While the sales numbers don’t do a good job of reflecting it, 2009 has actually been a pretty good year for video game releases. As developers become more familiar with the current game systems, the level of quality in titles has increased dramatically.
As you gear up for your holiday shopping, here are the games most likely to be on the wish lists of friends and family.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 12 Nov 2009
Publisher: Activision / Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
The biggest video game of the year – and perhaps ever – will be top of list for any action gamer – assuming they haven’t bought a copy already. Blending cinematic sequences with fast-paced action, this is the game everyone will be playing online for many months to come.
Publisher: Sony / System: PS3
Arguably the best looking game ever made, “Uncharted 2” is another title that feels more like a movie than a game. It offers clever puzzles and enough gunfights to satisfy any fan of the action genre, but it also offers a surprising degree of humor and better voice acting than most Hollywood releases.
Publisher: Microsoft / System: Xbox 360
It’s hard to go wrong with a “Halo” game. Fans of the series voraciously devour any new installments – even ones that are placeholders, like this title. “ODST” doesn’t feature the Master Chief and takes the game in a different direction, but critics and fans liked what they saw. And long-time fans will particularly enjoy the new multi-player maps.
Publisher: Eidos / Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
The Caped Crusader has had to suffer through some truly awful video game adaptations, but he finally got the treatment he deserved in 2009. This action/adventure game lets you don Batman’s cape and cowl to defeat The Joker, who has taken over Gotham’s insane asylum, which happens to be populated with dozens of familiar enemies.
Publisher: Nintendo / System: Wii
Nintendo brings a new installment to the Wii’s best selling title, introducing another dozen easy to pick up mini-games. It also comes with the new Wii Motion Plus peripheral, for greater on-screen accuracy, making it the perfect gift for people who haven’t turned on their Wii lately.
Publisher: Ubisoft / Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
This stylish action game puts you in the boots of a 15th century Italian assassin. You’ll explore the rooftops of Venice and other towns as you hunt your prey, interacting with several real-world historical figures – none more surprising than Leonardo da Vinci, who turns out to be an accomplice, providing you with the technical gadgets you’ll need to make your kills.
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive / System: Nintendo DS
This charming handheld game is not only fun, but could help your vocabulary. You’ll summon objects to solve puzzles simply by writing what you want (the game has a library that recognizes nearly 23,000 words). It starts easy, but will ultimately test your mental prowess. Best of all, it never gets boring.
Publisher: Electronic Arts / Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
The go-to gift for baby boomers this year, this game lets you bring Beatlemania home, harmonizing with friends and playing along on the plastic guitars and drum sets that the music genre has made so familiar. The game comes with 45 remastered songs from the Fab Four – with additional songs and albums available for download.
Publisher: Nintendo / System: Wii
It’s a testament to the power of this game that Nintendo has been able to remake it so many times. The Wii version adds multiplayer elements, letting you play the side-scrolling classic with up to three friends. Can’t get past an area? That’s not a problem, as the game will offer to take over for you temporarily if you’ve lost eight times.
PopCap, makers of “Bejeweled” and “Peggle,” have a talent for making games that appeal equally to avid and occasional players. This charming tower defense game pits sunflowers and pea plants against wave after wave of the undead in a way that will challenge you – and make you laugh.