It's all fun and games ...

TIM BAINES, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Choices. Buying video game systems is all about choices.

It's not as simple as picking up Coleco or Atari or Sega or Nintendo anymore. Those are the dark ages.

These are the days of high definition ... and waiting in long store lines, desperately trying to get that new video game system in time for Christmas.

PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii are the hot systems this Christmas, but don't forget about the wonderful Xbox 360. PlayStation 2, PSP, DS Lite and GameCube are options ... and you certainly want to have options when you get into buying mode.

There are also plenty of choices when it comes time to buying games for those systems. And for the sports fan, those choices are very solid, in some cases, splendid.

You really can't go wrong, especially if you're buying hockey, football or golf games.

Here's a brief synopsis of what's out there.

MADDEN 07:

You'd think the concept might get a bit stale after all these years, but Madden just keeps on getting better. This year's addition of lead blocking gives the game a big boost. Xbox 360 owners are breathing a big sigh of relief. There've been big improvements on last year's version -- graphics are no longer the only reason to play. A must own for gaming football fans.

NCAA FOOTBALL 07:

This year's installment is the best yet. It doesn't get much more real than this; it feels as if you are in the stadium. It's a nice alternative to Madden ... and in some ways, it's even better.

TIGER WOODS 07:

Teeing off in the middle of winter can be as simple as reaching for a controller and tossing your Tiger Woods game into the console. This is the ultimate golf game ... a must buy. It's amazing how EA keeps pushing this game to new heights. This is one of the best sports games of the year.

NHL 07:

With a great dynasty mode and the welcome addition of specialty players such as Snipers and Slap Shot Artists, the game is fresh and fun. With its blend of depth and enjoyment, EA's NHL installment is the king of hockey this year.

FIFA 07:

EA has cleaned up some glitches that hampered its past efforts. Soccer fans will immerse themselves in this ... with a real-life soccer experience popping out at them from their television screens.

NBA LIVE 07:

The game has drawn some negative reviews ... but it's not bad, especially if you're a hoops fan. The game can be a bit slow, and that will turn a lot of people off, but it's an improvement on last year's version of the game.

NASCAR 07:

While NASCAR's keeps growing, EA keeps improving this game. The only way to get closer to the action is to actually be at a race. This game has plenty of bang for your bucks.

NHL 2K7:

Two minutes for looking so good. Good camera angles and player chatter make this a winner.

NBA 2K7:

Enough of the hoop-la, this game is a slam dunk. A winner if you're looking for some roundball fun.

FIGHT NIGHT ROUND 3:

Saturday night's all right for fighting ... actually, any night's good with this game. An impressive game for Xbox 360,with plenty of attention to detail. You'll see those welts open up in front of your eyes.

MLB 06: THE SHOW:

With EA out of the baseball picture, Sony has stepped up and hit a home run. You can set your sights on the single-season home-run record ... just lay off the steroids.


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