Tis the season to receive awesome gifts to satisfy the amateur movie critic, the reader, the role player, and the gamer; to be excited and entertained, but most important, to geek out over how cool this stuff is. Here, I have compiled a list of the top ten presents that the geekiest of gift recipients could want.
Okay, let us go ahead and get this one out of the way. Microsoft has released their new console, the XBox One, and Sony has put out the PS4. No matter which side of that war fans fall on, they both have a lot to offer as systems, and a few games that can be burned through easily. So far, there seem to be fewer problems with these systems than the XBox 360 and PS3 launch editions, and there are some good games on the horizon, but since I will be forced to spend time with my family over Christmas, I think a Wii U may be in order. Whether the internet thinks it is a next-gen console or not, I have to get my Mario fix.
Make sure that everyone that receives a Christmas wish list this year knows that Steam does gift cards, because that is important. Every year Steam holds one of its largest sales, the Steam winter sale, offering some of the most incredible deals I have ever seen on PC games. This is something I really want, because I cannot even begin to admit how much I spend during this sale each year. Steam has a great mix of new and older games, AAA and indie titles, and a great community of gamers. Whatever anyone says negative about gift cards as presents, these things are worth their virtual weight in gold.
Whether it is used for games, movies, or just background noise, a good television makes for quite the surprising gift. The Panasonic ST60 has amazing picture quality and one of the best HDTV experiences to date, with some reviewers claiming it to be Panasonic’s best performing product picture wise, even out-doing their top of the line models. Starting at a thousand dollars, this model comes in different sizes and offers a variety of built-in features, with the only downside being some of the internet functions. The ST60 is not the top of the line, but it is the best steal for quality and price tag.
Apple has made some improvements to the iPad series in the past, but it is the iPad Air that is breathing a fresh new air into the series, which should cause consumers to take notice. This new light-weight high performance device has an amazing processor for fast speeds, a powerful rear camera for family pictures, and one of the best screens available for tablets currently. Tablet gaming is perfect on the Air, with a high number of games, apps, and free programs that come with it. For those that plan on doing a lot of traveling over the holidays, this tablet is a must.
Those that have not heard much about the Oculus should not feel bad, as it is only out as a development kit so far, but anyone can order it. What is it though? The Oculus Rift is a next gen device, a headset that allows players to step into virtual worlds, according to their website. The device is lightweight, has a 360 degree head tracking radius, and boasts a low latency in games. I know that pretty much every other endeavor into virtual reality for video games has sucked horribly, but the videos for the Oculus Rift look good. If someone wants to spend the three hundred dollars for the kit, I will take one for the team and review it.
I do not have cable, so for me, something like Chromecast would be an awesome gift. It is a neat little device that plugs into a television and holds all of the great apps like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO GO, that can be operated with an Android and Mac based tablets or smartphones. There are other features for Chromecast, like streaming videos from other devices on to a television and a smooth playback mode, but it is simple and easy. At thirty-five dollars, it is also hard to pass up, and is small enough to be an almost perfect stocking stuffer.
The handheld market in gaming has always been a tricky one with a lot of ups and downs, and frankly Sony has disappointed me with multiple versions of the Vita. On the flip side of that I have heard nothing but good about the Nintendo 3DS, other than some complaints about headaches. The XL version apparently fixed the few problems people had with the system and the 2DS model was introduced for those who wanted a simpler model. The 3DS has much better games, and with the recent release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, I think now is the perfect time to convince someone to buy me one.
For those who like to read, there is a lot out there to choose from, and they all make great gifts. I am still missing a few books in the Song of Ice and Fire series I would love, but for those that are all caught up, Neil Gaiman’s new adult novel Ocean at the End of the Lane is an enticing page-turner, said to be in his usual fairytale style with a great new story. Gaiman also makes his return to comics with the new comic The Sandman: Overture, a prequel to his other stories. Also in comics is the wonderful new series from Brian K. Vaughan, Saga. This Star Wars-esque fantasy book is a sexy and wild ride through the far reaches of imagination that will not disappoint.
So I am not all the way through the series yet, but I may be slightly addicted, and there may be someone nagging me to finish this. That is why I have to convince her that this beautiful complete version of the entire Breaking Bad show on Blu Ray has to be what she gifts me this year. It is just simple chemistry, really. Loaded down with over fifty-five hours of special features, a new two hour documentary, and a personalized letter from the show creator, this box set—that comes in its own money barrel—will keep me busy for quite some time and will get multiple viewings.
Consoles and televisions are great and all, but they are nothing without some good games to play on them. For this Christmas, I can only hope that either Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag or Mario 3D World find their way into my excited hands. Although I have been a critic of the Assassin’s Creed series and some of their choices, AC4 is being called the best in the series since the second game, which was my personal favorite. With a new character, less Desmond Miles, and a ton to do in the open world setting, this is a must own. Mario 3D World is also reminiscent of a favorite older game in its series, and another favorite of mine, Super Mario 64. I cannot count the hours I put away on that game, and with a new world, new power-ups, and a fun looking couch co-op, I cannot wait to play this new gem from Nintendo. I actually cannot decide which game I want more.