The holiday season is coming fast. Before you know it, it will be Thanksgiving. People will be doing their Black Friday shopping early the next morning, and then it’s just a few short weeks until the gift-giving season arrives.
That said, it’s time to start looking into what to get for the gamer in your family. Whether they own an Xbox, a Wii or a PlayStation 3 (or all three) there is something great for them. These are some of the holiday season’s coolest gamer gifts. We’ve also added some links to Black Friday deals where applicable. Just in case you plan to do a bit of shopping the day after Thanksgiving.
1) Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PlayStation 3, $59.99) At the top of our list it’s the third installment in Naughty Dog’s award-winning Uncharted series, Drake’s Deception is the game to get for the PlayStation 3 owner in your family this holiday season. The series is known for its action-packed cinematic sequences that rival those of Hollywood movies, great dialogue, amazing graphics and most importantly, excellent gameplay. It’s probably my favorite current-gen gaming franchise and should definitely be at the top of any gamer’s wishlist. If you haven’t played the series, do yourself a favor and check out Uncharted and Uncharted 2 as well. All three games are worth owning, and I recommend you play through each at least once. Here’s our review of the game.
Even though the Uncharted games are relatively short when compared to titles like Zelda and Elder Scrolls, the amount of fun you will get from this game is worth the value. Or, if you are like me, you rarely have the chance to finish some of those longer games these days.
2) Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii, $59.99) This is the game Wii owners were waiting for. The Legend of Zelda is one of gaming’s most beloved franchises. Skyward Sword follows somewhat traditionally in the formula that made the series so popular, but adds new elements such as flying and Wii Motion Plus controls. Even before being announced, a Zelda built from the ground up for the Wii was one of the most highly-anticipated games for Nintendo’s motion-controlled console. The thought of swinging your Wii Remote like a sword while holding up the Nunchuk as a shield has been a dream to Zelda fans since the first Wii (then codenamed Revolution) teaser trailer. Now it’s finally become a reality. By the way, it’s worth knowing that Wal-Mart is having a sweet Black Friday deal on the Wii. It’s not backwards compatible with GameCube games, but at $99, who can refuse?
I am a major Zelda fan, and I still enjoy the formula. It took a while for the graphics to grow on me, but I’m used to it. Is it the best Wii game ever? I dunno, there are a few gems out there. Enjoyable? Of course it is. For me, at least, as well as many others. Of course, you have to be aware that not everyone, including our reviewer Sebastian Haley, is a fan of the new game.
3) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, $59.99) Bethesda Softworks’ Elder Scrolls series returns with Skyrim. The gameplay is similar to the studio’s previous games in the series as well as Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Players wander through a vast, open world encountering non-playable characters (NPC) who send them on missions. It’s loaded with side quests to accompany the game’s main story and give the player more to do in the game’s world. There is so much to do in this game that players will find themselves immersed for hours when they explore the world of Skyrim. Definitely the game for RPG and fantasy lovers. Check out our review of the game and our tips and tricks for Skyrim.
This game ranks high on our list because we love Bethesda’s work, and we love the hours of playtime we get from the series. Just be warned that much like Fallout, it can be very glitchy. Another problem that some players may have with the game is that there is definitely filler. While it’s possible to complete the main story in a matter of hours, it’s easy to get side-tracked and lost in hours upon hours of side quests and random exploration.
4) Kinect (Xbox 360, $149) Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360 is already a year old, but it’s a definite must for any Xbox-owning family. It’s Microsoft’s solution to motion control, and works by capturing your body’s movement and translating it into motions for your in-game character. It’s also a great way to get the whole family involved in gaming. I bought mine just after Christmas of last year and I can still have a great time with Dance Central. I don’t play it daily, but it’s a fun way to spend time with the entire family (which you may be doing a lot of this holiday season) or goof off with friends. Some games families may want to try are Dance Central, Dance Central 2 and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012.
If you’re looking to entertain a younger member of the family, you may want to check out Kinect Disneyland Adventures, which our very own Joe Sinicki reviewed. He wasn’t entirely fond of it, but it has its charm and your mileage may vary. It’s also worth knowing that the ideal Kinect setup requires a good deal of living room space, and that players will have to be about six feet from the TV screen and still have a decent amount of space for moving about the room. Wal-Mart will be selling this baby for $99 on Black Friday.
