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WRUP: Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition


It's the time of year in the United States where we give thanks for all that we have in our life – not the stuff, really, but the family and friends.

Here at Joystiq, we're all family and our friends are you, the people we work so hard to inform and entertain. So thanks for being a loyal reader to our site, listener to our podcast, and viewer of our other shenanigans. We appreciate it and we appreciate you.

Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, here are the games the Joystiq staff and some of the members of our community are playing during this extended time off. When we're not in a coma from all dem turkey legs!

For this week's extended "What Are You Playing," the staff have collected two games they plan to play during the holidays: a retail game and a downloadable title. WRUP, friends?

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
I'm playing Far Cry 3 for work, but it's such an effective vector for distraction that I'm not likely to complain. Distraction really is at the core of Ubisoft Montreal's massive open world, and almost never to the detriment of the primary mechanisms of play. Movement is fun, the act of exploration feels inherently rewarding, there's an abundance of agency in combat, and none of it needs to be explicitly labeled or enforced through mission objectives. There is subtle direction from the designers in this one, however, and I suspect it'll highlight some of that emergent genius from Far Cry 2 for those who had trouble finding it. Far Cry 3 makes a spark of you, and the world is a string of firecrackers. (I'm probably going to tweak and recycle that line in my review, so apologies for that in advance.)

Spelunky's charming, adventure-serial styling belies its evil nature. The adventurer's drive isn't quite suppressed by the unforgiving difficulty (if you lose all your lives, it's back to the start with you), but given a hard edge of tension and excitement. There are moments of relief, of narrow escapes and surprise successes, as you delve deeper into tombs of yore (soon to become a tomb of yours). And then there are crushing moments of gormless, humiliating death. It's a thankless journey, but I'd love to spend more time hating this game.

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
Mephster666: "Eat plenty of turkey, then go play some ZombiU and Black Ops 2!"

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
With the Wii U review rush out of the way, I'm looking forward to playing – well, still more Wii U, but in less of a panic. I'm having a great time scouring New Super Mario Bros. U for Star Coins and finding even more wonderful secrets. I finally found the Starry Night level! The best part of any (good) Mario game, I believe, is the obsessive replaying and re-replaying, as stage elements that seemed like impossibly difficult setpieces the first time become trivial, thus making me feel just a little awesome while I'm searching for that last damned coin.

I also plan to try out the eShop, to see how well Mighty Switch Force has made the transition to HD. I'm hoping that my experience completing all the levels will help me complete the levels here, though it's been about a year since I first figured out all the toggles and jumps.

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
FranciscoJQuintana: "After spending time with my family. XCOM: Enemy Unkown, Forza Horizon and probably FIFA 13."

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
Due to some disappointing shipping issues, my Wii U won't arrive until after Thanksgiving. (I really wanted to get my ZombiU on!) So, I'll probably focus on some quick multiplayer sessions of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 throughout my time off during the holiday. The customization Treyarch offers in this year's iteration does a lot to set the game apart from previous games in the franchise. Yes, it's essentially the same mechanics of shooting and spawning after getting quick-scoped (damn, snipers!), but the online components and way content is doled out in Black Ops 2 have kept me interested. By now, I had already shelved Modern Warfare 3 a week after launch. If you can get past the whole "Oh no, not more Call of Duty games!" thing, it's a great experience.

Hotline Miami is somehow unlike any game I've played this year, though it features a lot of core concepts of other games: shooting dudes, saving folks, causing havoc. Every move and decision you make is like a piece of some hectic, bloody puzzle. It's original, has probably the best soundtrack of the year, and can suck hours out of my day. If you have a PC, do yourself a favor and buy it.

Also, I'm Canadian so this Thanksgiving thing is, like, so last month to me.

Kp: "I'll be finishing up the last episode of The Walking Dead because I like my Thanksgivings to be as emotionally draining as possible. Oh yeah, just remembered Hitman will be coming out this week too. So I'm sure I'll be playing that and some Black Ops 2. So much gaming goodness. Though I should really start cranking out some of these papers and projects that are due in the next few weeks."

