It's that time of year again where the sales of games consoles are sky rocketing and it must be said that there has rarely been a time where the choice of which to buy has been harder to make.

After two years into their lifespans (three for the Wii U), the current generation machines are just hitting their stride. The games that are now available for each are better and more accomplished than even last year's batch - and getting better all the time. And both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have had user experience upgrades to add new features.

The question that remains, therefore, is which to choose? They all have their merits, but which of the three would suit your gaming and entertainment needs the most?

We attempt to answer these questions in this feature. And you might be surprised by our decisions.

The most important element when deciding which console to buy this year is support. Will it have the most amount of games that you want to play? And in terms of first-party games, the Xbox One just about shades it as it has had more exclusive titles released on the build up to Christmas than either of its rivals.

Halo 5: Guardians, Forza Motorsport 6 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are all exclusive to Xbox One (the latter is also available for Xbox 360, but that's not relevant in this case). That's quite a list in itself, but when you add Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, the remake of the first Gears rebuilt from the ground up, it is an impressive line-up of games that Sony couldn't match in the last couple of months.

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That's not to say that Sony won't have some excellent first-party titles coming up early next year; Uncharted 4: A Thief's End will undoubtedly be one of the best games on the PS4 so far, but it is slated for a spring release after being held back for extra polish. And titles like The Last Guardian and No Man's Sky (developed for Sony Worldwide Studios by Hello Games), as good as they look, will also be stars of next year's line-up, not this.

Nintendo itself seems to be winding down its own Wii U releases a little, possibly with an eye on its next machine, the NX. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, Xenoblade Chronicles X and Super Mario Maker are top titles, but Star Fox Zero seems to be one of the last big games still coming. And that won't be around until March 2016.

Things are a bit closer between the two big boys when it comes to third-party titles. As always, there are specific content deals with Sony and Microsoft that might mean a certain game has better DLC or new missions on one console or the other, but most publishers are catering for both machines.

Sadly, this is where the Wii U misses out even more so as it has much less support outside of Nintendo itself. There are some third-party titles available, but they are few and far between. Kids are well served though, with an exclusive starter pack for Skylanders Superchargers featuring a Donkey Kong Skylander that doubles as an Amiibo. That might be a decider for some parents. And it has recently been announced that Minecraft is coming to the platform.

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When it comes to games like FIFA 16, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Star Wars Battlefront, Fallout 4, Need for Speed and Assassin's Creed Syndicate though, there's very little difference between the two main machines.

It is here that the Xbox One excels over its nearest rival because the recent dashboard update also brought backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. And although only 104 360 games work at present, any original title that doesn't require a USB accessory or the original Kinect could eventually work with the console's software-driven emulation. Microsoft is adding them in regular batches. It's also a free service.

Supported Xbox 360 discs will be read by the Xbox One, which will then download the related digital version for free to the hard drive. And any compatible games already bought from Xbox Live will be available to download immediately.

Sony, on the other hand, relies on its cloud gaming platform PlayStation Now to deliver playable PS3 games, but that is a rental or subscription service that requires additional payment. The company has already started to release PS2 games that work on the PS4 through emulation, like the recent Star Wars classic titles given away with the Star Wars Battlefront edition console, but it's unlikely to ever match the scale of the Xbox offering.

Wii U owners actually have the biggest reason to smile about backwards compatibility, with the console being compatible with Wii games from its launch. There are also tonnes of classic Nintendo games available to download through the digital store, from all eras of gaming.

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Sony fares better when it comes to virtual reality in that it has its PlayStation VR headset that could change the way you game forever.

Coming in the "first half of 2016" the VR headset is of equivalent quality to Oculus Rift - as we found in our tests of each device - and will give the PS4 another string to its bow.

Microsoft has HoloLens - its augmented reality headset which will also be suitable for gaming - but as that headset doesn't even have a realistic consumer release date, it's not a major concern for now.

Sadly, Nintendo has no interesting add-ons for Wii U to look forward to and we feel that it is waiting until next year's Nintendo NX reveal instead.

It's a tough one, but Microsoft has perhaps improved its console more in the last two years than Sony. Some will argue that it's because it had to, with the PlayStation 4 a superior machine at launch. By focusing more on gaming than it did originally though, the lines between the two main current generation consoles are more blurred than ever.

As for Nintendo, it's almost chugging along on its own merry way without getting to embroiled in the scrap between the other two.

What it really boils down to though is what games you ultimately want to play on your new console and how long you are willing to wait for them. We suggest you make a list of all the games you'd most like to play and see which console ticks the most boxes.

Nintendo's Wii U is the ideal second console for those that can afford it and truly offers something different to the other two, but if you only have enough money for one machine, want top titles to play on it this year rather than next, and already have an extensive library of Xbox 360 games on your shelves, it really is a no brainer.

That said, if you are an Uncharted fan, it's well worth getting a PS4 in preparation for a decent slice of Nathan Drake action next spring.