Reindeer Games

With significant price drops for all three home consoles over the past month, videogames are back on the radar for many holiday shoppers.  And with new consoles come new games, always a challenge for anybody looking for the perfect gift for the gamer in her life.  I just wanted to give mention to some of the best games available for the various consoles and PC that have been released this year.  This is far from a comprehensive list, but it just points out a few of the notable titles that most gamers would be happy to see under the tree.

Try not to break the bank buying all these great games.  I assume no responsibility for any impact and your wallet as a result of using this information.  These are in no particular order.

This list will be updated as new information comes to my attention, so check back often.  I have drawn this from lists I've seen and my own recollection, so it's bound to be pretty shoddy.  If you have any additions or corrections, please let me know.  Thanks.

Multiplatform Games (games available for more than one system)

  • Batman Arkham Asylum (X360, PS3, PC) - Fight through the insane inmates of Arkham Asylum to stop the Joker's nefarious plot. This has been called the greatest superhero video game of all time.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (DS, PSP) - This excellent debut of the GTA universe on the DS gets even better in its recent port to the PSP. Despite a new isometric presentation, everything you love about GTA is present in iteration.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (X360, PS3, PC) - The fourth release of this series established it as an elite hall-of-fame property, and this sixth release coming November 10th looks to continue that great tradition.  At the same time, Wii gamers will get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex while DS gamers get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized.  Those will be set in the same universe, but look for the most thrilling CoD action to be on the XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. 
  • DJ Hero (X360, PS3, Wii, PS2) - Hip-hop fans finally get a "Hero" game to live out their turntable fantasies.  Use the included turntable to create mixes and mashups of famous rappers and DJs.
  • Tekken 6 (X360, PS3, PSP) -  The famous fighting franchise gets the high-def treatment. The PSP version will arrive on November 24th.
  • Borderlands (X360, PS3, PC) - It's like an RPG and a first-person shooter had a baby.  Great four-player, co-operative online play.
  • Brutal Legend (X360, PS3) - A masterful roadie becomes the chosen one in a universe of Rock characters and themes.
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla (X360, PS3, PC) - An FPS notable for its completely destructible structures in all levels. Don't chase someone into a building...destroy it and flush them out.
  • Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (X360, PS3, PC) - Not your typical run-and-gun shooter, OF:DR emphasizes tense, realistic gameplay with a fictitious conflict in a modern setting.
  • Resident Evil 5 (X360, PS3, PC) - The high-definition debut of the long-running survival horror franchise takes you to Africa and introduces co-op play.  Wii gamers will get Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (see Wii section) in November.
  • Need for Speed: Shift (X360, PS3, PSP, PC) - NfS goes into simulation territory to compete with the likes of Sony's Gran Turismo and Microsoft's Forza Motorsport.  Wii owners will get Need for Speed: Nitro.
  • Wet (X360, PS3) - A stylish, action-packed shooter featuring heroine Rubi Malone with a 70s-themed presentation.
  • Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (X360, PS3, Wii, PSP, DS, PS2) - This sequel is set during the events of Marvel's Civil War and features character fusion as part of the gameplay, and it's on every currently sold console to boot.
  • Section 8 (X360, PC) - An FPS with dynamic objectives that create varied gameplay.
  • Guitar Hero 5 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS2) - Keep rocking out with your virtual band in an all new "party play" mode that's great for get-togethers.
  • The Beatles: Rock Band (X360, PS3, Wii) - This version of Rock Band features classic hits from the Fab Four.
  • Lego Rock Band (X360, PS3, Wii, DS) - It's Rock Band with Lego characters, really. Should be more accessible for those who aren't die-hard rockers and younger audiences.
  • DiRT 2 (X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS) - An off-road racing simulation with a career mode and online multiplayer options.
  • BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (X360, PS3) - A 2D fighting game.  Hard to find in stores.
  • Street Fighter IV (X360, PS3, PC) - The venerable fighting saga returns after a ten-year hiatus with 3D characters and a new fighting system. Plenty of copies sold should make this easy to find used and cheap with Super Street Fighter IV on the horizon for 2010.
  • The Bigs 2 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS) - Arcade-style baseball game with lots of flasy "supermoves."
  • Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (X360, PS3, PC) - This FPS is a prequel to Call of Juarez and takes place during the Civil War era.
  • Fight Night Round 4 (X360, PS3) - The definitive boxing simulation gets new moves and physics.
  • Ghostbusters The Video Game (X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PS2, PSP, DS) - The classic '80s movie hit gets the videogame treatment for a new generation.
  • Prototype (X360, PS3, PC) - A violent sandbox game featuring a shapeshifting protagonist in NYC.
  • Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition (X360, PS3, PC) - The game was released in 2008, but this re-packaging includes all five downloadable add-on packs which give this all new value.
  • NBA 2K10 (X360, PS3, PC) - One of the two big NBA basketball sims on the market, NBA 2K10 looks to match the success of last year's game.
  • Dragon Ball (X360, PS3) - This 3D fighting game set in the DB universe will have dozens of playable characters.  Recommended only for true fans of the series.  Coming November 10th.  DS gamers will get Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans (see DS section).
  • Dragon Age: Origins (X360, PS3, PC) - This not-yet-released RPG has generated a lot of buzz in the gaming world. Releases on November 3rd.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 (X360, PC) - Another FPS that has you and a band of three comrades fighting off hordes of zombies.  The first featured great multiplayer.  The sequel comes out on November 17th.
  • Assassin's Creed II (X360, PS3, PC) - Alastair returns with an all-new adventure.  Though the PC version won't come out until next year, the console versions will be out on November 20th.  PSP gamers will get Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines on November 17th (see PSP section).
  • Planet 51 (X360, PS3, Wii, DS) - A game based on the animated movie that features a human "invading" (read, landing on) an alien planet.
  • METRO 2033 (X360, PC) - Unsure if this will be released in 2009, but this will be a futuristic survival-horror FPS.
  • Rogue Warrior (X360, PS3, PC) - Play as an elite agent tasked with inflitrating North Korea to stop a weapons program in this stealth shooter.
  • Hitman 5 (X360, PS3, PC) - Seriously doubtful that this will show up in 2009, but the Hitman franchise is pretty engaging, so this had to make the list.
  • Madden NFL 10 (X360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2) - Always one of the best-selling games of any calendar year, the Madden franchise is a must-have for any fan of the sport.

