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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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Game of the Week: Brink

Ark life.

Man, I dunno - I leave Ellie, Oli and Wesley in charge of the website for a while and before you know it PlayStation Network's down, Sequence is a Game of the Week and something called "Zumba Fitness" is the most popular thing in the country.

Were my instructions not clear enough? "Give everything 8/10 and do something on The Apprentice," I said, before wandering into an important meeting about brand cohesion or whatever it is I do. "And make sure some of the guys on the homepage have hats."

Oh well, casting my eyes down this week's list of new releases, I think I can perceive a partial resumption of normal service, because this week people do seem to be selling us games in boxes.

"Exerbeat - Gym Class Workout", for example. At first I was sceptical, but according to my 14 seconds of research the tagline for this is "Bring the Fun of a Fitness Club Home!" For me the fun of a Fitness Club is not being there, so Namco, you've got yourselves a deal.

Another option, of course, is Traveler's Tales Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. This is the story of Captain Jack Sparrow. Chris Schilling reviewed it for us and enjoyed not just the cuddly-jumper reheated Lego gameplay, but also the way the developers made light of the series' coruscating multi-million-dollar descent into stuff and nonsense.

I haven't played it yet myself, but I will be interested to see how TT managed to better Gore Verbinski's own conclusion to At World's End, where a couple of the big ships find themselves literally trapped in a downward spiral towards nothing.

Lego's not the Game of the Week though, because that distinction goes to...


I don't really think Brink is what we were promised. And I say this as someone who has sat through 478 presentations of the game, mostly by Splash Damage boss Paul Wedgwood, which means I have been within earshot of more words spoken about Brink than I have on any other subject ever.

The elevator pitch for Brink, such that I understood it, was that it's a class-based multiplayer first-person shooter with a parkour button and in-depth character customisation, wrapped up in a clever interface that would quickly and gently instruct even a total numpty in the art of team warfare.

Instead we seem to have... a complicated multiplayer FPS with more accessibility issues than a wheelchair riding around an Escher painting.

Eurogamers take on other websites at Brink.

Once you get past that, though, it turns out that multiplayer first-person shooters are still a lot of fun. Who knew? The shifting frontlines concept really works, the SMART button encourages you to think carefully about level layout whether you're on attack or defence, and you can give yourself a silly accent (a concept from which we already occasionally benefit).

Simon Parkin tended to agree, awarding Brink a healthy 8/10.

Splash Damage has decided not to delay the PS3 launch of Brink despite the ongoing issues with PlayStation Network, arguing that the campaign is entertaining enough in the meantime. It's certainly true that you can enjoy yourself offline, but the optimal experience is definitely with other people.

These bots are OK, but they're no match for real, unpredictable human behaviour - nor the reliability or otherwise of genuine human team-mate support.

"In moment-to-moment play, this is often a more engaging, tighter experience than Valve's Team Fortress 2," Simon wrote of his experience reviewing the game on Xbox 360, accepting the initially high barrier to entry. "For those who can leap that first hurdle, Brink should run and run."

So if you stare around gaming occasionally and find you don't recognise the terrain, take solace - a complex shooty-bang-bang game is our thing of the week. PC and 360 owners, we'll see you online.