It’s that time of year again – time to do your last minute shopping and satisfy the gamer needs of your family, friends and other loved ones. Rather than rushing out and buying a forgettable game, though, how about getting those ideal stocking stuffers they’ll love? If you need assistance with that, don’t worry, we’re here to help!
For our very last Gift Guide before our holiday break, we turn to the PC, which had a breakout year when it came to games. Whether players were into smaller, independent titles or big budget action/adventures, there was something for everyone this year.
Here now are ten PC recommendations that will fit your PC-gaming family and friends’ libraries like a glove!
Tomb Raider (Square Enix)
Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics effectively brought back Lara Croft in this stunning prequel, an adventure where she learns how to fight for survival while dealing with evil forces on a tropical island. Featuring a splendid mixture of puzzle solving and white-knuckle action, the latest Tomb Raider didn’t disappoint in the least. Better yet, it runs very well on moderate PC hardware, and can be downloaded from the Steam marketplace for dirt cheap – a perfect last-second gift for adventurers.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist (Ubisoft)
Another hero who went through a prequel phase this year was Sam Fisher, and even though Ubisoft made a few changes to formula – like not bringing back Michael Ironside to voice the iconic character – Splinter Cell Blacklist still stands as one of the best games in the series to date. Featuring a play system that lets players of all skill levels adapt to this hostile world however they see fit (either stealth or straightforward action), the game also benefits from unique level layouts, fun co-op and versus multiplayer action, and some of the best spy tech that money can buy. Plus, those green goggles go pretty nice with the Christmas décor, we admit.
Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine (Pocketwatch Games)
Out of nowhere, Pocketwatch Games has managed to create one of the year’s best party games. Taking place in a top-down perspective, Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine asks players to bring their A-game as they attempt to complete the ultimate heist, taking down guards, evading traps and eventually making off with the loot. Featuring elaborate stage design, fun gameplay that’s easily accessible but hard to master, and multiplayer appeal aplenty, this game is the ultimate getaway – especially if you’re trying to help a friend or family member shrug off the awful Christmas sweater they received. Plus, it’s dirt cheap on Steam right now, going for just under $5. That’s totally a steal.
The Showdown Effect (Paradox Interactive)
If you’ve got folks in your social circle that enjoy side-scrolling action games with a hint of 80’s cheese – you know, the Lethal Weapon or Dolph Lundgren variety – then Paradox’s The Showdown Effect is a must. This game features plenty of fast-paced shoot-em-up fun, combined with 80’s action heroes ripped straight out of a bad B-movie. It’s all in good fun, however, especially when friends get involved in the eight player multiplayer bouts. It’s also pretty cheap on Steam these days, so it makes a perfect download for those who need a break from their Die Hard holiday marathons. (Yes, those do exist.)
Saints Row 4 (Deep Silver)
The Saints Row games aren’t exactly known for being subtle, between their hilarious sexual references, over-the-top violence and crazy storylines. Now, that magic returns for a fourth go-around – and it’s the best one yet. Featuring superhuman powers that make running through the city a blast, along with an array of crazy weaponry and outer space adventures, Saints Row 4 is just the sort of game that will bring anyone holiday cheer – especially after downloading the recently released How the Saints Saved Christmas chapter.
Gone Home (Fullbright Company)
One of 2013’s most stirring game experiences, Gone Home is a welcome treat for that special someone looking to play through a unique game during the holiday break. This domestic mystery has players returning to a family home, only to find it deserted and have to piece together what happened through clues littered throughout. Although it’s light on combat, Gone Home has plenty of spooky ambience going for it, as well as plenty of items to collect, including all of the Forestry Commission ledgers and postcards. It’s definitely worth visiting.
The Wolf Among Us (Telltale Games)
Telltale released a number of great games this year, but one that’s hard to overlook is The Wolf Among Us, based on Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series. The player controls Bigby Wolf, a down-on-his-luck cop with a devastating secret. As the first chapter of this series unfolds, players learn more about him and what makes him tick, while making rough decisions that change the course of the story. With a fantastic cel-shaded art style and refined Telltale-driven gameplay, The Wolf Among Us is worth all the huff and puff. Plus, you can get it for someone at a fairly reasonable $5 on Steam at the moment.
Bioshock Infinite (2K Games)
The latest from Irrational Games has been a long time coming, but Bioshock Infinite finally arrived in late March this year and took the world by storm. Featuring a truly dazzling aerial city for the main hero, Booker DeWitt, to explore, Infinite also benefits from gripping storytelling, exciting action, and a variety of innovative weaponry and vigors that will send even the toughest opponent reeling. Plus, the game is chock full of amazing moments, including riding around at top speed on rail lines and Booker’s slowly growing relationship with the mysterious Elizabeth. This is easily one of 2013’s best games, and a must-buy for your PC-playing relatives.
Metro: Last Light (Deep Silver)
There are a ton of first-person shooting games on the PC market right now, but for our Holiday Guide, we opted to go with Metro: Last Light. Like Metro 2033 before it, this follow-up is harrowing, atmospheric and quite entertaining. Players once again portray a soldier of fortune in a post-apocalyptic Russia, brushing elbows with enemy soldiers and encountering strange creatures. Featuring stunning gameplay, a well-designed world with danger around every corner and a fine mixture of action and stealth elements, this will make anyone’s Christmas better – even if it’s not overflowing with holiday cheer.
Rise of the Triad (Apogee)
Finally, we know there’s someone you love – friend, family, spouse – that has a penchant for old-school shooters like Quake and Doom. For them, we can’t recommend anything better than Rise of the Triad. What it lacks in big budget, it more than makes up for in over-the-top action. With a large supply of innovative – and very effective – weaponry, buckets of blood to spill and a fast pace throughout, it’s the sort of game that will take anyone back to their old-school ways in no time flat. That’s the gift that keeps on giving.