The week between Christmas and New Year's Day is gaming nirvana. You've got a stack of holiday games, no pressing responsibilities and Domino's on speed dial. You're all set.
That is, until you get stuck on some ornery puzzle or impossible mission. Forward momentum, gone.
Relax. The internet is here to help.
Instead of spending an additional $20 on a strategy guide or tossing the game into the garbage in frustration, there are plenty of places online that can help you over the hump and get you back to the good stuff.
We've gathered together some of the most common problems people have encountered in several of the year's biggest hits, and have some suggestions on the best places to get some answers.
Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham CityBatman has his hands full in his latest adventure. He's got a city full of super villains to contain, some pressing health issues to deal with and a bunch of annoying helicopters trying to shine their lights on him. So it's pretty easy to forgive him if he isn't able to find all 281 of the game's Riddler Trophies.
IGN has a good breakdown of where to find them, though, including the ones Edward Nigma left for Catwoman. The site also has videos to help you walk through the riddles you'll have to solve to unlock the accompanying achievements and a list of breakable cameras and objects that can boost your experience points — and help you level up faster.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimThere's more to Bethesda's award-winning role-playing game than slaying dragons. A lot more. Take, for example, the 52 different potions you can create if you choose to pursue Alchemy as a skill. Trouble is, with 92 different ingredients scattered throughout the land, it gets a little complicated.
Gamespot has an easy to read chart for crafting potions, offering not only recipes for the potions, but the effects you can anticipate from them (and, more importantly, where to find them).
If you're stuck on a quest, take a peek at this Skyrim Wiki from the thorough folks at Wikia Gaming. You'll find a massive amount of detailed help, which in a game as big as Skyrim comes in very, very handy.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3There's really no better source for tips than a game's developers. The launch of Call of Duty: Elite was dominated by its $50 premium option and the news that people who pay that annual fee will get all of the DLC for the game as it comes out.
But you don't have to shell out cash to improve your skills. If you're playing the game for its multiplayer components (and, let's face it, you almost certainly are), Elite gives valuable intel on opponents to both paid and free members, with enormously handy weapon guides and customized loadouts. You can also compare thousands of your own statistics and trends to those of other players, giving you incredible insight.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward SwordLink's latest mission to save the princess is a long one, and it's easy to get stumped. But if you're especially dedicated to the game, you're hoping to hunt down all of the Gratitude Crystals and Heart Pieces. And given how big the world is, that's tough to do.
Luckily, there's GameFaqs, which has a number of walkthroughs and in-depth notes about virtually every aspect of Skyward Sword. It's entirely text-based and not as pretty as some other tip sites, but the information, gathered from the site's large community, is invaluable.
Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3Marcus Fenix isn't exactly a subtle fellow, and the Gears franchise has never been one that requires a delicate touch. But the Horde keeps getting more ferocious and even veteran players can get stuck from time to time.
GameSpot has a thorough run-through of the game, offering everything from a look at how weapons have improved, to the multiplayer maps to how best to handle the single-player game (and find all those pesky collectibles).
However, if you're gunning for the game's insane Seriously 3.0 Achievement — considered the hardest one ever — you're on your own.
Portal 2GLaDOS sure knows how to build a puzzle. The joy of Portal 2 is figuring your way out of the many seemingly impossible scenarios the game forces you into, but if you can't make your way to the exit, the best place to go for help is YouTube.
This is a game where it's definitely easier to show someone what to do, rather than try and explain it to them. Loads of helpful videos for every chapter in the game await those who just can't figure out where to place their portals.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old RepublicSince this massively-multiplayer game just hit store shelves, the collection of tips and walkthroughs are still being put together as players and reporters alike really get a good sense of how best to play it. If you find yourself truly stuck, though, IGN users have already assembled a good collection of advice on character building and how to complete some early tasks.
But the best place to go with questions at this point is probably the game's forums, where people who have been in the beta for a while (or had early access to the game) can fill in the blanks for you.