(Interplay) cd-rom

If you fancy a bit of old-fashioned role playing, then you could do a lot worse than trying Interplay's new post-nuclear adventure.

The game is set in the year 2077, when the world is in a mess - to put it mildly. A huge nuclear conflict has virtually eradicated the human race and left the Earth unfit for habitation and the few survivors that remain are forced to live in underground vaults. You are one such survivor. But the time has come to return to the outside world and your fellow vault dwellers have kindly selected you as the guinea pig for this experiment.

The opening sequences are some of the finest you're likely to see in a computer game, and put most Hollywood films to shame. But a good intro doesn't constitute a good game - so what's it like to play? The answer is, excellent.

It's billed as an old-school RPG, which is to say the gameplay is based upon character development rather than technical wizardry. So don't expect too much in terms of flash graphics or a blistering soundtrack. What you can count on is a wonderfully atmospheric, utterly compelling adventure. With so many statistics and so much information to get to grips with, it can't be described as instantly playable. Some gamers might also find it difficult to get used to the pace of the turn-based system. However, with a degree of patience, you will discover the joys of the game. There is such an enormous area to explore and so many characters to interact with that, once you're hooked, you're sure to be playing for weeks on end.

On release, pounds 39.99



(Eidos) PlayStation

Snowboarding has grown enormously in popularity over the last few years, a fact not lost on games developers. Hardly a week seems to go by without a new title based on the sport appearing on the shelves. Until now, Cool Boarders 2 has been the standard by which all other snowboarding games have been judged, but Eidos hope to change that with their latest release, Chill.

There are two main ways to play the game. The first, and most obvious, is the Winter Sports option which is basically two games rolled into one. You begin by racing down mountains in a bid to get the fastest time of all the competitors. You have to complete two slaloms before you can progress onto the second part of the competition, the half-pipe. Just like in its skateboarding equivalent, you have to pull off as many blood-curdling tricks as you can in order to amass the most points possible. And, if you don't fancy that, you can play against a friend using the two-player split-screen option. There are four different characters to choose from, and five different tracks to race on. So far so good.

The graphics are decent enough and you do feel a definite sense of speed as you hare down the slopes, but there just isn't anything about the game to get you excited. The range of moves you can perform is very limited and so most of the gameplay revolves around pressing left and right to avoid various obstacles.

Despite Chill's best efforts, Cool Boarders 2 remains top of the mountain, for now.

On release, pounds 39.99