To some, video games are simply frivolous, wasteful by-products of the digital age that stop people from achieving their full professional potential. The counter argument is that wasting virtual zombies with a virtual bazooka is about as awesome as it gets. Fortunately, the Middle East tends to fall in the latter camp: there are about 8.5 million consoles in the region, with the local gaming industry worth up to Dhs9.5 billion. And all this despite the fact various well-known games are banned for nudity or violence. Fortunately, the following top examples are all available in the UAE and ready for you to play right now. Thumbs at the ready!
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Nintendo Wii When the Wii was first released, a flurry of golfing games were rushed out to make use of the console’s motion-based controls. Sadly, they were almost all terrible. A few years on, though, and they’ve got it down to a (ahem) tee, meaning swinging your controller in this latest Tiger-endorsed instalment is a pleasure. Key to the game’s success is its accessibility – there are caddy tips to help with shot selection, while hardened swingers can plug in a Wii Balance Board to hone their technique.
Get this if you liked: Wii Sports, King of Clubs, We Love Golf! All games available at Geekay Games, various locations including The Dubai Mall, www.geekaygames.ae (04 330 8066).
L.A. Noire Xbox 360, Playstation 3 A gorgeously stylised post-war crime caper brought to you by the folks behind the Grand Theft Auto series. But while GTA was all cap popping and car stealing, this is a far smarter, slicker affair – you’ll need to investigate crime scenes, grill witnesses and analyse evidence to notch up a perfect score for each case. Of course, there are still plenty of shootouts and high-speed chases for those looking for less cerebral kicks.
Get this if you liked: Grand Theft Auto IV, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Mad Men (yes, we know the last one is a TV show).
Pokemon Black/Pokemon White Nintendo DS Yet another instalment of the popular Japanese series that sees you collecting wild creatures, training them up and pitting them against each other. All of this might sound like kids’ stuff, but you can scoff all you want – there’s nothing childish about training up a miniature hippopotamus that breathes fire and has a chainsaw for a tail.
Get this if you liked: Pokémon Diamond/Pearl, Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie
Duke Nukem Forever Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC It’s here. It’s actually here. After 15 years in the works, during which time developer 3D Realms became the biggest joke in the games industry, the game that everyone said would never happen has happened. It’s a first-person shooter, but in a totally different vein to the likes of Halo and Call of Duty, with explosions and pithy one-liners given priority over deep storylines and complex characterisation. So for anyone who remembers frittering away the ’90s with its legendary PC predecessor, Duke Nukem 3D, this one isn’t to be missed.
Get this if you liked: Bulletstorm, Gears of War, Aliens vs Predator
Portal 2 Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Mac, PC This first-person puzzler had the gaming press gushing with praise when it was released a couple of months back, with critics falling over themselves to hail the game’s fiendish puzzles, gorgeous visuals and deliciously black humour. You play an imprisoned test subject armed with a portal gun – a natty little device that allows you to teleport across rooms by firing it onto various surfaces. Uniquely, it’s a game with the power to make you feel like both an egg-headed genius and an abject moron, and that’s a very good thing indeed.
Get this if you liked: Braid, The first Portal game (obviously)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Nintendo 3DS Originally released for the Nintendo 64 back in 1998, this classic fantasy action-RPG has been sprinkled with a bit of three-dimensional magic and is re-released on Nintendo’s new 3DS handheld this week. The original has topped countless ‘Best Games of All Time’ lists since its launch 13 years ago, thanks to a gigantic, colourful game world, memorable characters and boss battles that had nerds palpitating with excitement. Yet to dabble with the Zelda universe? This is your ideal entry point.
Get this if you liked: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Harvest Moon
DiRT 3 Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC The latest incarnation of what was the Colin McRae Rally series, and undoubtedly the best. Though the late Scottish rally legend’s name has been dropped from the box, wannabe racers have never had it so good, with tighter driving physics and a huge variety of race modes. The ‘flashback’ feature also makes a return, allowing you to rewind your race a few seconds should you wrap your Ford Focus around a fence post (which you inevitably will).
Get this if you liked: GRiD, F1 2010, Forza Motorsport 3
Mortal Kombat 9 Xbox 360, Playstation 3 Remember the uproar? Remember the angry parents and ‘Burn this Filth!’ campaigns? Well, it’s back, and this time those bloody entrails are in HD. Billed as a reboot of the beat-’em-up (as opposed to another lacklustre sequel), MK 2011 reprises the original cast of brawlers, focusing on those grisly ‘fatality’ finishing moves. There’s also the option for online bouts, so you can cleave your chums in half even when they’re in a different continent.
Get this if you liked: Street Fighter IV, Tekken 6