One of the most tragic things about this world today is that we've run out of distant continents to discover, claim in the name of his Sovereign Majesty King Philip Morris, and colonize. And, to date, space colonization is really out of the question. This is why we have computers. Using them you can set up camp just about anywhere in the universe. This is the main idea behind M.U.L.E., an excellent new game from Electronic Arts.

The lot of a colonist can be a lonely one but, fortunately, in this game, you are not alone in your colonization endeavor. You've got your Multi Use Labor Element (or M.U.L.E.) to accompany you on your adventures.

The planet you've decided to settle has three different types of terrain: river, plain and mountain. Each terrain is especially well-suited to one type of cultivation endeavor-e.g. river areas are best for food production, while mountains are best for mining. This does not mean that you absolutely cannot mine in the plains. You can but don't expect to get as much out of it, that's all. You cannot, however, mine in river areas.

Before you start making plans about what to do with your land, you've got to get some land which is accomplished either by grabbing a free plot or buying one of the 44 plots during a land auction. During your turn you also get to outfit your M.U.L.E. at the store by buying what you'll need to cultivate your plot of land.

The graphics are spectacular-clear, colorful and sharp and sometimes very funny. The sound effects are excellent and game animation is nothing short of terrific. There is even a random element that comes from messages you occasionally see on the screen, e.g. "Your investments in artificial dumbness have brought you X dollars." Other messages are periodically broadcast and these affect everyone- e.g. acid rain which brings up food production or the arrival of a pirate ship which will rob you of all the Smithore you've mined. The game is extremely sophisticated and a must-have.

Since the computer cheats constantly, watch what it does during the auctions. This might let you in on what is going to happen next turn.