GN's Holiday Gift Guide 2004

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posted 12/2/2004 by The GN Staff
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It's that time of year again; when your cash reserves suddenly empty and your wallet mysteriously becomes a few pounds lighter. Ah yes, Christmas time. Shopping for gamers can be both difficult and simple. Most stores generally stock more than enough copies of the most popular titles and rarely encounter software shortages (Nintendo DS withstanding). Then again, gamers are also some of the choosiest people on the planet. You don't want to ask that clerk to sell you the game that all the boys are playing and end up with a copy of Army Men: RTS for your 15-year-old nephew. That's where we come in; we've taken a look back at some of our most favorite games of the year in order to come up with this year's Holiday Gift Guide.

2004 will probably be remembered as the year of the sequel. This year saw very few original titles and most of the top sellers were continuations of well-established franchises. That makes the shopping burden significantly easier as you can easily run out and pick up the next entry in a series that your boyfriend or child already loves. But there were a couple of original titles as well and we've decided to include them for people who want to deviate from the norm quite a bit. Thus, we present to you our Holiday Gift Guide.

Adventure

There are some obvious choices in the adventure genre but there are a couple of wildcards thrown in as well. If you want to play it safe we advise you to pick up a copy of Ratchet: Up Your Arsenal or Jak III. Those long-running franchises have been crowd pleasers in the past and these entries rank amongst the best that the genre has to offer. The adult-minded gamer (read: porn addict) will absolutely love Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. Just make sure that they don't have an affinity for the actual Leisure Suit Larry franchise though, it's a complete 180 from what the franchise used to be about and it has caused a number of hardcore fans to resent it.

Spider-Man 2
Platform: PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Nintendo DS, GBA

It’s not often that a developer takes a movie license and makes something decent out of it, but Activision has been making a habit of doing just that in the past couple of months. Spider-Man 2 is everything you could have ever hoped for in a movie-to-game adaptation. Great action is accompanied by an animation swinging system that feels natural and intuitive. Best of all, you really feel like you’re Spider-Man as you fight crime and do battle with the worst that New York has to offer.

Jak III
Platform: PlayStation 2 Exclusive

The series will come to an end with this third entry, as will Jason Rubin’s tenure at Naughty Dog. The guys behind the original Crash Bandicoot have had a great run and this swansong is an appropriate end to a platform-long series. If you’ve played any of the first two games in the series you’ll definitely want to round out the franchise with Jak 3.

Sly 2: Band of Thieves
Platform: PlayStation 2 Exclusive

The original was just the refreshing breath of air that the adventure platforming genre desperately needed. It did everything that the competition was doing, only better. It was released in the prime of the cel-shading era but the artists took the extra step and developed a different shader that added a whole new dimension to the style. The gameplay was simply superb and the characters had this extra bit of personality that had been lacking in adventure games. This sequel will do everything that the original did while adding new gameplay elements. You’ll be able to play as three different characters as you tackle new types of missions, new enemies and entirely new locales. As you can tell from our review, we loved the game and there’s a good chance you will too.

URBZ: Sims in the City
Platform: PS2, GameCube, Xbox, Nintendo DS, GBA

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your Sims were to adhere to the urbanization of society? Well wonder no more, because Maxis has answered that question with its latest installment of the Sims franchise. Past Sims games focused on the householwd, but this one places an extreme emphasis on life outside the home. It’s a lot of fun and the inclusion of the Black Eyed Peas is a nice addition to fans of the band.

Viewtiful Joe 2
Platform: PlayStation 2, GameCube

Capcom did the unthinkable when it released Viewtiful Joe on the GameCube last year, it actually took a step backwards and brought gamers back into the 2D realm. What we got was one of the best games ever made and the sequel looks to capitalize on the success. This time you’ll play as Joe but he’s brought along another friend, his girlfriend Silvia who uses her pom-poms of doom to defeat the baddies. It’s pretty, it’s wholesome, and most importantly, it’s a heck of a lot of fun for everyone in the family.

Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Platform: PlayStation 2 Exclusive

We do this guide every year and every year we never fail to mention Ratchet & Clank. And with good cause, Sony’s 3rd person platformer has the right amount of destruction ot cater to men with the right amount of cuteness to cater to women. It’s the perfect platformer and probably the best franchise out there right now. This third entry brings even more to the table including online multiplayer, new weapons and a bevy of new gadgets to play around with.

Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
Platform: PS2, Xbox, PC

Vivendi’s bastardization of Sierra’s classic adventure gaming franchises continues with the next installment of Leisure Suit Larry. Magna Cum Laude actually stars the nephew of Larry as he tries to score in college. It’s still an adventure game in construct but a more free-roaming one. I put this one on the list squarely to pledge my allegiance to all things Leisure Suit Larry. Who knows, it might be good. Either way, any true Larry fan will want to own it.
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