Spending $300-$500 on a "gaming" upgrade

It turns out my tax refund this year is larger than I was expecting. So much so that I can, in good conscience, take most of the refund, pay off a credit card, and still have somewhere around $300-$500 left over to buy myself some gaming fun with. The question is, however, how to spend that. Some possible options:

  1. I bought the HD TV a year ago in preparation for an XBox 360 that I never had the free cash to buy. However, most of the 360 lineup looks like shooters, why would I play them on a 360 when I can…

  2. Buy a shiny new 20-22" (1650x1080) LCD monitor for my home PC (Opteron Dual Core @2.25 Ghz; roughly an X2-3800 and 7800 GS). If I’m going to play shooters, might as well play them on the PC, right? I’d be replacing my 19" CRT. However, the CRT still works fine and I can play the shooters whether or not I buy a new monitor. So maybe instead I should…

3)Wait and buy a Wii. Sure I can’t find one now, and that sucks, but it’s a far different game experience than a computer or a 360, right? Of course, it seems like there’s a barren stretch of games on the system for a while, and I can’t help but notice that other than folks breaking out Wii sports on TV shows hither and yon, I don’t continue to see “How cool this is!” messages hereabouts for the Wii, which makes me think I might be better off…

4)Buying a DS. It’s got a developed library of games and offers a (different) unique gaming experience. However, it’s a handheld, and I feel somewhat stupid sitting around playing a handheld at home. And I’m not in a position to play while travelling since I don’t really travel all that much.

Of course, some of these options can combine (360 = Wii + DS, for example).

Anyone have any suggestions? For someone with a decent but not state of the art computer, with a PS2 and a GC and a decent Home Theater system, where would you spend $400 to most expand capacity for gaming fun?

I had a similar question a year ago. I got the 360, it’s been very very nice, but I DO like shooters.

I’d go DS if you dont like shooters.

If you buy that monitor you’re going to want a better video card.

I bought the Dell 2007 WFP 20" widescreen at Christmas. I’ve got the same CPU running at the same frequency with a 7800GT and I can’t run a lot of games at native resolution and still get a decent frame rate without turning detail settings way way down. I love the monitor, but I need more GPU horsepower to push all those pixels in a pleasing manner.

I’d go with the 360.

2nd on the 360. Yeah, shooters are better on the PC if you are accustomed to keyboard/mice.

But there is more to the 360. Sit down and play one for a while, and try out xbox live and the marketplace. You might be surprised.

If that doesn’t win you over, the Wii would be my second choice.

Or you can buy a Vista upgrade and use Live and Marketplace on your PC in 6 months.

There’s only so much fun to be had out of looking at the Aero interface, however. And I’m pretty sure that’s all Vista really brings to the table in terms of gaming at the moment.

Sure. I’m just saying that it’s possible that Live isn’t going to be a reason to choose 360 over PC a few months from now. Realistically, we don’t know how completely or successfully it’s going to be implemented on PC, but it’s something to consider.

A joystick, rudder pedals, headset, Track IR, Buttkicker, a die cast 1:72 replica of a p-51 mustang and IL2 1946!

That would be hard to use as justification for an OS upgrade that might hinder your PC gameplay at the moment.

I’m sure Mouse wants to improve his gameplay experiences, not degrade them.

Elucidate (I know that sounds like a fancy pants English major word – I remember it from an Iron Man comic book) on what kinds of games you DO like. Otherwise everyone here is just babbling suggestions to no particular point rather than suggesting things based on what kinds of games you like. :)

My particular babble was going to be: “Blow $500 on games for the systems you DO have and just enjoy that.” :)

Honestly, the biggest incentive to buying a console for me? I can actually rent console games.

The problem is there’s not a lot of interest on the systems I do have: I have pretty much everything I want for the PS2; there’s nothing new for the GC (and hasn’t been for a while).

