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How To Spend $100 On Video Games And Get The Most Bang For Your Buck

SwiderMan
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Posted October 11, 2011 - By Matt Swider



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How To Spend $100 On Video Games

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or perhaps a very large Geodude, you know that the world economy sucks right now. But you’re still bound to net a healthy profit of gift cards over the upcoming holidays; friends and family never know what to buy tech-savvy gamers. We either already have it or it’s too obscure for anyone out of the loop to really know about. When I was a kid, this meant that gift cards from aunts, uncles and grandparents used to combine to cool $100 - a small fortune as far as I was concerned.

Today, the choices are much more complicated. Disc-based games are more expensive and there are a lot of smaller bite-sized titles to factor in. Keeping with that $100 theme, let’s review the best options out there to fit a Ben Franklin-sized budget.

How To Spend $100 On Video Games

The Double Fine/Tim Schafer Collection

Tim Schafer has been responsible for some of gaming’s most inventive IP, including my favorite non-Star Wars LucasArts PC titles in the 90s. So, if I had a $100 budget and was looking for old treasures that were truly against the gaming grain, I’d allot the first $20 to searching out his graphic adventure game Full Throttle. Yes, despite having released in 1995, this point-and-click cult classic is so expensive because it can be hard to find. Likewise, Schafer’s next graphic adventure, Grim Fandango has pretty much met the same fate at around $30. LucasArts needs to get on the digital distribution ball so we’re not hunting down CD-ROMs via Google. “Buy Full Throttle” brings up more energy drink results than biker graphic adventure games.

If you're able to nab either of those for a bargain by picking up a cheap, used copy, then put the dough you saved towards The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition or Monkey Island 2: Lechuck's Revenge Special Edition. You can pick up each one for $10, and you'll be glad you did. 

When Schafer left LucasArts to establish Double Fine Productions, that creative streak continued with the critically-acclaimed, poor-selling Pyschonauts. This platform adventure game with peculiar premise may have almost bankrupt publisher Majesco, but it won’t bankrupt you. It’s available on Steam for just $10. Brutal Legend can be had for that same $10 amount, and while it wasn’t the heavy-metal masterpiece it was cracked up to be in 2009, the game world is fun to play through. More importantly for Double Fine, it provided an important game engine for all of its downloadable titles going forward.

Of the most recent Double Fine releases to use the Brutal Legend engine, the cute adventure RPG Costume Quest struck a heart-warming nerve for a Microsoft Points-depleting $15. Finally, Trenched (renamed from the original title, Iron Brigade - Double Fine isn’t a fan of lawsuits), has the key to our tower defense hearts, taking our last $15.

How To Spend $100 On Video Games

GTA Clones

In case cute games like Costume Quest aren’t your thing, more mature titles derived from the Grand Theft Auto vein of the open-world genre might suit your $100 budget. You’ve probably played through LA Noire and, besides, that would take up a good chunk of your budget. Instead, try out Mafia II, a more succinct 12-hour sandbox game that is also set after WWII. Being a platinum status game, it costs just $20 new. Don’t go for the full game via Xbox Live, which is $30 (aren’t digitally distributed games supposed to be cheaper? C’mon!). Instead, save the dough for the $10 Joe’s Adventure DLC. You’re going to want to play as your old pal by the time you’re done with Mafia II. Trust me. *Tear.

At $30 in the hole, you can spend a third of that amount and come up with another dozen-hour explore-fest with Crackdown 2. This love-it-or-hate-it Xbox 360 game casts you as an orb-collecting, high-jumping agent throughout Pacific City. Its real charm is in the online multiplayer. The dynamic nature of the game combined with your friends, challenges and vehicles is definitely worth $10. Plus, and that price, it’ll be pretty easy to convince your buddies to put some of their own $100 gift card money toward Crackdown 2.

With $60 left, splurge and buy a new game: Saints Row: The Third. It looks as ridiculous as it plays, moving in on the territory that GTA games used to occupy. It’s not to say that GTA games have become more wholesome, but this clone provides more mayhem for the moolah. I was tempted to tell to just spend the entire $100 budget onSaints Row: The Third Platinum with its pimped-out headphones, but that wouldn’t be very economical. You’ll probably just have to settle for a pair of cheap knock-off The Syndicate earbuds.

How To Spend $100 On Video Games

Rockstar Get-Up

Sticking with the $100 theme and the preconceived notion that you already have games like LA Noire (or at least played through it), you can take a trip down to the Rockstar Games Warehouse for unique accessories from the publisher's line of games. By far, the coolest trinket is the LA Noire golden globe table lighter, the very same puzzle piece you find when working the homicide desk (minus the spinning puzzle segments). It really works - fluid not included for obvious reasons - but costs $75. So while you can impress girls with this slick way of lighting their cigarette, they’ll probably leave you once they find out you only have a $25 gift card balance to spend on them.

Take the rest of your money and turn it into more money by buying the Warehouses’ Western-themed Collector’s Edition #1, which includes one deck of playing cards, red and black die and a bar of Eradicator Soap for good measure for $15. Then nonchalantly purchase another double pack of playing cards for $10. With face cards from the extra decks up your sleeves, you’re sure to win. I happen to know of a good card-cheating simulator called Red Dead Redemption. I think it does other stuff, too.

How To Spend $100 On Video Games

An HD Tale for the Ancients

Are you a PS3 gamer who still needs to be immersed in Greek mythology and ancient worlds built by modern gaming’s most legendary first-party developers? Over the past two years, Sony has put out a trio of stunning HD compilations starting with 2009’s God of War: Collection. That means Kratos’ first hack-and-slash PS2 adventures can be had for a cool $30 on the PS3. Similarly, God of War: Origins Collection offers the series’ pair of PSP games in remastered form for the console for $30.

