A reader offers some suggestions for the best games to play at Christmas, from Mario Kart 8 to PlayStation VR Worlds.
The Christmas holiday presents the perfect opportunity to catch up on some gaming. Whether it be putting a dent into a mounting backlog or waiting to see what Santa brings on Christmas Day, cocooned away from the cold weather outside theres nothing better than spending a well-earned break playing video games. Note the majority of my suggestions are not festive-related, aside from first on my list…
Die Hard Trilogy
Die Hard being the best Christmas movie ever made, what better way to scratch that nostalgic itch than a homage to this timeless classic. Okay, the movie has aged far better than the video game, but when it was released back in December of 1996 it was one of those rare movie tie-in games which was actually good. Well received by both critics and gamers, its not just a museum piece in terms of technology but signifies a genre at its pinnacle – which has long since faded into obscurity. Retro gaming now being a thing with various mini console compilations, forget the lacklustre PlayStation Classic and dust off the original to enjoy its arcade thrills.
What was most interesting at the time was how the game was split into genre types: Die Hard 1 being presented as a third person action shooter, the sequel more like an on-rails lightgun game, and the third entry almost a Crazy Taxi rip-off. A varied approach seldom witnessed since, I do feel as a concept it holds some merit – even for modern titles. The games main success was it captured the essence of the movies perfectly, even if the methods employed feel archaic by todays standards. Its still worth checking out for a trip down memory lane.
Come Christmas Day there will be gamers taking their first foray into the exciting new world of virtual reality. VR is often assumed to be a solitary experience, but with PlayStation VR in particular it can be surprisingly engaging for onlookers. At a time when families gather for the festivities, it can quickly become the main attraction. And if the in-laws are visiting, the perfect tool to cause some mischief…
PlayStation VR Worlds is now included with most bundles, so what better way to introduce the mother-in-law to virtual reality than an experience which doesnt require fiddly controls or any interaction whatsoever. It is the season of goodwill after all. I am of course referring to the shark cage dive! Naturally, I encouraged the mother-in-law to go first – I wouldnt want the TV screen ruining the surprise, or was it being forewarned? Either way, for the sake of your expensive new headset some user care instructions are advisable.
A common reaction is to fling the headset off in a panic, so its worth educating a potential victim that they can simply shut their eyes. I think I may have oversold the experience just a tad by suggesting it was akin to The Blue Planet, only minus the soothing voice of Sir David Attenborough. Not that I would have heard him anyway, there was too much screaming going on!
Now if the family are still speaking to you, my other recommendation would be Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes. The premise is quite simple, the person defusing the bomb wears the headset and those who participate direct the player. Inside the headset you only see the bomb and those viewing the TV screen the manual. Its quite ingenious, though the benefit of VR in this instance is to keep the displays segregated.
The added immersion of actually defusing the bomb, whilst welcome, is secondary to the overall experience. The chances of the mother-in-law trusting you the bomb wont literally blow up at this point are slim to none.
The king of couch multiplayer, no Christmas would be complete without some Mario Kart – though I suspect the new Smash Bros. will be occupying many a Switch during the festive season. You can always rely upon some kart racing to get the competitive juices flowing, though it can turn nasty when the kids start gloating over their superiority.
The Switch may well be the perfect solution during Christmas. Even with a lot of good telly to choose from, when my wife and daughter commandeer the remote control it can quickly deteriorate. I foresee Switch being a saviour for many a household, a sanctuary for gamers across the land deprived of precious game time.
And if youve over-indulged with mince pies and turkey, then Nintendo also has you covered. Why not bring the old Wii console down from the loft and partake in some Wii Sports?
On a cold winters day, with a pair of toasty, nag-proof headphones on, theres nothing better than escaping reality, sun in your face, golden sands and blue skies to brighten your mood. I started to play Assassins Creed Odyssey and early impressions were positive, so much so I set it aside to play during the Christmas break. Knowing I would need an escape, desperately I suspect, a good adventure game seems the perfect antidote.
When Im covered head-to-toe in glitter thanks to that annoying wrapping paper, the dishes are piled like a Jenga statue, the father-in-law is complaining about sprouts accompanying his bacon, Ive ran out of milk on Christmas Day and the dog has raided the bin for turkey leftovers, I will need to go to that special place. Running about in a hoodie assassinating bad guys doesnt sound the most tranquil of solutions, but Ill take any respite at this point.
Continuing with a fantasy theme, growing up the Christmas holidays were dominated by my favourite monster movies. Clash of the Titans (original, of course!), along with a host of Doug McClure movies such as The Land That Time Forgot and Warlords of Atlantis to name but a few, dinosaur movies were a ever-present feature. After watching the latest Jurassic World movie, which is quite awful I might add, it makes me miss that period all the more. But all is not lost, the video game industry loves dinosaurs, right…? Well, theres Monster Hunter: World, though Im after something more narrative driven.
Largely unappreciated at the time, Peter Jacksons King Kong is arguably the best movie tie-in to date. Inexplicably its yet to make Xbox Ones backwards compatibility list, and for all the graphically enhanced games available for Xbox One X, its a game which would really shine if given the treatment. I remain hopeful Dino Crisis will make a long overdue comeback, but in the meantime picking up King Kong for Xbox 360 may be the best alternative.
The most Christmassy game Ive played in recent years is Dead Rising 4. It is even more festive than Die Hard, believe it or not! The script can be quite funny in parts and I particularly liked the performance from the new Frank. The trouble is the game isnt great and even pales up against previous entries. So if you must play a festive-themed Dead Rising game, youre better off playing any of the previous titles, put on a Christmas hat and instruct Alexa to play Christmas music.
Its slim-pickings when it comes to festive games worth playing Im afraid, reflected by my obscure list of suggestions. For me personally, playing games at Christmas has rarely entailed a festive theme. My game time can be driven by nostalgia, social interaction, or a necessary distraction. Whatever your motivation, make the most of it, because at their best games truly reflect the magic of Christmas. Seasons greetings to all.
By reader Up4Banter
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