Here are the top 10 must-have videogames for the holidays.
1. Wii Sports: The game of the year comes free with the Nintendo Wii system and allows you to swing your controller like a baseball bat in baseball, swing your arm like you're bowling in bowling. Same with tennis and boxing. Just pure family fun. It's amazing nobody had thought of a controller like this -- and a game like this -- until now.
2. Call Of Duty 3: One of the most beautiful games I've ever seen (I prefer it on PS3). With the intense graphics and action, you'll feel like you're part of the combat during the Normady breakout, which helped liberate Paris during World War II.
3. Metal Gear Solid, Portable OPS: See PSP game's review below. Just wow.
4. Madden NFL 07: The PS3 and 360 versions look great, but its the Nintendo Wii version you've got to try. Using the wand controller, you'll be throwing and tackling in brand new ways.
5. Resistance Of Man: Sony's answer to Call of Duty is one of the best-looking PS3 games of the year. It takes you to an alternate universe for a 1950s battle against an army of really gross looking aliens who are bent on taking control of the earth.
6. Eragon: Based on the futuristic Hollywood movie of the same name, this game is deep and beautiful and made me look at my X-360 in a whole new way. And fighting dragons has never been this much fun or looked so good.
7. Excite Truck: Another Wii winner. You turn your "Wii-mote" sideways and watch the fun start as you twist and turn through a variety of realistic-looking tracks. Controlling the truck is hard enough and the sound is very realistic, too. You'll have hours of fun with this, especially in multi-player mode.
8. NBA 2K7: The best overall sports title for any next-gen console. Madden on Wii is more fun to play but on PS3 and X-360 (especially PS3), you might mistake playing this for watching a real game. Controls are excellent and post play is more realistic than ever. Warning: don't start an 82-game season. You'll find that you'll be dying to finish.
9. Mario Kart: No better DS game to be had. Just pure fun and easy to play. Hey, it's Mario!
10. Gears Of War: Beautiful action game that has sold more than two million copies on X-360. It's violent and rated Mature. You play as a wrongfully jailed hero who is busted out of prison in the future and fight an evil group of aliens called the Locust. Trust me. Get this.
One of my favorite videogames of all time is Metal Gear Solid, and I was very excited to try Metal Gear Solid: Portable OPS on PSP.
This picks up where Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (a game I've never played) ended. So I was a little lost starting out, but once you get going, you'll quickly fall into the James Bond-like storyline and several mini-games like Death Match and Capture Mission.
For me, though, the storyline is the thing. The lead character, Solid Snake, finds himself on a top-secret mission in South America in 1970. He's captured by a group of his former friends and rescued by a Green Beret, who tries to help Solid Snake stop a rogue Russian mission.
The game is beautifully drawn, perhaps the best drawn game ever on PSP and I loved the controls, like being able to flatten your back against a wall to peek around a corner. This is a must-have title for PSP this Christmas.
Superman Returns: Boy, it sure is cool to fly and this new game from Electronic Arts looks simply beautiful on Xbox 360. Superman has simple missions: save his city, save the world. He stops meteors and puts out fires and fights familiar enemies like Bizarro and Metallo using his heat vision, freeze breath and super speed and strength.
Controls for me were a bit difficult to learn. I'm not one for reading manuals, admittedly, but it took forever how to figure out which controller buttons to use to hover up and down, forward and back. Once you master it and the simple changes for super speed and Supe's different powers, playing this Teen-rated game is fun.
I didn't get through the whole thing, but I only saw Clark Kent and Lois Lane in cut scenes, which was strange and even though the 80-square mile Metropolis is about as huge a world as I've ever seen in a videogame, you cannot fly underwater or really interact with all objects. So instead of crushing through a building wall, you just bounce off of it.
The missions, however simple, inject a feeling of desparation. Meteors or bad guys are destroying the city. Since only bright green rocks can hurt you, this game mostly ends when the city takes on too much damage. Graphically, this title looked wonderful on the 32-inch LCD HDTV I tried it on and the soundtrack was movie quality. This one had me going for days. If I didn't have 2,007 more games to check out, I'd be playing this one for a long time (Grade: B-plus).
Brothers In Arms: D Day: Ubisoft delivers yet another war game for the PSP, placing games on the night before D Day when the 101st Airborne parachuted behind enemy lines in Normandy.
You play as Matt Baker and Joe Hartsock, trying to successfully lead the invasion. What makes this one somewhat unique is that you play or fight in actual battle zones. Via Wi-Fi, you can team up with other PSP users or face them. You've seen a lot of these battle games by now, and even though this one looks good and has a good storyline, there are several killer options in this genre that would make this a tough must-get. It is a nice change-of-pace for fans of this genre (Grade: B-minus).
Castlevania, Portrait of Ruin: Its been 20 years since this vampire-hunting game debuted. This Nintendo DS version is rated T for teen due to some serious blood and gore, suggestive themes and violence.
You can take control of two heroes, vampire killer Jonathan, or his girlfriend, Charlotte, who has a special magical ability (to reveal which might ruin the plot). The graphics are somewhat cartoonish but make no mistake this is a "serious" game with a dark plot line. You basically destroy all vampires in your path, or try to, as you try to keep the dark forces from re-emerging.
I enjoyed playing, and the two-player control adds a new dimension to an old favorite, but I wouldn't let my 7-year-old within 20 feet of this (Grade: B-minus).