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The best games to play this Christmas

Unwrapping a game on Christmas Day was once about a box, a board and a load of little pieces that could be plopped onto the dinner table for the whole family to play.

Now it’s about a disc or cartridge and the host of virtual adventures that can be tackled on your PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PC, Mac, Sony PSP or Nintendo DS.

And this Christmas there’s plenty of top titles for single and multiplayer fun, whether with the parents and relatives in the living room or against others celebrating December 25 in the four corners of the globe.

Below is my guide to the top 10 games to be wrapping up and putting under the tree this festive season. But remember, every one is age-rated for a reason. If you’re buying a gift for a child then be aware of the game’s certificate and content, as some of it may be for adults’ only.

Call of Duty: Black Ops (18+) – PS3/Xbox 360

The latest in the best-selling first person shooter series has already broken all sales records worldwide. The follow-up to Modern Warefare 2 takes you behind enemy lines as a member of the special forces battling terrorists, with superb multiplayer options and a decent single player campaign.

Buy Call of Duty: Black Ops on Xbox 360 online from Comet

Buy Call of Duty: Black Ops on PlayStation 3 online from Comet

Xbox Kinect with Kinect Adventures (3+) Xbox 360

Microsoft’s movement gaming add-on plugs into the 360 console to allow players to control games simply with body movements and voice commands. You get Kinect Adventures included in the price, which features loads of fun family mini-games to get you moving around the lounge.

Buy Xbox Kinect online from Comet

PlayStation Move (12+) – PlayStation 3

Sony’s own attempt at movement gaming is more of a rival to the Nintendo Wii. You must hold a controller in your hand to generate your actions on the screen but the starter pack is a snip at £49.99 and even comes with a camera to track you as you play.

Buy Playstation Move online from Comet

Gran Turismo 5 (3+) – PlayStation 3

This driving game has been more than five years in the making and is possibly the most eagerly-anticipated ever. With more than 1000 vehicles, from common roadster to supercar, and real-life weather, conditions and tracks, it’s a fuel-throttle experience like no other. The graphics are amazing and the handling and physics as lifelike as you’ll find on a console.

Buy Gran Turismo 5 online from Comet

FIFA 11 (3+) – All formats

EA Sports’ annual football release is better than ever this season. Virtual players look even more like their real-life counterparts, the footie flows like a proper Premier League match and it’s impossible to score from the same place every single time like years ago. Die-hard Pro Evolution Soccer fans can get their fix with FIFA’s rival in a 2011 version of that football title too.

007: GoldenEye (16+) – Nintendo Wii

The original GoldenEye game on the Nintendo 64 is still hailed as one of the best virtual adventures ever. This update for the Wii is a fairly decent successor, with the superspy visiting locations such as Monte Carlo to battle baddies. A split-screen multiplayer mode also lets you face off against classic Bond foes.

Professor Leyton and the Lost Future (7+) – Nintendo DS

If you like to solve puzzles then take on the role of the detective Prof and join him and sidekick Luke on a quest to work out a letter sent from Luke 10 years in the future. The third in the best-selling series, The Lost Future will cause plenty of lost hours in your festivities as you try and tackle more than 165 brain teasers.

Just Dance 2 (3+) – Nintendo Wii

The perfect way to exercise after a massive Christmas dinner, this will get the whole family bopping around the television, no matter what age they are. Hold the Wii remote, choose a track from top artists such as Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry and get moving. Your routine will appear on screen and the better you boogie, the more points you’ll earn.

Football Manager 2011 (3+) – Sony PSP

If you don’t lose your husband or partner or son, or even daughter, to real football this holiday season, then you might find them snuggled up with their handheld trying to win the Premier League or FA Cup. This simulation puts them in charge of their favourite footie site, with the ability to buy players, choose tactics and find a way to lift a trophy in a title that provides hours and hours of enjoyment.

Halo Reach (16+) – Xbox 360

Exclusive to the Microsoft machine, this is part of a series that has sold nearly 35 million games. It follows the action before its hero Master Chief was around, focusing on Noble Team’s quest to save the Earth from the evil Covenant, who want to destroy the human race. Multiplayer action is a must with this using the online Xbox LIVE platform.

Buy Halo Reach online from Comet