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Halo Reach

Shaer Duita Phish Reaz

For lovers of the console shooter genre, Halo: Combat Evolved was a revolutionary game, at least for those who opted for an X-BOX instead of the much more common Sony PlayStation. Two more iterations followed Combat Evolved, with fans of the original Halo not getting a lot of new things to play with in each sequel. In a way, that's what held the charm for developer Bungie's fans-playing it safe with the storyline changes and plot settings may have been key to the series' success.

Microsoft announced that Bungie will not be solely involved in Halo development anymore in the future. So, to go off with a lasting impression, they've revamped the latest Halo game completely. Halo: Reach acts as a prequel to the first Halo, depicting humanity's intense battle for survival against a ruthless alien force, the Covenant. Taking place in the last surviving colony under the United Nations Space Command (UNSC), Reach, players take control of Noble Six, a Spartan supersoldier fighting alongside others in the elite Noble Team. Since this is a prequel, players will not be able to play as the indomitable Master Chief, but Noble Six does a decent enough job of filling the void.

Unlike the air of desperation that clung to the settings in the previous Halo titles, Reach has a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere, and players can almost feel sadness for the destruction and carnage that is sure to come about here. Even the supporting characters add to an emotional element that wasn't always present in the previous games. Plot wise, Reach delivers brilliantly. When Noble Team is assigned the task of investigating a malfunction at a relay station, they arrive to find hordes of Covenant preparing for a full scale invasion.

Distraught, the UNSC prepares for what will be the final stand in humanity's survival. Various missions involving crucial defenses and rescue missions are available, each thrusting the player deeper into the plot. The missions themselves mostly rely on teamwork, a point that should encourage players to try co-op gameplay, which is actually very entertaining.

Graphics wise, Reach is much sharper than previous titles even though Halo's trademark grayish colour palate continues. Musical score, as usual, is simply brilliant-it sets the mood for the whole game, almost like in a movie.

Knowing most of the gamers out there, the multiplayer mode is what interests them most. It is admittedly a lot of fun. Controls are different from Halo 3, so Halo veterans need a bit of practice to get used to it. Also, the ability of dual wield is gone, replaced with new, more powerful weapons and a set of special powers: jet pack, hologram, active camouflage, sprint, and armor lock. These powers come in handy in the single player mode too, while in multiplayer there is nothing more satisfying than sneaking up on a friend with active camo and smash his head in with the gravity hammer.

Bungie has really outdone itself this time-Halo: Reach is a brilliant game that continues a run of brilliant first person shooters. Let's just hope Bungie's successors don't mess up Halo.

By Professor Spork

Growing up, it wasn't a single cartoon that made a mark on your life. Your first laugh was at Tom when he was mauled by one of Jerry's tricks, and you learned to pronounce your first English word as you watched Blues Clues. You made these shows so popular that your 2-year-old cousin is watching one of them right now. But as you sit down beside him to smile at Blue as she leads her viewers to the third clue, song playing in the background and your cousin clapping in time with the beat, you realise something's different.

Blues Clues - You could've sworn the guy in the green shirt was Steve. And he was. But Steve's retired now (not dead). That's Joe the kids are clapping at. And there's a pink dog, the one who showed up occasionally and you never knew if it was a boy or a girl. The pink dog has become an integral part of the show while you were away. Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper act far more intimate than you remember, and a vague thought of censorship flits through your mind.

Popeye - Popeye has undergone a rather drastic change. After every episode Popeye comes on screen and tells the children what they should do with their lives, rather than letting them figure out the lessons on their own. Subtle is extinct. Bruno is larger and Olive Oil even more stupid. There's less spinach and more electricity. Do you remember electricity existing in Popeye before?

Dora the Explorer - Granted, you may have found this girl annoying. She was fun to watch nonetheless when Looney Tunes was over and your mom, in a moment of good sense, hadn't forced you to bed yet. Now you'll find an added source of annoyance, in the form of a latino boy yelling at Swiper alongside Dora and Boots. How does it serve to introduce a male character, other than making kids more aware of gender difference at an age when they shouldn't even be bothered with cooties?

