Monday, December 17, 2007

The Final Countdown

Now you have that crappy song by Europe in your head, ha! - I'm sure you're all enjoying this picture of 80's one hit wonder Europe. Long live the man-perm! The reason I bring up their classic is because you only have 7 more shopping days until Christmas. That's right, all of you slackers out there better get in gear. Since you more than likely have a gamer in your family, I've written up a holiday gaming guide covering all the major systems for you to reference as you shop. If this looks oddly familiar, don't be alarmed, I actually wrote this a few weeks ago and it ran in the Indy the first week of December. Since then I've had a chance to spend more time with the games I recommended and a few others I hadn't played retail versions of yet. What you see below is word for word what was in the paper but I threw in some additional comments in italics.
Game On! - There has never been a better time to be a videogame enthusiast. Right now, gaming fans are enjoying the industry’s Renaissance, Industrial Revolution and Blue Period all at once. Not only are the games better than ever, but gaming is a big business rivaling music, TV and movies as its $1.1 billion sales in software and hardware in October alone will attest. Chances are you’re either a gamer or know someone who is - and why wouldn’t you be? From kids just learning to read to blue haired, little old ladies and everyone in between, there is literally something for everybody.
The holiday season is when companies flood the market with their best titles and this year the choices are better then ever. But how do you decide which games are worth your hard earned dollar this Christmas? That’s easy, check out the handy dandy gift guide below for the must haves for every noteworthy platform. Games are categorized by system, age level and ESRB ratings for your convenience.
Xbox 360
Mass Effect (M) - If you have a television, you probably couldn’t help but notice that a little game called Halo 3 came out in September. It was sold everywhere (even at 7-Eleven’s!) and had almost as much hype surrounding it as The Bee Movie. Halo 3 is certainly a must have, but don’t ignore Mass Effect, the incredible role playing game that’s an Xbox 360 exclusive. Gamers create their own human character and explore the universe as a soldier commanding the crew of the SSV Normandy. An engrossing plot, beautiful graphics, deep game play, an open-ended environment, and the chance to make critical choices that affect the story arc make Mass Effect a sci-fi, choose-your-own-adventure classic. You need this game, you want this game, and your life will be shallow and meaningless without it.
For Kids: Viva Piñata: Party Animals (E) – This is a great game for kids to play together, with a wide variety of mini-games and races.
For Family: Rock Band (T) – If you ever wanted to start your own version of the Partridge Family with plastic musical instruments, this is your chance. The full edition comes with a drum kit, guitar and a mic.
For Adults: Halo 3 (M) – There’s plenty of other quality candidates on the 360 for adults (Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, The Orange Box, Assassin’s Creed) but if you own a 360, you absolutely have to have Halo 3. Kind of like how everyone in America was issued Frampton Comes Alive in the 1970’s.
- If I had to write this over again, I'd have to seriously consider replacing Mass Effect with Assassin's Creed or Halo 3. The game is just soooo big, its almost overwhelming. If I finish this game before GTA IV is released I'll be amazed. That and I picked a horrible class type. Stay away from Vanguard's, they suck. I also wish I could've given more love to Rock Band but space restraints prevented me from slurping it too hard. And finally, I wasn't terribly impressed by my early peek at SceneIt but I've been pleasantly surprised by the final version. Its alot of fun.
Nintendo Wii
Super Mario Galaxy (E) – One of the most recognizable and beloved characters in videogame history is Mario, the plumber with the embarrassingly clichéd Italian accent. Even a beauty pageant contest would recognize him. Mario has carried Nintendo for ages and does it again this year with Super Mario Galaxy. Mario is in a 3-D space universe, chasing Bowser down in order to save his dear Princess Peach. Stunning environments, cool new power ups, and a fun two player co-op, join the always guaranteed to be addictive game play.
