The holidays are nearly upon us. “But it isn’t even December yet!” you may say. That’s exactly what I think every year right before the Christmas season hits me like a ton of bad fruitcake.

It’s as if some hidden conductor gives an anonymous cue to commence with the annual yuletide symphony all at once.

It’s easy to be caught at unawares and end up doing a lot of last minute gift shopping for friends and family. This is where I will offer what assistance I may.

Nowadays, it seems everyone and their grandmother plays at least some type of video game, whether it be Call of Duty or Candy Crush.

The chances are that even if you don’t play video games yourself, you have a loved one who does. So, whether you want to find the perfect gift for friends and family members, or you just want to do a little shopping for yourself this season, don’t get inundated by the litany of this year’s new titles with no idea which ones are actually any good.

Check out the 2014 holiday video game buyer’s guide that I’ve compiled below. Included are some of the best reviewed games of the past year in few different categories so as to encompass as many gaming tastes as possible, from family-friendly racers to gory hack-and-slash adventures.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

I know, I know. “Call of Duty is just the same thing repackaged every year!” Believe me, I was jaded too. But this one is different. Sledgehammer Games has revolutionized what some consider an old, tired series with the addition of the Exosuit, and it makes all the difference. The fast-paced, fluid gameplay that’s so familiar, when combined with a host of new features like the Exosuit’s movement and improved Pick 13 create-a-class system (not to mention KEVIN SPACEY!) definitely warrants giving the series another go if you thought your COD days were done. IGN REVIEW: 9.1/10

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Tolkien nerds, rejoice! It’s been a good while, if ever, since a game has done The Lord of the Rings universe justice. Shadow of Mordor combines a solid combat system similar to that of the Batman Arkham games with a story that is both original and respectful of the source material. Slaying orcs is heaps of fun, the game is gorgeous, and it’s chock full of tidbits of lore that hardcore fans of the books can geek out over. IGN REVIEW: 9.3

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart has been around since the days of the SNES, and the series holds a special place in the hearts of many Nintendo fans. This newest iteration is perhaps the most refined entry to date. You’ll race along at a breakneck pace (with a silky smooth 60fps frame rate) in the air, under water, and—brand new in Mario Kart 8—on zero-gravity segments of both new maps and classic favorites. IGN REVIEW: 9.0

For full reviews of all the above games, go to IGN.com. I find it to be a great source for reliable reviews and news in the gaming and media industries.

As always, feel free to send any questions, comments, or suggestions by email to smckaychanticleer@gmail.com or contact me on Twitter @ChantyTech

Sawyer McKay
Staff Writer

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