My Top 10 Must-Play Videogames for the 2011 Holiday Season that didn't make the Nielsen's Top 20!

On Friday, September 30, 2011 0 comments

What would a holiday season be at my house without a boatload of new games to play! It is a joyful time where all the stars line-up and we get so many new PC and console games it is hard to keep up.

Nielsen's has published their Top 20 Games to Watch for Holiday 2011 and I thought we'd start there.

Nielsen’s Top 20 Games to Watch for Holiday 2011
TitleGenrePlatformsPublisher% Choosing
as Top 5
Key Elements of Online Conversations
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3Shooter360, PS3, Wii, PCActivision27%upcoming launch parties, changes in the new game, ‘darker mood’, hardened version vs standard
Gears of War 3Shooter360Microsoft Game Studios19%high anticipation for launch, best prices at retailers, sharing info on codes and downloads
Madden NFL 12Sports (Simulated)360, PS3, Wii, PSPElectronic Arts19%challenge matches, calling in sick in order to play
Assassin’s Creed: RevelationsAction / Adv360, PS3, PCUbisoft17%downloadable previews, multi-player functionality
Batman: Arkham CityAction / Adv360, PS3, PCWarner Bros Interactive15%new villains in the game
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward SwordAction / AdvWiiNintendo14%nostalgia for series brings back ‘old school’ gamers, similar feel to Ocarina Of Time
Battlefield 3Shooter360, PS3, PCElectronic Arts12%many feel this title is superior to competing titles in the genre, differences in game performance by platform
Just Dance 3Music / Rhythm360, PS3, WiiUbisoft12%excitement for new tracks announced
NBA 2K12Sports (Simulated)360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP2K Interactive9%online demos, discussions of how to adjust schedule to allow more time to play
Need for Speed: The RunRacing / Driving360, PS3, Wii, PC, 3DSElectronic Arts9%exclusive Porsche models in the game, anticipation as a holiday gift
Uncharted 3: Drake’s DeceptionAction / AdvPS3Sony Computer Entertainment9%high expectations of this title being even better than the previous iterations
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic GamesSports (Arcade)Wii, 3DSSEGA8%gaming experts mention this title alongside other titles announced at the 3DS conference
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7Action / Adv360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS, 3DSWarner Bros Interactive8%sharing previews and speculation on the upcoming game
FIFA Soccer 12Sports (Simulated)360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS, 3DSElectronic Arts8%FIFA vs Madden, desires for more pro and career mode options in the new release
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimRPG360, PS3, PCBethesda Softworks8%M rating / graphic nature not a deterrent, daily countdown until release
Dead IslandAction / Adv360, PS3, PCDeep Silver7%looking for gaming partners for online co-op
Kinect Sports: Season 2Sports (Arcade)360Microsoft Game Studios6%high expectations for the upcoming sequel, considerable attention from casual gamers
Resistance 3ShooterPS3Sony Computer Entertainment4%franchise fans call it a ‘must have’ ‘game of the year’
Dance Central 2Music / Rhythm360Microsoft Game Studios4%enthusiasm for the ability to import songs from the original title
Deus Ex: Human RevolutionShooter360, PS3, PCSquare Enix3%best prices at retailers, differences in game performance by platform
Source: Nielsen

For me personally, I agree with 9 games on the list, might be talked into playing 4 of them and can live without 6 of them.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - More solid shooting action
Gears of War 3 - Already played this and can strongly recommend it...more of the same great stuff from the original.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations - Multiplayer additions look awesome and I love this series anyway
Batman: Arkham City - First game was well done but a bit claustrophobic...understand this one may address that.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - You are "in the action" with Link via a Wiimote.
Battlefield 3 - No idea why the last game received such good was very stiff. Hope this game loosens up a bit.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception - Next edition of the best "Blockbuster Movie in a Game Wrapper" series.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Looks great...hope I can dedicate all the time it takes to play one of this series.
Kinect Sports: Season 2 - Hoping for a great holiday party game.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Just finished this and must have enjoyed it...otherwise I wouldn't have been able to live with the very long loading screens. Question: Did they make the loading screen take so long to give the "3rd-party advertising" enough screen time?

Need for Speed: The Run - Looks like it is going back to the series' roots. Might justify getting it.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 - There are good LEGO branded series games and some are not. Hope this is the former.
Dead Island - Just not a horror/shock player. The only series that I get up the courage to play are Resident Evil games. But reviews are not glowing so will most likely skip.
Resistance 3 - Not been a fan of this series. Always felt so generic.

No Thank You
Madden NFL 12 - If you know know I don't "get" sports.
Just Dance 3 - Looks fun but not my thing.
NBA 2K12 - More sports.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games - Probably another generic SEGA game.
FIFA Soccer 12 - Sports.
Dance Central 2 - More dancing.

Now that we have that formality behind us...let me give you my Top 10 that didn't make the list. And as to not overly bias this, these are not in any particular order.

