A look at four soon-to-be-released videogames

Though Riven may rule in ’98, some other hot releases will push it hard. Strong buzz and early looks at beta versions suggest these four CD-ROM dream games will really fire up your screen:

1 Quake II // The preeminent first-person shooting spree gets a radical makeover, with graphics that are sharper, brighter, and zestier. Quake II also improves on its forte, “death matches” — duels fought on the Internet — allowing as many as 200 twitchy gunslingers to plug away. (Fall ’97)

2 Zelda 64 // This muscled-up remake of a Nintendo classic is the most anticipated cartridge for the Nintendo 64 since Super Mario 64. And like Mario, this adventure fantasy featuring an impish Robin Hood type is designed by master game creator Shigeru Miyamoto, so you can bet it’ll be banzai! (’98)

3 Resident Evil 2 // More oozing zombies haunt this sequel to last year’s creepiest horror adventure. While the first was limited to a mansion interior, RE2 goes to town — one populated by flesh-eating creatures. Screaming is mandatory. (Winter ’98)

4 Tomb Raider 2 // The original Tomb Raider, an Indiana Jones-meets-Pamela Lee 3-D adventure, not only sold well (over 2 million worldwide), but made its buxom star, Lara Croft, an instant cult figure. In 2, Lara searches for treasure in Venice, Tibet, and China, while sporting new, detailed, skin-hugging outfits. (Fall ’97)