The best high-def games and movies for Xmas

13th Dec 2008 | 08:00

The best high-def games and movies for Xmas

TechRadar's pick of HD entertainment for the festive break

Christmas isn't what it used to be. A few years ago we'd have been satisfied with a fat slice of Christmas pud, some mint Matchmakers and an afternoon Bond movie.

But then we didn't know any better. We didn't have a high-def TV, a brand-spanking new Blu-ray player or an HD games console. Forget about watching Diamonds Are Forever (for the 25th time), just give us The Dark Knight on Blu-ray and then join us online for a game of Gears of War 2.

Here's TechRadar's guide to having a great HD Christmas...

The best of Blu-ray

Rather than watching the umpteenth re-run of Back to the Future, It's a Wonderful Life or something cheery from Pixar, why not abandon the scheduled programming for a top-notch movie on Blu-ray?

The Dark Knight tops the TechRadar Amazon wishlist this year, closely followed by WALL-E, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and Iron Man. And, if you play fast and loose with the definition of 'top notch', you could add Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to the list. For the OTT action pieces, obviously.

The best HD games

Gamers are spoilt for choice this Christmas, with triple-A titles landing on all formats. Yes, it might be anti-social to spend several hours wandering through post-apocalyptic Washington DC pumping Feral Ghouls full of hot lead. But Fallout 3 looks stunning on a widescreen monitor, HD projector or high-def TV. As will this little lot:

If you're a PS3 owner, then your HD urges should be satisfied by the likes of Fallout 3, Bioshock and Resistance 2. The new Prince of Persia game is also getting some good press, while Little Big Planet has the capacity to amuse your house guests (once you've spent several days building a level that is). And if you really must 'play with the rest of family', SingStar: Abba will be an absolute riot.

Xbox 360 fans should look no further than the semi-nuked beauty of Gears of War 2, the ruined wasteland of Fallout 3 and the gloomy menace of zombie shoot-'em up Left 4 Dead. In contrast, Fable II can provide some much-needed fantasy prettiness, while HD visuals get pushed to the limit by every copy of Far Cry 2. Again, for multiplayer hilarity, take SingStar wannabe Lips for a spin, play quiz game Scene It or embarrass yourself with the webcam-equipped You're in the Movies.

PC devotees, meanwhile, can argue that they've been playing games in HD for years. This Christmas is no different and GTA IV, Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2 top the list of games that look luscious on a big screen. The oddball World of Goo is also worth a look and, should you give the gift of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King to a loved one, don't expect to see them again until January.

The best HD shows

If Christmas is about anything, it's about eating too much and then sitting around complaining about it. Some might also say that Christmas is about family and there's nothing more festive than watching an HD movie together. This year's high-def offerings are as follows:

If you're a Sky+ HD subscriber, then prepare to be wowed by HD versions of The Golden Compass and Transformers. Elsewhere, Ray Winstone will be shouting "I am Beowulf!", while a star-studded cast (including Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer) bring Neil Gaiman's Stardust to life. Sky's HD content is still the most comprehensive. Sky1, FX, Discovery, National Geographic, History and Channel 4 are also broadcasting in HD.

As far as free HD is concerned, the BBC released its high-def line-up in November. The BBC HD channel (available on Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat) will be showing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Toy Story 2, The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm in glorious HD.

Other BBC HD highlights include: a new Wallace and Gromit feature, entitled A Matter Of Loaf And Death, an adaptation of The 39 Steps, Lark Rise to Candleford and a range of Xmas specials such as Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who at the Proms. Keep an eye on the BBC HD schedules for more info.

Freesat early adopters can also get exclusive access to ITV HD, which will be showing a number of big films in HD over the Christmas holidays – I.e. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and True Lies.

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Looking for more Blu-ray movies? Then read 10 movie releases that can save Blu-ray

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