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Category: Software Published on Friday, 20 November 2009

Spend Your Christmas Cash on a Batch of New Games 

I smell turkey, which means Thanksgiving is around the corner and the fat guy in the red suit will be trying to shimmy down chimneys in another month. It also means I get to tell you how to spend your Christmas bonuses.

Although pickings have been slim this year in the console gaming world, there are a few new games that have caught my eye - - - sometimes both eyes.

Topping the list is Borderlands from Take-Two Interactive ($59.99). The words "intense" and "addictive" fall short when trying to describe the attributes of this game. Available for the PS3, XBox 360 gaming systems and the PC, this trip through a land filled with zombies and other obstacles is great for those that need an adrenalin rush 24/7. I had several folks sucked into the world of Borderlands using the PS3 and they haven't been heard from in several weeks.

Final Fantasy fanatics will get their fix with the Final Fantasy XI Ultimate Collection from Square Enix ($19.99 plus a subscription to Play Online and XBox Live). The Final Fantasy world of Vanadeil is greatly expanded luring new and veteran gamers into one of the greatest RPGs (role-playing games) ever developed for the PC or XBox 360. The gameplay is further enhanced with four expansion sets:

•Rise of the Zilart®
•Chains of Promathia®
•Treasures of Aht Urghan®
•Wings of the Goddess®

And three add-on scenarios:

•A Crystalline Prophecy™ — Ode of Life Bestowing
•A Moogle Kupo d’Etat™ — Evil in Small Doses
•A Shantotto Ascension™ — The Legend Torn, Her Empire Born

Lego Rock Band from Harmonix ($49.99 for the PS3, XBox 360 and Wii, $29.99 for the Nintendo DS) comes packed with a great list of "family friendly" musical tracks and there are many more you can download. There is very little to distinguish this game from other Rock Band titles, but playing is half the fun, right? You also get to create your own Lego characters and get your Lego chums out of a few perilous situations by successfully performing various tunes.

Sports gamers can get their fix from the new Madden 2010 from EA Sports ($39.99 to $59.99 depending on game platform) or NHL 2K10 from Take-Two Interactive ($49.99). Available for every game console invented by mankind, Madden again tops the list with the most realistic gameplay among footbal simulations. NHL 2K10 uses motion capture technology to recreate everything from players' signature moves on the ice to their celebrations after scoring a goal. In addition, the Wii version gives you ultimate control over your players, including puck handling. Of course both of these games can be played online against other football and hockey gaming addicts.

For those of you that REALLY want to take part in the games you play there's Go Play City Sports ($30.99) from Majesco and the ActiveLife Extreme Challenge from Bandai ($59.99). Both of these games are for the Wii and require you to do a bit more than just sit in your easy chair and hit buttons on a controller. City Sports contains six games including stickball, kickball, street hockey, handball and Shootout Soccer and can be played by anyone aged three to 90. You can also play against up to five friends online. The Extreme Sports Challenge requires a bit more of an effort. It comes with a game mat controller, which means you have to actually participate in whatever sport you choose, including skateboarding, wakeboarding, base jumping and rock climbing. There are 15 challenges in all.

There are several new titles for the younger gamers on your list including Disney's The Princess and the Frog ($39.99), Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom from 2K Play ($39.99) and Ni Hao Kai Lan: Super Game Day, also from 2K Play ($39.99). All of these games are available for the Wii and will challenge pint-sized gamers from early morning till bedtime.

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