It’s possible that you may have heard of a little game called Red Dead Redemption that was release earlier this year. Sometimes, the hype is for real. While known largely for the seminal open world crime series, Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar turns its sometimes farcical, sometimes loving eye back on American culture, but this time their lens is focused on both skewering and glorying in the mythology of the American West. A new American gunslingin’ icon has been created in the form of protagonist John Marston, and Rockstar has created one of their most interesting and interactive sandboxes ever in the form of the dusty plains of New Austin. The game is better than GTA IV, and if you and yours haven’t checked it out yet, it would be a welcome sight under any gamer’s tree.
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Mass Effect 2 came out in January, a lifetime ago in the games industry, yet you’re guaranteed to hear it in many “best of the year” discussions. It’s an improvement over its predecessor in every way, with a streamlined inventory, improved combat, and a well-implemented morality system. It also imports your save file from the first game to create a personalized adventure with a cast of fascinating characters, and a wealth of extra downloadable content. Since it’s easy to find on sale, Mass Effect 2 has a dollar-per-hour value that can’t be matched by any other single-player game this year.
If 2009 overwhelmed rhythm game fans with sequels and band-centric content, 2010 has seen a leaner line up of releases in the genre but real effort at innovation. Rock Band 3 is the most successful of these innovators, especially with its addition of the keyboard peripheral into your band’s repertoire. Featuring a strong, ecletic track list representing five decades of music, the game also features robust new tutorials for “Pro” versions of its instrumentation. The keyboard tutorials are stripped down and basic but amazingly accessible. Even this musically impaired gamer found that I might be able to learn something very much like real keyboard (albeit I am becoming a masterful one-handed piano player, but still). Come to play The Doors’s “Break on Through” but stay to play through the charmingly kitschy opening and closing bars of Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian”.