The Xbox 360 Buyer's Guide

New Halo, new downloadables for Mass Effect, Fallout 3, and Grand Theft Auto, new Forza. It was a pretty good year for Xbox 360 owners.

Pick through the list to decide which games to give and get and leave a comment to point out any you would add that we didn't review.

And don't forget, this is more reference material than it is suggestion. Just because it's on the list doesn't mean we're saying you should get it.

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand

Price: $US59.99 Rating: Mature Genre: Third-person hip-hop shooter Subject Matter: 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand tells the unintentionally(?) amusing tale of rapper 50 Cent as he struggles to reclaim his diamond encrusted skull from a Middle Eastern bad guy. He's assisted by his G Unit hangers on and some laughably outlandish moments. Value: An adequately long adventure, made seemingly longer by endlessly looping 50 Cent songs. There are much better games to give this holiday season. Buy it for: someone as a gag. Or a die hard 50 Cent fan fresh from a six month coma. Read the Full Review

Axel & Pixel

Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10) Rating: Everyone Genre: Adventure Subject Matter: A point and click adventure game about a man and his dog escaping a dream world with small doses of action. Value: Axel & Pixel is a good couple of hours worth of relaxing adventure gaming, with a few action / racing segments tossed in to keep things interesting. It's very simply, extremely easy, and once you are done there isn't much reason to go back through it. Buy it for: Adventure game fans and older parents, to show them that consoles have something for them too. Read the Full Review

Assassin's Creed II

Price: $US59.99 Rating: M Genre: Free-running platforming adventure game Subject Matter: Assassinations and conspiracy spent mostly in 15th century Renaissance Italy. Value: Lots more content than the first game had, probably lasting gamers at least double the time they spent with the first Assassin's Creed. Buy it for: People who were let down by the first game, people who like history, beautiful scenery, dynamic platforming, solving mysteries and games that might be the Game of the Year. Read the Full Review

The Beatles: Rock Band

Price: The stand-alone game sells for $US59.99, the Limited Edition Premium Bundle sell for $US249.99, the Rickenbacker 325 Standalone Guitar and the Gretsch Duo Jet Standalone Guitar sells for $US99.99. Rating: Teen Genre: Rhythm music game Subject Matter: The Beatles: Rock Band is a musical journey through the history of one of the world's most popular bands. Value: For those new to the Rock Band phenomenon and fans of The Beatles, this 45-track game is well worth a purchase because this is the only way you'll play The Beatles music in a Rock Band game. If you're not into the band, give this a pass. Buy it for: huge Beatles fans. Read the Full Review


Price: $US59.99 Rating: Mature Genre: First-person shooter RPG Subject Matter: Borderlands targets the loot-hungry region of the brain, offering four classes with which to stalk the planet Pandora, shoot things and level up, acquiring cool guns, sweet armour and totally rad superpowers. As role-playing games go, it's shallow, but offers a constant stream of junk food gaming. Value: Seeing all that Borderlands has to offer could take hundreds of hours. But the real value comes in the form of being able to play with friends on Xbox Live or via splitscreen. Buy it for: the loot glutton with an itchy trigger finger and a history of playing Diablo. Read the Full Review

Brutal Legend

Price: $US59.99 Rating: Mature Genre: Action Adventure Subject Matter: Brutal Legend is a heavy metal-themed action game that combines racing, shooting, real-time strategy, and hack and slash into one slightly disjointed mix. Value: Brutal Legend is a game from Tim Schafer, one of gaming's greatest comedy minds, and the absurd humor carries the game a long way. It's the story of a roadie who gets transported to a heavy metal world where he must raise an army to free the oppressed inhabitants. There's plenty to do, though the odd mix of genres might be too much for some players. Buy it for: Anyone with a strong affection for heavy metal music or sa twisted sense of humor. Read the Full Review

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Price: $US59.99 to $US149.99 Rating: Mature Genre: First-person military shooter Subject Matter: Lead a team of elite commandoes in Modern Warfare 2 as they try to prevent a Russian invasion and global thermonuclear war. Then take the action online, going head to head against other well-armed gamers. It's loud, violent and a hell of a lot of fun to play. Value: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's single-player storyline may be short, but the package more than makes up for it with ample cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. Near endless replayability will be stoked with future downloadable content. Buy it for: the Michael Bay action movie fan who likes his shooters bombastic and nearly devoid of a comprehensible story, one who doesn't shy away from ultra-violent fare. Read the Full Review