As for what I like, that’s actually tough to pin down. I spend a lot of time playing WoW and I have time constraints, so the majority of my time is spent there. But I’m willing to spend money on more marginal returns. I like RPGs (more console type than PC type), I like platformers when they’re good, and similar spirited “adventure” games (God of War, Prince of Persia: SoT series, Beyond Good and Evil, etc…) I also like “light” strategy games (e.g. Viva Pinata looks really cool; I actually enjoyed Evil Dictator). I’m not so much into RTS no matter how hard I try. I’m not a huge shooter fan, but I’m slowly developing an appreciation by cherry-picking from the best of the PC lot: Half-Life 2, Prey, FEAR, Painkiller, etc… I also really enjoyed Rebel Commando. Of those, HL2 is the best probably because it feels more like an action game at times than a shooter. I like shmups (Gradius, R-Type, etc) but I think that’s a pretty moot point at this particular point in time.

Inevitably I’m one of those folks who always has access to far more games than he plays. So things which are easy to get into quickly, rather than “in-depth” tend to score more highly in my book. (Hence Prey which everyone else seems to feel is disturbingly easy; for me that means that when I get busy I can put it down for 3 weeks and come back and still enjoy playing it.)

Hmmm… after typing that out it really seems like the DS might be the best choice given my gaming patterns and what I already have available. The Wii seems like the same type of system but doesn’t have the library right now. If only Viva Pinata was available on the PC I could ignore the 360 pretty readily (Though Kameo and Tomb Raider also appeal; as does quite a chunk of the XBL Arcade stuff and that monster-killing game that’s been making the video rounds.) Bah!

(Edit: Oh yeah, the action RPGs like Diablo 2, Fate, The X-Men Legends series, Titan’s Quest, etc… are all notable among most games I play in that I’ve finished most of these (the ones that can be finished). I almost never finish a game otherwise, really.)

Screw all that; for gaming greatness, this is what you need.

Heh, I should point out I’m a busy, cantankerous, anti-social crank. I could sink all the cash into miniatures games or (more my speed) CCGs, but then I’d never get to play them because when I get off work I want to go home, hole myself up in my cave, and do whatever the hell I feel like. I figure I should get this out of my system as much as possible now, before the looming nuptuals change my ability to do so with impugnity!

  1. Just so you can play Dead Rising.

Oh, by the way (and apologies for the minor derail):

Say, that 'minds me… there was a pretty good thread you started a while back about the evolution of the RTS genre, and trying to trace it through games over the years. For the life of me, I can’t seem to remember any unique-enough keywords from it to dig it up. Do you remember what I’m talking about?

I’d save the money for 6 months, then buy a DirectX 10 video card when they come down in price, a Vista upgrade to use with it and hopefully have enough left over for Crysis.

Or, if you MUST spend now, a 360 with Dead Rising and Lost Planet should keep you busy for hours on end. Toss on Viva Pinata for extra fun.

Yeah, I remember the thread… let’s see…

Here it is.

I don’t know what your game preferences are but theres plenty to like on the 360 besides shooters. At least I don’t consider these shooters

Dead Rising - Most fun ive had with a game in a couple of years
Viva Pinata - Addictive as hell
Saints Row
Gears of War - Ok, this ones a shooter, but it’s a really good shooter. And it ain’t on the pc.
Lost Planet - Ok, another shooter but again its fun and its not something you’re gonna be playing on the pc.

Not to mention all the great stuff coming out this year. IMO, the 360 has the best lineup of any platform for this coming year.

I just got a 1680x1050 22" monitor myself. It is lovely. You want that above all.
You will NEVER be satisfied by a regular 19" again :)
Especially nice in WoW, where you both get more room for UI elements, and
can see more enemies around you. Widescreen is effectively cheating in PvP :)

There are more than shooters for the 360, especially on the XBLA. I’ve bought
ten games from there already. I also have 8 full games, with a ninth in the mail.
Not all shooters; you might want to try before you buy, though. R6V has the
best controls I’ve played with in any console game. I’m actually not missing
mouse control most of the time.

I love my DS, too, and there’s a bunch of games you can play for short amounts
of time and stop at any time. All games put the DS in sleepmode when you close it,
so there’s not always a need to even save. Just keep it charged when not in use.
You want the DS Lite+a USB charger cable for convenience.