Holiday Videogame Guide 2010: PC

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It seemed like everyone got back to playing games on their computer this year, and not just casual pastimes on Facebook. Our gift picks highlight a year when the PC reminded us that it remains the best platform for things like strategy and can offer unrivaled fidelity for games on any platform. Unless you have a specific request, though, it's probably best to steer clear of trying to choose hardware for a PC gamer. Whether it be video cards or gaming mice, building just what you want, the way you want, plays a big part in the strong bond gamers build with their gaming machines.

Civilization V
For: Those planning a world takeover
Xav says: If you—or someone you love is—are into "What If?" stories or always wanted to alter the course of history, Sid Meier's Civilization V is the perfect choice. A series that has threatened hygiene, relationships, and employment for nearly two decades, Civilization V offers a turn-based strategy game where the player is control of forging a new world. Tuned (nearly) to perfection, the game has the ability to surprise with its ever-changing societal landscape and its addictive gameplay. For an in-depth look at the game, see our Civilization 5 review.

Fallout: New Vegas
For: Sci-fi fans over-saturated with zombies
Garnett says: The zombie apocalypse may be all the rage, but the post-nuclear holocaust world created for Fallout 3 filled the wasteland with more than mindless walkers. Vegas offers the perfect spot for a return visit, adding a lawless, wild west flavor to the already anarchic atmosphere of the series. As Xav noted in our Fallout: New Vegas review, "it's a bleak, quirky, devastating, and twisted world." Sounds like a place perfectly suited to a role playing game.

Though also available for Xbox 360 and PS3, with the 360 exclusively getting new downloadable content first, we've included it as a PC game. Not only does it look better in high resolution, patches come easy on the PC--an important consideration for a game that launched with more than its share of problems.

Mafia 2
For: The mob movie fan
Alice says: Over the years, you've given them The Godfather trilogy and Goodfellas on VHS, DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray. Now give the gift of video games. Despite its flaws, Mafia II has a tremendous sense of time and place and is a loving homage to—or, unfortunately, a copy of—mob movies, likely to please any wiseguy.

"I don't know why I keep getting all this gangster stuff," they secretly think. "All I ever did was say I enjoyed Pacino's performance in Scarface." For more, check out our Mafia 2 review.

Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty
For: The multitasking strategist
Brian says: StarCraft II is one of the biggest PC releases in recent memory and it has gameplay options for almost every type of player. You can check out the campaign, challenges, AI skirmishes, competitive play, or custom games. The game is only going to get better as Blizzard continues to balance it and the custom map community really gets churning. The AI has also been greatly improved since previous Blizzard games and will give less-skilled players hours and hours of entertainment without having to venture online. Our Starcraft 2 review offers a deeper look at the game for more detailed information.

If the gift recipient is new to the series, also consider snagging the StarCraft Battle Chest, which includes the original game and expansion. It holds up.

Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition
For: Core gamers looking for a truly massive RPG steeped in a rich fantasy world with memorable characters and strategic combat, or pretty much any self-respecting PC gamer that hasn't played it yet.
Jeff says: BioWare has built an excellent library of role-playing fare over the years, and Dragon Age: Origins is no exception to the rule. It's only $49.99 on Steam, but includes $114 dollars worth of content, since all of the DLC is part of the package. It's common knowledge by now that the PC version of Dragon Age is the best one to play, due to its graphical edge, increased difficulty, and tactical camera options, though console-only gamers would still be remiss to pass up its engaging characters and story. For better or worse, Dragon Age 2's new direction seems to indicate that Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition might be the last chance to play a BioWare game that uses the studio's (much beloved) trademark strategic isometric combat, once prevalent in most of its games.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 26, 2010 8:10 AM

    I've managed to avoid all FO:NV sales and I think I'm in the clear mentally. I bought FO twice - once on disc when it first came out and then again when the GOTY version went on sale at steam for $25. I'm not necessarily going to wait for sale, but I'm definitely waiting until a GOTY version arrives.

    Despite my consistent disapproval of Civ V, if firaxis can improve the decision making of the AI, add in animation to multiplayer, bring out the pitboss client, and of course bring with it some more balance fixes it will at least be a decent war game and good for fun for 4 month shackbattle.