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Price: $US39.99 Rating: Mature Genre: First-person shooter Subject Matter: Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is a Civil War era first-person shooter. Value: With an engaging story, wide open maps and plenty of mulitplayer options, this game will take up quite a bit of your time. Buy it for: First-person shooter enthusiasts, fans of the Wild West and Civil War buffs. Read the Full Review

DJ Hero

Price: $US119.99 Rating: Teen Genre: Rhythm Subject Matter: DJ Hero is a rhythm game featuring a replica DJ turntable so players can mix and scratch to the beat of original music mash-ups. Value: DJ Hero features upwards fo 100 different DJ-driven mash-ups featuring songs from the 70's on up to present-day hits. Unlike the latest Guitar Hero or Rock Band games, however, it's only good for one or two players, so the party element just isn't there. The innovative turntable-based gameplay makes it a breath of fresh air in the currently band-centric music genre, but it certainly isn't as social. Buy it for: Fans of eclectic music mixes and lonely Guitar Hero fans. Read the Full Review

Dragon Age: Origins

Price: $US49.99 Rating:Mature Genre: Roleplaying Subject Matter: An epic action roleplaying game set in a world besieged by evil inside and out. Value: Dragon Age: Origins packs more than 100 hours of gameplay into this action RPG, with branching story paths that encourage multiple play throughs in order to experience it all. BioWare designed the game so it can be played by RPG gamers of any skill level, but mature content and strong sexual situations mean you might want to keep it in the high teens. Buy it for: Anyone who has ever conversationally mentioned hit points. Read the Full Review

Fairytale Fights

Price: $US59.99 Rating: M Genre: Action Subject Matter: A quartet of cutesy fairytale characters set out to regain their fame by beating the beejesus out of other cutesy things. Value: With two-player cooperative play and a four player battle royal mode, you can really let out you violent side in buckets of cartoony blood. Buy it for: People who need a healthy way to blow off steam after a bad day at work. Just don't be standing next to them if the game happens to crash and they need an immediate alternative. Read the Full Review

Fallout 3: Broken Steel

Price: $US10 (Requires a copy of Fallout 3) Rating: M Genre: Post-apocalyptic role-playing game Subject Matter: Fallout 3 expansion involving missions with a high-powered fighting force. Value: High because it extends the level cap to Fallout 3, changes the game's ending and allows the adventure to be played infinitely once the story has "ended" Buy it for: Fallout 3 fans who want to play more; essential for anyone getting any Fallout 3 downloadable content Read the Full Review

Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta

Price: $US10.00 (Requires a copy of Fallout 3) Rating: Mature Genre: Still a post-apocalyptic RPG Subject Matter: It's Fallout 3 in space! Value: Mothership Zeta gives the Fallout 3 player an entire spaceship to explore and make their own, some futuristic new weapons, and tacks a good five hours onto the regular campaign, making it a relatively fair value for your money. Buy it for: Fallout 3 fans. Read the Full Review

Fallout 3: Point Lookout

Price: $US10 (Requires a copy of Fallout 3) Rating: M Genre: Post-apocalyptic role-playing game Subject Matter: Fallout 3 in microcosm, set on a spooky island. Value: Tons of content, and widely seen as the Fallout 3 downloadable content that best shares the strengths of the base game. Buy it for: Fallout 3 fans. Read the Full Review

FIFA Soccer 2010

Price: $US49.99 Rating: E Genre: Round-Ball Football Subject Matter: The best football game on the market. Value: Almost endless. There are so many leagues and cups, and such a deep singleplayer experience, that it can be played to death until FIFA 11 is released. And that's before we even get to the 10v10 multiplayer… Buy it for: Anyone who has even a passing interest in the world game. Read the Full Review

Fight Night Round 4

Price: $US59.99 Rating: T Genre: Boxing Subject Matter: Boxing Value: Tons of fighters, good online options and no real competition. Buy it for: Boxing fans or people looking for a fighting-based game that has longer-lasting fights. Read the Full Review

Forza Motorsport 3

Price: $US59.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Driving simulation Subject Matter: Forza Motorsport 3 takes the driving simulation in a new direction, making it easier than ever to get into a car, upgrade it, tune it and take if for a spin. For more advance driving game fans, there's plenty of hardcore driving simulation to enjoy as well. Value: Hundreds of cars, dozens of tracks, thousands of upgrade possibilities and an increasing amount of user-generated content available via the game's storefront, all purchased with in-game credits, not real money, make Forza Motorsport 3 a great driving value. Buy it for: the Xbox 360 owner who likes to go fast. Read the Full Review

