Once the city used to pulse with energy. Dirty and dangerous, but alive and wonderful. Now it's something else.
We exist on the edge- between the gloss and the reality. The Mirror's Edge.
Processor: Pentium 4 @ 2.4 GHz / Core 2 Duo 2GHz or equivalent
RAM: 1GB / 2GB or better
Video: GeForce 6 Series with 256MB VRAM / GeForce 8800 with 512MB VRAM or better
(higher DX9 cards are better than lower DX10 cards)
Processor: Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4 GHz
RAM: 4GB @ 800 MHz
Video: eVGA GeForce 8800GS with 384MB VRAM
Pros: Fun and challenging gameplay full of adrenaline, beautiful graphics, decent story, and awesome premise.
Cons: Sloppy combat, not enough story-development.
Ea's Dice certainly deserves mucho kudos for bringing a game as innovative as Mirror's Edge. The city where the game takes place is one that is much changed, a sort of utopia- the people are safe, things work, but only at the expense of privacy and civil liberty. The people have chosen to live safely rather than live freely- a totalitarian system. ME takes much inspiration from the concept of Parkour, and creates the “Runners.”
There are those who didn't decide to roll over and take a leash, and these are the ones the Runners work for or work with, acting as couriers efficiently moving through the city, rooftops and alleyways, away from the watchful noses of the government and authority.
You play the role of Faith Connors, a Eurasian Runner- and a call from her sister Kate paves a path- dark, deadly and dangerous, taking Faith into the heart of a murder she has to solve. And so the chase begins.
Quite obviously, the gameplay is the prime focus of the game. Although very easily comparable to games like Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed or Prince of Persia, it's actually very different, as you'll find out right from the start. In AC or PoP, the movements almost always feel automated, running walls and jumping rooftops seems a bit like biting into a giant candy. You can't miss the bite. ME, on the other hand… Almost every jump is a challenge, and timing has to be critically precise or you'll find yourself plummeting to a speedy death.
On normal difficulties, the game makes it slightly easier to navigate through the vast city through color codes. Objects which you have to jump from, jump to, or just navigate in some parkourous way will be colored bright red. The unlockable Hard difficulty removes this assistance, and you'll be left to your perception and wits alone to transverse the great beast of a city. Getting to your destination might prove to be a dog, but that's the fun part of the game. ME provides a refreshing challenge in contrast to the main-stream user-friendly games coming out.
Graphically, it's amazing. The sprawling mass of white buildings that's the city is beautifully rendered, and you'll be introduced to most of it in your somewhat short run- aha no pun intended- of the game. Runner-interactable objects are red, or become red as you near them with occasional spews of blue, green and orange. DICE has smoothly portrayed the futuristic kind of city it had in mind.
The character models are nicely rendered with more than decent animations. The story is fleshed out through occasional in-game cutscenes (not sparse enough, if you ask me) and end chapter pre-rendered animations in a semi-manga style. In short, it's very refined.
I'm sure anyone who's a little in touch with the gaming happenings has heard the spiffy OST of Mirror's Edge. Uh. Who hasn't, right? Right. ME has a pretty decent set of tracks that can set a good ambience for the environment, changing aptly to the meet the present situation- fight, flight or parkour. One of the very few downflips of the game is the combat mechanics. A tricky disarming system and a group of SWAT teams perforating your organs with their SMGs can be a bit annoying. The loading screen shows faith in different combat situations, and you'll feel frustrated that it's not that smooth. I've only managed to pull off a relatively handful successful disarms. It gets easier as you progress, as you get the hang of it, though there's always something missing. But there's a deep slick satisfaction in disabling a “blue”, taking his gun, using it to take care of his buddies and casually throwing it aside to return to what Faith is good at- Running.
Verdict: Mirror's Edge is wonderfully innovative and beautiful to look at. Its satisfactory gameplay can be rewarding to appease the casual gamer (I really wish there were more of the in-game cutscenes. I liked them better than the pre-rendered ones), and more than a simple challenge to everyone else. Unlike other titles, the acrobatics do not feel robotic and monotonous and makes for a totally worthy play and time.
