Christmas is a time for family. True. But it’s also a time to retreat to the living room to engage in gaming marathons whilst you gorge yourself on brandy and leftovers. We’ve assembled 10 must-have games to stick on your Christmas list...
Angry Birds Seasons
Those irate winged invertebrates are back, and they’re taking revenge for what’s going to be done to millions of their turkey brethren this Chrimbo. This pack features 24 seasonally themed new levels of physics-puzzling action, delivered advent calendar-style, plus the 45-level Halloween pack released recently.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Few 2D platformers are as well-loved as the original Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, so it’s not particularly surprising to see the most famous ape in gaming making a comeback. Beautiful (by Wii standards), challenging and addictive, DKCR rolls back the years to a time when gaming was more about blue skies and fun than bald space marines stamping on skulls.
Gran Turismo 5
Face it: you’ll never be The Stig – but this racing sim, five years in the making, can bring you pretty close. Deliciously nerdy, with incredibly lifelike physics and hundreds of cars modelled down to the last tyre tread, it’s definitely one for the motoring enthusiast rather than the casual button-masher.
£35 (Xbox 360 + Kinect)
Got a Kinect? This is the game that’ll have your body rockin’ around the Christmas tree – and into it, if you’re not careful. Bop along to a selection of “bangers” in your living room while Kinect tracks your every move and awards points accordingly. Family-friendly and hilarious.
One for the intellectual hipster gamer, Minecraft doesn’t really feel like a game: it’s more a giant Lego set that makes you mine the building blocks yourself. There are monster-bashing elements, but the creativity’s the thing here. Totally original and blessed with a learning curve steeper than the Eiger.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
£40 (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
Aside from a new (and surprisingly original) multiplayer mode, Brotherhood doesn’t change a whole lot from the formula that made Assassin’s Creed 2 one of the games of 2009. It simply sharpens everything to a rapier-like point, making this acrobatic, free-roaming jaunt through Renaissance Rome an essential purchase.
Football Manager 2011
Never have spreadsheets been so exciting, so infuriating and so bloody addictive. Whether you’re steering Chelsea to the Premiership or struggling to prevent a ragtag team of part-timers being relegated from the Chilean third division, FM2011’s detail, complexity and sheer realism will have you hooked.
Rock Band 3
from £28 (PS3/Xbox 360/Wii)
The first music game that can teach you to play a real instrument, Rock Band 3 transcends its predecessors and rivals with its scope and content. You can even hook up an actual full-size stringed guitar controller, for chuff’s sake! Oh, and there’s now keyboards added to the existing instruments.
from £30 (Xbox 360/PC)
What better way to escape from Auntie Val’s sherry-fuelled ramblings than to travel to a magical fantasy world? The latest instalment of Lionhead’s RPG series is heavy on British humour, button-bashing combat and a highly customisable character, plus the huge realm of Albion to wander. Just remember to come back in time for dinner.
£35 (PS3/Xbox 360)
Call of Duty: Black Ops might be everyone’s go-to shooter this Christmas, but Vanquish offers something a little different from the “walk here, kill this guy”. It combines Gears of War’s cover system, Half-Life’s psychics-altering weaponry, Metal Gear Solid’s boss battles and Bad Company’s “destroy anything” environment to create the best Japanese action game in ages.