TA's Holiday Gift Guide

By Perpalicious, 8 years ago
Nothing is more frustrating during the holidays than trying to figure out what to buy someone as a gift. The shopping malls are packed and everyone is buying everything in sight.

Here at TA, we always want to make your life a little easier, whether it is in the digital world or in the real world. We've compiled a list of what the Newshounds think are the "must haves" of 2010, ranging from games to books. This way, you will know what to do with that holiday cash you have or get that special "something, something" for that gaming person.

The list is broken down into four sections: Retail Games, Xbox Live Content, Hardware, and Gaming Memorabilia. With each pick, a Newshound will explain why that particular item is a must have. Now let's get on to that list!

Retail Games
Alan Wake - $21.00 or £14.99
After many years in development, Alan Wake finally came out and provided this Newshound with one of his favorite gaming experiences of all time. Employing a unique emphasis on lighting, the gameplay of Alan Wake is good, but it is the setting and Stephen Kingesque plot that made this an amazing experience. Grab Alan Wake for the gamer that owns the complete collection of Twin Peaks and insists the classic Twilight Zone can never be topped - Dog of Thunder

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - $45.99 or £29.99
Released to much critical acclaim last month, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood picks up where Ezio and Desmond's stories left off after the previous title. All the familiar Assassin's Creed elements are still present--climbing up every building you can see, blending into crowds, running from pursuers and so on--but Brotherhood brings enough new elements to merit a purchase. Most notable is the addition of a unique multiplayer, which values stealth more than taking potshots at your opponents from the rooftops - Matrarch

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Ultimate Edition - $30.50 or £23.99
As EA’s main competitor for the FPS crown, in my opinion Battlefield: Bad Company 2 easily surpassed the Call of Duty franchise. The single-player campaign will give you 6-10 hours of play time, but the multiplayer is where this game truly comes into its own. The additional Onslaught mode included on the disc pits your squad against the AI in an excusive hybrid of Rush and Conquest modes. The much-anticipated “Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam” DLC, released on December 21st, will also make sure that the online community for this game remains strong - PunkyLiar

Bayonetta - $17.39 or £11.93
Released in January this year, Bayonetta is a title that may slip under the radar for some holiday shoppers, but it definitely shouldn't. Fast paced and engaging combat, beautiful graphics, and a fair amount of replayability make this an easy game to recommend. Just don't try to make too much sense of the story as it can be a mind bending task - Matrarch

BioShock 2 (Xbox 360) - $18.57 or £7.99
Creating a sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time is not easy. However, 2K Marin gave us a sequel that was both similar and different. As seen from the eyes of Subject Delta, the first Big Daddy, it offers new insight into just how the Big Daddies and Little Sisters work, which is enough to recommend it. However, it also features improved combat, more enemy variety, better hacking, and a more personal story. Bioshock 2 is a game that shouldn't be missed out on if you enjoyed Bioshock - Saint Devourer

Blur - $24.99 or £11.99
From Bizzare Creations, the creators of Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars, comes Blur, an arcade-style racing game more akin to Mario Kart than Gran Turismo. Earn fans for nearly every action you take in order to unlock better cars and extra perks to give you an edge over the competition. It's fast, furious and devoid of Paul Walker. Blur is a great gift for the gamer that wants racing without the ultra serious simulation - Dog of Thunder

Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition - $39.99 or £17.95
Released in October 2009, Borderlands was expected to quietly disappear amidst the hype for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It didn’t; this game became a firm favourite amongst those who played it and has arguably garnered a much more favourable reputation. Now that the newly released Game of the Year edition includes all of the DLC, you have no excuse not to pick up this humorous cel-shaded action/FPS. With a new level cap of 69, four characters to choose from and over 1 million guns to play with, this will keep you and up to three friends entertained for at least 25-30 hours of time per playthrough - PunkyLiar

Dance Central - $39.00 or £29.99
As the best reviewed game available on the Kinect, Dance Central is a no-brainer if you purchased Microsoft's motion control device. The game includes 32 songs, all of which feature unique choreography for the easy, medium, and hard modes. Even if you're not a dancer, Dance Central will get you up and moving thanks to its intuitive play and almost completely lag-free playing experience - Matrarch

http://www.trueachievements.com/DEATHSMILES-NA-xbox-360.htm - $28.99
Japanese developer Cave is famous for the "bullet hell" style of shoot'em up games that take a simple concept to the 10th power with amazing results. Deathsmiles continues the tradition of classic 2D gameplay and screens full of bullets. In Deathsmiles, you take control of a "Gothic Lolita", or "lolligoth," as you attempt to escape the nightmarish Halloween world and return to your own reality. Incredibly hard and incredible to look at in action, Deathsmiles is a great gift for both the anime fan and old school gamer in your life - Dog of Thunder
Note: Release date in the UK is Winter 2011. Non-US/Japan folk need a Japanese or US console.

