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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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November's end

As those of you who frequent our forums will be aware, this week we soft launched the Eurogamer Shop, and we hope that with our help you'll never have to buy a bad game again! We're only planning to stock the games that the editorial team have played and recommend, and starting this week our regular look at what's new will change to reflect that. Hopefully you'll still find it useful for ferreting out the best of each week's crop of releases, and we promise never to cut a game from the list to the right unless we have conflicting release data.

This week, Xbox is the clear winner. Xbox Live launches tomorrow in its Test Drive phase (get on board here) and Unreal Championship, Whacked! and last week's release of MechAssault should keep early adopters more than happy. Furthermore, those with an inkling for some single player action can take home Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, the ultimate sneak 'em up from Ubi Soft's Montreal studios. Amazingly, it boasts some of the most beautiful lighting, shadowing and animation work ever seen in a videogame and it still manages to be one of the most enjoyable Xbox releases to date. The Christmas killer app is finally here after the disappointment of Blinx.

The PS2 doesn't fare too badly, but little can compete with Splinter Cell. Gungrave makes a brave attempt - it's a fast-paced, furiously violent cel-shaded blaster from Japan, but it's over in only a few short hours. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 arrives a week later than its counterparts on Xbox and PC, but looking no less brilliant. Changes are widespread and much more than skin deep - further to our first impressions, which were quite harsh, Tiger 2003 grows and has surprising depth. And the ability to take part in The Open Championship is something we specifically asked for when we reviewed the last instalment, so how can we complain?

Elsewhere on PS2, Virtua Tennis 2 makes a late entrance, along with Virtua Cop: Elite Edition (the first two games in the series) and Sony's World Rally Championship 2 Extreme. All three games are easily worthy of your money, but you may find the latter pair lacking in a few areas.

It's a poor week for the Cube, with only Mario Party 4 raising any interest around here, and falling flat on its face in a lot of regards anyway. The PC doesn't do much better. Civilization III: Play The World and Morrowind: Tribunal are nice expansions for fans, but won't entice any new players.

And so ends November, one of the busiest months in the gaming calendar. With any luck, December won't be quite so hectic, and we'll all have time to play those games currently resting on coffee tables and bookshelves everywhere. Damn you Vice City, you stole our lives!