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By, Sujash Islam

The year 2008 is on its way to dissolve into the past; nonetheless, the events that occurred during this year will surely be remembered in the future. In terms of music, it is somehow more special. And this year, 2008, has given us a brilliant array of Brit-pop albums. Some of these albums need to be mentioned!

Spirit (Leona Lewis):
Spirit is the debut album by British singer, Leona Lewis, released by Syco Music in November 2007 in the British Isles and worldwide during early 2008. The release of the album marks Lewis as the first winner of a major television talent show in both the UK and USA to be given a major global launch with a debut album. Bleeding Love achieved the first position in the United World Chart.

Rockferry (Duffy):
Rockferry is the debut studio album by Welsh Soul singer Duffy, first released on March 3, 2008 by Mercury Records in the US and Polydor Records in the UK. Prior to releasing the album, Duffy appeared twice on Jools Holland's music show, performing the tracks “Mercy”, “Warwick Avenue” and her version of “The First Cut Is the Deepest”. Rockferry sold 3,758,000 copies worldwide.

Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (Coldplay):
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (also simply known as Viva la Vida) is the fourth studio album by English alternative rock band Coldplay. It was released on 12 June 2008 in the United Kingdom and on 17 June 2008 in North America. “Viva la Vida” was the band's first song to reach number one in the United States and the United Kingdom. After their successful songs like Clocks, Speed of Sound or Yellow, Viva la Vida and Violet Hill seemed really promising from this album.

Ode to J. Smith (Travis):
Ode to J. Smith is the sixth studio album by Scottish alternative rock band Travis, released on 29 September 2008 in the United Kingdom and received generally positive reviews. Ode to J. Smith entered the UK Album Chart at #20, lower than many people's expectations, who expected the album to make the top 10. The following week, probably due to a continued lack of promotion, the album fell 23 places to #43. By week 3, the album had dropped to #87 and by week 4, Ode to J Smith had left the top #100. Quite disappointing!

Dig Out Your Soul (Oasis):
Some may argue whether their genre should be included into the Brit-pop culture, however, Oasis brought out this half-Rock 'n' Roll, half-Psychedelic album under Brit-pop banner. This is their seventh studio album which has been released on 6 October, 2008. In the UK, the album sold 90,000 copies on its first day of release, making it the second fastest selling album of 2008, behind Coldplay's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.

Perfect Symmetry (Keane):
Perfect Symmetry is the third studio album by English piano rock band Keane, released on 13 October 2008 in the United Kingdom. The album's title was released on 31 July 2008. The band had completely transformed their look and their new album was said to be also very unexpected! Keane performed the song live to an audience for the first time at the 2008 GQ Awards on September 2, 2008. The song won Best Track at the Q Awards on 6 October 2008, with the members of the band present at the ceremony to accept the award.

Source: Wikipedia

By Sadia Islam

A cousin got Tomb Raider Underworld for his XBOX and suddenly I felt the urgent need to say hello to the cousin in person. The pleasantries between cousin, aunt and I were over with in 5 minutes. The machine booted up in a few more seconds and I kicked out the cousin from his room in another 5 seconds.

You see, Tomb Raider isn't just a bimbo game for guys although it's sure designed that way considering the heaving chest while static, the skimpy clothes. But it makes for a proper girl game too because you have one of the most popular characters ever (and a female) blasting away and solving intricate puzzles through a fantastic story line.

Underworld continues directly from last year's Legend including a summary of past events. Underworld concerns the mysteries involving Lara's mother and the unfinished research of her father before he died. She starts off exploring ancient ruins on the Mediterranean Sea floor and finds out that some myths can be true. Apparently, Thor's hammer, a weapon belonging to the mythical God of Thunder, exists. And bad guys want it probably to destroy the world or something.

The same amount of movement flexibility you had in Legends is carried over here. That means scaling walks, jumping and fighting can all be performed with a variety of interesting moves. So that's a plus.

An addition for combat is Lara's ability to aim at and fire at two separate enemies at the same time. Great slowing down multiple enemies moving in for the kill. Would have been a help in fighting the twin centaurs in Legends. That was a difficult battle. And bullet time is still there in all combat by default making the battles a little too easy at times. Sometimes you want to make a bloody shooting mess with a little difficulty for masochistic satisfaction.

The game moves on at a non-linear approach giving providing you with at least two or more ways to accomplish a task in a particular level. Of course, at times this can be confusing as you wonder what you left behind considering the levels are huge. Luckily, Lara now carries a PDA with sonar map providing a GPS-like direction. It's called field assistance helping players find their way when stuck or simply confused with more detailed explanations and hints. It is a little better than the diary you would open in the previous games with Lara strictly uttering a meaningless babble.

Framerate drops quite a bit although I have been told that the PC version works smoother. Then there are times when Lara will move into or through walls or blocks and then get stuck.

Graphics and sound
While they improved everything else, they should have left the camera controls alone if they couldn't make it better. It's maddening as it performs zooms and pans on its own while you are trying to swing or jump and land somewhere. And yes, you will miss and fall to a crunching death. Still not much blood though.

But the visuals have gone up a notch with superb cutscenes and locations so impressive you want to go there. Some of the bigger levels are breathtaking as you walk through and notice the details. It's no Crysis but then we don't really want that here.

The game looks beautiful enough for me to give in to my husbands nagging for a better graphics card. Him and his silly car games. The PC version must look much better.

