REVIEW: A guide to fulfilling your favorite gamer's holiday dreams

by TERRY TERRONES terry.terrones@gazette.com - Updated: December 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm • Published: December 1, 2013 | 3:55 pm 0

Chances are you have at least one child or adult gamer (or someone who's a combination of both) in your family.

How do you buy them something great without asking them for hints and giving the surprise away? Let The Gazette's gaming gift guide point you in the right direction. With a little something for every type of gamer, the excellent titles listed here are sure to bring a smile to your loved ones' faces.

 

Hard-core gamers

If the person you're shopping for eats, sleeps (in Mario pajamas) and breathes video games, these are the sure-fire titles to buy.

"Grand Theft Auto 5" (PS3, Xbox 360) - With "GTA 5," Rockstar Games has created a title that's likely to clinch many Game of the Year awards. It's visually stunning, has countless hours of exciting missions and is full of classic "GTA" humor. But remember, parents: "GTA 5"is rated M (a game meant to be played by people ages 17 and up) for a reason.

"Call of Duty: Ghosts" or "Battlefield 4" (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U) - These two franchises have been duking it out for military shooter supremacy for years. Typically, this is a one-sided contest, with "Call of Duty" coming out on top, but not this year. "Battlefield 4" is just as good, and in some ways better, than its "Ghosts" rival. Luckily for players, you can't go wrong with either one. "Call of Duty: Ghosts" is on Wii U, "Battlefield 4" is not.

"Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag" (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One) - Visit the ports of Havana, Kingston and Nassau. Take on the British, Spanish and French empires. And hang out with legendary pirate Blackbeard. This is the best Assassin's game since 2009's "Assassin's Creed II."

"Batman: Arkham Origins" (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox360) - Explore the Dark Knight's first encounters with several DC villains and battle crime in Gotham's grimy, dark setting. This is a great pickup for any Batman fanatic.

 

Family-friendly fun

Forget the latest Pixar flick: Stay home and have some interactive family time with these games.

"Lego Marvel Super Heroes" (PC, 3DS, PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One) - Traveller's Tales has always done a great job with its LEGO franchise and this game is no exception. With tons of content and more than 100 of everyone's favorite super heroes and villains, this is a must have for every Marvel fan.

"Disney Infinity" (3DS, PC, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360) - This fun sandbox title is Disney's answer to Activision's "Skylanders" franchise. Set in the Disney universe, "Infinity" allows kids (and adults) to create their own worlds while using collectible, wonderfully rendered action figures.

 

Sports games

"NBA 2K14" (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One) and "FIFA Soccer 14" (PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Vita, PSP, Wii, 3DS, Xbox 360, Xbox One) are the two best sports titles of 2013.

"FIFA 14" is the most complete soccer experience you'll find anywhere and is a blast to play with family and friends. "NBA 2K14" features a new LeBron: Path to Greatness mode, in which players can control LeBron James' career.

 

Get your money's worth

Titles released earlier this year are now available at a discounted price and will still bring a smile to your favorite gamer.

Excellent releases like "Tomb Raider" (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), "Bioshock Infinite" (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) and "Injustice: Gods Among Us" (PC, PS3, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360) can be had for $30 to $40 - even less if you buy used copies. Depending on the tastes of your favorite gamer, there might also be other games that can be picked up on the cheap.

 

PlayStation 4 or Xbox One?

With the November releases of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the next generation of gaming consoles is officially upon us. Which one should you get? I've spent time with both the PS4 and Xbox One and I can convincingly say that neither is a great value, at least not right now.

Both consoles are light on exclusives, with many of the same games available not just for the PS4 and Xbox One but also current gen systems (as you can see above). Console launches are also notorious for their sloppiness and glitches. Online servers are untested and developers are just getting a feel for the hardware of each device. Because of that, I'd wait six months to a year to grab a PS4 or Xbox One, when the benefits of the new consoles will be more pronounced.

However, if you refuse to wait, I'd pick up an Xbox One. Yes, it's more expensive ($499 to the PS4's $399) but it has a meatier launch window lineup than the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox's reputation as a media hub with excellent multiplayer support makes it a stronger choice.

-

Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.

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