The Rubik's Cube (yes, that cube with the coloured square stickers) is a frustrating toy. While it is relatively easy to match up the colours on one side, getting all six sides to match is a pain. And what's worse is seeing those slips on the net where children get it all right in just a few seconds. But when you managed to get some of it right, it was a joy to behold.
Well, here's an upgrade or rather a evolution of that toy. What with everything else going electronic from your remote every-gadget to electric toothbrushes, the Cube was not to be left alone.
Rubik's Revolution is a Rubik's in name and basic design only. The decision to package this electronic toy inside the iconic cube seems to be a marketing one: if it didn't have the Rubik's name attached to it, would we all be talking about the toy as much as we are?
In the middle of each face of the cube is a cavity where a pressure-sensitive light lives. Each of these buttons gives a satisfying click when you push down on it, and the unit has a decent weight and feel. The colored stickers are now shiny, with a hologram pattern that makes the whole thing look a little futuristic. It's clear how you're supposed to play with the toy: you spin the cube in your hand while pressing the lighted buttons. The instructions promise six games based on this premise.
You flip a switch and the cube lights up and talks to you. You hear the sound of a clock ticking down, and you have to spin the cube in your hand to find each light that's turned on, and then press down to turn it off. It sounds simple, and it is, but it gets frantic as the timer clicks down. But that's just one game.
Another game, Pattern Panic, is basically a game of Simon Says where the game lights up colors in order, and you have to remember them. Code Cracker has you breaking the code of lights and sides using trial and error although it's mostly luck. Cube Catcher lights up the sides quickly and relights the buttons randomly as you turn them off; it really stresses your hand-eye coordination to get as many lights turned off as possible in the limited time you have.
The six built-in games really are fun, although there isn't a lot of depth to be found making it an attractive little toy. But would it beat the original in keeping people engrossed?
By Kevin VanOrd, GameSpot
First of all, Condemned 2: Bloodshot is not a game fit for children. If you are a child reading this then stop. Get a lawyers advice.
At choice moments in Monolith's gruesome and demented first-person horror adventure game, you'll impale rioters on rebar, crush the heads of the homeless in a gigantic vise, and force the faces of far freakier foes into toilet bowls. Every one of these actions is accompanied by blood-spurting visuals, shouted epithets, and the slimy sounds of entrails splattering onto the floor and walls. Bloodshot manages to one-up the original Condemned's violence at every turn. The volume has certainly been turned up.
The payoff in each scenario is proportionate to the terror the game so cunningly instills. Two separate chase scenes come to mind immediately and stand as the most unforgettable gaming moments of the year so far, though even the less-dramatic sequences can feel like a bludgeon to the brain. In the end, it doesn't matter how a magic theater and a doll factory relate to one another. What's important is that each level will cause you to hold your breath, only to expel it in a single gasp.
Somehow, Monolith found a way to fit Ethan Thomas's continuing battle with his own demons into these set pieces, with mostly positive results. Ethan is as bitter and jaded as ever, and he's used the bottle to bury the troubles of his mysterious past. In need of his services, the Serial Crime Unit pulls Ethan from the gutter and implores him to assist them in investigating the enigmatic cause behind Metro City's unstoppable crime wave. During the course of the game, Ethan unlocks the secrets of an obscure conspiracy.
The stylized effects that indicate a paranormal encounter are sometimes overdone, but for the most part, they set the right mood and parallel Ethan's battle with the bottle. The sound is even better. The slams of metal against flesh are conveyed perfectly, as are the grunts and cries of your opponents.
Favorites include saws that look like lollipops, deer antlers, medieval swords, paper cutter blades, bowling pins, and locker doors. A good variety of items can be grabbed and used to bludgeon enemies with, but this isn't the only improvement to the formula. The basic hand-to-hand combat is enhanced, and you can attack with both fists this time, using the corresponding trigger to swing. You can also string combos together for more damage, and there's a terrific sense of impact when your fist or bludgeon finds its target.
You'll be using some ranged weapons as well, though you aren't limited to just standard guns. This isn't the game's strongest suit, given that the confined levels make it difficult to get in a comfortable position for a firefight.
