I'm an avid gamer, so I get rather upset when I hear people make disparaging remarks about one of my favorite pastimes. I understand that video games aren't for everyone, and that they're not as intellectually stimulating as reading a good book, but I've enjoyed countless hours of quality entertainment thanks to my Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360.
While I'm willing to admit that first-person shooters and role-playing fantasy games aren't always intellectually-stimulating, I feel like many critics overlook the more problem-solving genres that are being sold these days. Game developers are taking strategy, logic and great storytelling to a whole new level. So, if you're in the market for great birthday gifts or graduation gift ideas for a friend, relative or even yourself, consider my guide to the thinking man's video games.
If you've always dreamed of being a hardboiled, super sleuth detective like Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon or Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, then you'll want to check out L.A. Noire. Developed by Rockstar, the creator of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, this game shies away from over-the-top violence in favor of case-based investigations. Set in 1947 Los Angeles, you take the role of war hero and rookie cop Cole Phelps as you move your way up the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). During the course of the game, Phelps transitions from a street officer to the investigative divisions of traffic, homicide, vice and arson while trying to connect the dots among a variety of crime waves that plague the city.
In this psychological thriller, you take the reigns as Alan Wake, a successful horror novelist who leaves on a relaxing vacation with his wife in the fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington. However, Wake's vacation is cut short by the sudden and mysterious disappearance of his wife, prompting him to begin gathering clues regarding her location. The story takes another twist when Wake realizes that he is reliving the disturbing events from his latest novel - a work that he cannot remember writing.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The latest installment in Nintendo's best-selling Legend of Zelda series, Skyward Sword is an adventure game where you take control of Link, a young boy who embarks on a journey to become the Hero of Time as he searches for his best friend Zelda. During the course of the game, Link encounters many different temples where he must use logic to solve complex puzzles in addition to battling mythical foes to progress through the fantastic landscape.