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TIME OFF: GAME CHECK.

Driver 3 (Atari, Xbox, pounds 39. 99)

ALL too often racing games just seem like endless jaunts around the M25-- but without the roundabouts and people rubber-necking at accidents.

Thankfully Driver 3 has a good story line and some nice little alternatives to keep it ahead of this ring road rigmarole.

With a voice cast that boasts Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Ving Rhames and Hollywood badboy, Mickey Rourke, you once again take the role of Tanner, to go deep undercover and stop a worldwide crime syndicate.

Real drivers who speed around like their licence has just been taken off a cereal box (and you know who you are) should really get a kick out of this without endagering the rest of us.

For the rest of us, it's an enjoyable yarn which allows you to drive over 70 vehicles, take the law into your own hands and lead a one-man war against the mob.

One of the best elements of this game lies in its architecture. The streets bustle with activity, and free roaming each 30 mile squarecity, by car or on foot, is never a boring experience -- especially if you have a machine gun.

The design of the game has also changed to see you now tackling foreign cities. As well as Miami, there's also Nice and Istanbul to negotiate.

Sadly, although this is a nice effort on the XBox, it fails to match the polished veneer of Grand Theft Auto. The on-foot system is simply not up to scratch and the targeting will have you tearing you hair out when you get into a bind.

But although there are a few downsides, it is worth taking for a spin.

RATING: 6. 5/10

Boot it up

Mutant Storm (Mastertronic, PC, pounds 9. 99)

WITH so much graphic hardware needed for modern PC games, it's getting difficult to find good games for lower end machines.

But prepare yourself, as the asteroids classic Mutant Storm has been re-released on the PC, which combines mind-blowing visuals and weaponry in a frantic shoot 'em up.

Mutant Storm has a pretty strightforward principle -- get in your ship and obliterate anything that moves. But with nice 3D backgrounds and superb particle effects thrown in, it's good to see how far this relatively simple formula can be taken. Explosions, lasers, colours and highly addictive -- well worth checking out.

RATING: 6/10 -Blast-a-thon

Games chart

1. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell:Pandora

2. Harry Potter -Prisoner of Azkaban

3. UEFA Euro 2004Portugal

4. Red Dead Revolver

5. Shrek 2

6. Driv3R

7. Mcafee Internet Security V6. 0

8. Thief: Deadly Shadows

9. Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour

10. Norton Internet Security 2004
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 6, 2004
Words:444
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