Posted Wed Nov 26, 2014 at 09:00 AM PST by Brian Hoss
Sony's console is the one to beat.
This guide focuses on the PS4, but includes a large overlap with our Xbox One Holiday Gift Guide.
Sony scored a home run with PS4 long before launch day, and the sexy little console has flexed its power in both technical and marketing terms. With such a hot start, updates to the console have been sporadic, but still, features like USB Music Player, direct YouTube uploading, SharePlay, and PlayStation Now are promising if still a little rough.
The PS4, debuted last year at $399.99, and sit basically still sits at that winning price point. There are two official Black Friday bundles (see them here), which offer a nice value, but may be very hide to find. Fortunately, the sexy white PS4 Destiny bundle is still available. The bundle features a white PS4, white controller, a disc version of 'Destiny,' and 30 Days of PlayStation Plus for $449.99
Unlike the PS3, the PS4 requires a PlayStation Plus membership in order to play online. The membership does include access to monthly offerings of free games, including PS4 titles.
For PS4 owners who expect to have a few local friends, siblings, roommates, etc., a second controller is a good idea. While there are a few different color options available, the Glacier White stands out just a little. The DualShock 4 contains its own rechargeable battery, so no worries there.
The PS4 includes a mono earbud that I wouldn't throw at mine worst enemy, but can handle online chat. Lots of headsets are suitable for use just by plugging into the controller, but for those looking to get high quality game audio through their headset, (thereby sparing everyone else in the household during quiet nighttime hours), there are two Turtle Beach models that demand attention. The first is the Turtle Beach Stealth 500P. The wireless headset includes delectable DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound, a 15 hour rechargeable battery, separate game and chat volume controls, Dynamic Chat Boost, phone integration (for receiving calls, texts, and listening to music while playing), and can be used in wired mode with tablets, phones, etc.
For those looking for the maximum amount of cool features in a gaming headset, the Turtle Beach Elite 800, which is exclusive to Best Buy, is ready and waiting. The Elite 800 also sports DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound in a nice wireless form factor, but adds Bluetooth (for a wireless connection to a second device, like a smartphone) active noise cancellation (for those that fame in noisy areas), customizable presets, and Android integration. The Elite 800 also has a nice charging base (the headset can be charged by micro USB while still being used), which has an optical pass-through.
Sony's own option, the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset is another one to consider. It looks good, sounds good, (Sony's own Virtual Surround Sound & custom EQs are nice features), feels good (very comfy), and is very simple to use to boot.
Users are buying digital versions of console games at an accelerating rate, but even for those that stick to discs there are all kinds of add-ons (like Call of Duty maps) that require PSN digital credit.
Not unlike the 'Batman Arkham' games, 'Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor' does what we have begged for since the 1980's, it combines a beloved license ('The Lord of the Rings') with a fresh take on existing game genre, third-person action/stealth. Taking on the echelons of minions in Sauron's army is too much fun.
Millions have taken the 'Destiny' plunge, and millions have stepped back, wishing that the game delivered more. Make no mistake, the game is an excellent shooter with enjoyable co-op but falls short in terms of delivering MMO levels of content. In the Activision pantheon, the game offers something for both fans of 'Call of Duty' and fans of 'World of Warcraft' while at the same time channeling much of what has made 'Halo' a great series. The key characteristic here is multiplayer; it's all about playing and competing with fireteam friends.
The 'Far Cry' games always have offered fun (and violent) ways to travel through lush and exotic locales, and the first person view has been a big difference maker. 'Far Cry 4' adds to the toy box that was the third game, but goes one better by offering online co-op and the incredible Kyrat setting.
In the 90's, RPGs were like a core facet of gaming, but these days, they are a rarity. With 'Dragon Age: Inquisition' that amazing sense of a having fallen into a fantastic world returns, and the game is a must for any players looking for a memorable cast of characters.
In spite of several misadventures in cinemas and on video game consoles, there are still thousands of 'Alien' fans, and an endless number that encounter the franchise's best for the first time year after year. And that is why 'Alien: Isolation' is such a great gift. The game gets the player into the eerie world of the Xenomorph and what follows is a space platform worth of trouble that has to be experienced to be appreciated.
Anyone who likes Legos or icons like Batman and Superman needs to check out 'Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.' The co-op play has always helped to make the series great, and families can try to puzzle out each character in the game's massive cast.
Games that compel players to go and buy physical goods (small plastic figures) are a tricky beast. Even so, Disney's second take on the genre, 'Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition)', scores with its Toy Box mode and star-studded list of included characters from Disney's ever-growing catalogue.
It may have blossomed to multiple platforms, but EA and PopCap's 'Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare' is a very colorful and light take on the shooter genre. It is really an online only game, but there is lots of depth, even at a value price.
While it's far from a perfect game and is surpassed in terms of pure gameplay by last year's 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag,' 'Assassin's Creed Unity' is still a great gift because of how visually impressive the virtual French Revolution era Paris is. When the game is behaving, it can look stunning, right down to the customizable character clothing. This is the kind of game that when bundled a new system, just looks great, not unlike last year's 'Killzone: Shadow Fall.'
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
'Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare' is the best 'Call of Duty' in years, and even better, the in-game exosuit has added the kind of dimension that the franchise so desperately needed.
These games have made the jump from older consoles to the new ones, and in so doing, have attracted millions of players new and old.
The three protagonist campaign for 'Grand theft Auto V' was a blast on the PS3 and 360, but on the new consoles the whole thing can now be played in a stunning first person view. For older gamers, this is one not to miss.
Lara Croft has hung around a long time, but it's in 'Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition' that the character became worth caring about.
If you're torn between 'GTA V' and 'Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition,' then why not pick the game that has the best of both? 'Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition' is a sandbox title that brings the player to the seedy alleyways of Hong Kong in a way no game has ever before.
The PS4 may be a bit shy on exclusives, but 'The Last of Us Remastered' is a big one. From Naughty Dog, the game's commitment to story and challenging combat can almost be overshadowed by just how stunning a post-apocalyptic cityscape can look.
With 'Infamous: Second Son', Sony has its most high profile exclusive, and the visual showcase of Seattle is the kind of thing to make photo mode completely worthwhile. The game's story also nails the right tone, being grim without being too dour.
Sony's newest exclusive, 'Little Big Planet 3' offers wonderful co-op play, and a creative drawing board (and free community made content) to rival any game.
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