Hottest Video Games for Holiday Giving, Part 2

There may be a shortage of the latest and greatest video game consoles this holiday season, but there is certainly no lack of new games from which to choose.

Part 1 of this two-part series looks at five of the hottest new game titles: “Gears of War,” “Guitar Hero II,” “Resistance: Fall of Man,” “Elite Beat Agents” and the controversial “Bully.”

In this installment, we’ll take a look at five more games that are sure to thrill: “Okami,” “Wii Sports,” “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,” “World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade” and “Blue Dragon.”

Okami: A Japanese Adventure

If you are still toting a PlayStation 2, you’ll want to check out“Okami,” which is set in a small Japanese village called “Kamiki,” haunted by a legendary monster, Orochi. Orochi puts a curse on the entire region, which turns Kamiki into a veritable hell on Earth, infested with countless monsters.

However, there is hope: The majestic, wolf-embodied sun god Amaterasu and the mysterious fairy Issun set out on an adventure to exterminate the monsters in this fantasy thriller.

“If you ever wanted to ignore Roger Ebert’s take on video games — [that] they’re never going to be art — then this is the game to remove your preconceptions,” David Hodgson, author of popular video game guides for Random House, told the E-Commerce Times.

In the game, which looks “like Japanese traditional watercolor art, you’re a wolf who solves puzzles and defeats enemies using sweeping strokes with a giant calligraphy brush. You aren’t actually carrying a brush, but you control one with the pad. Fascinating, gripping and incredibly beautiful,” Hodgson added.

Wii Sports

Designed for Nintendo’s new Wii console,“Wii Sports” is making a big splash. You can play tennis, baseball, golf, bowling or boxing using the Wii remote controller, which allows you to mimic the actions of swinging a racket, bat or club; rolling a ball down an alley; or delivering jabs and uppercuts.

You can even use your own self-styled “Mii” caricatures in the game and play them against your friends’ “Miis.”

“You stand up and play tennis as you would normally. Exercise and fun? Video gamers are entering a brave new world. You should also check out the cute little avatars you can create on the Wii Remote — or “Wiimote” — and then take around to your friends’ houses to populate into their consoles. That’s incredibly cool,” said Hodgson.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Also for the Wii console is“The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,” which gamers are calling a must-have game for the uber-geek.

When an evil darkness enshrouds the land of Hyrule, a young farm boy named “Link” must awaken the hero — and the animal — within. When Link travels to the Twilight Realm, he transforms into a wolf and must scour the land with the help of a mysterious girl named “Midna.”

Besides his trusty sword and shield, Link uses his bow and arrows, fights while on horseback, and uses a wealth of other items both new and old.

In this game, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers are used for a variety of game activities, including fishing, aiming weapons, swinging swords, making spin attacks, and shielding.

“The fact that it’s a Zelda game specifically designed to use the new Wii controller makes it all the more worth the purchase,” Paul Limon, director of Gaming and Social Interaction at Liquid Generation Studios, told the E-Commerce Times. “If they pull the fighting and action off using this controller, the Wii has the potential to define a new standard for adventure gaming.”

Betting on Blue Dragon

“Blue Dragon” is the latest Japanese title poised to take off stateside. Famed artist Hironobu Sakaguchi, the original producer of the legendary “Final Fantasy” series of games, developed the much-anticipated role-playing game. “Blue Dragon” is exclusively available for theXbox 360.

The game centers on a young boy named “Shu” and a few of his pals. Unlikely heroes, they possess power to control phantom shadows that mirror the actions of their masters, giving Shu and his comrades miraculous strength and magical abilities.

The heroes can create and develop combat styles by utilizing different types of Shadow Change, including Sword, Assassin and Power Magic. Shu and his friends must wield the shadows as weapons and use their skills to save their world from impending doom.

Players can choose to focus the hero on certain areas of expertise. Shadows level up and gain new abilities associated with the job they are currently doing.

Encountering various people on a planet where numerous ancient ruins remain, the characters and their shadows travel through a world full of mysteries and illusions, where the slightest touch can cause reactions of unparalleled magnitude.

World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade

Let’s not forget the many PC-based gaming enthusiasts. In this category, Limon recommends what he sees as hands-down the best new PC game on the market:“World of Warcraft.”

Several years have passed since the Burning Legion’s defeat at Mount Hyjal, and the races of Azeroth have continued to rebuild their once-shattered lives. With renewed strength, the heroes of the Horde and Alliance have begun to explore new lands and broken through the Dark Portal to investigate the realms beyond the known world.

Will these heroes find friends or foes? What dangers and rewards lie in wait beyond the Dark Portal? And what will they do when they discover that the demons they thought were vanquished have returned to renew their terrible Burning Crusade? This is the essence of “World of Warcraft.”

MMOs (mobile modules) are “an amazing genre, and this expansion into the ‘World of Warcraft’ universe is fantastic,” Limon noted. “New races to play, lands to explore and creatures to conquer — what more could you want to waste 40 hours a week on?”

Hottest Video Games for Holiday Giving, Part 1

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