MYST V: END OF AGES, Ubisoft If you believe the developers at Cyan Worlds, this is the last Myst game that will ever be created. And Myst V is a fitting end to an amazing journey.
The Myst series had already taken tentative steps toward more modern technology, such as the ability to explore the various worlds in a three-dimensional shooter style. You can do the same here or use a classic point-and-click interface, and switching from mode to mode can be done on the fly.
Of course, the beauty of the various worlds you visit goes beyond description, from a snowy glacial prison to a giant space observatory planet drifting in perpetual night between two nebulae and a giant illuminated ring world.
And all the worlds are rendered in real time. You will see insects buzzing around, flying creatures and even realistic weather. You will also meet people and, thanks to new facial-rendering techniques, you can read the emotion on their faces.
You can even communicate with the worlds' creatures. There are large ant-like workers on the worlds and, if you learn the right symbols, you can command them to do things for you. Simply scratch your command on a tablet, drop it and step away. The creatures will appear, try to read the tablet and follow your command. Learning how to speak with the workers will help you throughout the game.
Of course Myst is all about puzzles, and Myst V does not disappoint. The puzzles here are like the ones in the original game (and less like the first sequel, Riven) in that it does not take a team from MIT to solve them. Working alone, I was able to complete the game in about 16 hours, without looking up too many hints.
Ending the Myst series is a bit like saying goodbye, or "Shorah," to an old friend, but wrapping up all the unanswered questions and letting the series retire on such a high note makes it all worthwhile. -- John Breeden II
Windows 2000 or XP, $50
WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT, Konami
If you think your neighborhood was strange on Halloween, you should see what perennial clay-animation heroes Wallace and Gromit have to face.
Like the blockbuster movie the game is based on, the dynamic duo has to save the vegetables in town from a hoard of produce-munching rabbits and other pests. This is done by humanely sucking them into your bungun, a multi-purpose vacuum cleaner of sorts that would make Hoover or Dyson jealous. The rabbits aren't hurt and actually seem to enjoy the experience.
The animation in the game is similar to the movie, with Wallace and Gromit and the rest of the town rendered perfectly as if they were living clay. They even flop around when they jump or fall down, just as you would expect them to.
The game goes beyond the movie to create the entire town of Tottington, where the heroes live. You can walk around the non-linear environments with Wallace, politely greeting each person by name.
Most of the characters have missions for you to perform, such as gathering ingredients for a pie, ridding a yard of rabbits or challenging them to a game of soccer. These mini-missions make up the bulk of the game play.
As night falls, things in town get spooky, with the peaceful rabbits turning into the dreaded were-rabbits (and there are were-chickens, were-weasels and others) that are out for no good. You still have missions to perform at night, but they are less whimsical -- such as trying to prevent a bank robbery. Still, nothing threatens to break the "E for Everyone" ESRB rating.
You can play alone by switching between characters or with a friend with one person controlling Wallace and the other Gromit (and sometimes a rabbit-person named Hutch). Each character has slightly different skills, and it's much more fun to play together. Fun two-player games are a bit of a console rarity, especially in an all-ages title, but Wallace and Gromit are up to the challenge. -- J.B.
PlayStation2, Xbox, $40