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WEEKEND: BYTE SIZE: Reckless stunts drive this slick, 70s offering; Review.

Byline: RICHARD ASHDOWN

Starsky and Hutch

PlayStation2, Empire Interactive - pounds 39.99

WHEN Starsky and Hutch first swaggered onto TV screens in the mid 1970s, gamers were getting their kicks from Pong on the pioneering Magnavox Odyssey home console.

But while technology has moved on, Starsky, Hutch and their Ford Gran Torino remain enduringly cool. This official game captures the essence of everything that was great about it - namely fancy car chases and funky music. The central story mode is split into three seasons of mission-based episodes, and progression through each season unlocks a multitude of free ride modes and special treats.

Bay City is made up of 150 miles of roads spread over 15 square miles, and it's down to you to stay on the tail of the criminals each episode inevitably throws up, while catching every power-up you can find.

Performing reckless stunts, skidding and trashing street furniture earns you increased viewer ratings, which give you extra rewards elsewhere within the game.

In single player mode you do the driving and press the fire button while a computerised Hutch takes aim out of the passenger window. In two player mode, one drives while the other shoots, and if you've got a PS2 wheel and G-Con2 lightgun you are in for the ultimate in sofa-based crimefighting.

However you choose to play it, Starsky and Hutch is a hugely entertaining and a slickly-produced title. 9/10

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

PlayStation2, Core/ Eidos - pounds 39.99

IT HAS been dogged by delays, but the British gaming public were never in danger of turning around to Eidos and asking "Lara who?"

Very little has changed in Angel of Darkness for our heroine in hotpants. It's still a 3D action adventure viewed from the third person perspective, and the emphasis remains with thinking your way out of each predicament rather than blasting everything that moves.

There's been a murder and Lara's the prime suspect. The victim was her old acquaintance Von Croy, who had been commissioned to seek out five ancient paintings believed to be linked with the occult. Meanwhile a serial killer stalks the streets of Paris. Could it all be related?

The graphics mark a vast improvement over previous episodes, and better 3D has led to more intricate level design. This means there is more scope for puzzles, which is where Angel of Darkness will split the gaming fraternity in two. Some impassable areas look ridiculously easy to navigate past but aren't, while some simple-looking jumps and drops will end in disaster.

Your placement when opening doors, jumping or edging on to ladders has to be perfect for her to respond in the right way. The game is at its most glaringly unhelpful when you are standing next to something and you try and jump onto it.

To be fair that's how she's always been. So if you can handle her special ways, give Angel of Darkness a go. Otherwise, dare we suggest the Tomb Raider formula is looking a little dated? 6/10

Wonder websites byreturnpost.com

is letter-writing a lost art? Join a new experiment that says no.

www.steamboats.com

Do you like steamboats? You'll love this.

www.lostgeneration.com

The Hemingway Resource Center has everything you need to know about Ernest Hemingway.

pubs.usgs.gov/gip/volc/

Robert Tilling's informative book about volcanoes has been published in full online.

CAPTION(S):

ACTION-PACKED: A scene from Starsky and Hutch on PS2; SHE'S BACK: Lara Croft
COPYRIGHT 2003 Coventry Newpapers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 19, 2003
Words:582
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