TIME Video Games

The Absolute Best Games for Your New Computer, Console or Mobile Device

Experience: HALO by Xbox 360
Master Chief stands guard at the Liechtenstein border during the HALO 4 launch by Xbox 360 on October 29, 2012 in Balzers, Liechtenstein. Getty Image—2012 Getty Images

No matter what kind of system you got (for yourself or otherwise), here's what to check out first

This is a big weekend for video games, perhaps the biggest of the year, as devices of all kinds come out of their shrink wrap begging to be put to the test. Even with the outages plaguing online services run by Microsoft and Sony respectively, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Maybe you got some software with your new hardware. Maybe you’re thinking about getting more. If that’s the case, here are some good places to start:

If you got a Playstation 4…

Start with The Last of Us Remastered. Why?

You appreciate finely crafted storytelling, you love tenterhooks survival horror games with light stealth elements and a dash of third-person shooting, or you just want to experience one of the finest explorations of the way a relationship can work in an interactive game.

For the rest of the PS4 list, click here.

If you got an Xbox One…

Check out Sunset Overdrive, developer Insomniac’s first try at an open world game, tapping the same screwball vein as its Ratchet & Clank series, only with a grownup twist. Imagine a punk-informed quasi-parkour game by way of a zany skateboarding simulation by way of a metropolis-sized circus playground that knowingly winks at you as it periodically deconstructs itself. For more Xbox One titles, click here.

If you got a PC (or Mac with Bootcamp)…

It’ll really depend on what kind of system you bought, whether it’s a graphical powerhouse, a laptop, et cetera. Whatever the case, you can’t go wrong with Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, which will run on a wide range of hardware. As the developer’s names signifies scrupulous playtesting and elaborate design values, all of which converge here to make Hearthstone the quickest, slickest, goofiest, most lavish online CCG around. For a longer list of great PC games, click here.

If you got a Wii U…

First, you probably haven’t experienced the outages Xbox and Playstation owners may have. Congrats! Begin with a remastered classic, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Here’s what critics said about it: “…crisp and energetic, spirited and soulful, just a little bit wayward – and it hasn’t aged a day” (Eurogamer); “…takes note of the finger-wagging gripes unreasonably lobbed at the original and tweaks details to elevate an already fantastic journey to towering heights” (Slant); “…the definitive version of perhaps the most original Zelda adventure” (EGM). For more, click here.

If you got a 3DS…

Pick up Shovel Knight, which is also available on a wide variety of other platforms. This title will scratch the itch if you miss the 8-bit NES aesthetic or you want to play the apotheosis of the best side-scrolling, platforming games popularized by Nintendo’s breakthrough 1980s system. For more 3DS games, click here.

And if you got an ‘i’-anything…

Start with TIME’s best game of 2014, 80 Days, of which reviewer Matt Peckham wrote:

80 Days is less about gameplay subversion than stylish, thoughtful immersion, employing a beloved genre–interactive fiction–to set you loose in a reimagined, politically contemplative rendering of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days. Here be mechanical golems, underseas trains and steam-powered creatures as you traverse a game world (designed by a British-Indian woman) that doubles as trenchant commentary on the nature of colonialism.

For a full list of the year’s best games, click here.

TIME apps

5 Awesome iPhone App Deals This Weekend

iPhone 6 Plus
A customer looks at the new iPhone 6 Plus. Chris McGrath—Getty Images

Try Scribe, which lets you copy and paste items from your Mac desktop to your iPhone

Looking to download a few great iPhone apps while saving some money this weekend? Check out these five, all on sale or free right now.

Rayman Fiesta Run

For those who reminisce about old, original PlayStation games, Rayman Fiesta Run is a perfect arcade time machine. From the character’s floating head and limbs, to the endless running and stunts, Rayman is a throwback now, but back then, it felt far ahead of its time. In this app, the game is brilliantly rendered on the iPhone’s smaller screen and fits in perfectly with so many of today’s iOS games.

Rayman Fiesta Run is on sale for $0.99 in the App Store.

READ MORE The Best iPhone Apps You Should Download This Week

Calendars 5

Calendars is one of the few truly universal apps. Which is to say, it’s just as useful for productivity maniacs and workaholics as it is for haphazard people who need help managing their lives. It comes with task lists to track obligations and chores, it logs regular or repeating events into your calendar, and even gives you the option to view your schedule as a color-coded timeline that can help streamline even the most flustered and panicked schedules. It can even sync with your Google calendar or iCal apps.

