Game Front’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

Table of Contents


Xbox One

This section authored by Ross Lincoln

To put it mildly, it’s been a rough six months for Microsoft. When Xbox One was officially announced back in May, the new console was greeted with significant outrage. It was bad enough that the company’s oft-contradictory statements about what players could expect were confusing (to say the least), but confirmed features were blasted by fans for being invasive, or for completely upending the traditional customer-seller relationship.

Microsoft listened to complaints, however, and very quickly removed unpopular features like always-online DRM and the ban on buying and trading of used games. It’s true that Xbox One remains more expensive than Playstation 4, and it’s true also that Xbox One’s native 720p graphics compare unfavorably to Playstation 4′s 1080p. (See our point by point comparison here.) But the Xbox One also comes with cool features, such as cross-functionality with your cable service enabled by the built-in Kinect hardware, and launch-day exclusives like Ryse: Son of Rome which turn out to be much better than initially thought. That might just be enough to make wary gamers who loved Xbox 360 comfortable buying into Xbox One.


Xbox One System

Base Cost: $499.99
Release Date: 11/22/2012
Buy It From: Keep your fingers crossed.


The basic Xbox One package includes the console itself, a 500 GB hard drive, the built-in Kinect unit, a single Xbox One controller, an HDMI cable, built-in wifi and the standard 30-day free Xbox Live Gold membership. As expected, several launch deals have been offered, including Gamestop’s $559.99 bundles featuring launch titles like Ryse: Son of Rome and Call of Duty: Ghosts, or Walmart’s “Solution” launch bundle which includes one game and an additional controller for $617.96.

Unfortunately, just as with the Playstation 4, Xbox One preorders have been so strong that the console is already sold out pretty much everywhere. Luckily for you, there’s sold out, and there’s sold out, and that means you might have a few options for getting your hands on an Xbox One between launch and Christmas morning.

First, remember that many brick and mortar shops deliberately hold back on stock of certain items for use during sale events. Target is particularly notorious for this. Further, many retailers, especially wholesalers like Sam’s Club and Costco, will hold back stock for the shelves on launch day. These stores want customers to visit in person, where they’re more likely to make additional purchases. It would be foolish indeed to simply surrender such sales by letting online purchasers have first and only dibs. By all means then, call ahead and ask – store managers are likely to tell you what to expect. And pay attention to online and newspaper advertisements for any sales event announcements.

Second, even if stores aren’t holding back copies for the shelves, remember that major retailers will almost certainly receive new units between launch and Christmas regardless of current availability. Of course, those units are going to go fast. As before, call the outlets of your choice on a daily basis to see if and when these additional shipments might arrive, and be prepared to act quickly in the event they do.

Finally, remember that information provided online might not be accurate on a store-by-store basis. While strictly-online retailers like Amazon will naturally reflect actual availability, it’s possible your local Gamestop or Best Buy might still have preorder copies available. As before, call in or better still, drop by in person.

You might also follow @cheapassgamer, as they’re usually plugged into the best current deals as soon as they happen.


Accessories

Even if you can’t get your hands on an Xbox One just yet, you can still buy the accessories you’ll need to make the most of the system without any problem.

Xbox One Chat Headset
Price: $24.99
Buy It From: Newegg


Xbox One already supports voice communication via Kinect, but if you want to talk to your friends without having to shout at the TV, you’ll need to buy a headset. That means you’ll need the Xbox One Chat Headset, essentially an updated version of the current Xbox 360 standard headset. Nothing special here, just the same audio experience you’re already accustomed to. And you’ll have to be, because it’s the only game in town, at least for now. Microsoft has confirmed support for third party headsets isn’t coming until 2014.

It’s not that expensive, on the other hand, and yeah, you can get your headset pretty much anywhere. Being the loyal PC gamers we are, we can’t help but think Newegg should be your first stop. Order it here.


