Not done Christmas shopping yet? Me neither. Have any video game lovers on your list? 2K Games sure hopes you do as they have released waves of great titles this holiday season, including upgraded and enhanced versions of beloved titles and remarkable multi-packs of some of their best games. 2K Games has been one of the most forward-thinking and impressive development houses in the world over the last decade and looking through their holiday season offerings reminds one of their incredible track record. Seriously, there are some games in here that are in the select group of titles that you really HAVE to play before you move on to the PS4. They popped up a few times on About.com's list of The Best Games of 2013 and one of these titles even topped The Best Games of 2012. More details below. Pick your favorites:
The 2K Collections:
The company has released three PS3 collections -- "2K Essentials Collection," "2K Power Pack Collection," and "2K Rogues and Outlaws Collection" (which is available only at Wal-Mart.)
Not surprisingly, the one with the title "Essentials" is the one that you simply must buy if you haven't played at least two out of the three games included in it. For $30, you get "Bioshock," "Borderlands," and "XCOM: Enemy Unknown," three of the most important games of the PS3 generation. They really ARE essential, unlike a lot of these starter sets that throw that word around with little concern for its meaning. "Bioshock" redefined what could be done with narrative in the action genre, creating a game that's riveting both in its gameplay and its storytelling. "Borderlands" (and its sequel) may be the best co-op game of all time, a title dense with replay value and deep, open-world gameplay. And strategy games don't get much better than "XCOM: Enemy Unknown," although if that's the ONLY one that you haven't played, there's a better way to do so further down this piece.
The "Power Pack Collection" contains "The Darkness II," "Bioshock 2," and "Mafia II" and it's decidedly less 100% awesome than "Essentials" but built more for the many gamers who have probably already played those perfect titles. They could have called it the "underrated" collection in that almost everyone with a PS3 has played "Bioshock" at this point (it was even included in collector's edition releases of "Bioshock Infinite"), many skipped the underappreciated follow-up, the best game in this three-pack. As for the other two? Well, the effusive praise is tempered here a bit but the price point is still so low. "The Darkness II" is a narrative mess but features some solid action while "Mafia II" is cluttered but features a gorgeously-rendered environment. Think of it as paying $20 for "Bioshock 2" and $5 a piece for the other two and it's still a deal.
Finally, there's "2K Rogues and Outlaws Collection," available exclusively at Wal-Mart, and including "Borderlands 2" (2012's GOTY), "Spec Ops: The Line," and "Mafia II." This is the ransom collection -- a little bit of co-op, a little bit of FPS, and a little bit of open-world action. Really, the games have almost nothing in common. "Borderlands 2" is the gem, one of the best games of the PS3 generation. "Spec Ops" was a bit of a victim of its own ambition, but how often can you say that about a modern FPS? It's a game worth playing.
Maybe you've played all those games or don't have time for three-pack bundles and just want a great game this holiday season. As much fun as the collection releases are, the real gems from 2K this year are two re-issues for "Borderlands 2" and "XCOM." The former finally has a "Game of the Year Edition," which includes the DLC available, some of which is better on its own than most standard on-disc games. You simply must play "Borderlands 2" and this GOTY release is the way to do so. Finally, there's "XCOM: Enemy Within," a remake of "Enemy Unknown" with some new mechanics, character interactions, skill sets, and missions. It's like an enhanced, alternate version of the first, masterful game. Both "Borderlands 2" and "XCOM" made About.com's 2012 Top Ten. You need to play them both and these are now the best ways to do so.
Finally, it should be mentioned that 2K Games has also released the best sports game for the PS4 in the remarkably-addictive "NBA 2K14." Not only does it look incredible and play as smoothly as anything on the next-gen machine, it feels more genuine and organic than any sports title I think I've ever played. The way that the announcers incorporate what's happening not just in-game but in-season is remarkable. And the broadcast presentation of it all has never been topped. If you saw it from a distance, you would think it was a real NBA game. It's also remarkably creepy how closely the real players model the habits and shooting trends of their real-life counterparts from the fact that Carlos Boozer can't hit a three to the fact that both Derek Rose and Joachim Noah are injured in my Bulls season. And while I don't love "WWE 2K14" (which is just PS3, not PS4) simply because I'm not a big fan of wrestling, those who are should adore a similar degree of detail. Again, 2K Games never cuts corner.