Best games for Christmas 2013

Looking for some gift ideas for the gamer in your life? Here are a few suggestions for games that won't disappoint this Christmas.

Nic Healey
Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.
Nic Healey
1 of 12 Ubisoft

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Handheld or PC, next gen or last gen — here is a list of some of the games we'd suggest if you're looking for a Christmas present for the gamer in your life. Or just send this link to friends and family if you need to drop hints about what you'd like to unwrap this year.

Xbox 360, PS3; coming for PC, Xbox One and PS4

An absolute tour de force from Ubisoft and the best game in the Assassin's Creed franchise for some time, AC4 squeezes every last rum-soaked drop from its pirate theme, while making sure there's plenty of traditional AC action as well. This is a sprawling, fun title that will eat a lot of your time.

Ubisoft has versions of the game for launch for both next-gen consoles as well as a PC, coming on 21 November.

2 of 12 Capcom

Dead Rising 3

Xbox One

If you're planning on buying the Xbox One before the end of the year, then this is definitely one of the games to consider.

The Dead Rising series has always mixed comedy with survival horror, and Dead Rising 3 will shamble along in the same undead footsteps.

Thanks to the power of the Xbox One, DR3 will be able to have more zombies on-screen than ever before, but the dev team has also bolstered the crafting gameplay to let you make weapons on the fly, as well as combo vehicles to help eliminate great swathes of the walking dead.

3 of 12 Warner Bros

Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U

The Lego series has been great fun for young and old (as the saying goes) and especially fun for people wanting a game to play with younger family members.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes ups the stakes with a game that crosses the entire Marvel Universe, from the X-Mansion to Asgard and everything in between. You'll encounter over 100 characters from the Marvel Comics, including being able to play as the "BIG-fig" character, The Incredible Hulk.

4 of 12 Nintendo

Pokémon X and Y


X and Y are actually two different Pokémon games, but the only differences between the two are a few of the types of Pokémon you'll find. The reason Nintendo has done this is to encourage people to use the connectivity features of 3DS to swap Pokémon back and forth.

The core mechanic remains the same — run around capturing Pokémon and then forcing them to fight for your pleasure — but if the conversations in the CNET Australia office are anything to go by, this version is as addictive as ever.

5 of 12 Square Enix

Tomb Raider

Xbox 360, PS3 and PC

Yes, it's been out for a while now, but Tomb Raider really stands up as a game, and it's worth considering — especially as we'd expect it to get a Game of the Year edition re-release.

It's a reboot for the ageing and ailing Tomb Raider franchise, one that takes the series back to its roots, with Lara as a young archaeologist embarking on her first expedition. Smart plotting and solid writing are bolstered by tight gameplay and excellent action sequences.

In all, a great game even a few months on.

6 of 12 Level 5

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy


The top-hat-toting puzzle addict returns in the third part of the prequel trilogy and the sixth game in the Professor Layton series overall.

Confused? Don't be — the Layton games are good fun, and you won't need to worry too much about the backstory. Just keep your thinking cap on as the Azran Legacy has over 500 new puzzles for you to solve.

7 of 12 Media Molecule


PS Vita

With its papercraft art style, Tearaway gives even Little Big Planet a run for its money in the cute stakes. Tearaway is a fun platformer that uses a host of the Vita's features from the forward and rear cameras right through to the front and rear touchscreens — even the mic gets a work out.

We've played the demo, and it's great fun, with the nice touch of letting you find actual papercraft plans that match characters in the game — plans you can download online and make yourself.

8 of 12 Microsoft Studios

Forza Motorsport 5

Xbox One

If you like car racing sims, then you like Forza (and probably Gran Turismo too). Forza 5 is exclusive to the Xbox One and will jam in 200 different cars from over 50 manufacturers and 14 tracks — actually a bit less than Forza 4.

But the level of detail across all the features is like nothing the game has been able to accomplish before now — and the devs have included open-wheel cars and Formula 1 vehicles for the first time, too.

Oh and for Aussies — Bathurst is now one of the tracks.

9 of 12 The FullBright Company

Gone Home


This indie PC game became the darling of the critics, defying expectations of what a first-person game should be — giving player exploration and story over guns and explosions.

It's an oddly paced game and might not be for everyone, but for the thinking gamer in your life, this one is worth buying as a gift via the Steam store.

10 of 12 Rockstar

Grand Theft Auto V

Xbox 360 and PS3

It's certainly not for everyone, but Grand Theft Auto V offers a massive and detailed world, three characters you can swap between as required and a really quite enjoyable story. And if, for some reason, the plot doesn't grab you, you can just take off and explore — you can mountain bike, skydive, taser a shark. The world is your rather messed-up oyster, and there is even GTA Online to get some multiplayer action going.

Remember, though — the R18+ rating means this one is for the adult gamers in your life.

11 of 12 Polyphony Digital

Gran Turismo 6


Very arguably, Gran Turismo is the PlayStation's best-known series, having had iterations across all the PS consoles from the original onwards. Well except now — GT6 is coming to PS3 rather than PS4.

Of course, that's great news for people who aren't looking to upgrade straight away when the next-gen PlayStation launches.

The game has been in production for a few years now and that shows in the incredible range: 33 tracks and 1200 cars to race.

This one is a must for the PlayStation-owning racing fan in your life.

12 of 12 Warner Bros

Batman: Arkham Origins

Xbox 360, PS3 and PC

Batman: Arkham Origins is the third game in the Arkham series and designed as a prequel to the first two games. In all honestly, it doesn't really feel like much of an Origins — Batman is very much a fully equipped, fully competent crime fighter rather than a neophyte vigilante learning the (bat) ropes.

But that aside, the game is solid, possessing all the action and mechanics of the first two, with a few small additions in terms of gameplay. If you liked the first two games, then there's nothing here that will disappoint.

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