2009 Holiday Gift Guide - Best in video games

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Here’s a look at some of the best virtual adventures for the video game player in the family.

Best games for PlayStation 3

What is it? The only entertainment console boasting a Blu-ray experience, the PS3 offers the ultimate high-definition viewing experience for movies and video games. A price break takes the PS3 down to $299.99 (with 120 gigabytes of storage) and makes it an awfully attractive gift.

Price: $59.9 for suggested games

Gift group: Old and young will find creatures to control and cinematic worlds to explore.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (from Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., rated T for teen, $59.99) - The lovable wrench-packing lombax and his robotic pal are back in another wonderful gaming experience for fans of third-person action games. This computer-animated adventure has it all: beautiful design, a ton of new weapons for Ratchet (such as the Sonic Eruptor, which features a gassy creature stuck on the end of a rifle stock) and Clank’s mind-boggling use of time pads and the time-slowing Chronoscepter.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (from Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., rated T for teen, $59.99) - Fortune hunter Nathan Drake returns in another Indiana Jones-style adventure boasting a beautiful melding of cinema and gaming. The action starts with Nathan stuck in a train car that’s hanging off the side of a cliff and never lets up as he escapes and travels around the Far East to recover forbidden artifacts. With single, multiplayer and cooperative modes (up to three players work together) and loads of moves, weapons and lush areas to explore, it’s a dazzling title that pushes the PS3 to its limits. Gift givers also should toss in the BradyGames Strategy Guide ($19.99) for the title so players have an easier time finding all 100 treasures.

Ninja Gaiden 2: Sigma (from Tecmo, rated M for mature, $59.99) - Dragon Ninja Ryu Hayabusa graces the PS3 with his high-definition presence in a re-imagined third-person action game culled from its Xbox 360 roots. Over 17 stages, a player controls Ryu, who wields blade, shuriken and Fiend’s Bane Bow and practices the art of the Flame Phoenix to obliterate enemies and massive monsters. The cut scenes really sell the beauty of the violent story, while the chance to control three other characters, save and replay especially brutal fights, and enjoy more than 30 challenges in a cooperative mode seals the combat-saturated deal.

Best games for Xbox 360

What is it? A potent online gaming experience and multiple avenues of multimedia streaming make Microsoft’s machine a workhorse in family entertainment centers. A price break and upgraded hard drive make it a worthy purchase this season. (Check out the Xbox 360 Elite, which comes with the games Lego Batman and the off-road racer Pure plus a 120 GB hard drive for $299.)

Price: $59.99 to $149.99 for suggested games

Gift group: The player looking for the widest variety of gaming possibilities

DJ Hero Bundle (from Activision, rated T for teen, $119.99) - This interactive music experience gives rap, techno and hip-hop lovers in the family a wireless turntable peripheral to scratch, cross fade, sample and freestyle their way across the hottest virtual club venues with help from Grandmaster Flash. Highlighting more than 100 songs from artists such as the Jackson 5, Nirvana, Billy Squier and M.C. Hammer, the game requires matching rhythmic icons cascading down the screen. Competitive and cooperative online multiplayer action supplements game play, and a second faux musician can even jump in, using a Guitar Hero guitar peripheral.

Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (from LucasArts, rated E for everyone, $49.99) - America’s premier serial archaeologist is once again Lego-ized in a family-friendly ode to all of the Indiana Jones films. Even the “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” saga is immortalized as one or two players control Jones and his cohorts as they partake in escapades around the world. Enhancements to the previous game include unlocking a whopping 60 characters, including Mutt Williams on a motorcycle, new whip animations for Indy, and a Build Your Own Adventure mode to share with friends.

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