I think it's fair to say videogames are fundamentally selfish exercises. And I mean that in a broad, all-encompassing sense: whether you're watching your gnocchi-shaped Mii squat its way into bikini season or conquering some remote alien backwater in the guise of a faceless space-bobby, the focus is on you, the player, and how absolutely amazing and sexy and important you are.
Alex Gambotto-Burke stands up for the Romeros, Molyneuxs and Cages of gaming.
HalloweenJack frantically switches his useless shotgun for an Uzi, replacing the first gun - which, unhelpfully, looks almost exactly the same as the second one - in its invisible holster. He begins firing at the two clowns in front of him (part of the Rogue gang) and is genuinely impressed as they duck, roll, and return fire. He aims for the chest with the first one, and he dies instantly - HalloweenJack, that is. There isn't enough time left to respawn. The seven-minute timer has expired, and he's booted out of the instance. HalloweenJack comes to a horrible realisation: he was outsmarted and outgunned by two MMO mobs, historically at the lower end of the AI spectrum. Our hero considers logging off and hanging himself, but then he has an epiphany...
Welcome back to Alex's attempt to kill everyone he encounters in Fallout 3. Everyone. Check out part one and part two of Natural Born Killer elsewhere on Eurogamer.
Spoilers follow! If you haven't played Fallout 3 yet, first of all what are you doing, and second you might want to give this a miss until you have. And even then, it's a bit icky. Check out part one of this series elsewhere on Eurogamer.
Gob hits me. Not literally, of course - he's much too kindhearted for that. But as he runs away, clutching his bleeding head and begging for mercy, I am genuinely struck by a deep, genuine remorse. Here's a Ghoul - not an undead monster in the traditional sense, but one of the residents of the Capital Wasteland whose appearance was deeply disfigured by radiation - who has spent his long, painful life beleaguered by intolerance and various physical ailments. He spends his days mixing drinks at a sleazy bar in Megaton, constantly harassed and mocked for his condition by his boss, Colin Moriarty. And now I've strolled in, dismembered all his friends and coworkers, and am chasing him through the dingy building while he tries - in vain, naturlich - to hide. Gob won't be the last person I mercilessly slaughter in Megaton this day, but his death will stay with me the longest.
SHODAN may have been scary, but she's got nothing on Lucy. The fun-size pocket robot orangutan may now be consigned to Cyberlife Research vault, but the artificial intelligence comprising her virtual brain - which her creators hoped would see her through real-life kindergarten - is of a level of sophistication that makes Looking Glass' amalgam of clever scripting, voice-acting, and cut-scenes look utterly prehistoric. And while she certainly wasn't blessed with SHODAN's looks, either - in all honesty, she looks like a cross between Estelle Getty and Chucky the Lakeshore Strangler - there's little doubt Lucy's probably the better dinner party guest.
Everybody needs somebody to hate. It's one of life's cuddliest comforts: everyone, no matter how oppressed, downtrodden, and marginalised, has someone upon whom they can look down. Cats can take refuge in the fact that they're not dogs; disgraced investment bankers regularly praise Quetzalcoatl for not making them videogames journalists; and MMO players, still considered by a vast majority to be daylight-averse, socially crippled man-children, can direct their pathos at a very easy, very near target: role-players.
It's always the maze that gets me. Though its appeal has waned somewhat after each subsequent visit, I still hold fond memories of meandering through a seemingly endless tangle of forest and shrubbery - darting past an ettin, a gargoyle, and perhaps less thrillingly, a mongbat - and finding myself at the entrance of a giant hedge labyrinth. Supposedly constructed by the wizard Relvinian with a view to getting daemons to do his laundry, it's a calming, floral little place whose only real perils are the odd troll-under-the-bridge and the nimbus of hellspawn living at its core. It's not tied to any particular quest I know of; it's just sitting there, waiting to be discovered.