You'll be collecting some evidence from murder sites for Rosa at the lab again, but this aspect of the series has been improved. In fact, it requires some actual thought on the part of the player. In some cases, you need to use a black light to spot the pattern of blood and determine how the victim was killed. In others, you inspect electrical panels, a disembodied head, and a series of X-rays. You'll be pressed to answer correctly based on contextual clues (in one case, paying particular attention to the story), and correct answers reward you with a better end-level medal, as well as an upgrade to show for it, such as the ability to holster a sidearm, or a boost to your health. You aren't going to be doing as much forensic analysis in Bloodshot as you did in the original Condemned, and it's too bad, because this element is much more interesting this time around.
Bear in mind that if you wince at violence or get nauseous at the sight of blood, this is not the game for you. It's brutal and often disturbing, and certainly not appropriate for everyone. But the reason to play Condemned 2: Bloodshot is to be scared, to be shocked, and to explore the secrets of a slimy world where the natural and the supernatural become intertwined.
By Le Chupacabra
Action / Mecha
Around 2300ish A.D., fossil fuels have finally been depleted and now the power needs of the world are drip fed from one of three gargantuan solar energy generators. This trio of supply units is connected via orbital elevators under the stewardship of the three major powers of the world: a consolidation of nations made possible due to this energy crisis. However, an increased military presence belies this peaceful façade and once the enigmatic terrorist organisation, Celestial Being, enters the fray with an intention to eradicate war, the status quo becomes a lot more intense...
Whether it's the tenuous national alliances or the highly volatile situation of the Middle East or an enhanced global military presence, you can truly see the current world situation reflected off the visors of this new generation of Gundam pilots. This rather Zeitgeist view makes Gundam 00 starkly relevant and even the anime-averse may take note. For a while atleast.
In fact, the strength of this iteration of the long-running Gundam franchise lies in the plot. Full of nuanced politics, social commentary on the nature of war and a strong symbiosis with the present day (despite being set further ahead into the future), Gundam 00 appeases with its somewhat mature, observant outlook. The conflicts don't merely escalate, but they ebb and flow and there are real consequences as the links between the major players change to reflect such.
Brilliantly, there is no true villain at hand to deliver corny dialogue and act generally “evil” (well there is, but bear with me for a moment) and this espousal of moral ambiguity is quite appreciable. The Machiavellian goals of the terrorist organisation “Celestial Being”, who are technically the protagonists, are in constant doubt. Towards the end, their ambitions are achieved indeed, but the circumstances and consequences are far more pragmatic.
While the narrative will keep you enthralled, the main characters come across as rather colourless, metaphorically speaking of course. Surprisingly, the supporting cast are far more human and it's sad that they don't receive much exposition for I was rather interested in finding out more about them. It's truly through these individuals that you can see the multi-faceted sides of this complex conflict, feel their pain and share whatever joys they glean. Besides one of the four Gundam Meisters, “Lockon” Stratos (the sharpshooter of the crew, naturally), the rest of the main cast pale in comparison to their subordinates.
A space opera with the Gundam pedigree is always about the characters and their relationships, so it seems that 00 has sacrificed one of its own tenets for a more sophisticated plot.
And presentation for that matter. Gundam 00 is a rather impressive visual showcase boasting a near-seamless melange of CGI and hand-drawn scenarios. On a technical level, this anime shines with great colouring, smooth animation and plenty of graphical punch. Artistically, it's a subjective matter altogether. The classic designs are still there, updated for a more streamlined outlook. However, the remaining designs feel rather uninspired and visually, the characters add a more negative points to their already vacant personalities. Oh, and there's a trap as well.
I haven't yet found an anime series whose music I didn't like and it seems that Gundam 00 won't be one to break this trend. Yes, the track range is rather limited, but there are some enjoyable orchestral pieces; the choir-based “main” theme of Celestial Being comes across as particularly memorable. The always fantastic L'Arc~en~Ciel showcase yet another trippy intro song as they join a trio of other bands for quite a varied opening/closing quartet of tunes.
