TA's Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Digital Content

By Jonathan Barnes,
With Microsoft making the transition away from MSP and towards using local currency, you may find yourself giving or getting some gift cards to use for purchases from Xbox LIVE. This year saw an amazing bevy of downloadable content and digital releases over the Xbox LIVE Arcade. With that in mind, here are our suggestions for how to spend that digital currency.

The Wolf Among Us

Telltale Games returns with The Wolf Among Us, their new point and click adventure set in a noire New York, where fairy tale creatures have been forced to leave their homes and live in the human world. You are Bigby Wolf, the sheriff, charged with making sure that the fables don't reveal themselves to the humans, but is it easier said than done? Telltale Games have refined their gameplay from the critically acclaimed The Walking Dead series with more exciting action scenes, tense decision making and genuinely fascinating characters.

The art direction is gorgeous and the story is captivating right from the beginning. In a world that is overflowing with dynamic characters and exciting gameplay, it is definitely something for which to keep an eye out, as only one of five episodes has been released so far! Once you have completed "Episode One", you will be hooked - Zinn Gravey

If you require another opinion, why not consult our Official Review?

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

"The year is 2007. It is the future." So begins Ubisoft's deliciously retro Arcade shooter, which takes the engine and assets for 2012's popular open-world adventure, Far Cry 3, and smothers them in glorious '80s goodness. The one-liners; the cyborgs; the mutants; the ridiculous weapons; the neon; the (fantastic) synth-heavy soundtrack; the training montages: it's all there. In a breathtakingly tongue-in-cheek story, movie legend Michael Biehn (Aliens, Terminator, Planet Terror) plays Sergeant Rex Power Colt, who must take down an elite rogue agent and his cyber army on an experimental island covered in fortified garrisons, mutated animals and scientists. Oh, and giant dragons that shoot lasers from their eyeballs. Solid stealth and shooter action in an open-world setting, along with an easy completion, make this a must-have for lovers of gaming, lovers of fun and people who think the world would have been a better place had a Commando sequel ever been greenlit - ChewieOnIce

If you're not instantly swayed by the idea of giant dragons shooting frickin' lasers from their eyes, you can always read our Official Review for a more thorough analysis.

Mass Effect 3 - "Citadel"

The ending of Mass Effect 3 had people debating for months and months. People are probably still at it as we speak, but with BioWare's final DLC for the trilogy, they gave gamers the ending that they always wanted. In one final hurrah, Shepard and the gang go on one final mission together with lots of humour, action, and amazing fan-service thrown in. If you were disappointed with the "Omega" DLC then you won't be with this one. It is arguably the best DLC of the entire trilogy and there are hours of content to be experienced here. The whole expansion acts as a goodbye from BioWare and a final party (literally) with everyone you know and love from the series. This DLC is so good that even Garrus himself will stop his calibrations for it - Marc Pilkington

State of Decay

Zombie games are a dime a dozen these days, but not necessarily the kind that have more of a serious tone and open-world, real-time exploration. State of Decay was a perfect summertime gem to satisfy this kind of need and is still a great game to consider going into the holiday season. The refreshing thing about the game is that it leaves the realm of holding your hand and instead flings you out into the world to fend for yourself. You aren't superhuman and you have basic needs in order to survive -- basic needs that force you to go out into the world and scavenge for supplies, of which there are plenty. A unique feature to this game is the concept that once you die it is permanent and irreversible; you can spend the entire game leveling up a certain character, only to make one mistake and lose everything. In that way it becomes less about a single individual, and more about the welfare of the entire group working towards a common goal. For its price tag, State of Decay is well worth a look if you haven't already gotten around to it - MarcC29

If you'd like a better idea of what to expect be sure to check out our Official Review.

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse / DuckTales Remastered (Arcade)

Disney games on the Xbox 360 have been very hit and miss. Back in the days of the NES, Mega Drive/Genesis and SNES, all Disney games were a hit. Now, both Castle of Illusion and DuckTales have been recreated in HD for modern gamers. Pogo your way through the Amazon or battle toys in a magic castle. Everything will be familiar to gamers of a certain age, be it level design, enemies or the platforming gameplay mechanics -- all come together to provide that perfect blast of nostalgia. Meanwhile, gamers under a certain age will get their first chance to see how a Disney game should be made - punkyliar

We've also got an Official Review of DuckTales Remastered if your life has been like a hurricane recently.

Dishonored - "The Knife of Dunwall" and "The Brigmore Witches"

One of the best new IPs of the latter half of the 360's generation, Arkane Studio's Dishonored was a tale of revenge as Corvo Attano sought to clear his name and exact vengeance on those who had framed and wronged him. In "The Knife of Dunwall" and "The Brigmore Witches", gamers get to see the other side of the coin and play in the shoes of Daud, the master assassin who set the events of Dishonored into motion by killing Dunwall's Empress and abducting the heir to the throne. Much like the main game, these DLC packs are a master class in level design, giving gamers complete freedom in accomplishing their missions. Furthermore, the achievements reward those who experiment with multiple playthroughs. If you enjoyed Dishonored, consider these two packs a "must play" - osubluejacket


If Minecraft was a little too blocky for you, maybe you would enjoy the 16-bit appearance of Terraria more. With all of the addictive qualities of the former, Terraria lets you create a world of your own with the help of several NPCs and a lot of exploration. If you like to let your imagination run wild, this is the game for you. Build and explore; find useful items and build some more. When building and exploring get too much, go on a quest to kill zombies, slime or giant flying eyeballs. Bring your friends along for the ride too; local co-op allows fun for the family, while online co-op for up to eight players means that even the biggest of maps becomes manageable - punkyliar

The Cave

A story about acquiring the thing that you want the most, The Cave draws tons of inspiration from creator Ron Gilbert's earlier titles like Maniac Mansion. With a large cast of seven characters, each playthrough of The Cave becomes different as every character has different abilities and a different, character-specific level. Easy enough to enjoy and replayable enough to enjoy many times, The Cave manages to be puzzle adventure game with chuckle-worthy humor and challenges that are just hard enough to make you feel smart. Fans of classic LucasArts adventure games shouldn't miss this funny and challenging gem. - osubluejacket

We've also got an Official Review if that happens to be the thing you want most in this world.

We'll be back tomorrow with our final Gift Guide on hardware, accessories, and other gaming paraphernalia!
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.