats, sleeps (in Mario pajamas) and breathes video games, these are the titles to buy.
“Halo 4” (Xbox 360): It’s been five long years since “Halo” fans have been able to don Master Chief’s armor in a brand new title but it was worth the wait. Developer 343 (which took over for Bungie) has delivered a brilliant game that builds on the series’ stellar reputation and takes it to a new level. The story is intense, the multiplayer is seriously upgraded and with the addition of Spartan Ops, a story driven co-op suite, gamers have the best “Halo” game yet.
“Call of Duty: Black Ops II” (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360): The “Call of Duty” franchise is the video game version of Superman – unstoppable. Last year’s entry, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” generated $775 million in five days. Five days! “Black Ops II,” which features interconnecting storylines set in the '70s, '80s and 2020s, offers all the things fans of this series love" plenty of action, a fantastic co-op mode and gaming’s most popular multiplayer offering.
“Assassin’s Creed 3” (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360): After the last two lackluster entries in this series I was ready to give up on Ubisoft’s best-known franchise. But the setting shifted from renaissance Europe to colonial America, where I would get to encounter historical figures such as Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and I was right back in. A brand new protagonist (half-English, half-Native American Connor Kenway), new weapons and a little historical fiction go a long way.
Other titles worth a hardcore gamer’s time: “Dishonored” (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), “Borderlands 2” (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), “Sleeping Dogs” (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Forget the latest Pixar flick. Stay home and have some interactive family time with these games. Fortunately, there are several worthy titles available under a wide range of genres.
Dancing games: If you were looking to video record a friend doing something embarrassing you could post on YouTube, “Dance Central 3” (Xbox 360) and “Just Dance 4” (PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360) would be the games to get them in the mood. These are the perfect party games to enjoy with family or friends because there are fewer things more enjoyable than watching other people awkwardly dance. If you have an Xbox and a Kinect, go with “Dance Central 3.” If not, “Just Dance 4” is the one to get.
Racing Games – With “Forza Horizon” (Xbox 360) and “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” (PC, PS3, Vita, Xbox 360), gamers have two great options to get their racing fix. Both games are open world racers, with “NFS: MW” more arcadey and “Forza Horizon” offering more diverse racing types. Driving fans can’t go wrong with either option.
Sports Games - “NBA 2K13” (Mac, PC, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360) and “FIFA Soccer 13” (PC, PS2, PS3, Vita, PSP, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360) are the two best sports titles of 2012. “FIFA 13” is the most complete soccer experience you can find anywhere and is a blast to play with family and friends. “NBA 2K13” is the first basketball game to include all members of the 1992 Dream Team, adding to an already excellent franchise.
Other titles casual gamers or families might enjoy: “Skylanders: Giants” (Mac, PC, 3DS, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360), “Fable: The Journey” (Xbox 360), “NHL 13” (PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360)
Get Your Money’s Worth
There are a number of inexpensive alternatives available for those on a budget. Games released earlier this year, now available at a discounted price, will still be enthusiastically received. Titles like the action role-playing game “Mass Effect 3” (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) and third-person shooter “Spec: Ops The Line” (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) can be had for $30-$40. Depending on the tastes of the person you’re shopping for, there might be other games that can be picked up on the cheap as well.
If you’re budget is even tighter than that, consider buying a console point or iTunes gift card. All of the major consoles have point cards available for purchase at several locations (GameStop is the most common). With these cards ($20 and up) gamers can buy all sorts of great downloadable titles. I highly recommend “The Walking Dead” (Mac, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS), which is broken into five excellent episodes that sell for $5 each.
Something a little different
Chances are even people who don’t play video games have heard of the “Halo” and “Call of Duty” franchises, so if you’re looking for something a little more unique, the games here are worth a look. Developer Traveller’s Tales has always done a great job with their LEGO franchise and “LEGO Lord of the Rings” (PC, 3DS, Vita, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360) is no exception. I played it at E3 this year and loved it.
If your gamer is a nostalgic sort, the recently released “Rockstar Games Collection” (PS3, Xbox 360) is a great deal with four excellent offerings (“Red Dead Redemption,” “GTA: Episodes from Liberty City,” “L.A. Noire,” and “Midnight Club: Los Angeles Complete Edition”) bundled into one. Not to be outdone, in October, developer Bethesda released the “Doom 3 BFG Edition” (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), which offers re-mastered versions of the first three “Doom” titles and “Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil.”
If you want to show off your old school gaming knowledge to the gamer on your list, I couldn’t give higher marks to Video Game Exchange. They have an amazing library of titles for old consoles and an excellent return policy. From the Atari 2600 to the Sega Dreamcast to modern consoles, you can find something unique and affordable here.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.