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Killzone (PS2)

What better way to spend this Christmas than wandering around a bleak post-apocalyptic environment, battling treacherous semi-human hordes? Killzone offers just that, playing a rugged ISA soldier called Templar. Other troops soon join your squad, allowing you to play levels as any member, drawing on their various skills (stealth, brawn, knowledge) as required.

It's a very good-looking game, but by no means does the much-hyped release signal a raising of the bar. However, coming from someone who is not a huge fan of sci-fi games, Killzone does have a reassuringly earthly quality. Its weapons fire bullets, rather than green goop. You might be fighting for the survival of our species on some alien outpost, but looking around, you could just as easily be stalking down bombed-out streets in a war-torn Eastern European city.

Although it's playable enough, with some nice touches, Kill-zone lets itself down by being frustratingly linear. Although your character seems able to scale any obstacle required to advance the game, should you attempt to wander off-course, it only takes a minuscule mound of dirt to block your path. And though I'm willing to suspend almost all disbelief for a good game, I refuse to accept that any highly trained killer is going to let a one-metre ditch stand between him and world domination.

Jak 3 (PS2)

Jak 3 is the third instalment in the Jak and Daxter series. Jak 2 was a marked improvement on the first game, and this latest release proves that the developers at Naughty Dog work on a "leaps and bounds" philosophy.

The game opens with Jak and his weasel-pal Daxter banished from their home in Haven City, left to seek refuge in the wasteland outpost of Spargus. In a mixture of wide-open wandering and mission-based gameplay, the pair must race, shoot, hunt and solve puzzles as the plot twists, turns and generally thickens.

Like all good animated comedy - which it unarguably is - Jak 3 provides lashings of entertainment for adults and children alike. It's good-looking, challenging, addictive and entertaining. Sony will have to release a more powerful console before any Jak sequel will be able to top this little ripper.