It’s the holiday season once again, and perhaps you’re stuck for a good gift idea. Video games are a good option: Almost everyone loves receiving them, which makes them successful gifts in the short term. On the other hand, you don’t have to play a game for long in order to know it’s rotten. That’s why it’s a good idea to grab hold of some suggestions before you shop.
Getting a game for an adult is a bit different from getting one for a kid. Games for grown-ups tend to contain mature content and/or gameplay mechanics that are difficult to grasp. That said, they also offer some remarkably deep experiences that can last for hours. Here are 2012’s best games for adults.
Halo 4 (Xbox 360) – Microsoft’s latest entry in its popular first-person shooter series features an extremely detailed story and campaign, not to mention killer multiplayer features (literally). Its presentation is top-notch, and should be a hit with any fan of shooting games.
Dishonored (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows) – Dishonored is a first-person stealth action adventure title. Seems like a mouthful, but what it basically means is that you play as an assassin who’s out for revenge against his betrayers—and we all know that assassins work best undetected. However, it’s actually possible to play through Dishonored without using lethal force. The story alters depending on how violent you are, or aren’t.
FIFA Soccer 13 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita) – Soccer may not be America’s favorite sport, but don’t let that drive you away from EA’s FIFA Soccer 13. It’s loaded with features. If you never got a chance to pick up FIFA 12, that’s all the more reason to jump right in with lucky 13. Also note: If you’re a hockey fan, don’t miss out on NHL 13 either – it’s a great choice for winter sports fans.
WWE ’13 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii) – Similarly, THQ’s latest large-budget WWE game might be familiar for anyone who played WWE ’12, but wrestling fans will love the game’s story, which takes place across the industry’s Attitude Era.
Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, Wii U) – This role-playing /adventure game from BioWare received massive critical acclaim thanks to its epic story, interesting cast of characters, multi-tiered choice system, and stunning graphics. There was some controversy over the game’s supposedly lame ending, but the quality of the game’s finale ultimately lies in the eye of the beholder. It’s the whole experience that counts.
Journey (PlayStation 3, via the PlayStation Network) – Journey is a downloadable game that takes the player on a trip through the desert and towards a distant mountain. You meet other players as you travel, and you can help one another—but your communications are restricted to wordless “singing.” How will you cooperate—if you choose to cooperate at all? Journey has received critical acclaim for its originality and beauty.
Dragon’s Dogma (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows) – And sometimes, you just gotta bash things. Dragon’s Dogma is an action role-playing game by Capcom that takes place in an open world. There’s tons of hacking and slashing to be had, but the game’s real strength is its gigantic boss battles, which encourage you to search for unorthodox ways to bring down your prey.
Tokyo Jungle (PlayStation 3) – Tokyo Jungle is a survival/action game that takes place in the deserted streets of Tokyo. It’s initially not clear what’s happened to humanity, but what’s important is that wildlife has reclaimed the region and you need to survive. You play through the game as a deer, a hyena, a couple of lions, and (prepare yourself) a Pomeranian.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows) – The must-have game of the holiday season. Dig first-person shooters? Then check out this home theater showpiece, which doubles down on pyrotechnics, Hollywood-style set pieces and online action galore – its Internet multiplayer mode alone will keep you busy for months.
Xenoblade (Wii) – This action/role-playing hybrid is the best role-playing game for the Wii, and one of the best RPGs ever released, period. You travel through large, open worlds and fight through swarms of enemies via a complex but compelling battle system. There’s a main story to follow, but you can do so at your own leisure while you pursue hundreds of side-quests.
Max Payne 3 (Xbox, PlayStation 3, Windows) – In this third-person action/shooting game, you accompany a slightly older, slightly more cynical Max Payne as he works through Sao Paulo, Brazil. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for you, the player), he’s caught up in a conspiracy and is pulled into trouble. Max Payne 3 features some of the best graphics seen in any console title.
Borderlands 2 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) – Post-apocalyptic action role-playing in an animated, cel-shaded world: Where do we sign up? Letting you live out your every Mad Max fantasy, this sequel to the multiplatinum-selling megahit delivers more excitement, more gear, and more chances to collect loot while successfully straddling the line between run-n-gun thrills and detailed stat crunching.
Assassin’s Creed 3 (Xbox, PlayStation 3, Windows) – What can we say about the blockbuster franchise – in which you play a historical hitman, tasked with stalking and offing targets in a living, breathing 3D world – that hasn’t already been said in countless positive critical reviews? Rewinding the clock to the Revolutionary War, this latest installment blows the doors off the genre in the graphics, sound and gameplay departments, making it a must-play for mature audiences.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Medal of Honor Warfighter
And of course, don’t miss Nintendo’s Wii U – a revolutionary new video game system which adds a tablet-like touchscreen controller, extensive online connectivity and games in dozens of favorite franchises such as Super Mario Bros. and Pikmin. The first of the next-generation (next next-generation?) consoles, it’s sure to be a hit with family and core gaming audiences of all ages, given its HD action, backwards compatibility with Wii games and extensive media playback and streaming options.