Gears of War 2: Dark Corners

Price: 1200 Microsoft Points (about $US15) Rating: Mature Genre: Third-person tactical shooter Subject Matter: This downloadable add-on for Gears of War 2 lets players run through The Road to Ruin, a campaign level original cut from the game. Value: With a new single-player level, seven new multiplayer maps and director's commentary, you can't go wrong for $US15. Buy it for: Owners and fans of the original Gears of War 2. Read the Full Review

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Price: $US49.99 Rating: Teen Genre: Action Subject Matter: A arcade-style shooter loosely based on the live-action G.I. Joe movie. Value: G.I. Joe is a movie tie-in strangely reminiscent of Konami's Contra series. One or two players take control of their favourite Joes from the movie and take on Cobra across multiple levels of run-and-gun action. There are a few unlockables catering to fans of the old cartoon series, but other than that this is strictly a movie-lover's affair. Buy it for: Really, really big fans of the G.I. Joe live-action movie. Read the Full Review

Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony

Price: $US20 if downloaded through Xbox Live Arcade (requires a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV) or $US39.95 if purchased as one half of the Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes From Liberty City disc (GTA IV not required; Episodes disc also includes the similarly-sized first GTA IV expansion, Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned.) Rating: M Genre: Open world, third-person shooter. Subject Matter: Over-the-top modern crime drama set in a fictional New York City. Value: Offers more content per dollar than just about anything else downloadable on the Xbox 360, a 13-hour-plus campaign, numerous side activities and returning multiplayer challenges similar to what was offered with GTA IV. Buy it for: People who thought GTA IV was too tame and wished their lead character would be asked to parachute off skyscrapers, steal subway cars (with a helicopter), dance in a nightclub and cross paths with the last two protagonists in the GTA IV saga. Read the Full Review

Guitar Hero 5

Price: $US59.99 for the game, $US99.99 with a guitar controller included Rating: Teen Genre: Music/Rythym Subject Matter: It's Guitar Hero. You play a quintet of color-coordinated "notes" as they scroll downscreen to a new selection of music. Value: Guitar Hero 5 offers a great suite of single and multiplayer modes, the most robust options yet for the series. What it doesn't offer is the series' most attractive soundtrack, despite an 85 song strong line up. Good for the new Guitar Hero gamer, but that money may be better spent on downloadable songs. Buy it for: for Guitar Hero noobs who have extremely eclectic taste in music. Read the Full Review

Halo 3: ODST

Price: $US59.99 Rating: M Genre: First-person shooter Subject Matter: Daytime sci-fi military action interspersed with noir-inspired nighttime sleuthing. Value: Varies depending on one's Halo experience. A seven-hour campaign and the offline Firefight mode can be played with up to four players and is all-new, but only three of the game's 24 multiplayer maps haven't been sold — and possibly purchased by the prospective ODST consumer — before. Buy it for: Halo fans who either never bought Halo 3's bonus maps or wouldn't spend $US60 of their own for ODST because they did. Read the Full Review

The King of Fighters XII

Price: $US59.99 Rating: Teen Genre: Fighting Subject Matter: SNK Playmore's latest entry in its King of Fighter series is a return to its roots with 2D fighting and hand-drawn graphics. Value: The game feels largely unfinished — though, the parts which are done should please the hardcore fans. Buy it for: Die-hard SNK fighting game fans. Read the Full Review

Left 4 Dead 2

Price: $US59.99 Rating: Mature Genre: First-person horror shooter Subject Matter: Four Survivors fight their way through a gory zombie apocalypse in the Southeastern United States, decapitating, dismembering and generally destroying every walking dead human in their path. Cooperative multiplayer is at the core of the Left 4 Dead 2 experience. Value: Left 4 Dead 2 is a multiplayer game with a massive amount of replayability, but requires cooperative gameplay and reliable friends to fully enjoy. There's very little here for the lone, single-player gamer, so make sure that Live subscription is all paid up. Buy it for: the grown-up Xbox Live Gold subscriber who believes there's no "I" in team and may be disappointed with the body count in Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3 ODST. Read the Full Review


