McGinnis: Holiday Video Game Gift Guide 2012Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It is most certainly a time of evolution for video games. But while more and more players are getting their gaming fix from smartphones and tablet devices, gamers who rely on consoles for their fix still have plenty of choices to whet their appetite, especially with the arrival of Nintendo’s brand new Wii U on the scene. If you have a player on your shopping list and you’re unsure what to stuff in their stocking this season, have no fear. Here’s a few great games to choose from for each of the three major consoles — one obvious choice and one less obvious.
Microsoft’s champion console is certainly nearing the end of its life cycle, but that doesn’t mean that it has any shortage of awesome titles for players to pick from. The most noteworthy of these is certainly “Halo 4″ ($59.99), the continuation of the flagship series for the console. Bringing together the best elements of this classic first person shooter franchise’s epic story and legendary multiplayer capability, this game, from 343 Industries, more than lives up to the legacy. But then, let’s be honest — if you have an Xbox 360 owner on your list and he or she doesn’t already own “Halo 4,” you wanna scratch their name off because they probably don’t exist.
What about for players who are looking for something a bit unusual? No matter who you have to buy for, I defy you to find someone who won’t be enthralled by the retail release of Telltale Games’ epic adventure series “The Walking Dead: The Game” ($29.99, also available for PS3 and PC). This set of downloadable games made a huge splash this year, captivating fans with its emotional and malleable story so much so that it won “Game of the Year” at the Spike Video Game Awards on Dec. 7. Now collected in one package for fans that missed out, this series cements Telltale as one of the premiere game producers in the world today.
For any longtime fan of Sony consoles, the top choice this holiday is pretty obvious: Superbot Entertainment’s “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale” ($59.99). This “Super Smash Brothers” inspired brawler pits 20 classic PS characters against each other, which is a blast for sheer nostalgia alone. But it also is a wildly entertaining fighting game, with enough strategy to appeal to hardcore players while still being intuitive enough to entertain anyone who just wants to pick up and play. As a bonus, if your recipient has a PlayStation Vita, they get a copy of the game for that console for free with the PS3 version.
Any discussion of games as an art form should begin with the remarkable work of That Game Company, a somewhat inelegantly named group that puts out remarkably elegant titles that have the ability to inspire genuine awe. This year, the company put out its magnum opus, “Journey.” On its surface, it was a simple platforming game about a lone figure wandering the desert. But at its core, it was a beautiful and involving title that redefined what could be accomplished emotionally and what a online multiplayer system could be. Now, players can pick up the “Journey Collector’s Edition” ($29.99), which also includes That Game Company’s earlier classic titles, “flOw” and “Flower.”
If you’re looking to launch a new console, you can do worse than to call upon the single most recognizable mascot in the history of the industry. “New Super Mario Bros. U” ($62.99) brings Nintendo’s most popular icon into the HD age with a traditional 2-D sidescroller that has the feel of the classics while still raising the bar on what can be done with the genre. For fans looking for a reason to upgrade to the new console, catching up on the classic exploits of everyone’s favorite plumber is as good as any.
Nintendo fans may have missed Rocksteady’s amazing 2011 title “Batman: Arkham City,” the single best superhero game ever made and a singularly epic title in every way — one that wasn’t possible on the original Wii. Now, with a new “Armored Edition” for Wii U ($59.99) gamers who have yet to soar through Gotham can do so with new touch controls, though they are more or less an interesting gimmick than an indispensable new tool.