XBOX 360 Exclusives

  • Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony (X360) - This is the latest expansion to Grand Theft Auto IV available only on the XBOX 360.  Rockstar's expansions are so meaty that they surpass many stand-alone games in terms of content.  This expansion requires GTA4, but you can also get Episodes from Liberty City, which includes The Ballad of Gay Tony along with the previously released expansion pack The Lost and The Damned on one disc and which doesn't require GTA4 to play.
  • Forza MotorSport 3 (X360) - This is a realistic racing simulator featuring hundreds of cars and beautiful graphics. It is Microsoft's response to Sony's Gran Turismo series on the PlayStation.  The competition has only made both games better.
  • Halo 3: ODST (X360) - Play as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper in this latest installment in the venerable Halo franchise.


PlayStation 3 Exclusives

  • inFamous (PS3) - An excellent adventure game involving a citywide catastrophe that grants certain individuals superhero-like powers.  The protagonist controls electricity and must make moral decisions about whether to use his abilities for good or evil.
  • Killzone 2 (PS3) - A squad-based FPS featuring a war between the Terrans and the Helghast. Great graphics and online play.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) - One of the best action-adventure games ever, this is what Tomb Raider might have become if it had been managed properly. Follow adventurer Nathan Drake around the globe as he hunts down mysterious artifacts.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3) - One of the best (and longest-running) 3D platformers returns with lots of zany characters and even zanier weapons.
  • Katamari Forever (PS3) - The matter-rolling Prince makes his HD debut on the PlayStation 3.
  • Fat Princess (PS3) - The downloadable game is best played with friends. Try to capture the other team's princess while fattening up (defending) your own.
  • God of War Collection (PS3) - The first two GoW games get the high-def treatment. This should hold you over until God of War III drops some time next year.


