With the holidays just around the corner, you're wondering what games to buy for the beloved gamer geeks on your list ... or yourself (you have to spend those gift cards on something). In no particular order, here are 12 great games released this year guaranteed to fill the season with rocking, shooting, zombie-slaying joy.
Left 4 Dead 2

The game that lets you kill zombies with 3 friends is back and improved in every way possible. Players can shoot the hordes of undead with groups of friends or play others online as one of the "special infected."

Defining moment: coordinating a strategy over mics and executing it with three online friends and surviving a horrendous onslaught from a horde of zombies.

Available for: PC, Xbox 360
Price: $59.99
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Not only is this the best Batman game ever made, but one of the best games of the year. The mix of brawling, stealth, exploration, and riddle-solving provide a well-rounded experience. The good writing and acting doesn't hurt either.

Defining moment: Right from the beginning, as Batman and an imprisoned Joker trade verbal blows that escalate to more, you get a sense that this game is something special.

Available for: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price: $59.99
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Eidos

Little Big Planet

It has all the quirky and cute fun of the original, but is now portable. Guide your sackboy through platforming challenges that have a hand-drafted feel--then try your hand at creating your own levels.

Defining moment: finally finishing a board of your own that is just as amusing as those you've played.

Available for: PlayStation Portable
Price: $39.99
Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony

DJ Hero

On the ones and twos ... you! Extending the Guitar Hero brand to the art of mixing, players find themselves handling a simplified console and scratching records.

Defining moment: performing an awesome transition between the Jackson 5 and Third Eye Blind.

Available for: Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price: $119, with turntable
Developer: FreeStyleGames
Publisher: Activision

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Story and cinematics bring the gameplay of this action gem to another level. Whether it is exploring Indiana Jones-esque ruins or getting into a tense gunfight, this game delivers a Hollywood-quality experience with exhaustive motion capture and detailed set design.

Defining moment: Whether you're watching characters exchange crisp dialogue, stealthily taking out a soldier, or finishing objectives with a team of online players, the game delivers many times.

Available for: PlayStation 3
Price: $59.99
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Mario returns to old-school 2-D gameplay, and you can bring buddies along for the ride. The plumber returns to the style of game from the early days, but with tons of new power-ups and levels--and now with four-players running and jumping for coins.

Defining moment: racing with your friend to the end, and causing them to die so you get the glory.

Available for: Nintendo Wii
Price: $49.99
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Great gameplay, interesting story, and thought-provoking controversy. This military shooter has the all the great action of the original, but does not play it safe, pushing the envelope in the game's writing and direction (and civilian-killing).

Defining moment: Many would point to the infamous airport terrorism scene as the most memorable, but successfully pulling off a killing-spree during online play and triggering an air strike provides a unique rush.

Available for: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price: $59.99
Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Another quest for Link? Sign me up. In his second outing for the DS, the protagonist finds himself on a quest to stop the Demon King, accompanied by Princess Zelda, now trapped as a spirit.

Defining moment: (the same as any other Zelda game) getting a new item (boomerang, grappling hook, etc.) and using it in an ingenious way to traverse an obstacle or defeat a boss enemy.

Available for: Nintendo DS
Price: $34.99
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Halo 3: ODST

The Halo universe expands in this side story featuring the same addictive gameplay. In the original Halo 3, player's traveled through a ravaged metropolis in Africa. Now players learn what happened there, through the eyes of an average trooper.

Defining moment: taking on a platoon of aliens and realizing you are no longer the superheroic Master Chief and having to adjust your strategies accordingly.

Available for: Xbox 360
Price: $59.99
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft

Dragon Age: Origin

The RPG-maestros at Bioware bring us another gripping epic. The makers of hit Dungeons and Dragons video games create their own fantasy world, with an epic Lord of the Rings scale and a dark, wartime mood.

Defining moment: coordinating your entire party of heroes to perform some ridiculous maneuvers and defeat a dragon that dwarfs your characters and fills your screen.

Available for: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price: $59.99
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Assassin's Creed II

Leonardo Da Vinci? The Medicis? The deep action title comes to Renaissance Italy. The original came out of nowhere and blew everyone away with its mix of stealth and action, sci-fi and historical fiction. The sequel transplants those same elements in richer world with more diverse gameplay.

Defining moment: flying over Venice with wings created by Da Vinci, dodging cannonfire, and landing successfully--to perform another assassination.

Available for: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price: $59.99
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

The Beatles: Rock Band

Fun graphics, superb songs, and a sense of history makes this music game shine. Taking the great gameplay of Rock Band and coupling it with the iconic music of the Beatles is already pretty amazing, but the way the game follows their entire career and provides documentary-style content makes it phenomenal.

Defining moment: opening scenes with cartoony Beatles traveling the world or you playing Sgt. Pepper's or seeing the Yellow Submarine or...

Available for: Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price: $249 band kit, $59 game
Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: MTV Games

The 12 Days of Gaming

With the holidays just around the corner, you're wondering what games to buy for the beloved gamer geeks on your list ... or yourself (you have to spend those gift cards on something). In no particular order, here are 12 great games released this year guaranteed to fill the season with rocking, shooting, zombie-slaying joy.

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