Worlds Of Gaming: Best Of 2014

In 2014 the digital home and wearables categories exploded, with lots of amazing and powerful products introduced into the market. These, along with new releases in the worlds of gaming and fitness, offer you lots of ways to improve and enrich your life.


GAME CONSOLE
MICROSOFT 
XBOX ONE
The current generation of game consoles is here and well established, and brand loyalists have already picked their sides. Though each of the big three game systems has its own appeal, the Xbox One is by far the most compelling for its feature set. It incorporates an HDMI input and a television program guide, letting you jump between your game and live TV or enjoy picture in picture with a button press. If you get the $500 version with Kinect, it also supports voice controls and even lets you make Skype video calls from your couch.

XBOX ONE GAME
Forza Horizon 2
Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s Gran Turismo blazes an amazing trail between the arcade and simulation genres. Forza Horizon 2 is designed for car nuts who’ve dreamed of racing roads in a sprawling, open-world environment. If you don’t want to compete, you can coast and simply enjoy the view, too. Forza Horizon 2 is a great escape for car aficionados and casual drivers alike.

PC GAME
ALIEN: ISOLATION
Developer Creative Assembly used Ridley Scott’s Alien as inspiration for this stealth horror entry, and the result is one of the best games of the year. Rather than focusing on shoot everything that moves action, Alien: Isolation is all about evasion and subterfuge. Those who fancy creeping through a foreboding space station with one of cinema's deadliest villains will find a lot to love.

PORTABLE GAME SYSTEM
SONY PLAYSTATION VITA SLIM
The Sony PlayStation Vita was an advanced piece of portable gaming hardware, but it was also expensive and chunky, and its game library was paltry compared with that of the Nintendo 3DS. The updated Vita Slim is more affordable, thinner, and lighter, it lasts longer, and it has plenty of good titles. It’s better on all fronts, even if its LCD display is a (purely technical) step back from the original’s OLED screen.

NINTENDO WII U GAME
BAYONETTA 2
Platinum Games’ second adventure starring the titular angel-killing witch takes everything that was excellent about the original Bayonetta and polishes it further. This is how you do a character action game. Satisfying, fast paced, complex combat that feels both rewarding and challenging, and it’s all on the Wii U. If that’s not enough, the game comes with the first Bayonetta in its entirety, with new Nintendo costumes to wear.

PLAYSTATION 4 GAME
ASSASSIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG
It’s easy to dismiss Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag as just another entry in a string of annual releases, but developer Ubisoft has worked diligently to expand and tweak Assassin’s Creed III’s features and gameplay into something that stealth-loving next-gen gamers should have in their libraries. Case in point: The new sailing mechanic that lets you plunder on the high seas.

3DS
SUPER SMASH BROS.
The handheld debut of Super Smash Bros. is a fast, fun fighter that calls for four friends to get together and play it for the best experience. Its capable online features let you fight with your favorite Nintendo mascots against players from all over the world, and the single player options, though not incredibly deep, offer plenty of diversion the next time you have to kill a few minutes of time.

iPAD GAME
HEARTHSTONE: HEROES OF WARCRAFT
Blizzard’s first foray into mobile gaming is a fast-paced and lighthearted fantasy card game. Now that might put off some readers, but trust me on this one. There’s enough deep strategy for veterans of CCGs, and easy fun for everyone else. And best of all: It’s free. You have no reason not to install this game on your iPad.

ANDROID GAME
RIDICULOUS FISHING 
There are few games that live up to their title, but Ridiculous Fishing combines the time honored ritual of fishing with insane heavy weapons gunplay in a charming, low res package. It’s also very funny, which counts for a lot. Combining challenging gameplay with an addictive “just one more round” type mobile experience, Ridiculous Fishing is ridiculous fun.

iPHONE/iPOD TOUCH GAME
MONUMENT VALLEY
Whereas most mobile games try to suck you in for more rounds and premium currencies, Monument Valley goes the other direction. It’s a quiet, almost meditative puzzler, with a gorgeous design. If you never thought an iPhone screen could convey a sense of awe, think again. Now, if it only had more levels.

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