All I want for Christmas............

by Stacy Code

Just a little past Xbox 360's first birthday, and it's another year gone by. It's hard to believe - those calendar pages flew off pretty fast; I was busy with Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter and Tomb Raider Legends through the spring, then summer disappeared in a blurry haze of beaches, umbrella drinks, and nights spent buried in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and rounds on Live with Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Then, before I knew it, I'm standing in a big-box department store, post-autumn, wondering where in the heck the year went and having no clue what to buy for anyone on my list - partly because I'd been so busy immersed in my game that I'd almost lost track of what friends and family were even on my shopping list anymore. So I'm just going to buy everyone the sweet treats that I've been wanting this year, and it'll be win-win. They'll be happy to get really good, really fun stuff this Christmas, and when I go to visit them later, they'll not only be overwhelmed with seasonal gratitude, but they'll let me in on the fun, too. Which is the object of the season, after all! Giving is supposed to be rewarding, and it's the most rewarding when they'll let you jump in and play co-op.

For my friend Shawn, I'm going to pick up a copy of Gears of War. This one's a no-brainer; he's going to love it. Epic's action-shooter has to be the most polished, most slickly produced, most epic bullet-slinger since the original Halo I bought for him five Christmases ago (even though he didn't have an Xbox and had to come to my apartment to play it - oh, well). The single player campaign is, pardon the term, epic stuff - good story, good action, voicing, plot, level design, weapons - hell, it's all good. And the best part is that when he's blasted his way through the single player campaign and figured out how to pull off a chainsaw kill with the rifle, we can jump in together on Live and either do the experience again in co-op, or work off some turkey-and-egg-nog calories taking out n0obZ with the aforementioned chainsaw rifles in the multiplayer modes.

My girlfriend is going to get a copy of Call Of Duty 3. Okay, so she doesn't play video games, and okay, so she isn't interested in action-packed, immersive simulations of battle in the second world war, but I'm gambling that she'll pick up on how incredibly excited I was by Call Of Duty 2 when the Xbox 360 launched and she'll infer from the gift of the latest sequel that I really care and want her to share in this FPS phenomenon that has, well, opened my eyes to what next-gen videogaming has to bring to this genre that is special to me. Hand to hand combat in the trenches? Next-gen enemy AI? Gorgeous graphics that will make you think you're overseas defending the very way of life you're enjoying as you play it? I know she'll think this is a special gift. Hey, she may even lure me under some mistletoe!


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