By SS Emil
TEMPUS fugit. Only yesterday was I wholly ignorant of game release dates, internet was something that happened to other people, and the only way to know what games came out was to make a visit to ye ol' Eastern Plaza and wander blissfully in our personal Eden. Now we have the internet.
Regardless, here's a list of games most gamers are looking forward to with eagerness and an itch in their gaming wrists.
Halo Reach: Truth be told I'm not a big fan of Halo, but there seems to be a gazillion fans of the series out there. Halo Reach is scheduled for release during the fall of 2010, the game takes place before the events of the first game, Halo: Combat Evolved.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution: “God from” is the translation of Deux Ex. Just sayin'. Developed by the duo of Eidos Montreal and SquareEnix, DE3 is scheduled for release around September (not exactly confirmed) or around the Q4 of this year. Like Reach, DE3 is also a prequel, and it takes place 25 years before the first game.
Starcraft 2: It has been around 12 years since the release of Starcraft, and amazingly that game is STILL played all over the world. Fewer games in history have achieved such popularity and long-lasting appeal as SC did. The excruciatingly long-awaited sequel has finally come. Developer/Publisher Blizzard Entertainment has scheduled the release for SC2 on July 27th. Set four years after the events of SC: Broodwar, SC2: Wings of Liberty will focus on the Terrans with later expansions focusing on Zerg and Protoss.
The Last Guardian: Team Ico, makers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, both of which were lauded as really great games, comes back with another exclusively PS3 game (to the disappointment of PC and Xbox fans), to be released, probably, around the Q4 of this year. The game focuses around the growing friendship between a boy and a griffin-like creature called Trico.
Call of Duty: This feels like an exploitative franchise now. Kind of like NFS and NFL and what not. CoD Black Ops would be the seventh instalment of the series, to be released on November 9th. Meanwhile, Modern Warfare 3 is apparently in pre-production phase. That's not all. There's yet another CoD game under development by Sledgehammer Games, who plan to shift the game into the action-adventure genre. Not a 2010 game, though.
Alpha Protocol: After a massive delay in release, AP is finally set to be out on June 1st. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, a powerhouse of a team who had brought us Fallout, Planescape, Icewind Dale and other legendary cRPGs in the past as Black Isles Studios, it's pretty certain that Alpha Protocol will be a bomb. The story revolves around the struggle of Agent Michael Thorton, betrayed by his superiors, and his attempts to uncover the conspiracy. Oh. There's also an M60 wielding psychopath blonde girl in the game. I like.
Fallout: New Vegas: I have high hopes for this game, as it's also being developed by Obsidian Entertainment, who know what cRPGs are really supposed to be like. Bethesda has a vague idea about that. The Elder Scrolls series, was long-winded and barely RGP. FO: NV is not a sequel to FO3, but rather a spin-off with changes in most aspects of the game. NV takes place three years later from FO3, in the year 2280 in Las Vegas, a city which seemed to have miraculously escaped the brutal nuclear attack.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands: After Sands of Time, the PoP series faced one fiasco after another. The whole metalhead outlook of Warrior Within was a fail, and Two Thrones was hardly any better. The PoP from 2008 was significantly better but still nothing to match the awesomeness that was SoT, which pretty much took the whole freaking cake in the year of its release. So comes TFS, an interquel taking place between SoT and WW, probably bridging the gap between his change from noble hero to a rugged metalhead. Story takes place in the Prince's brother's kingdom, which has fallen under siege. Time powers are once again thrown around to save their world from destruction.
Mafia II: A sequel to the cinematically awesome game, Mafia: the City of Lost Heaven, and developed by same company, Illusion Softwares under a new name, 2K Czech, it's set to be released on August 24th. The game will be set right after World War II, with Vito Scaletta returning from the front, reuniting with old friends and heading towards a life of crime.
Mortal Kombat 9: Hardly needs any introduction or a look into the backdrop. The only reason games like MK exist is so that we can have mindless fun beating the blood out of our friends through virtual avatars of awesome power. Ed Boon confirms that MK will go back to its roots of blood, gore and mindless violence, i.e., tearing opponents apart, limb my limb, literally. Look out for this back-to-roots game around Christmas.
