As any Black Friday commercial or email will tell you, the holiday season is indeed upon us. The gaming industry has taken great strides through the console generation, and while that is ultimately considered a positive, it can mean something different to the consumer: a massive hit to their wallet.
That being said, gamers looking to buy themselves something nice or parents unsure what to give their gaming warrior this holiday season have difficult choices to make. Odds are the gamer won’t get everything on their wish list. So what video game products out there will appease to a gamer without depleting all of your savings?
Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 Console ($200-250)
Without a doubt, the most essential contributor to the gaming experience is the console. Whether you’re looking to buy for the first time or simply wanting an upgrade, there are really only two options for gamers: Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3. Both machines boast impressive qualities, so the choice between which console is really a matter of preference.
The Xbox 360 receives constant praise for its online service, Xbox Live. Although the minimum cost to use the service is $60, it provides a great amount of features as well as a strong level of security. Online gaming as well as partnerships with Netflix, Zune, Facebook, Twitter, etc. make the Xbox 360 your one-stop spot for numerous social networks. On top of that, Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) has created an emerging market for amazing downloadable games.
PlayStation 3 provides a free online service, PlayStation Network, but don’t expect the quality that XBL can provide. However, the PS3 allows the consumer to play Blu-ray discs and has a large amount of first-party exclusives such as God of War, Uncharted, and Infamous. The PS3 will cost slightly more than the Xbox 360, but if free online gaming and exclusive titles are your preference, there is no beating the console that “does everything.”
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 ($60)
Odds are that you were one of the millions playing MW3 after picking it up at a local midnight release. If you weren’t, it is safe to say that you have been hearing about the game and how the Call of Duty franchise has yet again broke numerous record sales.
The third modern warfare installment from Infinity Ward will definitely keep any gamer busy. Most gamers buy the game solely for the competitive multiplayer, but the game also brings back an action-packed campaign that concludes a large amount of the story arc as well as the cooperative Spec-Ops missions. Infinity Ward also introduces its respective “Horde Mode” called Survival. Here, a maximum of two players fend off waves of soldiers, vehicles, juggernauts, and dogs strapped with C-4.
The game is packed with content, supported by Call of Duty: Elite that tracks player stats among other features, and will keep a gamer busy for a long while…or until the next Call of Duty game releases. Regardless, you will get your money’s worth.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations ($60)
At the start of this console generation, Ubisoft released one of the most inspiring IPs and characters, Altair and Ezio, to date. The franchise has incorporated a mind-bending narrative that combined the rich histories of the Crusades and 16th century Italy with the technology of the future. Four games later, and AC: Revelations is wrapping up the stories of Altair and Ezio while revealing some of the hidden truths that made the other installments so mind-blowing.
Revelations produces such an immersive world that any gamer will have plenty to occupy themselves with. Not only that, but the innovative multiplayer from Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood returns with more tweaks and game modes this time around.
What will happen to Ezio Auditore? Where will the series go next? Jump in the Animus to find out.
Turtlebeach Headset (price varies)
Now that you have the means to play a competitive online game like Call of Duty, the next item on your wish list may be a Turtlebeach headset. Comfortable headphones, surround sound capability, and a competitive edge make these the most sought after gaming headsets on the market.
Not only will they make a strong single-player experience like Uncharted 3 or Batman: Arkham City more enjoyable, but they also claim that you can hear an enemy’s footsteps as he tries to assassinate you. Because of the Turtlebeach’s dual ear headphones as opposed to standard single-ear headsets, you will be able to distinguish where exactly a sound is coming from. In competitive multiplayer, this can be the difference between life and death, or an MVP ribbon and no MVP ribbon.
While Turtlebeach headsets seemingly run the entire price-range gamut, aiming for the middle of the pack in conjunction with Black Friday deals can net you a Turtlebeach that more than gets the job done for under $100.
Capture Card ($60-200)
You’re just about set with your gaming setup thus far, but there is one more item that can bring your gaming to the next level. Have you ever pulled off a game-winning kill streak or no-scoped someone from across the map? Amazing, I know. However, chances are that you were the only one who saw it, and even if you told everyone about it, they probably wouldn’t believe you. Well, there is a solution to that: a capture card.
There are several capture cards out there. They serve as a medium between your console and your television so that you can capture and store what you see on your television onto your computer. From there, you can edit your gaming experience and upload to sites such as YouTube for everyone to see.
The best capture out there is the Hauppauge HD-PVR. While it captures in 1080i, it is also burdensome in size and will cost you $200. There are other alternatives out there such as the Roxio Game Capture that is about half the price of the PVR and still get the job done.
The gaming industry has presented consumers with an abundance of video game gadgets. Hopefully, you find everything a gamer could ever wish for. Above all, have fun!