Sit old people down and ask them to tell the same story and you're generally in for a confusing time. Over the years what he said, what she said, times and places have become confused or expanded for entertainment value. The only rock solid facts that remain are the tale's foundations - whether that's to do with the number of bananas imported during the war years, or which of their neighbours put it around with the American Airmen.
Eurogamer recently discovered one of its very own personal heroes padding around EA's Guildford offices wearing a hoodie and looking eminently lovable. In-between gazing longingly at him while he ate free sandwiches and attempting to force him into playing Time Gentlemen, Please! by stutteringly telling him that "it's definitely not rubbish", we interviewed him about Brutal Legend, Psychonauts and all his new celebrity rock royalty friends. At no stage did we climb into his lap and tell him that the Milkman level in Psychonauts was fabulous, and that we should definitely be best friends forever. That's for next time.
Deep in the Los Angeles branch of Electronic Arts there is an office where developers fear to tread. And in that dark, fearful room sits EA's vice president of in-game boob representation. It was here that Pandemic must have been ushered when Saboteur was in the planning stages. They would have sat in front of this impassive and unreadable man, and explained what they wanted to do. Create five square kilometres of Nazi-occupied France, rewrite history so that an Irish racing driver kick-started the Gallic resistance, adopt a beautiful art design in which German occupied areas are rendered in black and white with patches of primary colour shining through in vibrant Sin City style... all the good stuff. Then the vice president of in-game boob representation would have lent heavily on his desk, rested his chin on his hands, and shut his eyes as he made his decision. "Your game..." he'd begin, pausing for dramatic effect. "... must have boobs." As so it was decreed, and as so it became form.
EA had a choice to make with Army of Two - they could get Salem and Rios even more drunk on testosterone, inflate the swagger further and play it for laughs, or they could get them to turn up to work in downtown Shanghai wearing sensible shoes. They chose the latter, and it was probably the right decision, but despite everything, when you get to grips with the game you can't suppress a slight longing for them to go full-on Team America - charging into a controversial warzone with their ineffable bonhomie, clown masks, several nukes and a couple of catchy musical numbers.
Civil unrest is brewing in Bromley, Kent. Its residents though, whether treading the floors of Poundland or waiting by the conveyor in Argos for a Swingball set, are blissfully unaware. Brink - set in 2025 on a futuro-archipelago called The Ark, which may be humanity's last outpost on a flooded earth - is a team-based, objective-driven, story-packed first-person shooter, but it's designed to appeal to n00bs and normals alike. And yet the streets are not full of pitchforks, burning cars and decapitated heads being waved up at Splash Damage's office windows. It's a brave new world.
Some people hate corridors. They've been through so many of them that they've all blended into one endless route from A to B. They've been to more exotic places, places like fields or car parks, where their wanderings are undisturbed. They've become used to the high life. Should they ever be boxed up in a poxy old corridor they have a right old moan - just as Kieron Gillen did back in Eurogamer's 5/10 review of F.E.A.R. 2.
How soon we forget. All LucasArts has to do is waltz through door with a smile on its face, a Monkey Island revamp and a decent Star Wars MMO under its arm, and the keys to a digital distribution service jangling in its pocket, and all of a sudden the past five years are forgotten. For years, absolutely nothing - and then suddenly she's back on the doorstep with a cheeky wink and a quip about selling me some fine leather jackets. Out of nowhere, we're rolling around in hay together and daring to dream of a new Day of the Tentacle, and more. As if the life that I wasted lying horizontal on the sofa and staring at the wallpaper hadn't been frittered away.
In 1995, a curious alignment of some of the best things in the world occurred. Sat in a circle, hooded staff members of developers Perfect 10 must have chanted various nerd-pleasing names in an ominous fashion: "Monty Python", "LucasArts", "Blackadder", "the Doctor Who that owned the antique car" and (finally and most loudly) "Terry Pratchett". If they had a bit more foresight they'd have added "the gay uncle out of Gavin and Stacey" to one of the verses too.
In development terms, 3D Realms may be the house that Duke Nukem built (and then laboriously took apart brick by brick) but another, less popular, game gave it an extension and built a pond in the garden. That game was Shadow Warrior and, much as the Dukester was in his day, it was designed to ensnare the male teenage mindset at its every level. Naked anime babes! Swords that cut zombie ninjas in half! Casual racism!
Is Killing Floor the Tesco Value baked beans release of Left 4 Dead? Well, it's cheaper, contains many of the same ingredients, and isn't as nice, so perhaps yes. At the same time though, it's a game with a different approach, a fine Unreal Tournament 2004 mod heritage, and some great ideas that may not provide the fine-tuned wonderfulness of L4D, but at least make me feel guilty about beating it with a stick and screaming 'You're not Valve! You're not Valve!' while openly weeping. As such we'll kill the comparisons for a while. Sure, both games have pallid fat men that spew on people, but it's a spew of a different consistency and intent.
