10 Best Video Games for Holiday 2011

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- If you're looking for a last-minute stocking stuffer this holiday season, video games are a great gift idea, especially for the male demographic. Picking one from hundreds of titles on the shelf can be a daunting task, though, which is why I've crafted this list of the 10 best video games.

More than 200 video games have been released in 2011 across all platforms, from Microsoft's ( MSFT) Xbox 360 to Sony's ( SNE) PlayStation 3 to Nintendo's ( NTDOY.PK) Wii home console and 3DS portable device. While Black Friday was a boon for retailers, video-game sales haven't perked up, though. Research firm NPD Group said overall U.S. video-game sales were up only 0.4% in November as hardware sales lagged.

While most next-generation video games run $60, plenty of deals can be had in the week leading up to the Christmas holiday. Many software titles are on sale at $50 or less at major retailers this week; Even hardware like Microsoft's Kinect motion controller are selling at 33% off the normal retail price.

For my list, I looked at games released from September until now because it's likely that your beloved gamer already owns the older games. The 10 games that make the cut are arranged below and on the following pages in reverse order.

10. Saints Row: The Third

Release Date: Nov. 15

Publisher: THQ ( THQI)

Open-world sandbox action games have been extremely popular since the emergence of the Grand Theft Auto series in the late 1990s. Several open world games captivated gamers recently, like Take-Two's L.A. Noire in 2011 and Red Dead Redemption last year. The Saints Row series is certainly a clone of the Grand Theft Auto genre, but the game takes gang warfare to a whole new height of absurdity -- and that's a good thing.

What makes this title stand out from the rest is the sense of humor the developers brought to the game. While L.A. Noire will undoubtedly make critics' lists as one of the top games of 2011, it suffers under the weight of its own seriousness. Saints Row: The Third, on the other hand, understands the game genre and gleefully mocks it. It's like a Michael Bay film in that the storyline suffers but the action is over the top and fun.

The Saints Row series doesn't get the same acclaim as other titles, and as such retailers haven't been offering great deals on the game. That said, Amazon.com ( AMZN) is currently giving a discount of a few dollars off the $60 retail price.

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