video games

By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 20, 2005

One of the more odious holiday-season tasks in the modern era might be having to buy video games for kids (or adults) when you're a grown-up who couldn't care less about the annoying things.

So, listen up: Here's a grab bag of PC and console titles, in no particular order, that have gamers abuzz and should be readily available on retail shelves this season. Note that some are more family-friendly than others.

Gun -- This Wild West adventure has been praised for its open-ended storytelling style, though faulted by some reviewers for being a bit too short. This title was made by the folks who practically created the extreme-sports genre with their hit line of Tony Hawk skateboarding games. PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PC

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories -- The notorious build-a-crime-empire series makes a debut on Sony's handheld gaming device. PlayStation Portable

Stubbs the Zombie -- Don't fight the undead, be the undead. Our hero here is a zombie, and the order of the day is to munch a lot of brains and build a zombie army. Gory, in a cartoonish way, this is mostly a spoof of '50s-era monster movies made by some of the original creators of the hit Halo franchise. Xbox

Shadow of the Colossus -- To solve the mystery at the center of this moody story, players have to figure out and exploit the weak points of a series of giants. A lot of games require quick reflexes to defeat hordes of dumb, human-sized monsters. This one asks for wits and patience to defeat a few massive ones. This title has been a sleeper hit among gamers, who rave about the game's originality. PlayStation 2

Star Wars Battlefront II -- "Star Wars" has launched a galaxy's worth of video games over the years. Most stink -- but this is one of the few that has scored enthusiastic reviews. Players in this one get to be foot soldiers in scenarios from the movies, ranging from the ice planet Hoth to the interior of the Death Star. PlayStation 2, Xbox

Civilization IV -- This strategy game, made by famous local game designer Sid Meier, lets players manage a budding society from the prehistoric era into the near future. This series is known for hooking fans into playing long game sessions stretching to the wee hours. PC

The Movies -- What would you do about TomKat or Brangelina? In this movie studio simulation game, you're a powerful movie mogul who gets to micromanage everything, from which projects get the green light to how to handle the latest scandal. PC

City of Villains -- Doesn't everybody want a lair to call his own? This online role-playing game, a sequel title to the superhero game City of Heroes, lets players take on the role of supervillains with powers and costumes designed from scratch. PC

Quake IV -- Space marines! Monsters! An ever-escalating armory of weapons! You know the drill. From the same company that made Doom. PC, Xbox 360

Perfect Dark Zero -- This first-person shooter game, about a secret agent named Joanna Dark, is an exclusive Xbox 360 title and one of the most anticipated games for the new console. Xbox 360

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