10 Must-Have Videogames This Holiday Season

By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com

10 Must-Have Games for 2011

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The holiday season is typically loaded with must-have videogames, but the number hitting shelves this year is unprecedented. Several top franchises have new installments out and some new games are looking very promising. That's good news for players, but it's even better for gift buyers, since few gamers will be able to keep up with the deluge. Here are some sure-fire suggestions.
Photo: Jupiterimages | Getty Images

The holiday season is typically loaded with must-have videogames, but the number hitting shelves this year is unprecedented.

Several top franchises have new installments out and some new games are looking very promising. That's good news for players, but it's even better for gift buyers, since few gamers will be able to keep up with the deluge. Here are some sure-fire suggestions.

By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 07 November 2011

"Batman: Arkham City"

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Publisher: Warner BrosSystems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC Superhero games, traditionally, have been uniformly terrible. But in 2009, Warner and developer Rocksteady broke that trend with "Batman: Arkham Asylum." This sequel builds on that, offering plenty of side missions and extras that make it not only the best superhero game to date, but quite possibly the best game of 2011.
Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment

Publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Superhero games, traditionally, have been uniformly terrible. But in 2009, Warner Bros. and developer Rocksteady broke that trend with "Batman: Arkham Asylum." This sequel builds on that, offering plenty of side missions and extras that make it not only the best superhero game to date, but quite possibly the best game of 2011.

"Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception"

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Publisher: SonySystems: PS3 Plotlines are too often an afterthought in video games, but the "Uncharted" series is the exception to this rule. Not only is the game play well paced and action packed, but there's also a solid story and character development. It's one of the few games where you'll actually care what happens during cut scenes, rather than viewing these pauses in the game as an interruption.
Photo: Sony

Publisher: Sony
Systems: PS3

Plotlines are too often an afterthought in videogames, but the "Uncharted" series is the exception to the rule. Not only is the game play well paced and action packed, but there's also a solid story and character development. It's one of the few games where you'll actually care what happens during cut scenes, rather than viewing these pauses in the game as an interruption.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3"

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Publisher: ActivisionSystems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC The industry's biggest franchise is poised to once again set new records with its third installment in the present day setting. The single-player campaign will have plenty of showcase moments, but the real draw is the game's multiplayer elements, which have kept players hooked on previous Call of Duty titles for the full year between installments.
Photo: Activision

Publisher: Activision
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

The industry's biggest franchise is poised to once again set new records with its third installment in the present day setting. The single-player campaign will have plenty of showcase moments, but the real draw is the game's multiplayer elements, which have kept players hooked on previous "Call of Duty" titles for the full year between installments.

"The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword"

Photo: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Systems: Wii

"Zelda" was the first big game for the Wii — and it looks like it will be the last, as well. With the Wii U releasing next year, Nintendo is going out with a bang with this action-adventure game, which once again pits hero Link on a quest to save Zelda. It's the 25th anniversary of the franchise this year and the company has put together a fitting tribute to it.

"Gears of War 3"

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Publisher: Microsoft Systems: Xbox 360 The conclusion of the Gears of War saga is still more about over-the-top firepower than nuance, but this installment focuses a wee bit more on story, while ensuring that the battles against the Locust are more heart pounding than ever. There's a reason this game sold more than 3 million copies in its first week.
Photo: Microsoft

Publisher: Microsoft
Systems: Xbox 360

The conclusion of the "Gears of War" saga is still more about over-the-top firepower than nuance, but this installment focuses a wee bit more on story, while ensuring that the battles against the Locust are more heart-pounding than ever. There's a reason this game sold more than 3 million copies in its first week.

"Star Wars: The Old Republic"

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Publisher: Electronic Arts Systems: PC Star Wars has been given the massively multiplayer online treatment before – and it didn't go too well. But with legendary developer Bioware behind this latest attempt, expectations are running high. EA is hoping to take the wind out of "World of Warcraft's" sails with this perpetual world. And given the lasting appeal of the "Star Wars" franchise, it could make a serious dent (and give the company a major source of recurring revenue as well.)
Photo: Electronic Arts

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Systems: PC

Star Wars has been given the massively multiplayer online treatment before — and it didn't go too well. With legendary developer Bioware behind this latest attempt, however, expectations are running high. Electronic Arts is hoping to take the wind out of the sails of "World of Warcraft" with this perpetual world. Given the lasting appeal of the "Star Wars" franchise, it could make a serious dent (and give the company a major source of recurring revenue as well).

"Battlefield 3"

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Publisher: Electronic Arts Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC Having sold more than 5 million copies in its first week, this present-day war game has turned plenty of heads that are usually laser focused on the next "Call of Duty." With an eye-popping graphics engine and a well-received multiplayer mode, EA has not only made itself a contender in the action genre, it has convinced investors that its long-in-the-making turnaround is finally here.
Photo: Electronic Arts

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Having sold more than 5 million copies in its first week, this present-day war game has turned plenty of heads — ones usually laser-focused on the next "Call of Duty." With an eye-popping graphics engine and a well-received multiplayer mode, EA has not only made itself a contender in the action genre, it has convinced investors that its long-in-the-making turnaround is finally here.

"The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim"

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Publisher: Bethesda Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC "The Elder Scrolls" is one of the most popular role-playing game franchises in the industry, offering tremendous flexibility and a vast, breathing world. With the long-awaited inclusion of dragons to the game, Bethesda's crown jewel could devour hundreds of hours of a player's time.
Photo: Bethesda

Publisher: Bethesda
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

"The Elder Scrolls" is one of the most popular role-playing game franchises in the industry, offering tremendous flexibility and a vast, breathing world. With the long-awaited inclusion of dragons to the game, Bethesda's crown jewel could devour hundreds of hours of a player's time.

"Assassin's Creed: Revelations"

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Publisher: Ubisoft Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC The series, which has grown into one of Ubisoft's biggest, marks its last installment in the Renaissance era, wrapping up the stories of Enzio, Altair and Desmond. The focus is on the single-player story, as there's a lot of ground to cover, but the game will also ship with plenty of new weapons and a multiplayer mode.
Photo: Ubisoft

Publisher: Ubisoft
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

The series, which has grown into one of Ubisoft's biggest, marks its last installment in the Renaissance era, wrapping up the stories of Enzio, Altair, and Desmond. The focus is on the single-player story, as there's a lot of ground to cover, but the game will also ship with plenty of new weapons and a multiplayer mode.

"Portal 2"

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Publisher: Valve Software Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC While it's been out since April, this first-person puzzle game is one of the year's best titles – and if your gift recipient hasn't played it yet, you owe it to them to correct that error. "Portal 2" is a puzzle game disguised as an action title, with copious amounts of laugh out loud humor.
Photo: Valve Software

Publisher: Valve Software
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

While it's been out since April, this first-person puzzle game is one of the year's best titles — and if your gift recipient hasn't played it yet, you owe it to them to correct that error. "Portal 2" is a puzzle game disguised as an action title, with copious amounts of laugh out loud humor.