It would be rude to trace a direct, chunky line from God of War towards Darksiders with a blood-red marker pen and a flotilla of exclamation marks; for a start it would pull attention away from the parallel line leading up to the threshold of EA's Dante's Inferno. Ethereal beatings are just in vogue these days. The way to pull in the button-mashing blood-let brigade, it would seem, is to provide an array of combos within the more pointy-tooth-centric and ancient areas of world religion. With God of War we get Grecian monsters and threesomes; with Dante's Inferno we'll get a medieval-eye view of hell with (hopefully) a final boss that's Judas Iscariot encased in ice with lasers for eyes; and finally, with Darksiders, we get the gaming adaptation of the Book of Revelation.
There's only one surefire way of revving up expectation for a World War II strategy game: use Dad's Army map arrows during cut-scenes. Works every time. Either Order of War's developers are geniuses on the same scale as Perry and Croft, or their home country of Belarus (as seen in the semi-finals of Eurovision) is a hotbed of not being kidded by Mr Hitler. So yes, Order of War is exciting because of the pointy arrows. But what else?
Trine is where Lost Vikings and Golden Axe merge and come up against the dreaded scourge of gaming: seesaws. Whether they're hampering the progress of Gordon Freeman's ascent to a platform that's slightly too high, or causing Sackboy to leap futilely at their teetering ends, they've been causing a ruckus in our chosen field of entertainment for several years now. One day their reign of tyranny will be overthrown by another piece of playground apparatus (my bet's on those miniature horses on chunky metal springs) but until then it's up to a svelte thief, a lady-chasing wizard and an angry knight to wrestle with their noxious taint.
This Sunday's opinionated retro rant is about Black, the Criterion-built shooter that graced the last generation of consoles towards the end of their shelf life. During the following, somewhat feverish discussion of its impact, or tragic lack of impact, at no point shall we mention that a game released in 2006 cannot be considered retro.
In terms of reviewers qualified to take on a game that involves the herding of cartoon farm animals, there are none that come more highly decorated than I. In 1986, my Dad was named Sheep Farmer of the Year. If you can think of a farm animal - any farm animal - then the chances are that he's chased it around a field waving a stick. With these shared rustic genes in mind, allow me to lean over a metaphorical fence and explain just why Flock isn't particularly good - and then add a couple of reasons why you townie types aren't welcome in my gateway either.
If it's Sunday then it must be time for another Eurogamer writer to bury you nose-deep in their barren adolescence, pointing at a retro game and braying about it with bleary eyes for a few pages. This week your hangover has been interrupted by a paean to Duke Nukem 3D, my love for which has recently been rejuvenated by the remarkably slick Good Old Games service and formerly its co-op enabled appearance on Xbox Live.
Last year, two cash-guzzling military types made a grand, shared-parachute entrance to the gaming world. Upon landing they did some high-fives, played air guitar on their AK-47s for a little while and bashed their skull masks together for no ostensible reason, before finally turning to those gathered to await their judgement. There was an audible intake of collective breath.
If Operation: Anchorage was the equivalent of a war film - a wasteland rendition of The Guns of Navarone - The Pitt is a prison movie. You enter its bleak red-brick confines in as a slave, bereft of your weapons and equipment, and mingle with an imprisoned workforce which has revolution on its mind.
Taken from the PC release.
We all learn lessons in life. Three years ago, the lesson was that when you release highly anticipated downloadable content for your blockbuster RPG, it should never, never ever, be an Oblivion horse wrapped in foil. Bethesda has learned this lesson, and that's why Operation Anchorage is a holographic encounter detailing the Chinese occupation of Alaska. So good, so far. Now let's saunter off to Anchorage to blow the heads off oriental futuro-gentlemen in slow-motion and glorious technicolour.
Just down the road, Metrux Ltd sells vans. In the building opposite the Nottingham Textile Group responds with urgency to the great fabric issues of the day. You can only imagine the caustic, and perhaps wistful, glances their employees throw at the network of buildings collectively known as Warhammer World.
The best way to sum up the allures of Sacred 2 isn't to embark on a thrilling tale in which a myriad of beasts become hacked, slashed and fried by magic - but instead to discuss the map system. So obsessed with micro-management and detail and so (with no offence intended) very German is Sacred 2 that there's an in-game menu with which you can play around with the size, scale, curvature, icon size and overall transparency of the on-screen mini-map. Cartographers of the world, rejoice!