With the holidays rapidly approaching (or here if you celebrate Hanukkah) it can be stressful to find the perfect gift for the gamer in your life. That’s why we’ve put together our mostly annual holiday guide that will hopefully help you find the perfect gift for that gaming guy or gal in your life.
Rock Band 3
- What better gift than a game that calls for a group of players to be truly experienced? With someone on the microphone, guitar, drums, and the new addition of the keyboards, Rock Band 3 offers a communal experience great for impressing with your skills or otherwise mocking for a lack thereof. If you’re really feeling generous, you can always purchase the ultimate guitar package for your loved one and let them play the guitar on a fully 6-stringed equipment.
Super Meat Boy
- For a retro experience with incredibly hard challenges, this platform game is a great way to occupy your video game time and at an arcade game price. The concepts and controls to Super Meat Boy are basic, but the maps are challenging and well worth the effort to completing them. Be prepared to die often, but the satisfaction of living is ever more appreciated because of it.
- Nintendo is really prepared to hit gamers hard with nostalgia and win back their affections. Epic Mickey is a classic character, and certain scenes in the game will even play out in the familiar black and white designed Mickey, but the gameplay is just as artistic and unique. Armed with a paint brush and thinner, Mickey has the ability to draw or erase objects in his way to complete his quests. The game features clever ways of utilizing the paint, like drawing a clock to slow time. Clearly a game to inspire creativity, Epic Mickey is as cute as it is inspiring. Plus, it comes out on my birthday.
Mass Effect 2
- Bioware’s literally epic scifi sequel is nearly a year old now, but it was released in January 2010 so it still counts. Tedious planet mining aside, it’s still one of 2010’s best games. The good thing about it being a (relatively) older game is that it’s cheap—20 bucks on Steam—and more or less complete now. All of the important DLC is out now, and while the main game is a lavish adventure of galactic proportions, the added chapters and characters add a lot of meat too. The whole package shouldn’t cost you much more than a brand new game. If you know someone who still hasn’t experienced this landmark RPG, gift it to them on Steam or get them the 360 version and a handful of XBLA point cards. If you’re feeling generous, toss in the (even cheaper) first game—no serious gamer or scifi fan can call themselves such without experiencing Mass Effect.
- After this I promise I’ll stop gushing about Eurocom’s remake of GoldenEye 007, but it really is an excellent game. As a longtime hater of reboots and prequels I was dead-set on despising this modern re-imagining of my favorite game of all time, but its bold, different direction from the original game is precisely why it’s great. Eurocom could’ve taken the easy, generic JJ Abrams Star Trek pop culture reboot approach (yeah, I said it) but instead they went full Casino Royale, taking the spirit of the original game and making it relevant with new FPS conventions and just a dash of tasty nostalgia. The result is a solo adventure that mixes stealth and action into a seamless vodka martini of gameplay, better balanced and varied than any of the recent Call of Duty’s. The multiplayer is excellent too, also managing to retain just enough of the N64 game while adding 007 style to CoD mechanics, producing a wholly different flavor of multiplayer that is no less habit-forming than the original. No matter how proud you are or how much you hate the Wii, the new GoldenEye is just one of those games you must play as a gamer.
- It might have a few balance issues but n-Space’s portable version of GoldenEye is a serviceable solo FPS with an incredibly deep multiplayer. You’ll feel that it’s just a bit too much for the DS to handle but when it really works you’ll be hooked. Avoid the cheaters online and track down some friends for this one—you can keep the GoldenEye addiction going even when you’re far from the Wii version. Warning!—may lead to sudden loss of employment if played in the cubicle.
Blood Stone DS
- While Blood Stone was something of a disappointment on the 360 and PS3, n-Space delivers this year’s standout 007 adventure on the DS. Everything that didn’t work on the HD consoles somehow does on Nintendo’s ancient portable, mostly because n-Space added real variety, stealth and balance to the rather bland formula and distilled the superfluous story down into a potent concentrate. It’s also damn impressive for the DS—if you can get past the hardware’s inevitable hand cramps, you’ll find a compelling action adventure that at times will make you forget what you’re playing on. DS-owning 007 fans are the real winners this year; get GoldenEye for the multiplayer, and Blood Stone for the story mode.
Red Steel 2
- It might be somewhat short but Ubisoft’s sword-slinging actioner is one of this year’s best games, period. It’s the first game I gave an A+ to and with good reason—the gameplay is fast, relentless and fluid, executing a seamless mixture of sword and gunplay through peerless use of Wii MotionPlus. The art style mirrors the gameplay, as a finely blended tapestry of old west and far east, perfecting the aesthetic pioneered in shows like Cowboy Bebop and Firefly. Red Steel 2 is less of a game and more of a living art statement of gameplay, style and grit—short, electrifying and satisfying for sight, sound and even touch.
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