In search of a more focused and efficient way to squander my time.
April 16, 2014 2:26 PM   Subscribe

This morning someone posted a sweet gaming room to reddit (picture has since been taken down), and it made me think, "gee, I'm an adult now, I can do anything I want!" And since I'm nothing if not impulsive, I now really want to buy a video game console. For the first time ever. If I use both hands, I still have leftover fingers when counting the number of times I've played a video game in my life. Show me your ways, geeks of MetaFilter!

So, like I said, I've never really played console video games before. They were banned in my house growing up, so the small number of times I've interacted with them as an adult have mostly been spent mashing the buttons until something explodes and subsequently pissing off my friends.

Usually when I come home from work I throw on some TV I don't really care about and play tetris until my introversion recovers. I figure I could spend that time dicking around with a more interactive video game instead. I've watched enough Law & Order SVU to last a lifetime.

I don't even know where to start with this.

What I am definitely NOT looking for:
-PC games
-the latest greatest flashiest thing
-a Wii (my mom bought a Wii like five minutes after my brother moved out; I've played around with it, I don't think that's what I want)

What I AM looking for:
-something I could find secondhand without too much trouble
-games that can be played on it that are relatively easy, mind-numbing fun, but something I could make progress on
-something that's fun alone and/or with a +1
-I don't even know

I feel like I'm coming on here asking for dessert recipes and my only guidance is "yeah, I think I might like food?" Please tell me what I should look for. Blank slate, you guys.
posted by phunniemee to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The correct answer here is the PlayStation 3. Nice graphics, awesome game library, easy to find used, most games have a casual mode that anyone can beat. Can be used as a streaming media hub and bluray player as well.
posted by sid at 2:29 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

games that can be played on it that are relatively easy, mind-numbing fun, but something I could make progress on

My boyfriend LOVES the Lego games - Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, etc. They follow the story of the movies/books and involve problem-solving and puzzles (not, like, mashing buttons to fight someone). They're visually attractive and goofy in a really fun way. It's a good way to relax after work.
posted by troika at 2:32 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

....Or you could get an old secondhand PS2. I had the most fun playing platformers like Ratchet and Clank, Jak & Daxter, and Sly Cooper. Also driving games like Burnout. And unique experiences like Katamari Damaci and ICO. (I have an XBOX 360 right now and I don't use it nearly so much as I played my PS2.)
posted by mochapickle at 2:34 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

A PS3's probably a good bet for you. Also, a PlayStation Plus membership might be a good idea, since it'll get you a new game to try at no additional cost every month. You can generally get a membership discounted to about $30 (usual price $50) around Black Friday every year, but there might be some discounts if you look. The PS2's got a good back library, but the PS3's got more additional features that are handy (all the streaming video services, etc.)
posted by asperity at 2:37 PM on April 16, 2014

I still really like my (bulky, first-gen) PS3, which I got when it was relatively new. You sound like me, so I think the Elder Scrolls games (e.g., Skyrim) will meet your criteria. I love leveling up and picking new skills (which unfortunately means I get bored when levels get further and further apart).

Uncharted series definitely; I always describe them as interactive movies. They can really be as easy as you want, I've found.

The Assassin's Creed series is good too, though they can be frustrating (no, Ezio, don't climb that wall!); II and Brotherhood were my favorites. Any of these should be very cheap.

Hey, want to buy a PS3 and some games? I'm joking. Mostly.
posted by supercres at 2:57 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and for same-room co-op, Resistance ended up being my favorite. Borderlands is good, but I never really got into it. This page calls them couch co-ops.
posted by supercres at 3:02 PM on April 16, 2014

I'm a 31-year old dude who had pretty much the exact same epiphany a few years ago.

Pretty much any console you can find secondhand will have a variety of game types and difficulty levels. The majority of available games will have a user-set difficulty level as well, so you can typically start on easy mode and increase the challenge if you want. This is typical across video games, and not limited to which console you choose.

