Holiday Recommendations 2011: Video Games

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Have a video game lover in the family, and looking for some good suggestions for top-notch games this holiday season? The Lytherus gamers have teemed together to bring you an awesome collection of games that are sure to make any gamer happy!

 

Skyrim

Nothing screams epic-adventure quite like Skyrim.  Skyrim’s main story revolves around the player character’s efforts to defeat Alduin, the firstborn of Tamriel’s primary deity Akatosh. Alduin is prophesied to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the land of Skyrim, which is in the midst of a civil war after the assassination of the High King. The open world gameplay of the Elder Scrolls series returns in Skyrim; the player can explore the land at will and ignore or postpone the main quest indefinitely.  Whichever route you choose, you will not get bored.  This game is so huge that it guarantees hours of playtime.

 

 

 

PORTAL

The Portal series is definitely one of the most unique games currently out there.  The game primarily comprises a series of puzzles that must be solved by teleporting the player’s character and simple objects using “the handheld portal device”, a device that can create inter-spatial portals between two flat planes. Portal was acclaimed as one of the most original games of 2007, despite being considered short in length. The game received praise for its unique gameplay and darkly humorous story.  Portal 2 came out a few years later and received just as much, if not more, praise for its gameplay.  Its popularity rose even higher with the addition of a new co-op mode.

 

 

 

ASSASSIN’S CREED

All of the Assassin’s Creed games take place in 2012, featuring the protagonist Desmond Miles, a bartender who is a descendent of a line of Assassins. He is initially kidnapped by the mega corporation Abstergo Industries, the modern-day face of the Knights Templar, and forced to use the “Animus”, a device that allows him to experience his ancestral memories. Abstergo does not know that Desmond knows about his lineage; he left his parents at a young age, leaving the Assassins behind with them. Abstergo is seeking to discover the location of several artifacts, or “Pieces of Eden”, that hold great power, to control mankind and alter its fate. Assassin’s Creed gains its popularity by allowing the player to roam around the world with no restriction.  Assassinating your enemies is extremely satisfying and very stylish. Overall, the entire series is truly incredible.

 

HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED ANNIVERSARY

It has been 10 years since the original Halo was released as a launch title for the first Xbox.  It is by far, one of the most well known series in the world of video games.  So, how better to celebrate the 10th birthday of Master Chief, then by revamping the game that started it all.  Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary brings the player back to the roots of the series.  Arguably the best title in the entire series, players get to experience it all over again – this time with several updates to the original title, including a complete visual overhaul, support for cooperative and multiplayer gameplay on the Xbox Live online service, remakes of several multiplayer maps from previous Halo games.

 

 

 

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Once again, the Legend of Zelda franchise has released another masterpiece. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a MUST own for Zelda fans. Said to be the prequel of the legendary Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword incorporates both the overworld and dungeon exploration styles of other games in the franchise. According to legend, after the creation of Hyrule, the Triforce, said to grant any wish of the wielder, was entrusted by the Golden Goddesses, Din, Farore, and Nayru to the deity known as Hylia. The Demon King Demise gathered an army to take the Triforce for his own evil intent. Hylia used her power to raise a section of the land to the skies, saving a handful from this demonic apocalypse. She then erected a cloud barrier to separate the floating islands, Skyloft, from the hordes below. Having now preserved the Hylains and the Triforce, Hylia and the remaining tribes—the Ancient Robots, the Parella, the Kikwis, the Gorons, and the Mogmas—battled Demise’s horde before the demon was imprisoned—and that’s just the prologue.

The plot begins many years after the prologue. Link, who has been having dreams of a strange figure, is woken up by his childhood friend, Zelda, and gets ready for the Wing Ceremony, a tradition to acknowledge one as a knight of Skyloft. Zelda is taken in by a storm which sucks her down to the still demon-infested lands below where the ‘surface’ has become myth. Command Link through another epic tale as you courageously take on the Demon Lord’s hordes that you might rescue Zelda.

When I heard the game was projected to have 80 hours of gameplay, I was skeptical. However, you will literally lose all sense of time in Skyward Sword. I couldn’t believe it when Fi told me I hit 65 hours (and I wasn’t that close to the end either). The controls may take some getting used to, and possibly annoying at times, but overall this game is must own. A standard edition of the game is available, as well as a version bundles with a sweet golden Wii Remote Plus (Motion Plus built in) tagged with the Triforce. Here’s an in-depth review.

 

Child of Eden

Available for the PS3 and Xbox 360, Child of Eden developed by Q entertainment, is a prequel to the critically acclaimed rail shooter, Rez and like it’s predecessor, Child of Eden is a sci-fi rail shooter similar to other classic games in the genre such as the Star Fox and Panzer Dragoon games. The Game takes place in the distant future when The internet, (now called Eden,) is a haven for those who have never experienced life on earth and scientists are attempting “Project Lumi,” an experiment to implant an AI personality into Eden. As the experiment is underway, virusus attack the project and it is up to the player to purify the system by shooting and destroying the viral threat.

