Best games for Christmas: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS and more
Looking for something to get a loved one, a friend or even yourself this Christmas? How about a video game to go along with that new console or PC? There's certainly a stack of excellent choices that have been released recently, for all the major machines.
Pocket-lint has reviewed many of them and those we haven't for time reasons we've still been playing like mad to ensure that this guide features the best games available for purchase in stores. We've split them into genres too, so if you know the gameplay preference of the person you're buying for, you should be able to find a suggestion or two in the easiest way possible.
So, without further ado, these are the best PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS and PC games for Christmas 2013.
Best adventure games
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U
Ubisoft has adopted a pirate theme for the latest in its hugely successful series and the game benefits greatly from basing a lot of the action around the developer's excellent ship battle engine.
That doesn't mean the normal free-running and fighting shenanigans have been toned down. In fact, they seem more fluid than ever before and some of the scenery around the 18th century West Indies backdrop is simply stunning to just wander around for hours on end. The next-generation versions certainly look sharper and more defined than their current-gen counterparts, especially in 1080p on the PS4, but the game is identical so nobody misses out.
Batman: Arkham Origins
PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U
The third in the Arkham trilogy might not have the wow factor of the previous two, but it is a solid adventure for those who want some more Batman action.
This time it focuses on the period when Batman first emerged on the scene and has you face some villains for what turns out to be his first encounters. Including the Joker. The Gotham City open world landscape is huge and there are plenty of side missions and collectables to keep you engrossed in the single-player campaign. Multiplayer is great fun too.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
A new Zelda game is a big event round these parts and A Link Between Worlds does not disappoint. Not only has it got everything that makes the Nintendo RPG franchise great and good, but a new gameplay mechanic adds some brilliant puzzle moments.
Link can transform into a 2D picture and therefore blend into a wall. Not only can this help you avoid wandering foes, but you can wall across gaps in the landscape that you otherwise could not have traversed. The 3DS is still a major force in gaming, even if most turn off the 3D effect itself.
Best horror games
The Last of Us
It's hard to think of what else to say about The Last of Us that hasn't been said before. Quite possibly it is the greatest feat in storytelling in this generation of consoles, if ever.
The game will not be for everyone, certainly not for the squeamish or easily scared, but the zombie road story has heartwarming and touching moments as well as those that invoke sheer terror. The right combination of stealth, puzzle and third-person combat is complemented by some truly stunning vistas of a dilapidated America. Brilliant.
READ: The Last of Us review
Beyond Two Souls
David Cage's Quantic Dream studio is a master at film-like visuals and scripting, and there is little doubt that Beyond: Two Souls is the best looking game on the PS3 to date.
Some might be less enthusiastic about the on rails interaction. It plays more like a movie you have a part in, rather than an actual game, but it is well worth the ride. Surprisingly, there are some genuinely scary moments, which is why it's listed under "Horror" here.
READ: Beyond: Two Souls review
Dead Rising 3
Perhaps not a horror game in the sense of genuine shocks, Dead Rising 3 certainly would put the willies up those who are freaked up by zombies. There are thousands of them in Capcom's superb third game.
Using the Xbox One's power under the hood the developer has ramped up the amount of zombies it can present on screen at a time, and there is at least one instance where you turn a corner only to run the other way when you see what awaits you. And the driving cars into zombies action is just absolutely hilarious.
READ: Dead Rising 3 review
Best sports games
Football Manager 2014
PC, Mac, Linux
Having been around for 21 years, the Football Manager (nee Championship Manager) series could have grown stale by now but has upped its game every year since. Football Manager 2014 is Sports Interactive at the peak of its powers, and is a must for all football fans. Especially those with some serious time on their hands.
The 3D match engine is much improved over former iterations and the user interface has been given a splendid makeover. But it is the small enhancements that make this consistently the most realistic footy management game on the market. Handheld versions are also available for iOS, Android and PS Vita - they offer a cut down, on the move experience but are no less worthy.
PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, PSP
Available on just about every format under the son, including iOS as a freemium title, FIFA 14 continues a fine traditional of balancing real-life movement and tactics, realism and gameplay to ensure that it is still king of the footy games.
The next-generation versions are utterly superb and arguably the best games for their respective consoles, but the current-gen editions are also great, offering multiple different game types, just about any team you want to play as, and an Ultimate Team experience that continues to grow into the main focus point for the series.
PS3, Xbox 360
WWE has been our guilty pleasure since it was still invoking the wrath of the World Wildlife Fund with its former brand identity. It's silly, yes, but so's Eastenders and that doesn't feature quite so many chair shots or title fights. Not since the Dot versus Ethel slobberknocker back in '92.
