A vast story world, sword and sorcery combat, and fascinating quests that rarely fail to satisfy -- welcome to The Elder Scrolls, a popular series of role-playing video games that has become the standard for open-world fantasy gaming.
The Elder Scrolls Anthology, released Sept. 10, is a collection of all the previously released PC games from the series, including all available DLC add-ons.
Philippa Gregory knows English history and she knows how to tell a good tale. But in this, the fifth outing in her Cousins' War series, the famed British historical fiction author fails to deliver the kind of fascinating female protagonist her readers have come to expect.
The White Princess, about a heartbroken 15th-century English queen whose loyalties are torn between the houses of York and Lancaster, starts strong but then stumbles and stalls -- leaving the reader longing for a more compelling heroine.
Dominion is one of my favorite Euro-style card games. Created by Donald X. Vaccarino and published by Rio Grande, it's a game where players draw and combine medieval-themed Action cards and Treasure cards in order to purchase the most amount of winning Victory cards.
When released in 2008, Dominion was one of the first deck-building designer card games. It was an immediate success and inspired a number of similar deck-building games.
Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination is a card game inspired by a collection of science-fiction short stories (entitled Machine of Death) written by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo and David Malki. The stories explore the idea of a prescient computer that can predict the nature of a person's death through a simple blood test. However, the prediction is always given in a way that is cryptic and perplexing to interpret.
Machine of Death was funded through a very successful Kickstarter campaign. The designers (including writer David Malki) aimed for $23,000 but raised an impressive $556,596.
Dishonored was one of my favourite games of 2012. I loved the stylish Victorian setting, the gothic narrative and the gameplay's combination of stealth, supernatural powers and steampunk gadgetry. The world of Dunwall, inspired by 19th-century Edinburgh and London, was immersive and encouraged exploration and replay. Like many gamers, I wanted more Dishonored.
Now Arkane Studios, the game's developer, has released a new downloadable content add-on pack for Dishonored entitled The Knife of Dunwall.
Like many gamers, I loved BioShock and BioShock 2. These first-person shooter games took place in Rapture -- an underwater decopunk world populated by crazed genetic scientists, Ayn Rand-inspired industrialists, creepy little girl clones and the iconic cyborg Big Daddy.
The BioShock games have been celebrated for their immersive environment, stunning production design, chilling combat scenarios and morality-based storytelling.
I have never been a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise. My friends and I used to call the game "Boob Raider." I was not tempted to buy games that featured a female avatar who did not own pants.
But, flash forward to March 2013, and Lara Croft now owns pants.
Pandemic is a Euro-style board game designed by Matt Leacock and published by Z-Man Games. Unlike most board games, it is played co-operatively with a team of two to four players.
The concept of Pandemic may seem somewhat macabre. Four virulent diseases have broken out in the world and your team must struggle to discover cures and eradicate the separate strains before humankind is completely wiped out.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a fantasy role-playing game set in a massive, open-world northern medieval setting. Dragonborn is a DLC (downloadable content expansion) that provides new quests and a new map. It is currently available for Xbox 360 and will be released for both Playstation 3 and PC platforms in early 2013.
The game begins when a group of cultists tries to murder your hero. You will follow various clues until you arrive in the land of Solstheim. There, you will help the local Dark Elves and Nords battle an evil sorcerer named Miraak.
Winnipeggers love their games. When the temperature drops way below zero and the wind chill brings tears of pain to your eyes, there is nothing better than staying in with a great video game or board game. Here are some of my favourite games from the last year -- all of them guaranteed to amuse and occupy until warmer weather returns.
If the saccharin sweetness of holiday cheer is getting you down, the perfect antidote may be Cards Against Humanity.
Cards Against Humanity is an indie card game touted as "a free party game for horrible people." Originally created as a New Year's Eve party game by a group of friends, the game was later financed through the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter and released worldwide.
Omega is a new DLC (downloadable content) for Mass Effect 3 -- a game that combines role-playing and first-person action in a science-fiction world. Released on Nov. 27, Omega offers a new quest featuring a popular character from Mass Effect 2: Aria T'Loak.
Board games are all the rage these days, but it's not Monopoly or Risk, those classic childhood games, that are causing the excitement. These days, you will find young and old alike gathered around the new German-style board games. These tabletop games, also called Euro-style, feature economic or historical themes, maximum player interaction and gameplay that relies on strategy rather than luck.
I confess that I was drawn to this game by the word "Hollywood" in the title. Who doesn't want to train with the same fitness coach as Kate Beckinsale and Robert Pattinson?
Harley Pasternak is an established workout trainer to the stars -- and a Canadian with a masters of science in exercise physiology and nutritional sciences from the University of Toronto. Hollywood Workout, released Sept. 20, is an Xbox 360 workout game based on Pasternak's methods that promises to "reveal the A-list physique in all of us."