Video Games

The Best Holiday 2011 Games for Your Buck

You could literally spend hundreds of dollars this year and still not on all of the great games coming out this holiday season. Of course, that doesn’t even begin to compare to the hundreds upon hundredsofhoursyoucouldspendplaying them.

Check out our guide to get the best games you can for your Christmas money.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

Though it’s the fifth installment in the iconic RPG series, buying Skyrim is a safe bet even if it’s your first game. The Elder Scrolls lore is carried on through the game, but it doesn’t lean so heavily on it that you can’t follow the plot if you don’t have the background knowledge.

As a standalone game, Skyrim excells. The first thing you’ll notice if you’re a veteran ofthe series, though, is that you can actually create anattractivecharacter, especially if you’re playing a female. The graphics have allowed PCs to go from vaguely humanoid to people that you actually would want to play as.

The in-game graphics are stunning, which makes it all the more unbelievable that it can actually generates pieces of the world (and quests within it) infinitely. Though it definitely has the content to back it up, one of the biggest draws to Skyrim isitssheer beauty. Even the leveling system is its own special brand of gorgeous–players zoom through constellations to add to their arsenal.Skyrim is your best bet this season if you’re looking for something stunning that will appeal to anyone on your list. Even casual gamers will likely find something to love about it.Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

The biggest draw to MW3 isn’t the shiny upgraded M16, it’s how you’re rewarded for using that weapon. Years ago when they made the decision to split their online match system, it just made sense. New players could participate without fear of being trounced on by someone who had far superior skills and ranks.

Their latest decision to change how you’re rewarded walks along the same path. More casual players can choose the support path, which will reward them for assists even if they die. Mainstream players can use the Assault system, which operates much like Black Ops or MW2. Those who have a superhero-like natural ability or who have just spent a lot of time with the game can choose the Specialist path to make the most of their skills.

Modern Warfare 3 is more than just another game in the franchise: It’s another step in its evolution.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The last time Nintendo sunk its teeth into a Legends of Zelda game for the Wii, it stayed at the same (rather high) price for about five years, and fans continued to buy it. The latest edition captures all of the same spirit as Twilight Princess, but it also requires a little more of its fans.

Instead of nine distinct dungeons, Skyward Sword is a tapestry of small and larger dungeons woven together. You’ll still wander through town in somewhat vain attempts to find the next quest, but the amount of dungeons will add more of a linear effect to gameplay.

Skyward Sword also asks its players to go beyond what they’re used to with dexterity. Where Twilight Princess simply required vague slashing motions to unleash Link’s fury on unsuspecting beetles, Skyward Sword will require one of eight precise slashing motions.

Even as Nintendo looks to replace the Wii with the next generation console, it seems like Skyward Sword has just figured out how to really make the most of it.