Let this weekend start off with a bit of fun. Three slightly different movies, all with one basic function: laugh.
This comic animation stars a white German Shepherd superdog Bolt (voice by John Travolta). Except that he's not really super. He's just a dog in a man's world playing a part. The one slight glitch is that Bolt believes the show is real. That's because the director of the show has him duped. The shows director believes creating an artificial world around Bolt even off-stage will ensure that the dog provides an authentic performance. So Bolt is forever presented with scenes, characters and scripted situations from the show. That's just wrong to deceive a cute dog that way and the show's child star, Penny (Miley Cyrus) just wants to take Bolt home free from this deceit. But that's not possible because, well, the lawyers said so.
All goes well until Bolt is accidentally shipped off to New York City. That's where he finds out his "superpowers" don't really knock down the villains. He finds out for himself that he's just a dog in a man's world just like it says in the first paragraph.
He bands with a cat and a hamster in a bubble to find his way back to Hollywood. It starts off a road trip for some adventures and self realizations. But don't let those big sounding concepts worry you. It's a simple, clean, fun story with adorable characters (even the bad ones). The jokes are mostly fresh without deep stabbing pokes at pop culture. Good plot, memorable characters and a climactic ending make it a worthwhile one-plus hours.
Madagascar: Back 2 Africa
This is yet another group of critters off on an adventure. In 2005 Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the annoying giraffe escaped to Madagascar. They gave up their pampered lives and because it is a movie, did not die of starvation or get turned into expensive leather products. Of course, a group of super intelligent penguins helped.
They all want to head back because their New York zoo was so comfortable. Time meals, running water, attentions form people. They wouldn't have felt that way had they escaped from the Dhaka zoo. The penguins somehow fashion an old crashed plane into a slingshot projectile that they use to roughly slingshot themselves towards Manhattan. Calculation must have been off by a few feet cause they ended up in Africa.
Lots of adventures, plenty of pop culture references and spoofs. Maybe a bit too much of the latter but as long as you know what they are spoofing, it remains funny. It's still an enjoyable movie. After all, the lemur leader King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) is back with his song "I Like to Move It."
Do the animals finally make it out with their multi-coloured hides intact? It's worth finding out. And now for a live action flick. You've got Adam Sandler so that means a lot of goofball antics. And who says goofball antics aren't fun?
Skeeter Bronson (Sandler) is a hotel handyman that he sort of owns. He complains a lot about how his life is down in the dumps (lower actually) and how he hasn't been able to climb up the ranks of life. It could be because he doesn't every do anything about it. He's a man of a lot of talk and no action.
Things change one day when he starts babysitting his niece and nephew. He makes up wild stories of zero-gravity battle in outer space, cowboys (straight ones) and gladiators. The tales roughly parallel his daily life except these stories always end up with him as a winner. Life's good, at least in his head.
The kids start providing their own thoughts and not surprisingly (because it's a movie) the stories start becoming true. Yes, as you can see in the picture, gumballs can rain down among other odd activities. Skeeter may think he has it good but things start to go a little off track.
Add to this fantasy an evil rival hotel manager, a beautiful woman whose love he must win, his need to 'become a man' and a cute pet guinea pig with adorable expressions. There's a moral somewhere in this tale wrapped in a wacky, hilarious story with a lot of visual effects. Maybe a bit too much at times.
It's a dose of zany Adam Sandler antics without the outright potty humour. Some even dare say it could be a family movie.
The Flobots are a hip-hop band featuring instrumentation uncommon in hip-hop these days, including lead violin, guitar, bass, drum and horns in virtually every track. Second, the Flobots are a hip-hop group deeply rooted in conscious political dialogue. Of the twelve tracks in “Fight With Tools,” there is not one that fails to comment on current events, world history or humanitarian unity.
