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NFL XTREME
(989 Studios, for PlayStation, $49) Only in the era of road rage, South Park, and Jerry Springer could there be NFL Xtreme, a dumbed-down version of football that removes the burdensome shackles of penalties, out-of-bounds action, and pretty much every other rule in the book. For some, it’s a guilty pleasure to see a pumped-up linebacker maim a receiver. Me? I’m hoping it doesn’t start a trend toward games like PGA Xtreme — imagine Tiger Woods clubbing Se Ri Pak with a three-iron. C

BASS MASTERS CLASSIC: TOURNAMENT EDITION
(THQ, for PC, $34.95) Based on the Super Bowl of bass competitions (held most recently in Greensboro, N.C.), this splashy simulator gives you the chance to outfish the computer and, if you’ve got the hookup, other fishermen on the Internet. A staggering array of lures and rods is at your disposal — and if you play with a force-feedback controller, you’ll feel a tantalizing tug when you get a bite. Too bad the game doesn’t let you lie about the one that got away. A

MORTAL KOMBAT 4
(Midway, for PC, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation, $60) Another sequel in this aging series sounds about as promising as, say, Major League 4. The battles are still one-on-one, and the infamous ”fatalities” are just as gory (now the blood even splatters onto your screen, Tarantino-style), but this time you’re able to step in and out in 3-D space and brandish weapons like crossbows and spiked clubs. Give Midway points for listening to its audience: Gone are the inept ”babalities” that turned your enemies into babies and soured fans on this once-popular franchise. A kinder, gentler Kombat? Nah. C+

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
(Ocean, for Nintendo 64, $59) You’re secret agent Ethan Hunt in this game adaptation of the 1996 movie adaptation of the ’66-73 TV series (got that straight?). The look and feel is positively MI, from the catchy theme song to such signature gadgets as exploding chewing gum. The game follows the movie plot — minus the presumably trademarked Tom Cruise as Hunt — and you even get to reenact the scene in which he hacks into a computer while suspended over the floor. It can’t match last year’s Nintendo spy thriller, GoldenEye 007; that’s the real mission: impossible. B

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