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by Greg Lovette & Andrew Welch

[Barrack screenshot1]

Barrack is a game that is so insidiously addictive that we had to mask its evil tendencies with a smattering of stunning artwork from our digital manipulator, Mark Conge. The above title screen is the last image you'll see before your productivity takes an abrupt nose-dive.

[Barrack screenshot2]

Meticulously crafted by Greg Lovette, Barrack is a game that is hard to pigeonhole. It exhibits a precarious balance between action and strategy, thinking and reflex. The feeling you get from playing Barrack is an eccentric harmony between the automatic, mind-numbing pleasure of Tetris and the kind of action found in Maelstrom that leaves you with sweat on your brow.

[Barrack screenshot3]

The goal of Barrack is deceptively simple: there are a number of balls on the play field that are bouncing like a neurotic on prozac. Your job is to use your shooter to isolate them. Sounds easy, right?

[Barrack screenshot4]

It isn't. The first problem is that if a ball breaks your shooter's particle beam before it tears through the play field, your shooter overloads and explodes in a cascade of fire and scrap metal.

The second problem is that these aren't any ordinary balls. They have more personalities than Sibyl, and none of them are particularly friendly. We'll leave the particulars up to your imagination for now, but suffice it to say that these aren't the kind of balls you get from bubble gum machines.

[Barrack screenshot5]

Oh, did we forget to mention the land shark? Bosco is a rare breed of shark that can rearrange his molecular structure, enabling him to travel at quite a clip through otherwise solid substances. If you don't pay attention while he closes in on your shooter, you may end up being fish-bait. He's tenacious, voracious, and about every other -acious you can think of all rolled into one lean, mean, shooter-munchin' machine.

[Barrack screenshot6]

We recommend that you begin preparing for Barrack now: drop the ButtMaster that aunt Elda got you for Christmas and begin a rigorous regime of mouse-aereobics. Find a soccer ball and kick it repeatedly, shouting aloud "Take that you stupid ball!" It'll make you feel better later on, because pretty soon, those balls are gonna be kicking you around.

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