Holiday Gift Guide: Video Games

Do you have a friend or family member who loves to play the latest video games on next generation consoles? We've compiled a list of great video games that may be exactly what you are looking for this year. 

Multi-Platform Video Games

Assassin's Creed III (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC)

Continuing the Assassin's Creed series from Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed III transitions into North America and takes you back to the American Revolutionary War. In addition, the player will continue learning about Desmond Miles, the protagonist of the Assassin's Creed series.

During a time of civil unrest and political upheaval in the Americas, you play as a Native American assassin that's fighting to protect his land and his people. Subsequently, he also helps ignites the flames of the American Revolution. 

The player will be able to interact with key players of the American Revolution in addition to fighting during events such as the Battle of Bunker Hill and Great Fire of New York. As a Native American assassin, the player can eliminate enemies using guns, bows, tomahawks and other weapons.

This well-reviewed sequel in the Assassin's Creed series is definitely a fantastic gift for someone who's already invested time in the other games within the series. On the consoles, the game has an MSRP of $60, but the MSRP for PC gamers is $50. Look for deals in the $40 range during Black Friday sales. If you are purchasing a PlayStation 3 for someone this year, look for deals on the bundle that includes Assassin's Creed III and a 500GB PS3 between $275 and $300.

Assassin's Creed III

Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC)

Call of Duty: Black Ops II sends players into a near future, 21st Century Cold War, where technology and weapons have converged to create a new generation of warfare between old and new foes. In this conflict, the mechanized creations of men reign supreme, facing off against each other as their creators stay safe, and in the process grow ever softer.

Players of Call of Duty: Black Ops II gain an understanding of this and more through the game's additional timeline set in the late Cold War era of the 1980s. Within the campaign story, which spans these two eras, players will see familiar faces such as Alex Mason, his son David Mason, and Sgt. Frank Woods. Linking these together will be the rise of another player in the conflict, Raul Menendez.

Beyond the single player campaign and variety of multiplayer modes, the popular zombie mode has returned for the sequel. That includes two co-op modes called Tranzit and Survival as well as a new mode called Grief that pits three teams against each other; two human teams and one group of zombies.

If you love the last Call of Duty game, it's highly likely that this one will be a hit as well. The MSRP of the game is $60 on all platforms, but look for flash sales in the coming weeks in the $40 to $50 range.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Dishonored (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)

Definitely the type of game for someone who enjoys stealth, Dishonored is an immersive first-person action game that casts you as a supernatural assassin driven by revenge.

Dishonored is set in Dunwall, an industrial whaling city where strange steampunk-inspired technology and otherworldly forces coexist in the shadows. You are the once-trusted bodyguard of the beloved Empress.

Framed for her murder and for the kidnapping of her daughter, you become an infamous assassin, known only by the disturbing mask that has become your calling card. The truth behind your betrayal is as murky as the waters surrounding the city, and the life you once had is gone forever.

Easily one of the more unique games of 2012, Dishonored allows the player to choose any type of playstyle to complete each mission. While the missions are linear in design, the sheer amount of paths to take within each mission is astounding. The player can choose not to kill a single person throughout the entire game, quite the achievement and definitely a strong challenge. In addition, there are multiple endings tailored to the amount of death and chaos created by the player.

Regarding price point, the MSRP of Dishonored is at $60 for all platforms. However, the game has been out for a couple months. Look for deals in the $40 range around Black Friday.


Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Mac)

Gearbox and 2K Games have created a fantastic follow-up to the mildly successful Borderlands. Borderlands 2 is a hybrid First-Person Shooter, RPG game focused on over-the-top co-op play, and set in the open-world game environment of the planet Pandora.

The second game in the game series, Borderlands 2 raises the "loot and shoot" action of the original game with an even larger and more detailed world to explore, an updated gun system, a new cast of characters and character classes, and integration of storyline with action.

The fantastic, 4-player co-op mode allows the player to drop in and drop out of a campaign seamlessly without ever having to restart the game. You can team up with up to three other players for four-player online goodness or go old-school with two-player split-screen couch sharing mayhem as you spend hours leveling up your character and equipping them with one of the millions of crazy weapons.

