TA's Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Retail Games

By Jonathan Barnes,
It's that time of year again, gamers, the time of year when our thoughts turn to those we love and try to put a dollar value on that affection in the form of a holiday gift. Much like years past, we're here to help you with the gamers in your life. In the first of our three-part, gift-giving series, the Newshounds have come together with a very special list of gift recommendations for the gamers in your life.

Today we'll be taking a look at some of 2013's best retail titles for gift giving purposes. Tomorrow, we'll examine digital content, and Sunday will show off some hardware and game-related gift ideas.

Battlefield 4

DICE continue to soldier on strong with the latest instalment in the franchise; Battlefield 4. Whether buying this title for the 360 or the One, Battlefield 4 is guaranteed to offer hours, days, weeks, even months of playing time! The multiplayer is jam-packed with explosive, always-entertaining, and unique multiplayer where up to 64 players do battle amongst some of the most well-designed battlegrounds players will ever see in a multiplayer game. Alongside a decent campaign experience, Battlefield 4 will be a fantastic gift this holiday season for shooting fans who love being part of a team that are tactically capturing the objective on foot, destroying buildings and structures in tanks, and/or reigning down terror from the skies in a chopper! - Dat Boi Treezy

Still not convinced? Check out our Official Review.

Deadpool (Xbox 360)

A game based around Marvel's potty-mouthed, fourth-wall destroying, certifiably insane and dangerously indestructible "Merc With a Mouth" was always going to be something a little bit special. Having made memorable appearances in the likes of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, regular Transformers developers High Moon Studios decided it was "high" time to give the mercurial mutate the spotlight. No, it isn't all that pretty. Yes, the hack-and-slash action is fairly standard. Sure, the story is sadly quite short, but who really cares when you're spending the whole time laughing your nuts (or equivalent) off. For a hilarious romp that delivers a tight little package (*nice*) at a decent price this holiday season, you can't go wrong with a bit of Deadpool. That, or some chimichangas and a brewski. Your call - ChewieOnIce

Metro: Last Light

Not all games need to be graphical marvels to provide an immersive experience and Metro: Last Light is a perfect example of this. In fact, it is the dark and gritty setting that truly puts you in the mood for a post-apocalyptic adventure. Returning to the role of Artyom, you are once again cast out into the unforgiving world where, literally, just about everything will try to kill you. Whether or not you decide to be hostile towards these foes, both human and mutant, is entirely up to you as you have the freedom to be as passive or aggressive as you like. If you found yourself turned off by some of the supernatural moments of the game's prequel, you may find comfort in the fact that this time around the game focuses much more on the political rivalries of the last remaining factions and its impact on the world. If you have post-apocalyptic shooters on your mind, with a more serious overtone, then Metro: Last Light is a great choice this holiday season - MarcC29

Grand Theft Auto V

In Rockstar's latest outing, we get a title that acts as the swan song of this generation. As we edge into the next generation of gaming, Xbox 360 was pushed to its absolute limit (and then some) with Grand Theft Auto V. The game's three protagonists, Michael, Franklin, and Trevor, each add their own personal flare to the game so you never favour one over the other. Both story and gameplay intertwine into a fantastic experience and it's hard to notice the faults of either. As you begin each mission, you never know in what you're about to take part as every minute you spend in the world of San Andreas is fresh and new. The online aspect of the game, GTA Online, may have stumbled a little on its arrival, but nonetheless it is a fun game in its own right. Whether you're a fan of Grand Theft Auto or not, this isn't a game to be missed - Marc Pilkington

Need to know more? Here's our Official Review.

Diablo III

Console gamers around the world finally got the chance to dig into Blizzard's dungeon-crawling masterpiece this year. A testament to addictive gameplay and variety, the world of Sanctuary has never been better than on the 360. With a streamlined and intuitive control schematic, many have said that this is the way Diablo should be experienced. With hundreds of hours of possible gameplay, endless dungeon variety, and sacks of sweet, sweet loot, you might not find a better value for RPG fans this holiday season - osubluejacket

Payday 2

While Grand Theft Auto may have popularised the crime and general mayhem genre, Payday 2 was the first to bring organised crime to the Xbox 360. You can choose to use stealth and patience to stop the alarm from being raised. After casing your target, you then pick your way through the security guards and cameras while preventing the general public from panicking. Make too much noise and somebody will hear you. Alternatively, there is choice number two: run in through the front door, grab what you can and make off before people realise what has hit them. Nothing beats joining your friends in a perfectly executed bank raid, or the theft of numerous valuable paintings from an art gallery without even setting off the alarm. With DLC just around the corner, the game will keep you and your friends busy for a while - punkyliar

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist

The late Tom Clancy makes a stellar return thanks to Ubisoft. Sam Fisher returns to the field once it's discovered that America and its civilians are under threat from the Blacklist. Take on the pressurizing, tough objectives of the solo campaign, or bring a friend along for the ride in co-op missions that are available too. Whether a lone wolf or team player, Blacklist rewards players who are loud, deadly, and/or stealthy thanks to the new Economy System.

