Know your gamer
Let's pretend that we all have friends and family, for a moment. And, let's pretend we have the funds and consideration to buy them holiday gifts -- I'm losing page views by the second with this far-fetched imaginary realm of my creation, aren't I?
Buying gifts for people is hard because people can be very strange. Take my brother: He loves Mass Effect 2, hates Mass Effect 3, and is lukewarm on XCOM. I've tried kicking him but it doesn't make gift giving any easier. Rather than organize Destructoid's guide by price and console, I've done considerable research (as in, making stuff up) and broke down every human being in existence into six categories.
Place your person of interest into one of the categories below and pick-up one of our recommended games. Nobody likes being labeled so maybe keep the process between you and me?
The Philosopher likes to sip tea, become immersed in an original, fascinating game world, and then blog about it while weeping over a thesaurus. Please don't poke, the philosopher is already crippled by the crushing beauty of the latest meaningful piece of art.
Also consider: Far Cry 3, Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders 2, Mass Effect 3, Tokyo Jungle, and Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!
The Last Story (Wii)
Once the tactician stops bashing the Wii and Nintendo, he or she will eventually pop your gifted Last Story into their system and experience the joy that only a great Japanese RPG can give -- a joy all too rare in this generation. While it's true that The Last Story has as much in common with Gears of War as Final Fantasy, the high adventure, leveling, and character progression will keep RPG-lovin' folk happy. Just be sure to tell them to use a Classic Controller and set the game to 'Manual'.
Also consider: Xenoblade, Natural Selection 2, Paper Mario Sticker Star, ZombiU, Pushmo, Crashmo, Hitman Absolution, Guardians of Middle-earth, Pid, Orcs Must Die! 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Also consider: Quantum Conundrum, Rhythm Heaven Fever, Deponia, Closure, Retro/Grade, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Lumines: Electronic Symphony, and Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure.
Borderlands 2 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Repeatedly shooting dudes in the face will and will always be better with friends. Though traversing Borderlands 2's large world can be monotonous at times, these moments give players the opportunity to chat, goof, and show off newly acquired gear with friends. I played Borderlands 2 by myself and had a great time, but that doesn't mean the entertainer should as well.
Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360 - Kinect required)
Though it is very likely that any Kinect-owning entertainer owns Dance Central, they may not have the latest and greatest iteration in the series. Dance Central 3 ups the ante with better graphics, modes, story, and "Gangnam Style" DLC. Just make sure this isn't your roommate or neighbor you are buying it for, otherwise you may regret your purchase as they pound the floor until the early morning.
Also consider: New Super Mario Bros. U, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Nintendo Land, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and Halo 4.
The Thrillseeker likes to drive fast, shoot first and ask questions later (or never), and turn a game on mute in favor of their own adrenaline-pumping soundtrack. The bastards of '90s arcade culture, the thrillseeker doesn't get along with others but finds them a necessity in the art of bragging.
Forza Horizon (Xbox 360)
Depending on whether your thrillseeker is a single-player of multiplayer-focused guy, you may want to consider Need for Speed Most Wanted (which does online great!). Forza Horizon is a much safer bet since it's an all-around better game, online and offline. The slick presentation, accessible driving, and massive world bring Forza to a larger audience with stunning results.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U)
It can be tricky finding out who has the latest Call of Duty and who doesn't. A good strategy is to invite your thrillseeker to an online match. If they say no and ask if the game is any good, LIE to them. This way you know they haven't and won't pick it up for themselves. In truth, Black Ops II is Treyarch's best game yet and stands up with Infinity Ward's best entries. Zombies, single-player, and multiplayer have gone under some smart revamps without losing the elements that made the series a record-breaking hit.
Akai Katana (Xbox 360)
Though some shoot-em-up fans moaned and groaned at Akai Katana receiving a retail release, instead of downloadable, they all shut up when they purchased the game and basked in its glory. Developer Cave has a long history of making excellent shooters and Akai Katana stands up with the all-time greats. You can find the game for dirt cheap now, making it an excellent gift for those who are low on funds.
Also consider: Kid Icarus: Uprising, Shinobi, Code of Princess, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Trials Evolution, Binary Domain, The Darkness 2, and Painkiller Hell & Damnation.
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