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Game of the Week: Child of Eden

Rave review.

And we're back! Game of the Week has been on hiatus over the E3 period while we concerned ourselves with our assault on Los Angeles. As I noted in our last edition, the release schedule of current games did not let up for the annual bonanza promoting future ones this year. So we return to a towering stack of titles clamouring for our attention in the here and now, especially if we include the previous two weeks. And what an extraordinary few weeks' worth of games it's been.

It wasn't a promising start. Hunted: the Demon's Forge earned Tom's repsect but not really his interest, while Dan struggled with Red Faction: Armageddon's retreat from the promise of its predecessor, Guerilla. Both were awarded what my brother in broadcasting, John Teti, calls "the gentleman's 7". inFamous 2 fared a bit better at Christian's hands; he deemed it "something we might have been given by the Assassin's Creed team if they'd grown up immersed in the works of Steve Ditko rather than Umberto Eco: a hard-edged pulp adventure".

If your taste wasn't for sprawling third-person adventure, the download channels provided their usual stream of crisp two-dimensional delights: special mentions must go to the respective adventures of Shuggy on Xbox Live Arcade and Rotating Octopus Character on PSN Minis.

But then everything went a bit late-nineties, and a bit nuts. Someone decided we'd been waiting a decade for a sequel to American McGee's Alice; we thought we had been, until Quintin got it. Someone else decided Dungeon Siege needed to be reborn as a console-friendly co-op hack-and-slash made by the famously wobbly Obsidian Entertainment, and even more unexpectedly, this turned out to be a great idea.

Meanwhile, Nintendo attempted to revive the 3DS' flagging fortunes with another reissue, a move that would be easy to call lazy if it was anything less than a stunningly lavish restoration of one of the greatest games of all time.

"Great art means different things to you at different points in your life," wrote Keza in her 10/10 tribute to The Legend of Zelda: Ocraina of Time 3D (which, by the way, will also be her last Eurogamer review as she starts writing full-time for IGN this week - bye Keza, thanks, and good luck!). "Ocarina of Time means something different to me now than it did 13 years ago. But the fact that it still has so much meaning is an affirmation of something I've long suspected: that this game is one of the greatest things that video games have ever achieved."

It is unquestionably the best game released this week, and if you have a 3DS, you must own it. But it would be odd, and a little unfair to its rivals, to award it Game of the Week when it's already Game of the Decade Before Last.

Besides, another game with a history almost as long as Ocarina of Time's was released last week - for the first time.

The story of Duke Nukem Forever's impossibly long and haphazard development is one of the strangest and most improbable in the history of video games. Its end in the release of the game itself - in a cut-and-shut form hacked together by Gearbox Software - could only be an anticlimax. Or could it?

In our Duke Nukem Forever review, Dan found it to be not merely an archaic throwback but quite simply a bad game, and a shadow of its mighty ancestor Duke Nukem 3D.

"This is far more coarse than Duke 3D ever was, the humour uniformly witless, a parade of blunt profanity, childish poo and wee jokes and obvious innuendo that makes it feel more of a piece with Duke ripoffs like Redneck Rampage and Postal 2: similarly weak games which failed to mask their lack of polish and ideas under a stained duvet of juvenile outrage," he wrote. 3/10.

But the magnetic pull of this game - perhaps powered more by curiosity than excitement - meant that everyone bought, played and debated it anyway. And read about it. Duke Nukem Forever is already the second most-read review in Eurogamer history after what we still refer to in dark whispers as the MGS4 incident. (I stand by every word, by the way.)

This is the thing: Duke Nukem Forever, taken in isolation, is not an interesting game, in fact it's a very stupid one. But taken in its never-to-be-repeated context, it's absolutely fascinating - and while it may lack virtually every quality necessary to be a functional and enjoyable game, it certainly doesn't lack for personality.

It's not just another slick, risk-averse blockbuster. It's a story. It's Charlie Sheen, off his rocker and daring the world to ignore him. In a perverse way, it is something to be celebrated. We certainly won't see the like again this year - possibly ever.

But I can't actually recommend you go out and buy it. So it's a happy coincidence that another highly individual game is released this week - and this one also happens to be really good.

Child of Eden

Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Rez will probably go down in history as the coolest game ever made. Child of Eden, despite sharing its basic gameplay and synaesthetic fervour, won't.

It replaces Rez's hard-edged, hacker-chic vectors with soft-focus eco-whimsy. It asks you to heal the world by waving your arms around in front of Kinect like a late-nineties rave casualty (that decade again!) having a flashback episode. "It'll sit comfortably alongside marble Merlin statues and tie-dye t-shirts in a tourist shop in Glastonbury," Martin remarked to me this week. It's probably one of the least cool games ever made.

Do we care? Not a jot. Child of Eden's euphoric cheesiness is what makes it loveable and genuinely uplifting. How can you not admire a game which inspires Simon Parkin to write this paragraph on his way to a 9/10 score:

"So instead of a soliloquy, we get a space whale. Your lock-on fire turns the hot barnacles on its back to glittering jewels. Coat the creature in a blanket of diamonds and it tears off into the Milky Way, disintegrating into a shower of gems that dissipate into nothingness before reassembling as a swooping phoenix. Shoot this creature's wings and bloom-effect feathers scatter. Aim at the red sphere beating at its centre and Lumi herself flashes up onto the screen, crying out in pain and euphoria as her memory is, shot by shot, realised, redeemed."

After E3's festival of murder and Duke's very public autopsy, I think we could all do with a bit of extra-sensory redemption. Child of Eden is the sort of of futuristic entertainment that we all imagined we'd be enjoying back in the late... oh, you get the idea. Let it be your fantasy.

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Child of Eden

PS3, Xbox 360

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Oli Welsh avatar

Oli Welsh


Oli was Eurogamer's MMO Editor before a seven-year stint as Editor. He worked here for a colossal 14 years, shaping the website and leading it.