ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR, Fox Interactive
What: Close encounters of the first-person-shooter kind. Details: If you ever wondered how certain movie monsters would fare if pitted against each other, you've finally got a chance to find out firsthand with a couple of the scariest ones around. Aliens Versus Predator plays like three games in one -- you can take the role of a vicious Alien, a stealthy Predator or a trigger-happy Marine. To keep the playing field nice and level, each combatant has its own significant strengths and weaknesses. The Alien is the fastest, but it can't carry any weapons and doesn't have much in the way of defense. The Predator has a cloaking device and the ability to heal itself, but it needs to keep its battery packs charged at all times. The lowly Marine is the most vulnerable of the three, but he also has the best range of weapons -- just try to keep out of the way when you hit an Alien with a grenade, because that acid blood can really ruin your day. With stellar graphics and the same sound effects as the movies, playing this game is a nerve-racking experience. Bottom line: It's time to go face to face-hugger with the enemy.
-- Tom Ham
Win 95-98, $50
LOST & FOUND, PowerQuest Corp.
What: Data-recovery program. Details: This is a tiny piece of software that ships on a mere two floppy disks, but it's a surprisingly powerful tool for retrieving missing, lost or deleted data off hard drives or floppy disks. Unlike larger utility programs, Lost & Found is concerned only with getting back the individual files that you need. In comparison, most utility programs will attempt to fix entire damaged disks -- this usually works for only one or two disk reads before a disk failure occurs again. Lost & Found doesn't attempt to fix the disk itself (count on having to reformat it if it's a hard drive, or throwing it out if it's a floppy), but instead gathers the data and deposits it into another disk. It even managed to pull data back off a disk I had reformatted. In addition to an impressive success rate, another plus going for this program is its easy interface -- instead of dangling technical terms in front of a user, for example, it uses simple color bars to estimate the odds that data will be saved. Green means there's a good chance of success, yellow means it might work and red (which I never saw in my testing) indicates you're probably up a creek. Bottom Line: A powerful (but pricey) Sherlock Holmes for missing files.
-- John Breeden
Win 95-98, $70
CAPTION: The big hunt: Aliens Versus Predator.