Who needs next-gen? GTA V leads charge for best Xbox 360 and PS3 Christmas games line-up ever

There has been a lot of talk about the Xbox One and PS4. They will soon both be available - if you can find either on the shelves after launch - and they will no doubt continue to be coveted by gamers around the world. However, at £430 and £350, not everybody will have the funds ready to splash out on one of the next-generation consoles, let alone a stack of launch titles to go with them. Most will be content to stick with their existing, current-gen games machines.

And let's be honest, some of the best games coming out between now and Christmas will either be available on current as well as next-gen or only on Xbox 360 and PS3. The end of 2013 may see the heralding of a new era for gaming, but it's also the twilight years of the last. And that invariably means that developers are admirably eking out the last, remaining drops of potential existing consoles can offer.

Just look at The Last of Us on the PlayStation 3, no matter the graphical power of a machine, that is one incredible game. And Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox 360 and PS3, which is launched this week. If you want an excuse to put off that PS4 or Xbox One purchase for a while, that has got to be a good excuse. So, here at Pocket-lint we've decided to put together a line-up of current-generation games that are coming out in time for Christmas, or have recently been released, which could extend the life of your existing consoles for a fair while yet.

Grand Theft Auto V

Xbox 360, PS3

Let's start with one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the year (possibly the last two years). Originally scheduled for "spring 2013" but put back so that Rockstar could continue to refine its development, GTA V is perhaps the last of the franchise to be released on current-generation consoles. But what a way to go out?

The open world map is the largest yet, there are three characters to play as and swap between during missions, the graphics have been dramatically improved, and if any of those elements were not enough, GTA Online is included for free. As of 1 October, the persistently online world additionally game will be unlocked, allowing you to create your own character for the very first time to take on missions with up to 16 players in total.

Analysts are predicting it will be the biggest-grossing game of all time, and it's obvious why.

Read: GTA V review

PES 14

Xbox 360, PS3

It's been a while since a Pro Evolution Soccer game came anywhere close to toppling FIFA off its perch as the top footy game for consoles, but this year's effort has been rebuilt from the ground up to keep some of the classic gameplay elements of the series, but improve dramatically on animation and the overall flow of the game.

From our play of the PS3 version of PES 14 at E3 in June, we can honestly say that it looks like the latest chapter could represent a true return to form. Like GTA V, it also comes out this week, so we don't have long to find out. Also, it's exclusive to the current-gen consoles (and PC) for now.

FIFA 14

Xbox 360, PS3

With some fancy new features being added to the next-generation version FIFA 14 it's easy to forget that the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions are awash with improvements and upgrades on former iterations.

We had a jolly good play with an early build of FIFA 14 on the Xbox 360 at EA's UK headquarters in June and found out just how much of a difference to the gameplay the new Precision Movement, Pure Shot and Real Ball Physics technologies make. Now you can swivel on the all like a real player might, use inertia to get around a defender and hit a shot with swerve and dip like never before. It really is a brand new ball game.

Read: FIFA 14 preview

F1 2013

Xbox 360, PS3

Also exclusive to the current generation of consoles for now (as well as PC), F1 2013 is Codemasters' latest update to its popular licensed motor racing franchise. As well as include all of the liveries, latest driver details and technical improvements aping the 2013 season, there is a new classic mode with cars from the sport's past.

Cars from the 1980s will be available to all, but a whole set of classics content featuring additional tracks and 1990s vehicles will only be available as part of a limited edition F1 2013: Classic Edition.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Xbox 360, PS3

The prequel to Batman games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City is also restricted to a current generation console release - including Wii U and the obligatory PC version - which will irk those investing in the Xbox One and PS4 no end. If the first two games in the franchise and positive preview reports on the latest, this will keep you glued to your Xbox 360 or PS3 for a while.

It basically tells the story of a Year One Arkham world version of Batman as he meets many of his most iconic foes for the first time. Expect much of the same open world Gotham City exploration and fluent combat that delighted us with the originals.

Read: Batman: Arkham Origins preview

Battlefield 4

Xbox 360, PS3

We'll admit it, the next-gen versions of Battlefield 4 look incredible. But you'll be pleased to know that, thanks to the Frostbite 3 graphics engine, so do the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions.

The same single-player plot and voice acting is all there, including from what we've seen so far a standout performance from Michael K Williams (Boardwalk Empire, The Wire). And in terms of action blockbuster first-person-shooter thrills, it is destined to yet again be a toss up between this and the latest CoD.

Read: Battlefield 4 preview

WWE 2K14

Xbox 360, PS3

With the demise of THQ, the WWE licence was snapped up by publisher Take Two, which has put the latest in a very long-standing wrestling game franchise on its 2K Sports imprint. This promises to add new elements to the series, promising the most comprehensive edition yet.

Generally, the label prides itself on simulation elements in its sports games, helping the player ape the real-world action, so it will be interesting how this will affect the career mode of the game. We do know that three decades of infamous Wrestlemania moments will be available to re-enact in a 30 years of Wrestlemania mode.

