Gifts for the gamer
It’s hard to stuff a stocking with video games unless you have enormous feet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give the gift of fun to your loved ones.
Of course the biggest treat of them all might just be Nintendo’s Wii U - the up-powered successor to the famous Wii console. However, those who don’t want to spend a few hundred bucks on a new game system still have quite a few options. This season has already brought some terrific games, and a few more promising titles are on their way to store shelves.
Here’s a rundown in alphabetical order:
+ “Assassin’s Creed III,” from Ubisoft - Altair and Ezio and the battle against the Templars falls to a new assassin named Connor in an adventure set during the Revolutionary War. Instead of sprinting through medieval markets and climbing Renaissance towers, developers promise you’ll be able to engage in a new fluid style of combat and leap from tree to tree as you track down Redcoats in the American forests.
+ “Borderlands 2,” from 2K Games - Return to the embattled planet of Pandora. No, not the one with the blue cat/monkey people. The one with tons of guns, hordes of homicidal bandits and lots of freakish fauna. A number of tweaks have improved on the original version of this first-person shooter, giving the new version smoother game play, a more robust story and more co-op action and adventure than any other game on this list.
+ “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2,” from Activision - The super secret Black Ops folks make a little jump into the future to fight a nasty guy who takes over the U.S. military’s electronic infrastructure and brings the world to the brink of annihilation. Of course the real selling point is the game’s multiplayer mode, one of gamedom’s best online free-for-alls. It also promises another round of zombie-shooting. Yes, it’s Treyarch’s turn to put out the year’s “COD,” which means more wild scenarios involving shambling hordes of the undead.
+ “Dishonored,” by Bethesda Softworks - Take the role of a fallen hero seeking to reclaim your honor - or paint the town red with the blood of your victims and feed their remains to your rodent hordes. The choice is all yours in this terrific action game that plays like a combination of “Assassin’s Creed” and “Splinter Cell.” Stealth is important but brutality is always an option as you wind your way through an intriguing tales of betrayal and revenge.
+ “Halo 4,” from Microsoft Games - Master Chief returns to the Xbox 360 after a string of Chiefless adventures in the “Halo” universe. This time, the relentless Spartan will face off against the Prometheans, part of the ancient Forerunners race that left so many ruins across the galaxy. Not counting a revamp of the original “Halo: Combat Evolved” that came out last year, this is the first “Halo” adventure developed by 343 Industries. In addition to a new enemy, 343 will deliver a new co-op experience called “Spartan Ops,” which will provide gamers with a new mission every week that supplements the single-player campaign.
+ “Medal of Honor: Warfighter,” from Electronic Arts - The last “Medal of Honor” game took players into a realistic - at least by video game standards - depiction of the early days of the war in Afghanistan. In a followup tale that EA says was written by real special operations troops while on deployment, the campaign missions span the globe and even hit very close to home. The multiplayer mode focuses on two-member fire teams, a bit of a switch from other military shooters. The question is whether it’s enough to win gamers addicted to “Halo” and “Call of Duty” to add a new battleground.
+ “Sony All-Stars Battle Royale,” from Sony - For years, Nintendo fans have been able to step into the shoes of Mario, Donkey Kong and Link to battle each others in “Super Smash Bros.” PlayStation fans finally get their chance to have the same kind of cross-franchise battles in “All-Stars.” You can play as Kratos from “God of War,” a Hellghast from “Killzone,” the pudgy noblewoman from “Fat Princess” and others. The game play is very similar to that of “Super Smash Bros.” with lots of wild and colorful attacks in a small area. It’s available for both the PS3 and PS Vita.
+ “Zombie U,” from Ubisoft - When Wii U launches, it will arrive with a basket full of familiar franchises from Nintendo and a host of third parties. In our book, the most innovative and interesting is “Zombie U.” While the basics offer a pretty typical zombie survival adventure, the details make the game very intriguing. Most of the action takes place on the TV screen. However, when you open your backpack to retrieve something from your inventory or interact with certain items in the environment, you’re avatar on the TV screen pauses and the action moves to the handheld controller, which has its own view screen. But time doesn’t pause, so you’re still open to attack. This definitely heightens the sense of realism - as does the fact that you respawn as a totally new character each time the zombies kill you.