Hitman 5: One of the better stealth games out there, Hitman had always been a great series, barring Contracts. Hitman 5 is set to be released late in Q4 of this year. Seems there's not a lot of information known about this instalment. We'll just have to wait and see.
Max Payne 3: One of the most badass games in third-person shooter history, developed by Rockstar Games, Max Payne took our young worlds by storm and left us reeling right down to the credits, and the accompanying music, “Late Goodbye” which still makes us that much nostalgic. In MP3, Max has aged, and badly, and he's left New York behind. The game takes place in Brazil twelve years later, with our badass protagonist working as a private security personnel for a local wealthy family. Can Max Payne 3 live up to its own shoes?
DeathSpank: I saw the trailer for DeathSpank back in maybe 2008? I was won. Then I saw the inventory trailers- it was Epic Win. DeathSpank is an action RPG by game designer Ron Gilbert, in the making for around 6 years. Until about 2009 or so, the release date was, “Coming soonish” or “Soonerish”. More win. Little is known about the story elements, except that the primary character is from Ron Gilbert's comics “Grumpy Gamer”, the world is cylindrical and the gameplay is similar to that of Diablo. Unfortunate for PC users, it's Xbox360 and PS3 only.
F.3.A.R.: Considered to be one of the scariest games around, F.E.A.R. was a critical success spanning three games (as of this yet-to-be released one) and several expansions, Developed by Day 1 Studios, it's set for release in the Q3 of the year. It continues the story from the previous games, with old characters returning to take up arms.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: Everyone enjoys playing games made around the friendly neighbourhood superhero. Though, not always successful in delivering good and enjoyable games (fails like Friend or Foe, Web of Shadows, and the last movie game, for example?), Activision intends to make right with the fans, and so comes Shattered Dimension. This time, Spidey travels through multiple realities of the Marvel Universe in order to recover pieces of tablets that's been scattered across the worlds.
Crysis 2: Well, if not for anything, then at least Crysis 2 should be worth playing for the oh-so-powerfully catastrophically beautiful combat that Crytek claims this game will have. And apparently with a lower system requirements, too. The game will be set in New York, an “urban jungle”, mostly because Far Cry and Crysis both were set in actual jungles. Developed by Crytek, Crysis 2 will be released later this year in November. Yeah, I'm a bit biased against Crytek's games.
Medal of Honor: The first of the series to be set in a modern-day setting, namely Afghanistan. Players control multiple characters of different military ranks, one such as being “Tier 1”. EA claims that realism will be the focus of the game, and even has gone so far as to have consulted the US Military. MoH will support multiplayer gaming just like the previous instalments. Developed by EA Los Angeles and EA Dice, it's set to release on October 12th.
Red Dead Redemption: GTA set in the western theme. Developed by Rockstar San Diego, it's set for release on May 18th, for the PS3 and Xbox. The game is kind of a successor to Red Dead Revolver from 2004, set in 'the West'. Gameplay is similar to GTA, in a freely traversable open world environment. Horses are your mode of transportation and one can assume the bigger the gun you have, better your charisma. RDR seems very promising with interesting features. If not done right, it can be something like GTA San Andreas (God knows that's impossible), or it can be right and be something like GTA IV.
There you have it. Some games may have been missed, some overlooked, but these are what (probably) the masses are cheering for.
The Clash of the Awakening Titans
WHAT was Fate thinking the night she destined a Champion's League final unimagined? How did the gold dust of luck travel to Arena's considered almost obscure in current days? When the dust settled after numerous tumultuous battles, the Goliaths lay slain at the hands of the two Davids. The Persian Army had been defeated and the Spartans raised their hopeful eyes towards one final battle. A battle that would put two of the shrewdest tacticians at war against one another. On one corner, stands the weathered and brow-beaten 58-year old Louis Van Gaal, while opposing him stands the arrogant and self-proclaimed 'Special One'; 47-year old Jose Mourinho. Surrounded by their array of numerous highly paid and gifted stars, suddenly the unexpected clash appears to be the most mouth-watering treat of this season. Indeed in a world of financially blessed Titans, even the multi-million dollar empires of Bayern and Inter fall just short off being labelled as Minnows. Got it. BTW,Chelsea winning 8 - 0 and taking the Premier Leauge has made this writer more than just happy.
