("Scanlines" wishes to thank Encore Movies & Music, I Luv Video, and Vulcan Video for their help in providing videos and laser discs.) The Sony Playstation is currently the most popular gaming console in the world, which translates into many more available games each year than I'd ever care to look at. This list is highly subjective. For instance, I don't much care for sports simulations, although there are a number of outstanding ones for Playstation. In addition, I haven't had the chance to see many recently released titles, such as Tomb Raider 2 G-Police, Bushido Blade, Crash Bandicoot 2, Duke Nukem 3-D, and a number of others, many of which have been given stellar reviews by industry experts. With that in mind, my favorites games for 1997 were:

*Warcraft II (Electronic Arts/Blizzard) A real-time strategy game that allows the player to become an armchair general, creating and fielding his orc or human forces in an effort to destroy the opposition. Originally a hit on the PC, the Playstation version suffers from inferior control but maintains all the elements that made it a hit with the computer gaming crowd. In addition to the full campaigns from the PC titles, Warcraft II includes the orc and human campaigns from Beyond the Dark Portal, as well as dozens of custom scenarios. Addictive beyond belief once a player gets hooked.

*Final Fantasy VII (Squaresoft) is the most spectacular roleplaying game ever designed for a console. Square reportedly spent a small fortune creating FFVII and the money shows. The game is so large it's contained on three discs. The story is complex and involving, and the visuals are spectacularly dynamic and rich. My one major caveat is the obscene amount of time spent in combat; after a while, it detracts from the impetus of the quest. Prospective gamers should plan on a major investment of time if they want to play this one through to the end. And completing it is, after all, the point.

*Colony Wars (Psygnosis) is a first-person space combat simulation of the first order. Psygnosis is renowned for producing outstanding Playstation titles, and Colony Wars is one of their best. The space shoot-'em-up genre can be traced to Star Raiders on the old Atari computers, and has a continuing popularity with gamers. Colony Wars has plenty of missions on its two disks, and the voice of James Earl Jones to urge you on.

*Soul Blade (Namco) upholds the company's grand tradition of Playstation fighting games that include both Tekken and Tekken 2. This title features multiple characters, a staggering number of moves and combos, and ring-outs. Soul Blade is distinguished by stunning graphics, sound, and the Edge Master mode, which allows the player to accumulate additional weapons for each character.

*Command & Conquer: Red Alert (Westwood) is another real-time strategy contest that corrects virtually all of the problems that weren't addressed in Command & Conquer and Warcraft II. Red Alert finally takes advantage of the Playstation mouse, and even has a link-cable option. It also has enough carnage to keep the most nihilistic players happy for a long, long time.

So, in all, 1997 has been a great year for Playstation gamers, and 1998 is likely to bring more of the same.

— Bud Simons

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