With Christmas still fresh in our memories and the British economy still licking its financial wounds, it’s not that easy to find the cash-flow to match an appetite for gaming. Don’t look so glum though, as we’ve put together our top five games that’ll give you hours of fun and real value for money… even on a tight budget.
#5 Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
There are a lot of Lego games out there (seventeen in fact, if you’re counting across the generations), and if there’s one thing these games do well, its replay value. All of the current gen Lego games are built around the same setup, with a central hub that shoots off into whichever movie or character the game is based on. We chose the Complete Saga as it’s technically a combination of the first two Lego Star Wars titles. As such, you get six episodes, with six chapters per episode.
As it’s a Lego game, this is a collection fest – from red bricks that give you powers to building minikits of your favourite Star Wars vehicles, this game isn’t the kind of title you’ll wrap up in six to eight hours. To gain the coveted (read: obsessive compulsive) 100% achievement/trophy/feeling of gratification, you’re looking at 40-50 hours of character collecting and stud gathering. It’s also dead cheap, so no excuses if you’re skint.
#4 GTA IV
What better time is there to take a trip to Rockstar’s revamped Liberty City than the year that GTA V finally arrives? We could’ve chosen the sprawling systems of the Mass Effect franchise or the self-torture of Dark Souls, but there is something unfathomably deep about the fourth numerical entry in Rockstar’s flagship franchise.
Even if you’ve completed every side-mission, beaten the main story, won every race and ticked off every job, there’s still a wealth of well hidden collectables scattered across Liberty City. GTA IV is the kind of game you can just cruise around the streets listening to the hours of licenced tunes or original comedy whilst the sun sets amidst the vistas of the city. It’s also not the kind of game to give up acheivements/trophies that easily, so it’s perfect for gaming on a budget. And it should give you plenty of time to prepare yourself for the gargantuan game world that will be San Andreas 2.0.s
#3 Borderlands 2
Who’d have thought an FPS could last over 50 hours in a single playthrough? The first Borderlands gave us a glimpse of an open and dangerous world in Pandora and proved a shizzle-ton of guns and some co-op gameplay could a serious fun time make. So imagine that same formula refined and tweaked by the good people at Gearbox Software? Imagine a Pandora bigger than before, teeming with lush backdrops and enough enemy types to keep even the savviest shooter vet on his or her toes?
Borderlands 2 is designed to be an endless experience, letting you redeploy your levelled character back into Pandora with more loot and tougher enemies guarding it. The levelling system, skill-trees and five separate classes make Borderlands 2 a veritable steal under £30.
#2 Football Manager 2013
Whether you love your football stats or you just get a boner for micro-management, Football Manager is a literal black hole for millions. For what is essentially a deep cavern of menus and options, the Football Manager series gives you the chance to control every facet of professional football clubs existence. From base-level finances to formations tactics mid-game, Football Manager lets you do everything save playing the match yourself (and we’ve all got FIFA or PES for that). Picking up FM12 for around £10/£15 is beyond silly for hundreds of hours as a football-sim god. Budget gaming? This is practically a steal.
#1 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
When you think ‘value for money’, chances are it’s wearing a horned helmet and a dwarven warhammer! The world of The Elder Scrolls V may have its bugs but you’d be hard pressed to find a gaming land as rich and populated as Skyrim. What other game can you spend over 100 hours doing nothing more than wandering around, exploring dungeons and completing the occasional side-quest and never seen the time go by?
Even without shelling out for the Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLC you’re looking at paying £20 for potentially hundreds of hours of dragon-hunting, skill-tree branching RPG goodness. Go forth, Dragonborn.
What are your favourite games for beating the recession blues? Let us in the comments. We might even respond, if you’re lucky…