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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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New PAL Releases Roundup

Assassin's Creed II! L4D2! LBP PSP! Saw.

Bye bye then 2009. Thanks for all the games. Some of them were very good, actually, and you are at least going out with a bang - perhaps even a series of bangs.

Assassin's Creed II has ended up one of the best openworld games of the year, despite the silly futuristic Scooby Doo soap opera Ezio's adventures are used to justify. If you like collecting things and being motivated to do so by pretty graphics and fun mysteries, look no further.

But do look further anyway, because otherwise you might miss out on the equally super-excellent Left 4 Dead 2. We're still a bit bewildered by some of the routing in the mall and the swamp, but otherwise it's fantastic, literally sticking two fingers up to those who thought it would be a bit of half-baked DLC in a box.

The wholesome Mario, of course, is also known for doing two fingers, but in a nice way, and Nintendo has done New Super Mario Bros. Wii in a nice way too. It's not exactly Super Mario World, design wise, but Nintendo level design on a bad day is still better than everyone else's, and Miyamoto was right: Mario Bros. is superb fun with four people.

Meanwhile, LittleBigPlanet on PSP is a sort of reverse NSMB Wii - having begun life as a four-player 2D platformer, it acquits itself surprisingly well on the Sony handheld anyway.

There's lots of other stuff to consider, too, but a final friendly word for Gyromancer on PC and XBLA. PopCap and Square Enix may sound like an unlikely duo, but the result is a game that's part Puzzle Quest, part Bejeweled Twist, and part loads of other things, but all lovely. Get in. Bye 2009! Thanks again.

This week in shops:

  • Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders (DS)
  • Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines (PSP)
  • Assassin's Creed II (PS3, Xbox 360)
  • Assassin's Creed II: Discovery (DS)
  • Dragon Age: Origins (PS3)
  • F1 2009 (Wii, PSP)
  • Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PS2, PSP)
  • Left 4 Dead 2 (PC, Xbox 360)
  • LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (DS, PC, PS3, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360)
  • LittleBigPlanet (PSP)
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
  • PES 2010: Pro Evolution Soccer (Wii)
  • Saw (PS3, Xbox 360)
  • The Sims 3: World Adventures (PC)

This week online:

  • A Little Bit of... All-Time Classics: Strategy Games (DSiWare)
  • Army Defender (DSiWare)
  • Diner Dash (Xbox Live Arcade)
  • Echoes (PSP minis)
  • Gravity Crash (PSN - out on Tuesday 24th November)
  • Gyromancer (PC, Xbox Live Arcade)
  • Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao (PSN)
  • Metal Gear Solid (PSN - PSone)
  • myNotebook: Blue (DSiWare)
  • Peggle (PSN)
  • Peggle Nights (PSN, Xbox Live Arcade)
  • Pinball Dreams (PSP minis)
  • Pokemon Rumble (WiiWare)
  • Shootanto: Evolutionary Mayhem (WiiWare)