While the MSRP for the game is still $60, it has been out for a couple months. Look for sales around the $40 to $50 price point for the console versions during Black Friday. Also, keep a look out on Steam during the holiday sale for a discounted rate on the PC or Mac version.

Borderlands 2

The Walking Dead (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Mac)

Not to be confused with the upcoming Walking Dead game being developed by Terminal Reality and Activision, TellTale's take on AMC's The Walking Dead has received rave reviews this year.

The Walking Dead is a five-part game series set in the same universe as Robert Kirkman’s award-winning comic book series. Play as Lee Everett, a convicted criminal, who has been given a second chance at life in a world devastated by the undead. With corpses returning to life and survivors stopping at nothing to maintain their own safety, protecting an orphaned girl named Clementine may offer him redemption in a world gone to hell.

You will meet people and experience events that will impact the story of Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes, and you will be forced to make decisions that are not only tough, but that will have a direct effect on the story that you experience. The undead are everywhere, but they're not your only problem. Starvation, betrayal, heartbreak and more will challenge you as you attempt to survive in the world of The Walking Dead.

While you can purchase episodes separately, it's probably a better deal to purchase a season pass with the final episode coming out on November 20. Telltale is releasing a disc version for the Xbox 360 and PS3 that contains all episodes for $29.99. However, the PC version is currently priced at $25. Look for deals on Steam that discount the PC version to $15 and look for sales on the disc version in the $20 range.

The Walking Dead

PlayStation 3 

Ratchet & Clank Collection

While Sony doesn't have a major exclusive title to help sell systems this holiday season, the archive of classic Sony games is extremely deep. One excellent deal this holiday season is the remastered edition of three games in the Ratchet & Clank franchise.

Fully remastered from PS2-quality graphics up to 1080p, high definition visuals (as well as 720p graphics in 3D), this well-reviewed set includes Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal

Assuming you haven't experienced these games yet, the series follows Ratchet and his robotic sidekick Clank as they travel from planet to planet within the Universe. 

Sony has included trophy support for players who love achievements as well as online multiplayer support for up to twelve players within Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal.

Regarding price, this extremely reasonably priced set is positioned at a $40 MSRP. However, it's fairly easy to find deals on the set in the $25 to $30 range.

Ratchet & Clank Collection

Xbox 360 

Halo 4

Continuing the Halo saga with the help of Bungie Studios, Microsoft's new entry into the Halo franchise brings the iconic Master Chief back to battle an ancient evil bent on vengeance and annihilation.

Having been lost in space since the finale of Halo 3, Master Chief and Cortana drift aboard the wreckage of the UNSC frigate Forward Unto Dawn. Cortana wakes Master Chief after a mysterious disturbance and warns him Covenant forces are trying to board the ship. They find themselves near a mysterious Forerunner planet, Requiem, where much of the game takes place.

Halo 4's story or campaign mode can be played through alone or cooperatively with one other player in split screen and up to three other players through Xbox Live. Unlike the Halo 3 cooperative campaign where each player takes the role of a different character, all players will play as Master Chief. Players can enable skulls in the campaign menu which act as gameplay modifiers such as increasing enemy health, changing NPC behavior or removing elements of the player's HUD.

Similar to the previous games, multiplayer is also a huge draw for Halo veterans. Regarding price, the MSRP for Halo 4 is currently $60. Look for a discounted price of $50 to $55 during the holiday season as well as special deals with bonus gift cards. If you are purchasing an Xbox 360 for a friend that's interested in the Halo series, check out the limited edition model with two wireless controllers. 

Halo 4

Nintendo Wii U 

New Super Mario Bros. U

Most definitely the system seller for the recently released Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U brings the old school, sidescrolling Mario game in glorious high definition on the Wii U hardware.

New Super Mario Bros. U is a new, side-scrolling adventure featuring Mario, Luigi, Toad ... and your Mii character. Inside the Mushroom Kingdom you can explore new worlds, new power-ups and new ways to play. Up to five players can jump into the fun, with up to four people using Wii Remote controllers and one on the Wii U GamePad. The experience is different, depending on which controller is used.

