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Are video game novels any good?

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Books based on popular video game franchises are commonplace these days, but are they worth spending your hard-earned money and precious time on?

We've rounded up five of the best-selling novels on the market and reviewed them for your reading pleasure:

DEAD SPACE: MARTYR
Publisher: Titan Books
Writer: B.K. Evenson
Michael Altman is Jesus. Sort of. He's regarded as a Messianic figure in the Dead Space fiction; the titular martyr whose death galvanised a religion that would come to be known as Unitology, the freaky-deaky cult you've been murdering brutally in both games. In fact, Altman's a name you'll recognise if you collected all those data logs. Unitologists never shut up about him.

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He's the 24th century's Justin Bieber. Martyr is set on Earth, hundreds of years prior to the events on the Ishimura, and chronicles Altman's unwitting ascent from geophysicist to demigod. It's an origins story, in which Altman, for no reason, decides to investigate strange readings from thebottom of a crater.

An insatiable drive to 'just sort of wanting to know what's going on' sees Altman uncover a sprawling conspiracy, place himself in near constant peril and eventually blow up the bad guy's base. His girlfriend's an anthropologist, handily enough, which warrants a side plot involving a tribal village discovering a Necromorph flapping about on the beach.

There's a lovely paragraph about inflating grey skin sacs, before they all chuck sticks at it. This leads, in turn to an incredibly trite 'honey I'm home' chapter, in which Altman and his anthropologist girlfriend realise that their two seemingly unrelated experiences might be somehow be, in fact, very closely related after all.

Martyr adds a great deal to the Dead Space canon, which makes it of some worth to anybody looking for something more from the games beyond stomping aliens until their limbs explode.

There's a nice bit with some inflating grey sacs, but includes a sickening instance of the word 'holoscreen' - 3/5

ASSASSIN'S CREED RENAISSANCE
Publisher: Penguin
Writer: Oliver Bowden
Just how much do you love tutorial missions? What about watching someone else play tutorial missions? What
about reading about watching someone else play tutorial missions? Renaissance delivers just that: a step-by-step narration of the events of Assassin's Creed II as though culled from a walkthrough, tutorial missions and all.

It's not quite complete - the game wraps its 15th century swashbuckling inside a near-future science fiction yarn. There, a hapless mope called Desmond uses a machine called the Animus to relive the lives of his Assassin ancestors - thus uncovering the resting place of mysterious artifacts which will be the key to victory over the nefarious world-dominating Templars.

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This is curtly snipped from the book's narrative and, unsurprisingly, deprives the story of impetus. Instead, we are left with Ezio Auditore, Desmond's very-great-grandad and part of the dwindling tribe of Assassins sworn to protect Italy from a Templar conspiracy. This premise instantly devolves into a checklist of action from the game itself.

Characterisation goes no deeper than the print on the page and conversations largely serve to bridge the gap from one stabbing to another, as Ezio knifes his way through the Templar cabal. The structure adheres so closely to that of the game that even the set-piece killings become a chore.

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