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Pixels to paper - 10 videogame novels reviewed

Videogame novels are easy to scoff at. And not just because the average videogame plot is thinner than the paper the tie-in novel is printed on. They're unashamedly commercial, often branded with references to the 'award-winning' game that inspired the hacked-out work of fiction, and the writing quality is... Well. Adequate. But gamers love them.

It's easy to see why: Videogame novels create an extension of the worlds we adore. One GamesRadar staffer has read every Resident Evil novelisation - and enjoyed them - despite having a English degree and a decent appreciation of what makes a well-written novel. And what kept him going through the dirge-like dialogue and stilted exposition? A rabid love of the Resi universe, of course.

But what games are spawning these novels? And who's writing them? And do they scratch that fanboy itch? We've gathered together 10 examples of videogame novels, complete with mini-extracts and even a bit of critical analysis, to get an idea of what's out there in the world of pixels to paper.

 Halo: The Fall of Reach

The Grunts looked like a living carpet of steel-blue skin, claws, and chrome weapons. Some ran on all fours up the slope. They barked and howled, baying for the Spartans' blood.
"Roll out the carpet," the Chief told Blue-Four.
The hill exploded - plumes of pulverised sandstone and fire and smoke hurtled skyward.
The Spartans had buried a spiderweb pattern of Lotus anti-tank mines earlier that morning.
(Courtesy Amazon.com)

What is it?
A prequel to Halo, throwing some light on gaming's most inexpressive hero - Master Chief.

Who wrote it?
Eric Nylund, who also works as a writer for Microsoft Game Studios. He's written three Halo books, but also several of his own novels.

Fanboy factor?
All the Halo hallmarks are here - the proper weapon names, pseudo-military jargon barked into comm-units in the heat of battle, victory against the odds... Perfect for the Halo-shaped hole in your life.

Is it any good?
Nylund's delivery is very 'and then this happened ... and then this happened', especially during action sequences, and the character exposition seems pretty spartan (hoho! Yes?) and undeveloped. But, then, what do you expect from a novel inspired by the emotional-vacuum that is Halo?

Further reading
Nylund's other Halo novels: Ghosts of Onyx and First Strike. Also, try Contact Harvest and The Flood.

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