Deck the halls with boughs of holly - and if you haven't already, it's time to start stressing about Christmas presents for friends and family. While your granny might be happy with the latest best-selling biography or box of Milk Tray, we all know that not everyone is so easy to please - kids and teens in particular. Technology seems to move at a lightning fast pace, and knowing what games and consoles are 'in' this year can be a bit of a trial - which is where our team of experts at Everybody Plays come in. Rounding up our picks of this year's releases for each age group, we can help take the stress out of at least some of your Christmas preparations:
Ages 3 to 5
Unfortunately, the Playstation 3 in general, tends to skew a bit older, and as such, there aren't really any recent releases we can recommend for this age group - although both the Wii U and 3DS have a great range of offerings for the youngest of the young this Christmas!
Ages 6 to 10
LEGO Jurassic World
Taking in all four Jurassic Park films, including the latest Jurassic World, LEGO Jurassic World throws you head first into a dinosaur packed adventure, all retold in the adorably slapstick Lego style. Letting up to two people work together to smash, bash and rebuild their way through key moments from the films, beating up bad guys, solving simple puzzles and befriending all kinds of dinos along the way, this is a blast that kids and adults alike will enjoy. With four vast hub worlds, all chock full of collectibles to hunt out and side missions to complete, it's a seriously huge game that'll take them well into the new year if they want to see and do everything on offer too.
Full LEGO Jurassic World Review
LEGO Jurassic World Parental Review
Buy LEGO Jurassic World from Amazon.co.uk
Buy LEGO Jurassic World from Amazon.com
A perfect gift for your little Star Wars (or Disney!) fans, Disney Infinity 3.0 adds some Disney flair to the 'toys to life' formula - an awkward term which essentially translates as "a game that lets you buy collectible figures, that can be placed onto the portal base, and used as your characters in game". Coming bundled with figures of Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, you, and a friend if you're playing in two player co-op, will find yourselves infiltrating droid factories on Geonosis, pod-racing across Tatooine and swinging lightsabers with Darth Maul as you play your way through the prequel trilogy of Star Wars films, while the more free-form Toy Box mode lets you make your own levels and generally go crazy, mashing up whichever Disney worlds you choose in the process. As with many toys-to-life games, a raft of expansions are available, with new Play Sets offering extra levels in co-op adventures themed around other Star Wars films, Pixar's Inside Out and Marvel, with plenty of additional characters to buy too!
Full Disney Infinity 3.0 Review
Parental Review: Disney Infinity 3.0
Buy Disney Infinity 3.0 from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Disney Infinity 3.0 from Amazon.com
The series that started it all, Skylanders: Superchargers marks the fifth entry in the best-selling toys to life series, which sees you placing real-life collectible figures on the included portal in order to play as them in game. This time round, series bad guy Kaos is trying to take over the Skylands once more, by trying to swallow up the sky with his Doom Station of Ultimate Doomstruction, and a new class of Skylanders has appeared to save the day - the Superchargers. With their unique vehicles, which can be purchased as separate figures too, they'll take the fight to Kaos and help save the day, before it's too late, mixing up the traditional Skylanders bad guy bashing and simple puzzle solving with some vehicle sections, either on land, across the sea or through the sky. The Starter Pack includes two figures and a land vehicle to get you started, and it's perfectly possible to complete the game with just these - although you'll likely find yourself wanting to pick up a new character or three as time goes on.
Full Skylanders: Superchargers Review
Skylanders: Superchargers Parental Review
Buy Skylanders: Superchargers from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Skylanders: Superchargers from Amazon.com
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
Following the story of Shallistera and Shallotte, two girls that both go by the nickname of Shallie, Atelier Shallie is a role-playing adventure with an emphasis on alchemy - a mystical and magical art that essentially involves cooking everything from health potions to bombs to pies in a workshop cauldron. Each protagonist has their own unique story to tell, and most of your time is spent going about their day to day lives as alchemists, helping out people in town, mixing up potions and gathering materials from nearby locales - and battling with the hostile local wildlife that lives there. With a surprisingly deep and addictive creation system, straightforward turn-based battles and a light-hearted and entertaining story to play through, Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is a great pick - and if the time limits of the previous instalments have irked you, you'll be pleased to hear they've been totally done away with too!
Full Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Review
Parental Review: Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
Buy Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea from Amazon.com
The third toys to life game this year, LEGO Dimensions takes in all kinds of big franchises, from Doctor Who and Back to the Future to The Simpsons and Lord of the Rings, and mashes them up into one seriously bricktastic adventure. Essentially, the evil Lord Vortech has got it in his head that he should be the supreme ruler of the LEGO Multiverse, and has started causing chaos in all the different LEGO worlds, with it falling to Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle (all three of which are included in the Starter Pack, alongside a Batmobile vehicle) to put things right. Following the traditional LEGO formula of slapstick humour, bad guy bashing and scenery smashing and rebuilding puzzles, LEGO Dimensions is a two player adventure perfect for Christmas day, particularly as before you can play you'll have to build the included portal, characters and vehicle - just like you would with a normal LEGO set! Extra worlds, characters, vehicles and levels can be purchased separately too to expand your LEGO Dimensions game, but be warned that you will need an internet connection to play, as the game needs to download the latest updates first!
