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Back to school: Games and gaming gear

Going back to school is no sweat when you've got the best games and gear to make it through that first semester back.

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JeffHSurban2012.jpg
Jeff Bakalar
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1 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo 3DS XL

My, my, how the tables have turned with Nintendo's 3DS. Calling its launch "rough" is putting it mildly -- the 3DS was nearly dead on arrival. But after a few years, a console refresh, and the prevalence of solid first-party and indie titles, the 3DS is a very capable portable machine. It's perfect for killing time in between classes or in the waiting room.
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2 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

Xbox 360 E (250GB)

OK, so maybe now isn't the best time to invest in a gaming system with two brand-spanking-new consoles on the horizon. That said, if the wallet-busting prices of next-gen hardware have you sweating it out, there's an incredible amount of gaming value packed inside the Xbox 360. And with a brand-new design, the Xbox 360 is still very appealing.
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3 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

PlayStation 3 (super slim)

The same logic applies to buying a new PlayStation 3 as it does to investing in an Xbox 360. Sure, these consoles are approaching the end of their life cycles, but there's still more gas left in the tank than you might think. There are plenty of PS3 releases planned well into 2014, and if the glitz and glamour of next-gen have yet to catch your eye, there's nothing wrong with jumping on the PS3 train.
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4 of 7 Sarah Tew/CNET

PlayStation Vita

Who would have thought that the Vita would have turned into the ultimate indie platform? Not even a year and a half since its release, the portable console has become a haven for indie titles including Hotline Miami, Guacamelee! and more. You'll need an expensive proprietary memory card to get the most out of your Vita, but the cost of indie titles is relatively cheap. A membership to PlayStation Plus won't hurt, either.
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5 of 7 Telltale Games

400 Days (XBLA, PSN, Vita, PC, iOS)

While it doesn't carry the epic weight of the first season of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead, 400 Days does pack in a gripping story filled with the kind of action and gut-wrenching decision-making that made its predecessor one of the best games of 2012. 400 Days should be enough to hold gamers over until the next season.
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6 of 7 2K Games

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

The XCOM shooter we fell in love with is back with a new name and gameplay style. Declassified puts you in control of a team of alien exterminators. Using a intuitive combat-wheel mechanic, you'll command their every move as you make your way through an invaded 1960s suburban backdrop. (Aug. 20)
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7 of 7 Volition, Inc.

Saints Row IV

Is over-the-top open-world action your style of gaming? Well, Saints Row IV has you covered. This time around, there's an alien invasion in the midst of the chaos, which brings the franchise to the level of utter insanity. That's a good thing. (Aug. 20)

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