Here’s a list of the must have games this Christmas. From Super Mario to Assassin’s Creed there are so many games to choose from…

1. Call Of Duty: Black Ops III

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For a series that has already experienced such monumental success, it’s amazing to see the hype surrounding Black Ops III – it’s as if we haven’t had a successful shooter to feast upon for years!

Ah Call of Duty, never fails to cause strain in relationships around the world as husbands/boyfriends ignore their wives/girlfriends for about a solid week.

Developer Treyarch has come up trumps again, delivering a violent, visually stunning way to kill a few hours in your day. Nothing better than taking your rage from work out on a team deathmatch. This latest version includes a new momentum-based chained-movement system which enables you to fluidly move through the incredible environments with finesse, using controlled thrust jumps, slides and wall runs, all while continuously keeping full control over their weapon – this could well have been the missing piece of the jigsaw.

Meanwhile, maps have been improved, ushering in a new wave of advanced tactics and manoeuvres to dazzle the opposition once the excellent campaign is complete and multiplayer mayhem begins. Throw in the curveball of Specialists – a suite of nine new characters with crazy new abilities and weaponry to master – and you know that Call Of Duty has gone all-out to dominate the festive gaming market this Christmas.

2. Star Wars: Battlefront

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Anything on the Star Wars front in the run-up to Christmas will be rigorously assessed by hardcore fans for its mark of authenticity, in a commercialised world where the hype often over-promises on the end product.

But, whatever your level of adoration for one of the most famous film franchises of all time, Star Wars: Battlefront delivers online action, amusement, and that all-important authenticity in spades. The audio experience alone is enough to send shivers down the spine, before you even open your eyes to witness the thrill of piloting an X-Wing, or plotting the downfall of an AT-AT onslaught.

A robust array of game modes provide a number of varied tactical challenges, supported by a series of rich, gloriously detailed maps. Perhaps the only downside is that there aren’t more environments to enjoy. All the classic characters are there though and, allied to the excellent gameplay, Battlefront has done a brilliant job in crafting a top-notch shooter that has no doubt been aided by its subject matter as well as felt the intense pressure placed upon it by fans during development. But worry not, the force is strong here.

3. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash

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It may not be a Wimbeldon Final, but Mario picking up a racquet and ball on any console will always raise an eyebrow amongst tennis fans. Accurate simulation this is not, but as a fun arcade interpretation, you need look no further for super-charged sports thrills and spills.

From surprising your opponents with the all-new Jumpshot move, which sends the ball flying down the court at a rate of knots, to the Mega Battles, where Mega Mushrooms can help you gain a big advantage over the competition. The developers had obviously been inspired on a weekend away in Amsterdam, mushroom-wise.

Ultra Smash leaves you in no doubt that this is a light-hearted, high impact encounter where OTT is the order of the day. It plays well, with simple controls providing an accessible entry point for newcomers to the series, while the power-up opportunities and executions cannot fail to raise a smile.Even the exciting persona of Andy Murray wouldn’t put a dampner on this delightfully fun game.

 4. Fallout 4

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As the sole survivor of Vault 111, you enter a world destroyed by nuclear war. Every second is a fight for survival, and every choice is yours. Only you can rebuild and determine the fate of the Wasteland. Welcome home. And welcome to one of the most incredible open-world RPG adventures you’ll ever play.

With a gaming stable that includes Skyrim, not to mention the previous Fallout titles, Bethesda Game Studios has hit the bullseye, or rather smashed through it, with a game experience that is as jaw-droppingly beautiful as it is morally challenging, as vast environmentally as it is detailed from a crafting perspective. It really is the new daddy of RPGs, boasting an excellent post-nuclear narrative that will entertain and move you in equal measures, particularly when it comes to picking your allegiances from the gaggle of factions looking to dominate the region you find yourself in.

Main quests carry this story along well, but it’s the plethora of side quests that will take you off the beaten track and provide some of the best post-apocalyptic highlights during your story. And it will be a story unique to you, with what feels like an unprecedented level of customisation, in-game quest choice and ultimate freedom in this barren land that you’ll discover is in fact packed with some of the greatest gaming experiences to date.

5. Football Manager 2016

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Still on a sporting upward curve… unlike  Jose Mourinho. Here we go again! Any aspiring Brendan Rodgers fans who feel fit to rival his character (OK, maybe not this season), know that in gaming terms the only place to turn is Football Manager.

It’s annual release is often marked in the calendar ahead of your own favourite team’s real-life local derby, and with good reason. Each iteration manages to conjure up a bundle of cheeky new features that enhance the overall experience that sits in front of one of the most powerful databases in the sporting world. This season, would-be managers have Fantasy Draft and Create-A-Club options to choose from in addition to the regular modes, while a touchline manager, customised by you, can also bring some amusement to the visual proceedings as he barks out the orders and celebrates wildly with the team.

Those 11 players have an extra 2,000 animations to wow you with, too, but that’s nothing numbers-wise compared with that unbelievable repository of football player data the real player scouts are now reported to be using to spot next season’s big thing. It’s a stunning stats-based soccer sensation.

6. Rise Of The Tomb Raider

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You could be forgiven for thinking that Lara Croft is almost a long-lost legend of gaming history. Less frequent forays onto today’s consoles have allowed other in-your-face heroes to take centre stage, but, make no mistake, she still packs an incredible punch.

