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Our favorite games for holiday gifts

Use CNET's software gaming guide to find the best gifts for the video gamer on your list.

Jeff Bakalar
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
Jeff Bakalar
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1 of 14 Arkane Studios

Dishonored

We love seeing an original piece of software hit game consoles, and Dishonored is something we've never quite seen before. Sure, it does seem influenced by BioShock (the same team made BioShock 2), but we can't think of a better franchise to borrow from. ($60; 360, PS3, PC; available now)
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2 of 14 2K Sports

NBA 2K13

NBA 2K13 is easily a contender for sports game of the year and must be played by people with even an inkling of basketball blood in their bodies. ($60; 360, PS3; available now)
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3 of 14 SCE

LittleBigPlanet

The Vita is about to get some major software support in the form of LittleBigPlanet. Touch-screen controls will change the way we play with our favorite Sackboy characters as well as edit levels within the game. ($40; Vita; available now)
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4 of 14 Gearbox Software

Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 is the follow-up to the highly successful "shoot and loot" original. More weapons, new environments, unique enemies, and a robust co-op mode all look to add to an already winning formula. ($60; 360, PS3, PC; available now)
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5 of 14 EA Sports

NHL 13

Once again running unopposed by any other sort of competing title, NHL 13 is now focused on delivering the most realistic skating experience to date. While hard-core puckheads might appreciate that level of detail, it's not necessarily a selling point that casual fans can relate to. Nevertheless, the NHL team has done a fantastic job the last few years, inching ever-closer to the perfect simulation experience. ($60; 360, PS3; available now)
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6 of 14 Ubisoft

Assassin's Creed III

We've complained about Assassin's Creed's lack of diversity as of late, but this sequel is already making us believers. Set in the American Revolution, the latest tale in the franchise looks to completely reinvent itself. ($60; 360, PS3, PC; available now)
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7 of 14 Criterion Games

Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Sure, a Need For Speed game hits nearly every year, but not with the team behind the Burnout series. In Most Wanted, Criterion Games looks to deliver the open-world racing game we've been asking for. ($60; 360, PS3, PC; available now)
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8 of 14 Ubisoft

Far Cry 3

While it was bumped from its earlier release date, it still looks like Far Cry 3 will see the light of day before 2013. That's a great thing because judging by what we've seen and played of the game so far, Far Cry 3 will play with your emotions and not let go. ($60; 360, PS3, PC; December 4)
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9 of 14 Treyarch

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Another Call of Duty game; what else is there to say? Addictive multiplayer, top-of-the-line production values, and a brand-new campaign. Just try to be productive after this one drops -- we dare you. ($60; 360, PS3, Wii U, PC; November 13)
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10 of 14 343 Industries

Halo 4

Master Chief can't catch a break. He's back fighting once again in Halo 4, which will introduce us to a brand-new enemy spawned from an ancient evil. ($60; 360; November 6)
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11 of 14 THQ/Vigil Games

Darksiders II

A worthy follow-up to the original sleeper-hit, Darksiders II plays like God of War and features awesome puzzles and bosses just like a great Zelda game. ($60; 360, PS3, PC; available now)
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12 of 14 Square Enix

Hitman: Absolution

The next iteration of the stealth-action mega-series hits consoles with some new and easier gameplay elements that should appeal to gamers of all skill levels. ($60; 360, PS3, PC; November 20)
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13 of 14 Nintendo

Paper Mario: Sticker Star

The Paper Mario series has had years off since its last appearance on the Wii, and the 3DS should be the perfect platform for the venerable franchise. (Price TBD, November 11)
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14 of 14 Telltale Games

The Walking Dead

Masterfully written and embodying every thrill the comic book it's adapted from is famous for, The Walking Dead videogame from Telltale Games is one of 2012's best story-driven experiences. Better yet, the five episodic installments will be available together when they're released as a complete season this December for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Individual episodes are available right now on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Mac/PC and iOS.

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