Instead of hiding behind allegory, Gundam 00 is a bold stride into incorporating our own world with its flaws and strengths into the fabric of its narrative. It's a stark, sophisticated tale that serves as a relatively good entry in the revered Gundam mythos. Flawed in the places it ought not be, 00 may not be brilliant overall, but there's enough quality to keep you involved until the last episode.
Compiled by Sujash Islam
Keane are an English piano rock band, first established in Battle, East Sussex in 1995, taking their current name in 1997. The group comprises composer, bassist, and pianist Tim Rice-Oxley, lead vocalist Tom Chaplin and drummer Richard Hughes. Their original line-up included founder and guitarist Dominic Scott, who left in 2001. Keane are known for using a piano as their lead instrument instead of guitars, significantly differentiating them from most rock bands. The inclusion of a distorted piano effect since 2006 and various synthesizers are now a common feature in their music that nowadays combines the pure piano rock sound used during their first album and the alternative rock sound which developed during 2005. Acoustic and power ballads are also a highlight in the group's music and have evolved into many fan favourite songs such as "On a Day Like Today" and "We Might As Well Be Strangers".
Keane's first two studio albums, Hopes and Fears and Under the Iron Sea achieved great success in the United Kingdom upon release and very high sales worldwide: their multi-award-winning debut was the best-selling British album of 2004 and their follow-up sold 222,297 copies during its first week on sale in June 2006.
With the release of their first major single, Keane began to achieve recognition in the United Kingdom and the United States, where "This Is the Last Time" was released and remained as the only single sold there until "Crystal Ball" in late 2006. In January 2004, Keane was named the band most likely to achieve success in the coming year in the BBC's annual Sound of Music poll; additionally, this year is popularly referred to as one of the best years for new British music.
A month later, Keane's first release on Island was "Somewhere Only We Know", which reached number three on the UK Singles Chart in February 2004. On May 4, a re-release of "Everybody's Changing" followed and featured new cover and b-sides; it reached number four in the UK Singles Chart.
Keane's debut album, Hopes and Fears, was released on May 10, 2004 in the UK, just a day before the band started their first world tour. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and went on to become the second-biggest selling album of the year in the UK, only losing the top spot to Scissor Sisters on the last day of the year.
The album has sold approximately five and a half million copies worldwide. In the UK, it stayed in the top 75 of the UK Albums Chart for 72 weeks, appearing again on its 115th week.
The band won two awards at the 2005 BRIT Awards in February; Best British album for Hopes and Fears and the British breakthrough act award, as voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1, defeating bands such as Muse or Franz Ferdinand. Three months after, Rice-Oxley received the Ivor Novello award for songwriter of the year.
As members of the Make Poverty History foundation, Keane performed "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Bedshaped" at the Live 8 concert, which took place in London on July 2, 2005.
In April 2005, in the middle of the Hopes and Fears Tour, the band began recording their second album, Under the Iron Sea with producer Andy Green, who also worked with them previously on Hopes and Fears and they later recruited Mark "Spike" Stent for mixing duties. The album's release was preceded by the release of "Atlantic", a download-only music video and the lead single "Is It Any Wonder?” which reached number three on the UK Singles Chart. The album had a worldwide release date of June 12, 2006 and was at number 1 in the UK Albums Chart for the first two weeks of its release. As of May 22, 2007, it had sold more than 2,200,000 copies. The album has met with critical acclaim, with press referring to it as "dark and heavy", and commenting that it may attract a new, wider audience. On July 7, 2007, Keane played at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, part of a series of gigs similar to Live 8, to highlight the threat of global warming. They performed "Somewhere Only We Know", "Is It Any Wonder?" and "Bedshaped".
Keane have cited bands such as The Beatles, U2, Oasis, R.E.M., The Smiths, Radiohead, Queen, a-ha, Marty Wilde, Pet Shop Boys and Paul Simon as influences.
Although the band have not confirmed the production of their third studio album, Chaplin has revealed that they have written around fifteen new songs for their next album.