Whilst most expected Barcelona to steamroll their way to another European conquest, others were sure that Chelsea or United would come up with the trumps. Elsewhere the revolution at Bernabeu, presented the footballing world with the mightiest contender of them all, Real Madrid. However, Giants slayed Giants and proceeded only to have their remnants devoured by the Italians and the ever-hungry Germans. Granted that Bayern had an easy passage, it was tricky nonetheless. Lyon were never to be underestimated, however Van Gaal's tactics and Olic's talents combined to overwhelm the French champions. On the other hand, Mourinho's Inter Milan ensured that no ghosts would be exorcised at Stamford Bridge and if anything, the aura of Mourinho that Ancelloti had managed to almost dispel, shrouded London for possibly one final hurrah. After that, Jose proceeded to bury the Legend of Pep Guardiola and thus the route to the manager's future destination was paved, earlier than expected as some continue to speculate.
The surprising twist in all this remains the fact that though Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal can be declared as the architects of their individual triumphant campaigns, the engineers were Santiago Bernabeu discards. Both Wesley Sneijder and the influential Arjen Robben had been considered surplus to requirements and were quickly snapped by Mourinho and van Gaal respectively. Whilst Mourinho also managed to haunt his former stomping ground in London, Inter's key striker Eto'o demonstrated how Ibra-cadabra paled in comparison to the agile and persevering Cameroonian. Van Gaal also proved his mettle, after leading Munich to the title in his first season in charge. Despite numerous early season blips, Bayern have been rejuvenated under the guidance of the Dutchman. Despite having Ribery available for 9 measly league games, demoting Rensing, off-loading Luca Toni and benching $40 million man Mario Gomez, van Gaal managed to put together a string of highly impressive result relying on the brilliance of Arjen Robben, the guts of Badstuber, the genius of Muller and the perseverance of Olic. In his first season in charge, Louis van Gaal has rung the changes more effectively than Pelligrini with all his millions or Hughes with all his gazillion could possibly have.
Whereas van Gaal is a stickler for discipline and colourful Mourinho comes from the same flock,. The Special One is relishing his second Champion's League medal and is evidently bullish about his prospects. Van Gaal on the other hand, doesn't lack any confidence either. Both these men have experienced Champion's League success, van Gaal leading Ajax to the title whilst Mourinho conquered all of Europe with a team of almost nobodies. If van Gaal boasts a CV consisting of also AZ and Barcelona along with a stint with Netherland, Mourinho can counter it with his CV highlighting his EPL successes with Chelsea and Inter Milan. Indeed, both the men are tacticians and it is hard to ascertain who will have the edge come the 22nd.
Though van Gaal would usually display an attacking prowess in his previous clubs, Bayern are more restricted these days, however once the floodgates are opened, all hell breaks loose. Mourinho's Inter however, remain unentertaining clinical. Losing to Barcelona at only 1-0 with 10 men is no mean feat and Mourinho displayed his team's adaptability to even the most bizarre tactics, even having to play with virtually no striker whatsoever. Van Gaal's Bayern on the other hand have proven that there indeed will be life after Ribery. Inter Milan tamed Barca's wings (literally) quite well, out muscling Leo Messi and company and this strategy may also fare well against the dainty-footed Flying Dutchmen and also Scarface Ribery. Containing Robben will be the key to success. However, Zanetti and co. will also have to deal with the physical presence of Muller and Ivica Olic. However, if Bayern's midfield could be stifled, victory will be a forgone conclusion. But how it is to be achieved is another decision. Will Mourinho be willing to sacrifice an attacking stance by finding slots for both Cambiasso and Muntari? How crucial a role can Lucio play? However, the main dilemma lies in striker selection. Of course a three-pronged attack would be too dare-devilish, therefore a more cautious partnership between Eto'o and Pandev would be a better choice. Milito has a tendency to blow early chances and that is not something Inter can possibly afford. A late cameo by Balotelli remains a distant possibility yet. The fitness and availability of Sneijder will remain perhaps the most significant factor if Inter are to triumph.