In addition to the main Story Mode, in which players must rescue Princess Peach, New Super Mario Bros. U features other game modes. For instance in Boost Mode, two to five players work together to clear many different courses in the fastest time possible. The scene auto scrolls, forcing you to move ahead through the course. As you collect more coins, the scene scrolls faster. Once you've completed your run, you can watch a replay of other players' Boost Rush to help strategize for your next attempt.

Most importantly, the game doesn't have to stop when someone else wants to watch television. The person playing the Wii U can simply transition to the GamePad to continue playing a level. Regarding price, the $60 price point is unlikely to fall due to the recent release. However, look for deals with bundled Wii games or Buy 1, Get 1 free sales to bring down the overall cost of the game.

New Super Mario Bros. U


Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 is a subscription free, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG) exclusively for the PC gaming platform. A sequel to the original Guild Wars game released in 2005, the game is set in a persistent game world and features a choice based storyline focused around the continued struggles of the peoples of the land of Tyria.

Now hundreds of years past the events of the original game, the almost forgotten threat of the Elder Dragons has risen, but so has "Destiny's Edge," a guild pledged to combat them. Game features include: a dynamic event/questing system, small and large-scale combat, player vs. player arenas, multiple playable races and professions, and expansive and rewarding dungeon crawls.

Reviewers have praised Guild Wars 2 for allowing guilds to be held across multiple servers as well as allowing a player to be in multiple guilds at the same time. In addition, the instanced questing areas reduces the number of players in a particular area and helps reduce lag for anyone on a slower connection.

When it comes to price, the MSRP on Guild Wars 2 is currently $60. However, the price on the MMORPG can often be found in the $45 to $50 range. Since the game doesn't require a monthly fee, it's can be preferable to other more expensive MMORPGs.

Guild Wars 2

Nintendo 3DS 

Nintendo 3DS XL

While New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Paper Mario: Sticker Star are decent gifts for someone with a 3DS already, a hardware upgrade would be a fantastic gift for someone that's using a first generation 3DS.

First off, the screen size of both screens has increased significantly. The top screen has increased from approximately 3.5" diagonally to nearly 5-inches and the lower screen has increased in size by about 1-inch as well. The new screen design also cuts down on more glare than the previous model. 

Nintendo also increased the size of the A, B, X, and Y buttons as well as the Circle Pad in order to make them easier to use. The larger design of the 3DS XL is also a better fit for people with large hands. Finally, the battery life has been significantly improved as well. While the original hardware offered 5 hours for 3DS games and 8 hours for DS games, the new hardware offers 6.5 hours for 3DS games and 10 hours for DS games.

Regarding price, the MSRP of the 3DS XL is $199.99 while the MSRP on the original 3DS is $169.99. However, look for deals on the 3DS XL in the $175 to $185 range. Look for bundled deals during the holidays as well.

Nintendo 3DS XL

PlayStation Vita 

PlayStation Plus

Sony has definitely struggled with PlayStation Vita sales since the launch during early 2012, and the lack of a compelling system seller released during the holiday season is likely a reason why Sony is rolling out incentives with the PlayStation Plus program.

Rolling out on November 21st, Sony will be bringing the Vita into the PlayStation Plus program, a subscription service package from PlayStation Network. 

As part of the Instant Game Collection, subscribers will be able to enjoy PS Vita titles including Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush and Chronovolt. Members will have access to four games per month, as well as to a multitude of other perks such as free play, exclusive discounts and online storage.

Ideal for owners of the PlayStation 3 and the Vita, the Instant Game Collection across both platforms means players will have a constant library of 14 games and at least five new games a month, which means over 65 games a year for PS3 and PS Vita. 

Regarding price, Sony is selling a 3-month subscription to PlayStation Plus for $17.99 as well as a yearly subscription for $49.99. It's unlikely that you will find prices lower than that, but it's less expensive than purchasing several games to go along with the Vita.

PlayStation Plus