5) Sony’s PlayStation 3 24-inch 3D LED TV ( $499) I’d definitely like to have this in my bedroom. It doesn’t sound like a huge TV, but it actually looks a bit bigger in person than you’d expect. What’s cool is that aside from being able to display a 3D image, it has an awesome alternative to traditional split-screen viewing. This display actually allows two users to view two separate images on the same screen while wearing active shutter 3D glasses, it’s what Sony calls their SimulView Technology. Definitely ideal for siblings who enjoy two player experiences, or the college gamer who needs a TV for his new apartment or dorm room. While $500 may seem a bit steep, keep in mind it’s a 3D HDTV with a set of glasses, an HDMI cable and a PlayStation 3 game (Motorstorm Apocalypse). It may not be a living room TV, but it’s perfect for a small space, bedroom or bachelor pad.
Who knows, if you’re really good this year, you may manage to score one of these.
6) Modern Warfare 3 (Multiplatform, $49.99 – $59.99) While I personally only care moderately about the series, there is know way a holiday gift guide for gamers would ever be complete without a mention of Modern Warfare 3. Say what you will about the series, but there is very good reason that it sells like it does. It does what it does and it does it very well, and that’s okay. Then there’s the multiplayer, which is arguably the series’ biggest draw. Players may spend a few hours on the game’s campaign, but for many, a majority of their time with Modern Warfare 3 will be spent in multiplayer. In fact, some of fans will be hitting up MW3 multiplayer for years to come (or at least until the next CoD game hits).
7) Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, $59.99) Rocksteady Studios brings us the sequel to the 2009 hit Batman: Arkham Asylum. It’s an excellent series, and I have to say that despite the many Batman games we’ve seen over the years, this is truly one of the first games that makes the player feel like they are in the boots of the Dark Knight.
I’ve never personally been a fan of comics or comic-based games and movies, but the Arkham series definitely doesn’t limit itself to any crowd. Arkham City has a more open world feeling to it and Catwoman is a great addition as a new playable character. Here’s our review.
8) Xbox Live Gold Subscription Card (Xbox 360, $24.99 – $59.99) If you want to win the heart of any Xbox 360 owner this holiday season, get them a subscription to Xbox Live. The Xbox Live Gold subscription cards comes three ($24.99) and 12-month ($59.99) options. No matter which card you get, the Xbox owner in your household will love the extra online gaming they will get with a subscription card. Trust me, as much as many of us love our Xbox Live Gold memberships, we absolutely dread having to pay when the time comes around. Sure it’s not that much when you break it down to what it actually costs per month, but it’s still a pain to pony over the money. When in doubt, this is the safest bet for an Xbox 360 owner, because it’s not limited to any one game or genre, and it’s something they will definitely use (so long as they have an internet connection).
Of course, someone may end up with a bunch of these after the holidays are over. The good news? They stack. So if you get a three month and a 12-month, you can enter both codes for a full 15 months of Gold.
9) Nintendo 3DS ($169.99) Nintendo’s 3DS got off to a rocky start, which led to a major price drop within months of release. Content was another problem. Perhaps Nintendo placed too much emphasis on third-parties. However, with the release of games like Super Mario 3D Land and the upcoming Mario Kart 7, as well as the current $169 price point, the 3DS is starting to sound like a better deal each day. As more folks begin picking up this little handheld, we’re sure developer and publisher support for the platform will increase just as it did with the orignal DS. Serious bonus points if you get them Super Mario 3D Land (see our review) or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, both of which are excellent games. Target is selling a bundle for $179 for Black Friday, and it comes with Super Mario 3D Land. Best Buy has the Ocarina bundle for the same price.
10) iPod touch ($199 – $399) Say what you will about mobile gaming on iOS devices, but developers are flocking to the App Store for a reason. Sure, we haven’t encountered a full-on console-type experience (yet) on our iPhone, but there is plenty of content available to keep gamers entertained. Best of all, it’s an all-in-one media device, bring along movies, TV shows, music and just about anything else on a device that truly fits in your pocket. The simple, compact design makes it great for gaming on the go while the relatively inexpensive price of most iOS apps makes the iPod touch a great way to discover games you may have otherwise ignored.
The only downside to gaming with an iPod touch is the fact that it has no physical buttons, meaning it’s not ideal for every kind of game. Still, as an overall cool piece of hardware, the iPod touch is tough to match. Target is offering a Black Friday deal for this one. Buy it for $195 and get a $40 gift card. Apple has announced their own Black Friday sale, but no prices yet. We’d expect it to be iTunes and App Store cards with purchases. See our list of the top iOS games of 2011.
Finding That Perfect Gift
Sometimes, figuring out that perfect gift for someone can be tough. It’s great to ask the gamer in your family for some ideas. This is only a tiny portion of what’s out there right now. All we suggest is look around and see what you can find. Those who dare to brave the Black Friday shopping are sure to find even more deals this week. Please leave comments with your own suggestions for gamer holiday gifts.