Van Gaal is not shy of problems as well. The defensive dilemma remains and Bayern must be thanking their stars after escaping unscathed against Lyon. Van Gaal needs to correct the glaring deficiencies in the back-line and then move forward. While it remains doubtful whether the CAS will relax Ribery's three-match ban, which keeps him out of the tie, his significance will be lost on fans mesmerised by Robben's artistry. Arjen Robben's ability to move about freely and show courage against a rough Inter defense will be important. Fierce tackles will be a regular aspect of this game. If the the Dutch combines with the Brilliant and consistent Bastian offering support, then Bayern's potency will be further heightened. The forward choice will be the tough Ivica Olic, but van Gaal would surely be tempted to push Mario Gomez forward as well, matching Inter's physical strength. One thing that is for sure is that neither teams will give less than a 100% and neither Italy nor Germany would expect anything less. For Champion's League glory isn't the only thing at stake. If Inter fail to win, Italy's representation in the Champion's league will be slashed to three teams from four while Germany will get to send four teams instead of three from the 2010-11 season. This will be in line with the point based representation rules set by FIFA. Therefore a lot more is at stake then ever before. As the German Champions prepare to go head to head against the formidable Italians, the face of European football awaits a re-construction unimagined.
As the two awakened Giants prepare to face off, the world shall watch in silent awe, fearing the repercussions of either result. Will Inter's victory pump enough adrenaline to carry Italy to the World Cup finals or will Bayern's triumph be matched by the re-birth of German dominance? Though Inter remain favourites, for Mourinho than anything else, as always one can never write off the Germans. Let the games begin.
By Osama Rahman
Confessions of a sweet tooth
On the good ship lollipop.
Lemonade stands everywhere.
From local delicacies such as the mishti bakerkhanis of old Dhaka to the choco-soufflés and fried ice creams of Gulshan, desserts and all things sweet is the specialty of yours truly. Chocolate is the food of the gods. It has been described as being more than a food, less than a drug. It is also a very important part of the food pyramid.
For a daily dose of chocolate, keep a chocolate bar in your purse: snickers, mars, chunky peanut butter or caramel kit-kats, reese's peanut butter cups! Yumm.
If you prefer chocolate cakes, brownies etc, then homemade choco-brownies are your best bet. Just download one of the many recipes online and shop for ingredients at Nandan or Lavenders - they sell EVERYTHING. The recipes are usually pretty easy to follow and there's nothing better than the smell (and taste!) of fresh homemade brownies hot off the oven.
Can't work the oven? No problem! Coffee World, Movenpick and Bittersweet have some great choco-brownies to keep your taste buds satisfied. Bittersweet even has a to-die-for chocolate soufflé that is a must try for every chocoholic out there. They also have incredible chocolate tarts. Bittersweet is actually a great place to chill out. Albeit a little pricey, the desserts are completely worth it.
A growing child needs their chocolate.
A growing child also needs their candy. Sour skittles, jelly beans, gummy worms, chupachups, twizzlers, m&ms… keep your backpack/purse stocked at all times.
Now on to cheesecakes: this writer has gone on the quest of the Holy Grail. She has searched high and low for the perfect cheesecake in Dhaka, but alas, it is but a dream. Not that there are no good cheesecakes in Dhaka, Bittersweet has some great 300tk-per-piece cheesecake, but it, like all the other cheesecakes in the city, have gunk on top. The gunk, either strawberry or blueberry (for Bittersweet's case it is the former), doesn't necessarily taste bad but it sure does deteriorate from the rich creamy taste of the original cheesecake.
Again you best bet would be to grab some cream cheese, white chocolate and graham crackers and whip up one yourself.
What about different flavoured cheesecakes? If they can have cheesecake with Jam on top they should start making chocolate cheesecake or triple-decker lemon/chocolate/white chocolate cheesecake. Mmm, triple-decker cheese cake.
But for all the cheesecake lovers out there, Bittersweet's one is a must try. Cooper's also has a pretty decent mini cheesecake-in-a-cup, which is worth a shot.
