A Mystery on Mean Streets

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Sierra's newest adventure game combines the danger, intrigue and romance of an old-fashioned, Agatha Christie-style mystery with the non-traditional (for a computer game) element of a female protagonist. This is one game that hasn't been designed for boys only.

The second in a series, "Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra" features our intrepid heroine in the streets, dives and high society of 1930s New York. It's a helluva town, filled with dangerous drivers, muggers and friendly cab drivers. Laura takes a job as a reporter with her father's old buddy at the New York Trib. This girl's got connections. Instead of being stuck with the mundane tasks of a cub reporter, she is assigned a robbery story in the Egyptian collection of the biggest museum in town. There she meets up with a bunch of society bigwigs, all suspects in the caper.

The story unfolds in a series of acts, like a silent movie. Act I is mostly taken up with learning how to be a reporter, how to get around New York without getting killed and how to schmooze with the cops. Skilled adventurers could take a couple of hours to get through this act; beginners, longer. The streets of the city can be dangerous, so save games often to avoid having to restart each time she gets bumped off.

Act II is where things get a little more mysterious and you become as much detective as reporter. Things really start hopping in later acts.

The biggest drawback is the ridiculous copy protection. Finding the answers in the manual amounts to a small research project. You learn more Egyptology than you--or Laura--could ever want.

"Amon Ra" is a good, high-quality game. It features consistent story and technical elements, and we especially like the female lead character. No bimbette, Laura has a brain and uses it.

The Dagger of Amon Ra

Rating: * * *

IBM & compatibles; 640K; sound card and mouse recommended. List: $69.95.

Computer games are rated on a five-star system, from one star for poor to five for excellent.

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