Calendars 5 is on sale for $2.99 in the App Store.

Day One

It’s a rare kind of person who still keeps a regular journal with pen and paper. Even still, it’s easy to fall behind and lose track of it all. But Day One uses all of your phone’s technology to help you keep memories as effortlessly and precisely as possible. It can pin your location, attach photographs, track events, and allows you to write an entry as easily as you might compose an email on your phone.

Day One is on sale for $0.99 in the App Store.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD

For those who don’t own a video game console or simply cannot get enough GTA at home, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is one of the better console-to-mobile adaptations out there. Although gameplay is nowhere near as extensive on iOS as in the original versions, you can still move around in third person, steal vehicles, and go on car chases through the city. This version is a lot closer in appearance and gameplay to GTA III or Vice City than it is to the immersive world of the latest in the series, GTA V.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD is on sale for $2.99 in the App Store.

Scribe

Scribe is one of those apps that, once you download it, it’s hard to imagine never having used it to begin with. Scribe allows users to copy and paste items from their Mac desktop to a mobile device without using Wi-Fi.

Simply press three keys, and images or pieces of text will be transferred to your phone, which means no more emailing yourself screenshots of your Maps app in order keep track of directions or mistyping phone numbers into your Notes app. It’s a middleman app that eliminates the middleman. One of the most simple but most useful apps around.

Scribe is temporarily free in the App Store.

READ NEXT 16 Productivity Tools Nobody Can Live Without

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TIME Gadgets

10 Tech Resolutions to Consider in the New Year

Are you anti-social, getting poor sleep, and have a terrible attention span? It’s time to clean up your act

Going back to the lever and the wheel, technology has always been meant to make our day-to-day tasks easier. And while it’s obvious that smartphones, computers, and social networks have greatly enhanced our lives, you can’t ignore the physical effects and and anti-social behavior that have accompanied these modern trappings.

Of course, you can change your tech tune at any time, but the New Year is an excellent opportunity to reset your ways. So should bad tech habits be forgot, and never brought to mind? Here’s some tech resolutions to consider…and auld lang syne.

No Smartphones While Eating

If you have a teenager, this one’s a no-brainer, but even if you’re childless, it’s a good rule to live by. Firstly, no one wants to see photos of every meal you eat on Instagram. But more importantly, in a time where we all feel stretched thin and barely have a moment to ourselves, setting the phone down at mealtimes assures that you have at least a few minutes to collect your thoughts.

If it feels forced, try taking baby steps — instead of mindlessly devouring Twitter with your lunch, read a book (but not an e-book).

Turn Off Push Notifications

At this stage of Android’s and iOS’s development, it’s hard to imagine mobile operating systems without the ability to throw alerts at us every three minutes, but that was the norm back in the day. Heck, the original iPhone didn’t even have third-party apps.

Retake control of your apps and your attention span by turning off all your push notifications — every badge, alert, and banner. Then, once you realize if you’ve actually been missing particular apps’ updates, turn them back on one at a time.

Turn on Find My iPhone

This resolution is easy — all it takes is a swipe, some taps, and inserting your password. And even better, there’s no reason for you not to have this smartphone-saving tool operating in the background. Okay, well there are suspicions that Apple’s iCloud service was at the center of the massive celebrity photo hack this past year, but 1.) those were highly targeted attacks, 2.) you are (probably) not a celebrity, and 3.) Apple has since beefed up its login security, making it even safer to use iCloud. So when you do indeed lose your iPhone, whether it’s under a couch cushion or at a crowded bar, you’ll be able to track it down.

Go Paperless

There are as many reasons to go paperless as there are trees in the forest, but here’s one that may hit home with you: Collecting various scraps is just plain overwhelming. This step-by-step walks through exactly what you need to de-ink your life.

But if you want to tackle going paperless with your smartphone, Scanbot is an excellent Android and iOS app that turns paper into PDFs, ready to store in the cloud or on your device. If you’re worried about receipts for your taxes, check out Wave Receipts, a free iPhone-only solution that scans and categorizes your sales slips.

Don’t Drive Distracted

In 2015, 44 states will ticket you for sending texts while driving and 14 will bust you for just holding your phone in your hand. Even if you’re not in one of those states, you’re still playing it fast and loose with safety. In 2012 (the last year they were tabulated), 421,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents, and you may not care if you’re one of them, but you have an obligation towards everyone you share the road with.