Like Rez, Child of Eden is ryhtmic shooter, a sort of sensory experiment inegrat sound, vision and touch into one bold experience. As you move the player cursor over enemies, select, them, and shoot them, sound and musical effects happen to the rhtym and pulse of the techno music. Colors and graphics also develop and change to the music and gameplay, making Child of Eden a unique experience. Child of Eden supports the use of the Xbox 360’s Kinect and the PS3 Move as well as utilizing traditional controllers. Child of Eden is a fantastic immersive experience not to be missed.

 

Professor Layton series

The Professor Layton games developed by Level 5 are puzzle/adventure games of the highest caliber. Each game follows Professor Hershel Layton and his young apprentice Luke Triton as they investigate mysterious happenings, including Pandora’s Box, time travel, and mysterious monsters in the mist. As you explore areas and converse with characters in the game, more is revealed about the story and as more is revealed new twists and turns pop up. The plot of each game does a great job driving the player to constantly progress further, keeping things from being boring.

Puzzles will pop up for you to solve the more you interact with characters and the gams environment. While many of them are optional and there is no harm in passing them by, there are some that you are required to do in advance. The brain teasers scattered all over the games are challenging, but enjoyable. If a player gets stuck however, there are hint coins hidden in each background that can be used to buy 3-4 hints per puzzle. Puzzles flow well through the games plot working with the slow, easy going pace, never feeling out of place or cumbersome. Each Layton game uses the Nintendo DS hardware well, utilizing the touchscreen to the fullest. The mysteries that drive the plot are compelling and keep you from getting bored from puzzle solving. If you like games that tease your brain more than your trigger finger, the Professor Layton games are highly recommended.

 

Disgaea

The Disgaea games are a set of tactical-RPGs from Nippon Ichi Software. Each game takes place in a universe called the netherworld, an alternate universe inhabited by demons and overlords. In this world these demons operate on a reverse moral set to humans where being a hero makes one the ultimate delinquent. Main characters are often narcissistic and cynical, twisting the worlds own rues to their benefit. Quirks all across the board keep the games interesting.

Gameplay revolves around a central hub where new missions can be selected to advance the game. Also in this hub, The Disgaea games stand you have access to items, party management, and everything else you need. Among other RPG’s with it’s odd sense of humor, high maximum stats, and uncommonly strategic RPG elements. For those gamers who want an RPG with depth and style, these games are a great choice.

 

Dead Island

Dead Island is the latest foray into the zombie horror, and it is set in the present day on the fictional island of Banoi, off the coast of Papua New Guinea. All of the people on the island spend the night partying it up. The next morning is the first day of the zombie apocalypse. Only four people are immune to the virus that has struck the island, turning the inhabitants into the living dead. You choose one of the four to be your character in the world of Dead Island.

Dead Island does not follow the standards set by games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising. Dead Island can be best described as Fallout 3 with lots of zombies. Except it is set on a tropical island and the zombies are wearing swimming trunks and bikinis. While there is plenty of zombie slaying fun, this game focuses more on surviving in a post-apocalyptical landscape where your character must search for equipment and loot the bodies of the zombies that you slay. Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of inventive ways to gruesomely kill zombies, but this game requires players to think more.

Players also have to opportunity to team up with other online players during missions to get some help in completing them or advancing past a more difficult part. If you join a group and you are not happy with your teammates, you can leave the party at any time without penalty.

If you enjoy zombie video games or post-apocalyptical/open range games, Dead Island is the game for you!

 

Rage

Rage is a first-person shooter set in the not-too-distant future after an asteroid impacts Earth, leaving a ravaged, post-apocalyptical world behind. Humanity is struggling to re-establish itself but must contend with hordes of mutants, raiders, and an oppressive government like force.

Rage, released by id Software has been praised as one of the best looking games ever, with an amazing scope of detail for both landscapes and characters/enemies. Rage also contains interesting challenges and interesting ways to upgrade or evolve your arsenal, providing very enjoyable game play.  The gunplay is very realistic: shoot a charging mutant in the leg, and you see it snap back. Shoot an armored enemy in the chest, and he will stumble backwards. The overall game play experience is amazing, and the visual landscape will leave you breathless.

While this game is not as open world as Fallout 3 or Dead Island, there is plenty of action and adventure to be found in the missions. This game would make an amazing gift for any gamer that you might be buying gifts for this holiday season.

 

BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY

If you love Batman or the DC Universe in general, then Batman: Arkham city is for you.  Arkham City features a huge variety of the villains and heroes fans fell in love with from the comic books.  Playing through the game this time, will also give you the opportunity to play as the mischievous Catwoman.  Since her play style is much different than Batman’s it is an awesome breath of fresh air and keeps the game interesting.  The replay value on this game is quite excellent as well because of the hundreds of challenges that are available to players.  These challenges allow you to test both your combat and predator skills while comparing your scores to your online friends.  Arkham City is an absolute must for anyone who loves (or doesn’t love) the Batman comics.

 

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