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
Halo 4. "But wait, haven't you already played and loved Halo 4?" Why yes, inquisitive and mildly pushy Joystiq reader, I have. However, I haven't really dug into Halo multiplayer since Halo 3, and I hope to change that this time around. After only a few matches, I'm already addicted to the progression system and I am in love with the SAW. On top of that, I still have Spartan Ops and Legendary campaign to tackle. Perfect for family fun with the in-laws!

Speaking of in-laws, Thanksgiving means plenty of time away from the consoles and the PC, and that means a good mobile or handheld game is a must. It only takes a minute or two to take a turn in Hero Academy and it doesn't demand your full attention. On the plus side, it's also a lot of fun and there's a brand new team available. When conversation runs dry and you're on your third hour of Nancy Grace, it's perfect.

colorblindmonk: "Hopefully Gamestop won't have handed out my Wii U preorder when I get there. Gonna be getting Mass Effect 3, Black Ops 2, ZombiU and Mario Bros. with it."

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
Hitman: Absolution for my dark, destructive side. The Walking Dead for my good, protective side. All things in balance and moderation.

gacooze123: "If it was my Mom's side, nonstop Halo 4 marathon. Sadly we are going to my dad's side ... a very non gaming family. I need to be saved."

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
Thanksgiving for my family is kind of like a hybrid between the typical turkey day and Festivus – we watch football, we air our grievances, me and my dad wrestle in the living room and we eat a lot of turkey. I live on a different coast now – the holiday just isn't the same over webcam – and so I've turned to fighting games to get out my Thanksgiving aggression. I've chosen Dead or Alive 5 this year – its gigantic-handed women and the men who are fascinated with them should be perfect for capturing that nostalgic mixture of awe and confusion I always get wrasslin' with my pa.

Thanksgiving has always been a great time for friends to get together and play card games. I remember those college years of friends being back in town and getting together in a moldy basement to throw down in Catan or Risk. Now I can keep that tradition alive without all of the effort of travel by simply turning on my Xbox 360. I expect lots of Two-Headed Giant in Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 with pals from back home over the nets to pass the evening of the engorging. Maybe even a four-player free-for-all or two!

edzo004: "Persona 4 Golden, PlayStation All-Stars, Adventure Time, Jet Set Radio and maybe Wii U if i don't cancel it."

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
It'd be simple to say that I'm playing Wonderbook: Book of Spells because the evil reviews editor is forcing me to, praying for my suffering and violent resignation, cackling the entire time. But the truth is, there's only one man evil enough to force an innocent adult to play children's video games, and his name is Lord Voldemort. Personally, I can't wait to learn more about his story, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the Wizarding World in general. Take that, editors.

For my digital pick, I had to go with the final episode of Telltale's The Walking Dead. Months of sweat, stress and almost-tears have come to this, and I don't know what to feel. I'm pretty sure that by the end of Episode Five, I'll know exactly what to feel, though I expect it won't be pleasant. Not at all. Buck up, Jess. In the zombie apocalypse, there's no use crying over spilled blood.

Andrewpoe1: "Halo 4 multiplayer, Hotline Miami at some point, free trial of Guild Wars 2, and possibly some Ratchet & Clank HD."

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
The holidays generally involve a lot of travel and a lot of time spent away from living rooms with game consoles, so my primary companion over Thanksgiving break will be my 3DS XL. Specifically, its cartridge slot will be filled with Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!, on account of its hilarious writing and family-friendly nature. It'll also serve as an effective decoy for distracting any children that may be present at family gatherings, which is a bonus.

There is going to be some downtime, however, mostly while my Twice-Baked Potatoes are baking (twice!) and after returning home from a long day of eating and family fun-times. These are both excellent opportunities for some quality combo practice in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus, which is just as demanding as ever. Even more so, if anything, now that I've discovered that the majority of the combos I'd found so far don't actually work, as I didn't have dummy recovery enabled in the training menu. Whoops!

gatorboi352: "Are you serious? Wii U or GTFO!"

