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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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Something for the weekend?

Stranded by flood waters? Download a little something to take your mind off the rain!

As another dreary English weekend comes around, hordes of gamers head for the sanctuary of their computers, and once again there has been a bumper crop of new game demos released during the week to keep you off the streets. Real-time strategy fans will want to check out "Close Combat : Invasion Normandy" (58Mb), the latest installment in the long running World War II squad combat series. For the bandwidth limited, there is also a demo for "Space Empires IV : Gold" (18Mb), showing off some of the gold edition's new features.

For space strategy of a different kind, check out "Star Trek Starfleet Command Volume II : Empires at War" (75Mb), surely a contender for longest game title of the year? Meanwhile action fans may want to give "Crime Cities" (85Mb) a go. Made in Poland and due out at the end of the month, Crime Cities puts you in control of a tooled up flying car that looks like it has escaped from "Fifth Element", and sets you to work carrying out missions for gang bosses in a futuristic prison city.

For something a little more sedate, why not check out "Real Myst" (47Mb), the classic adventure game brought to life in real-time 3D. If nothing else it's an impressive example of just how far computers have come in the last decade. When Myst was originally released it was one of the first games to take advantage of CD-Rom drives, and its stationary pre-rendered scenes were state of the art. Today you can wander around the world of Myst in real time using a (relatively) cheap 3D graphics card.

And finally, if you're looking for something to keep the kids busy, or just want to indulge in a little nostalgia, the demo for 3D platform game "Frogger 2 : Swampy's Revenge" (16Mb) is out, though if you live in the south east of England you've probably had all the swamp you can handle outside your front door by now...