Put the phone down, and keep your eyes up. And if you need to be connected, pick up a Bluetooth headset. The Jawbone Era works great, won’t make you look like a cyborg, and will only set you back $99 — which is about $300 less than a ticket.

Take Your TV Out of the Bedroom

Did you catch last night’s episode of Homeland? I know, right? Mind. Blowing. But watching it at 10 p.m. on Sunday night might be the worst thing you can do — not just for your 8 a.m. conference call, but for your health. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, late night shows contribute to chronic sleep debt. Getting fewer than seven hours of sleep is associated with increased obesity, morbidity and mortality, and for as many as 40% of Americans, this is their reality.

And don’t even think of putting a TV in the kid’s room. Research has shown that placing a television in there will cause your children to gain weight even beyond screen time. Disrupted sleep patterns are the culprit here, too — so keep it in the family room.

Use A Password Manager

Sure, using one password for everything makes your login info much easier to remember, but it also makes it amazingly simple to hack all of your accounts. Easier still — not remembering any passwords. Password managing apps like 1Password and LastPass make this possible by helping you to replace your standard “Kittens123!” password with strong strings of random characters, numbers, and symbols. Then, when you need to log in to a service, just pull up their mobile or computer-based apps (or easier still, use their browser plugins) to insert the login information.

It’s all protected behind one passcode to log into the app, but if you really want to go password-free, set up your mobile apps with Touch ID on your iPhone or iPad, and you’re freed up to forget everything.

Back Up Three Different Ways

Of course you backup your computer regularly, but do you do it right? Three-way backups are the best way to ensure your data doesn’t get lost. The first, and easiest, way to backup your files is locally onto an external drive. On Windows 8, daily backups can be done easily by enabling File History, and on Macs it’s a feature called Time Machine.

But cloud backups are all the rage lately, and rightfully so, because if there’s a fire and your external drive gets torched, you’d be out of luck. So put your critical files online (and encrypting them is probably smart, too).

But the third way to backup is called off-site backups. Because if there’s something worse than a fire — like an earthquake — and your external drive is toast and everyone’s Internet connection is down, you’ll still need your files. So, once a month, make a copy of your external drive, and bring it over to your mother’s house to store it safely. Yes, this resolution requires more frequent visits to your mother — but consider that a bonus resolution.

Mind Your Ps and Qs (posts and quotes)

In 1864, the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln famously said, “The problem with Internet quotes is that you cant always depend on their accuracy.” Okay, you got me — he didn’t say that. But chances are you’ve posted equally bogus information on Facebook, like that Facebook Copyright post (not real), and some of the Ebola “news” stories that were floating around.

This year, resolve to stop spreading misinformation online — with more than half of Facebook and Twitter users getting news from the sites, it’s just an irresponsible thing to do. Lifehacker has an excellent step-by-step on how to determine if what you’re sharing is true. So, research before you repost.

Make Your Posts Pertinent

While we’re on the subject of social media, there’s a time and place for everything — except on Facebook, where it’s everything all at once. Younger, more tech-savvy users are already hip to using Friends Lists to block groups of people from posts en masse, and you should do it, too. (That’s why you think little Kevin is working so hard at college, Aunt Carol. His friends actually know him as the keg-stand champ of Sigma Nu.)

First, going through your Facebook friends and categorize people into various groups, like co-workers, high-school friends, baseball fans, whatever. You can then make pertinent posts only to the people who would be most interested in reading them. For instance, if there’s a fundraiser at your local church, post that to friends in your town, not to everyone on your list. And there’s another good reason for doing this — your second cousin who lives three states away has probably already blocked you because of all those fundraiser reminders you posted last year.

TIME Video Games

Xbox Recovers From Christmas Hack, PlayStation Still Down Down

Microsoft’s Xbox Live was “up and running” on Friday while Sony Corp’s PlayStation remained offline for a second day after a hacker group claimed responsibility for attacking the two Internet gaming services.

Thousands of people on Christmas Day reported problems with both gaming systems, and Microsoft and Sony said they were scrambling to fix the problem. “Some users were unable to sign in to Xbox Live. Our teams worked to resolve the issue,” Microsoft told CNBC on Friday.

The networks, which allow users of the popular consoles to play the video games with a wider online community, first crashed on Wednesday evening and the problems persisted into Friday morning…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Autos

These Are the Most Awesome Concept Cars of 2014

From 3-wheelers to doorless rides, these are the car concepts that excited us the most in 2014.

