The PC Gift GuideChristmas is the time for giving. Yes, yes, it's also the time for receiving, but that's a shallow, selfish outlook on this most special of holidays. Today, we're all about the giving. In particular, what you can give that special someone in your life should they happen to be a PC gamer. To make things a little easier for you - because shopping for PC games can be hard - we've broken the guide into four categories. Bargain picks are for acquaintances, secret Santas, distant relatives or stocking stuffers. Essentials are just that. The essential PC games that everyone should own. Socialisers are...well, they're meant to be played with friends and family, but as you'll see, on the PC, that's a bit of a challenge. And finally Epics, the bread and butter of the platform, the games that will suck you in, lock you down and not let you out of their icy grip until you've ignored and alienated everyone you once held dear. Anyway, enough with the introductions. Let's go shopping!BARGAINS The PC Gift GuideWorld of Goo Price: $19.99 Rating: Everyone Forget the qualifier that it's "cheap". World of Goo was one of the best games I played all year. There's an art to making abstract puzzles fun, and World of Goo makes abstract puzzles fun.
The PC Gift GuideAudiosurf Price: $9.99 Rating: Everyone Yeah, at first glance, it looks like a Amplitude/Frequency clone. But on second look, you'll see it's for the PC, and you can use any track you want. On third look, you see it only costs a few bucks, and you're sold.
The PC Gift GuideBionic Commando: Rearmed Price: $14.99 Rating:Mature A classy, classy game. Not much more I can say about it, really, except for the fact I'm sure a lot of PC gamers overlooked the fact you could get the game on PC. Time to remind them.
The PC Gift GuidePeggle: Nights Price: $9.99 Rating: Everyone It'd be a shame if we couldn't include a Peggle game on the list this year. Lucky Peggle Nights came along! It's Peggle, just more of it, if you love someone who loves PC games, there's something wrong with you if you don't buy them this for Christmas.
The PC Gift GuideRose & Camellia Price: Free Rating: Not Rated If you're feeling stingy, and can't spare more for a present than a link with a URL in it, you may well send this one (or the one for the sequel...or both!). Victorian-themed woman slapping is the gift that keeps on giving.
ESSENTIALS The PC Gift GuideLeft 4 Dead Price: $49.99 Rating: Mature This game has zombies. And 4-player co-op. And is made by Valve. And has 4-player co-op. Even if you don't understand what that all means, the person you're buying this for will love you for them.
The PC Gift GuideFar Cry 2 Price: $59.99 Rating: Mature Don't listen to people telling you bad things about the console versions. The PC version lets you save anywhere and everywhere, eliminating all of the annoying, death-induced repetition they'll be banging on about. Plus, with the settings cranked, it's got the best graphics we've seen this year. Seriously.
The PC Gift GuideFallout 3 Price: $49.99 Rating: Mature Doesn't have the quantity on offer in Bethesda's last game, Oblivion, but definitely plays a tighter, more polished game. Might want to check your loved one doesn't already have it, though, since it's done so well at the sales register most people might have it twice.
The PC Gift GuideRed Alert 3 Price: $49.99 Rating: Teen Sure, the gameplay's more than a little rough around the edges, but that shouldn't matter. This is essential because it's essential fanservice. To make a new Red Alert game in 2008, complete with hammy (and expensive) celebrity FMV cutscenes and faithful remix of the original theme song, makes absolutely no business sense whatsoever. Which is precisely why I love it. Oh, that and the armoured fighting bears.
The PC Gift GuideSpore Price: $39.99 Rating: E for Everyone Doesn't deliver what it promised, but it's still a remarkable product. Especially worth a look if you're shopping for the kind of person who plays more Sims than Sins of a Solar Empire.
SOCIALISERS The PC Gift GuideGuitar Hero III Price: $39.99 Rating: Teen Don't laugh! A lot of people don't realise that the rhythm-action classic was also released on PC (and Mac!). Provided you know someone who has a PC setup on or near a big TV, the same multiplayer good times that apply to the console versions apply here.
The PC Gift GuideWorld of Warcraft Battlechest Price: $39.99 Rating: Teen If someone has a PC, chances are they play - or have at least tried - World of Warcraft. If they haven't, though, and you think your loves ones need a game where strangers you meet on the internet slowly replace the functions your real friends once performed, you can't go past it.
The PC Gift GuideTeam Fortress 2 Price: $19.99 Rating: Teen Yes, it's a competitive shooter, but you know, it's a nice one. Relatively. If a loved one likes playing shooters online, and likes killing people, and wants the best chance of not running into a pack of racist, 12 year-old assholes, Team Fortress 2 is your best bet.
EPICS The PC Gift GuideWarhammer Online Price: $49.99 Rating: Teen I already used World of Warcraft, so the next-best thing as far as time destroyers is probably Warhammer Online. Some nice changes to WoW's formula and the fact it uses the badass Warhammer license means if a loved one loves MMOs, but not WoW, you might want to get them WAR.
The PC Gift Guide The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Price: $39.99 Rating: Mature Slightly left-field choice, but this is (quietly) one of the best PC role-playing games in recent years. And by "best", I mean it's a time sponge, particularly this iteration, the game's "enhanced" edition. A little rough around the edges, but if someone's been asking for a 90's PC RPG, this will be exactly what they've been looking for.
The PC Gift GuideThe Orange Box Price: $29.99 Rating: Teen-Mature It's an epic package, not an epic game. None of the included titles - Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode 1, Half-Life 2 Episode 2, Team Fortress 2 or Portal - are "epic" on their own. But getting all of them in one box? You'll be gone for weeks. Months, even, if you're somehow new to the Half-Life universe.
The PC Gift GuideSins Of A Solar Empire Price: $39.99 Rating: Teen The little PC game that could. Hardcore space strategy, buttons everywhere and a small-time developer mean this game should have no business being on a list like this. But we're oh so glad that it is. It asks a lot of you, but gives so much back.
The PC Gift GuideCivilization IV: Complete Price: $29.99 Rating: Teen This thought was inspired by 2008's release of Civ IV: Colonization. But then, I didn't think that Civ was any good. The main game, though, it's ageing like a fine wine. The game came out 2.5 years ago and I'm still playing it regularly. Think that counts as "epic".