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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Video Games

Immersing oneself in a virtual world and taking on the central role in a story is immensely satisfying whether that entails wrecking havoc as a gang leader turned president with super powers or catching hundreds of tiny monsters and forcing them to battle for you. 2013 has been a fantastic year for video games, and FBC’s contributors are here to present their must-play games of the year.
     – Kristine Chester

FFXIV 3b8Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PC
Recommended by Sean Foster

Three years ago, Square Enix released their second outing into the MMORPG genre, and it was a resounding flop. Fortunately for us, they brought on a new development team and have now given us what I consider an incredible “apology.” Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is everything I hoped it could be. If you’re over the whole MMO experience, then there is very little FFXIV will do to change your opinion, but for fans of the genre or just fans of the Final Fantasy series, there is a lot to love here. A major plus is the ability to play as any class using only one character. A simple weapon switch allows you to go from Archer to Lancer to Dragoon. Whatever you want. Also, the random “FATE” encounters and Hunting Logs throw some spice into the mix in terms of leveling and experience. If you love Final Fantasy and MMOs as much as I do, then FFXIV is a must for your holiday wish list!

Pokemon 401Pokémon X and Y
Developer: Game Freak
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Recommended by Kristine Chester

The first games in the franchise to release exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS, the Pokémonfranchise has finally evolved. Gone are the days of watching 2D sprites move back and forth to simulate action; X and Y are fully 3D games. For the first time outside of Pokémon Stadium, trainers can see their pokémonbattle it out with 3D animations and effects. The new games also include a robust connection system that makes it easier than ever to trade and battle other trainers even away from pokémon centers. Add to that an engaging story, some awesome new pokémon, a return of many old favorites including the original starters from Red and Blue, streamlined mechanics, and an easier time training pokémon for competitive play, and Pokémon X and Y are the one set of games no 3DS owner should be without.

Saints Row IV 08aSaints Row IV
Developer: Volition, Inc.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Recommended by Walker Faison

There are many options when it comes to wreaking mayhem and basking in absurdity this holiday season.  Spiking the eggnog with psilocybin and watching your extended family trip the light fantastic comes to mind, but who really wants to deal with the aftermath? Video games offer the satisfaction of being an agent of chaos and destruction without any of the drudgery of consequence, and no title this holiday season offers more madness per dollar spent than Saints Row IV.  While its rival, Grand Theft Auto V, has smoother graphics and a broader world, Saints Row is far more creative in its delivery.  Within 10 minutes of gameplay, you’ll become President, withstand an alien invasion, escape (technically not) The Matrix, eat pancakes, and begin to assemble a laundry list of bada– super powers.  Perfect for the gamer on your shopping list.

The Last of Us 139The Last of Us
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platforms: PS3
Recommended by Kristine Chester

The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic, zombie-ish story about Joel, a grizzled, middle-aged man who has grown jaded after many years of surviving, and Ellie, a teenage girl who has always wanted to see the world and has grown up surrounded by death and destruction. The interplay between these two characters and their journey and growth are paramount. The Last of Us is a story about choices, but they’re about the choices the characters make rather than the players.

Add to that a style of gameplay that emphasizes resource management and planning to run-and-gun action. When you only have five bullets left to your name, you have to make every shot count, which builds a lot of tension and a sense of urgency when entering any situation where combat is an option. I wouldn’t boot this title up around the family; The Last of Us is a brutal game that doesn’t pull punches when it comes to depicting violence or pulling at the player’s heartstrings, but it’s exactly for that last reason that anyone with a PS3 needs to pick up and play this game.




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