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Welcome to the current generation of consoles. Now you can put away that PS2 you’ve been lovingly keeping alive all these years and start gaming for real. Nowadays, it’s rare not to have a couple of games in your stocking, especially if your loved ones are any kid of coordinated but that doesn’t mean they’re worth playing…

Maybe you’ve just updated your old console with a fancy new slim version of the 360 or PS3 or just added to your existing collection – whatever the reason, there are some games you need to play.

So what should you hope you got? What should be your first exchange tomorrow morning?

Read on for more.

Halo: Reach (360) – Bungie/Microsoft Game Studios

If you own an Xbox, you are obligated to own a Halo game. Master Chief may not make an appearance in this prequel, but the gameplay is better and the story more engaging than any of the core trilogy despite some narrative pitfalls.

The multiplayer is what you buy the game for and ultimately what you stay for. If you have any relatives over, ages 8-35, chances are they’ll leap at the opportunity to play shoot each other on-screen.

God of War III (PS3) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Kratos’ final installment (maybe?) is done. Finished. Equal parts street-brawler, hack-n-slash, adventure game and puzzle platformer, the God of War games are always held up as pristine examples of what Sony’s console can do.

It is an excessively pretty game, easily showing off the graphical prowess of Sony’s multi-core system. They’re also a blast to play and the third installment is no exception. It is an extremely, extremely mature game and should not be played by minors or those with weak constitutions.

Violence, nudity and language all feature heavily. Both this game and Halo: Reach share M-ratings, but this one truly deserves it.

If the women in your family are not allowed to wear pants, this game is probably not for you.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii) – Nintendo

Kirby and Mario are both staples for Nintendo and both had new games appear on shelves this year. Epic Yarn makes Mario’s previous two outings stand out as stale and stagnant. The bright and fun platformer may not break any barriers in the graphics department but more than makes up for it with it’s fun, simple attitude that harkens back to the old days of gaming.

For a game so old-school, it feels brilliantly innovative.

The story mode levels are a bit too easy but it’s hardly a game for hardcore gamers. It’s one of the year’s only stand-out entries on the Wii, now lagging behind the Xbox 360 in sales.

Kids will love it and older members of the family will enjoy the relaxing zen of it all, though it’s not without challenge.

Red Dead Redemption (360, PS3) – Rockstar

A good contender for game of the year by any standard, the sprawling, massive land of New Austin (read: Texas) awaits you in this adventure game from Rockstar studios. Red Dead is essentially Grand Theft Auto set in the old West.

The 360 launched with a game called Gun that tried desperately to be what Red Dead Redemption IS. Those of you who waited in line for 360s or who got one for Christmas back in 2005… Forget that game and pick up this one if you haven’t already.

What’s not to love? Though it lags in places, the narrative pace is cinematic and the visuals are stunning. If there were a case to be made that video games can be held to the same level of art as films, this would be a prime contender.

If you do not own it, this is a must-add. It’s fairly priced now as well and the zombie DLC is a blast as well.

There are a huge number of other games you could use today, including some awesome XBLA and PSN games like Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and Braid, as well as all of the old virtual console titles for the Wii.

With all those downloadable titles and the suggestions above, there’s no way you’ll be bored while you’re waiting for the turkey to roast. 2010 was a great year for games and it’s your present to yourself to enjoy them.

Got any other suggestions, leave them in the comments below!


About the author: Jonathan Harrop


Jonathan graduated in May of 2008 with a degree in Journalism in News/Print from the University of Arkansas. He currently lives in the Dallas, Texas area and has recently learned that 'freelance writer,' like 'starving artist' is not a cliche. Jonathan has played video games since Desert Strike forced him to break his 'B' button on his Sega Genesis controller.


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