The remaining $40 can be spent on a new copy of last month’s The ICO & Shadow of Colossus Collection from none other than Team ICO. Designer Fumito Ueda and his (highly) creative team brought two magical, yet minimalist worlds to PS2 in 2001 and 2006. Although the PS2 originals can be bought separately as cheaper used games, the updated compilation is in HD courtesy of the developer that ported the God of War Collection. Plus, you’ll want that trophy support after taking down the sixteenth and final colossi.

How To Spend $100 On Video Games

Gaming Icons Remastered in HD

As a sixteen-year-old brand, PlayStation is rife with classic franchises to bundle and up-rez in high-definition. The Xbox? Not so much. That all changes on November 15, when Master Chief makes a triumphant second appearance on Xbox 360 with a remake of his first outing in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. This time, it’ll all be seen natively through an HDMI port. Even better, the entire high-def Bungie epic (ported by the aptly named 343 Industries) will only cost $40.

With the one and only Xbox icon checked off, let’s return to the PlayStation stable of available candidates starting with Solid Snake. The Metal Gear franchise has been a strong PlayStation exclusive and will remain that way (as far as new games go) until Metal Gear Solid: Rising also comes out on Xbox 360 in 2012. Snake is a PlayStation icon nonetheless and is getting an HD collection of his own on both systems next month. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection contains MGS 2: Sons of Liberty, MGS 3: Snake Eater and PSP’s MGS: Peace Walker. Both Hideo Kojima fans who own PS3s and MGS newbs on Xbox 360 should take solace in knowing the HD remakes will cost $50.

Having $10 left over, you can find a gently used copy of Tomb Raider Trilogy starring Lara Croft, another gaming icon and character once closely tied to the PlayStation family. This PS3-exclusive collection contains Tomb Raider games Legacy, Underworld and Anniversary (which itself is a reimagining of the original).

And now you have exactly $0 left over for the Nintendo icons in high-definition, which is exactly the same price: free.

How To Spend $100 On Video Games

Stay Stealthy Collection

The credit for mainstreaming the art of stealth in video games belongs to Looking Glass Studios and its Thief series. However, we’re holding out for remastered versions of the first three games before giving in and replaying the originals. With Thief 4 on the way, it could happen. In the meantime, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell deserves recognition for further establishing the subgenre on the Xbox in 2002. The last-generation games, Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory are bound for the HD revolution, too. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD will take $40 off your gift card and it’s only available for PS3.

Your next $20 should be reserved for another silent prowler, Agent 47, who blazed the compilation trail back in 2007. I bet you didn’t even realize it released for the PS2 and PC back then. That’s how freaking silent this assassin is! The Hitman Trilogy contains Blood Money, Silent Assassins and Contracts, skipping the first in the series, which was a PC-exclusive. Best of all, the collection contains a sneak peek the “the next big franchise” Kayne & Lynch. Can’t wait to see how that one turns out!

A more satirical take on the stealth genre, the Sly Cooper games feature a crew of cel-shaded good guys out to teach criminals a lesson through master thievery. Now their original adventures are on PS3 in the form of The Sly Collection, estimated property value $30 if stolen. The graphic novel presentation is as fun as the platform gameplay, so while you wait for Sly 4, now titled Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, check out this 3D-ified version of the acclaimed PS2 games.

That extra $10 should go toward 800 Microsoft Points for the Rare-developed Perfect Dark game on XBLA. Joanna Dark was all the rage back in 2000, when the ex-Nintendo owned developer spurned the Bond license and made a female secret agent character of its own. While you'll have to wait on the remaster of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, playing Perfect Dark in HD is the next best thing.

How To Spend $100 On Video Games

Party Games for your closest friends

Most of the games in this $100 “What If” list are single-player-only affairs or are restricted to multiplayer in the ESRB-less zone known as online. But if you’re fortunate to live near your gaming buddies and fortunate enough to have $100 on hand, start with Big Buck Hunter Pro for Wii for $50. I know, you’re probably not into hunting. You may even be a card-carrying member of PETA. Doesn’t matter. Big Buck Hunter Pro with a gun (complete with reload mechanic) is a lot of fun. And don’t worry, you don’t need to buy two guns thanks to a hot potato mode in which you pass off the plastic accessory to score each other. Plus, an extra gun would cost just as much as the game and first gun combo because it’s not sold separately. We’re only hundred-aires here!

The best quiz game out there happens to be a PS3-exclusive: Buzz! Quiz TV bundle for $50. If you’ve ever bought someone a TV quiz game that works with your DVD player, you’ll recall that the clickers don’t respond or the remote is unwieldy. Sony fixed that issue by bringing in the pros at Relentless Software to develop a slick-looking quiz package as well as four wireless custom-made remotes that are easy to use. Xbox 360’s Scene It! games also have colorful, responsive clickers, but the questions in that game are hit-and-miss. Buzz! always seems to be a laugh-riot and there are user-created questions to download via PSN.

There are and endless number of ways to spend your $100, so carefully choosing what you buy is the best method to seemingly stretch that gift card balance. Additionally, pay attention to G4TV’s weekly Video Game Deals Guide for more ways to shrewdly spend your money, both the real money and the microtransaction variety.

Matt Swider has been writing about video games for 12 years. Now based in Los Angeles, he is actively expanding GamingTarget.com and his freelance opportunities.

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