Games; Plan from Atlantis

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THE only word to describe this is "lush" and even that doesn't do it justice.

It isn't a game so much as a travelogue of a Middle Ages history that never existed, but should have.

It is also poetic, innovative and imaginative - so you know it couldn't possibly be British.

While Britain's army of T-shirted, Lamborghini-driving games programers are the best people to get if you want to show someone's head disappearing a spray of green goo, the only people to get for thoughtful, intelligent games with bags of style are the French.

The follow-on from the much-acclaimed Atlantis, the title of this new one is the only prosaic thing about it.

In it, the son of Seth, hero of the first adventure, carries on dad's work of getting stuck in to the battle between Good and Evil, interpreted in Son of Seth's travels to seek his destiny.

Set in a 1043AD that includes dragons, princesses, evil spells and lost kingdoms, the road meanders from Ireland to China.

Players will have to rely on their wits - there goes half your shoot 'em up audience - and sheer fate to unravel the threads.

You get occasional help, though, from a host of guides and mediators, including sorcerers, alchemists and assorted other magicians. Exploration is the key ingredient of the plot of this long-awaited sequel by Cryo Interactive, which is just as well, since wandering around is a joy.

That's because the graphics take the words stunning and breathtaking and chuck them in the bin as inadequate.

It has, quite simply, the best graphics I have ever seen in an adventure. What that does, apart from leaving you open- mouthed at the scenery, is create some of the most lifelike characters so far.

This looks great, sounds as good and has a puzzling plot to keep the clever-Dicks scratching heads for days. Brilliant stuff.

RATING 10/10

Indie's no Croft original



WITH Harrison Ford fast approaching retirement age and Steven Spielberg too busy, a new Indiana Jones movie may never happen.

Which is why this game may be all the Indiana that fans are going to get.

The full title is Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine and, coded by Lucasarts, a lot is expected of this new game - especially following Lucasarts falling flat on their Force with the disappointing Phantom Menace.

The plot of The Infernal Machine is very much all-action movie, though, as Indie searches a number of locations to try and find said mysterious machine.

Set, interestingly, in 1947 at the start of the Cold War, the plot involves a samovar-ful of Soviet agents sniffing around the ruins of the ancient Tower of Babel, trying to get their hands on the Infernal Machine.

Replace Soviets with Nazis, Infernal Machine with the Lost Ark and you have the idea.

If the plot sounds derivative, that's nothing to the gameplay.

At first sight, the he action is sort of Tomb Raider with a whip and a lot less chest - but actually getting the action going isn't quite as easy, since the control system for Indie takes a lot of getting used to.

There is nothing worse than playing a disc where a simple walk down a corridor and round an obstacle turns into a farce and Indie into some lumbering drunk, who bangs into walls, and falls off ledges and bumps into things.

Once you've conquered the control system things are relatively straightforward - but chances are you will hurl this out of the window in frustration first.

Is it worth the angst? Well, the mixture of puzzles and action is perfectly balanced, the level of complexity increases nicely throughout the game and the graphics are everything that you could hope for.

But so is Tomb Raider and Lara Croft is prettier to look at and has larger assets.

Sooner they make a new movie, the better. …