Fallout: New Vegas - $55.54 or £17.97
In many ways a spiritual successor to computer RPGs of the past, Fallout: New Vegas is one of the year's best RPG experiences. Set in the oddly beautiful-yet-unforgiving Mojave Wasteland, your story of revenge will change the face of New Vegas forever. With open-ended quests, improved character development, and a ton of content, it's one of the most satisfying RPG experiences of this year - Saint Devourer

Halo: Reach - $47.54 or £22.85
The Fall of Reach is one of the more interesting and sad tales of the Halo universe, and you get to experience it through the eyes of Noble 6, a spartan in the style of Master Chief. If you have a shooter or Halo fan in the house, this is a great gift for them. Not only is the single player interesting and challenging, the multiplayer is deep and addictive with armor customization and challenges for XP - Eddie Ruckus

Mass Effect 2 - $15.99 or £12.99
Bioware ditched some of the RPG elements of its predecessor in order to streamline the experience and make it more cinematic, and their efforts have paid off. Mass Effect 2 is hands down one of the most compelling and cinematic games to come out in recent years. Every member of your squad, despite consisting mostly of aliens, seems human, with distinct personalities and flaws that make them believable and life-like. Add improved combat and less micromanagement, and build it around a great story, and you have the makings for game of the year - Saint Devourer

Record of Agarest War: Really Naughty Edition - $44.94
For fans of classic strategy RPGs such as Final Fantasy Tactics or Growlanser, options on the 360 are slim. Thankfully Aksys has released Record of Agarest War, an old school strategy RPG for a new generation. Play through five generations of grid-based strategic combat with a dollop of anime fanservice on top. Get your hands on the Really Naughty Edition which comes with a soundtrack CD, a Vira-Lorr mousepad and a 'yearning Ellis' pillow case. Just make sure to hide it from the wife - Dog of Thunder
Note: This has only been released on the PS3 in the UK. Non-US/Japan folk need a Japanese or US console.

Red Dead Redemption - $44.99 or £21.99
Does this, one of the most criticially acclaimed games of the year, really need any explanation? Huge, beautifully created open world, fantastic, emotional, mature narrative, the truly satisfying combat and shooting mechanics, the mind-blowing soundtrack... If you've yet to experience just how flawless Red Dead Redemption is, I'm sure Santa will help you rectify that - zigs00

Rock Band 3 - $47.99 or £25.85
While it is certainly open to debate as to whether Rock Band or Guitar Hero (or any of the lesser noted rhythm games) is the king of the genre, there is little argument as to the sheer amount of innovation Harmonix brought to the music game industry with the release of Rock Band 3. Not only is there the option to purchase the game packaged with a keyboard, but cymbal expansions for pro drum mode and the availability of the Fender Mustang Guitar controller means that the line between playing a game and learning an instrument has sufficiently been crossed - Matrarch

The Sims 3 - $39.99 or £24.93
Your significant other is annoying you to stop playing so many video games. How do you get them off your back? Get that person The Sims 3! No other game represents video game addiction more than the Sims series. There is something great about playing God and controlling the lives of simulated characters. Any way you slice it, Sims 3 is a must have for any gamer. And look on the bright side: if you buy it for your girlfriend/boyfriend then you technically bought yourself a game, too - Perpalicious

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing - $19.99 or £17.73
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is, simply put, the closest thing we will get to Mario Kart on the 360. With vibrant and colorful tracks, cheery and upbeat music, a wide variety of racers, and genuinely fun kart racing, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing will offer some of the best lighthearted split-screen fun to be found on your 360 - Saint Devourer

Vanquish - $47.96 or £17.93
Vanquish, contrary to popular belief, is not just Gears of War on crack or Gears of War: Ninja Edition. Vanquish should be owned by all fans of third-person shooters. The gameplay is intense, entertaining, and fast-paced. The graphics are lush and creative. While the game is chalk full of cheesy one-liners and a corny story, the whole package makes for a strange but great gaming experience that no gamer wants to miss - Perpalicious

Xbox Live Content
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero - 400 Microsoft Points
This game is a very short prequel to Dead Rising 2, and some may call it a glorified demo. Still, it packs quite a punch and sets up the main game very nicely, and if you are considering picking up DR2 then it is a great purchase, as you can earn experience and money for the main game. It's a very cheap way to just sit back and kill some zombies with crazy weapons as well during the holidays - Eddie Ruckus

