(Codemasters) £29.99 iv t * hr

The World Touring Car championships are often portrayed as the small, weedy brother of Formula 1. The cars, though souped up, are production line models and the drivers are anything but household names. Yet, in the gaming world the TOCA titles have earned themselves an impressive reputation for challenging and enjoyable gameplay, placing it in the higher echelons of perhaps the most fiercely fought gaming genre. TOCA World Touring Cars was

going to have to pull out all the stops to retain its place. In a feat of breathtaking genius, Codemasters have left no stop unpulled. TOCA World Touring Cars is everything its predecessors were, and so much more. Apparently no driver has ever won the real Touring Car championship before his sixth season, so to reflect this, the game has a tiered championship system. Each season starts with you trying to impress a team to give you a chance as a driver, then fulfil their criteria for success. This can involve wins, podium places or finishing ahead of rivals. Compete for a few seasons at domestic level and the chance will come to race at national level. National leads to world level and hopefully, winning the world championship. This stepped system of qualification ensures that you will be

playing TOCA WTC for a long while.

Championship racing taken to levels of genius

It also allows you to become acquainted with your opponents who, in all honesty, care little for your personal safety. The Al of your rival drivers is creepily human, with some ducking out of your way as others wage a vendetta should you nudge them on a corner. It is also pleasing to watch the car ahead take a bend too fast and career into the tyre wall. Who needs multiplayer when the computer players are this good?

Many will unfairly compare this with Gran Turismo 2 but with a driving experience equal to, if not better than GT2, and eleven dastardly opponents instead of five drones, TOCA's lack of cars or immense detail is irrelevant. Sporting great tracks, realistic handling, weather and damage, and a completion time measured in months, TOCA World Touring Cars is the small, weedy

brother of nobody. (Iain Davidson)


DeusEx (Eidos) £29.99 at t a: sir *

When Deus Ex is first booted up, the impression is that it is a basic first person shooter with a few cosmetic differences. Play it for ten minutes and you wrll discover that those cosmetic differences are actually cunningly inventive features that shoot the game through the stratosphere. As you progress through the winding story and realistic environments, you gain experience points. However, as these points are limited, you must spend them carefully on improving characteristics and they go a long way to individualise your style of play. Some

players will crank up their automatic

. weapon skill and wade headlong into every location. Others will increase

computing skills and hack into security cameras to plan a route, while others will become snipers or demolition experts. The possibilities are endless, with the game structure encouraging

f both variation and specialisation. Deus

Ex is spectacularly playable, deceptively

fluid and comes very close to

revolutionising the first person genre.

Earth 2150 (SSI) £29.99 at * t at

The real-time strategy genre boasts a short but glorious past. Since

: Command and Conquer, gamers have

been blessed with an abundance of

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cracking titles utilising the manage- resources, build-armies, wage-wars scenario. And here is another. Earth 2750 will be immediately familiar to all RTS freaks, hence disappointing. However, stick with it and its nuts and bolts soon impress. Beautiful BD landscapes do more than please the eye as line of sight plays its part and strategic placement of forces becomes more and more important. There are three distinct factions to take control of and, though the story is somewhat predictable, it is engrossing nonetheless. Slick, dripping with quality and as visually striking as you could imagine Earth 2 750 is everything Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun should have been.

PLAYSTATION Demolition Derby Raw (Psygnosis) £29.99 air * at

Although Carmageddon stole the dangerous-smash-opponent-speed- mayhem car crown from the Demolition Derby stable, the game has not gone away. And following in WWF’s footsteps, Psygnosis have now released their Raw version, which takes the fender-bending to new heights. Basically this is a racing game so many times round so many tracks but what makes it fun is the choice of winning style. Choose to bump your way round to first place and you are rewarded with money. However, choose to ignore the race and concentrate on spinning, rolling and destroying the opposition and you can

M. in 6 Com

earn even more money. Although both methods are equally valid, no prizes for guessing which is more fun. The cars handle well and the many tracks are designed specifically for chaos. Though graphically imperfect and with a dodgy scoring system, Demolition Derby Raw will rid you of more aggression than Tai-Chi ever will.

Sydney 2000 (Sony) £29.99 **

Good ideas never die. The finger bashing fun of Hyper Sports and Daley Thompson ’5 Decathalon may have been resting for the last fifteen years but it never truly died. So now it's back with a slew of Olympic titles, including Sydney 2000 from Sony. Featuring a selection of the more popular Olympic events, such as sprinting, canoeing and clay pigeon shooting, the gameplay is eclectic to say the least. Yet nothing seems to feel just right. To start with, each event is preceded by training, which consists of repetitive button pushing to no real effect. Although yOur athletic prowess improves, it comes nowhere near the level acquired with the base of a lighter rattled back and forward on the controller. Some events are ab5urdly simple, Sprinting with the aforementioned lighter produces sub-9.20 second races, while some are nigh on impossible. Sydney 2000 is fun with pals but with other games hot on its heels, wait until after the Olympics and choose the best.

DREAMCAST Dead Or Alive 2

(Acclaim) £39.99 * it t * Considering the many gaping holes in the Dreamcast catalogue, the genre of beat-em-up is rather well represented. Soul Calibur, Powerstone and Ready 2 Rumble are equal to any title on any system, and are now joined by the alternative Dead Or Alive 2. Alternative because it is one of the first punch- kick-throw games that concentrates on defence, and in doing so delivers a cracking good title. There is the usual line up of psychologically troubled, combat-ready, semi-naked characters to choose from, all boasting their specialised style, and animated in fantastically liquid 30. The fighting arenas are also beautifully created, with detailed scenery that has a habit of exploding into pieces as you plunge through to the floor beneath. However, it IS the combat nuances involving counter strikes and defence that make Dead Or Alive 2 such a triumph. Frantic button pushing gets you nowhere and, though this might put some people off, beat-em-up fans will love the sharp learning curve.

(lain Davidson)


*ittt Unmissable

* v: t * Very ood

w t * Wort a shot

it * Below average * You’ve been warned ,