Game Reviews

Wreak some havoc with a monster truck

Re-Volt Dreamcast **** Forget the dull tracks and cars of Formula 1-style racing games, Re-Volt follows in the auspicious tyre tracks of Mario Kart, where gameplay fun and competitor hijinks are as important as who can get round the track fastest. In Re-Volt, the cutesy concept is to race toy cars. So if you never owned a radio-controlled car when young, now's the chance to make up for lost time by racing up to 40 different types of toy car including wiry buggies, road cars and mad monster trucks.

As you progress through Championship mode, more cars and tracks are made available - race Phat Slug around da Hood or wreak havoc with a monster truck on the rooftops. Gameplay is manic as up to 12 competitors charge around the circuit firing all manner of exploding things and leaving booby traps trailing behind them.

Alternatively, enter the stunt arena where the driver can gain points by jumping obstacles and careering around the loop-the-loop.

When driving at speed, handling the cars is as tricky as with a real remote-controlled car, which adds a frustrating element of realism as you skid around the marble floor of the museum. Admittedly, the game has been around a while, but not on the Dreamcast, where the graphics are suburb and the gameplay almost impossibly challenging. Regression has never been such fun.

(Acclaim, £40)

Tomb Raider IV Dreamcast *** Lara's back. Again. For the fourth time. But for the first time on the Dreamcast and with its superb graphics, it's a more rounded game than ever. For the Lara Croft obsessive - and you know who you are - the game holds a real treat: Lara as a nubile teenager. We watch her initiation into the world of the Tomb by the somewhat sinister figure of Werner Von Croy, who guides her through the training level, where she climbs ropes, clings on to walls and squeezes nimbly through gaps.

Eidos has steadfastly stuck to the wildly successful Tomb Raider formula, and number 4 contains no real surprises. Thematically and atmospherically, it is faithful to all its precedents; strategically, it harks back to the extremely playable Tomb Raider (1), in which puzzle-solving tended to take precedence over blood-letting and where the difficulty of each level struck a careful balance between too difficult to play and difficult enough to keep you playing.

Tomb Raider 4 on the Dreamcast is something else - the refined graphics engine places it in a different league from the blocky PlayStation version. Master the controls and then sit back and enjoy the gameplay. Lara has slipped comfortably into the Dreamcast format and it suits her well.

(Eidos Interactive, £40)

Power Stone Dreamcast *** Beat-em-ups can be extremely tedious as you thrust and batter your way from one side of the screen to the other. Power Stone, however, has a number of characteristics which distinguish it from the Mortal Kombats, Tekkens and Virtua Fighters. The characters can interact with their environment - they swing around poles, uproot trees, hurl tables and smash chairs over their opponents' heads in true Wild West style.

And the power stones themselves are vitally important to the actual gameplay. Collect enough in the correct colours and you'll power-up to a manic über-fighter whom your opponent will be hard put to beat. Gameplay is frantic and chaotic as you whirl around each level, battering your opponent in slapstick style. If beat-em-ups aren't usually your style, try a bit of this.

(Capcom, £40)

Tee-Off Dreamcast *** Don't let the fact that this is a golf game put you off, as its appeal extends to masters of the sand wedge and crazy-golf players alike. Choose to travel the world and pit your character against the world's leading players or stick to what you know by challenging your friends with the free-round option. The graphics and nifty camera-work mean that even if the thought of golf has you dropping off, you'll enjoy a flirtation with this game.

If golf really isn't your style, avoid the green altogether and head for the cyber-croquet course. Choose a difficult option and you'll find yourself struggling to hit your ball up and down undulations to get through each gate: addictive.

The combination of immaculate graphics, innovative camera shots and user-friendly controls make this an impressive and fun game to play.

(Acclaim, £40)

s.chatterton@independent.co.uk

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