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Jingle bloody bells

Jingle bloody bells

Nygllhuw Morris gets into the fun of Christmas

CHRISTMAS BREAK Go on... Take a break over Christmas and get a game. Sure, you can justify it as a gift for the kids. You may even let them know you bought it for them if you want someone to play with. And don’t forget to book the office laptop over the Christmas holidays (to get that big report done, of course) so that you can play as you travel.

A couple of issues back, I wrote all about Links 2003, the latest golf game offering from Microsoft. It seems I am not the only golf fan out there, so as this is the last issue before Christmas I thought I would share a few other game reviews with you.

Of course I realise that the best CIOs don’t actually have time for games, so this is for all the “not-the-best CIOs”. Without you hard-working triers, there would be no way the successful CIOs would have anyone to compare themselves with.

Let’s start with an oldie but a goodie, Zoo Tycoon. This is a sim-based game where you strive to make the best zoo possible and keep all your visitors, animals and staff happy as well. My own little angel, Jadzia, is now 4 going on 16. I loaded the game on her PC and I can’t even start to play with it without a lecture on what I am doing wrong.

A neat feature of Zoo Tycoon is that it also comes with expansion sets. The first is a Jurassic Park-like theme called Dinosaur Digs, while the latest -- just released this month -- is Marine Mania. This new set features a wide range of marine life as well as water theme shows with the likes of dolphins and orcas. You can pretend you are sending your stroppiest customers to the shark tank for a little swim to cool down.

The next cool game is Combat Flight Simulator 3. Imagine you are in the thick of World War II, caught in the heart-pounding rush of low altitude air combat over Europe. You can be a fighter or bomber pilot, in either the RAF or the Luftwaffe. Hell, you can even be an American if you feel desperate enough.

The sound of your plane screaming in to blast apart your target may be a bit hard to cover up in the office. Likewise, yelling “Damn you, Red Baron” at the top of your voice is not only inviting a sudden performance appraisal -- it also indicates you are in the wrong world war. Probably this game’s best feature is the ability to play with others. This means you get everyone in the office playing and then there is no one to dob you in. You can play with or against other players, even planning campaigns during your morning tea break.

Age of Mythology is another new release and great for all you Lord of the Rings fans. It is a superb strategy game set in an age when your heroes battle monsters of legend and gods interfere in the affairs of mortal men. You can create armies, develop your civilisation and manage your economies by resource-gathering and trade.

It features beautiful environments, all rendered in full 3-D, as well as lifelike terrain and waters. The special effects include water spouts, infernos, lava, tornadoes, earthquakes and lightning. The obvious comparison for this game is Age of Empires. However, Microsoft calls it more of a spin-off than a sequel. At just under $100, this is a lot of game for the money.

Finally, Links 2003 must get a repeat mention because I have been enjoying it soooo much! Now, I must make it clear I am not in any way addicted to Links 2003.

I haven’t got space here to go into detail about other worthwhile games such as Rallisport Challenge or Pinball or any of the other PC games. Likewise I haven’t even mentioned the Xbox and the wide range of titles available for it.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the break and return in January with my column on “how to minimise RSI injuries, while you search for a new, more flexible employer.”

All the best for Christmas from Jadzia and me.

Nygllhuw Morris can be found at nygllhuw@xtra.co.nz.

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