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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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What's New? (9th September 2005)

Tom smash (is burning).

As somebody who used to be enormous, likes the colour green, and just accidentally crushed a banana (SMASHED, perhaps) whilst pacing around trying to think of a witty introductory paragraph (let me know), I was surprised not to be chosen to write about The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (PS2, Xbox, Cube) - a task that demands an understanding of involuntary surfeit (I ate two bananas) and enormous power (the one I crushed was actually a car) that surely goes beyond that of wiry East Anglian editors. How can you empathise with the Hulk if you eat salad?

So anyway, Hulk's out today, and (let's see if we can do this without "smash" collecting an "ing" or a "hit" en-route), if tonight's the first you see of it, you're going to have fun. What you'll do is this: you'll take control of the Hulk and start running around; you'll then realise that he can smash things very brutally; that he can throw things at other things; that he can run up the side of buildings; that he can pick up a bus, run up the side of a building, leap through the air and throw the bus directly at a helicopter while he's soaring toward the next high-rise.

It's a free-roaming beat-'em-up, in effect, with a mission structure comparable to Grand Theft Auto's - lots of little sojourns into unique mission set-ups, rewarding you with set-pieces, within a world that already plays host to a wide variety of kid-in-a-playpen scenarios. It's more deserving of the "sandbox" analogy than Grand Theft Auto because you really can just chuck your toys around. What I'll be interested to see, as I overindulge on junk food later this evening (in tandem with the Hulk, and also somewhat regressively), is whether it fills you up too quickly as some have suggested. You can read Kristan's take elsewhere on the site.

Whatever I end up thinking, I'm going to champion it anyway on the basis that you can throw POLICEMEN at TANKS. Not only does it illustrate the lunatic inconsistency of the American political anti-game agenda (at least until they stop frothing over the bird-straddling-the-bloke in Killer 7), but it's definitely going to save me money on pads. If it's frustrating, I'll just chuck things around in-game. Genius. A bit like the "make Tanner perish in flames" button I would have put in Driver 3.

Another game I'm not writing about is Rainbow Six: Lockdown (PS2, Xbox), and it seems fair to bring up the question of overindulgence again - this being the thirty-billion-and-twelfth Tom Clancy game published since Ubisoft tied up the licence. Kristan reports that it's a lot like previous Sixes, except it has sniper interludes, quick-save, and grenades that stare at your arse and prefer to let you squeeze between them when you're going to the loo at the Trash Palace even though you said "excuse me" very nicely and you were clearly there with somebody anyway and in an entirely hetero "just here with a friend" manner. [For those readers confused by that last paragraph, Tom is cleverly alluding to the way I lazily described the grenades as "gay" on MSN when he asked about the game. - Ed]

[In other news, readers, Google can find no other instances of "Tom is cleverly" on this website. - Ed] Sniping's always fun [or "Tom argued convincingly" - Ed], but is that [or "Tom survived the night" - Ed] enough? Find out, er, tomorrow, of all days, when the review pops up over a hedge, primes a grenade and throws it into your pants. [Ooh. Well then, in deference to the Gozer the Gozerian, "You have chosen." - Ed] Er?

Elsewhere today, Konami's Coded Arms (PSP) finally arrives on... yeah, so, the brackets took care of that. It's a first-person shooter, apparently, except it doesn't really have a plot, it doesn't have a twin-stick control system (so you're forced to half-rely on lock-on), and it doesn't really believe in escalation or varied design. So it's not really a first-person shooter at all by any current definition. What it seems to believe in, instead, is killing everything in the room and then moving on to the next room, which is the same sort of room except organised slightly differently. Sort of like going to Ikea with your Mum.

Beyond that, the only thing worth mentioning is Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue (PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC), and that's only worth mentioning so I can slag it off again. Incredibly boring game designed to patronise children. With a stealth level. I don't mind games-for-the-young'uns, but I do think there's a standard to be upheld. He says, suddenly realising that he's trailing off a column about eating, bananas and homosexual ordnance.

Well, anyway, it isn't very good. Buy them Nintendogs instead.

PAL Releases

  • Coded Arms (PSP)
  • Colosseum: Road To Freedom (PS2)
  • Hello Kitty Roller Rescue (PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC)
  • Madden NFL 2006 (PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC)
  • Musashi: Samurai Legends (PS2)
  • Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines (PS2, Xbox, PC)
  • The Great British Football Quiz (PS2)
  • The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (PS2, Xbox, Cube)
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Lockdown (PS2, Xbox, PC)

Key US Releases

  • Nuffeeeeeeenk.