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Handicapping the Holidays

We narrow the field for the gamer on your gift list

By James Renovitch, December 9, 2011, Screens

Dark Souls

PS3 & Xbox 360
Namco Bandai
$60

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

PS3
Sony Computer Entertainment
$60

Looking for an interactive movie experience or just an insufferable challenge? Nathan Drake, that lovable, treasure-hunting rapscallion, returns for another installment of the Uncharted series, here looking to get into even more elaborate trouble as he hops around the globe navigating shimmering desert cities and rusted ocean-freighter graveyards. Previous incarnations of Uncharted were widely acclaimed for their unparalleled cinematic panache and mildly criticized for their sloppy mechanics. Drake's Deception is no exception. The unrelenting action and jaw-dropping set-pieces never cease to impress, while the gun-aiming system still jumps a bit more than it should. Dark Souls is a much simpler affair and is strictly for masochists. This sequel to Demon's Souls retains its predecessor's teeth-grinding difficulty and sinister subject matter as the hero fights all manner of demonic baddies in an effort to regain a soul. Dying is inevitable and more of a learning tool to help you hack and slash your way deeper into the abyss in your next life. Deaths are also saved online so other players can see your grisly end and hopefully learn from it, but the online aspects of the game also have a sinister edge as other people can invade your game and assassinate you. It's just another ingenious way Dark Souls manages to kill those who brave its world.

The winner: Since I expect several broken controllers due to frustrated Dark Souls players, Uncharted 3 takes the trophy. Not to mention that Uncharted's difficulty can be set to "very easy" and played like an interactive Indiana Jones movie. Perfect for the newbie or the cineaste.

Other contenders: Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

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