Gifts for GamersWritten by Michael Siebenaler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This holiday season you can make informed choices about which video games to purchase — it’s going to be a big field this year. First, some important console updates for those “gotta be the first to have it” people. Sony launched the Playstation 3 console with more than 30 game titles at about $60 each (including “Madden NFL 07”, “Need for Speed Carbon”, “Resistance: Fall of Man” and “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 07”). Nintendo’s launch of the Wii console followed two days later with innovative controls, a less expensive price (about $250) and many great games. The Wii also has backward compatibility with Nintendo GameCube, so save those games. You can also use the Virtual console to download classic Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 games.
The book creation software “Books by You,” with guide John Lithgow, makes a great educational tool and personal gift for ages 8 and up. The PSP title “LocoRoco” has a creatively colorful format as players maneuver little blob creatures through grouping and gravity. The adventure game “Okani” has amazing graphics as players restore life in a world without color. Look for “Viva Piñata” to be a popular Xbox 360 title in demand as well as PC expansions, “The Sims 2 Pets”, featuring Hilary Duff’s pet Chihuahua, lets players who can’t control their pets directly. Be sure you have a good people infrastructure before obtaining your pets. A bustling household with plenty of visitors/friends will help break pets in quickly and positively as they voluntarily interact with them and pull out special accessories.
Other popular series continuations include “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” and the farming simulation game “Harvest Moon DS,” which lets players design, develop and harvest their own custom fields and crops. In this Nintendo DS version, players can enjoy endless elements involving livestock, farming, socializing, gathering, fishing, and cooking and, a new element, mining (check the north part of the town for this very deep game element). You can even create your own video game with Video Game Tycoon.
What makes a great media experience in any format? A great story. This third-person crime story (also known as Ryu Ga Gotoku) set in Japan has a great lead character named Kazuma. Most of the beginning trial and error involves navigation as you find your way through the linear plot. The loading times (usually when you reach a certain point on the street, complete a chapter) get lengthy at times, but your patience will pay off. The numerous character introductions in the beginning can be overwhelming, but paying attention to specific motivations/alliances can give you a strategic advantage when you make critical decisions later.
There are a wide variety of non-violent activities in your entertaining environment including watching videos on street televisions, visiting clubs/strip joints, suffering through confidence scams and playing games in arcades. The fighting mechanics include final skull-shattering blows when your “heat gauge” is maximized. Be sure to incorporate your dodge/shift options when reaching more advanced fighters. If you fail, there’s always a choice of retry or exiting the chapter. Retrying after a fail is a better choice because the chapter changes to an easier skill level. This Playstation 2 exclusive game from SEGA has an excellent story, characters and voice talent, but some camera issues and an incredibly frustrating mission hurts the game’s overall credibility. This mission involves getting past the guards at an event, but after a while you feel like you have no place to go after they’ve kicked you out for the fifth time.
Popular sports games include “FIFA 07” (soccer), “NBA Live 07,” “Madden NFL 07,” “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07” and even “Table Tennis” on XBox 360. “Test Drive Unlimited” has amazing racing environments and “NASCAR 07” creates a different experience on the track every time at speeds of more than 180 mph. XBox 360 games will feature a “Platinum Hits” collection of popular games at reduced prices ($29.99) that include some great racing games — “Project Gotham Racing 3” and “Need for Speed Most Wanted.”
“Superman Returns: The Videogame” features 80 square miles of simulated environments in the city of Metropolis where the classic hero can use amazing aerial maneuvers to help citizens and complete more than 100 missions. More great flying games include “Snoopy vs. Red Baron,” “Ace Combat V” and Microsoft’s tenth version of the “Flight Simulator” series.
If you like the movie or television show, then check out titles like “Charlotte’s Web,” “Chicken Little: Ace in Action,” “Flushed Away,” “Ice Age 2: The Meltdown,” “LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy,” “Nicktoons: Battle for Volcano Island,” “Open Season,” “Over the Hedge,” “Spongebob Squarepants: Creature from the Krusty Krab” and “Star Trek: Legacy,” which covers all the different television shows. Even fast food chains are crossing over to adventure video games.
Burger King will release “Sneak King,” which predictably requires stealth movements to save hungry people.
Ever wonder about all that pounding when you walk by an arcade? It’s most likely a dance pad game that’s becoming a fun and healthy craze. “Dance Factory” brings the dance pad craze fun home featuring customizable options to create sequences from your own music collection and a calorie counter. “Guitar Hero II” and “DK Bongo Blast” provide even more musical fun. New peripherals include the durable NERF wireless controller exclusively for Playstation 2.
“Battlefield 2142” has amazing multiplayer/online action with plenty of strategy and weapon elements against challenging odds. The fast-paced RTS (real time strategy) game “Company of Heroes” demands high attention (and system requirements) as players destroy their way through Europe during World War II. There’s always a lot going on and a lot of things you can do about it. Players need to have a ‘tip top’ computer system (especially a high quality graphics card) to run this deep action/strategy game from THQ. DirectX 9.0c is required. Collector’s Edition and wireless version also available.
Still in a fighting mode? Check out “Gears of War” (exclusively on the Xbox 360), “God Hand,” “Mortal Kombat: Armageddon,” “SOCOM Combined Assault,” “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent” and “WWE Smackdown vs. Raw.” If you’re in the mood for “Grand Theft Auto” type fighting then you might want to sample “Bully,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Scarface: The World is Yours” or “Sopranos: Road to Respect.”
“Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” and “Justice League Heroes” offer in-depth superhero role playing action while “Cabela’s Alaskan Adventure” lets you travel by foot, boat or air. “Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales” has open-ended scenarios and multiplayer modes including defend the convoy and capture the fort. The small handheld consoles pack big adventure with “Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis” (Nintendo DS) plus “SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 2,” “Killzone: Liberation” and “Medal of Honor: Heroes” on the PSP. “Brain Age” and “Big Brain Academy” are big on Ninentdo DS, as are “Tony Hawk Downhill Jam,” “Nacho Libre,” “Pokemon Ranger” and “Mario Hoops 3 on 3.”