What are the best games to buy for Christmas 2012?
Just when it looked like the Xbox 360 and PS3 were about to hang up their hats, 2012 had other ideas. A torrent of video game genius has ensured plenty of stick-twiddling action and the battle between online and the high street means that prices have never been better. Here's our guide to the best games of 2012 for the mature gamer so you know your triumphs from your turkeys.
£38, Xbox 360, Amazon UK
Halo 4 is undoubtedly the most Halo of all the Halos since Halo. 343 Industries has masterfully picked up the mantle where Bungie Studios left off to create a first-person shooter masterpiece that expertly recalls the game that started it all, Halo: Combat Evolved. Gone are those lame hairy Brutes; in their place you get the hard-as-nails Prometheans who eat Spartans for breakfast. Although the single-player game is short-lived, throw the difficulty on Legendary and all but the greatest players will die. A lot. And let's not forget the online multiplayer, which'll keep you going till next Christmas.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
£40 (£25 with offer), Xbox 360/PS3/PC, Tesco
Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops is back and the sequel is more futuristic than ever. Set in 2025, Black Ops 2 naturally includes a host of advanced toys to get your mitts on, including sonar that lets you see with sound, gun-toting remote controlled drones, EMP grenades that fry enemy gadgets and a sniper that can shoot through walls. Then there's the revamped multiplayer, which does away with the conventional weapon class system seen in almost all other Call of Duty games, a new zombies mode for killing wave after wave of undead with like-minded individuals and a single player campaign that you can shape with your decisions. Yes, Call of Duty just got back into the groove.
Assassin's Creed 3
£40, Xbox 360/PS3, Amazon UK
Assassin's Creed 3 puts you in the leather boots of lethal, hood-wearing assassin and one-man-army Connor, the poor bloke charged with stopping a powerful force that opposes the American revolution. Like with previous games from the series, kills are usually best served quietly, stealthily and on a bed of espionage, but to keep things fresh the game is based in an open world of Skyrim proportions with real weather and seasons. You can even sail the seven seas in a naval warship as if your name was Jack Sparrow.
£30, Xbox 360/PS3/PC, GAME
Taking a few pages out of the stealth handbook of video games, Dishonored – spelled the American way – puts you in the shoes of ex-bodyguard Corvo Attano, an unlucky chap who is framed for a murder he did not commit. Obviously upset at the injustice of it all, Attano decides that becoming an assassin and killing everyone who looks at him funny will help him sleep at night. Although ruthless efficiency and deadly magic are your best friends, the more peaceful-minded can complete the game without killing anyone, indicating a level of freedom rarely seen in your typical stealth-'em-up. Deus Ex, eat your heart out.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
£25, Xbox 360/PS3, Amazon UK
Those of us who fondly remember the 1987 animated classic Transformers will struggle to resist such a grand ensemble of transforming robots, epic battles and chaotic fire fights. Though there's no cooperative mode to blast your way through, unlike its slightly flawed predecessor, Fall of Cybertron more than makes up for this with a solid storyline, seriously impressive visuals and genuinely smile-inducing multiplayer. Optimus Prime would be proud.
Metal Gear Solid HD
£35, Xbox 360/PS3, Amazon UK
February seems like an aeon ago but we haven't forgotten this absolute gem of a game. Combining three of the greatest games of all time, Sons of Liberty, Snake Eater and Peace Walker, Metal Gear HD is a tour de force in plot twists, stealthy combat, nuclear-equipped walking robots and it boasts some of the most memorable moments in video game history. Simply put, it's a third-person action game series like no other. Multiple classics for the price of one.
£35, Xbox 360/PS3, Zavvi
FIFA 13 makes for a great game when flying solo but the latest version of the football heavyweight comes alive with friends, beer and football rivalries. There really is nothing like lobbing the keeper in the dying seconds of a heated game. But it's not just about kicking a ball into the back of a net. Oh no. FIFA 13 looks far more realistic than ever, thanks to improved animations and visuals. It's ridiculously comprehensive, too, so you can tinker away with your dream team until you grow old. Whether you want to manage or play the beautiful game, FIFA 13 is an absolute ball. Get it? Oh, nevermind.