DeathSpank and DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue - 1200 Microsoft Points Each
Quality RPGs are a rarity this current generation. Fortunately for us, Hothead Studios has brought us the Deathspank series. The game features Deathspank, a hero who is closer to being a comic prodigy. Deathspank provides a simple but enjoyable gameplay experience while providing top notch humour and pretty graphics. What makes Deathspank a true gem is its seamless integration of thongs. How can anyone deny a game with magical thongs? Any action-RPG fan has to own these games - Perpalicious

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - 1200 Microsoft Points
The most fun I've had in co-op all year has been with this underappreciated gem (and while it was missing it on release, they've since patched in online co-op). Even things I normally hate about games/achievements - having to replay levels, speedruns, collectibles - were great fun from start to finish, and every level was a blast to run through. It's got satisfying combat, fun challenges, great use of teamwork, brilliant level design and looks pretty damn stunning for an XBLA game. 1200 MSP might seem steep, but for such a high calibre game with long levels, it's totally worth it - zigs00

LIMBO (Xbox 360) - 1200 Microsoft Points
Are trial and error puzzle games your deal? Then you'll love Limbo, a very unique type of game that has a fantastic art style and sound design. Though it can be frustrating and short, it's still one of the best games you'll play on Xbox Live Arcade. Even if puzzle games aren't your deal, download the demo and try it out, and prepare to be amazed - Eddie Ruckus

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom - 800 Microsoft Points
This one seemed to slip a little under the radar, but if you enjoy puzzle/platformers, this is one of the best ever made (imo!). The puzzles throughout are perfectly pitched and designed — never too hard that you'll need to use a guide, but you won't just coast through them either. Gorgeous design, wonderful style and great humour, the game is a unique little puzzler full of charm and quirk - zigs00

Netflix - $7.99 a month
Like movies and television shows streamed instantly to your Xbox 360? Then check out Netflix, which has thousands of titles in its instant streaming library, and many more through its DVD rental packages. Although it's only limited to North America and Gold members, it still is one of the best deals and gifts for those movie and TV aficionados - Eddie Ruckus

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - 800 Microsoft Points
Most people may have already dismissed this as another Pac-man remake. In reality, though, this is probably one of the best arcade games to ever be released on the 360. The aesthetics, the gameplay, and the customization are all superb. You'll constantly want to improve on your highscore due to its addictive gameplay. There's nothing really else to say other than I have got Pac-man fever and you should too - Perpalicious

http://www.trueachievements.com/Pinball-FX2-xbox-360.htm - Free [Tables cost 200-800 Microsoft Points]
I did not know what sort of beast I was awakening when I first started playing Pinball FX 2. I never imagined a pinball video game would be this much fun. Buy as many or as few tables as you want and compete against your friends for the top scores. In-game messages pop up and let you know which friend you're about to pass making an elusive high score mark extra gratifying. Recapture all the magic of that beachside arcade you pumped quarters into each summer growing up with tables that can only be done in a video game - Dog of Thunder

Plants vs. Zombies - 1200 Microsoft Points [also on disc]
The folks at PopCap have this absolutely amazing ability to create games which appeal to both core and casual audiences, and PvZ is certainly no exception to this trend. Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense game in which you control an army of plants essentially telling zombies to get off of their lawn... and their roof and their pool. Not only does the game have a sizable adventure mode, but it also features a collection of mini-games and the Zen Garden, a place where players can grow and sell plants for in-game currency - Matrarch

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - 800 Microsoft Points
Scott Pilgrim's tale of “beating up evil ex-boyfriends” is a wonderful beat-em-up that pays homage to both the graphic novels and video games that inspired them. Set in a Toronto rendered entirely in pixels, the gameplay pays tribute to games like River City Ransom, while the game's chiptune soundtrack further accentuates the 8-bit feeling. Even if you weren't a fan of the movie, the game is well worth playing, especially if you're a sucker for feelings of nostalgia - Saint Devourer

Super Meat Boy - 1200 Microsoft Points
One of the toughest and most satisfying platformers to ever hit XBLA, the tale of Meat Boy features some of the most intense platforming I have ever played. Despite it being as difficult as it is, it's never frustrating, largely due to its precise controls and lighthearted theme. Not to mention a plethora of throwbacks to games of the past hidden within the intros to the levels and in the pixelated Warp Zones. It's one of the most enjoyable XBLA titles I have ever played - Saint Devourer