Warm apple pie or peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream melting on top, lemon tarts with stiff foamy meringues, bittersweet mixed berry tartlets… who needs a man/woman? Westin has some of the best desserts when it comes to tarts and pies; their mixed berry tartlet, Bittersweet café's delicious lemon meringue tart and butter crumble makes your taste buds explode with pleasure. As for apple pies, Movenpick has a delicious one you can get served with plain vanilla ice cream or, if you're willing to be daring, an exotic flavour of your choice.
Let's not forget about Tiramisus! Platinum Suites café on Banani, road 11 has one of the best ones in the city along with Spaghetti Jazz's one.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. You just can't say no to ice cream. It is one of the finer things in life: right up there with chocolate. While Club Gelato has some pretty interesting flavours like Ferrero Rocher and Cotton Candy, the best ice cream is still Movenpick. Gelateria on Kemal Ataturk Avenue has some good ice cream too.
An interesting spin on things: fried ice cream. The oxymoron of sorts is served at El Toro and surprisingly it is pretty darn delicious!
Something that the city does not have is a good place for a cookie. Unless they're store-bought packaged chocolate chips ones, they aren't any good. The ones from stores are stale and almost always have a horrible aftertaste. If you are craving warm cookies, you must be brave and make them yourselves. Get some help from your cook to roll out the dough and bake it after you've mixed it. But be sure to keep a ball of cookie dough to refrigerate and eat raw because there is nothing better than raw cookie dough. Sometimes, it is even better than the cookie itself!
It's totally worth the indigestion.
By Musarrat Rahman
The awesomeness that was Nikola Tesla
I remember when I first discovered Command and Conquer back in the early 2000s. Even today that DOS game is hands down one of the best games that I ever played. It was there that I first encountered the word Tesla, with the Russian side in the game featuring Tesla tanks that shoots lightning bolts and Tesla coils that vaporized any enemy troops in range. I brushed it off as a “game thing”… until I came across Tesla again years later.
Tesla was brilliant. And not just Professor X-like brilliant, but "holy crap my head just exploded" brilliant. This Serbian dude from Croatia spoke eight languages, almost single handedly developed technology that harnessed the power of electricity for household use and invented things like electrical generators, FM Radio, remote control, robots, spark plugs, fluorescent lights and a giant machine that shot million volts lighting bolts over hundreds of feet. At least video games got something factually correct. He had a photographic memory and an insane ability to visualize even the most complex pieces of machinery before building it the guy did calculus and advanced physics in his head, and some of his prototypes can't still, a hundred years later, be replicated because he did not leave blue prints behind. For instance in 2007 a group of lesser geniuses from MIT threw a party because they could wirelessly transmit electricity at a distance of seven feet, when in comparison Tesla lit up 200 light bulbs from a power source 26 miles away he built at 1899 in the middle of a god-forsaken desert.
Like many other giga-geniuses and diabolical masterminds, Tesla was also completely insane. He suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and had many unusual quirks and phobias. He did things and threes and was adamant about staying in a room number divisible by three. He was physically revolted by jewellery, but loved pigeons and the pet cat he had as a child The Magnificent Macak. He pathologically feared contact with dirt and germs, and even though there were many women vying for his attention, some madly in love, Tesla remained unmarried and celibate. Basically he was the ultimate mad scientist.
During his 86 years of life, he held over 600 patents while many of his inventions were not even held under patent protection. After he moved to the US, he worked with Thomas Edison who promised him $50,000 (which is approximately $1.2 million today) if he could improve Edison's inefficient motor and generators. In 1885 when Tesla inquired about payment for his work, Edison replied, “Tesla, you don't understand American humour.” They had been adversaries since, and neither received the Nobel Prize because they refused to share the honour. Later, Tesla came out victorious in The War of the Currents where he advocated the use of AC as opposed to DC (promoted by Edison), which ushered in the Second Industrial Revolution.
Tesla once generated resonance in several buildings (except his own) surrounding his lab, causing complaints to police. Just as the police arrived, he was forced to apply a sledgehammer to terminate the experiment. It is rumoured that he later claimed he could cause an earthquake, and with enough power, split the Earth in two. If this was mythology, Tesla could and would have single handedly taken down Thor and Zeus… blindfolded.