Xbox One Controller
Price: $59.99
Buy It From: Newegg


Of course your Xbox One only comes with a single controller, so you might as well grab a second one when you get your unit. The revamped version of the Xbox 360 controller contains some subtle and cool changes, including the new “impulse triggers” which rumble independently of the controller. “Start” and “Back” have also been replaced with “Menu” and “View” to make non-gaming applications easier to use. Of interest to Game Front readers, it’s also going to work with PC games some time next year, so you might as well save yourself the trouble of having to get up and walk back and forth between your PC and television, right?.

You can buy one anywhere for the price of a single game, but we suggest you get it on Newegg.


Launch Games

Like all new consoles, the slate of games available the day Xbox One launches isn’t exactly mind-blowing. The lion’s share of what you’ll be able to play on Xbox One is already available on 360, PS3 and so on. (You can review the full list of launch titles here and here.) Even so, there are a couple of Xbox One launch titles worth checking out.

Ryse: Son of Rome

Price: $59.99
Buy It For: People who loved HBO’s Rome but wish it were more like Batman.
Buy It From: Amazon
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Crytek
Genre: Third-person Action
ESRB: M (presumed; official rating still pending)
Release Date: 11/22/13


Crytek’s Xbox One exclusive looked like nothing more than “QTE: The Game” when it debuted at E3 2013. Not a particularly exciting prospect in a year that – originally, anyway – was also going to include Watch_Dogs. That is until we actually got our hands on the game at an Xbox One event earlier this month. As it turns out, it’s more like Batman: Arkham Rome. Borrowing liberally from Rocksteady’s Arkham series to give players a fluid, aggressive combat system, the game explores the life of Ancient Roman soldier Marius Titus, who battles the northern barbarians as he seeks revenge for unspecified wrongdoings. The historical scholarship is unlikely to be rigorous – Marius Titus is the equivalent of an American naming their kid “The III Smith Watson” – but from what we’ve seen, expect an exciting, Imperial Roman bloodbath. That’s a nice departure from, well, modern warfare bloodbaths.


Crimson Dragon

Price: $19.99
Buy It For: People who love dragons, and want to use Xbox Live the second they unbox their Xbox One.
Buy It From: Xbox Live
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Grounding, Inc. and Land Ho! Co. Ltd.
Genre: Rail Shooter
ESRB: E
Release Date: 11/22/13


A spiritual successor to the 2003 Xbox classic Panzer Dragoon Orta, Crimson Dragon is a rail shooter that gives players the chance to dodge attacks while baking bosses with fire. As you play, your dragons will evolve into more powerful forms, making the carnage more interesting (and of course, letting you scratch your RPG itch just a little.) It isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it’s a fun trip back in time to when many games still pretended the Arcade was a potential monetization funnel, and it’s a cheap way for people new to Xbox to get the hang of Xbox Live.


Dead Rising

Price: $59.99
Buy It For: People who love zombies, love Grand Theft Auto, and don’t get hung up on whether or not a story is any good.
Buy It From: Amazon
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Capcom Vancouver
Genre: Open World Survival Horror
ESRB: M
Release Date: 11/22/13


The Dead Rising series sounds like instant gold: Grand Theft Auto meets Night of the Living Dead. And yet it has never quite matched the heights of either half of the premise. That might change with Dead Rising 3, which sees the series abandoning the Las Vegas parody Fortune City for a Los Angeles pastiche called Los Perdidos, California. Combo weapons return with enhancements, including the ability to make combo vehicles, the map is bigger, and the zombies more numerous and dangerous. Interestingly, Dead Rising 3 will make the most of Xbox One’s peripherals in a way that sounds potentially very useful. Kinect functionality will give zombies limited situational awareness, and also let the player to issue commands to NPCs during battles. Meanwhile, Microsoft Glass integration will give people watching you play something to do, like calling in airstrikes. It’s unlikely Los Perdidos will top Los Santos for scenic California mayhem, but it’s nice to see Capcom thinking outside the box for its other zombie franchise.

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1 Comment on Game Front’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

AxΣtwin

On November 16, 2013 at 10:44 am

I just want to say, your PC components section is the whole reason why people think PC’s are several hundreds of dollars more expensive than they need to be.