If you're in the US, you'll see more Playstation 3 (PS3) and Xbox 360 consoles in the secondhand market. They're the second-latest generation, so fewer of them have been retired or broken, and people who upgrade to the latest-and-greatest (the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are the best-selling current-generation consoles) are selling their used PS3s and Xbox 360s. There's a wide variety of games available for each. Lots of different types of games. Also, it's still pretty easy to find video game rentals for these consoles, so you can try out different games to see what you might like (there are a number of different ways to rent these days, not just brick-and-mortar shops). If you want to play against other people online, you can do that on both of these consoles. I don't know if it's important to you, but PS3 consoles will play Blu-Ray discs and DVDs, Xbox 360s will only play DVDs.

With consoles older than the PS3/Xbox 360 generation, games are starting to become harder to find. Not quite so much with the Playstation 2 (PS2) and original Xbox consoles, though it is starting to happen, but definitely with GameCube/Super Nintendo/Dreamcast/Playstation/Saturn/NES etc.

One other thing to consider in figuring out what you want to play is that a lot of people are uploading videos of themselves playing video games to Youtube. The number of videos is weighted pretty heavily to the newest stuff, but you can find footage of just about any video game you want on Youtube. You might find you like getting a bit of an introduction to a new game that way, I don't know.
posted by hootenatty at 3:10 PM on April 16, 2014

I am like you in that I neeeever played video games as a kid. My husband, however, is video game master. The only game I've gotten remotely into is Little Big Planet on the PS3 because it's the only one that didn't make me feel incompetent. It is ridiculously fun and cute and I think it fulfills your criteria.
posted by altopower at 3:20 PM on April 16, 2014

The only correct answer on this is: go play the games your friends have, on the systems your friends have, and buy the one that plays the games you like.

If you don't have access to such things, and you just want to get something (used), then PS3 is the way to go -- they're more reliable than XBox360, and you already rejected the Wii. Just remember that the Wii has more simple, easy mind-numbing games than PS or XBox, as the latter two are focused more on hardcore gamers. Can you borrow your mom's Wii and play with it a bit?

Oh, and I had a Wii, barely touched it, but LOVE the Wii U. You'd think it wouldn't be different, but the main controller makes it much more like a traditional console, and so much more fun.
posted by davejay at 3:42 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about a handheld console? I had a DS Lite and I loved it. Tetris DS is soooo fun.
posted by radioamy at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2014

Vectrex has 2 player games, and systems are on ebay.
posted by Sophont at 4:48 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mind-numbing fun, you say?

Get a 360 or PS3, an extra controller for split-screen co-op, and a copy of Earth Defence Force 2025 (NOT EDF Insect Armageddon, that one is a spin-off developed by a different team and not really an EDF game at all apart from the title).

The game was released last February but will probably be a commercial failure so I imagine you should easily find a discounted copy already. With the 360 version you can do couch and online co-op simultaneously (ie, two people playing offline split-screen with two other online players at the same time) while the PS3 version only allows either 2P split-screen or online co-op up to 4P; on the other hand, Sony doesn't force you to pay a subscription fee to play online like MS does.

It has 5 difficulty levels and, more importantly, it is simple to get into for new players; as an anecdote, I have played it with a handful of people who aren't used to console gaming at all (much less dual analogue-stick shooters) and all of them got easily used to the controls and were having fun just minutes after picking it up.

The prequel, EDF 2017, is also outstanding but unfortunately only available for the 360, and the newer game is better in every regard.

The Eurogamer review I linked above should give you an idea if it is the sort of game that will appeal to you, but I'll also quote a Something Awful member describing his experience with 2017 on the EDF thread:
EDF 2017 had a really weird, profound effect on me. I bought it in the bargain bin for like 10 bux and popped it in not knowing what to expect other than the game LOOKED liked the type of game you would expect to see in a bargain bin. 10 minutes in I was like, "are those buildings covered in giant ants?!??!?" Fast forward a few hours later, I was fighting laser godzillas and it was a toss-up which one of us leveled the entire city more...

There's something magical about the game. There's just nothing like it out there. It boggles the mind that there aren't a bazillion knockoffs of EDF vying for the "city-destroying, bug-invasion" genre throne like every brown military FPS is trying to dethrone Call of Duty.

Everything in the game looms so large and over-the-top in my mind. And I have really fond, vivid memories of it that every other game on the 360 combined doesn't match.
posted by Bangaioh at 6:14 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

....Or you could get an old secondhand PS2.

don't even game that much but I wound up with space in a house, a flat screen TV and a secondhand PS2 and some free time. This is what I did...