While many political hip-hop acts can come across as preachy, angry or negative, the Flobots do not. Their lyrics, despite the tendency to criticize the powers that be for events such as 9/11, Iraq and Katrina, are optimistic and inspiring, and the presence of the band creates a live show vibe that is celebratory and refreshing.
With plenty of lyrical creativity and dope beats based on true instrumentation the Flobots make for an entertaining set of rhythms showing originality and authenticity. Progressive in both style and message, the band's perfect blend of rock, hip-hop, and instrumental genius, makes this an album that you defiantly need to check out.
If you're in the mood for other deep thinking emcees, check out Wise Intelligent “The Talented Timothy Taylor”, C-Rayz Walz “Chorus Rhyme”, and Sage Francis “Human The Death Dance”.
By Monty Python
Last year was pretty healthy for us techies. The laptop mania took over unlike anything before. The price of laptops have gone down from being gazillions (figuratively, considering the fact that we teens are almost always broke), to a reasonable price of 30 to 40 grand. Previous year have also seen the rise in popularity and fall in the prices of Dual core CPU's. Not to mention the availability of numerous entertainment devices and digital imaging devices in Bangladesh. So now we are going to look forward to some of the new innovations that maybe unveiled in the world of computer, both hardware and software.
The rise of multi-core CPU.
WE have had our honeymoon with the Core 2 Duo and the Athlon FX dual cores. But expect something more, radically powerful in 2009. Later last year, Intel unveiled the core i7 line of CPU. Although initially it featured 4 cores (similar to Core 2 Quad), you can expect this baby to pump up with more cores. The experts are saying that as much as 32 cores can be put into a single chip, especially with some new nano-scale technology knocking on the door. The i7 also has a brand new architecture that increases its throughput by as much as 5 to 8 times a previous generation CPU.
|Time to trash that computer .......... Again
Kill'em All graphics
In the beginning of last year, I have talked about the inclusion of physics engines in graphics cards that will add a new dimension in gameplay.
The latest generation ATI and nvidia cards have done just that. So what is next for the gaming hardware industry? You guessed it, it is bringing the game processing closer to super-computing capabilities and add virtual realism in it. Already, scientists have started using some of these graphics cards for massive parallel computing like super-computers (called CUDA technology).
2009 will also see the unveiling of DirectX 10.1. Although it is a small increment to hugely successful DirectX10, but you can expect all kinds of bells and whistles and really rich high end graphics on your screen. The latest ATI 4000 and Nvidia 9000 series cards contain hundreds of stream processors to allow parallel processing of specialized graphics instruction. Talking about high end graphics, make sure you have saved enough to shift to an HDMI monitor, cos that is the future of display that these new generation cards are going to support.
There has been a revolution in storage devices. Modern day laptops no longer come equipped with some rotating disk inside, but comes shipped with a high capacity solid state disk. Industry giants are researching on a new ground breaking technology called memristors that can store terabytes of information for the fraction of electricity consumption and a several hundred times faster than traditional HDD or memory. These chips will be become commercially available and will be far cheaper than existing storage technologies when it hits the market.
Another story in the storage frontier is the implementation of USB 3.0 standards. It is said that USB 3.0 will have transfer rates of Gigabytes. The market is expecting the first of these USB 3.0 protocol devices to come by middle of 2009.
And other tiny-miny things that will happen to your PC
I have talked about the major changes that will be implemented by this year. Scientists are almost also ready to say goodbye to your handy dandy mouse as new technology such as expression and gesture recognition are coming soon. Already HP released a tablet PC that will respond to your finger gestures (similar to iPhone, but a lot more capable).
In addition to that, experts are also planning to say goodbye to your old DVD drives and writers as Blu-Ray is expected to be the de-facto transfer device for digital entertainment. Although some experts are saying that the whole need for media devices will disappear within a few years as more and more people are downloading media from internet. Too sad we are nowhere near that happening to us anytime soon.
In the next part I will bring forward to some of the changes you can expect in world of entertainment technology.
(Sources: tomshardware.com, pcworld.com, wikipedia.com, addabazi with some techie)