TIME Smartphones

5 Super-Useful Things You Can Do With Your Old iPhone

Apple Introduces iPhone 5
The new iPhone 5 is displayed during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on September 12, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Santa didn’t just score you an upgrade, he freed your old iPhone to do amazing things

If the plot of Toy Story was about iPhones instead of action figures, you might have some more sympathy for your former handset. Though it was your sidekick over the last couple years, you’re now ready to kick it to the curb in favor of that bigger, better iPhone 6 you just got for the holidays.

Well, don’t.

Firstly, swapping your old iPhone with a cellular carrier for a new device is a terrible investment — your iPhone 5 is worth much more than its trade-in value. And if tragedy befalls your new handheld, you’ll have a backup at the ready.

But until that dark day, don’t stuff your old friend in a drawer. Put it to work with one of these five great ways to use your old iPhone:

Wall mount it as a smart home controller

With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and access to all the latest apps, iPhone 5s are still very powerful tiny computers. This in-wall charging dock by Savant Systems can be connected into your home’s electrical system next to a light switch and serve as a permanent smart home controller.

So, if you’ve got app-powered lights, Bluetooth or Airplay music speakers, or other connected devices in your home, anyone from your babysitter to your house guests can access them without asking for your personal iPhone.

READ MORE 16 Productivity Tools Nobody Can Live Without

Make it a safe space for kids

Touchscreens are like catnip for kid’s fingers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should not let children under two watch television or play with your phone. But try arguing that point with a toddler and you’ll lose every time. Fortunately, you can severely limit the amount of things they can play with if you set aside a device specifically for them.

Developed for businesses looking to give their employees iPhones while limiting the things they can do with them, Apple Configurator is a professional level app, but anyone can download it for free. Letting you easily create and install configuration profiles for each phone in your house, you can install authorized apps, filter out certain web content (sorry Sally, no YouTube for you), and even shut off the camera. Though a couple of years old, this post from Ars Technica shows you how to turn your iPhone into an iToy with Apple Configurator.

 

Turn it into a “home phone”

According to a 2014 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of U.S. households only have cellphones now. (And these guys know, because in case of emergency, you hope they’ve got your number.) But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a “home phone.”

With iOS 8’s Wi-Fi Calling feature, you can set your old iPhone up to still ring if you’re home with your new iPhone and they’re both on the same Wi-Fi network. This means you can dock your old iPhone in the kitchen, by the bed, or anywhere you used to have a cordless phone. And it only works when you’re home, so you don’t have to worry about missing any calls.

Create a permanent dash-mounted navigation system

Admit it, your old phone still works great, and on most cellular carriers, you can add it to your wireless plan for just $10 more per month. That price will let you use data and make calls, just as it always has. Now slap it into a car dashboard mount and you’ve got a dedicated GPS device and in-car music system, to boot.

You’d be right to point out that your new phone can do that for $120 per year less, but that’s only true if you leave your phone in the car. This method gives you a Lojack and On-Star on the cheap, letting you track your vehicle via “Find My iPhone.” And it lets you keep your phone in your pocket or purse — and out of your hands — while you drive.

READ MORE 7 Must-Haves for iPhone Photographers

Set up a home security camera

Wi-Fi connected security cameras were on many Christmas lists this year, and while solutions like Dropcam work great, they’ll still set you back at least $100. Your iPhone’s camera is perfectly suited to keep your home safe, it just needs the right software to capture the scene.

Presence, a free iOS app, lets users stream video from their iPhone (new and old) to multiple, simultaneous viewers, and it even offers control of the phone’s backside LED light for nighttime viewing. Also free, Manything is a highly customizable solution that can stream video and record it to the cloud, while offering top end features like motion alerts. It works great, unless you just stuff your old iPhone in a drawer.

READ NEXT 5 Awesome iPhone App Deals This Weekend

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TIME Video Games

These Are the Best Christmas Video Game Deals

Titanfall
Titanfall Respawn Entertainment

Titanfall can be had for only $10

This story was originally published at the Daily Dot.

You can shop for a gamer on Christmas without feeling like a last-minute procrastinator because you totally meant to wait until Dec. 25 for the good sales, right?

Here’s a roundup of all the best games, at the best prices, that you can buy today for the gamer(s) in your life — or yourself! Just get them a gift card for the appropriate online service and say “This is meant for you to buy [name of game].”