Toy Soldiers - 1200 Microsoft Points
Tower defense games are scarce on XBLA, so it would be impossible not to recommend Toy Soldiers to TD fans. The game is extremely fun, especially when you see plastic army men get launched into the air and blown to bits. Overall, the TD mechanics are quite good: beginners won't feel overwhelmed and experts will be engaged enough to have a ball. Toy Soldiers is one of the best TDs that appeals to a wide range of gamers - Perpalicious

Undead Nightmare Disc - $27.54 or £17.89
Rockstar's choice of name for this disc wasn't the best. What a lot of people don't seem to have realised is that this disc includes ALL of Red Dead's DLC - not only "Undead Nightmare," but also the content from "Liars and Cheats," "Legends and Killers," and "Outlaws to the End," all on the one disc. "Undead Nightmare" alone could be a full-priced retail game, without doubt the best piece of DLC released this year, offering a fantastic and surreal campaign every RDR fan should play. Add in all the awesome extra online content (and achievements!), and the whole package is a total bargain - zigs00
Note: Undead Nightmare Collection is on the Marketplace for 1600 MSP but excludes "Outlaws to the End" DLC; "Undead Nightmare" can be purchased by itself for 800 Microsoft Points.

Astro A30 Headset and Audio Mixamp - $199.95 or £149.95
High-quality gaming headsets have become extremely important in gaming: they allow a player to hear the lightest footsteps. If a headset is what you're looking for then look no further than the Astro A30. While Turtle Beaches have increased in popularity, the king of the headsets are Astro. Their A30 headset is beautiful, high-tech, reliable, comfortable, customizable, and versatile. The A30s aren't just for gaming but for listening to music on the go. You can also hop on their website to customize your own tags (for $19.99) so that your headset is personalized - Perpalicious

Belkin Gigabit Powerline HD Starter Pack (model no. F5D4076UK) - $145.71 or £74.99
Do you use your console in a remote area of your home? Fed up with a temperamental wireless connection? These Adapters could solve your problems, by providing a wired-like consistent internet connection through your home’s existing electrical wiring. Setup is easy and only takes minutes - kbg27

Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro or Shuttle - $199.00 or £129.00
A lot of gamers always wonder how to record quality video game footage. The answer to this question is Blackmagic Design's Intensity line. The Shuttle (an external box that uses USB 3.0) and the Pro (a PCI Express card for your PC) are incredible devices to help any gamer record high-definition signals coming from their television. The quality is untouchable and it has loads of features, including an HDMI port. If there's one device you need to start making gaming videos then it is the Intensity line by Blackmagic - Perpalicious
Note: You need USB 3.0 for the Shuttle and you need an open PCIe slot in your PC for the Pro.

Hauppauge HD PVR - $199.00 or £139.99
You don't have USB 3.0 and you don't have an open PCIe slot in your computer. No problem! This is where the Hauppauge HD PVR comes in. The Hauppauge is a fantastic alternative to Blackmagic's line of recording equipment. The only downfall is that there is no HDMI. Regardless of this tiny fault, the quality is superb and will give you some of the sharpest looking gaming videos on the net. No gamer should be without a great recording device - Perpalicious

Kinect - $149.99 or £126.99
I’m more than happy to sit with a controller for hours, and I haven’t touched my Wii in months, but Kinect is just too much fun to ignore and comes bundled with Kinect Adventures to get you started. The device can truly remove the need for a controller by adding facial recognition, motion tracking and voice activation to the dashboard and supported applications. Just make sure that you have enough space to get the best performance out of it as 8ft is the recommended distance - PunkyLiar

OCZ Diesel 16GB USB Drive - $22.99 or £19.08
Some gamers forget that the 360 can use a 16GB USB drive and no other drive is better than OCZ's 16GB Diesel for the price. OCZ is one of the best computer hardware manufacturers in the world right now and their USB drives are no exception. The only downside is that the detachable cap is clear, which makes it really easy to lose. For the price, though, nothing really beats the quality and size of OCZ's 16GB Diesel - Perpalicious

Rock Band 3 Fender Mustang Pro - $149.99 or £109.99
Believe the hype - this works exactly as advertised. If you're serious about music and want to learn how to play guitar/bass, or even if you already play the instrument and just want to learn more, RB3's pro mode is an absolute must. I can't stress it enough: it honestly, literally, genuinely teaches you how to play the real guitar. Honestly! The Mustang plays like a dream, and while it takes a bit of getting used to the strings and fret sizes, it works absolutely perfectly. Every single song has step-by-step tutorials to help you learn each riff, and that's on top of the very impressive, expansive instrument tutorials to help you get to grips with the instrument. This might sound like hyperbolic PR spin, but it's all true — the Mustang is phenomenal and worth every single penny - zigs00

Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard - $79.99 or £59.99
The newest instrument to Rock Band 3 is also one of the most interesting to play. Although some of the songs are limited to one hand only, it's a great starting point for those who want to learn playing keyboard down the road. The keyboard is a perfect gift for the Chopin in your family, but they are selling out, so make sure you get yours fast! - Eddie Ruckus

Samsung Omnia 7 (UK) or Samsung Focus (US)
Windows Phone 7 is a new era in mobile phones: you can finally start achieving anywhere you want without having to lug around a giant portable 360. The perfect gift for any achiever is a WP7 phone. More specifically, the best of the current bunch is the Omnia 7 for the UK and the Focus for the US. Both are equipped with gorgeous 4" AMOLED screens, sleek design, HD video recording, and a 5 mega pixel camera. The real beauty is in the Windows 7 OS, which provides fantastic functionality, especially for the gamer looking to achieve on the go. While these are the first models, any early adopter will be pleased with either of these phones - Perpalicious

Xbox 360 Slim 250GB - $299.99 or £199.99
This Wireless-enabled, Kinect-ready console has a massive 250GB internal memory. The latest design is slimmer and sleeker than previous models, as well as being whisper quiet - kbg27

Gaming Memorabilia
First 4 Figures
Part of gaming memorabilia is the collection of figurines, and the best figures any gamer can get is from First 4 Figures. The quality and detail of these figures are amazing. While the prices are incredibly steep (ranging from $150.00 to $350.00), the figures are limited in quantity and represent a game collector's dream. No collection is complete without one of these bad boys - Perpalicious

Gears of War Novels by Karen Traviss - $10.00 or £5.00 per novel
Currently standing at three entries, the Gears of War novelizations provide an intriguing insight not only into the background of the game's major players, but also into the spaces of time that occur between games. The three novels--Aspho Field, Jacinto's Remnant, and Anvil Gate--will definitely intrigue Gearheads, but are written so well that even those who don't care much for Gears will find themselves wanting to know more about Marcus, Dom, Cole, and Baird and their battle against the Locust. As an added bonus, the books also introduce characters that you'll see in the next installment of Gears, so the books may serve as a way to whet your appetite as you wait till next year's holiday for Gear 3's release! - Matrarch

Insert Coin Clothing
Gaming hoodies and t-shirts made by gamers! They take fictional brands or in-game references and turn them into fantastic merch. Thankfully, unlike most gaming t-shirts, they don't have any game or developer logos plastered on them - just simple designs based on Ryan Industries, Umbrella Corp, Nuka Cola Quantum, etc that all look awesome. Free shipping worldwide, too! - zigs00

N7 Armour Stripe Hoody - $58.00
The N7 Hoodie is a must have for any Mass Effect fan. Not only does it reflect your love for Commander Shepard, but it also does it without screaming to the world your love for video games. It's comfy, made of quality materials, light weight, but still warm... in short, well worth the money - osubluejacket
Note: Bioware ships to the UK

Tauntaun Sleeping Bag - $79.99
There will be a time when every nerd, geek, gamer, or sci-fi buff will face mother nature. While this particular item isn't exactly gaming orientated, no gamer should be without a fantastic sleeping bag. The Tauntaun sleeping bag is an extremely high-quality bag that is insanely comfortable and brings back the nostalgia of Luke Skywalker being stuffed into a Tauntaun by Han Solo. The best part of this bag? The zipper that opens it is also a semi-large plush lightsabre - Perpalicious
Note: Thinkgeek.com ships internationally.

Teenormous is a great search engine for video games t-shirts, covering retro and current games. The site caters for those who are looking for discreet gaming references, and those who would like the logo of their favourite game plastered across their chest. You can search by game or by merchant - SplitReason is one of my personal favourites - PunkyLiar

Videogames: In the Beginning by Ralph H. Baer - $29.99 or £36.94
While we are all certainly thrilled that video games are where they are now--3D graphics, fully orchestrated scores, online play, and so on--it's fascinating to take a look at where they all began. Written by Ralph Baer, the man who invented the Brown Box, which inspired the development of Pong in 1968 and the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game system, Videogames: In the Beginning is an informative history of the video game industry's first years. The book can be a touch difficult to find, but if you do, it's well worth the $25 or $30 to read about video games from the man who was there at the start of it all - Matrarch