Game gifts demystified: what to look for this Xmas

The video game aisle can be intimidating for aspiring Santas who haven't touched a joystick since Pong.



But it has something for everyone: riveting solo adventures, online multiplayer battles and fun-for-the-whole-family social games. Here are some of the best picks for this holiday season.



Be warned - all games aren't for kids. Take notice of censor's ratings on all titles.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

PlayStation 3

Rakish adventurer Nathan Drake hunts for Shangri-La in this sequel, which mixes gunplay, fisticuffs and acrobatics with a witty, unpredictable story. One of the most beautiful video games ever published, it's an interactive version of a Hollywood blockbuster - one of the good ones, like Raiders of the Lost Ark. Review here.



DJ Hero

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii

Rock-loving gamers have been grooving on Guitar Hero and Rock Band for a few years, but fans of hip-hop and dance music have been left out.

DJ Hero corrects that, putting you behind the wheel of a fake turntable and letting you scratch and mix dozens of combinations of club tracks. It's like hosting a rave in your living room. Review here.



The Beatles: Rock Band

Xbox 360, PlayStation3, Wii

For those who prefer classic rock, The Beatles: Rock Band lets you relive the career of the Fab Four, from a Liverpool club to their London rooftop farewell. It's a loving tribute. Review here.



New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Wii

The latest Mario Bros. instalment returns to the 2-D, side-scrolling action that made the spunky Italian plumber famous. This time, though, up to four people can play cooperatively, so more experienced gamers can guide newbies across the familiar fire pits and floating platforms. Now you can finally show your grandma - or your kids - what the original magic was about. Review here.



Professor Layton & the Diabolical Box

Nintendo DS

Anyone who loves puzzles such as crosswords and sudoku will adore the latest chapter in the Professor Layton series, which weaves about 150 brainteasers into a clever mystery. Forget about those so-called "brain training" games; the exercises in logic, math, observation and object manipulation here really work out the gray matter. Review here.



Dragon Age: Origins

Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

Then there are the hardest of hardcore players who want the toughest challenges you can throw at them. Dragon Age is a classic tale of sword-and-sorcery that will test the skill and strategy of even the most jaded "Dungeons & Dragons" nut. Review here.



Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Xbox 360, PCs and PlayStation 3

This season's monster hit continues the global battle against terrorists, and it's bigger, louder and more brazen than its predecessor. A simulated airport terrorist attack has already drawn protest, and there's plenty more in Modern Warfare 2 that's not for the squeamish. Older players with stronger stomachs will love it.

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