It’s that time of year again, and with so much out there it is often hard to find the best electronics for your money. Campus Circle rounds up of some of the games and systems that have been released in time for the 2011 holiday season. There are a lot vying for your precious money, so we’ll keep things short and try to give you just enough information so that you can decide which games you really want – whether it is for the PC gamer, PS3 lover or Xbox addict.
“God of War: Origins Collection” (for PS3)
The “God of War” series came out on the PS2 as perhaps the greatest action games yet. Two of the games in the series, “Chains of Olympus” and “Ghost of Sparta” were released on the handheld PSP a few years ago. While handheld players marveled at the games, console players were left out of the loop. This year, Sony answered the prayers of these console players by making them available for the PS3. The games have been put onto on Blu-ray disc, have gained added controls for the second analog stick and made ready for the Kratos’ brutal attacks to be seen on a large screen with new high-definition video.
“Star Wars: The Old Republic” (for Windows)
Some franchises seem to never end, always creating new titles. With “The Old Republic,” one can see why. The combined new storylines and ability for players to create their own stories makes this a must-have for Star Wars fans and gamers who are driven by story. Players are not restricted by the good or dark side that is prominent in Star Wars games. Each individual is instead able to achieve their own goals and with the companion system can achieve goals, with or without the help of other players. That ability in the system along with character growth that does not require certain classes will have MMORPG fans finding “Old Republic” easy to customize and thus to quickly enjoy.
“Batman: Arkham City” (for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Windows)
Batman is a hard character to fit into various platforms, but “Arkham City” has done this well. The prequel was one of the best superhero titles ever made, and this time, Batman must deal with a whole section of Gotham City that hundreds of criminals call home. A great plot and gameplay drive this game to be one of the biggest hits of the year.
“The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection” (for PS3)
Two of PlayStation 2’s best titles, “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossus,” are being bundled together on a single Blu-ray disc for the PlayStation 3, remastered and in HD. Each alone could have easily been described as more than a game, to the point of being an experience. For those who didn’t have the pleasure, now is the perfect time to find out what the rest of the gaming world has been so amazed about. Of course this only further builds up the anticipation for Team Ico’s third game, “The Last Guardian” which is set to be released next year.
“Portal 2” (for Mac, Microsoft, PS3, Xbox 360)
Few games combine humor, puzzles and visuals, much less all in a first-person shooter. As with the first “Portal,” players take on the role of Chell, a test subject in an Aperture Science laboratory who must navigate a facility that is being rebuilt by the artificial intelligence known as GLaDOS using the portal gun. Freeing Chell from various deathtraps whipped up by GLaDOS and being mocked at every turn with a degree of black humor sounds repetitive, but when delivered this nicely it truly works, along with surprising character development. Together with bouncy gel, a new AI core called Wheatley and more hours of gameplay than the original, it’s a definite adventure.
“Total War: Shogun 2” (for Windows)
This game actually came out earlier this year, but if you haven’t picked it up yet now is the time to do so. “Total War” returns to Japan and has created a refined and simplified system that any players who enjoy turn-based or real-time strategy should enjoy. Players will engage in diplomacy, political maneuvering, espionage and assassinations ,as well as general war strategies, making this game reminiscent of real life.
“Gears of War 3” (for Xbox 360)
“Gears of War” is probably one of the best-looking games available on the Xbox 360. For lovers of sci-fi and combat, it displays an immersive world that draws players in. Like previous games, it emphasizes the use of cover and squad tactics in combat situations. Modes such as the survival-based Horde and Beast add even more longevity to this shooter that will end the saga of Augustus Cole and his squad.
“Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” (for Windows, PS3, Xbox 360)
The most anticipated RPG of the year comes in the form of “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” A massive world awaits players as they enter into this newest “Elder Scrolls” installment. Players now have the ability to dual wield weapons and spells, making for more interesting gameplay as well as other great features. Honestly though, the greatest thing about this game is its open-world format that is definitely larger than any previous “Elder Scrolls” games.
The controller-less Kinect system allows a player to use his/her body’s movements to interact with games. With a year being out it in the gaming world, it has a solid game library with some unique and innovative titles hitting the scene, including “Kotaku.” Unfortunately, like the Wii system, it has a timing-based learning curve for new players, but this will hopefully only make the game more enjoyable.
Nyko Zoom for Kinect
Coupled with the Kinect system is the Nyko Zoom, a snap-on accessory. With this over the standard Kinect lens, players will have an easier time finding space for all the movements that games require. The space prerequisite of a standard Kinect is one of its major drawbacks, especially for those in small places – a worry that players won’t have when using this attachment.
OnLive connects players to some of the hottest games with its cloud game service system. Since the game is remotely stored, even low-end computers can play games that they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to. On the negative side, there is the additional equipment and the fact that games take a little while to get on the OnLive’s servers. But the system already carries many great hits like “L.A. Noire” making it a great deal.
Players may feel really torn about this one. The system is on its way out with the PSP Vista coming along next year, so it’s not something to upgrade to if you already have a PSP. But this is still a solid system. With great graphics, a light, slim enclosure and a highly competitive price, the PSP 3000 still has a place for someone new to the system.