Games to look for this Christmas
NEW YORK (CNS) -- The holidays are filled with classics in various media, not least several popular video-game franchises that annually acquire new additions to their families. As the shopping season opens, gamers and their relatives should keep an eye out for the following titles.
"Pokemon Sword" and "Pokemon Shield" (Nintendo)
Eight generations of Pokemon culminate in these two latest releases marketed as a bundle. Players set out in the Galar region, modeled after the United Kingdom, in the never-ending quest to become the Pokemon League champion.
New features include special forms called "Dynamax" and "Gigantamax," which temporarily allow Pokemon to change their size. There is also a "Camp" mode which lets gamers interact with their Pokemon by playing with them or cooking them curry.
Since "Sword" and "Shield" are two individual games, they have their own exclusive content while both follow the same story. Some Pokemon, training gyms, and items will only be available in one version, so gamers who want to "catch 'em all" will have to play both games."
Playable on Nintendo Switch.
The game contains mild cartoon violence and monster battling. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is E -- everyone.
"Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order" (Electronic Arts)
Take charge of Cal Kestis (voice of Cameron Monaghan), a young Jedi warrior seeking to escape the Empire shortly after the events of the 2005 film "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith."
Surviving in a world where the remaining Jedi are being hunted down means that combat is not a stressed game mechanic. Rather, "Fallen Order" encourages discovery and exploration. Kestis and his ragtag band of allies must try to restore some sense of balance and structure to the knightly order.
The combat the game does contain is well-paced, the environmental design is stunning and the different planetary vistas wildly impressive. "Fallen Order" can be repetitive at times but it's sure to be a delight for die-hard fans.
Playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.
The game contains stylized violence and some mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T -- teens.
"Luigi's Mansion 3" (Nintendo)
Step aside, Mario. "Luigi's Mansion 3" sees Nintendo's other familiar plumber brother take on the spotlight.
After he, Mario and a group of other characters are tricked into vacationing at a haunted hotel, Luigi realizes his companions have been imprisoned in the establishment's artwork. As he makes his way through the hostelry with his trademark terror of all things supernatural, he must capture the ghosts that haunt the structure's 16 floors in order to rescue everyone from the evil clutches of King Boo.
There's a multiplayer function allowing gamers to interact with up to seven other users, both locally and online.
One of the more diverting mechanics is Gooigi, a Luigi clone made entirely of a strange, slimy substance. Viscous Gooigi gets to go where Luigi can't, such as slipping through grates and pipes.
Entertainment in a variety of forms abounds within this family-friendly title.
Playable on Nintendo Switch.
The game contains mild cartoon violence. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is E -- everyone.
"Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition" (Xbox Game Studios)
This widely beloved historical real-time strategy game celebrates its 20th anniversary with a 4K Ultra HD remaster. Players can complete fact-based campaigns, from the marauding of Genghis Khan to the courageous crusade of Joan of Arc. With over 200 hours of available gameplay, they can also relive the Battle of Yamazaki from 1582 (here called the Battle of Kyoto) or the 1066 Battle of Hastings.
Additionally, three new campaigns and four new civilizations are available to enjoy. Custom scenarios allow gamers to set up their chosen civilization -- or play against friends with an internet connection.
Players will appreciate the remastered soundtrack, improved graphics and enhanced artwork. It's an especially rewarding title for gamers with a penchant for history or for parents out to inspire interest in that subject on the part of youngsters.
Playable on Windows PC.
The game contains some military combat with blood effects and mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T -- teens.
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Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.