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Yuletide Gaming

Video game pros talk gifts

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'Tis the season ... well, almost. Retailers are ramping up the eye candy, reminding everyone that Christmas is upon us and trying to coerce money from tight wallets while guilting people into spending more than they can. It's a holiday tradition, just as much as giving gifts.

So you've bought the tie for that uncle you never see, your sister has the latest and greatest home coffee-brewing system ... the list could go on. But what are you going to get that gamer in your family? We decided to go to the people in the industry and ask a few of the folks who work for gaming companies (either as in-house public relations or with PR firms that handle gaming clients) for a list of the games on their wish lists for Christmas. Those that answered will remain unnamed simply because some of the games they picked were not being released by the companies they work for.

Without further ado, or any ho-ho-hos to muddy the situation, here is the list:

1 Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Wii/360/PS3/3DS, adventure, released Oct. 16)--I didn't see this one coming, but the industry person who recommended this game said: "Watching a 6-year-old put a toy on the 'magic' portal and having it come to life on a screen is pure joy. The game is lots of fun for kids and adults, much like the experience of going to a Pixar movie." So this is the game that appeals to the child in us all. It was also critically acclaimed.

2 Batman: Arkham City (360/PS3, action game, released Oct. 18)--This one has Game of the Year written all over it, and even though it may not win that coveted title, it's definitely in the running. It was a critical and commercial success, and many significant others lost valuable "me" time with the gamer in their lives thanks to this title. Dark, gritty, action-driven with great graphics--this game has it all.

3 Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3, third-person action/adventure, released Nov. 1)--If you have followed this series, you know that it's sort of like the adventures of the offspring of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Drake is brash and finds trouble (which usually is toting guns and high-tech weaponry), and the series itself is not afraid to drop in a line totally poking fun at itself. Developer Naughty Dog has the formula down for this one, and the third in the franchise is sure to warm up someone's winter nights with high-end adventure.

4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC/360/PS3, first-person shooter, released Nov. 8)--Come on, this is Call of Duty. Sure, it seems that only Infinity Ward can put out a good CoD game (Treyarch gets ragged on a bit but the last one wasn't bad), but this is from Infinity Ward. Some folks disdain CoD for the Battlefield series, but there is a reason that CoD is annually one of the top-selling (if not the top) games of the year and on the list of all-time top-sellers.

5 Cave Story 3D (3DS, platformer, released Nov. 8)--This one was another surprise on the list, but it's a solid game-on-the-go title. The first game was a 2D side-scrolling platformer and the developer went back in, expanded the graphics and rendered it out in 3D.

6 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC/360/PS3, role-playing fantasy game, released Nov. 11)--Dragons are on the loose, a prophetic warrior is supposedly coming (that would be the character you create), and the world teeters on the brink of total chaos. OK, the theme may seem a bit cliche by now, but this is part of the Elder Scroll series from Bethesda Softworks and that means an expansive world, great RPG gaming and a great time suck.

7 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC/360, massively multiplayer online game, released Nov. 18)--Hailed as one of the best interactive Star Wars experiences and one that truly captures the essence of the franchise, this has been anticipated for a long, long time. Just remember, though, that with any MMO, there is a monthly subscription fee making it the gift that keeps on giving ... to the publisher.

8 Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning (PC/360/PS3, a massively multiplayer online game, launches Feb. 7, 2012)--The studio, 38 Studios, was founded by Curt Schilling (the baseball player), and the story for the game was written by R.A. Salvatore (known for the fantasy novels of the dark elf character, Drizzt) with the artwork under the watchful eye of Todd McFarlane. Big Huge Games, headed by some of the folks that worked on the epic fantasy game Morrowind, is behind the game. If that's not a pedigree, then nothing qualifies. Will they make a great game? Who knows, but it will be interesting to find out.

9 Just Dance 3 (Wii/360/PS3, music and interactive gaming, released Oct. 7)--This was submitted from a woman I know who has been in the media biz for a long time. Her reasons? "Great game to play with the kids, and I won't suck at it. And it's a great way to burn those extra holiday pounds!"

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