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Recommended system:

Pentium 4 (3.0 GHz or better), 1GB RAM, DirectX 9 compatible video card, Windows 2000/XP/Vista
Reviewer's system:
Core 2 Duo (2.4GHz), 1GB RAM DDR2667, GeForce 6800GS, Windows XP

Mini flash games and such aside, Portal has got to be one of the shortest games out there. Using Half-Life 2's Source engine, this FPS game bases its core function upon the oh-so-cool Gravity Gun and creates the oh-so-cooler “Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device”. Portal Gun for short.

Here's what's what. It's a relatively short game. You wake up in a research facility, the Enrichment Center for Aperture Science Laboratories. A computerized female voice guides you through the game for the most part. You are a test subject. You are to utilize the Portal Gun (which you receive very early in the game) to tackle and solve various environmental puzzles and advance on to the next one. The puzzles aren't always that difficult, a bit of observation and cool-headed thinking will get you through the game relatively quick. But, the puzzles are such that every time you figure out each solution, you'll mostly always let go an “AH!” of wonder and triumph.

Unlike, most other puzzle games, where one puzzle ultimately leads to more puzzle, this one can actually grant you some mental satisfaction at a job well done, even though it does the fundamental same thing. Or maybe, it's just the harmonic computerized voice telling you, you're the best test subject she had and that you, <insert subject name>, must be the pride of <insert hometown name>.

Non-talking Weighted Companion Cubes, Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator, Speedy thing going in, speedy things coming out, impossible to solve puzzles, a crazy voice called GLaDOS, and lots of holes on walls that lead out from other holes on the walls that you can shoot with your Portal Gun Thingy. You know what all this equals? One brilliant game.

Graphics: You've all probably played Half-life 2. The graphics look no different- HDR, Anti-aliasing, and all that jazz gives this game a really sleek visual. You'll definitely be satisfied with the looks and feel of it. In fact, I can't help but say that I liked Half-life 2/Portal's graphics waaaay more than I did Crysis'.

Sound: It has a pretty decent sound track. A special favorite was the track played at the end of the game. It was simply too good. As for the rest of the sounds- you'll pretty much be too immersed into the game to take much note of it. That's what happened to me. The computerized voice of GLaDOS is just too fun not to listen to.

Gameplay: Like I said before, it's an FPS-puzzle game with only a single weapon- the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or the Portal Gun thingy. In its very simplistic way, it's very, very innovative.

Pros & Cons: Cons first- Ga. The game is simply too short. Just too short. Maybe, it would have been boring if it was slightly bigger. But, it wasn't. And now nobody will know. That's what you get. There are approximately 19 test rooms, in which you must solve puzzles- like getting a ball to a certain place, dropping a certain box to that certain button or simply going from Point A to point B, through point XYZ and so on forth.

The pros are that nearly every single second of the game played is satisfactory. If you just spent 6 hours on the game, even though you've got an exam tomorrow, then don't worry- take it from me, you haven't wasted your time. Valve doesn't really know how to fail, do they? Except, I wish they made it a bit longer.

Weird symbols, weird guns, weird cubes, weird holes in walls = you'll be bound to have some fun with this game, so here's my recommendation to you- buy it, and try it. You might just like it. In fact, you might just add it to your Shelf of Favorites. Yes, it's that damned good.

So, yeah. I think I just gave this game a 4.5 out of 5. The -0.5 is for length.

If you value your money and care for your mental welfare, which depends mostly upon good entertainment, then Portal is for you. Even if you don't value them, get this game anyway. It's that damned good. [Disclaimer: Valve/Steam unfortunately doesn't pay us one single dime. We wish it did, though. Everything'd be a lot fairer.]

By Emil
PS- I'm writing this for the good of all of us, except the ones who're dead…

PPS- But there's no sense in crying over every mistake, you just keep on trying till you run out of cake…
PPPS- The cake is a lie…

PPPPS- And I'm still alive, and you're not. I'm writing this and I'm still alive… I'm still alive… I'm writing this and I'm still alive…

Nicole Atkins brings to mind a blend of Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn, and Jenny Lewis accompanied by melancholy lyrics. Singer/songwriter Nicole Atkins grew up in Neptune, NJ. After a few years playing in North Carolina with alt-country band Los Parasols, she returned to the tri-state area playing solo gigs in New York City. Nearly broke and ready to give up her music for a day job, Atkins struck a deal with Columbia Records as a result of a strong demo and impressive performances. She released the Bleeding Diamonds EP while assembling her band Nicole Atkins & the Sea (guitarist Dave Hollinghurst, bassist John Flaughter, drummer Dan Mintzer, and keyboardist Daniel "Cashmere" Chen). Named by Rolling Stone as an "artist to watch," her full-length record Neptune City was released in 2007.

Jordin was born on December 22, 1989. Her father plays for the NFL. Growing up, Jordin was already recognized for her talent. She joined junior competitions, such as "Star Search", and many more. On 2003, she made a five track album. Currently, she is about to make another album.

