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F335 Challenge (Acclaim) £39.99 at x i!

As their flying cousins did a long time ago. racing games are slowly evolving into two distinct camps. For those who like their racing super-fast, super-slick and as mentally taxing as the quick crossword in The Sun, there is the arcade camp. populated by cartoon karts and unreal sportscars that float along the tarmac. Then there is the simulation camp, home to the muffler-tweaking, suspension- dropping aficionados of realistic racing. F335 Challenge is firmly ensconced in the latter, bringing the thrill of Ferrari engine power to your Dreamcast.

However, this is realism gone nuts.

The huge power difference between an iiber-car like the F335 and everyone's household two-door, four cylinder shopping trolley would have most drivers slipping into first gear, dropping the clutch and ploughing into a wall. Uncontrollable doesn't cover it. A strange kind of respect is therefore due to Acclaim for capturing this ridiculous situation on the Dreamcast. The car in F335 Challenge is fickle, twitchy and requires a monumental amount of patience and practice to keep on the track, never mind compete against other racers. Which is a shame because nearly everything else about the game is tip-top.

The graphics rattle along at 60hz with no pop up, even


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(lain Davidson)

Unforgiving handling may prove F335 Challenge's downfall

in split screen mode, and the eleven or so tracks are varied and impressive. The ability to swap statistics over the web, as well as a link-up option could have created something of a Ferrari 355 community. Granted, this may still happen but the fact that the game excludes casual players with its unforgiving handling may well prove its

If you only ever visit the simulation camp, love Ferrari or have the concentration of a Zen Buddhist then F355 Challenge will fulfil your wildest dreams. Everyone else will end up putting their foot through their televisions.

PC Reach For The Stars (SSi) £29.99 9 9: k

Homewor/d was the first, and only, truly successful attempt to take the evergreen Real Time Strategy genre into space. Star Trek and Star Wars have both had a shot at it and now publishers SSi are haVing a go With Reach For The Stars. And to be fair, it’s not a bad go. From small beginnings, the human race y0u must expand its empire, manage resources and fend off various alien races trying to do the same. On a management level Reach For The Stars is unparalleled in its complexity, though a variety of default options allows this to be as Slmple as

required. The intricacies of diplomacy are also Simply executed yet allow a tangled web of intrigue to develop. Unfortunately the combat is so simple, it almost pulls the entire game to its knees. Four formations of minuscule craft and three engagement distances barely raises it from paper-sCissors- stone. If only the battles had featured Jaw-dropping galactic fireworks, Reach For The Stars w0uld have been reached for by everyone.

Baldur's Gate II

(Interplay) £29.99 it it t x it

After the huge amount of Joy spread

by the original Baldur’s Gate, it would have been so easy to disappoint With

the second instalment Shadows of

Amn. Yet, wonder upon wonder, 86// is bigger, better and more beautiful. The world now looks more detailed, more intricate and is a little more interactive. Whether tramping a dungeon or marching the plain, there are always nooks to peer in and crannies to poke in. The multi-layered jOb system has been replicated, allowing subplots and tangents to constantly drag you from the main storyline, yet never destroy the pace of the story telling. Such is the variety of quests on offer that gametime has been calculated as approximately 450 hours. A qUick fix this ain't. 861/ will eat up every available spare minute of your time, and the best thing is you won’t begrudge it. Give in and you'll

never look back.

PLAYSTATION Muppet Monster

Adventure (Sony) £24.99 air it at

Those who have played Mario 64 or Spyro Will be able to sail through Muppet Monster Adventure Without a single glance at the instruction booklet. The Muppet cast has been transformed into horribly cute monsters and it is up to Kermit’s nephew Robin to leap, sWim, fly and fight his way through a 3D world in order to release them. Though the

little swearing about deaths that are not yourfault. The levels are fun, the baddies ridiculous and progress is swift, preventing boredom from getting a handhold. Fans of platform mayhem will enjoy this fluffy, and frequently vexing, little game. The general populace, however, will feel they have seen it all before.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

(Activision) £29.99 * it a: t *

Fans of the original Tony Hawk’s Will cry ’How can perfection be improved upon?’ Well, with a lot of imagination, developers Neversoft have done exactly that. Dollars now replace points as reward for aerial trickery, cash that can be spent in a Whole new way. New levels, new equipment and new statistics are all purchased with your hard earned greenback, as well as fresh trick sets. Because there is not a huge amount of money to go round, careful planning of how you spend is required, gradually moulding your skater into a unique tricking machine specific to your style. The skating arenas are huge, with improved statistics often needed to reach certain areas, effectively expanding the life of the game. Then there’s the skate park editor that allows the silliest obstacles to be organised inside an empty warehouse, again lengthening the fun to be had. Though hard to believe, Tony Hawk ’5 Pro Skater 2 has indeed improved upon perfection.


Space Channel 5 (Sega) £39.99 * it t *

Ever since the legendary Parappa The Rapper, musical follow-the-leader games have been something of a favourite of casual and hardcore gamers alike. Space Channel 5 is unlikely to change that. As sexy newscaster Ulala, your task is to report on a recent alien invasion While fighting to save captured humans. For some strange reason, the aliens are forcing everyone to dance and Ulala's only chance is to boogie along, picking her moments to blast the bad guys and save the hostages. This involves tapping and wiggling the joypad along with the rhythm, copying the extraterrestrial gyrations. Although initially easy, the fact that Ulala also has to worry about viewing figures soon has you contorting her pert frame to please both alien and audience. Space Channel 5 is big, bold, colourful, stupid, infectious fun that is over far too quickly. (lain DaVidson)

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graphics are far from pristine, that :::* nghzfi’j'e i indefinable Muppetness shines ,, ,. , W2” 3 shot I thr0ugh and thanks to a floating . x 9 Below average I camera that actually works, there is l. * You Ve been Warned l

Baldur's Gate It will eat up every available spare minute of your time

118 THE lIST 2—16 Nov 2000