The Sims 3
Call the game home to little computer people, artificial intelligence (AI) constructs or the only friends you've got--however you choose to classify the world's most intricate simulation of everyday life itself, let's be honest: It's basically the modern-day equivalent of futzing around with a dollhouse. Only now, you can leave your mark on entire neighborhoods populated by dozens of complex individuals, each of whom benefits from snazzy 3D visual upgrades and additional emotional qualities. Virtual adoration, here we come!
www.ea.com / PC
A must have item for your car--besides gas and tissues for the occasional sniffles--is a flashlight. Not only does it provide illumination during breakdowns at night (the car, not you), sturdy aluminum flashlights like the Rogue 2 double as weapons for things that go bump in the night. If hand-to-hand melees aren't your thing, double-tap the switch and the 6 lumens cranks up to 50, instantly blinding any would-be attackers. Sweaty palms? Don't worry. The vented design and included lanyard ensures you won't drop it while you flee.
www.myiconlight.com / $47.99
Evil is good, especially as you rise from glowing-eyed juvenile delinquent to battleaxe-wielding medieval conqueror, crushing the shrieking villagers and centurions who stand in your way throughout. A dark fantasy with an even blacker sense of humor, this sprawling hack-and-slash romp--notable primarily for players' ability to send hordes of sniggering goblins to mob adversaries--is a satisfying stress reliever. Clumsy pathfinding and camera setup aside, nothing beats sending wolf-mounted gremlins out to slaughter the meek and innocent. Muahahah . . . er, never mind.
www.codemasters.com / PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Thrill seekers, rejoice: Finally, there's a budget camcorder capable of withstanding wind, weather and accidentally being doused in whip cream by an overzealous candy striper. Simply pop one of these colorful little units--able to shoot 10 hours of 720p high-definition video, storable on SD memory card--into your pocket, and you're good to hit the trail. Viewable on a two-inch color screen or HDTV, beware of easy YouTube film transfer . . . that drunken donkey ride could live on forever in infamy.
www.kodak.com / $149.95
Now we're really seeing colors--or rather, we are sans the use of illicit substances thanks to an iPod speaker dock that shifts hues at the press of a button. While a bit gimmicky, overall audio caliber isn't half bad, and units will make a surefire conversation piece at your next drunken bash, especially given their potential to mess with half-conscious revelers' heads. It's a lesson we're sure all you ex-hippies can appreciate. Who needs hallucinogens when you've got high-tech instead?
www.ihomeaudio.com / $59.99
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Reprising his role as "The Dark Knight," not some pansy-ass LEGO figurine or castrated, kid-friendly stand-in, the caped crusader takes a grimmer approach to fighting crime in this inspired interactive tale. Clambering about the infamous sanitarium, get the jump on opponents using stealth and high-tech gizmos, or beat villains such as Killer Croc and The Joker senseless. Picture an experience that's equal parts Splinter Cell and Chronicles of Riddick, albeit with a graphic novel's sense of grittiness and tense dramatics.
www.warnerbros.com / PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Though a minor update from a hardware standpoint (additions include two digital cameras for snapshot capture and manipulation, the ability to play music, SD card support and voice recording options), don't be fooled. Introducing DSiWare, or digitally distributed titles that you can download straight to your system, the current model is still a worthy revamp of the world's most popular touch-sensitive portable videogame console. Just be warned: The removal of the Game Boy Advance port may be a deal-breaker for some.
www.nintendo.com / $169.99
Got testosterone? Expend it here free-falling from insane heights, engaging in gravity-defying midair sword fights and carving leering zombies into ground chuck. A shameless God of War clone, this Asian-flavored action-adventure grants your pajama-clad hero the power to run on walls, spot hidden objects and extinguish flames with a well-placed throwing star. Chintzy voice acting and repetitive combat don't do the title any favors, but instantly gratifying melees and stunning set pieces do make it a worthy exercise in male wish fulfillment.
www.xbox.com / Xbox 360