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No. of Recommendations: 5
I got four so far, and I haven't exchanged gifts with my brother yet who went traveling abroad so maybe there will be more. Some initial thoughts:

[PC] COD Black Ops 2 - Well, it installed on my machine okay. So far I haven't played it, but this is basically exclusively for multi-player.

[PS3] Assassin's Creed III - I've only gone through maybe an hour or two of this, still sort of going through the tutorials and learning the controls. I haven't played the others, but it's pretty decent so far.

[PC] Dishonored - I'm through maybe five hours or so of this. It's probably a perfect game for me. Some killing, mostly sneaking and puzzle/mystery solving. This game is brilliant.

It's FPS in an olden-city environment, though there are some mech aspects where technology seems to be ahead of the time in which it takes place. You have a knife in one hand, and a gun/crossbow in the other, or use special abilities/magic against your enemies.

The game is extremely well executed in every aspect except graphics. My PC is only a couple months old and has mostly new components, so it's not a limiter, the graphics are just pretty poor compared to some of the games out there like BF3. But the gameplay is so much fun that it's very easy to get over quickly. The powers you can have are very inventive. And the design of the game is just amazing in that it allows you so many different aspects of how to accomplish things. Example: One of the first tasks after the basic tutorial and set-up is to get past an invisible electric wall. You have several different ways you can accomplish this:
- Rewire it so that it doesn't hurt you but does hurt enemies.
- Possess an animal to get through tunnels around it.
- Find back alleys, ledges, pipes and other ways to get around it.
- Find the fuel box and disarm it.

In other words, there are multiple ways to manage it, and handling your tasks in different ways can lead to different outcomes (for instance, finding a back-way around the wall will result in your meeting a character you may not have otherwise met, and get side quests you may not have received otherwise). I highly recommend this one, it's very well done.

[360] Borderlands 2 - I'm several hours deep into this game, and loving every minute of it. I really enjoy the open world FPS/3PS (this is FPS) games where there's a strong RPG aspect to it. This game focuses less on leveling up and more on weapon/equipment improvement to advance and become more powerful, though leveling up does provide its own benefits. I played some of the first one and really enjoyed it, too; I just didn't get far enough through it to beat it before this one came out (yes, was late to the party).

If you haven't played it before, there's a bit of back-story to give you the baseline, but really there's none needed. You can choose one of five character classes, and each seems to have some variety to it. I'm playing the sniper/melee class which has been a blast.

If you're familiar with the first, I love what they've done in the second. It's not wholesale changes, but there are enough tweaks to really make the game more fun. Weapons seem to "fit" their people better (for instance, the stability of my assassin using an SMG is terrible, but he handles a sniper rifle like a mad pimp). The skill points now have multiple trees to give more options for how to customize your character. And they have a new Badass Rank system where you complete side-challenges (deal X burn damage, kill Y enemies with a vehicle, etc...there are seemingly hundreds) in order to redeem tokens which increase various aspects of your character's abilities. You can now use fast-travel to get places. Every change they made has enhanced the experience.

The story-line is mediocre, but this isn't a game you really play to get a great story. It's all about the game-play execution, and having fun finding newer, more powerful weapons and completing crazy quests (main or side).

I have a couple minor gripes. The AI isn't really that great...too often and too easily I lose enemies or get them to "forget" I'm there by ducking behind a rock 25 yards away, stuff like that. Also, the vehicles, at least now, are very OP. Often I can incite a bunch of guys to chase after me, jump into my car, then mow them down with no difficulty. Combine the two and it's actually a major fault in the game-play... I can go up to a camp where I can't drive into it, I have to explore. But enemies can't come out after me. So I can walk into town, trigger a bunch of enemies to come chasing after me, run back to my car just outside the barrier, they don't come out after me, I hop into the car and mow them all down in safety. I can literally clear entire camps like this.

But I don't have to play it that way in any area if I don't want to, and most of it I don't have the opportunity to do so, so the gripes truly are minor ones. I'm playing this game a lot, and really having a blast with it. Another highly recommended one.

These four should keep me busy most of the year.

- C -
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