Many parents are searching for the best Teen rated video games for their children this Christmas. The Teen rating is somewhat equivalent to the PG-13 rating used for movies. There are hints of language, violence and suggestive situations, but there are very few explicit scenarios. Here are the five best Teen rated video games for Christmas 2011.
1. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011
Professional wrestling has an enormous fan base. Developers release wrestling themed video games regularly. This specific title doesn't come out until October but the ESRB reports it has earned the T rating. You might be surprised that a wrestling game earned a Teen rating, but a lack of blood and guns allows it to sneak in the T category. Given the age of wrestling fans, most releases in the genre have the Teen rating.
One of the biggest draws for this version of the game is the broadened scope. There are more than 70 characters featured and multiple types of gameplay. The career mode allows for extensive customization and even tracks rivalries. If you know a child who enjoys wrestling, and they don't already have this title, it is a must have for Christmas.
2. Spider-Man: Edge of Time
Intended for release in October this game is a follow-up to 2010s Spider Man: Shattered Dimensions. Shattered Dimensions wasn't expected to be that great but game developer Beenox did an awesome job and the title ended up being reviewed quite well. While the Spider-Man franchise has simmered a bit in the wake of the recent X-Men and Captain America films, it's still a great Christmas gift for any gaming fan.
There was skepticism surrounding the game for a couple reasons: developer Beenox still isn't well established, and the game introduced a main enemy that fans were unfamiliar with. Some industry insiders have had a chance to play a portion of the game and early reviews are positive. The plot for this Spider-Man game revolves around time-travel, which can sometimes confuse story lines. The gameplay is reportedly good and the game offers players different choices to personalize the experience. I expect this title to be one of the best Spider-Man releases ever. As a Christmas gift, this game will be met with a smile.
3. Captain America: Super Soldier
Every new comic book character movie needs a video game and Captain America is no different. Critic and fan expectations for these releases (especially initial releases) is tepid, expecting lower quality games that intend to simply sell the name.
Captain America was reviewed poorly as a result of the expectations placed on the character. Everyone knew Cap even before the movie was released and gamers were disappointed, claiming, "That's not Captain America." While there was a failed attempt to follow along with the original plot and character from the comic books and movie, the gameplay was solid. Combat was routinely praised as being the only good thing about the game. Most younger fans don't have high standards for plot or characterization so I think Captain America would be a great Christmas gift for a young fan.
4. You Don't Know Jack
This funny trivia game originally released in 1995 for the Playstation. I remember playing it so much that I memorized most of the questions. This is a basic trivia game with one caveat: it is hilarious and fun. Most trivia games involve one thing: answering questions. That's all a kid wants to do when returning home from school right? Answer more questions? But You Don't Know Jack is truly funny, the gameplay is quick and light-hearted and the questions aren't Trivial Pursuit-tough.
As was expected, the game was met with rave reviews and enjoyed by young people and adults alike. The questions themselves are never presented in a straightforward manner, there is always a funny angle to make the game more exciting. This is probably the best trivia game for any gaming system. If you know a family that likes to game together, this is definitely the Christmas gift for them. Remember though, most 6-10 year olds won't have the basic (and pop-culture) knowledge to get most the questions or the jokes.
5. Thor: God of Thunder (for the Nintendo DS)
The Thor movie was very well received and made enough money to likely lead to a sequel. One of the most anticipated aspects of the game was that the stars from the film: Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, would do voice work for the game.
All version of the game (except the DS version) received dismal reviews, making it one of the worst games of the year. If the game had fewer glitches and bugs it would have likely been reviewed as a fun game with a lame story. In the end, however, it was just a terrible game for the PS3 and 360. If you are buying gifts for a DS or even the Wii gamer, this would be a solid buy. The game stretches the abilities of the Nintendo DS and ends up being one of the best, one-dimensional brawlers of the year. The Wii version was reviewed much better than its counterparts were as well.
Honorable Mention: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
I had to mention the Harry Potter game since so many kids ask for anything Harry Potter for Christmas. It's the biggest youth print and film franchise that doesn't involve vampires and is a solid Christmas buy for any literate kid with a gaming system.
Previous releases of Harry Potter video games were just bad. Every aspect of them was poorly done and not much was expected from this release. Critics and fans were pleasantly surprised at the improvements over the initial games. Deathly Hallows Part 2 was a marked advance from the basic problems of the first games. The game isn't fantastic, it's just good. But for most kids at Christmas, a good Harry Potter game is a great gift.
Buying age-appropriate video games as gifts can sometimes be very difficult. Make sure your favorite gamers are satisfied this Christmas when you present them with the best Teen rated games of 2011.