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Holiday Wish List: 2004 — Day Five

By Michael David Sims
01 December 2004 — Well, here it is—the fifth and final day of our look at the 30 games you'll be begging for by the time the month of December is over. Instead of wasting any more time with an intro, let's jump right in (after we recap the criteria that is):

—All titles are listed alphabetically.
—The games had to of been published between September 1 and December 24. If a game has yet to be published, it has to have a release date of December 24 or earlier.
—Each game has been assigned a grade of 1 to 4. And those grades are as follows:

1 = Put it on your list, and hope you haven't been too naughty.
2 = Take the money aunts and uncles stuffed into cards, and buy it on the 26th.
3 = Beg your parents for it... even if you don't live with them anymore.
4 = Screw waiting! Buy it now!

Now, to the final six!

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Title: SmackDown! vs. Raw
System: PS2
Rating: RP
Release Date: November 2
Grade: 2

Wrestling fans, this is the game you've been waiting for. With the addition of online play, Create-A-Belt, Create-A-Pay-Per-View, an improved weight class system and Bret Hart as an unlockable player, why wouldn't wrestling fans around the world snatch this one up? Let's just hope THQ has added more features when it comes to actual gameplay, otherwise we might as well put a nail in this franchise because, much like the Tony Hawk series, it's getting a little old.

One downside, however, is the inability to fight for the Women's Championship and the Tag and Cruiserweight titles in story mode. Why, THQ? Why?

Title: Star Wars: Battlefront
Systems: PS2, Xbox & PC
Rating: T
Release Date: September 20
Grade: 3

It's a Star Wars game, so right there you know you want it. Better yet, it's a Star Wars shooter where you can recreate any battle from any film or jump into a random fight (online or off) and just go crazy blasting anything that moves. And best of all (for some anyway)... (wait for it)... (wait for it)... (wait... for... it...) you can kill Ewoks! Now I hold no ill-will against 'em, but angry, self entitled, know-it-all fanboys seem to hate the littlest Rebels, so might as well mention it as a selling point. (Yes, it is being used as a selling point—as sad as that is.)

Question: Where's the GameCube version...? Oh! Star Wars: Battlefront requires online support, you say? Silly me. Stupid, stupid Nintendo.

Title: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
System: Xbox
Rating: T
Release Date: December 6
Grade: 4

Another sequel to another white-hot game that was released upon the public just last year. Whatever these developers are doing to crank out these near-perfect titles and then their sequels, they better keep doing it 'cause they're going to have a lot of angry gamers to deal with the second one bombs. Regardless, set five years after the events of the first KOTOR (not NOTOR, you people who think Knights is spelt 'Nights'), Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords delves deeper into the war between the Jedi and the Sith. What made the original so damn praise worthy (besides the story and graphics, of course) was your ability to follow the Light or Dark path, which would then alter gameplay. Additionally, it turned many action gamers onto RPGs, which is a market they traditionally scoffed at. Good going, KOTOR!

Title: TRON 2.0: Killer App
System: Xbox
Rating: T
Release Date: November 9
Grade: 1

Here's where half of you go, "Tron? What the Hell is Tron?" For the grossly uninformed, Tron was The Matrix before The Matrix was The Matrix. Released in 1982 by Disney, Tron told the story of a computer programmer/hacker who, after being sucked into the world of computers, has to team with a heroic program (Tron) to bring down the evil Master Control Program. Tron 2.0: Killer App (which was released as Tron 2.0 for the PC in 2003) is the sequel Disney never made. Set 20-plus years later, Jet (the son of Alan/Tron) must enter the computer world if he's to rescue his missing father and, like his father before him, save the computer world from destruction. But why should you care, especially if you've never heard of Tron...? Because it's Tron damn it!

Title: Viewtiful Joe 2
Systems: GameCube & PS2
Rating: T
Release Date: November 23 (GCN), December 7 (PS2)
Grade: 3

You didn't play Viewtiful Joe, did you? Shame on you. Shame. Shame. Shame. But don't worry, no one did—that's why (though it was critically acclaimed) it's one of the most underrated games of 2003. Much like Paper Mario before it, Viewtiful Joe utilized a pseudo-2.5D look and allowed gamers to slowdown or speed up the action for insane fighting maneuvers. Known (to those who played it) as one of the most difficult games in a long, long while, Viewtiful Joe kicked your ass and you liked it... if you played it. (Do you get that no one played this game?) Thankfully, Capcom knew what a masterpiece they had on their hands and went back for more. This time, however, we get to play as both Joe and his girlfriend Silvia and new action moves (specifically once called 'Replay') have been added to the mix for even more goodtime fun.

Title: X-Men Legends
Systems: GameCube, PS2 & Xbox
Rating: T
Release Date: September 21
Grade: 2

This is supposedly an RPG featuring over a dozen X-Men (including Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey and Jubilee... Jubilee?), and while it does allow you to control and level-up a team of mutant heroes it's more of an action game than anything else. Nonetheless, it's a solid gaming experience with a story written by (get this) actual comic book writers. Not just comic book writers, but X-Men veterans who actually know and care about our favorite mutants. And while the game is neither based on the comic books nor the movies, it does borrow its unique look from the Ultimate X-Men. (Though old school costumes and missions are unlockable.) For comic book fans (and to a lesser extent) RPG fanatics, this is a wet dream come true.

Explaining the systems: X-Men Legends will also see release on Nokia's N-Gage sometime in 2005, but you can expect an entirely different game.

Well, there you go. The list is complete and now you know what games to buy (for yourself or a loved one) or beg for this holiday season. And while many great games were left off the list, these 30 are the cream of the crop... but, just in case you disagree with my choices, head on over to the forums to take part in the discussions.

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Day One :: Day Two :: Day Three :: Day Four :: Day Five


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