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RPS Advent Game-o-Calendar: December 14th

God, I'm stuffed. Jim just brought back a king-sized chocolate-coated Kit-kat from the shops for me to guzzle greedily along with my self-deluding diet-coke. Anyway, properly sated, I better open today's window on RPS' Fairtrade advent calendar and see what I find.

Oh no.

It's Chocolate. I can't eat this!

But you? Well, for you... it's Tabula Rasa

Arachnophobes probably better leave now. Homophobes too, but for other reasons. We just don't like you very much.

The moment which I decided which Tabula Rasa was for me happened, like most of the best things in life, at some indeterminate point in the early morning. I had reached the point where I'd become a Soldier - thus totting my mini-gun, brutally - and had ran a couple of instances. Level 10 or so, I think. So just enough power to get into trouble, but not enough to end it.

So, I find myself returning to the first base area to find it under one of the sporadic attacks from the Bane. The enormous mutated beasts hit our guys mech-suits, shield droids fill the area with soldiers huddled beneath, the splendid robo-zombies fall and rise anew to continue the assault and the laser-snipers strike from a distance. It's one of the bigger attacks I'd actually seen, smiled to myself, and just got stuck in. I'm, at least at this point, someone who really aimed at getting close up, concentrating on shotgun rounds and telekinetic shrapnel blasts. Its' a melee, and it's fun and brutal and...

Well, I'm getting hammered. It is a more serious attack, so I pull back inside the fortress to recuperate my shields. I hit and run from behind the energy gate, contributing a little, but it's not going to work. It becomes obvious they're actually going to batter down the door. I retreat back, and take up a kneeling position with an angle at the doorway - I'm too injured to get close, so a persistent strike with my rifle at a range will have to do. A glance around the area shows other soldiers doing similar - a higher level character, totting some unusual weapon, takes centre. We steel ourselves...

It's only right now what it reminds me of actually comes to mind - it's that opening scene of Star Wars, where a generations perceptions of science fiction were rewritten in hyperbright lasers when the Stormtroopers cut through that door. But right then, in that fort in Tabula Rasa, all it reminded me of was itself. The tension wouldn't allow anything else into my head. It was about me, the Bane and my rifle.

I didn't have this sexy armour when this story happened.

At which point the gate failed and the enemy were inside. A barrage of fire greets them and Bane after Bane soldier is cut down. Braver and healthier soldiers get stuck in at close quarters while we keep up supporting fire. So many of them are dying, like some kind of space-Zulu. It feels great - we're actually doing an efficient, cool battle-line.

And we're losing.

This is new. I've defended bases before, but we've always - with determination - managed to pull through. Even when the gate went down, I was certain that this would be the same, especially when we were playing as well as we were. But, really, it's not enough. We're losing.

Slowly but surely, my comrades are going down. The Bane push further in. By the time they've reached the control point, I can only see a couple of other soldiers still fighting. At which point, they capture the base. The gate goes back up, but red instead of blue - and so completely impermeable to us. The survivors are trapped inside the base with the Bane, who are going on a clear killing frenzy finishing them off. I see our improvised leader go down, and the rest turn on me. There's getting on for a dozen Bane shooting in my direction.

So I run to the battlements, figuring I can throw myself off the top and run for freedom. I hadn't thought of the fences preventing exactly that from happening. For a second I scan the top, looking for any way out. I hadn't thought of this at all, and was trying to study an already familiar environment to discover something I simply wasn't looking at before. Nothing on the far side. Nothing near the gate. But in the near corner, I notice there's some kind of drawbridge thing out...

I run for it, lasers zipping around (and into) me, and make this leap. I hit the ground outside, activate my Logos Run and head for the treeline. When I'm there, I take cover, and watch the scarlet fortress as my breath - both avatar and player - slows down. That was close.

I see a counter-attack preparing to try and reclaim the base. I wait for my shield to recharge, smile to myself and join in.

And it was about this point I decided that Tabula Rasa was my favourite MMO of the year.

Who's behind me?


Oh, what the hell. Om nom nom nom!

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