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Cheap Xbox Live Indie alternatives to the biggest Xbox 360 blockbusters

Save money by thinking outside the box

Strapped for cash after funding Santa's latest trip round the globe? Fear not, gaming doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. We do hereby present 12 bargainous Xbox Live Indie Games substitutes for drastically bigger-budget Xbox 360 titles, each costing no more than a quid or two. Go on, treat yourself to a cheeky digital stocking filler.

If you're still scrambling for boxed goods to stow beneath the tree, you may want to refer to our Christmas 2012 Xbox 360 buyer's guide, which is abundant with savings.

Real Game: Left 4 Dead 2
Valve Software: £15
This co-op survival shooter has led us to fear our colleagues' fickle loyalties as much as the threat of undead. The tension reaches eye-clawing desperation as you gun down the all-too-sprightly hordes.

Indie Alternative: Zombie Estate
Jeremy Verchick48: 80MP
You aren't likely to match L4D's elegant storytelling, or the shrieking sense of menace. But in terms of frantic four-player co-op amid a seething morass of brain-ripping deadopaths, this checks the boxes.

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Real Game: Trials Evolution
RedLynx: 1,200MP
A physics obstacle course disguised as a biking time trial, this inspires a rare combination of violent curse words and compulsive play. It's the diversity and versatility of the tracks that put it in the top spot, with a cracking multiplayer to boot.

Indie Alternative: OSR Unhinged
Riddlersoft: 80MP
It might not quite manage the 3D visual lustre of RedLynx's game, but the ruthless physics simulation is there in all its impossibly addictive glory. With the addition of anti-gravity wells and other novelties, it's worth a try even if you already own Trials.

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Real Game: Halo: Reach
Bungie: £22
Bungie's swansong on its sci-fi epic may not be its pinnacle but it's still an FPS of rare polish. Stunning visuals and refined gameplay separates Noble 6 from the boys, leaving you choking back tears as the Reach succumbs to the Covenant.

Indie Alternative: Avatar Laser Wars 2
DigitalDNA Games LLC: 80MP
Oh sure, it doesn't quite manage the galaxy-sweeping single-player arc, and Avatars inevitably whiff of cheese, but the online combat is surprisingly rich, with bubble-shields, active-camo and many other tricks besides.

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Real Game: Mirror's Edge
DICE: £5
Flawed as a narrative, misconceived in its shooting, DICE's first-person parkour game got one thing totally, utterly right: movement. Moments of genuinely incredible acrobatics are hampered only by a frustrating lack of variety.

Indie Alternative: T.E.C. 3001
Phoenix: 240MP
It's evident that this auto-runner is working within strict limitations - its only ambition to nail a sense of terrific, yet graceful speed. But nail that it does, blitzing you with sparse neon landscapes that recall both Tron and the abstract slaloms of the Mirror's Edge DLC.

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