For Kids: Mario Party 8 (E) – Nobody does games for kids like Nintendo and this party game (with Mario of course) can be enjoyed by up to four people.
For Family: Smarty Pants (E) – A fun trivia game with 20,000 questions the whole family can take part in.
For Adults: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (M) – The great survival horror franchise has a different look on the cute, little Wii but its just as creepy.
- I'm pretty satisfied with what I have here. Super Mario Galaxy is fantastic.
PlayStation 3
Uncharted Drake’s Fortune (T) – The PS3 has taken even more of a public beating than Britney Spears and both deserve it. It has few console exclusives (of the games below only Ratchet and Clank is PS3 only), its online service pales in comparison to the Xbox 360’s despite being free, and just like Britney it isn’t kid friendly. Despite all of that, the PS3 just needs a few games to call its own and its back in business. Uncharted Drake’s Fortune is a step in the right direction. This stunning title where gamers control Nathan Drake, a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, plays like an up to date version of Tomb Raider minus the busty brunette.
For Kids: Ratchet and Clank Tools of Destruction (E 10+) – This humorous game is the fifth in the franchise and is still going strong.
For Family: The Simpsons Game (T) – Funniest. Game. Ever.
For Adults: Assassin’s Creed (M) – A refreshingly different take on a common gaming theme – killing people.
- The PS3 was tough, there's just not many must-have exclusives and the family/kid selection for it are abysmal. I again would have to consider replacing Uncharted with Assassin's Creed but, just like with the 360, was trying to stay console exclusive. Out of the big three, the PS3 easily has the weakest lineup and I really wanted to rag on it in the article I wrote but didn't have the space.
Other Systems
Still haven’t chosen a side in the console war? No problem, there are still some sweet options for you too. If you’re a PC, PS2, DS or PSP owner the industry still cares about you. Everybody else? You’re screwed.
PC: Crysis (M) – There are plenty of great options for PC gamers (Tabula Rasa, World in Conflict) but this alien invasion game set in 2020 is the best.
PlayStation 2: Guitar Hero 3 (T) – If you don’t have a next-gen console don’t worry, you can still play this great game on the PS2.
Nintendo DS: The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass (E) – Grab your tights and play the first Zelda game on the DS.
PlayStation Portable: Manhunt 2 (M) – If you’re looking for a handheld game where you can kick guys in the groin (and who isn’t) this controversial title is for you.
- Eli gave me some direction with the PC section, thanks bro. I would have loved to have recommended more DS games (Mario Party, Contra 4, CoD4) know the drill by now.
More crap - Sensible World of Soccer (800MS points) and Tempest (400MS points) come out on XBLA this Wednesday..."Comedian" Patton Oswalt seems to agree with my take on the VGA's, and he was a presenter. Check out his myspace page...If you were checking out the latest OXM for my short Tiger DC piece don't bother, its in the issue that comes out next month.


Ub3rn00b said...

One question about the Orange Box for you although I could look it up on like 8 thousand or so other places on the internet, that would take me sooo much longer than typing out this extended, foolishly long email just about why I'm trying to get to my point.
Ok here I go:
In Orange Box for the XBOX 360, does it include Team Fortress 2?
I have it on the PC and it's pretty koo...

FrostyMelon said...

ub3r - Yup. It's really the best all around value on the 360, the HL2's, TF2 and portal. You can't go wrong.

Ub3rn00b said...

friggin' sweet..I'm picking it up right.........................................................................ok it. It's friggin' sweet...

L3GeND said...

I'm hoping to receive Mass effect for christmas :). By the way nice blog, if you have time check out the one I have just created

Eli the Mad (Beer) Man said...

The Orange Box is a great, great bargain. Three AAA titles for one price? Hells ya. Love TF2.

Bioshock was for me, probably my fave game of the year. I'm playing Crysis right now, and while I'm a huge FPS lover (and it is a great game), Bioshock was more original with a great world to explore, more intriguing, and far more immersive.

Then again... I haven't played UT3 yet, or The Witcher (which is supposedly a great game).