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Two great games let slip the dogs of war

The sabres are rattling: Time to loose the dogs of war!

Independence Day for Playstation, Saturn and CD-ROM. If you're like millions of others fans of the hit movie Independence Day, you have been waiting for this game to come along.

The good news is that the video game manages to capture a lot of the spirit and attitude of the movie. You spend most of the game battling it out in various fighter planes _ including an A-10, an F-18, an EF 2000, a Soviet MiG-31 and eventually an alien ship _ below the huge alien city destroyers. You have a variety of tasks to perform, from taking out force field generators to providing cover for recon planes.

The alien destroyers are amazingly huge, just like in the movie.

The sound and graphics aren't particularly realistic (the machine gun leaves a lot to be desired, for instance), but the overall look of the game is rather impressive.

The two-player game lets you choose from a mind-boggling array of fighters and take on a bud in hot search-and-destroy dogfighting.

Independence Day has a lot in common with other fighter plane games, but the aura of the whole experience sets the game aside and gives it an edge over standard flying shooters, which is the way it should be (but rarely is) when you have a game based on such a great movie.

Rating: Ages 8 and up. B.

Command and Conquer for Saturn. This is one addictive game. The Saturn convert of the PC hit is so successful that you will find yourself unwittingly spending hours in front of your television playing it.

The game is tough. There is a lot to do: command troops and vehicles, set up and defend manufacturing facilities, explore uncharted territory, take on bad guys by the score.

Fortunately, you start with less demanding missions that let you get a feel for the game without getting wiped out. By the time things start getting really rough, you're so hooked there's not a chance you're going to quit.

This one is pure military strategy. In each level, you're given a certain number of troops and vehicles and asked to complete a specific mission. Some levels are short, sweet commando strikes, and others are long-term investments that require you to build and maintain bases and supply new troops and vehicles for ultimate victory.

For instance, one level has you loading a dozen shock troops into two armored personnel carriers and making a run for the enemy base, while another may have you defending an existing friendly base and building an army for an assault on enemy HQ.

The game is a two-disc set that lets you play all the scenarios as either the good or the bad guy.

The graphics and sound are tremendous, with superb cinematic screens perfectly setting up each scenario.

This is one of the best strategy games we have ever seen. We have no doubt it will end up on our Top Games of 1997 list.

Rating: ages 10 and up. A+.

Got a question, an inside tip you would like to share? Write to Chip and Jonathan Carter in care of the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column. Check out their Web site at www.chicago.tribune.com.

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