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Unreal Tournament 2003 (PC, Infogrames)

THERE are first-person shooting games and then there is Unreal.

This series of games just keeps getting better and better, so much so that unless you have a pretty powerful PC you will struggle to play this year's version.

The graphics for 2003 have reached another level. Everything shimmers with quality from the realistic water effects to the battered armour and explosive bullets.

For the uninitiated, Unreal pits teams of warriors against each other in a brutal futuristic version of Rome's gladiators.

The combat is extremely ferocious and gory. But more than ever, the designers are trying to emphasis the team element of the game.

By hooking up to the internet, you can play against strangers. But instead of the usual kill-all emphasis of Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch

and Capture the Flag modes, they have added two extra ones.

In Domination you have to control two spots on the map at the same time - which calls for internet teamwork as you decide who will attack and who will defend.

Bombing Run is a warped version of American football where the man who has the ball can no longer shoot.

All-in-all this is the PC game for Christmas and beyond. And, if your PC won't run it then buy a new one. Excellent.

Graphics ..................10/10 Sound .....................9/10 Gameplay .................10/10 Overall ...................9.5/10

NFL Fever 2003 (X-box, Microsoft)

AMERICAN football games on computer consoles are an acquired taste. They're not the fastest of games and playing against the computer can be quite boring.

But against a friend they become a revelation, as you tussle to make the yards, go for field goals or call time-out in a bid to get touchdown.

NFL Fever takes full advantage of the power in the X-box. The graphics are superb with some of the best 3D modelling I've ever seen. And the surround sound stadium feel is unbelievable.

But what will make this game even better is that it takes advantage of X-box Live. When the system is up and running in the UK, it will mean you can hook up to the internet and play complete strangers.

At last the X-box is coming of age. The machine has awesome power but it is up to game developers to harness

it. Fortunately, games of this calibre will go a long way to promote it.

Graphics ..................10/10 Sound ......................9/10 Gameplay ...................8/10 Overall .....................9/10

Need For Speed II (PlayStation 2, Electronic Arts) MAKE no mistake, this game more than lives up to its title. It is, without a doubt, the fastest car racing game on the market.

Basically you take part in a illegal car jaunt across the US. What makes this game more entertaining is that you can be chased by the law. Traffic cops try to barge you off the road, lay-out stingers to slow you down and even set up road blocks.

Add this to some of the finest graphics the PS2 has ever produced and you've got an awesome package with interesting race tracks and alternative routes.

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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 8, 2002
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