A mix of the year's best games, as well as some choice accessories.
Hear that sound? It's holiday thunder, and it means to be pouring from the game systems of each and every gamer you know. But how best to deliver the thunder? Well, perhaps it's time to consult High-Def Digest Gaming's Holiday Gift Guide 2013.
Within this guide, you will find gift recommendations for seven platforms and even a few sub-genres, but just in case you are looking for some stocking-stuffer type games here are a few more recommendations: FTL (PC), 'Skulls of the Shogun (360/PC/Windows Phone),' and 'Guacamelee! (PS3/PS Vita/ PC).'
Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have debuted, and while there are some important distinctions, the bottom line is that even at launch, these systems are offering an experience beyond what their last-gen counterparts can do. For my money, their respective launch line-up, which features quite a bit of overlap, completely trounces the combined launch line-up of the Xbox 360 and PS3. If you can find the systems in stock, the recipient will likely be both surprised and pleased to become a new owner of either new system.
For the Xbox One, the choice has to be between 'Forza Motorsport 5' and 'Dead Rising 3,' but one missing essential is the Xbox One Play and Charge Kit.
World Basketball Manager (PC)
'World Basketball Manager' is the title to get for the would be GM as the analytics of 'Moneyball' and many current NBA franchises is put to the test.
'NBA 2K14,' represents the best of the traditional sports titles (narrowly beating 'FIFA 14,') which means it's marvelous team-based basketball fun on all platforms. The MyCareer mode on the Xbox One and PS4, is a game-changer and the added RPG elements elevate the whole game, and make it more worthwhile to become skilled.
The Wii U now has a pair of nice $300 bundles, and both feature 32GB Deluxe models. One with 'New Super Mario Bros U' and 'New Super Luigi U,' and one with 'The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.'
Super Mario 3D World
'Super Mario 3D World' is the latest Wii U exclusive, and combines the long-cherished 3D Mario gameplay with new abilities, multiplayer, and 1080p visuals.
'Pikmin 3' was meant to be a launch title, but by slipping nearly nine months, many Wii U owners old and new are missing out on one of Big N's best.
Grand Theft Auto V
Not only is 'Grand Theft Auto V' the blockbuster title of the year, but the recent improvements and additions to the multiplayer have bolstered the already robust story mode.
XCOM: Enemy Within Commander Edition
Firaxis presents a serious value with 'XCOM: Enemy Within Commander Edition,' which combines this year's expansion with last year's hit title. The deep strategy and endless source of 'XCOM' gameplay makes the title the smart choice for eliminating the enemies within and unknown.
The PlayStation 3 Super Slim is available in several excellent bundles, including the 'Grand Theft Auto V' 500GB Bundle.
The Last of Us
'The Last of Us' is almost universally lauded for delivering a gripping story, challenging gameplay and incredible atmosphere, complete with brilliant environmental design. For those that already own and love the game, the new story DLC makes the Season Pass a no-brainer of a gift.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
While 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag,' the best title of the franchise since 'Assassin's Creed II,' is even better on next-gen systems, the digital PS3 version let's players nab a PS4 version for just $10, sweetening a possible eventual system upgrade.
PS Plus is not only essential for PS4 owners, the service continues to bear fruit for PS3 and PS Vita owners with free games, discounts, and cloud saves.
Recent price drops ($200) herald a likely new version of the current 'PlayStation Vita.' The new version out in Japan has dropped the OLED screen in a favor of a LCD, and with the combination of shockingly good PS4 Remote Play capabilities, and new plan to get exciting games like 'Borderlands 2' on the system, now is the time to nab an OLED PS Vita, and 'The Walking Dead' PS Vita bundle (3G)' is the best way to go.
'Killzone Mercenary' along with its PS4 cousin has wowed players in a way where it seems Sony finally has the shooter franchise is an enviable position even if it's still no 'Halo' killer.
Media Molecule's freshly minted 'Tearaway' eschews the normal portable version of a console franchise approach to instead embrace the unique features found in the Vita. The title's messengers want so badly to be part of your holiday experience, who are you to deny them?
Naturally, the PC has a multitude of configurations ready (and unready) for gaming, but here's one sub $1000 touchscreen laptop, the HP ENVY TouchSmart 15T, that can handle games like 'Battlefield 4' and 'Call of Duty: Ghosts.'
'BioShock Infinite' offers players so much, from shooting to skyhook action to tear jumping, and all set in a floating city charged with enough race and class tension to make its alternative history as vibrant as any. That the game can be had so cheaply in the 'BioShock Triple Pack,' which can be emailed to any recipient just makes a great gift a near perfect choice.
Metro: Last Light
'Metro: Last Light,' the "extreme version of Fallout" is not to be missed, as its dour setting makes the best use of its visual technique and desperate gameplay. The PC version gets the edge as it can really make use of the extra brute power to present its subterranean Moscow.
Logitech G602 Gaming Mouse
Due to the incredible advances in wireless mouse technology by Logitech and others, now is the perfect time for PC gamers to go wireless. While the Logitech G700s is the top of line rechargeable choice, the Logitech G602 is the newest option and brings adjustable DPI settings, 11 assignable buttons, and twin battery modes, Performance and Endurance. Recent time with 'Call of Duty: Ghosts,' and the G602, both in mobile and desktop situations shows how a gaming grade mouse can retain the sensibilities of a conventional portable wireless mouse.
Mad Catz Tritton Pro + 5.1 Surround Sound Headset
The 'Mad Catz Tritton Pro + 5.1 Surround Sound Headset' is such an amazing addition to any PC gaming rig, especially for those times when household noise is a concern, which makes it a great gift for that gamer in the home that you wish would be a little more quiet. Play a game like 'Batman: Arkham Origins' with the headset, and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. The console version is also a great option for both the 360, and the PS3.
For the Kids
Skylanders SWAP Force
'Skylanders SWAP Force' is featured on no less than seven platforms, and the action figure video game combo has stepped up its gameplay in a way that makes the latest version a great option. Action figures have always been a dodgy investment, but enabling gameplay is as big a bonus as a person can ask for.
'Rayman Legends' brings its delightful HD visuals to five platforms, and families can take turns playing through one of the game's many challenging but not too challenging levels. Even the game's unlockables seem fun to collect and open with family members.
For the Gamer Who Has Everything
Night and day, gamers young and old stare at screens during work and play, and often times controlling each and every ambient light source isn't an option. It's here, during such long hours that the Gunnar eyewear can help to reduce eye fatigue and eyestrain. While the Gunnar Intercept Glasses with their Amber tint make sense for late nights full of FPS matches, the Crystalline Lenses found in the Gunnar Phenom Glasses make a lot more sense for the purist looking to protect their vision.
And that's it, except for the omissions of dozens of worthy titles, including many whose reviews are in production at this very moment. The holiday period is the busiest time of the year for video games, and the (at long last) new consoles have brought with them a peek into the years to come along with a flood of releases. With High-Def Digest Gaming humming along in full-swing, help us wish a Happy Holiday to everyone, from giant companies down to each reader for their support, their interest and their enthusiasm for High-Def Digest Gaming.
Author: Brian Hoss