- bought as many second hand controllers as I could. Some are crap but now if I have three people over, we can all play
- told friends I was assembling some games and asked for suggestions/castoffs
- went searching on ebay for $10-and-under games that looked fun
- bought a GIGANTIC beanbag chair that is really unreasonably huge but is great for slumping in and playing

I wound up with Katamari, Monkeyball, a "250 games" Atari collection, Dance Dance Revolution (friend was getting rid of it), Crash Bandicoot and a few other games that turned out to be not that much fun (my SO loooooves Spiro the dragon which makes no sense to me). I don't play that often but there's a nice space for it if I want to and most of the stuff doesn't take a lot of work to maintain as long as you're sure not to step on it.
posted by jessamyn at 6:54 PM on April 16, 2014

relatively easy, mind-numbing fun

If you want your mind as numb as a numb thing, what you want are Saints Row 2 through 4. The basic idea is that you're a gang lord who's basically a villain from the 60s Batman tv show. Sometimes you do missions (typically: go someplace and shoot a bunch of people) to take over parts of town from rival gangs, but what I want to call your attention to are the activities you do in between missions.

There's Insurance Fraud, where you run around in traffic and try to get hit in the most spectacular ways (protip: you can usually begin by leaping out of a helicopter). Or Septic Avenger, in which you drive a honey pumper around spraying sewage on people who deserve it for some reason. Or good old fashioned Mayhem, in which the game gives you a weapon and infinite ammo and tells you to Go. To. Town. on some part of the city. Or Trail Blazing, in which you're set on fire and race an ATV through the city exploding vehicles as you go. Like ya do. Also some actual gang-themed ones like Drug Trafficking or Escort Service.

Also if you jack a taxi from a cabbie, you can drive fares around.

In Saints Row 2 you take over the town of Stilwater from the sinister Ultron Corp. In 3, the Saints have become major media stars and you take over a new city because reasons. In 4, the leader of the Saints has become President of the United States and you have to sort of re-take-over a Matrix version of town run by the aliens who conquered the Earth. Also you have superpowers and save Santa.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:36 PM on April 16, 2014

As everyone else is saying, your best bet is a PS3. Readily available at a reasonable price, a ton of great games built up, works well with local or online media streaming, has a decent online store or you can get 2nd-hand games for cheap in a used game shop. Or if you don't mind doing a little extra research to pick out the good games from the bad ones, a PS2 and a bunch of great, classic games for it would cost very little ($80?).
posted by Drexen at 3:30 AM on April 17, 2014

It doesn't look like anyone has mentioned "Journey" yet, which is a PS3 exclusive. It should be the first thing you do once you acquire your PS3 - block out three hours and just give yourself over to it. It's amazing.
posted by jbickers at 5:34 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tried to post yesterday but it got eaten - anyway, the fiance recommends a first gen PS3 since the early ones could also play PS2 games. This opens up a HUGE amount of options for you. Not sure if they implemented a hack for this on later machines though.

As a not hardcore gamer, I loved Ratchet and Clank, the Lego games, and Little Big Planet. They have some action but are easy to learn and mostly puzzle-y.
posted by brilliantine at 6:16 AM on April 17, 2014

A lot of fun ps2 games are now available for ps3 - specifically Ratchet and Clank and Jam and Dexter, mentioned upthread. I am not a big gamer, but those are my favorites.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:07 AM on April 17, 2014

I was never a games person until we got a PS3 to play 3d blu-rays on. so then I got a few games just to see. so fun! Portal 2 !!!!! the first one is awesome too, but a little harder to play for non-gamers. Portal2 also has a great co-operative set of levels. I loved both Little Big Planets too. Journey is amazing - and by the same company is Flower, both those are very atmospheric and dreamy. The Unfinished Swan is neat too. Another fun thing about the PS3 is if you sign up to the playstation network, you can download the games directly, so you can find new stuff without getting off the couch. They also have a lot of free game demos, so you can try different stuff out and see what sorts of games you like.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:48 AM on April 19, 2014

« Older How to combat mental shutdown triggered by...   |   What's a great PS3 game for multiplayer gaming at... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.