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X-Men: Mutant Academy Playstation ** Oh dear. Another deeply depressing addition to the Playstation's repertoire of recycled and revisited games. This one's a familiar-looking beat 'em up, released to cash in on the opening of the supposed summer sci-fi blockbuster and is clasping one of those licences Marvel seems so keen to give out. It's enough to send you running for a good book.

X-Men: Mutant Academy Playstation ** Oh dear. Another deeply depressing addition to the Playstation's repertoire of recycled and revisited games. This one's a familiar-looking beat 'em up, released to cash in on the opening of the supposed summer sci-fi blockbuster and is clasping one of those licences Marvel seems so keen to give out. It's enough to send you running for a good book.

Punch, kick and special move your way through arcade and versus levels - no surprises in either - or hone your skills with Professor X in the Academy. This was the only faintly interesting (although clumsily executed) aspect of the game: Prof X talks the uncoordinated button basher through special move sequences. But sparks and punches flew and the character tumbled maniacally through the air regardless of a left, a right, or a quick one-two from my nimble fingers.

For the fans of Wolverine, Cyclops and Gambit, though, there is much to be thankful for: clips from the movie and the characters' life stories can be unlocked as you beat the sense out of fellow X-men. Ignore the fact that the gameplay owes much to Street Fighter, that the graphics are barely average and familiar faces are not a substitute for originality, and you might enjoy it. (Activision, £24.99)

Parasite Eve II Playstation * "Thought Playstation action-adventure games couldn't get any better?" So begins the press release for this execrable sequel to the game Parasite Eve (in which anex-policewoman turned mutant exterminator and saved New York from a fate worse than a follow-up game). But this game has redefined how bad Playstation games can get.

You take the part of the lady with a silly name - Aya Brea - and silly job - insect exterminator. It is now three years since the last crisis infestation and the creepie-crawlies are rising again to incite the West Coast to turn to its fly-swats. Aya, with the help of her charmless colleagues and an armoury Charlton Heston would be proud of is sent off in fetching miniskirt to despatch them to bug heaven.

Replace the outsize crawlers with zombies and you've got a stupid man's version of Resident Evil and all those other survival horror games it spawned. If a game is diverting enough, you can ignore derivation but Parasite Eve II's gameplay is over-complicated, graphics are poor, the cut-scenes are risible, dialogue is clichéd and exchanged via text box and this allegedly cinematic game experience is devoid of any atmosphere. Even the chance of the odd puzzle has been denied in favour of noisily blowing mutant creatures to pieces.

There are allegedly more than 30 hours of this torture on the two discs so before it gets out of hand, the exterminators should be called in to put this game out of its misery. (Square, £29.99)

Toca World Touring Cars Playstation *** This is the third touring car game licensed from Toca to Codemasters and despite the fact that it eschews gimmicks, cartoon characters and weapons in favour of serious racing, it is an enjoyable ride.

You can tell it is a serious racing game from the host of tips in the driving guide and the complicated car set-up options which appear before each race - adjust your car's weighting, gear-box and brakes to ensure optimum performance on the track. Admittedly, it's not as much fun as a kart and a magic spell, but it is possible to ignore the mechanics of it all and take yourself for a spin.

Your aim is to achieve World Championship glory by winning your way across five continents on "real" tracks, in "real" cars - quite obviously a game for those who like their racers authentic. But despite the Grand Prix-spotter feel to it and graphics which aren't really ground-breaking, track speed and difficulty and the damage you can do provides quite an exhilarating outing. (Codemasters, £29.99)

s.chatterton@independent.co.uk

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