Price: 800 Points Rating: Everyone Genre: Platform/Puzzle Subject Matter: Little girl Sofi wanders through her dreams, looking for her lost Nana. Value: While the puzzle gameplay element is average, the art style is superb. Buy it for: Tim Burton fans. Read the Full Review

Mad Catz Modern Warfare 2 Throat Communicator

Price: $US29.99 Rating: NA Genre: NA Subject Matter: This throat communicator is meant to replace the need for a standard Xbox 360 microphone. Value: The throat communicator does a great job of cutting down on room noise for your friends and feels pretty comfortable. If those things are important to you, you should pick this up. Buy it for: Modern Warfare 2 enthusiasts, online gamers and friends who play in noisy settings. Read the Full Review

Madden NFL 10 Price: $US59.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Sports Subject Matter: The only video game licensed by the NFL, covering the current season. Value: For the first time on the current console generation, Madden earns its must-own status among sports gamers. The fine-tuned action is slightly slower, creating greater big play potential on both sides of the ball. Buy it for: Any sports gamer who doesn't yet have it. Madden is a no-brainer gift that any sports fan will enjoy. Read the Full Review

Marvel VS. Capcom 2

Price: $US15.00 Rating: Teen Genre: Fighting Subject Matter: Marvel characters. Capcom characters. Fighting. Value: Marvel vs. Capcom 2 contains one of the largest roster in fighting game history, with 56 Marvel and Capcom characters to choose from. The sheer amount of variety plus online multiplayer makes this one downloadable title well worth the price. Read the Full Review

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

Price: $US59.99 Rating: Teen Genre: Action RPG Subject Matter: Tons of Marvel heroes take on tons of Marvel villains Value: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 may not quite live up to the thrill of the original, but it is a more cohesive package overall, with a storyline ripped from Marvel's Civil War storyline and a good dozen hours of heroic fun for 1-4 players. Read the Full Review

Mass Effect: Pinnacle Station

Price: $US5 (requires a copy of Mass Effect) Rating: M Genre: Bonus missions for third-person shooter/role-playing game Subject Matter: Mass Effect gets a battle simulator to allow goal-based shooting challenges. Value: High for those looking for something new in the original Mass Effect while awaiting the January sequel; low for people looking for what made the first game popular. Buy it for: Mass Effect completists, though you'll only be able to buy them download points for this game or give them a small check. Read the Full Review

Mini Ninjas

Price: $US49.99 Rating: E Genre: Juvenile Bush Disguise/Phantom Removal Subject Matter: Play as one of a band of adorable child ninjas on a quest to kill a bad guy and free the adorable little forest animals. Value: A somewhat short singleplayer game, but the ability to play as one of several ninjas means there's plenty of replay value. Buy it for: Anyone. Everyone. Kids will love the straight-forward combat, adults will find there's a great stealth and combat system lurking under the hood. Read the Full Review

Modern Warfare 2 Combat Controller Camo

Price: $US49.99 Rating: N/A Genre: N/A Subject Matter: This wired controller features programmable buttons, better triggers and a Modern Warfare 2 theme. Value: It's a bit pricey, but if you're a big fan of the game and like the idea of programmable buttons, it's probably worth the $US50. Buy it for: Fans of Modern Warfare 2. Read the Full Review

NBA 2K10 Price: $US59.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Sports Subject Matter: NBA 2K10 celebrates the 10th anniversary of 2K Sports' best-in-class basketball simulation. Value: NBA 2K10 offers a much more varied set of gameplay modes, both single- and multiplayer, than its challenger NBA Live 10. Its season simulation lacks the aspect of playing in this year's league but is deeper in all other regards. My Player, in which you create and control one player on his journey from prospect to all-star, is tough but a rewarding experience. Buy it for: Serious basketball fans with some exposure to the sport in real life, either as a player or a devoted fan. Read the Full Review

NBA Live 10 Price: $US59.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Sports Subject Matter: NBA Live 10 is EA Sports' current title covering pro basketball's upcoming season. Value: EA Sports has poured a ton of effort into resurrecting the franchise. New controls enabling you to move players off the ball on offence and defence are easy to learn and a real plus. Dynamic DNA allows you to run your season simulation as if it were taking place among current league events in real life. Buy it for: Basketball fans who prefer singleplayer sports gaming, want a very accurate league simulation, and an easy-to-comprehend control set. Read the Full Review