Despite being the latest Splinter Cell title, this particular instalment takes it back to the old school multiplayer as gamers can go back in time with the "Spies versus Mercs" mode. Be one with the shadows and attempt to hack terminals in the third-person view while the heavily armed and less-athletic Mercs look to end the Spies in first-person view as they patrol various areas of the map. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a very enjoyable title to play and quick and easy to get in to - Dat Boi Treezy

The Walking Dead Game of the Year Edition

Telltale Games created a masterpiece with their point and click adventure in the undead apocalypse. While some felt that the title lacked in the gameplay department, it's hard to fault the story. With The Walking Dead we were given a cast of characters that tugged at our emotions in ways that you couldn't imagine. Originally presented in five episodes, the GOTY edition provides players with all five of those episodes, along with the recently released "400 Days" DLC. You get the entire first season and an extra episode, all for a "well worth it" price! Many of us had to wait until we found out what happened next to Lee and Clementine, but in this fantastic package you can experience the entire game all at once. Season Two can not come soon enough! - Marc Pilkington.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

If you're looking to hit the high seas in an open-world of exploration that features practically endless amounts of things to do, there's no better time to get to it than now. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag builds on the ship navigation and warfare mechanics that were introduced in Assassin's Creed 3 and widely expands on it, making it the basis this time around. The series as a whole has gone in a completely new direction, leaving the Desmond storyline and moving on to a new protagonist, Edward Kenway. Embracing the pirate theme, Black Flag allows players to partake in things they've never done in the series before, mainly plundering ships of both the British and Spanish empires. The Caribbean is a vast world to explore with a multitude of both charted and uncharted islands filled with different activities to complete and collectibles to find. Add in several tiers of upgrades to apply to your ship, the Jackdaw, and more side quests than you can keep track, and you're left with a singleplayer experience that will last hours upon hours. Throw in the game's satisfying multiplayer and you're left with a perfect, long-lasting game for the holiday whether you decide to play on the 360 or One - MarcC29

If you require more evidence, we've got our Official Review ready for you.

Rayman Legends

After a long absence, Rayman Origins separated Rayman away from his Rabbids friends and back into the spotlight where he belonged. Rayman Legends carries on the success of its predecessor. After sleeping for a century, Rayman and his friends are awakened to find that the ten princesses and the teensies have been captured by the nightmares and five dark teensies. Up to four players can join in the colourful platforming quest to save these victims. With 120 levels to conquer, including 40 levels that will be familiar to fans of Rayman Origins, this quest isn't going to be quick - punkyliar


Released back in May this year, Codemasters unleashed GRiD 2 with a hell of a lot more drifting then the first instalment in the series. As Newshound and TA Social Manager, DaveKinetic said in our Official Review: "the game definitely drifted in the right direction." The racing throughout the single-player and multiplayer of the title is easy to get into. Race to any difficulty you please in the single-player and get to grips with a huge range of fancy, sporty, and unique vehicles on offer in the title. The multiplayer is buzzing and plenty of fun. Square off against other racers across the world as you make progress towards unlocking new cars, customs and upgrade options. GRiD 2 is jam-packed with plenty of hours of quality and entertaining racing to be had, and more than likely at a ridiculously cheap price too - Dat Boi Treezy

BioShock Infinite (Xbox 360)

With such a massive buildup of hype and as the developer's follow up to our Game of the Generation, Irrational Games had gigantic shoes to fill with BioShock Infinite... and they succeeded. Released to massive critical and commercial success, gamers everywhere delighted in squiring the lovely Elizabeth through the strange and jaded world of Columbia. Outstanding in virtually every area from gameplay to graphics and story to voice-acting, BioShock Infinite is an absolute treat and one of the "must-play" games of this year - osubluejacket

Do you need another glowing review? Check out our Official Review.

Stay locked on TA tomorrow as we reveal our gift picks for Digital Content!
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.
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