The video gamer's holiday wish list

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I was at Walgreens the other day, stocking up on candy for the trick or treaters. I cleared one 'seasonal' aisle and hit the next, only to find that I'd passed from ghouls and ghosts into tinsel and holly. Yup, they had the Christmas decorations on the shelves already.

I wasn't the least bit surprised, because I'm a gamer, and for gamers the holiday season is already upon us. This is the season when a flood of new releases hits store shelves, hoping to make it onto the wish lists of all the boys and girls, aged 18-80, who want a new game for [insert your December holiday of choice] this year. I thought it might be fun to put together a week-by-week calendar of releases that look interesting. When it comes to games, I'm strictly a consumer: I don't have any insider information. These are just titles that look interesting based on previews and trade show coverage. I'm sure I'll miss or forget some titles so I'll be counting on readers to leave comments.

Out now: Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360) has been out for a while but is a decent choice for any Halo fans on your wish-list. Demon's Souls (PS3) is a hardcore action-RPG that is a good choice for the gamer who enjoys a real challenge. Reader losingmylycosa recommends Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), a realistic military shooter that features both co-op and competitive online play.

Oct. 13th sees the release of Brutal Legend (PS3, Xbox 360), a heavy metal fantasy from the mind of Tim Schafer, featuring the voice work (and pseudo-likeness) of Jack Black, Ozzie Osborne and several other musicians. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) is an action-adventure modeled after the Saturday afternoon adventure matinees of yesteryear. Early reviews of this one are quite positive.

Oct. 20th brings us Borderlands (PC, PS3, Xbox), a hybrid shooter/rpg with an interesting cel-shaded art style. This one sounds like it'll be most fun when played co-op (4 players max) so be sure to get it on the same platform that your gaming friends do.

Oct. 27th has a couple of platform exclusives. Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time (PS3) is one of the few truly family friendly games on this list. It's the latest in a long line of platformers featuring a space-faring wombat (Ratchet) and his little robot sidekick (Clank). For the Xbox 360 we have Forza Motorsport 3, a racing simulation for car enthusiasts. This is one of the most realistic driving game series available (the other being Gran Turismo on the PS3, but that one isn't out until next year).

Nov. 3rd is when Dragon Age: Origins (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) releases. This is the latest RPG from the master storytellers at Bioware. You may know them from Mass Effect or Knights of the Old Republic. This is kind of a 'throwback' title for them: a single player 'dark fantasy' RPG that has you controlling a party of swordsmen, magicians & thieves.

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