The latest in videogames and cd-roms -- ''Metal Gear Solid,'' ''Grim Fandango,'' and ''Crash Bandicoot: Warped'' were recently released

The latest in videogames and cd-roms

Name an action movie cliché and you’ll find it in the spy thriller Metal Gear Solid. Military cover-ups, egomaniacal villains, purty explosions: You’ll see ’em all as you guide Solid Snake, a brooding government operative, across sweeping 3-D vistas to destroy Metal Gear, an experimental nuclear weapon. This stuff may be kind of cheesy in a Jerry Bruckheimer flick, but it fits in brilliantly with this game, mostly because you’re the hero who must save the world and the girl. So this is what it feels like to be Will Smith. A

Futuristic hovercraft races on serpentine tracks are — yawn — par for the course with these two similar games. While F-Zero X gives you the chance to bump force fields with a greater number of opponents (30 can be on screen at once: a glimpse of rush hour in the year 2020, maybe?), give Wipeout 64 the edge for adding competition-crippling weaponry such as heat-seeking missiles. After playing either, you’ll feel like taking a serene break — say, a Sunday drive on the autobahn. F-Zero: B- Wipeout: B

First, Brad Pitt puts a pretty face on Death in Meet Joe Black. Now the tongue-in-cheek film noir animated adventure, Grim Fandango, paints the land of the dead in a funky blend of Aztec architecture and art deco. You’re Manny, a zoot-suited skeleton whose job as Dept. of Death travel agent is to guide new arrivals to their final resting place — until you unearth a scheme hatched by crime boss Hector LeMans. Fandango suffers from the obligatory PC puzzles (talk to X, find Y, open Z) but it’s so clever and bizarre, you’ll still think it’s to die for. B+

PlayStation’s orange-furred ambassador returns for a third tour of duty, visiting medieval Europe, ancient Egypt, and Atlantis in Crash Bandicoot: Warped. Your goal remains the same: to thwart Dr. Cortex by stomping on his animal lackeys and collecting gems and crystals. As always, it’s plenty of fun, but despite new ways to explore the terrain (Crash rides a mini-sub! Now he’s in a biplane!), there aren’t enough innovations in this dependable, not-warped-enough Crash cow. B