2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Games

The holiday season is the video game industry’s busiest time of year, with publishers saving many of their marquee titles to release on the public like an avalanche of digital goodness. It can actually be quite overwhelming with so many different options to choose from, so we’ve done our best to put together a collection of what we feel are some of the year’s finest games.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Gears of War 4

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Set 25 years after Marcus Fenix defeated the Locust Horde once and for all, “Gears of War 4” finds Marcus’ son JD leading a group of ex-COG soldiers against a mysterious new threat. Though the game is pretty much business as usual for fans of the series, “Gears of War 4” does introduce a few changes that improve and shake up the overall gameplay. In addition to several new weapons (including our personal favorite, the Buzzkill, which shoots circular saws that can ricochet off walls), the emergence of extreme weather phenomena called Windflares affect combat with strong winds, flying debris and more. Story mode is also a lot more difficult thanks to A.I. enemies that pile on the pressure instead of sitting back and waiting for you to attack. Of course, while the single-player (or co-op) campaign serves as a nice refresher course for those who haven’t played “Gears of War” in awhile, online multiplayer is still the game’s bread and butter. All of the usual modes are here, along with newcomers like Dodgeball and Arms Race to ensure you don’t get bored. Though “Gears of War 4” isn’t as groundbreaking as the original, it’s an enjoyable franchise reboot that keeps everything that was great about the previous installments and builds on it.

Batman: The Telltale Series

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Telltale Games has been on a real streak lately with high-profile titles like “The Walking Dead,” “The Wolf Among Us” and “Game of Thrones,” but the company’s latest episodic game features perhaps their biggest IP yet. Though it’s not as instantly captivating as some of the aforementioned titles, “Batman: The Telltale Series” delivers the tried and tested combo of choice-based dialogue, puzzle solving and quicktime action scenes that we’ve come to expect. The game doesn’t explore the World’s Greatest Detective angle quite as much as it should, but that’s largely because you spend more time playing as Bruce Wayne, digging into his family’s secret history after it’s revealed that his father may not have been the saint he appeared to be. With that said, the Batman sequences are a lot more fun, whether you’re devising a plan of attack, stringing together clues at a crime scene or battling one of his many iconic villains. As with most Telltale games, the storytelling is stronger than the gameplay, but fans of their click-and-point adventures (and Batman in general) will find plenty to enjoy.

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2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Games

The holiday season is the video game industry’s busiest time of year, with publishers saving many of their marquee titles to release on the public like an avalanche of digital goodness. It can actually be quite overwhelming with so many different options to choose from, so we’ve done our best to put together a collection of what we feel are some of the year’s best titles, and ones that the gamer on your list will love.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Star Wars: Battlefront

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If you’ve ever wanted to know what it would be like to be a part of the “Star Wars” universe, Electronic Arts’ “Star Wars: Battlefront” lets you live out your ultimate fantasy by dropping you into the middle of the action in some of the most famous locations from the original trilogy. Whether assuming the role of a Rebel soldier or Stormtrooper fighting on the ground, an X-Wing or TIE pilot engaged in a massive dogfight in the skies, or as one of the many legacy characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, this is “Star Wars” fan service at its very best. Boasting gorgeous, photorealistic visuals and addictive gameplay, “Battlefront” is the most enjoyable “Star Wars” game since “Knights of the Old Republic.” Though the single player/co-op modes aren’t very exciting (they’re mostly just a place to hone your skills and waste a few hours with a friend), the online multiplayer is where the game really shines. There are nine modes to choose from – including favorites like Fighter Squadron, Heroes vs. Villains and Supremacy – with each one delivering a unique experience from the others. “Battlefront” is the “Star Wars” game that fans have been waiting for, and with more content planned for the future, it can only get better.

FIFA 16

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How do you make a great game even better? That’s the challenge put forth each year to EA Sports and their “FIFA” franchise, and every time, they respond in brilliant fashion. Though there aren’t any major changes to the gameplay, “FIFA 16” has implemented some small but important refinements to deliver the most authentic soccer simulation yet. On the field, defending has been given a complete facelift, including the ability to defend better as a unit with enhanced AI awareness, goalkeepers who make less mistakes, and improved tackling mechanics. The EA Sports team has also added something called Passing with Purpose that allows you to ping driven ground passes to teammates in tight spaces, as well as No Touch Dribbling, which gives you more creativity on the ball. Off the field, the changes are even bigger, headlined by the announcement that you can now play as one of 12 Women’s National Teams in a variety of game modes. Career Mode has also received two of the most requested features – pre-season tournaments and player training to increase stats – while Ultimate Team has added a new mode called FUT Draft where you build a team by picking each position from a five-player draw and then compete in challenges to win rewards. This is the most definitive edition of “FIFA” yet, and it’s an absolute must-have for any soccer fan.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Games

The holiday season is the video game industry’s busiest time of year, with publishers saving many of their marquee titles to release on the public like an avalanche of digital goodness. It can actually be quite overwhelming with so many different options to choose from, so we’ve done our best to put together a collection of what we feel are some of the year’s best titles, and ones that the gamer on your list will love.

Click the links to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Destiny

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After creating one of the most successful video game franchises in history, Bungie could have done pretty much whatever they wanted for their next project and it would have undoubtedly been a massive hit. Thankfully, the team behind the “Halo” series hasn’t strayed too far from its roots with this sci-fi first-person shooter, although it’s certainly a different experience due to the incorporation of role-playing and MMO elements. But while you can do things like upgrade your character’s abilities, weapons and armor, or team up with fellow players (via Bungie’s matchmaking system) to complete missions, the game is still very much a shooter at heart – one that has the benefits of co-op multiplayer without making you feel like you can’t play and progress at your own pace. The story doesn’t dig as deep into the post-apocalyptic premise as we would’ve liked, and the gameplay can get a bit repetitive at times, but “Destiny” is a deceptively enjoyable shooter with fantastic visuals, an addictive multiplayer mode and an open-ended structure that allows Bungie to continue to provide new content for many years to come.

FIFA 15

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Most video game sports franchises have gotten to the point where the truly innovative features are less about what’s on the surface than what’s underneath, and “FIFA 15” is a perfect example of how subtle changes can still make a world of difference. Though it plays very similar to last year’s edition, “FIFA 15” has gone one step further in bridging the gap between a video game and the real thing. Slide tackles and boot marks are visible on the pitch, the surface becomes more weathered as each match progresses, and crowds behave differently according to their specific club or country. Gameplay has received a few upgrades as well, including the ability to control teammates during set pieces, improved push/pull mechanics during man-to-man battles, and more accurate ball movement. There’s also a brand new intelligence system for goalkeepers that allows them to better anticipate shots and passes, while players now recognize situations (whether it’s a hard tackle or a series of bad fouls) that trigger an emotional response. And believe it or not, that’s just a taste of what “FIFA 15” has to offer, because this is arguably the most comprehensive digital soccer experience yet.

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