Wii Exclusives

  • Wii Fit Plus (Wii) - The fitness game returns with some new exercises and modes. Only $20 for those who already own the balance board.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS) - Battle your way out of Bowser's belly in this real-time RPG.
  • Dead Space Extraction (Wii) - This is a prequel to the hit Dead Space game that appeared on the X360, PS3, and PC.
  • MySims Agents (Wii) - Become a crime-solving sleuth in the MySims universe.
  • Wii Sports Resort (Wii) - A new set of sports games in a tropical setting. Comes with the MotionPlus add-on for the Wii remote.
  • Rabbids Go Home (Wii) - A new adventure for the Rabbids sans Rayman as they make their way back home to the moon.
  • New Super Mario Brothers Wii (Wii) - This iteration of the Mario Brothers franchise is a 2D platformer that allows up to four players to compete on the screen at one time. Players can work co-operatively to solve puzzles.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex (Wii) - For Wii gamers looking for a Call of Duty fix, this game uses the Wii's motion controls for immersion in the firefight.
  • Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii) - This game is a sequel to the hit Wii game Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.  It offers light-gun-style gameplay using the Wii remote. Releases November 17th.


Nintendo DS Exclusives

  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (DS) - Continue the Kingdom Hearts saga by playing as Roxas, Sora's "nobody," as you try to discover your identity.
  • Scribblenauts (DS) - Solve puzzles and navigate levels by literally writing the name of the object you wish to appear on the screen. Hundreds of objects to choose from.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized (DS) - Call of Duty returns to the DS.  Expect more of the action of the first two CoD games on the DS.


PSP Exclusives

  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy (PSP) - A fighting game and RPG hybrid featuring characters from across the Final Fantasy universe.
  • Beaterator (PSP) - A music mixer with some rhythm minigames brought to you by Rockstar Games and Timbaland.
  • Gran Turismo (PSP) - Sony's premier racing simulation finally makes it on to the PSP after years of promises and false starts.
  • Half-Minute Hero (PSP) - An RPG with a tounge-in-cheek 8-bit presentation and quests that must be completed in 30 seconds.
  • Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PSP, PS2) - The first appearance of the duo (and not just Daxter) on the PSP, J&D is among the best platformers from the PS2 generation. Releases on November 3rd.
  • LittleBIGPlanet (PSP) - The quirky physics-based 2D platformer with realistic 3D graphics moves to the PSP this fall. Not technically an exclusive, the PS3 version was so charming that this one has to be watched. Coming November 17th.
  • SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 (PSP) - Third PSP installment in the realistic warfare simulation. Has local and online multiplayer. Release date unknown.
  • MotorStorm Arctic Edge (PSP, PS2) - Sony's dirty, arcade-style, offroad racer trickles down from the PS3 to the PSP and PS2 with less intense graphics and fewer drivers and tracks.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP) - A new chapter in the Kingdom Hearts saga where three characters search out a Keyblade
  • SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny (PSP) - The classic fighting game featuring close-range weapons and deadly hand-to-hand combat arrives on the portable console.


PC Exclusives

  • The Sims 3 World Adventures (PC) - The first expansion pack for The Sims 3, this globetrotting add-on will be a must-have for Sims nuts.
  • Tropico 3 (PC, X360?) - Real-time strategy game casting you as a dictator over a small Carribbean island. May be coming to the X360.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (PC) - This remake of the classic adventure game from 1990 gets updated with high-res graphics, voice acting, and a new musical score.