- Haven't done one of these in a while, so with the peak gaming season in full swing (and lots more releases still coming down the pipe!), I'll point out some games I've been playing, and then hand it over to you good GSW readers:

- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction (Insomniac/Sony, PS3)
Insomniac's Ratchet & Clank Future (currently 2nd on the PS3 Metacritic charts) may be the gem of the PlayStation 3's holiday season in terms of exclusives. Playing it with a friend yesterday, a few things were notable - the smooth, super-tuned gameplay, the surprisingly deep weapon upgrade paths, the beautifully done cut-scene narratives, and graphics which I personally think are the best on the PlayStation 3 so far. The gameplay is, of course, not dissimilar to the other Ratchet games, but don't overlook it because of that, for pity's sake.

- Portal (Valve, Xbox 360)
You know, we're all a bit bored of people raving about Portal at this point. But nonetheless, I've been playing it, and I wanted to comment on why I personally enjoy it. First: it's bite-sized in a smart, artificially constructed way, which makes it incredibly easy to pick up and put down. Second: it trains my brain and I feel genuinely pleased with myself when I work out puzzle solutions. Third: although dexterity is required, it's less constant, stress-filled violence than carefully orchestrated event chains. So, what - Portal is a 'casual', 'brain training', 'non-violent' kind of game? Mm, smells of zeitgeist.

- Various Xbox Live Arcade Games (Various, Xbox 360)
My latest OCD-related XBLA task is to get 3 Achievements on all the Xbox Live Arcade games I own. This is surprisingly fun, given that there are actually very few complete duds on XBLA (the only game I've paid for and then deleted in pique is Wing Commander Arena.) Anyhow, going alphabetically to fill in the gaps has caused me to re-evaluate 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures, which is a lot more fun multiple times round, and also grab the Super Soviet Missile Mastar achievement in Alien Hominid HD. Oh, and I still can't stop playing Track & Field, oddly.

So there you go. But I'm also horribly behind on the seasonal rush, with stuff like Beautiful Katamari, Eye Of Judgment, and Exit for XBLA stacked up to play - and with a pre-ordered Guitar Hero III for Xbox 360 awaiting me at the store later today. How about you, GSW reader? What titles, new or old, have you been playing over the last couple of weeks, and... why?