Oh, and he also claimed to have invented death rays, which, and I quote, “send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 200 miles from a defending nation's border and will cause armies to drop dead in their tracks.” Fortunately (?), he died with all the schematics in his head before his ideas ever became reality, but the FBI confiscated away all his personal belongings… just to be safe.
Nikola Tesla walked the thin line between “sheer genius” and “utter madness”. His groundbreaking discoveries in the field of physics, robotics, steam turbine engineering, magnetism, and melting his assistants hand by overloading it with X-Ray, which although is not scientific, but still pretty cool, shaped the world. And honestly, if there was any man who could claim that he could destroy the entire world and get away with it, it was Tesla. That alone should qualify him as a righteous badass.
By Hussain M Elius
Of Silliness and Superstition
BECAUSE one has to keep one's pulse on the heartbeat of one's culture, and lend an ear when a second cousin's mother-in-law's sister's grandson's wife weighs in on the perils of sitting on a pillow, lest a boil befall the general posterior region, one finds oneself probing the recesses of one's mind to get to the heart of this darkness. Sorry, we meant madness. Well, it could be interchangeable. Well, it probably is.
And so we look to the combs that lie unbroken and the mirrors that hang benignly unbroken and the sandals that blissfully sit facing the right side up and thank the evil eyes of the world for not seeking us out. Well, so far. Then again, we could be wrong.
Of fish and foe
But, one must wonder, if fish can cause such misery, what would happen if the woman were to cut say, mutton or beef, or even veal? If one were to truly take this line of thought further, one can almost come to the conclusion of webbed feet. We now know how Aquaman came to be. His mother decided chopping squid was the way to go right after getting married.
The hand that feeds (the medicine)
And once again, due to the extreme nature of this article, needs must push boundaries. If medicine is the key cause of extended infantile drooling, what if the husband were a doctor and were to give the lovely wifey some good ol doctorly advice? We believe we have found out why midgets happen. We do really. We have also come to the conclusion that one must never marry doctors. For the sake of midgets.
The ghost beneath the tree
And if one were to, on a moonless night, when stars have ceased to shine, when clouds threaten rain, to walk into a forest? A forest where trees whisper unspeakable leafy inanities? What manner of evilness lurks beneath a forest? Voldemort, oh yea. BEGONE FROM ME VILE NOSELESS HEATHEN!
If Thou Shalt Break Something…
But commandments are ever the bane of human progress. If we didn't cross the desert, wouldst thou have found oil? If we didn't sail the seas, where perchance would the blubber be? How can one stop if a teacup were to break? The Mayans predicted 2012, because one of them broke a chair and then went fishing.
If there's an itch …
For a human to wonder, to dream, to imagine, is normal. How can one not wonder, if irritated skin on the right hand were to swell the wallet, what manner of untold riches would beat a path to one's doorstep, if one scratched the right cheek of one's posterior? Or the left? Would the demons haunt one's bank account if that were to happen? Or would angels weep diamonds into one's wallet if one scratched the right butt cheek?
Count no seeds…
And what if our whims did not lead us to an apple. What if we counted the seeds of a melon? Is this how China happened? What if we ate a banana? A mathematical man would obviously ask, do the size of the seeds determine IQ? Did GW Bush's mother count grape seeds? And if we ate a fruit with no seeds? WHAT IF WE ATE A BANANA?!
Of Flying locks and flowing hair…
Sadly, we have moved past those godless times, and have emerged unenlightened. But one must question the extent of past beliefs. If untied hair were to bring forth the devil, what would happen if one sat down under the tree, unshaven? What if one were bald? Would we find the answer to life then?
Our beliefs, apparently define us. A philosopher would say the psyche of a nation could be determined from the beliefs of its populace. What do our superstition then say of us? We, at RS cannot say. We have delved into the flotsam of superstitions, but alas, we have yet to find enlightenment. For those of you currently under the yoke of exams, we have found one superstition that might help you. Don't eat eggs, current experts in the poultry messiah sector tell us round things equal to zero marks.
By Tareq Adnan and Shehtaz Huq
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