SHORT LIST 11 - July 1997
Let's get the racing games out of the way early this month, eh? First up is a motorbike job after the fashion of Sega's badly-flawed Manx TT, and it's a major improvement. Split into road-race and moto-cross courses, (including an exciting ride along the Great Wall Of China), this is a fast and exceptionally pretty-looking racer, loaded with detail (like being able to perform stunts while flying through the air after a jump), and if you've got the suitably ninja PC required to run it at the correct speed, it's probably the machine's best racing game to date.
(From Electronic Arts for PC, £40)
Back on four wheels, the Playstation finally puts a stop to its recent rot (a long line of appalling games having somehow found their way through quality control) with this atmospheric, convincing and challenging promotional vehicle (o-ho) for Porsche's brand new Boxster. Weighty handling, beautiful scenery, and imaginative tracks with short-cuts and hidden extras give the game a much longer life than the usual formula racing-by-numbers efforts, and the two-player mode is a riot.
(From Sony for Playstation, £45)
You are the 1,000th Doom clone released for the PC, and I claim my five pounds. Except you've got Wild West cowboys instead of lumpy demons from Hell (snore), something vaguely resembling a coherent plot, and the possibility of getting hanged for shooting innocent civilians (even though, as we all know, No-One Is Innocent). So that's alright, then. I suppose.
(From LucasArts for PC, £40)
PREMIER MANAGER 97
The tiny stick-man graphics of Football Manager (the first ever football management game, some 15 years distant) were what gave the game its real excitement, as you watched powerlessly while your crack squad went to pieces in front of goal, missing sitters and letting hopeful trundlers slip past into the net. Inexplicably, subsequent games did away with these highlights sequences, concentrating instead on great swathes of farcically dull statistics, but Gremlin's PM series brings them back in glorious 90s technicolour, and for that (and for a comprehensive and believable game generally), we kiss them, in a manly way. Finally, football management's coming home as well.
(From Gremlin for PC, £40)
PUZZLE BOBBLE, 3D LEMMINGS
They're not new, but two of the greatest games ever have just made triumphant returns in the shape of budget-price PC releases, meaning you can pick them both up for less than half the price of a single new Nintendo 64 game. Puzzle Bobble is a wonderful two-player cute-dinosaurs-and-balloons puzzle game notable for being guaranteed to instantly hook anyone who's never played a video game before in their life (or your money back), while 3D Lemmings was cruelly overlooked on initial release, despite being the cleverest, most imaginative and most rewarding game this side of Super Mario 64. You'd have to be some kind of lobotomised sub-moron to miss out on it again.
(From xxx for PC, £15 each)