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Consoles For Christmas 2008 - The Casual Gamer

We're not talking here about someone who just wants to play Bejewelled or Poker; you can do that sort of thing on any PC, netbook or mobile phone. Instead, we mean that while you're the sort of guy or girl who enjoys the odd game, it's not an enormous part of your life. Maybe you fancy the odd action game or sports game. Maybe you're looking for something to fill the post-pub hours. Either way, you want a decent selection of games and value for money. You also want games that will look and sound good on your HDTV, and you might want to investigate online gaming. What you shouldn't be concerned with is all the technical issues or fanboy hype.

The Wii isn't a bad choice here, either, but your average casual gamer will get more long-term fun from more adult-oriented party games, including music games and quiz games. For this reason we'd push you towards an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Both have Guitar Hero: World Tour, Tomb Raider: Underworld and FIFA 09 - crucial titles for this market - and if you just wanted one 3D shooter, one racing game and one action/adventure, you'd have Gears of War 2, Project Gotham 4 and Fable 2 on the Microsoft console and Resistance 2, Race Driver: GRID and the superb Uncharted on Sony's (and, yes, we do know that GRID is multi-platform).

Choosing Sony nets you the Singstar and Buzz! Games, Blu-ray playback and the very appealing LittleBigPlanet. However, the Xbox 360 console now has Lips to counter Singstar, a new, more appealing interface and an excellent range of cheap games available from the classics range, bargain bins and Xbox Live Arcade. And if anyone has made a fantasy adventure more accessible than Fable 2, we have yet to see it. The real killer factor is the price-point. £170 nets you an Xbox 360 with hard drive and everything you need, as opposed to £289 for a PlayStation 3. For that reason, we've made the Xbox 360 our casual gamer's choice.

Our choice: Xbox 360 Premium Pack

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