The Evil Within
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Recommended by Angie Martin
Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil creator) gave survival horror fanatics the ultimate gift last year with his newest installation to the genre: The Evil Within. The game follows Detective Sebastian Castellanos in third-person gameplay as his investigation of a mass murder turns into the ultimate horror – for both him and the player. Players battle imaginative and horrifying creatures, while delving into the tragic past of Castellanos and attempting to solve the mystery of his new surroundings.
Gameplay is difficult, but extremely addictive. There are plenty of collectibles to search for and trophies to obtain. The game also has DLC of three mini-games which are just as fun and add so much to the story of the game itself. The Assignment and The Consequence portray Juli Kidman, one of Castellanos’ partners, as the main character and fills in a lot of information that only makes the main game more enjoyable. The Executioner follows one of the game's dreaded bosses, The Keeper (a.k.a. Boxhead or Safehead), on a journey of his own. Fans of Resident Evil 1-4 will find plenty of little references back to RE which made this avid gamer smile.
If you were unable to invest in the game when it first released last year or to purchase it for your gamer loved one, now is the time, with prices reaching those more affordable ranges. It is definitely a video game to add to your holiday gift list, so long as you gift it with the warning not to play it alone or at night.
LEGO Jurassic World
Developer: TT Fusion/TT Games
Platforms: 3DS, PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, OSX, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Recommended by Claire Thorne
The LEGO family of videogames are a staple in my house. I would claim this is solely due to my 9-year-old son’s love for the games, but the adults are just as addicted to the brick-smashing, puzzle-solving madness that is LEGO Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter Years 1-4, Batman (1 and 2), Star Wars (Original Trilogy, Clone Wars, and Complete Saga), Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Marvel Super Heroes, The LEGO Movie, The Hobbit, and so on.
2015 saw the release of LEGO Jurassic World, which brings the gaming fan the opportunity to play through all of the classic dino DNA movies: Jurassic Park; The Lost World: Jurassic Park; Jurassic Park III; and Jurassic World. As with all its predecessors, gameplay includes solving puzzles, tracking down a crazy number of collectibles and rewards, unlocking a plethora of characters, and an untold number of hours exploring free roam environments.
Every aspect of the game is marked by the trademarked LEGO humor. The game creators are particularly adept at spinning the many gruesome deaths from the movies into humorous moments and entertaining cut scenes. There are over 120 plus playable characters (including Mr. DNA and Steven Spielberg himself!) and dinosaurs (including skeletal versions). Tromping around destroying things with your super T-Rex roar ability is particularly satisfying. Still don’t have enough dinosaurs to choose from? Create your own hybrid species just like you’re a screenwriter from Jurassic World! The free roam environments offer practically endless gameplay across all of the movie landscapes, from Isla Nublar to Isla Sorna to the docks of San Diego and Montana dig site.
Currently listed at $35 on Amazon, LEGO Jurassic World is a highly entertaining addition to the LEGO videogame catalog that everyone in your family will enjoy. No expense spared!!
South Park: the Stick of Truth
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment & South Park Digital Studios
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Recommended by Phillip Kelly
When Trey Parker and Matt Stone are at their best, they are nothing short of genius. Their first foray into videogames avoids disappointment on all levels. Finding a cozy place between satire and childish rollicking, the duo pulls out all stops in sending up the fantasy RPG genre. Our kid heroes are given an open world to wander in that takes them (and us) through South Park, Canada, and truly beyond as elves and humans fight over the one branch to bind them: the stick of truth. Parker and Stone are also free from the TV-14 ties that bind, and they take giddy advantage of that. I laughed so hard – I cried – multiple times. So inspired, I then randomly gifted it to people throughout the year. With the second game coming to videogame consoles soon, I highly recommend this as a gift to anyone who loves comedy both clever and crude.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Developer: EA Digital Illusions CE
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Recommended by Bryant Dillon
If you haven’t seen the trailers for Star Wars: Battlefront, then you must be living under a rock on Tatooine! One of the most anticipated videogame releases of the season and riding the massive Star Wars wave ushered in by the upcoming release of The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Battlefront also will thrill uber-nerds like myself with the fact that it ties directly into the new film. (The battle of Jakku, which results in the crashed Star Destroyer in The Force Awakens trailer, is featured in the game.) The game looks amazing in the trailers, the multiplayer feature is supposedly a blast, and who is really going to pass up the change to take part in the Battle of Hoth . . . or Endor . . . or more?
The Force will be with you and your loved ones this holiday if you give the gift of Star Wars: Battlefront this winter season.
Price: $49.99-$119.98 (depending on edition purchased)
Available November 17, 2015, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
Click here to pre-order/purchase.
Super Mario Maker
Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 4
Platforms: Wii U
Recommended by Erik Cheski
The name kind of says it all: Take the hero who saved videogames and give him and his world to the fans, letting us make the perfect level for him to shine (or die repeatedly in horribly amazing ways). This was a fantastic idea from Nintendo and will keep everyone entertained for hours. Plan out your dream stage on graph paper or start dropping goombas, koopas, and piranha plants into a cube of bricks with 1,000 coins inside and watch the chaos unleash. Riding koopa shells is a new mechanic given to us fledgling developers, and nothing about it is easy, which makes for truly punishing sequences possible. Being able to share and play others' brainchilds means that there are an infinite number of levels available and may even give you ideas on how to build your own.
This game is about Mario fans making wonderful treats for each other, and it’s a love fest that any fan of the mustachioed plumber will enjoy getting.
The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Recommended by Erik Cheski
This game has been out for a bit now, but who can manage to keep up with every triple-A title throughout the year? If you have an RPG fan on your list, then this is an absolute must for them. The game is flipping HUGE, and you’ll definitely wander beyond your limitations on an occasion or two, requiring a hasty retreat and re-evaluation of your path. I’d never played a Witcher title before, but this guy Geralt is one cold mother lover, yet has potential for compassion and whatever fits your playstyle.
One of the things I was blown away with was the maturity of the content (not the nude stuff, though there is a bit of that), with many choices and the grayest of moralities. The other is how cool the development team is. There’s no additional content to buy; simply owning the game gives you access to all the future content they release, which is unheard of anymore in the gaming industry. With lots of bang for the buck, this title would be welcome on most anyone’s list.