Snackbar Games Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Xbox 360

November 13, 2012

Looking for a good game for yourself or someone else this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. Here are this year’s releases that have our stamp of approval on the Xbox 360.

DishonoredEvery now and again, we come across certain games that offer players a large toolset, allowing them to progress through situations as they see fit. These games are few and far between, but allow those who wish to experiment and try new things to do so. Dishonored is the kind of game that is as much about the end goal as it is how you reach that goal, offering plenty of opportunities to go about it however the player chooses. As a result, it is an experience as rewarding as it is unpredictable. (Full review)

XCOM: Enemy UnknownXCOM: Enemy Unknown, more than anything else, is a game about choice. There are no light side-dark side choices like in Knights of the Old Republic. The choices made in XCOM affect your play from mission to mission, while you drive toward the singular goal of pushing back and eventually defeating an alien invasion. You’ll never have enough credits and resources to cover everybody to the extent that you’d like to, and being forced to make those choices instead of just leveling up for a while make XCOM: Enemy Unknown one of the most replayable games in my library. (Full review)

Transformers: Fall of CybertronPlaying with Transformers toys was a big part of my childhood. I don’t know what generation mine were, but turning Megatron into a space shuttle and Optimus Prime into a semi was great. It got me interested in figuring out how things work. They were fun to play with from an engineering perspective, and they were fun to play with in conjunction with G.I. Joes, Centurions and Ghostbusters. My house was home to some great mash-ups between my brother’s and my differing tastes. As I grew up, Transformers became less prevalent and I forgot about them. Then Michael Bay started making movies, and they came back into popular culture prominence. Thank goodness he did because, while the movies aren’t great, some of the games that have come to fruition as a result are. (Full review)

Borderlands 2Borderlands 2 succeeds at iterating on a great first entry. The humor is maintained without going overboard, the story is worth paying attention to, and the new character classes complement each other well.[…] Borderlands 2 isn’t perfect, but you should play it, set things on fire and laugh like a maniac with three other vault hunters. Then do it all again with a new character class or build. (Full review)

Sleeping DogsSleeping Dogs is a fantastic game that does nothing to move the genre forward, but does enough to stand out on its own thanks to its distinct setting, great cast of characters and excellent gameplay. There is enough here to keep you busy for a while, and even with its shortcomings, the main story missions are full of plenty of fun moments and surprises. Even if you are sick of open-world action games, this is one that would be hard to pass up. (Full review)

Darksiders II: Darksiders II was not initially on my radar, and I got off the primary quest early in the game and attempted to defeat a boss that I wasn’t capable of beating at that point and was ready to shelve the title out of pure frustration. After giving it a second shot and getting back on course, I leveled up a few times, secured more powerful weapons and got over my initially-negative reaction. The further I got in the game, the more impressed I was with what Vigil did with each of these distinct styles, and I appreciated more of what Darksiders II actually delivers: a cohesive gaming experience that literally has something for everyone. This is one you won’t want to miss. (Full review)

Mass Effect 3: While it may not appease everyone, Mass Effect 3 offers a satisfying and engaging conclusion to the best gaming trilogy around. This is all thanks to some amazing story moments, great writing, and improved combat. This is a fitting end to Shepard’s story and hopefully not the last we will see of the dense Mass Effect universe. (Full review)


Quarrel: Quarrel is an up-port of an iOS game that showed up on XBLA and I can’t stop playing it. Scrabble and Risk are two of my favorite board games. Combining them and throwing them on XBLA is a match made in heaven, and I can only hope that the multiplayer base remains strong on this one. (Full review)

The Splatters: The Splatters is a wonderfully addictive game with excellent physics, a great aesthetic, and just enough hooks to keep you coming back for more. It also adheres to the old arcade standards of “just one more” leading into wondering how you’ve been playing so long, and “I can do better than that” leading to new runs and all sorts of excitement when a run goes perfectly. (Full review)

Fez: Fez can be problematic at times, sure, but those things amount to nothing when compared to the sheer level of joy you will experience from solving a difficult puzzle and hearing the sweet tune of victory. This is a game that overcomes its issues with a level of fidelity that you rarely see in games today. Most importantly of all, it brought me back to an era that so many games desperately want to recreate but usually fall short. In short, Fez made me feel like a kid again. (Full review)

Trials Evolution: Trials HD is one of the best-selling Xbox Live Arcade games of all time, it has sold over 2 million copies, and it was voted Best Overall Arcade Game in 2009 by Xbox 360 players. The physics are great, the levels are lovingly crafted, and the replay value is enormous. Trials Evolution is better than Trials HD in every way, and I expect that I’ll keep coming back to it to sample user-created content and buy any DLC that releases just like I did with HD. (Full review)

The Walking Dead: I am genuinely sorry that all I can really say is “this game is amazing, and you should play it” without going into details about the story. What I can tell you is that I care more about what happens to little Clementine than any person who realizes she doesn’t really exist should. The story tugs and tugs and tugs at you, and regardless of what else I’m playing, I return to The Walking Dead as soon as Steam finishes downloading the newest installment. (Full review)

Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3: Don’t let the 16-bit coat of paint fool you. Rain Slick 3 is a fully-featured RPG with beautiful graphics, great writing, and fun mechanics. Exploration is fun and rewarding, and finally seeing a third game made after Hothead decided it wasn’t worth it to continue the project is wonderful. If you like the oddball hijinks that Gabe and Tycho get into in the Penny Arcade comics, then this is the game for you. If you also happen to like classic RPGs, then it’s a match made in heaven. (Full review)

Dust: An Elysian Tail: Initially, Dust was to be an 8-bit-style Xbox Live indie, but a lucky contest win won the game a development grant and (eventually) a spot in this year’s Summer of Arcade, giving it time to enhance the visuals immensely. Dust’s developer, Dean Dodrill, is an animator by trade, and his expertise really shines here. Dust takes an old formula and adds just enough into it to make this one of the top XBLA releases of the year. If you’re looking for something new, this is definitely worth a look. (Full review)

Mark of the Ninja: It’s rare to find new stealth games that feel familiar, yet do so much right that they become as legendary as the games that inspired them. Mark of the Ninja is one of those games. Thanks to its visuals, controls, and all around brilliant game design, this is one of the year’s best games and one you don’t have to be a fan of stealth games to enjoy. (Full review)