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Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008
Video games compete for Christmas market

By Andy Brownstone
Newsbeat reporter


Newsbeat's top Christmas video games

So, everyone's staying in more because of the credit crunch, and with Christmas on the way, it's time to decide what game you want next for your console.

New statistics out earlier this week suggest video games are set to overtake the cinema and DVDs as the UK's most popular form of entertainment this year.

Newsbeat has been checking out some of the titles tipped to be big sellers over the next couple of months.

Battle of the bands

Wii Music looks set to be a big family-based hit, while Guitar Hero: World Tour takes the popular title to a new level.

Wii Music aims to appeal to all levels from kids who want to try out instruments, to music lovers who can record their own versions of songs.

There's a choice of 60 different instruments from beatboxing to the ukulele, and 50 songs from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, to Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.

Wii Music character
One of the characters who teaches you how to play Wii Music

And if you particularly like the version you've recorded, you can make it into a video and sent it to your friends on Wii24, who can then add in their own parts.

But if you prefer holding something more solid than an air guitar, then the new version on Guitar Hero could be right up your street.

You'll have to shell out almost 200 to get the new, more responsive guitar, bass, full electric drum kit, and microphone.

But for that you get 86 songs to choose from, a music studio where you can mix your own tracks, and an eight-player Battle of the Bands mode.

Old favourites

The new James Bond game, Quantum of Solace, came out last week at the same time as the film.

It's a classic shoot-em-up, but with the nice touch that every now and then Bond will come into view so you're not just looking at his gun.

There's a new adventure for Sonic in Sonic Unleashed, and Fall Out 3 takes the post-nuclear adventure to new levels.

Meanwhile Lara Croft has been given some new powers in Tomb Raider Underworld.

For the first time they've used motion capture, where they took an Olympic-calibre gymnast and based Lara's moves on hers.

She's able to shoot at two targets at once, vault onto her enemies and as she runs through the undergrowth she pushes it out of the way.

It all goes together to create a much more life-like Lara, who's thought to have around 2,000 different animations in the course of the game.

Some of the games out this year
James Bond, BigLittlePlanet, Prince of Persia, Guitar Hero World Tour and Tomb Raider are some of the games set to be big hits this Christmas

While Tomb Raider has become a bit more complex, the latest instalment of Prince of Persia has tried to simplify some of the controls.

Rather than having to press a complex combination of buttons to get your character to do anything, a single tap on X for example, could get him to jump onto a wall, traverse across it, and leap off the other side.

The black outline graphics have a real comic book feel to them, which is a welcome change from games that try to make their characters look as human as possible.

There are some very nice touches in the interaction between the main character and his sidekick Elika, who helps him solve riddles, and can intervene to save him in mid-air if necessary.

Family fun

Since Wii Fit came out, the balance board has been a bit under-used.

But now two games are exploiting that.

Shaun White Snowboarding uses the board to good effect as you move from heel to toe to control your character's movement and tricks.

While Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party features the first game where you use your bum as a controller.

It's a sledge ride with a difference where you sit down to lean left and right, and forwards and backwards to control the direction and speed.

And in two player mode, your opponent can pelt you with snowballs which means you can't see where you're going.


LittleBigPlanet was hailed as the game that would revive the PS3, but last month it was hit by a major snag.

Designer Pete Smith told Newsbeat: "The true essence of LittleBigPlanet is you can make whatever you want and you can share it with other people on the PlayStation Network."

But Sony was forced to recall all copies after it realised one of the background songs had lyrics from the Koran, something that could offend Muslims.

It's still expected to be a massive seller when it comes out later this year as people get used to the idea of 'play, create and share'.

Something different

In another first, Tom Clancy's Endwar uses a headset and microphone, so you can tell your troops, helicopters and tanks what to do.

You do have to use a few buttons, but the game aims to give the player that 'armchair general feel'.

So, you can sit there shouting commands like "Unit B attack Delta Force", and watch as your men attack an enemy position.

And finally a couple of unusual games for the DS.

If you can train your brain on it, then there's no reason not to train other parts of your body as well.

So, Allen Carr's Easyway to Stop Smoking builds on his popular books and DVDs, and aims to get you to quit via the DS.

You input how much and how often you smoke, and the game then tries to coach you out of it.

America's Next Top Model
In America's Next Top Model you get points for how good you are at make-up

And if that's not your bag, then how about the new DS title: America's Next Top Model?

Choose your model, then take her through catwalk, photoshoot and fashion challenges.

The game uses the twin screens on the DS to good effect in areas like the make up challenge where you have to copy the blusher and eyeliner etc from one screen and try to get the same look on your model.

So, there's plenty to choose from.

And in a time of economic hardship, the games industry seems to be remarkably buoyant.

Sales of consoles have doubled in the last year from September 2007.

And retailer Game has posted record profits for the first half of this year.

If the crunch is biting though, it's worth noting that HMV have just started selling pre-played games in some of their stores.

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