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This Night Before Christmas is Only for Gamers

Category: Software Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring. Not even a - - - hold on. Those aren't reindeer we're hearing and definitely not mice. It's Mom, Dad and their offspring playing new games more than twice!

Let's face it, a majority of us in Jocgeekland are addicted to computer games and can't wait for the latest and greatest new blockbusters to hit store shelves. That's why we always open our presents a day early.

We're currently addicted to three Xbox One games from two major publishers.

Topping the list is Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare ($59.99), which is rated Mature for language and violence. Developed for Activision by Sledgehammer Games, this perennial console favorite keeps calling out from its box, saying "play me."


The first thing we noticed is the story line is far more developed than in previous versions. In fact, if you're a fan of the Call of Duty franchise, you'll discover that Advanced Warfare resembles its predecessors in name only. Kevin Spacey heads a cast of fine actors that keep the story going as you (as a mercenary, lean, mean fighting machine) battle the hordes of enemies encountered in this futuristic tale.

The scenario is simple: You're a PMC (and employee of a Private Military Corp. known as Atlas run by Kevin Spacey) equipped with the latest in weapons and an advanced exoskeleton sent into "hot spots" to complete an endless number of missions.

The graphics are beautiful.

Game play is addictive.

And you may miss a few meals as you immerse yourself into this game.

The second game on our list, also published by Activision, is Destiny ($59.99) from Bungie games, who are the folks that brought you Halo and the original Call of Duty games.

Although this game, which is recommended for Teens age 15 or older, is not quite as addictive as Armed Warfare, it is one of the most beautiful, graphically intensive games we've ever played. In fact, we may go as far to say it's an animated work of art.

All of the planets in the solar system are beautifully imagined as we try to defeat Earth's enemies and reclaim all that was lost during "the fall of the Golden Age."

Our guide is Peter Dinklage as The Ghost who takes us through the game and hopefully to victory. Among the long list of actors are a few others you may recognize - - - most notably Bill Nighy and Claudia Black.

Unfortunately, we soon became aware that there were many missions we couldn't complete without going online and enlisting help from other players - - - a sort of forced team play. This, to us, was a major drawback, because we, being egotists, prefer to complete missions on our own. But, that aside, this was another on the growing list of games that lead to dinner burning on the stove or going uneaten for hours.

What is common to both of these games, and we hope becomes a trend, is the lack of repetition of scenes. No planet or battlefield resembles others reducing the boredom factor and enhancing gameplay. 

The last game on our list is the Monopoly Family Fun Pack ($29.99) from the folks at UbiSoft. Rated for ages eight and up, this game really surprised us.

We often discover that video games based on the popular board games of our youth lack a few details we feel are important aspects of these games. That's not the case here!

Everything we know and love about Monopoly, from the cutthroat greediness of the players to domination of the game board is there. We were even able to add a few "house rules" that we often use to make the game more interesting.

The animation is what we've come to expect from UbiSoft games, including animated versions of all the popular game pieces to the depictions of houses and hotels from the "low rent" districts to the high society of Boardwalk.

All of the versions of the games we played were so-called "standard editions" developed for the Xbox One. There are other versions of Destiny and Call of Duty: Armed Warfare available ranging from less expensive downloadable software to more expensive special edition packages. Plus, all of these games are available for all gaming consoles including the Sony PlayStation 3 and 4, the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.

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