£35, Xbox 360, Zavvi
In a bid to remain in pole position as the petrol head's series of choice, developer Turn10 decided to replace apexes and chicanes with the open roads of Colorado. Yes, Forza Horizon allows you to plant your foot and power along towards oncoming traffic like a deranged loon in some of the world's most exotic cars – without fear of losing your license or any of the other life-ending repercussions. It's fast, slightly less realistic than its predecessors but by no means inferior. Anyone who appreciates cars will find Forza Horizon gets the heart racing.
Far Cry 3
£38, Xbox 360/PS3/PC, Amazon UK
Far Cry 3 was delayed to allow a bit of spit and polish. Fortunately, the open-world first-person shooter so often used for graphical benchmarking will be arriving in time for Santa to throw it down the closest equivalent you have to a chimney. The game revolves around Jason Brody, a tourist in the wrong place at the wrong time: in this case, a beautiful tropical island gripped with violent inhabitants. So the scene is set for shooting bad guys with large guns, levelling up your skills, RPG-style, and graphics so pretty you want to whisper sweet nothings in their ears.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
£35, Xbox 360/PS3/PC, Amazon UK
XCOM may have lost some of the complexity seen in its original outing but Enemy Unknown is all the better for it. Less time is spent micro-managing your squad of paramilitary soldiers, leaving you and your grey matter to craft out cunning plans to defeat your hideous-looking opponents in this turn-based strategy blaster. Surviving an alien encounter has never been so compelling, not to mention pretty.
£20, Xbox 360/PS3/PC, Game
When it comes to weapons, Borderlands 2 is simply unrivalled. The adverts jokes about millions of weapons but that really isn't far from the truth, making this one particularly juicy shoot-'em-up. Apart from filling opponents with all kinds of lead, missiles and projectiles, you can level up your character to obtain new abilities, all of which comes neatly wrapped in a much more immersive and larger game world. Best of all, Borderlands 2 is just begging for cooperative play, both on and offline.
Free to play, PC, Planetside 2 website
If you love epic sci-fi battles and own a graphically-endowed PC but don't have enough change to buy games, Planetside 2 will be right up your street. Like with its predecessor, Planetside 2 involves big teams in various fight to the death scenarios and by big teams we mean thousands of players divided into three factions. Whether on foot or in one of the many vehicles, Planetside 2 promises to be an intense shooter and one that, if you avoid the in-game purchases, will keep your wallet closed.
£TBC, Xbox 360/PS3/PC, Out November 30th
Definitely not one for younger eyes, Hitman Absolution tells you what to expect in the title. No, not the absolution bit. As a bald-headed assassin with a head like a supermarket melon (really, it has a barcode on) you are tasked with missions that inevitably result in someone's death – usually yours if you fail to use the weaponry and environments properly. Combining suspense with one of the world's most fascinating job descriptions, Hitman Absolution is shaping up to be a veritable, if violent, treat.
Need for Speed Most Wanted
£35, Xbox 360/PS3, Game
Another Christmas, another Need for Speed game. Except this one is a little different because developer Criterion is at the wheel, the talent behind the brilliant Burnout Paradise. The end result is a street racer with all the car customisation you could ever want – and you won't have to put up with Paul Walker's terrible acting like you do in the Fast & Furious films. When it comes to the thrill of evading the law, there is no better game. Well, not until GTA V turns up in 2013.
New Super Mario Bros U
£TBC, Wii U, Game
With the beautiful Rayman Legends stepping out as a launch title, the mantle of Nintendo's latest console falls to New Super Mario Bros U. In case you are unfamiliar with the much-loved, high-voiced Italian plumber, the idea is to keep yourself from falling down holes, avoid spikes and bounce on the heads of opponents as you make your way along each level. Minus the ability for up to five people to play and a few other new additions, this is Mario looking his best.