SPEED: UNDERGROUND (Electronic Arts) £39.99 0...
First off. a little tip of the hat to EA in thanks for their refusal to just churn out another NFS title with nothing but a superficial alteration to warrant your purchase. Underground is radically different from any other NFS title. Because this is a boy racer's wettest dream. Take the street racing and kudos system from the Project Gotham Racing series and add a bodykit. chrome rims and flashing neon. for this is show-off. slip- slidey. dragging through town. Okay the racing is a little stodgy at times. with some desperately unfair collisions raising the blood pressure. and that damned
catch-up system that defies logic.
but with such a wide variety of upgrades. both superficial and perfonnance-based. there is always the itch to complete just one more challenge. Just crank up the hardcore house. wind down that smoked glass window and roar through the streets in a machine that shouldn't be seen outside the likes of Falkirk.
GAME CUBE; MARIO KART: DOUBLE DASH (Nintendo) £39.99 0..
Yes yes. calm down. The three out of five for a Nintendo release. a Nintendo Mario release no less, may seem unbelievable but play MK: Double Dash for longer than ten minutes and some niggling. gnawing annoyances will prove the score. So what's the problem? Initially all seems well. The two characters per kart adds a fantastic new perspective to the oh-so—familiar feel of Mario Kart. Their unique
abilities make for a fun learning curve and the challenge is pretty well balanced. Then the realisation dawns that. well. there is not much else here that wasn't present in the SNES original. Indeed. the maniacal pace and random feel of the original has been tempered in Double Dash. There are far fewer opportunities to gamble on race line for example. something that proved such an infuriating joy all those years ago. As a triviality to kill a few fun hours with pals it is great but as a colourful yet testing racing game it fails. Three out of FM) is correct.
TONY HAWK’S: UNDERGROUND (Activision) £39.99 0...
And another Underground title. This time however. the four wheels are a lot smaller as the Birdman Hawk and pals yet again take to the street. Unlike the other Underground game. THUG has little to distinguish itself from its predecessors. Apart from the chance to drive a few vehicles. poorly executed it has to be said. and the ability to pick up your skateboard and run to otherwise unreachable locations. this is much the same as every other Tony Hawks bout of boarding. That's not to say that it isn't great fun at times. because it really is. The search for those gaps to jump. The finger torture to tease out one more
trick in a combo. The delight of discovering that subtle piece of scenery to launch off. All this still brings a smile. Unfortunately it is not a smile prompted by something new. rather the warm pleasure of the familiar. Something radical has to happen in the next release or board may be spelled B.O.R.E.D.
MEDAL OF HONOR: RISING SUN
(Electronic Arts) £39.99 000
Surely no one likes on- rails sections in computer games? You know. these periods during a FPS when all freedom. even the simplicity of how to negotiate a long. straight. bland corridor. is removed and all you do is point a cursor and shoot? It sucks yes? Well MoH: Rising Sun is packed with tlit2iii. (:)li t)();itss. ()lt four wheels. it doesn't really matter. All you do is hold down the trigger and point a crosshair at enemies that emerge from the same place at the same time each and every time you have the misfortune to replay a level. There are places where you can wander freely but such is the scripted nature of the game that even this feels like you are being shuttled from one set- piece to another. So it should feel like a cracking war movie then? Well, not really. Graphically it looks old and the action never reaches the fren/y of the now infamous Normandy Landing level of its big brother. All ()f which leaves Rising Sun as the worst of a good bunch.
Rising Sun: guided tour of duty
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND - LIVE AT THE BEACON THEATRE
(Sanctuary DVD retail) .0
Never as influential as the Grateful Dead or as whup-ass as Lynyrd Skynyrd. the Allman Brothers Band these days are kind of stuck in a quagmire musically. and this live concert DVD proves it. The
latest in a host of band line-ups since the 60s turns in this piss-poor noodling nonsense performance in New York earlier this year.
TOP 10 FILMS THIS FORTNIGHT
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1' .Jav‘ 9"”(‘4 THE LIST 93