OK, so you should have got the message by now: if you want to buy someone a game for Christmas, buy them Skyrim! But in case you don’t think that’s their thing, for example if they’re deathly allergic to awesomeness, then I guess you might consider one of these lesser offerings instead. Also, it turns out I’ve played a lot more games recently than I thought, so five days wasn’t enough to fit them all in, and I can’t be bothered to write full length reviews for them all. If there’s any I’ve missed, sorry, but I might still have played them, so leave a comment and I’ll let you know. Also, don’t look a gift review in the mouth, you ungrateful person you.
Batman: Arkham City
One that’s been out for a while, but because of its comics origins is arguably more suitable for younger players than the more obviously violent Gears of War and their ilk. It is, of course, just as violent, but it’s just less obvious about it. In my opinion it’s not as coherent or focused as its predecessor, and the overarching story is less compelling, but it’s still a sure-fire crowd pleaser due to its solid gameplay and faithful characters. The extra game modes still feel tacked on, but hey, nobody’s forcing them to play those bits.
Jim and I managed to complete the co-op story mode on this game without understanding a single damn thing that went on. Characters, plot points, goals, levels, weapons and vehicles all went completely over our heads. Aside from being reasonably confident that the main characters were brothers, and one of them was dead (you’d think that would hinder his abilities, but apparently not: but really, don’t ask me why or how that is possible). Billed as a very scary game, it does become a tiny bit creepier than most due to its fixation with a pregnant psychic demon girl, who is also the main characters’ mother (again, I have no idea). For this reason, it’s not really suitable for young players, but that aside, and if they have already got bored of the more realistic shooters, then at least you can play this together, and it’s a reasonable length.
OK, to be honest I didn’t actually play this one, because football games have been needlessly over-complicated for years now (you heard me), and largely don’t change anything except the amount of showboating options and the names on the shirts. So, I don’t know: does the person you need to buy a game for like football? Then buy them this. Did you really need me for that?
Gears of War 3
This is another one that’s been out for a while, but I didn’t ever get round to reviewing it for the site, and given that it managed to have a few ads on TV, there’s more of a chance you’ve heard of it than some of the other options on this list. Much as I lament the fact that this is seen as a beacon of high quality, rather than what should be a very straightforward and unremarkable example of its genre, this is definitely the best in the Gears of War series. A good, solid, only slightly incredibly stupid story, with decent, balanced gameplay, maybe it’s the spirit of the festive season, but I’m willing to say that yes, this was good.
A port of a Wii game that was itself a reboot of a legendary N64 game, this is as ‘not bad’ as it is uninspiring. Playing heavily on nostalgia, especially in the multiplayer mode, it’s an inoffensive and by-the-numbers attempt that won’t make anyone ecstactic or overly disappointed. A pretty safe bet for the younger player.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
OK, I didn’t play this one either, but I’ve played plenty of Zelda games before, and if your presentee has a Wii then it’s either this or Goldeneye Reloaded, and if they’re under fourteen, well then it’s just this. I mean, I suppose you could get them Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics, but why would you do a thing like that? Zelda’s probably a solid choice.
I am a big wrestling fan, and always make sure to get the new WWE game when it comes out every year. Unfortunately, this year’s entry is pretty short on inspiration. The usual slight graphical improvements are there, but in terms of revolutionary new features, even the box has given up. The best they can muster is a ‘create a ring’ feature and a redesigned (read over-simplified) control system. Everything else is the same. Not just ‘pretty much the same’, but lifted wholesale from last year’s title, and in some cases not as good (the Road to Wrestlemania feature from WWE SvR 2010 is still the best, in my opinion). If they’re not the materialistic type, last year’s version will be cheap as chips (though they may roll their eyes thinking you thought it was the new one just because it says 2011 on it) and just as good. Not a bad game, just not much of an improvement.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3/Battlefield 3
To be honest, if they want this game, either they already have it or they’re not allowed it. Fans of each will argue about which of the near-identical games is better until they are blue in the face, so you (and me) are just better off avoiding this issue altogether.