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Gifts for gamers

It’s hard to surprise a gamer. Not just because they’ve got the reflexes of a mongoose mainlining Mountain Dew. But, more than any other tech aficionados, they’re always on top of the latest—the latest games, the latest tricks, the latest hardware. So shopping for gamers pose a couple of challenges: Finding something they’ll like, plus finding something they don’t have already or (better) haven’t even heard of. Here are a handful of ideas for gift ideas that may not have caught your favorite gamer’s attention (yet), from hot new titles to a high-end graphics board that’s this year’s objet de drool for hardcore players.

Key : $ —gifts costing between $0 and $30; $$ —gifts costing between $31 and $200; $$$ —gifts costing more than $200.

The Mac ate my brain $$

$50; Aspyr Media

Some Bungie alums founded Wideload, and that heritage shows in the company’s freshman effort, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse (published for the Mac by Aspyr Media). You take control of a shambling zombie who can rip off his own arm to use as a remote-control weapon; eating peoples’ brains reanimates them as part of your own zombie horde. Violent and bloody, the game is also rife with dark humor (think Shaun of the Dead , not Dawn of the Dead ). Parents: check out the preview trailers before you stick this one in a youngster’s stocking.—Peter Cohen

Put on your rally caps $

Pricing not yet set; Feral Interactive

Rally auto racing—high-speed racing on twisting on- and off-road courses—is huge overseas. Colin McRae Rally 2005 brings the excitement of the sport to the Mac. You’ll learn its ins and outs by participating in 300 stages of competition—through nine international locations and driving more than 30 different 2WD and 4WD vehicles from Volkswagen, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, and others.—Peter Cohen

Play your cards right $$$

$400; ATI

When it comes to delivering fast, intense 3-D graphics, this card is as good as it gets for Mac gamers right now. Designed specifically for the Power Mac G5, the ATI Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition features one dual-link DVI connector and an ADC connector, so you can drive a 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display and an older 23-inch Cinema HD Display side by side.—Peter Cohen

Pharaonic Fun $

$20; MacPlay

Kinetic puzzle games are nothing new, but Luxor (   ) puts some new variations on the theme by mixing in a little bit of ancient Egyptian mythology. Long trains of brightly colored spheres descend on grooved tracks through scenes inspired by the land of the pharaohs; you make them vanish by matching the colored spheres in your own shooter to what you see. Addictive, fast paced, and beautiful, Luxor is fantastic for casual gamers looking for something a bit different.—Peter Cohen

Consolation Prize $

$20; Mac Catz

Mad Catz makes peripherals for all the major gaming consoles. Now it’s making hardware for Mac gamers, too. The PC Con (   ) looks and feels just like Microsoft’s Xbox Controller S, with gel grips on the side, twin analog triggers underneath each index finger, two analog sticks within easy reach of your thumbs, and a four-way directional pad a short hop from your left thumb. The blister pack says the PC Con is Mac and PC compatible, but it doesn’t ship with software for either platform. However, Mac games that support controllers do recognize it.—Peter Cohen

Welcome to the Monkey House $$

$40; MacSoft

Zoo Tycoon 2 is that rarest of critters: a strategy game that’s great for the whole family. You are the owner of a zoo, and it’s up to you to keep your animals happy and healthy by providing appropriate habitats, while also staffing the park and maintaining its facilities well enough to keep paying customers coming back for more. The game features 3-D graphics as well as different game modes (including Zoo Guest, Zookeeper, and Photo Safari).—Peter Cohen

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