Rugrats - Do you remember the adventures the babies used to go on? Did you ever wonder if you'd done the same at a time before you can recall? Well, kids of today will have no such problems. Introducing Rugrats, All Grown Up. Teenagers with girl troubles, boy troubles, makeup, pimple problems, social problems, misfits in school; everything you didn't have to know till you were a teen, thrust into the face of a five-year-old. No more dangerous trips to a land of dinosaurus-es.

Tom and Jerry - Tom and Jerry is now PG. It has changed, though by far the least in the list, but it doesn't really matter since kids can't watch it anymore. Too much violence. Same reason Looney Tunes doesn't air on any channel save BTV now.

Powerpuff Girls - The Rowdyruff Boys are gradually upstaging the sweet little Powerpuffs. Kids look up to the bad boys more than to the good girls, and who could blame them? The only thing is, it's not a very healthy infatuation. If they become arsonists later in life 'cause they'd always wanted to blow up buildings like the Boys, blaming the Powerpuff Girls won't help at that point.

Dragonball Z - You'd probably still sit down with a huge smile on your face and watch Dragonball nonstop if you could. Wait. Does Goku have a halo above his head? That's right folks, Goku is dead. They still show him and he still fights more awesomely than anyone else, but fact is he's dead, leaving behind a wife and young son. Tom never died. Wile E. Coyote never died. Even Bruno and Pikachu never died. Death was a line no one ever crossed, but times are changing, proof before us.

There are many more that can be named, but why bother? You've probably seen them somewhere anyway. The Indian cartoons distort pronunciation for the kids with the accents, and disrespect religions by playing on lives of monumental religious figures. Bengali cartoons are jokes at best. English cartoons aren't what they used to be. Next time, when you claim you had better schooling than kids today, maybe you could also reflect upon how it's not their fault.

It's evolution.


By Orin

Let’s face it, books need a lot of time and effort, and when you actually do make time for a lot of books, you ought to know whether they are worth it. No point picking something up just because it's in front of you, although that might be an option if you're an avid reader. And they are pretty hard to come by these days. But if you're like most others, you have to know whether the books you're planning to read are any good.

Didn't you wish something like IMDb.com existed for books? Well, IMDb might be a bit too big, but the book community still has a lot of great sites devoted to find out the best books. And here they are:

1. www.goodreads.com: Don't be disheartened by seeing Twilight as #3 in their 'Best books ever' list, this is a great site for the book lover in you. You can search the books, get others' reviews on them and write some reviews yourself. It's pretty much the Facebook of the book community. The simple interface lets you see what your friends' books are and there are many ways to visit and edit your book lists. The categorization system is mediocre, committing themselves to a categorization system called shelves. It's still a very good website and worth checking out if you're a book fan.

2. www.librarything.com: Librarything is pretty much like goodread.com, except this is more for the librarian in you. Since everyone catalougs online, this is the book cataloguing site that will let you tag the books as 'read', 'own', 'fiction' and 'novel' to more personalized tags like 'lent to mom'. The site also lets you see other's book collections. Librarything is not as social network-y as goodread.com and is aimed at more serious book nerds.

3. www.worldswithoutend.com: Worlds Without End is designed to help you find the sci-fi or fantasy books you crave. They have an extensive database of the best books, authors and publishers using the top 10 awards in the field as their foundation. This is pretty much strictly for the sci-fi or fantasy fans and it is unlike the sites mentioned before, but still is pretty handy to learn about the best in the genre.

4. www.shelfari.com: Launched in 2007, Shelfari.com is pretty much like goodreads, both having the idea of social networking and books. The interface is pretty cool looking, but it's not as well built as librarything.com in terms of categorizing.

If you're more interested, there are also, www.iblist.com and www.whatshouldireadnext.com, both pretty handy for finding more about your next read.


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