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
343's epic campaign in Halo 4 was only the beginning on this one. Between the addictive Regicide mode, the updated and complex Dominion mode, and the always dependable Team Slayer (now with Ordnance drops), Halo 4's War Games multiplayer is good for hours and hours of great gameplay, either with strangers online or just a few visiting friends. And the (completely free, with an XBL membership) Spartan Ops co-op story is building itself out week by week, too. The re-used stages aren't quite that exciting, but hearing an original Halo tale told over the radio by Jennifer Hale is turning out to be a lot of fun. When I need a getaway from my relatives at the Turkey Day table, you'll find me online jetpacking across the battlefields of Requiem.

Puzzle Craft is my favorite iOS game of the year so far, but Chip Chain is moving up on the list for sure. It's a well-done puzzle game where you lay down poker chips of various values on a grid, and then match them up in combinations to earn points. It's sort of like Triple Town, if it was set in Vegas. Chip Chain's stylish design makes it easy to pick up, but the game's deep mechanics make it hard to master. Even a few hours in, I'm finding new strategies and techniques to try out – just the thing to help me get through the upcoming holiday season with my iPad.

herrzrbo: "My mother-in-law and I sit around watching me play various console games (she's a PC gamer). One year it was Portal, another Flower. I plan on doing the same thing this year."

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
I've been meaning to get to XCOM: Enemy Unknown ever since Alexander described it to me using the words 'Valkyria' and Chronicles.' It's great to see turn-based strategy continuing to enjoy its revival, now more so on the home consoles than before. What I particularly like about XCOM is the understated weightiness of character perma-death, especially if you name your characters after people you know. I gave it a trial run last weekend, and after losing half my friends and family within a few hours I had to call the whole thing off out of sheer depression. I'll have another, hopefully less morbid go at it over the holidays.

For Mark of the Ninja, it's once again the description by a fellow Joystiq-er that made me eager to try the game out as soon as possible. This time it was Ludwig's line about the developer Klei Entertainment taking the 3D model for stealth games and flattening it into 2D. While the line fully conveys the concept, I find myself wanting to see exactly how it works in the gaming flesh.

Jonthepoole: "Wii U, baby! But we're going to my in-laws' house first, so I will play my yearly game of 'make a turkey that puts my mother-in-law's to shame.' Mwahahahahahaha!"

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of three things: food, family, and football. That's why Madden NFL 13 is staying in my console during the holiday; I'll be playing my Week 17 match against the Colts in my online league with a belly full of food, trying to get my 14th win of the season while heading into the playoffs.

I also plan on putting in some serious time with The Walking Dead episodes. I'm hoping to wrap the season up in the coming weeks, which means the extra time around the holidays is time well spent in front of the TV, fighting off zombies and making some tough decisions (that I've been hearing about).

DylanPlatt: "Well, right now I'm finishing up LittleBigPlanet Vita and finally getting to put some real time into Deadly Premonition, which is fantastic. That said, ever since I was a kid it just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving if I don't play Shadowrun on SNES."

WRUP Joystiq Staff and Community Thanksgiving Edition
This Thanksgiving is going to be riddled with bullets and explosives as I join up with family and friends to explore the far reaches of Pandora in Borderlands 2 According to Mr. Torgue, there are quests to embark on, enemies to discover, new bandits meet, and they all need to be blown up. So, I totally look forward to becoming an ultimate badass of some sort.

And my digital pick has to be, like many others, the final chapter of The Walking Dead. There really isn't any better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with a horde of ravenous zombies. I really want to know how what all my decisions will culminate into, and whether Clementine will learn to appreciate all the crazy trauma she has been exposed to. I hope my friends play it over the holiday too so I can call them up and talk about all the terrible decisions they made.

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