Given that it’s Christmas, that means it’s a time for giving. On a lighter note, that hopefully means that you’ll be given some brilliant video games! I’ve given out some advice to parents asking what sort of games they should get their children and I’ve advised friends on purchases. So let’s take a look at my top five picks for this year.
Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
Another amazing Bioware RPG, Mass Effect is a brilliant team-based sci-fi actioner. I’m not normally a fan of sci-fi but Mass Effect has genuinely captured my attention, time and emotion through brilliant storytelling. With a number of different character types (including Soldier and Vanguard) there are a variety of options and ways to play the game, as well as a fully featured character editor.
How you respond to characters really can have an impact on the game. The biggest feature of the game however is the wonderful freedom you have. There are various planets to explore, characters to talk to and new enemies to discover. The data codex alone is well with a read and something I’ve been looking at addictively since I got it! Okay, so there are some problems with the game.
Most notably you may find the interface system for the various menus is a little confusing at first, there may be some very slight slowdown too on some scenes. However, the fact remains you could walk into a new location and it may well take your breath away, and this is something that can happen regularly. A truly brilliant game.
Let me get the negative out straight away – Crysis is a game of two halves and frankly the second one sucks. The reason for this is similar to why the first Half-Life was booed toward the end. Namely, too much weird alien intervention. I’d genuinely recommend Crysis though as a new landmark in gaming.
This FPS puts you in the boots of Nomad, an elite special forces US trooper who parachutes into Korea after a scientist goes missing. One of the first things you’ll notice about the game is the genuinely amazing graphics – they are more than top notch. So much more in fact, you probably don’t own a powerful enough PC to run everything at max, no matter what your rig.
Nonetheless, even on the lowest settings it looks rather special. It’s the interactivity though that really makes the game. Nomad has a special nano-suit that allows partial invisibility (think the Predator cloak), super strength and super speed. All of these elements are used in the game to good effect. It’s also with these powers that you’ll find you have the most fun. How do you want to kill that last soldier? Why not cloak, walk up to him, grab him then super-throw him through a building! All in all a great game, well the first half anyway.
Assassin’s Creed (Xbox 360)
Well, the wait is finally over (though Jade Raymond still hasn’t called me back) and Assassin’s Creed is here. Was it worth the wait? Yes. Does it live up to the hype? No. However, it does make this list, which means it’s a little bit special. The reason it manages to (mostly) live up to expectations is that it is so well put together. The game does give you a similar scenario for every ‘mission’ – namely to hunt out and kill a target – but the execution of it is so exquisite that you won’t mind. You certainly won’t be annoyed if you get this for Christmas.
Metroid Prime 3 (Wii)
It’s an old adage that you can’t go wrong with a staple Nintendo franchise and this game proves that the old rule still holds true. Just about one of the most impressive first person action/adventure games you’ll play, Metroid Prime 3 pushes every element of the trilogy just that little bit further.
The Wii controls are of course the most important addition and they don’t disappoint. The fact that you use the movement to such good effect (pulling locks to open doors etc) just makes the game even more impressive. One thing I will say however is that the game is closer to FPS than the other Metroid Primes, but then that’s unsurprising given the great Wii control system.
You will find that the game follows the usual formula – this means you’ll be scanning objects, shooting things, solving puzzles and using the abilities of Samus to great effect. Once again, if Santa deems this is for you, I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Well, you really can’t knock the fact that this game made the list. Mario is back and in no small style. One of the great things about Mario has always been that he’s a character that can appeal to all ages and this game is no exception.
In Super Mario Galaxy there are a huge number of worlds to explore with all manner of crazy features such as lower gravity, world reversing, mad bosses and much more. You’ll find this is a genuine joy to play and provides a gaming experience that will hark back to the ‘golden era’. You’re sure to enjoy Mario’s latest adventure.
Overall, there are many other great games this year – some have even gone so far to say that it’s been one of the best ever for video games. Of course, there are a huge number that didn’t make the list for one reason or another, so look out for my year 2007 roundup after Christmas.