Origin

Electronic Arts’s digital distribution platform, Origin, is offering Dragon Age: Inquisition for $40. At about 200 hours’ worth of gaming, Inquisition is worth every penny of the original $60 asking price. Paying $40 instead for Inquisition is a really good deal.

Titanfall is $10 on Origin. This is the best shooter running on any platform, bar none, defined by innovative gameplay mechanics like mechs that really feel like extensions of their pilots, some of the smoothest parkour running that any shooter has pulled off, and an evacuation mechanic in which the losers run for a dropship pickup and grasp a taste of victory from the jaws of defeat.

Titanfall is amazing. So is a $10 asking price. You can also get the Deluxe Edition, which includes four map packs with map designs that are incredibly balanced and fun, for $24, which is also a great price…

Read the rest of the story at the Daily Dot.

TIME technology

12 Things to Know If You Got a Drone for Christmas

The FAA releases FAQs for UAVs

Today’s distinguished youths have Christmas present palates far too refined to enjoy infantilizing Frozen paraphernalia.

“It’s that time of year when kids of all ages will receive presents for the holidays,” begins an FAA PSA released Monday. “Many will be excited when they unwrap the box and find an unmanned aircraft.”

Ah, drones. The gift for the kid who has almost everything.

There have been numerous reports that drones are the it-gift of the season. And so the FAA released an educational video as part of its Know Before You Fly campaign that, as TechCrunch very accurately puts it, is “the least interesting drone video you’ll ever see.”

“Make sure you stay off the naughty list,” the FAA preaches as half-hearted animations explain proper flying rules — stay under 400 ft. and away from airports and people’s faces, for instance.

While drones have done many good things this year (like that time they delivered bottle service to good samaritans at Las Vegas poolside clubs), they have also proven a wee bit dangerous (like that time a mistletoe carrying drone accidentally chopped off the tip of someone’s nose at a TGI Friday’s in Brooklyn.)

Merry Christmas, everyone.

TIME apps

Here’s Where You Can Track Santa’s Sleigh Ride Around the World

US-LIFESTYLE-CHRISTMAS-INTERNET-SANTA-OFFBEAT
This December 24, 2012 photo shows a woman monitoring the progress of Santa Claus in Washington, DC. Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

U.S. defense officials say this year's Santa tracker was reinforced by an "anti-Grinch" firewall

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) center has once again trained its state-of-the-art satellites on Santa’s sleigh, mapping his course around the world in real time.

NORAD’s official Santa Tracker website overlays an icon of Santa and his galloping reindeer on a 3-D map of the earth. The map includes Bing-powered images of cities along the delivery route. As of this posting, he’s zig zagging across central Asia, seconds away from Addu City in the Maldives.

The map can also be uploaded to mobile phones using NORAD’s official Santa tracking app.

This year, defense officials told the Wall Street Journal that the Santa Tracker had been reinforced by an “anti-Grinch firewall” to repel would-be hackers. “We are confident the system will work,” said NORAD spokesowoman Maj. Beth Smith.

TIME movies

You Can Watch The Interview Here

The controversial film will now screen online

Sony Pictures will release its beleaguered Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview on several streaming sites Wednesday afternoon, in a move that sidesteps concerns about online threats made against theaters that show the film.

The Interview will be available for digital rental or purchase on Google Play, YouTube, Xbox and seetheinterview.com starting at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday. It will cost $5.99 to rent or $14.99 to purchase, both in high-definition.

The move marks another turn in Sony’s handling of the film’s release. Sony Pictures scrapped a widespread theatrical release of The Interview earlier this month after several major theater chains backed out in the wake of threats against the movie. Those messages were believed to have come from the same group responsible for a massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation has linked to North Korea. (Some cybersecurity experts remain unconvinced of that link.)

Sony’s first backtrack came Tuesday, when small theaters across the country said they would go ahead with plans to show The Interview on its planned Christmas Day release date. At this point, only a few hundred theaters are planning on showing the film, as opposed to thousands that were originally planning to screen the movie. Offering The Interview online could help Sony reduce losses from such a dramatic cut in the number of theaters showing the movie.

The real winners here, though, could be YouTube and the other streaming services. It’s extremely rare to offer a simultaneous in-theater/streaming release of such a major film. Americans are already going to movie theaters less often, opting for the often cheaper experience of staying in and watching videos online or on demand instead.

READ NEXT 22 Movies That Are Being Turned Into TV Shows

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