NCAA Football 10 Price: $US59.99 Rating: Everyone Genre: Sports Subject Matter: The tradition and pageantry of college football's 115 teams, plus any schools you might choose to create. Value: NCAA Football 10 is the deepest simulation of a sport, on and off the field, of any currently available sports title. Buy it for: Any sports nut with a serious helping of school pride or leftover nostalgia for college days gone by. Read the Full Review

NHL 2K10 Price: $US39.99 Rating: Everyone 10+ Genre: Sports Subject Matter: NHL 2K10 is 2K Sports' current title covering professional hockey's latest season. Value: NHL 2K10 is still a runner-up to EA's NHL 10, but it is not without merit. It features the same robust multiplayer package as its NBA cousin. The action's a little arcadey, but it also is the only NHL title with the league's popular outdoor classic venues. Buy it for: A casual-to-moderate hockey fan who enjoys lots of scoring action. Read the Full Review

Pro Evolution Soccer 2010

Price: $US59.99 Rating: E Genre: Sports Subject Matter: Football title encompassing international and club tournaments, manager modes and online play. Value: Pro Evo's "Master League", a time-devouring game mode incorporating RPG and strategy elements, is the one area fans remain devoted to this series ahead of its rival, EA Sports' FIFA. Buy it for: Football fans who like to not only play a good game, but also roll up their sleeves and get lost in a sea of statistics and growth charts. Read the Full Review

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

Price: $US59.99 Rating: Mature Genre: Realistic military first-person shooter Subject Matter: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is a relatively open-world tactical shooter that has players trying to take the fictional island of Skira from China. Value: Plagued with problems this shooter doesn't deliver much for the premium price you pay. Buy it for: hardcore fans of realistic shooters that offer no chance for mistakes or do-overs. Read the Full Review

South Park Let's Go Tower defence Play!

Price: 800 Microsoft Points Rating: Mature Genre: Tower Defense Subject Matter: South Park Let's Go Tower defence Play! has the South Park kids big towers to fend off enemies that range from gnomes to old people in an 11 mission campaign. Buy it for: Fans of South Park, fans of tower defence games, and fans of both. Value: The game features unlockable characters and challenging maps (especially the later levels), co-op and online. There are also unlockable clips from the show. Read the Full Review

Tekken 6

Price: $US59.99 Rating: Teen Genre: Fighter Subject Matter: Once you've mastered the moves of your favourite character, Tekken 6's 3D fights are all about timing and tactics. Value: With 40 playable characters and a seemingly endless single-player campaign, Tekken 6 is a good deal for fans of the franchise willing to put up with some online issues. Buy it for: fighting fans, Tekken fans, and maybe as a taste of something different for Street Fighter IV fans. Read the Full Review

Trials HD

Price: 1200 Points Rating: Teen Genre: Racing/Puzzle Subject Matter: Trials HD is a twist on motorbike racing: Players must navigate trick courses and tricky in-game physics as fast as they can. Value: The game features over 50 tracks and seemingly simple, yet deep game play — offering replay value as your skills continue to get better and better. A level editor lets players make their own courses. It's the Excite Bike of the 21st Century. Buy it for: Those who want more from their racing games than speed. Read the Full Review


Price: $US59.99 Rating: Mature Genre: Third-person acrobatic shooter. Subject Matter: Rubi Malone is a leather-pants wearing, wall-running, pole-spinning death machine. She can shoot two shotguns while flipping through the air, slide under tables to hamstring and gut with her sword, and regains health by swigging liquor. Value: The single-player only game has a sizable campaign, fantastic music and troubled controls and camera work. It's sort of a mixed bag. Buy it for: fans of Kill Bill and fast-paced action noire games. Read the Full Review


Price: $US59.99 Rating: Mature Genre: First-Person Shooter Subject Matter: World War II First-Person Shooter with Occult Tendencies Value: While Wolfenstein is an excellent first-person shooter from a technical standpoint, the story is a bit far-fetched and the multiplayer is disappointing, especially in the face of games like Modern Warfare 2. Buy it for: First-person shooter fans looking for a little something different. Read the Full Review

WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2010

Price: $US59.99 Rating: T Genre: Pro wrestling Subject Matter: WWE wrestling, with deep customisation options allowing players to create and share their own characters, moves and — the big new addition — storylines. Value: High value for those who will take advantage of the online play and content creation/sharing. Buy it for: WWE fans, even those who don't like current WWE programming, since those disgruntled fans can create the WWE of their own liking using the game's deep editors. Read the Full Review


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