Silent Storm Publisher: Encore Software Developer: Nival Interactive Genre: Strategy Release date: January 20, 2004 Another second world war action flick? That was my first thought when I played the demo version but I was surprised with the depth and visual candy offered. This is not an action game but a turn-based game of small-squad tactics, with realistic physics and walking tanks. Its closest kin is probably the cult classic Jagged Alliance 2, in which tactics are used to overcome challenges, rather than working your finger muscles into a cramp. The game starts in 1943 with a mission to put together an elite team of soldiers. Your task is to get top-secret documents from deep behind the enemy lines. The graphics are gorgeous, with 'rag-doll physics' - an animation technology that shows how a body might get blasted. When characters are killed each reacts differently, depending on how and where they are struck. The game can be played in any order and on three levels. Do not expect well-scripted storylines, and there is no multi-player mode. Nevertheless, this open-ended strategy game allows you to try any crazy tactics you can imagine. They might just work. One Must fall: Battlegrounds Publisher: Diversions Entertainment Developer: Diversions Entertainment Genre: Action Release date: December 19, 2003 A good, blood-curdling, bone-cracking fighting extravaganza, this game fills a gap that has haunted PC games for decades. For ages, this category has been the bastion for console gamers. For PCs, the only successful Street Fighter-style port was the 1993 release of One Must Fall 2097. Now, a decade later, Diversions has finally released a follow-up with One Must Fall: Battlegrounds. The newcomer sticks to the fighting genre while featuring a vast, full 3D game for up to 16 players. It puts you in command of a pilot character who controls a giant fighting robot. The game suggests robot fighting will be more popular than soccer or rugby in the future, so you will have no shortage of opponents. The plot is almost non-existent, but then One Must Fall: Battlegrounds was never made for excellent storylines. Rather it was built for fighting and it does that very well. It gives you eight robots to choose from, each with its own set of strikes and attacks. You can strike your opponents in various ways, then use the evade button to dodge incoming attacks. War and Warriors: Joan of Arc Publisher: Enlight Software Developer: Enlight Software Genre: Action Release date: February 7, 2004 Before you dismiss this game as a tardy historical remake, several key elements set it apart from others. First, Trevor Chan, the developer, is adept at making games that are sleeper hits. Take his Seven Kingdoms, which many still play today, and Capitalism, which got great reviews. War and Warriors: Joan of Arc represents his first entry into the action genre. While it does contain vague strategy elements, the game has an arcade look and feel, and its hack-and-slash game play mirrors the Dynasty Warriors action games for PlayStation 2. In the game, you play Joan of Arc and other military commanders of the era, and spend most of your time running around looking for mobs of English soldiers to slay - isn't that fun? The game takes place over eight huge missions - the latter averaging between three and five hours apiece. Don't expect any eye candy in terms of graphics. But when it comes to rendering huge melee fights with more than 100 warriors, the game holds its ground well. There Publisher: There Developer: There Genre: Role-playing Release date: October 27, 2003 Have you ever wanted a full makeover and to hang out with your friends in a dreamy setting? In There, you can - at least virtually. This is a 3D virtual-world game featuring four exotic environments to explore, a system for user-created content and an economy that lets players buy There bucks with real currency. It is basically a 3D chatroom: your onscreen characters talk via speech balloons as you type. They blink, breathe and nod when you type yes. Start throwing in actions such as winking, yawning, gasping, even burping - and you've got a conversation that looks like a cartoon but feels uncannily real. There is like a date with plenty of activities to keep you amused, such as dune-buggy racing and jet packing. If you ever wanted a cheap date with your online love, this is it. Everything from the cute Toy Story-style graphics to the stylish clothing stores where characters can dress up in the latest fashions (courtesy of Levi's and Nike) is designed to give you something to talk about. Best of all, it works - perfectly.