Next friday, we will finally see the official release of the highly anticipated PlayStation 4, with its red-headed stepcousin the Xbox One to follow. Kinda crazy that we're seeing the official kick-off to the next generation after an abnormally long one with the Wii/360/PS3, huh? And I'm planning to buy a PS4 at least.
Just not anytime soon.
And some of you may ask, why? Well, it's pretty simple. A smart consumer waits until there's enough of a reason to get one, and right now, we mostly have a small collection of last-gen ports, freemium pap, and indie games that you can get elsewhere. The most original thing in the line up is eerily similar to the Werehog sequences in Sonic Unleashed, of all things. The Xbox One might have some better launch exclusives, but I won't plunk down $500 for one.
So what if you want something different than the hype machines that the new consoles seem to be?
Build yourself a PC
There's an overused stereotype with console fans that PC gaming is too costly and full of snobs who look down on them, the equivalent of enrolling in Harvard if you're a street urchin. Companies like Alienware, who largely peddle over-priced rigs, don't exactly help the stereotype's prevalence. The thing is, the community surrounding the PC market is opening up its doors to the so-called unwashed masses, hoping to make PCs a viable alternative to a console. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of build tutorials circulating the internet, and chances are, you'll find a build that fits your budget. The other good part is that it's never been easier to build a PC, with parts that emphasize modular construction and easy replacement, and it usually doesn't require anything more than basic tools to make it. Heck, you could probably make the case out of Legos and it would still work well.
On the library side of things, it arguably trumps them all. Steam alone has thousands of cheap yet quality games to choose from, and they'll all inevitably look better than their console brethren even on medium specs. It'll also have most of the games the PS4 and Xbone have, and will usually play better than their console counterparts at the right specs. There's also a lot of peripherals to use outside of the traditional mouse and keyboard, which helps add to the variety of games to play. If you want to go into a legal gray area, you can get into the wonderful world of emulators. Don't want to pirate? There's now USB connectors that allow you to play your NES/SNES/Genesis/N64 cartridges on your computer, as well as certain disc drives for rom-dumping.
Buy a Nintendo 3DS and/or a PlayStation Vita
The difference between these two systems is nearly night and day, and there's even some kind of rivalry between their fans. And I have to ask, why can't these people be friends? Because you can probably do well by buying both. And at their current price, you can get a 3DS and Vita for the price of a PS4 and get a better library from both!
With the 3DS, you get a fantastic library of first-party games, with the recent release of Pokemon X
being the most obvious example, but it also trumps its console brother in sheer variety. Want a hardcore RPG? Have Fire Emblem Awakening
and Shin Megami Tensei IV
and have your ass beat. Want something slower-paced? Animal Crossing
and Rune Factory 4
hold the answer. In the mood for some platforming goodness? Get Super Mario 3D Land
, DKC Returns
and the Mighty Switch Force
games for yo'self. Want to scare yourself shitless? Resident Evil Revelations
is probably the scariest RE in years. Need a good multiplayer game? Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
and Mario Kart 7
are pretty good for that. Want to relive your childhood? Look at the two N64 remakes and a fast-growing library of NES/GB/GBC games. And the library continues to grow, with some great games coming out later this year and into next year, so it'll last you quite a while.
Vita provides something different, but still worthwhile. On the retail front, the unique Gravity Rush
, the addicting Persona 4 Golden
, and the impressive Killzone Mercenary
are definite buys, as well as the variety of good ports to play on the go. the real stars here, however, are the massive amount of indie games. It totally makes up for the lack of retail games when you realize that there's basically an indie game being announced for Vita every other day. How else can you play Thomas Was Alone
and Lone Survivor
without a steam account and on the go? You should also take notice of some of the weirder niche stuff coming from the likes of XSEED and NIS America. In addition, if you're planning to buy a PS4 next year, it works as a good companion device, being able to operate and play PS4 games without even touching the power button or even turning on the television.
Play catch up, or go even further back in time
The old saying goes is that good things come to those who wait, and nowhere is this more apparent than with consoles nowadays. Launch customers are typically glorified beta testers, as their firmware divisions continuously tweak and refine the usually unfinished operating systems until they're somewhat stable. People that buy consoles well after this get a massive built-in library, a much more stable experience and a lack of the usual hangups experienced during the console's peak. So if you've been holding off on buying a 360, Wii or PS3, there's never been a better time to buy.
But let's say that you missed the consoles prior to that. No problem! You can probably get any console that you'd like for a reasonable price on Ebay or your local pawn shop. People that want less clutter can also buy hybrid consoles, such as the Retron 5, for very reasonable prices on stores like Amazon. Games as early as the Atari 2600 can also be bought this way, and depending on their rarity, you can probably build up a small library of games for little money.
Buy a Wii U
I know what you're probably thinking. Why this of all things? Didn't you just present some better options to us? And won't this be the worst next-gen system of the lot?
Well the thing is, the Wii U isn't that bad of a console, it just mostly depends on your taste, which is mainly why I listed this one last. However, there's some tangible benefits of buying it first and getting the other consoles later.
For starters, it's cheaper than the competition, being about $100 less than a PS4 and $200 less than an Xbone. It is also completely backwards compatible with the Wii library, the only next-gen console to have this functionality, so the whole "playing catch-up" thing can apply just as well there. One other thing is that there is a decent selection of bundles to buy this holiday season. There's a Wind Waker
bundle that's out already, a Skylanders
bundle fer the families, and a Mario
bundle as well. So really, it's a much better deal than it was at launch.
As for games, there's a good selection of stuff that's out right now that you will likely never find anywhere else(besides NSMB). Pikmin 3
is easily the best thing that EAD has made since the GameCube, greatly expanding upon the strategy for micro-managing buffs. The Wonderful 101
is probably one of the best action games of the year, along with Metal Gear Rising. Zombi U
is probably better than I thought it would be, going heavy with its sense of dread and the paranoia that comes with snooping around in the dark. Rayman Legends
may not be exclusive anymore, but it offers one of the most unique multiplayer experiences on the system. Super Mario 3D World
is also a bundle of pure joy that needs to be played. Beyond that, there's a lot of promising games on the horizon, such as Bayonetta 2
, Super Smash Bros.
, Xenoblade 2
, Mario Kart 8
and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
. There's also a lot of oldies to play, which some may buy mostly because off-TV play is a great feature.
So there you have it. Even if it's not the most popular thing to do, there's a lot more viable options for Christmas than just the ones that everyone is talking about. read