From Family Friendly Titles to Free-to-Play Online Games, There's Something for Every Gamer
Well, it has come again—the season when it is better to give than to receive. Here are the top titles that may crop up on the Christmas wish lists of your favorite gamer. A host of games released for handheld gaming devices, but let's just focus on the Big 4 – PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii (Wii U).
There were quite a number of solid titles released this year. There were old favorites rehashed like Mass Effect 3, Call of Duty Black Ops II, Darksiders II, Max Payne III, UFC Undisputed 3, Assassins Creed 3, Borderlands 2 and Halo 4. All of those titles were acclaimed by the media. All have solid action and animation. And you really can't go too wrong with a Halo, CoD, Assassin's Creed or Mass Effect title.
Borderlands may only be the second release in the series, but the artwork, irreverent tongue-in-cheek dialogue and action also make it a solid choice.
For those looking for something that they can play either in a solo setting or with a community, Diablo III was pretty much the same as Diablo II, but with a darker story, some improvements in the gameplay mechanics and a few new elements introduced to enhance the experience. Still, it is a dungeon crawl that combines magnificent cut scenes with a same thing-different setting mentality.
The same goes for Guild Wars 2, one of the better massively multiplayer releases of the year. Both D3 and GW 2 require buying the box, but the online gameplay elements are free to play.
Dishonored is a new title that combines Renaissance with Steampunk, mixes in some arcane elements and then supports the whole thing with a solid storyline. Be careful, though—you need to have a good enough system to handle it, especially if getting the PC version.
Other titles to consider include Starhawk, Journey, Twisted Metal and Fez.
Exercise-based programs got a huge boost, thanks to titles like Zumba Core Fitness, Adidas miCoach and Nike+ Kinect Training (the more recent titles), and there are a ton of other titles that bear some consideration.
Compilation titles featuring a bevy of mini-games that can be played either solo or in competition with others on the same machine include Sports Champions 2 (PS3 exclusive), Kinect Sports Ultimate Collection (360 with Kinect exclusive, and, of course, the yearly releases like Madden Football, NCAA Football, NBA 2K13, FIFA Soccer 13 and SSX.
Still to be released by the end of the year are titles like Far Cry 3, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, and Battlefield 3: End Game. A couple are slated to launch entering December and in the case of Battlefield 3, that could actually slide until 2013. These, though, bear watching and, for shooter or role-play fans, Far Cry's latest entry and the re-release (with upgrades) of Baldur's Gate will be welcomed additions to gaming collections.
It should be noted that Baldur's Gate EE will also launch for the iPAD and the buzz is that the game looks pretty darn good on that device.
What those in the business want:
Getting in touch with friends in the publishing business of the video-game industry is always a treat. This year was no exception. When asked what they would want for Christmas—in their stockings or under the tree, in terms of games—their list provided some surprising answers.
PlanetSide 2 was on the top of one list—a massively multiplayer online shooter title that is free-to-play, but does have some elements that have to be purchased to be accessed.
"It's been nine years since the original game launched and I have been eagerly awaiting it ever since," said Sean Kauppinen, founder and CEO of International Digital Entertainment Agency. "Free-to-Play makes it even better!"
Angry Birds Trilogy, Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 and Cabela's Hunting Expeditions were high on another list while another recommended the family-friendly title, Skylanders: Giants.
Should you buy a Wii U
A new console? Really? But you already have a Wii and the price on the Wii U is bundled at around $380, but the real steal is this—you can pick up a Wii for under $100. The Wii is more of a family friendly gaming device, but if you are looking for a console that is more physically interactive, then a purchase of the 360 Kinect system might be more appropriate.
But you won't find titles like New Super Mario Bros. U or Nintendo Land on the old console.
Before diving in and purchasing games for someone, here's a bit of advice—find out what type of game they like and don't just purchase based on presumed age-oriented appropriateness. Not too many teen boys would choose Angry Birds over Halo. And make sure that if you buy a PC game, the system it is intended for can handle the game. Some games require newer systems, operating systems or video cards to play.
And lastly, if the game has an online component, check for fees to play online, or even if the recipient has access to online play. Xbox LIVE requires a membership to play online and if the person getting the game can't afford to buy that membership, maybe toss in a gift card for online accessibility. Of course, if they don't have a wireless router or way to connect, the point is moot.