Here, you must step into Lara’s shoes to conquer a world strenuously protecting its secrets, endure dangerous conditions and unstable landscapes and face vicious wildlife that acts as guardians to ancient tombs – your favourite playground. The Siberian environment is incredible, and the mix of frantic (and brutal) combat alongside more considered puzzle solving and terrain navigation provides a strong reminder of the wonderfully cinematic gaming format that made Nathan Drake a male Tomb Raider of our time.

With the ability to configure Lara’s gear, weapons, and ammunition to suit your play style, dummy up explosives on the fly to wreak havoc, and wield her signature combat bows and climbing axe, there’s little doubt she’s still a kick-ass icon inspiring developers to brilliant action gaming experiences.

7. WWE 2K16

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WWE 2K15 fell a little way short of the high-quality wrestle-fest that we’re used to seeing from the 2K stable. As an annual release, only 12 short months sat between the next offering, with much work to do. But this year’s lycra-clad razzmatazz marks a return to form, with more than 120 unique playable characters including, of course, cover star Stone Cold Steve Austin.

It’s the largest roster in WWE games history, with a combination of current faves, emerging NXT talent, WWE Hall of Famers and WWE alumni from the good old days. There are game modes aplenty, too, with more than half a dozen general play modes, each with a number of further options. This is before you even consider MyCareer, a full simulation in and outside of the ring. And when the bell sounds, the action is slick and combat feels much more balanced than last year.

The core mechanics are tight and the weird mini-games have been banished, in favour of more familiar fighting techniques. Overall, it’s a bumper package of glitzy rough and tumble, tarnished only by some odd character models in the ring, compared to their realistic entrance sequences. But there has to be something left to improve on for next year’s release, right?

8. FIFA 16

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It’s now a ritual for every football loving gamer in the UK. We all knew someone back at school who pulled a sickie so he could play it on the day of release. Now you’re perfectly entitled to book off an entire week of annual leave to enjoy the FIFA experience.

FIFA gets better and better every year. Even though people complain every year about how it sucks… then they get used to it.

This year’s version is no exception. It is frighteningly good. You can play as women’s national teams including England and USA. Nine new stadiums appear from leagues across the world, taking the list of playable stadia to 50. Many new gameplay features have been added such as the no touch dribbling. A tap of the LB/L1 button allows you to free yourself from the ball to buy time and feint past your defender just like Paddy McCourt did against the Faroe Islands.

9. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

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London is next up on Assassins Creed’s world tour and it doesn’t disappoint. Victorian era London is simply breathtaking, and is my personal favourite location after Black Flag and Paris in Unity. There’s something beautiful about running along the rooftops and chimneys in Victorian London and seeing a steam train chugging along.

The Assassin’s Creed engine has had a few revamps over the last few games and it’s been changed again in Syndicate. For the better, thankfully. Stealth is improved, while in sneak mode, cover is now automatic so you’ll finally stick to objects (in a good way this time) and it means sneaking behind enemy lines is a far more slick experience. Weapons have improved, and movement with the rope launcher making travelling that bit quicker.

There is also good character variations with brother and sister act, Jacob and Evie, who both have different attributes in their arsenal.

10. Halo 5: Guardians

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Halo 5: Guardians, feels like one of the biggest leaps forward for the franchise ever, making it as fast and fluid as modern shooters while still maintaining its trademark look and feel. This is largely because of the new mobility of each Spartan soldier.

Running, strategic boosting, and being able to look down the scope for every weapon all add to the game itself, making it feel modern, while still heavily featuring the exaggerated jumping mechanics and hip firing that gamers around the world have come to expect from the series.

The campaign is excellent with some gripping cut scenes, however the main pulling power of Halo is still it’s massive,expansive multiplayer mode. With 15 free maps and 24 player battle modes,  there is a lot of variation and it’s still trademark halo which means all action  and cursing as you respawn every other minute. (Or maybe I’m just awful)

11. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

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The male Tomb Raider. This is Playstation’s rival to the Xbox One’s exclusive ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’, however Uncharted as a series has been doing fantastic.

Uncharted has become developer Naughty Dog’s prized asset in recent years and they used a similar engine in the zombie thriller ‘The Last of Us’ showing that this is an engine that is universally loved and critically acclaimed.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection gives users the chance to play all previous Uncharted games on Playstation 4 in glorious graphics. Every game is fantastic and playing the previous three, is certainly a excitement builder to the fourth installment, coming March 2016. It should be worth the wait.

12. Game Of Thrones: Season Pass Disc

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This interactive expression of a classic fantasy TV series has succeeded in blurring the lines between passive and active entertainment, as Telltale Games reveals in the next gen iteration of Game Of Thrones.

In control of the central protagonists from the smash-hit series, you’ll face a slew of challenging moral decisions in the opening episode, the ramifications of which will only be fully realised in the pre-paid episodes that are released further down the line.

The ability to see a new story arc play out from a number of characters’ perspectives is an excellent approach, and perhaps the only frustrating aspect of this series is that we’ll have to wait some time for the next instalments, instead of just a week between TV episodes! But with a continued level of attention to detail, overall game presentation and the promise of some meaty plot play-outs off the back of the way you approach the central scenarios, this TV monster has well and truly found a new lease of life in console world.

 

 

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