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Plug & Play - The Latest Hype, The Best Gear

Hot New Games For The Holidays

Dec 1, 2007

Joystick jabbers, rejoice! After months of feverish waiting, the holidays are here, and you know what that means: 'Tis the season to be jolly! Happily, nothing brings a smile to gamers' faces (or says "peace on Earth and goodwill to mankind") quite like lobbing heat-seeking missiles at trash-talking siblings or shoving a shotgun barrel up buddies' behinds. Case in point: The following blockbuster titles, each of which makes a perfect stocking stuffer for that special dweeb in your life. All ship with our seal of approval, if not vital accessories, e.g. super-size bags of Doritos and your own personal catheter.

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Guitar Hero III
For: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3,Wii, Xbox 360
From: RedOctane, www.redoctane.com
Dubious at the thought of jamming along in time on wireless Gibson guitar controllers to chart-topping hits including Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" or Smashing Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock?" All it takes is 10 minutes to get in the groove and see why the ultimate headbanger's ball has become a best-selling worldwide sensation.

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Rock Band
For: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
From: Electronic Arts, www.ea.com
Never mind that when it comes to actual musical talent, you're less Metallica and more Milli Vanilli. Offering tone-deaf geeks the option to play guitar, bass and drums or belt out dozens of songs like Faith No More's "Epic" or Radiohead's "Creep," this ambitious virtuoso lets anyone play American Idol.

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Unreal Tournament III
For: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
From: Midway, www.midway.com
The leading choice for ball-busting, in-your-face mayhem goes straight for the kill yet again, letting you plow a bloody swath through adversaries using bio-rifle, rocket launcher, tank or robotic walker. Play for ultra-visceral firefights, stay for addictive online multiplayer action: Last one behind cover's a crimson stain on the wall!

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Mass Effect
For: Xbox 360
From: Microsoft, www.microsoft.com
Going beyond even developer BioWare's prior award-winning epics, e.g. Jade Empire and Star Wars: KOTOR, this sci-fi role-player extraordinaire blasts off into a fully-realized realm of quirky characters, intense real-time battles and heartbreaking ethical dilemmas. Customize heroes with futuristic weapons and powers before exploring a living, breathing cosmos teeming with intrigue.

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Assassin's Creed
For: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
From: UbiSoft, www.ubisoft.com
Traveling back to 1191 AD, assume the role of medieval hitman Altair, who'll ply his trade throughout the bustling villages and castles of the Third Crusade. Even more dazzling than featured locales and acrobatics is the need to smartly interact with realistic crowds, which can both confound pursuers or blow your cover.

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Super Mario Galaxy
For: Wii
From: Nintendo www.nintendo.com
The first man to make plumber's crack cool returns for his biggest adventure yet; this time spread across the entire universe. Sprint and bop your way through an epic run-n-jump romp, with motion-sensing controls and spherical worlds adding atmospheric charm. In short, chalk up another win for the Italian Stallion.

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Rise
Artist: Samantha James
Format: CD
label: OM Records
Rating: 0 0 0 0
One of the best house music CD releases of '07, Samantha James' debut release, Rise, lays down chill beats alongside Samantha's sweet and sexy vocals. Already hot at the top of the Billboard charts and listed as one of Urb's Next 1,000, the "rise" to stardom isn't far off. The lead single, "Rise," is the stuff anthems are made of. -Jonathan Wong

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Army of Two
(PS3/Xbox 360, Electronic Arts) - Commanding a heavily-armed paramilitary duo, tag-team missions beside a super-smart computer-controlled ally or real-life friend.

Heavenly Sword
(PlayStation 3, Sony) - As flame-haired swordsman Nariko and gal-pal Kai annihilate hundreds of warriors in spectacular, gravity-defying fashion.

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IMep MP-701-388
From: 3P Electronics, www.i-mep.com
Price: $299
Rating:0 0 0 0
Lame name, slick concept: Think a mobile multimedia hub that offers portable home theater-style entertainment. An integrated CD/DVD player, TV tuner, AM/FM radio, USB flash drive, iPod dock, memory card slot, twin speakers and 7" LCD screen combine to make it a real party-starter or pr0n-friendly travel companion. R.I.P., ghetto blaster.

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P3200 Rumble Pad
From: Saitek, www.saitaekusa.com
Price: $299
Rating: 0 0 0 0
Just because you're a PC geek at heart doesn't mean having to trip over clumsy keyboard controls while playing BioShock or Stranglehold. Offering an eight-way d-pad and custom-programmable buttons, plus built-in rumble features, any game-even those that don't normally support joypad peripherals-can now be enjoyed in console-type comfort.

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Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
(DS/PS2/PS3/Wii/Xbox 360, Activision) - Skate and video editors let you personalize your curb- and rail-thrashing experience more than ever.

Juiced 2
(DS/PC/PS2/PS3/PSP/Xbox 360, THQ) - Sizzling models and even sexier rides headline this drift-happy ode to Hot Import Nights.

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Need for Speed: ProStreet
(PC/PS2/PS3/Xbox 360, Electronic Arts) - Rocket down the Autobahn or Shuto Expressway, kicking up dust in stomach-churning drag and challenge events.

And The Rest Of The Best
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
(DS, Nintendo) - A stellar, cartoon-style handheld dungeon crawl that resumes where GameCube classic The Wind Waker concluded.

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Sega Rally Revo
(PC/PS3/Xbox 360, Sega) - Get up in opponents' grilles on thrilling off-road tracks, with 4WD, 2WD and classic rides available.

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron
(PSP, LucasArts) - On-foot or piloting TIE Fighter and Millennium Falcon, enjoy solo assignments or 16-man broadband assaults.

Silent Hill: Origins
(PSP, Konami) - Barricade rooms and solve puzzles while fleeing undead assailants in the creepy-crawly franchise's portable debut.

WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2008
(PS2/PS3/Wii/Xbox 360, THQ) - Gaming's illest wrestling simulation power-slams haters with enhanced controls, 24/7 career options and ECW star cameos.

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