Experience the classic board game of capitalism and real estate like never before with the Monopoly 3D Edition ($500). This special edition game is limited to just 2,000 pieces, and features custom-designed elements depicting New York City from popular three-dimensional artist Charles Fazzino. These elements include six pewter game pieces, money, title deeds, chance and community chest cards, wood houses, hotels, and banker's tray, as well as three-dimensional artwork with embedded crystals and foil accents. The set comes in a two-inch-deep wooden cabinet with a glass top, and each set is numbered and signed by the artist.
The long wait is finally over. You can now play Grand Theft Auto V ($60) — the franchise' largest, most ambitious installment to date. With the ability to seamlessly switch between the three main characters with the push of a button, you can see (and play) this massive world from a variety of unique perspectives. And speaking of this massive world, Los Santos is Rockstar's largest open world yet, letting you explore side missions that involve yoga, tennis, gold, even hunting. But, don't fret, it still has the classic GTA elements you've come to love, like customizable cars, guns galore, and the ability to step into the shoes of a hardened criminal.
While it's still the classic game of urban planning you all grew up loving (and playing until obscenely late hours), SimCity ($60) has been completely rebuilt from the ground up — and it's now available on the Mac. Instead of animated cars and people wandering around your carefully-constructed cities on an infinite loop, the game is completely powered by a detailed simulation engine. Traffic patterns actually make sense, and you can literally watch people go from their homes to their jobs — and hear them complain when they don't have one of the two. Cities work together, both hurting and helping each other, and you can team up with friends and strangers online to build interconnected worlds like you never imagined.
It's kind of hard to believe they've been making this game for 25 years, but with each new release, it keeps getting more and more fun to play. Madden NFL 25 Anniversary Edition ($100) continues the tradition of incremental gameplay improvements, this time adding better ballcarrier control. Made to improve your performance as a running-back, dual-threat quarterback, or a safety, you get 30 new moves added to your carrying arsenal. Also included in the anniversary edition: a Madden Ultimate Team Subscription for the first 17 weeks of the season, and exclusive deals from DirecTV.
It's 100 degrees outside, your face is melting, and you've been sick of baseball for two months. Football feels like a far away dream, but thankfully NCAA Football 14 ($55) made a 20-yard scramble into stores last week. The newest iteration in the EA Sports franchise adds the much lauded Infinity Engine 2, bringing real time physics to every sack of your buddy's QB. And as part of Ultimate Team mode, you can play with the likes of Barry Sanders and the greatest athlete in video game history, Bo Jackson. Even though the dog days of summer may be keeping football fans down, NCAA Football promises violent, hard-hitting relief.
The creative geniuses at Naughty Dog (the guys who brought us the Uncharted series) have done it again with The Last of Us ($60), a third-person survival-action game exclusive to the PS3. You play as Joel, a grizzled-but-resourceful survivor, 20 years after a fungus has reduced most of humanity to a flesh-eating horde. You're tasked with escorting Ellie, a young girl, across the ruins of America, battling the infected (and other survivors) as you go. The game is packed with gorgeous scenery, cinema-quality cutscenes, tricky survival scenarios, and enough zombies in dark rooms to keep you entertained through to the end.
What's better than a game based in an alternate universe where an underwater utopia turns into a deadly moral dilemma that's rife with special abilities and freaky, bunny mask-wearing psychos? Said game set in an overly nationalized city in the sky, that's what. Bioshock Infinite ($60), Irrational Games' next iteration in the Bioshock franchise, is set in Columbia, a cloud-dwelling city where capitalism, religion and racism are king. Infinite holds more of a mirror to the player than its predecessor, taking the American dream to its long, twisted, logical conclusion. If you expect a hunk of weighty, philosophical environments, with a side of solid first-person gameplay, then this is your jam.
Most special video game packages include trinkets, but Call of Duty isn't most video games. The Call of Duty: Black Ops II Care Package ($180) packs a working remote-controlled quadrotor drone and stand with the game, along with a two-sided SteelBook, the official soundtrack, props, challenge coins, and a host of bonus in-game content — including a zombie-filled map set in a 1960s nuclear neighborhood.
There are a lot of options vying for your gaming dollars this holiday season. You could pick up Black Ops 2, Halo 4, or even a Wii U. Or you could spend a fraction of the money and wind up with six complete games. Like the Jelly of the Month Club, Retro Game Crunch ($25 and up) is the gift that keeps on giving with six retro-licious games coming to your Mac or PC over six months. Backed by pixel wizards Shaun Inman, Rusty Moyher, and Matt Grimm, this unique pack includes all six games — one new title developed each month — plus the old-school opus Super Clew Land. Or you could just buy a giant tablet/controller thingy. Up to you. [Scouted by Trent]
Never mind the fact that a new version comes out each and every year — they somehow to make it better each time. What's that? No, we're not talking about the iPhone — we're talking about FIFA. FIFA Soccer 13 ($60) is the latest installment in the storied franchise, and brings with it all-new positioning intelligence, more precise dribbling and first touch controls, the second generation of the player impact engine, and two new passing options, among other improvements. And don't worry — it still packs one of the most impressive rosters in all of videogames, with over 500 officially licensed clubs and more than 15,000 players.
Never mind the horrible Amazon reviews — if you're that concerned about Franchise Mode, perhaps it's time you go outside anyway. As for the rest of us, Madden NFL 13 ($60) is ready to fill the gaps between Monday and Thursday nights with the best football gaming yet, thanks to improvements like the all-new Infinity Engine for more realistic impacts and momentum transfers, a new pass-ready system, an all-new defensive AI system, and a new, refined presentation that mimics CBS NFL broadcasts. Of course, if you just have to have your classic Franchise goodness, Madden NFL 12 is only $20 bucks these days.
Side-scrolling mixed with zombies mixed with fantastic visuals equals a damn good time. Deadlight ($20) is set in mid-'80s Seattle, and has you playing as a man named Randall who has been separated from his family right as a virus has spread throughout the world, turning most folks into "shadows", which is really just another word for the undead. Using nothing more than an axe, revolver, pistol, shotgun, and your bare fists, it's a quest worthy of classic consoles — but with much better graphics.