TOMB RAIDER: THE LAST REVELATION,
What: Return of gun-toting heroine. Details: Lara Croft is showing her age--this sequel is nothing more than a rehash of all the previous Tomb Raider games. The Last Revelation features the same old Lara running through exotic locales (in this installment, Egypt) and jumping from ledge to ledge; this time the goal is to save the world from Armageddon. See, she accidentally released the evil god Set when she discovered his lost tomb and now must use her skills to re-imprison him and save the world. The one key new feature is the ability to combine objects in your inventory; for instance, you can put two halves of an Egyptian relic together to use in a puzzle. It gives the game added depth, but not much. There are also new weapons (for instance, concussion grenades and a revolver with a laser sight), a new sniper mode and some new moves, including climbing and swinging from ropes; a training level, starring a pubescent Lara, offers practice for newcomers. In terms of graphics, this sequel shares its predecessors' flaws: excessive pixelation, clipping and dropped frames whenever Lara runs into open spaces. These defects should be no surprise; the graphics engine beneath this game is now more than three years old. Bottom line: Here's a revelation for you--stay clear from this one!
-- Tom Ham
THE DUKES OF HAZZARD: RACING FOR HOME,
What: TV-inspired racing game. Details: It seems that no license will be left untouched in the videogame business. Although the real
Uncle Jessie is dead and the original Daisy Duke has gained lots of weight, The Dukes of Hazzard live on through reruns--
and now in this game. Racing for Home is a one or two-player, mission-based racing game, in which players assume the roles of Bo and Luke Duke and jump into the venerable orange
General Lee. Boss Hogg, Roscoe P. Coltrane and the rest of the cast also show up, looking terrible during in-car action and great in cinematic interludes. Both the single and multiplayer games involve lots of racing through Georgia's back roads, over ramps and across broken bridges--plenty of opportunities to blare the General's signature horn. There's racing against the clock in missions or against other drivers at the country fair, or you can shoot cars off the road with Bo's crossbow. The plot line is as short as Daisy's cut-off jeans: To save Uncle Jessie's farm, the boys need to bust up some criminal activity and win money to pay off the mortgage. This game certainly isn't groundbreaking, but it offers solid arcade racing (as long as you bump it up to the Hard setting). Bottom line: Fans of the show will say "Yee-ha!" to this; others may just yawn.
-- John Gaudiosi
PlayStation, $40 (Win
95-98 due in March)
DARIA'S SICK, SAD LIFE PLANNER,
MTV/Simon & Schuster
What: MTV-themed personal-info manager. Details: True fans of Daria, MTV's sarcastic, self-deprecating and brainy teen, will not be thrilled about this tie-in. While cartoon Daria is quick and funny, software Daria lacks her original wit and style. (Daria herself wouldn't even use this tool, as she doesn't have a life to plan, nor does she want to--one of the big reasons the show is so popular.) The program includes three basic elements: calendar, address book and journal. There's nothing really new in the program's layout: The calendar looks like a wall calendar, but with the Daria logo, and the interface is jazzed up with clickable icons to watch clips from the show (for whatever reason, this didn't work on my relatively new computer). There's also a daily "sick sad fact" (Feb. 16's reads, "On this day Yoko Ono was born, unfabbing the fab four and posing for one of the most frightening album covers ever printed.") Where the program really fails is the journal section, which gives out silly instructions like "Pick a line from a song that best describes your day"--Daria would rather be caught doing her hair than answering such a cheesy question. The creators seem to be torn between blending elements of Daria's sardonic wit with the needs of consumers who don't necessarily want to feel like they have a sick, sad life every time they sign on. Bottom line: Serviceable enough, but you're probably better off using a Palm organizer and watching Daria on TV.
-- Nicole Lewis
Win 95-98, $20
What: Role-playing game set in a strange, strange land. Details: Even those who fell in love with Baldur's Gate may have some trouble getting into this game. It uses the same engine as that hit, but the similarity stops there. The Planescape Universe setting is a muddled and confusing place in which you start the game having died--again. You wake up in a mortuary, surrounded by animated corpse workers, where you learn that you're actually immortal and so can't really die. But if your hit points drop to zero, you'll lose a lot of your memory, which sets back your quest to remember your identity. But since this is the world of Planescape, sometimes dying is the only way to solve a puzzle. Everything clear so far? The scenery is much more detailed than Baldur's Gate, letting you see every infected, bloated, ripped-open corpse in gory detail. But the game has a rushed feel--it draws the wrong weapons in characters' hands and often gets "he" and "she" switched up in its dialogue options. Despite the extra eye candy (check out the zombie babes!) most role players are going to get a bit tired of performing "quests for quests' sake," while action gamers will be outright bored. There is no multiplayer support, and you can only play as one character, though you can modify his stats. Bottom line: Better to (continue to) wait for the long-delayed Baldur's Gate 2.
-- John Breeden II
Win 95-98, $50
CAPTION: Dukes of Hazzard: Generally, it's okay.
CAPTION: Tomb Raider: Time to shut out the light.
CAPTION: Daria's Planner is pretty sad itself.