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Now Playing: A streak of luck in Spelunky

Tom Francis at

This article was originally published in PC Gamer 236.

Spelunky is a platformer with randomised levels. Creator Derek Yu is working on a prettier Xbox version that may also come to PC, but I'm still playing the free original. It's my coffee break game, my netbook game, my 'I really want to play something but I don't have time to play anything' game. I also think it's the future of games, or a large part of it.

I've played over a thousand games of Spelunky, so I know roughly what I'm doing. But I still have no idea what level 1 is like, because it changes every time. So I leap into it with a weird mix of bravado and caution: dealing with enemies and traps quickly, but edging into the next area pixel by pixel to spot what's ahead.

Now Playing: Rainbow Six Vegas 2's terrible ending

Graham Smith at

This article was originally published in PC Gamer UK 225.

The last time we wrote about Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, Tom explained the terrifying sense of vulnerability Terrorist Hunt mode subjects you to, and the panic that inspires. He and I have now finished the co-op campaign, and it’s wonderful mostly for the same reasons. Rather than repeat what’s already been said, I want to talk about the ending. The atrociously bad ending.

Now Playing: The genius and maths of Rainbow Six: Vegas 2

Tom Francis at

This article was originally published in PC Gamer UK 218.


That was me, talking about three people, in Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Shortly afterwards I was killed, in two hits, by three people in Rainbow Six Vegas 2. The ferociously quick deaths have a way of amplifying everything: any number of people you can't kill in 0.75 seconds might as well be an army. Two's a double homicide, three's a crowd.

Now Playing: The tyranny of Snwuggles in Moshi Monsters

PC Gamer at

This article was originally published in PC Gamer UK 218.

Snwuggles was becoming more and more difficult to read. As I stumbled into our room after a long day at work, she would greet me with a terse question: "Are you blanking me on purpose?" Dutifully I reach in for a tickle. "If you do that one more time I’m going to get really annoyed." What do you want, you tiny purple tyrant?

It all began so innocently. A lonely Tuesday night, nothing on TV, just one human being reaching out to a small fluffy monster for company, laughs, maybe more. It was just a free MMO, a kid’s game, a land of candy and smiles and sunshine. What a fool I was. Now I’m an addict, a slave, desperate to please the very monster I created.

Now Playing: A floating creep in Just Cause 2's Superman mod

Tom Francis at

This article was originally published in PC Gamer UK 223.

A while after I finished Just Cause 2 I couldn't really remember why I liked it so much, or why I stopped playing once I'd completed it. And it might have stayed dormant on my Steam account forever, but someone released a Superman mod for it.

When you'd normally activate your parachute, you just zoom through the air unaided. It's breath-taking. Deeply daft - a little man with silly hair ducking and diving in front of the craggy mountains as they zoom by - but breath-taking all the same. Everyone must try this. Not to any particular end, just to floop around for half an hour. Swoop under bridges. Track highways. Hug snow-caps, then air-ski down their slopes. Skim the glinting waters between mainlaind Panau and its satellite islands. Do, basically, all the things you'd do instead of saving people if you actually were Superman.

Now Playing: Spade-related violence in Fallout 3: Point Lookout

Tom Francis at

"Aww, mah eye!" wails a melt-faced mutant hick as I spang him in the face with a spade. I spang him with the spade again, but he makes no further comment. This is a magic spade, and by 'magic' I mean 'covered in shit'. The stated explanation for the +3 damage is that it's been used for years as a fertiliser shovel.

"Welcome to Point Lookout, bitch." I would have said, except that he lives here and I don't, and he died from feces poisoning before I could say it.