HO HO HO, I’m here to “WRAP UP” our gamer gift lists for this year. Some of these are things I mentioned when we all discussed our lists in Episode 33, but there’s some new stuff as well, so read on!
Games for Non-Gamers
Trying to get someone into gaming? Valve’s Portal 2 might be the key. It introduces a lengthy co-op mode with hours of the series’s trademark puzzles and wry humor. For new gamers, the first-person controls might be a bit of a shock, but reassure your non-gamer recipient that they can ease into them at their own pace, since there won’t be mobs of angry teenage boys shooting at them over Xbox Live.
Of course, you’ll remember that I recommend starting with the first Portal for the story’s sake, but you won’t be able to co-op that one.
If you want to convince someone that video games can be more than Call of Duty and Angry Birds, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is an experience you won’t find in any other medium. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s like an action movie that you control, and the movie itself is actually really good. It’s got blockbuster setpieces, globe-spanning adventure, and realistic characters to whom you’ll actually grow attached. If brawling with hired goons doesn’t seem like your thing, this is a game where you won’t feel cheated dropping the difficulty down to enjoy the story.
It’s not required to enjoy Uncharted 3, but if you want to catch up on the story so far, there’s a handy Uncharted 1 & 2 bundle to get you up to speed.
Overlooked PC Games
If you know any PC gamers (or if you are one yourself), they probably don’t need any recommendations since they’ve likely already got a laundry list of games from the last Steam sale that they still haven’t gotten around to playing. But, like any real Steam user, they won’t be able to resist a few lesser-known games from smaller developers. Here are a few of the gems I’ve been playing this year:
inMomentum – Run, jump, and jump again through floating obstacle courses while trying to collect spheres and beat your friends’ best times. Appropriately, once you get into it, it’s hard to stop. It’s a bit like Mirror’s Edge but frustration-free and no one shoots at you.
Magicka – Finally, be a mage without having to keep an eye on your MP! The game’s clever spell-mixing system means the only limit to what spells you can cast is your imagination. It’s almost too fun seeing what types of havoc you can invent and unleash on your enemies–or your friends!
Revenge of the Titans – A sci-fi tower defense game that’s cute but also sports rows and rows of deadly teeth. If the retro-styled visuals and deep upgrade system aren’t compelling enough, well–the fate o the galaxy is at stake!
Sanctum – It’s rare I recommend two tower defense games in a row, but to my credit, Sanctum is half-tower-defense, half-FPS. The game alternates between building towers and then patrolling your custom-built maze with an arsenal of potent weapons. If your bullets and gauntlet of towers aren’t cutting it, you can invite three friends to back you up.
Universe Sandbox – Finally, give the gift of cosmic knowledge with this robust galaxy simulator. Universe Sandbox lets you explore our own solar system, create brand new ones from scratch, and even fling planets around for your own amusement (and education). Also, giant tennis balls.
All of these games are just $10, but look for the upcoming Steam holiday sale, where you’ll most likely be able to get all of them for a fraction of that. [In fact, as of posting on Friday the 16th, Magicka is on sale for $2.49.]
Games for New Console Owners
Giving someone (or expecting to receive) a brand new console this year? Here are a few exclusives we’ve all enjoyed that you might consider.
Hopefully this gave you some ideas for that hard-to-please gamer on your list, or maybe it reminded you of something you want for yourself! Happy Holidays!