Your good-intentioned relative thought: I can’t tell all these racing games apart. This one is colorful, and the box says it’ll go “beyond racing.” Done, son!
Why you don’t want it: We really liked Blur (the licensed-car-skinned cart racer that it is), but surely it isn’t the new, exciting racing game you wanted. No, no, you wanted Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit or Gran Turismo 5.
If NFS: Hot Pursuit is on your list, then congratulations, you made the right decision. It’ll quickly sap the already-waning interest you had in spending time with your family and replace it with the non-stop wail of police sirens. (Bonus! If your family isn’t in the room, listen for someone to say, “What the hell is going on with the sirens out there?”)
Above: This is what we're talking about
If Gran Turismo 5 is your dream gift, we totally understand. You’ve waited five years for the new racing benchmark, and you’re ready to hunker down for some serious simulation. You’re probably going to be disappointed (sorry).
Above: This isn’t what you signed up for. But it’s fun to watch, so there’s that
You want it anyway, don’t you? That’s OK, we get it. If you’re going to be disappointed, you want it to be of your own accord. Don’t worry, you’ll have fun through the disappointment, and it won’t be as bad as getting the racing game you didn’t want (even if it’s arguably more fun).
Unless… You like your games like you like your popsicles.
Above: You know the line
4. Alan Wake (360)
Your good-intentioned relative thought: It was Time Magazine’s Game of the Year, and that’s a magazine I read. That’ll be a good conversation starter when the gift is opened - everyone will know that I read an article about something in Time, because I often read articles about things. I’ll be the cleverest gift-giver in the room!
Why you don’t want it: Time Magazine’s opinion is dumb. Alan Wake is a good game, but it isn’t nearly as special as we’d hoped it would be. It’s standard survival horror with pretty good writing.
Like many other games on this list, it is worth a play. It’s just… you probably wanted Red Dead Redemption, especially in conjunction with Undead Nightmare.
Unless… Your second biggest passion in life is maintaining your Thermos collection.
3. Medal of Honor (360, PS3, PC)
Your good-intentioned relative thought: Dude with beard. A gun. Explosions and stuff. Sure, the kid likes this kind of thing, right?
Why you don’t want it: I liked a lot about Medal of Honor, and disliked some of it, and I said so in my review. Some people liked it much less than I did. Either way, it’s not what you want. Go ahead, don’t be ashamed… you want Call of Duty: Black Ops. I would too. It’s at the top of zeitgeist right now, and its multiplayer will last you until the next game in the series.
Sure, you’ll complain about it. You’ll call it unbalanced, and whine about cheap kills. But that’s because you’ll be playing it so damn much. If Medal of Honor’s not-quite-Battlefield-but-not-quite-CoD multiplayer doesn’t hook you, you won’t play it long enough to have any complaints about it to begin with. And the campaign won’t take you long. It's CoDBlOps or nothing.
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