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Plugged In

Six essential PlayStation 4 launch games

Plugged In

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Killzone Shadow Fall (Sony)

If you're grabbing a PlayStation 4 this Friday, it's not going to do you a lot of good without games. All totaled, there will be 23 titles to choose from - some exclusive to the platform and some next generation versions of existing franchises.

Here's the thing to know about launch lineups. They're usually so-so at best. If you're looking for a truly great game, you're more likely to find it on a current gen system. Fortunately, some of the year's biggest franchises have PS4 versions - and there are a few PS4 exclusives that may still be worth a look.

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Assassin’s Creed IV - Ubisoft's big holiday release looks good on current-gen systems, but it really shines in the next generation. The vibrant world and nautical theme serve the franchise well. What really makes the game stand out, though, is how seamlessly it integrates remote play on the PS Vita. That makes it a showcase title of another sort.

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NBA 2K14 - Sports games are a critical part of any launch - and both 2K Sports and EA Sports are doing their part. But there's no denying the incredible visual appeal of NBA 2K14. It is to the next generation what EA's Fight Night Round 3 was in 2006 - a game that resets the bar on how realistic a sports game can look. It's one of a handful of titles that truly look like they belong in the next generation.

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Battlefield 4 - Speaking of killer next gen-graphics, Battlefield 4 may be the best-looking shooter on the market these days. EA's Frostbite engine shines on modern platforms, with its destructible environments and detail-focused characters. And while the single-player campaign has been panned, the multiplayer component is being called the genre's best by some critics.

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Killzone Shadow Fall - Sony's first-party shooter may not compare well to Battlefield or Call of Duty: Ghosts. And critics have been lukewarm (it currently has a Metacritic average of 74), but it's foolish to ignore the biggest first-party game for a new system. Developer Guerrilla Games has had the most time with the PS4 and knows how to make things shine. It's a great one to show off to your friends.

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Contrast - Given the PS4's focus on independent games, you owe it to yourself to try one or two out. Contrast is a 2D/3D puzzle/platform game that casts you as the imaginary friend of a little girl whose family holds a secret. You'll operate as a physical being and a shadow on the wall to solve puzzles and help Didi, your tiny friend -- all set in a noir, 1920's-themed, jazz-infused world.

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Resogun - Everyone loves a good shoot 'em up. This downloadable PS4 exclusive is challenging and addicting and it could be the system's killer app at launch. That's because rather than taking itself too seriously, it focuses entirely on the fun factor. There may not be a lot of substance here, but it's a game you'll want to play again and again, just to see if you can top your best score. Sharp graphics, catchy music and addictive gameplay? You couldn't ask for anything more in the next generation.

[ Related: PS4 launch games (slideshow) ]

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