Full Lego Dimensions Review
Parental Review: Lego Dimensions
Buy Lego Dimensions from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Lego Dimensions from Amazon.com
Minecraft Story Mode
For those who prefer a slower paced, more story-driven game, Minecraft Story Mode is likely to be the Christmas game of choice - set in the ever popular Minecraft universe, the game picks up with everything going to pot, as a world-eating Wither monster has been unleashed. As is usually the way, there's only one person who can save the day - you! - as you set out on an adventure to track down the four legendary heroes and smite it for good. Kind of like an interactive choose-your-own-adventure story, every conversation you have (of which there's many), has a number of options you can choose, some of which will have an impact on how the story plays out. With simple puzzles and a sprinkling of Minecraft-style crafting keeps this moving along, it's a bit of a departure from the more freeform creativity of the original Minecraft game, but for the Minecraft mad, it's a lively and entertaining enough adventure. It is worth noting though, that even if you buy it on a disc, you'll still need an internet connection to play, as it will need to download and unlock subsequent episodes of the story.
Full Minecraft Story Mode Review
Parental Review: Minecraft Story Mode
Buy Minecraft Story Mode from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Minecraft Story Mode from Amazon.com
Resident Evil Revelations 2
OK, so it's not the most festive of games, but Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a great pick for the adult members of your family - especially as it's one of the few adult-oriented titles to offer split-screen, same console co-op. The game tells the tale of two groups of characters that find themselves trapped on an island with a group of zombies, as they do their best to survive, and escape. What follows is an adventure that stays true to the Resident Evil "survival horror" ideals, whilst mixing it with some interesting co-op play. You'll have limited ammo, face off against plenty of zombies, and solve puzzles whilst keeping an eye out for traps as you make your way around the island. One of the nicest things here is the kind of asymmetric co-op - usually, only one of your team can actually use a gun, with the other having to serve as a kind of look-out/spotter - and attempting to complete a level using only the game's set of built-in phrases to talk to your co-op partner is a lot of fun. "Wait! Wait! Over here! Come on!"
Full Resident Evil Revelations 2 Review
Parental Review: Resident Evil Revelations 2
Buy Resident Evil Revelations 2 from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Resident Evil Revelations 2 from Amazon.com
Tales of Zestiria
The latest instalment in the anime-styled Japanese role-playing game series, Tales of Zestiria follows the story of Sorey, a young man known as the Shephard, a legendary figure tasked with reuniting a world on the brink of war. By travelling the world and restoring people's faith in the god-like Seraphim, he hopes to lead the people into a new era of peace and prosperity - but it won't be easy. Sorey is unique in that he can fuse with these elemental Seraphim spirits, generally unseen by human eyes, and call on their powers in battle for some seriously impressive attacks, adding another layer of strategy to the Tales of series' standard button mashy real-time combat. With a cast of quirky characters, an epic storyline and a humongous world to explore, Tales of Zestiria is the perfect game to get lost in this festive season.
Full Tales of Zestiria Review
Parental Review: Tales of Zestiria
Buy Tales of Zestiria from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Tales of Zestiria from Amazon.com
It may be a year old now, but LittleBigPlanet really is the Playstation's best multiplayer game - an adorable platformer for up to four players in local co-op, it's a game which is forever expanding. The story mode here tells the tale of Bunkum, a little corner of the universe whose creativity has been diminishing day by day, and in a misguided effort to revive it, a strange lightbulb-faced man by the name of Newton (voiced by Hugh Laurie) ends up being possessed and going on a rampage across the crafty world - and it falls to little Sackboy and co to stop him. What follows is a platform-jumping, jet-pack flying, rope-swinging adventure where creativity is king - hidden in each stage are oodles of materials, scenery, stickers and more which you can then use to create your own levels. Or if you're a bit lacking on the creativity front, LittleBigPlanet has millions of levels made by other players for you to try - it's quite literally the game which keeps on giving.
Full LittleBigPlanet 3 Review
Parental Review: LittleBigPlanet 3
Buy LittleBigPlanet 3 from Amazon.co.uk
Buy LittleBigPlanet 3 from Amazon.com
Guitar Hero Live
For a rocking Christmas, Guitar Hero Live lets you step into the shoes of your favourite rock stars and shred your stuff on stage, in what is pretty much the definitive music game of this year. Including tracks from everyone from Good Charlotte and Avril Lavigne to Pearl Jam and The Rolling Stones, there's something for everyone, and its simple press-buttons-to-the-beat gameplay is easy to pick up and play - and fun to master. The game itself technically only comes with one plastic guitar peripheral, and thanks to the new button layout for Live any old ones you have won't work, but Guitar Hero does make a rather good pass the guitar game - and if you happen to have a USB microphone knocking about the place, someone can join in on vocals too. Given the soundtrack, some songs may have a few questionable lyrics and references, but anything majorly untoward is edited out, although parents will want to exercise some sort of vetting system for the songs if you're playing with little ones.
Buy Guitar Hero Live from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Guitar Hero Live from Amazon.com