CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You somehow survived Black Friday. Cyber Monday has come and gone. Yet you still have some video game-sized holes to fill on your holiday shopping list.
If this situation sounds familiar, don't fret -- you are not alone. And we here at the Gazette are ready to help you in your time of need with our annual Holiday Shopping Guide for Gamers.
Consider this a strategy guide for satisfying even the most hard-to-please gamer on your list. Whether you're looking for that perfect sports game, something to enjoy with the kids, or perhaps even a non-gaming gift for the video-game enthusiast on your list, this guide should take the hassle out of holiday shopping.
The hot list
These are the must-haves for every gamer. The latest tech, the hottest games, the items you simply can't do without.
| Nintendo Wii U ($299.99 basic system, $349.99 deluxe system) -- Nintendo's latest console is sure to be on every gamer's wish list, and rightfully so. The Wii U is more than just a redesigned Wii -- this is Nintendo's next-gen console and the company's first foray into the world of high-def gaming. But the biggest reason to get excited over the Wii U is its revolutionary Gamepad, which features a full touchscreen display integrated into the controller.
| PlayStation Vita ($249.99-$299.99) -- The most powerful portable gaming system ever produced, Sony's Vita offers console-quality gaming experiences in the palm of your hand. An impressive software library already exists for the Vita, which is still in its infancy, and the recent introduction of the PlayStation Plus program makes the Vita an even more attractive buy.
| "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" (Activision; Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U; M for mature; $59.99) -- The most-hyped game of the year is surprisingly one of the best. "Black Ops 2" takes the series in a new direction with its storytelling and setting, all while retaining the franchise's best-in-class multiplayer.
| "Skylanders Giants" (Activision; all major gaming systems; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $59.99-$74.99, plus figures) -- If you're shopping for a young gamer, chances are this is on their list. Just be sure to pick up an extra figure ($9.99-$14.99) or two to go along with the game, itself.
The hardest of the core
These games are geared toward those die-hard gamers who'll only accept the best. These are some of the year's most celebrated releases.
| "Assassin's Creed III" (Ubisoft; Xbox 360, PS3; M for mature; $59.99) - The age-old battle between the Templars and the Assassins is brought to colonial America, with a new protagonist and a huge world to explore.
| "Hitman: Absolution" (Square Enix; Xbox 360, PS3; M for mature; $59.99) - Legendary hitman Agent 47's latest assignment turns out to be his most personal, and not even the Chicago PD can stop him from eliminating targets in brutally creative ways.
| "Dishonored" (Bethesda; Xbox 360, PS3; M for mature; $59.99) - One of the year's most unique games, this combines stealth, action and a healthy dose of player choice to create a memorable experience. Just watch out for the rats.
| "Far Cry 3" (Ubisoft; Xbox 360, PS3; M for mature; $59.99) -- This open-world shooter has been described as "Skyrim" with guns. If that doesn't whet the appetite of every self-respecting gamer, I don't know what will.
| "Borderlands 2" (2K Games; Xbox 360, PS3; M for mature; $59.99) - The ultimate co-op shooter of this generation returns with more guns, bigger explosions and the same great gameplay that made the original "Borderlands" a smash hit.
The sporting life
No matter their favorite pastime, there are plenty of great choices to please the sports gamer on your list.
| "FIFA Soccer 13" (EA Sports; Xbox 360, PS3; E for everyone; $59.99) - While it isn't a giant leap forward for the world's No. 1 soccer franchise, this latest edition features enough subtle gameplay improvements to make it a must-have for footy fans.
| "WWE 13" (THQ; Xbox 360, PS3; T for teen; $59.99) - The Attitude Era is front and center here, allowing gamers to relive some of sports entertainment's most memorable moments. It's the best pro wrestling game of this console generation.
| "NASCAR The Game: Inside Line" (Activision; Xbox 360, PS3; E for everyone; $59.99) - What a difference a year has made for this racing sim, which has improved in every way imaginable. The full career mode is nice, but it's the outstanding driving model that will keep fans turning laps for months to come.
| "NBA 2K13" (2K Sports; Xbox 360, PS3; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $59.99) - The best basketball game on the market returns with a new, simplified control scheme and a deep franchise mode.
| "Cabela's Hunting Expeditions" (Activision; Xbox 360, PS3; T for teen; $39.99) - Deer season may be winding down, but there's plenty of virtual game to go after in the most realistic hunting sim on the market.
Microsoft's motion-sensing peripheral continues to grow in popularity, and here are some of the top games available that take full advantage of the Kinect's unique capabilities.
| "NBA Baller Beats" (Majesco; Xbox 360; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $59.99) - Easily the most original idea for a Kinect game to date, gamers dribble a real basketball in time with the music. It can help improve your game, but you may want to clear the room of any breakable objects before starting.
| "Harry Potter for Kinect" (Warner Bros.; Xbox 360; T for teen; $49.99) - Relive and recreate some of the most memorable moments from Harry's adventures at Hogwarts and beyond, from playing Quiddich to battling Voldemort.
| "Dance Central 3" (Microsoft; Xbox 360; E for everyone; $49.99) - A booty-shaking lesson in dance history, featuring a fantastic collection of hits from the '70s and today with era-specific dance moves, to boot.