The WWE games are our guilty pleasures here at Pocket-lint, so we'll be keeping a keen eye on this.

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Xbox 360, PS3

The Assassin's Creed series has done mighty well on current-generation consoles up to now, so we can't see anything changing this time out. In fact, bar a few glossy graphical improvements, we haven't seen many differences between the PS4 and PS3 versions of the game when we've encountered them over the last few months. Both will be equally as good.

As well as the on-land assassination and parkour shenanigans, Ubisoft has invested even more in its ship battle mechanics - especially as the game is full of piratey goodness this time around - and includes new mini-games around whale hunting and diving for treasure. It promises to be the biggest chapter yet.

Read: Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag preview

Call of Duty: Ghosts

Xbox 360, PS3

A games round-up would not be complete without a mention of an annual Call of Duty title. Ghosts is the latest in the franchise and promises to deliver the right blend of huge set pieces and intricate single-player FPS fun, certainly enough to sate any CoD fan's appetite.

However, it is the multiplayer action that could get hearts a-pounding this time around as the new Blitz mode joins the online fun. It adds some superfast gameplay as two control points appear on the map and each team must capture their own designated one. However, unlike capture the flag, they don't have to get it back to their base, they simply score a point each time they manage to get inside the zone, respawning straight after to have another run.

Read: Call of Duty: Ghosts preview

Watch Dogs

Xbox 360, PS3

When most people talk about Ubisoft's Watch Dogs it is generally as part of a "look what's possible on the Xbox One or PS4" conversation. However, the suspected hit game is also coming out on Xbox 360 and PS3.

While we haven't seen the current generation versions ourselves yet, the story, theme and game world will be identical to the next-gen edition and it could even give GTA V a run for its money as the top open world game out there in time for Christmas. As well as feature a lot of the driving around and shooting gameplay found in the GTA series, the hack into any tech mechanic makes for a fresh and intriguing addition to the genre.

Read: Watch Dogs preview

Diablo III

Xbox 360, PS3

Although it had already been available for a while on PC, a console version of Diablo III was announced during Sony's PS4 unveiling event. However, versions for Xbox 360 and PS3 have also recently launched and anyone who's up for a spot of action-RPG fun should put it on the Christmas wish list for sure.

Blizzard has cunningly circumnavigated any pitfalls that generally await conversions from mouse to joypad and added a few console bonuses along the way. And with on-the-same screen four-player co-op it's a great game to invite a few mates around to play along with too.

Read: Diablo III (PC) review

Skylanders Swap Force

Xbox 360, PS3

The phenomenal success story that is Skylanders continues with Swap Force, except this time some of the new batch of toys can be pulled apart to create all new characters to send into the game. Want the speed of one Skylander but the firepower of another? Just take the top off one and add it to the bottom of a different figure.

In addition, all Skylanders can jump for the first time in the franchise, so there's a lot more 3D platforming to be done than ever before. And with all previous toys still compatible with the new portal, you can build up a fearsome array of playable Skylanders.

Read: Skylanders Swap Force preview

Gran Turismo 6

PS3

We'll be completely honest with you; at E3 the Sony Europe team had a wall covered in PS4 games and a wall dedicated to PS3. On the PS4 side there was DriveClub, the next-gen racing game and on the other Gran Turismo 6, proudly bearing the standard for the current console. To be fair, Drive Club was far from a finished game, but GT6 was the one that looked next-generation. In fact, several months later, it looks more next-gen than many actual PS4 or Xbox One rivals.

You have to be a dedicated sort of racing game player to get the most from a Gran Turismo game and the sixth is no exception. It is as much a true driving simulation as it is a game, but what stands out the most (initially, anyway) is its sumptuous graphics. Quickly glance at the screen and you could be forgiven for thinking that it was HD video playing real racing footage.

This is truly the graphical swan song for the PS3. And if so, what a way to go out.

Read: Gran Turismo 6 preview

Beyond: Two Souls

PS3

Some people are not sure about the sort of games that David Cage and his company Quantic Dream develops, often accusing them more of being an interactive movie than a true adventure game, but we love them here at Pocket-lint.

Beyond: Two Souls is another that graphically puts some next-gen titles to shame, with its superbly rendered cast - including lead stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe - and beautiful scenes elevating this work of art even above the similarly splendid Heavy Rain.

Read: Beyond: Two Souls preview

The Last of Us

PS3

And what round-up of the current-generation games you should put on your Christmas wish list would be complete without The Last of Us? Heavily tipped to sweep game of the year accolades across the board, even with the presence of GTA V, this apocalyptic zombie road story is one of the finest pieces of interactive story telling of any generation, let alone the current one.

It is poignant, at times heartwarming, others downright scary, and it stays with you long after you finish. If you don't already own a PlayStation 3 it could even be the excuse to pick one up. It really is that good.

Read: The Last of Us review



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