Every Christmas, a terrible battle commences in the Evans-Thirlwell household. "Let's play charades!" says the enterprising drama/TV personality known as my older younger sister. "Let's play blackjack!" says my other sister, adding "with real money" under her breath. "Let's just sit here stuffing our faces!" opines my brother, assuming he doesn't have his mouth full. "Those are all excellent choices," I grandly proclaim. "But I really must throw my weight behind Gears of War. As in, the videogame. I write about them, remember?"
Despite many a sit-down protest and copious referencing of Metascores, I have yet to persuade my nearest and dearest to derive much Yuletide merriment from Gears of War. It's this irrational prejudice they have about chain-sawing elephantine mutants in half. Lousy backward hicks. If you're in a similar predicament, you may fare better by suggesting one of the games below. Those who need no further convincing should check out our Christmas buyer's guide to the best Xbox 360 games of 2012, plus our list of most-anticipated 2013 releases.
This is how I got my flatmate playing Rayman Origins: I signed in a second player, handed him the pad, tutored him on the basics of movement and jumping, then slapped his character into a floating sea urchin with an enormous, cartoon fist. Rayman's inexhaustible capacity for the slapstick, pick-up-and-play mechanics, and complex, multi-path levels make it simultaneously the best co-op platformer on Xbox 360, and one of the finest introductions to the genre at large.
Rayman Origins review
Buy Rayman Origins for £16.99
The Walking Dead
A spin-off series that's actually better than the TV show that inspired it, and nowhere near as dry and dusty as the misleading appellation "point-and-click adventure game" makes it sound. In the course of The Walking Dead's five part tragedy, you'll have to scour environments for clues and solve situation-puzzles, such as how to get access to an upstairs flat without falling prey to roaming zombies. But you'll also be asked to win the sympathies of other characters in dialogue, and choose who lives and dies when the chips are down. Apart from anything else, The Walking Dead has given us one of gaming's great heroines in the diminutive but resourceful Clementine.
The Walking Dead reviews hub
Buy The Walking Dead for 400 MP