Getting a present for a gamer over the holidays isn't as easy a matter as it may sound. Sure, you want to get him or her a game to play, but which game? What system? You want to get them the right game for the genre they enjoy, and that's where we come in. In our 2008 Holiday Gift Guide all you need to know is what kinds of video games they play, and plan accordingly. Do they like shooting things? We've got some games for them. If they like racing, yeah, we've got the shopping list covered too. A bevy of genres for you to peruse lay below, so that you can rest knowing you're getting them the right gift this year.
Below you'll find our Holiday Picks for the Xbox 360. To check out our full guide, please visit out Holiday Guide Index.
For the Shooter Fan...
Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway
For those who prefer some great storytelling and a strategic slant to their shooter action would do well to check this title out. It may not be perfect, but BiA represents a genuniely enriching gaming experience. This unique approach to shooters may even be enough to bring you back for one more digital tour of duty with the 101st airborne.
Anything worth killing is worth killing by dismemberment, says Dead Space. Set on a space station filled with horrors, Dead Space redefines the survival-horror genre. Taking down enemies is now more than just filling them with bullets, and each battle is a struggle to keep your head attached to your body as you try to figure out what, exactly, happened to the hapless victims. It's worthy to be played by anyone who enjoys a scare and even more so by anyone who likes to take an industrial cutting laser to a creeping undead horror.
Far Cry 2
The dawn breaks as you exit your safe house and gaze at the miles and miles of unfriendly African landscape. In Far Cry 2, you are a government mercenary sent to the war-torn continent to kill a weapons dealer known only as The Jackal. Traverse over fifty square kilometers of realistically modeled landscape as you bring down governments, collect conflict diamonds and generally just shoot at anything and everything. A new feature, the environment can be set ablaze, which will burn realistically and send the bad guys running.
This "go anywhere and do anything" approach means some time is spent driving, boating or hang-gliding to your destination. Still, the fun is in the journey, and this breathtaking game is a great gift for anyone who likes to keep a finger on the trigger and a grenade in the ready. Not ones for the kiddies, however!
Gears of War 2
Delta Squad is back and in a big way. The story for this one has been upped a notch and the gameplay is as smooth as ever. The stop and pop system is the shining example that makes this game different than any other shooter out there. Plus, the online component will make you keep coming back for more. The new Horde Mode will put your mind and trigger finger through the ringer as you try and outlast wave after wave of an increasingly difficult battalion of Locust. Grown-up gamers only.
For the Action Fan...
Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto is back and tops the charts with 10's across the board. Although it's the ninth in the series, GTA IV is the first proper step into the next-gen gaming world. Of course it features much of the same style of gameplay; but if it isn't broken, why fix it? Give the gift of virtual crime and let someone drive, shoot, steal, stab, drink, race, and customize their way throughout the holiday season. But with well over 11 million copies sold, you might want to make sure the lucky recipient of this gift doesn't own GTA IV already.
Don't forget the episodic content either! Rockstar games is releasing "GTAIV: The Lost and Damned" on Xbox Live on the 17th of February 2009.
Left 4 Dead
There comes a time when nothing can satisfy a gaming urge, and all that is wanted is to shoot the undead in the face while rescuing your buddy. Good news! There is a game perfect for such a time. Left 4 Dead combines co-op run-and-gun with zombies and more zombies. Bonus: Get a copy for yourself as well, and you can play alongside your friend!
Ninja Gaiden II
The hardcore need only apply. This game is as tough as nails, so don't take it lightly. The sequel to 2004's frantic revival is indeed a gory one. Limbs flying everywhere, blood spewing out of bodies; it is a sight to behold. The combat system is still slick and easy to use and the addition of the Obliteration Techniques is quite a spectacle as you dismember your foes left and right. If you can make it through this game, then you deserve twice the number of achievement points they give you. Mature audiences only.