The games therefore have been high on our Christmas lists for years and the latest has made a successful transition to new publisher Take 2 Interactive from the bankrupt THQ. We would have liked a career mode for a created superstar, but the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode is genius and invokes some great memories.
Best first-person shooters
Call of Duty: Ghosts
PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U
Call of Duty games seem to ramp up the enormous set pieces every year, with ever increasingly silly plots too. Ghosts is no exception, with some crazy massive scenes right from the off.
The single-player campaign is fun therefore, but it is the multiplayer action that elevates this particular addition to the franchise. There are so many game styles to play with fellow minded gamers that you'll have fun with it for an entire year.
PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
The lines of distinction between the latest Battlefield and its biggest rival Call of Duty are closest they've ever been. Where Battlefield excels above its peer, at least in single-player, is in the voice acting.
The plot is slightly more realistic that Ghosts, and the actors used give great performances, lending an air of blockbuster movie to the proceedings. Multiplayer too is a mainstay of Battlefields over the years and you'll not be disappointed in this area either.
READ: Battlefield 4 review
Killzone: Shadow Fall
Sony's big exclusive title for the launch of the PlayStation 4 might not be the best FPS you'll ever play but it's certainly one of the prettiest.
The graphical flourishes and beautiful landscapes show some of the capabilities of the new console and hint at a very exciting future for Sony. The multiplayer modes in the game are also excellent, so if that's your sort of thing you won't go far wrong with Killzone.
Best driving games
Forza Motorsport 5
Quite simply the most gorgeously presented driving game ever. Forza Motorsport 5 is a worthy launch title for the Xbox One and shows just what you can do when you are geeky and dedicated enough.
Developer Turn10 loves cars, that much is obvious, but there are so many clever gameplay mechanics too. Drivatars, where opponents are made up of virtual copies of real people, adds a great feeling to single-player races that old AI rivals never could. And even the orange peel effects on the paintwork on vehicles increases the sense of realism. Superb.
Need for Speed: Rivals
PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Where Forza 5 and Gran Turismo 6 opt for realism and simulation, Need for Speed: Rivals happily settles for being the stupid, frenetic fun racer on the market this Christmas. And that's fine by us.
It's a madcap, crazy arcade driving game that definitely has that "just one more go" addictive appeal. The next-generation versions also look simply stunning at times.
Gran Turismo 6
It's been a while coming, but Gran Turismo 6 has been released just in time for Christmas and it puts many next-generation games to shame. The racing graphics are photo realistic and the way the cars handle seems to be more gamer friendly than in previous years.
Of course, the further you get into the game and the faster the cars you'll find just how hard it is to keep them on the road, but by then you'll have accumulated advanced driving talents. We're very pleased by the inclusion of Goodwood. We're geeky like that.
Best platform games
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
There are now many Lego platform games available, but few have so many playable characters to unlock. And few contain so many little secrets and easter eggs for fans - in this case Marvel comic book collectors.
There's little difference between the current and next-generation versions, save for a touch more graphical sharpness and detail on the latter, so we're happy to recommend it to all who fancy a decent blast through a familiar landscape. Some of the boss battles are also immense and huge fun.
Super Mario 3D World
One of our favourite games of the year, Super Mario 3D World is the first title from Nintendo that simply screams "buy a Wii U". Until now there hasn't been that stand-out game. This, though, is it.
Not only do you get to play through the entire game in single-player, you can also employ the help of three friends to make the journey with you. But rather than be all lovey-dovey together, the fact that one player can win each level means that there will be some hilarity along the way. We love the cat suits and extra powers that are also on offer. In fact, we just love the game full stop.
Skylanders: Swap Force
PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS
Parents might be reticent to allow their kids to enter the Skylanders world as it will inevitably lead to many requests for the toys that add new in-game characters, but we think that's not a fair outlook. For a start, children will collect toy ranges regardless and at least this one provides an expansive, interactive experience too. Plus, Skylanders: Swap Force is an excellent game.
This year, characters have gained the ability to jump, which adds a whole new platforming level to the gameplay. We're also really impressed by the graphical flourishes throughout and reward system that offers RPG-like progression for characters. It might be pricier than other games, but kids of a certain age will get more from it.
And of course...
Grand Theft Auto V
We can't have a games recommendation line-up without Grand Theft Auto V, our Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2013 winner for Best Game. It is quite simply one of the most stunning games we have ever played and for many different reasons. Not only is the mission structure geared just right, but you could lose yourself for days just collecting bonuses and playing side-games - even golf and tennis are available to play.
And then there's the free Grand Theft Auto Online as a free part of the experience. It might have had its troubles early doors, but they have all been sorted now and the online world opens up replay value for the title in spades. Mind-numbingly brilliant.