- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Here’s some top gift ideas for the PlayStation 4 gamer in the family.

The Last of Us Remastered (Sony Computer Entertainment and Naughty Dog, Rated: Mature, $49.99) — The universally acclaimed game from 2013 got rebuilt from the ground up for the PS4 this year to give a high-definition (1080p) shock to survival horror fans.

The story places a player in a brutal, post-pandemic world, 20 years after the cordyceps virus nearly wipes out humans. Teen misfit Ellie accompanies Joel, a single father with a tragic past. The unlikely pair works together to fight off cannibalistic monsters and endure the worst of humanity.

This edition also includes Ellie’s prequel chapter “Left Behind,” eight additional multiplayer maps (that plunge players into survivalist dream matches) and in-game commentary from the cast and creative director.

The “Last of Us” beautifully envelops a player into the world of interactive cinema and is the perfect gift for any mature PS4 owner in the family.

LittleBigPlanet 3 (Sony Computer Entertainment and Sumo Digital, Rated: Everyone, $59.99) — Children control Sackboy and his new band of playable plush pals (Toggle, Oddsock and Swoop) in this side-scrolling, platform puzzler as they try to stop a group of evil gargoyles from destroying the creative paradise of Bunkum.

The creative, storybook adventure shines while a player explores eight worlds (the 1950s diner area is too hip) thanks to dazzling, textured visuals, computer-generated scenes and tapping into one’s imagination.

The varied challenges and options, which never bore, include: building a fast car; creating a gadget; stickering near any part of an environment; or effectively using cool tools such as boost boots, a teleporting blink ball or air gun to negotiate a level.

Player can enjoy the adventure solo or with up to three others via couch or online co-operative play.

The action is sure to mesmerize young gamers in the family through not only the cute story, but also the sheer abundance of customization features.

They range from tweaking character wardrobes to crafting puzzles and even entire worlds (hundreds of helpful tutorials exists every step of the process). Also, the chance to conquer over 9 million user-generated levels certainly adds to the replayability.

Far Cry 4: Limited Edition (Ubisoft, Rated Mature, $59.99)  — One of the most exotic first-person shooters in the medium returns with a new, open world adventure just in time for the holiday season to make its case for a place on a gamers gift list.

A player becomes the American Ajay Gahl. Looking to spread his departed mother’s ashes in her native land, the mountain kingdom of Kyrat (an homage to Nepal), he gets caught up in a civil war as factions fight against the brutal, drug-dealing despot Pagan Min.

Amidst sprawling, gorgeously panoramic terrain (near impossible to not constantly stop and admire, especially the snowy mountains), Ajay must shape his fate while using a potent arsenal and environment to his advantage.

An abundance of missions and side quests meld with sandbox-style exploration to keep the player busy.

During any moment in the game, he may be riding an elephant to cause rampant destruction, prodding tigers to attack enemies by tossing raw meat near them, climbing a tower to shut down radio propaganda, racing quad bikes, flying around on a Buzzer and hang glider to pick off foes or learning about the dangers of angry honey badgers, up close and personal.

The Limited Edition includes an additional trio of single-player missions, access to the impaler harpoon gun and invites to send out to 10 friends to try the game’s co-op mode for free.

Note: To survive and succeed in “Far Cry 4,” Ajay will often have to kill wild animals, often dangerous, to craft new supplies. The act can be a bit off-putting and too graphic for more sensitive gamers. Heck, even Ajay moans his disgust during the process.

Madden NFL 15 (EA Sports, Rated Everyone, $59.99) — The definitive virtual football experience makes for a great interactive gift for the professional football fan in the family

High-definition visuals lead the way and capture every staple of the National Football League in action. Be it stadiums, Jumbotrons, detailed, textured uniforms, celebrations, recreations of past and present players and lifelike interactions (within varied weather conditions), all arrive in a presentation that mixes the best of NFL Films and a television broadcast.

The latest Madden also boasts redefined defense mechanics offering better control of tackling, pass rushing and pass coverage and a more informative and pointed way to call plays on the offensive side of the ball.

As usual, gamers can chew up hours, days and weeks playing this gridiron simulation due to its extensive level of content ranging from simply enjoying head to head, multiplayer matches, crafting a player to take him to the Hall of Fame or team to win the Superbowl and meticulously building a franchise as an owner for years of success.

Best of all “Madden NFL 15” helps to teach the rules, plays (analyzed and recommended from millions of player from the Madden gamming community) and strategies of football, through extensive hands on tutorials that can build mental skills for a new, budding generation of real football stars.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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