Saint's Row 2
Whereas GTA tends to go down the italian mob route, Saints Row rocks the gangsta lifestyle. The game offers a much less realistic view of the genre, but it can often be a lot more fun because of it. The ability to play through the entire game with a friend in co-op is also an extremely welcome addition that is tons of fun. With much of the same style of gameplay as the original, with a sandbox story line and more guns and cars than you can shake a stick at, Saints Row 2 won't fail to impress.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
If you've ever taken a flashlight and made whoosing and crashing sounds while pretending to duel Darth Vader, this game is for you. By giving players full control over a plethora of force powers, they'll be given the opportunity to see what it feels like to be a badass with a fistful of force vengeance. The game certainly has a few flaws like linear level design and floaty controls, but that won't matter when you're flinging TIE fighters at hapless Storm troopers. A must buy for any Star Wars fan on your christmas list.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
If you're like us, then you love Black Suit Spider-Man. While the last movie may not have been a decent representation of our symbiont-fused hero, this game truly is. With the swinging system of Spider-Man 2: The Video Game still intact, a new Web Strike system that integrates web swinging and frantic mid-air combat and the ability to change between the two suits on the fly, if you say that you are a Spider-Man fan and don't have this game then you have obviously forgot to put this on the list to Santa.
For the Music Lover...
Rock Band 2
So you want to form a band, but neither you nor your friends can play to save your skins? Fear not! Gather round the television and have fun rockin' out to tunes with your four-man band! It's a great game to play when you get together with friends and family, and even if you can't sing you can simply pretend to screech along the melody. And better yet, if they've already own the first Rock Band, the tracks can be imported and nearly double the track list in game.
For The Role-Playing Fan...
The sequel for everyone's favorite action role-playing game of the last generation has arrived! Improving on almost every aspect of the franchise, never before have so many options been available to you. Want a wife and family in every town? No problem! Lure innocent people into the woods to meet their doom? Go for it! Maybe just walk into a city with the intention of slaughtering every man, woman and child? Why not?!?
And hey - if that's not your cup of tea, you could always play the immaculate hero, symbol of all that is good and just in the land. But where's the fun in that?
Fable, in all seriousness, allows you to choose your own path as you use your sword, your rifle and magical abilities to stop a corrupt leader from unleashing an unimaginable power. But what must you sacrifice along the way? How will your actions affect the world you live in? Will your increasing powers create a storm of evil and hate, or will your strength usher in a golden shower of peace and prosperity? Find out by purchasing Fable 2 this holiday season. A great buy for young adults or even older gamers.
Worth playing just to explore the ruins of post-apocalyptic Washington DC, Fallout 3 mixes action and role-playing elements for an unforgettable experience. Play the game from infancy to your ultimate destiny as either hero of the people or villain feared by all. The remains of popular landmarks, art deco ruins, and cobbled together survivor settlements dot the bleak yet beautiful terrain. Horrible mutants and insane robots will be around every corner, but a cast of strange characters can be found to help you on your journeys. The combat system uses a turn based/real time hybrid that allows for stunningly bloody combats and is more forgiving for RPG fans who prefer Fallout's traditional turn based system.
For The Racing Fan...
For those who love cars but don't have to time to put into a heavy sim like Forza Motorsport to Gran Turismo will love GRID. With a solid selection of real world cars and realistic yet forgiving physics, GRID is the perfect gift for the speed junkie in your life. Add in a fantastic rewind function and a load of different race types, you have a game that you can play for ten minutes or for hours on end.
Not many game really capture the essence of what it is to be "arcade". That is to say, there aren't an abundance of games able to be accessible and fun, but at the same time frantic and challenging. Burnout Paradise is the fifth game in this long-running franchise, which has players weaving in and out of traffic reaching incredible speeds. Every crash lapses the game into an arthouse display of slow-mo twisted metal and shattered glass. It is the quintessential arcade experience.
What's more, is recent free additions such as a day/night cycle and the inclusion of motor bikes makes this open-world racer extra-appealing, especially considering its budget-friendly price point.
Sports Fans Rejoice...
Madden NFL 09
Madden is back, and bigger than ever. 09's reiteration of the popular football series hits the field with vastly improved graphics, smooth controls, and great gameplay. The new "Backtrack" feature is also a welcome addition which allows players to see where a certain play failed, and even rewind time to try again. Complete with online leagues and the return of both superstar and franchise mode, Madden 09 is definitely a great choice for any football fan this holiday season.
The puck has dropped on the ultimate Canadian sports franchise, and this year has put together a dynasty worthy effort. With a second to none dynasty mode, the innovative Be a Pro mode, and a shockingly deep online mode that borders into MMO territory, any hockey fan worth their salt must have this game in their collection. The whole experience will have you pulling your favourite team's jersey over your head and hitting the ice from the comfort of your couch.
To check out our picks across other platforms, please visit out Holiday Guide Index.