Star Wars: The Old Republic 
(PC / Massively Multiplayer Online Role-play Game / Developed by Bioware)
The Old Republic, players explore an age thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader when war between the Old Republic and the Sith Empire divided the galaxy. Players choose to play as Jedi, Sith, or a variety of other classic Star Wars roles...ultimately making their way toward the light or dark side of the Force. All this, in a big online, multiplayer universe!

(Xbox 360, Playstation3 or PC / First-person Shooter / Developed by iD...creators of Doom and Quake)
Rage is built on iD's new Tech 5 rendering technology that represents a world of lush and unique visuals. The game is centered around a not-too-distant future after an asteroid impacts Earth, leaving a ravaged world behind. Players will experience first-person shooter action, vehicular combat. Note to self: I hope they don't use cheap "monsters appear behind you" tricks this time!

Mario Kart 7
(Nintendo 3DS / Racing / Developed by Retro Studios and Nintendo EAD)
The latest Mario Kart carries on the tradition of the originals to the new Nintendo 3DS platform. Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto stated that the new sensation of depth from the 3DS helps delineate where everything is on the screen. New this time around is the ability to customize your vehicles and the addition of new gadgets like a hang glider add-on.

Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition
(Xbox 360 / First-person Shooter / Developed by Bungie)
Completely remastered in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of this groundbreaking game. It was "The Killer-App" for the launch of the original Xbox. The new version of the game includes new challenges and features as well as the return of classic multiplayer maps for the Xbox 360. Visually the game is radically refreshed and worth a revisit even if you already played the original. If you didn't...pick this up.

ICO and Shadow of the Colossus
(Playstation 3 / 3rd-person Platform / Sony)
If you have spent any time with me and we get on the subject of videogames, you will inevitably have to listen to me talk a great deal about the masterpiece called ICO. The game was designed and directed my the brilliant Fumito Ueda. The problem has been that the original was released on the PS2 and just never got the recognition it deserved. It is a wonderfully executed game designed around a minimalist world and a boy's attempt to help free a young girl from the castle. It is a classic character-based puzzle game. Sony has remastered this game and Ueda's follow-up that was also masterfully done in high-definition. Please pick this up and let me know if you enjoy it!

Saints Row: The Third
(Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC / 3rd-person action / Developed by Volition)
In the genre of Grand Theft Auto, this series goes to silly extremes. The previous two games in the series were definitely not as tight of executions compared to GTA but if you need your open-world, sandbox gaming satiated...this game can probably serve that purpose. This latest edition definitely looked like an upgrade in all definitely work checking out.

Portal 2
(Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC / First-person Puzzle / Valve)
Now Portal 2 has been out a few months and enjoyed a good run but I know a lot of people that haven't gotten this amazing game. It is a wonderfully engrossing 3D puzzle game full of physics-based problems to solve. It also has a wonderful cooperative mode that makes the game even more enjoyable.

Dark Souls
(Xbox 360, Playstation 3 / 3rd-person Die-a-lot / Namco)
While many games I mention above are nice, almost leisurely puzzle games or straight-forward action stuff...this is NOT one of them. This is a torturous game of fight, die and re-strategize on how to survive. If you played it's predecessor, Demon Soul...this one is MUCH harder. But Namco has delivered an amazing quality production. Visuals, sound, gameplay and tons of depth make this a compelling title. But it is not for the faint of heart or casual game player. You will get frustrated.

Forza Motorsport 4
(Xbox 360 / Racing / Microsoft)
This series has been amazing. Highest rated racing series of this generation of hardware. Stunning graphics. A wide variety of "real cars" and tracks. I got to play the Kinect version at E3 (video game trade show) and you literally sit in front of the screen, hold your arms out and drive! If you are into cars...get this game. And, it has Aston Martin's and the Ferrari Italia 458.

Rachet and Clank: All 4 One
(Playstation 3 / 3rd-Person Action / Insomniac)
I have been a huge fan of this series but the last couple title just didn't deliver to the degree of their predecessors. Maybe the brand is long in the tooth or the times have changed...but here we go with a new edition. What makes this game different, is the inclusion of 4-player cooperative mayhem. Now if I only had three other friends! You can play the game alone and the other three characters come along for the ride. What I experienced at E3 was promising but I will have to wait and see on October 18th if this one deserved to be bought.

I debated between this Ratchet game or Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) but I am worried the Mario game is just a gimmick on the 3D gameplay so I went with Ratchet. I'll be curious which one deserved to be on this Top 10.

A bit about the current state of affairs with the videogame industry...
This is a precarious holiday season. We have a slew of well-produced, multi-platform games available on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and/or Wii. There are killer Xbox 360 exclusives like Gears of War 3 and awesome PS3 games like Uncharted 3. The only thing Nintendo has going for it on the Wii front is Zelda. And two Mario titles and a Pokemon game on the 3DS to help it with its slump.

Will Microsoft maintain their #1 console title or is Sony's new lower price going to help them take the spot.

Sony could have probably benefitted from the launch of their new handheld Playstation Vita...but it looks like that is coming out in the spring in the US. I am curious how many people need a dedicated portable game system when we have these smart devices with us all the time nowadays?

I hope you enjoy some of these games. I can already recommend Gears of War 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, ICO, Halo and Portal 2. I've played and completed those...loved every minute of them.



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