Tech News on G4

The Lists guide to holiday game shopping

November 30, 2007

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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As a gamer who spent many Christmases and birthdays trying to explain the nuances of why the Xbox is good and the N-Gage is bad to a less-than-informed mother, I understand that it isn't easy for a non-gamer to simply walk into a store and know the difference between a good game and a bad one.

Which is why I have decided to write a very simple and very specific guide to what is a good bet for your gaming daughter or son, and what to avoid at all costs.


For the younger audience:

The List: Xmas guide: Superman - Friend or FoeBuy: Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (Wii, Xbox 360). For the most part, you can't go wrong with anything that has the word 'Spider-Man' on it. This game, though, isn't a piece of crap with Spidey's logo slapped on the box. It's very easy to pick up and play, it's downright simple to learn and it has humour that anyone - kid or adult - can laugh at. There isn't any gratuitous blood or violence, and your little one can always invite a sibling or friend to play co-operatively.

Don't Buy - Smarty Pants (Wii). This is one of several party games for the Nintendo Wii that tries to build on the success of resurgent game shows like 'Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?' Unfortunately, it's just not very much fun. It's basically Trivial Pursuit with a 21st century shine put over it. You can choose from several different categories, and earn points based on correct answers, but nothing about this game will hold younger or older peoples' attention span for longer than a couple of hours (or two or three games). Another choice: Wario Ware: Smooth Moves (Wii)



For adults:

The List: Xmas guide: Superman - Friend or FoeBuy: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PlayStation 3). A third person adventure for the PlayStation 3, you play the role of sdafasdf, as you shoot, jump and climb your way to your final goal. Firefights are intense and the game provides some honest to goodness challenges for those who want more than just a cakewalk. Plenty of colourful language and gore proves this isn't for your typical pre-teen.

Don't Buy - Lair (PlayStation 3). This was supposed to be THE game to own for PlayStation 3 when it was released. Dragons, killer graphics, epic storytelling. It had it all - or so gamers thought. Instead, this was one of the biggest busts in recent memory and was lambasted by critics. Avoid this game at all costs. Another choice: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)



For the budding doctor:

Buy: Trauma Center: New Blood (Wii). This is the sequel to one of last year's best launch games for the Nintendo Wii. The game takes full advantage of the system's motion-sensing controls, letting the gamer cut, stitch, poke and prod, all in the name of healing. Controls are spot-on and this sequel even features co-operative gameplay if someone else wants to jump in and try. Probably not for younger gamers, as its difficulty level is quite high.

Don't Buy - Lifesigns: Surgical Unit (Nintendo DS). Whereas Trauma Center was an instant hit and should have spawned several successful ripoffs, instead we get Lifesigns, a game that flatlines almost from the very beginning. Though the actual surgery parts of the game can be fun, there is simply way too much text and wandering around the fictional hospital for the game to gain any momentum. It can become downright mind-numbingly boring. There just isn't enough surgery scenes to recommend this game at all. Another choice: Trauma Center: Under the Knife (Nintendo DS).



For the role-playing gamer:

The List: Xmas guide: Superman - Friend or FoeBuy: Mass Effect (Xbox 360). The latest epic from Canadian developer BioWare, Mass Effect has been described as the spiritual successor to the company's two previous efforts, 'Knights of the Old Republic' and its sequel. The game casts you as a human who must traverse the galaxy, trying to stop a threat to civilization. The game features a revolutionary speech system and third-person action sequences, and it'll keep your gamer busy for many, many hours.

Don't Buy: Mega Man: Star Force (Nintendo DS). The Mega Man series used to be all about side scrolling action. A few years ago, though, the Battle Network series introduced more of a role-playing element to the series. The latest Mega Man games to continue this type of role-playing is Mega Man Star Force. There are actually three different versions of this game (Pegasus, Leo and Dragon), but if your little one isn't a fan of role-playing games, none of these will satisfy his or her desire for action. Another choice: Mega Man ZX Advent (Nintendo DS).



For the musically-inclined:

The List: Xmas guide: Superman - Friend or FoeBuy: Guitar Hero III (PS3, PS2, Xbox 360). Even if you haven't seen it in action, you've probably heard of the Guitar Hero series. It allows gamers to strap on controllers that look like actual guitars, and follow notes onscreen to play some of the most popular rock songs of the best four decades. The newest version is Guitar Hero III and it doesn't disappoint at all. A strong setlist, a new wireless guitar, and online gameplay make this the most well-rounded of all the Guitar Hero games. It's a little bit pricey when factoring in buying the guitar as well (which comes bundled with the game), but when you see the look on your fake-guitarist's face, you'll know it was well worth it.

Don't Buy: Jam Sessions (Nintendo DS). C'mon ... a guitar game on a handheld system??? Yes, it's much less expensive than Guitar Hero, and it has been gaining some positive reviews, but how could this game possibly compete with a game that allows you to strap on a guitar? Another choice: Rock Band (Xbox 360, PS3).


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