On 2006, Jordin auditioned for "American Idol," the judges loved her. She made it on to the top 24 round of "American Idol." On March 8, 2007, she made it on the top 12 of "American Idol." She won the competition on May 23, 2007 against runner-up, Blake Lewis.

Jordin's musical inspirations include Hanson, Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Beyonce Knowles, and Christina Aguilera

Leona Lewis, a fantastically talented 21 year old singer/songwriter from London, writing fresh, provocative words and melodies, which when coupled with her vocal range, give a new and exciting sound.

Leona grew up in North London listening to her Dad's record collection. She says “I loved listening to Minnie Ripperton and Anita Baker plus 80's big vocalists Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Oleta Adams and more recently Eva Cassidy and at the age of 6 I decided to be a singer”.

After writing her first song at the age of 12 Leona now has over 100 songs written about the experiences of growing up, love, friendships and blossoming into a young woman.

Leona Lewis won the X Factor in 2006 and her single, "A Moment Like This," broke a world record after it was downloaded fifty thousand times in thirty minutes. The single was also the 2006 Christmas number one.

Leona's second single, "Bleeding Love," was also extremely successful and reached number one in around seven countries and stayed at the top of the UK charts for seven weeks.

Leona's debut album, "Spirit" became the UK's fastest selling debut album, and Ireland's fastest selling album of all time.

British vocalist Joss Stone was only 16 years old when she appeared on the universal pop/rock radar in 2003, ready to challenge the pop domination of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera with a grownup sound that belied her young age.

Positioning herself among the more established and credible artists (Norah Jones, Jill Scott, Nikka Costa), Stone soon garnered a devoted audience at home and abroad, first for her reinterpretations of classic soul gems (The Soul Sessions) and, one year later, for her songwriting chops and sultry delivery (Mind, Body & Soul).

Born Joscelyn Eve Stoker in 1987, Stone grew up listening to American soul and R&B, particularly the throaty stylings of Aretha Franklin.

Stone's full-length debut, Mind, Body & Soul, was released by S-Curve in 2004, and its 14 tracks featured 12 written or co-written by Stone. The album debuted at the top of the U.K. albums chart, making Stone the youngest female artist to achieve such a high ranking, and eventually reached platinum status in multiple countries.

Drillbit Taylor is similar to the 1980 film My Bodyguard, in which a bullied teen hires someone to be his, well, bodyguard. While that film dealt with the a lot of angst and issues dealing with growing up, this movie is all about comedy. Laugh out loud comedy.

The plot:
Wade (Nate Hartley) and Ryan (Troy Gentile) arrive at the first day of high school only to try and help out one tiny student (David Dorfman) from the school bullies. That earns them a prime spot on the bullies' hit list.

High school kids can be merciless and to take refuge hapless trio post an ad on the Internet for a bodyguard. OF course, we are presented with a montage of complete wackos that they unfortunately cannot afford. In steps a homeless scam artist Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson). He says he can solve their problem real cheap. Of course, he cannot remain evil. He tries though valiantly to be a bad guy. He is out to steal as much as he can from the kids and their rich parent but he falls in love with them and their teacher. Yep, there's a love interest.

The verdict:
Taylor is a bit of kid himself but now he has to mentor these other kids and it becomes a tough task indeed. The movie manages to hold our sympathy for the kids even without overdoing the barrage of abuses heaped upon them. Your heart goes out to the kids being beat up by bullies and being lied to by Owen. It's a good mix of sweet, charming and funny.

The three junior leading boys steal the show with Owen Wilson portraying his usual zany man-child antics. While it deals with the kids immediate problems, it also rectifies Owens problems with women, morals and taking responsibility in general.

While logically, it is not really possible for kids to just carry on with a body guard plot in this day and age, the movie serves very well in offering oodles of laughs and wonderful characters. No big surprises though.


Tyler Perry creates movies without any hoot to critics. And he doesn't need them because his movies, always rooted in family, love, religion and community, are liked by pretty much everyone who cares for the thing just mentioned.
So this is not a critique, more of an intro.

The plot:
The plot revolves round Brenda (Angela Bassett), a hard-pressed single mother of three children. She moves to a small town to attend the funeral of the father she never knew. Leroy (a garishly dressed southerner), his sister Vera, Sarah (Margaret Avery), Cora (Tamela Mann) and L. B. (Frankie Faison) turn out to be members of Brenda's extended family.

Then there is Rick Fox, who plays a possible love interest for Brenda. He is an amateur basketball scout who is interested in her son's (Lance Gross) skills on the court and of course in her.

A plot summary would be a bit tough here as there are plenty of faces and plenty of intersecting stories. Much of it involves dealing with the hard facts of life such as poverty and drugs and absent fathers. The movie is a bit of a tear jerker especially how one of the chidren keeps doing everything he can to help his mother. It plays with the message that that you should do anything to get your mom money except selling drugs or anything bad.

But the story is amusing and often very, very funny despite the drab sets and dire situations portrayed. It's base don Tyler Perry's winning formula of mixing humou and flashes of wisdom top entertain.

It makes for a good clean family movie.


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