Lara's animations are smooth as she flips and jumps and twists. Yea, that's one aspect the hubby will like. And the dialogue is smart and crisp without being overly hammed up with a music score that never gets boring. Of course, I did only play for couple of hours.

The game still retains the best elements of the Tomb Raider series. Great visuals, coherent story, complex but ultimately solvable puzzles, great fights and girl power. It's still a lot like Legends and that isn't at all a bad thing. The camera hampers gameplay while some technical glitches like the Lara's clipping issues get a little annoying. But it still makes for a fun game. Good enough to let the hubby upgrade the graphics car? Maybe.

By The Dark Lord

A masked vigilante, with a black cape draped around his shoulders, kicking bad people's butts…..sounds familiar. Although we have seen many super heroes since our childhood, heroes with X-ray eyes, webs coming out of their hands, a super strong green man with inhuman strength or mutants saving the world from evil forces the fact that none of these could make a legendary impact in Hollywood makes the Dark Knight of Gotham the top of the food chain!

Unlike many superheroes, Batman has no superpowers and instead relies on his own scientific knowledge, detective skills, and athletic prowess He doesn't have mystic powers, nor did he get bitten by a spider, nor did some cosmic rock from outer space fall on top of him! He is just a responsible citizen who cleans the crime from his city with the help of sophisticated weapons and gadgets and sometimes a $ 250, 000 Bat mobile, a.k.a The Tumbler!

The Batman started as a fictional character, and was first published in Detective Comics (May 1939) by Bob Kane. Various aspects of Batman's personality, character history, visual design and equipment were inspired by contemporary popular culture of the 1930s, including movies, pulp magazines, comic strips, newspaper headlines, and even aspects of Kane himself. Bruce Wayne, the man behind the mask, a wealthy businessman who lives in Gotham City. To the world at large, Bruce Wayne is often seen as an irresponsible, superficial playboy who lives off his family's personal fortune (amassed when Bruce's family invested in Gotham real estate before the city was a bustling metropolis) and the profits of Wayne Enterprises, a major private technology firm that he inherits. creates the playboy public persona to aid in throwing off suspicion of his secret identity, often acting dim-witted and self-absorbed to further the act.

What makes the Batman even more appealing is that not only is it a fictional character, but also it has made impacts on the silver screen. Today we are going to take a peak at the Batman movies, that have captivated millions of viewers.

The caped crusader made his debut in the late 80s, starring Micheal Keaton as the Batman, who as a young boy witnesses his parents' murder on the streets of Gotham City, and grows up to become the Batman - a mysterious figure in the eyes of Gotham's citizens - who takes crime-fighting into his own hands. He first emerges out of the shadows when the Joker (Jack Nicholson) appears - a horribly disfigured individual who is out for revenge and to have a good time. A thrilling movie with a loads of cool gadget and a villain who has complete freedom, who operates on the outside of society and is deemed a freak and an outcast. Viewers were awed by the automatic Batmobile and other modern technologies.

“Batman Returns” in 1992 had a lot of hype around it with the introduction of Catwoman and the Penguin. Viewers were a bit disappointed and the new face of fiend in the form of Penguin, a deformed and rather deranged man, backed by hoodlums and real penguins backed by hoodlums and real penguins was way too childish! Ridiculous? However, back in the early nineties it was a treat for action lovers! Rating 6/10.

This time, the Dark Knight is back with his sidekick Robin, in their venture “Batman Forever”. Unlike the previous movies, this one has a star-studded cast, starring Jim Carrey as the Riddler, Tommy Lee as Two Face, and the two Hollywood beauties Drew Barrymore and Nicole Kidman! This sequence is much faster than the previous ones, and the addition of allies and foes grips the viewers until the very last minute!

Batman movies get better and better every time, and this was proved by the release of “Batman and Robin” in 1997, as George Clooney behind the mask, and Hollywood hunk Arnold Schwarzenegger (did I spell his name right?) as Mr. Freeze! It was mocked for its poor script, and the film was dubbed Batman on Ice by critics for an opening scene. The movie became infamous for the Batsuit in moulded plastic and as well as Batman having his own credit card (even superheroes need to visit the groceries from time to time!)!

“Batman and Robin” was the final film of the 1989-1997 Batman movie franchise, as the franchise's story was re-imagined with 2005's Batman Begins directed by Christopher Nolan. Grossing $370 million worldwide, it introduces viewers with Bruce Wayne's (Christian Bale) initial fear of bats, the death of his parents, and his journey to becoming Batman. Fear was a common theme throughout the film, and it had a darker tone compared to previous Batman films. Rating 8.5/10.

Batman fans were really in for a biggest party ever as “Batman The Dark Knight” hit the theatres this July. The Joker, a psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy holds the city at ransom and proves himself too good, even for the Batman. Heath Ledger as the Joker, who passed away of a prescribed drug overdose, will always be remembered for his legendary performance. Grossing a mammoth $997 607 482, The Dark Knight with its extraordinary filming, music, the Joker with his evil grin and desire of watching the world burn and the Gotham City's hero at his best is one of the few movies that you wouldn't forget in a hurry!

This wraps up the Batman movies. Although Batman comics are still at large, thanks to electronic technology, Batman is not only a character in the comic book, but also a man in flesh, who can step out and can make a choice!

Sources: Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes and imdb


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