MEDAL of HONOR
By Shaer Duita Phish Reaz
Capture the flag is popular among gamers who like shooter games. Apparently, the developers like the concept of capture the flag too. After the insane success that was the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, Electronic Arts wants a piece of the action too. Here is their contender: the revamped Medal of Honor.
Many will see this game as an also-ran among the “modern” shooters of this era, but in truth, it deserves more recognition than just simply being labeled a Modern Warfare copy. Bringing a quite successful World War II first person shooter into the modern era, with modern environments and weaponry, must have taken a lot of work, and they should at least be recognised for that.
Not surprisingly, MoH's gameplay feels like a Call of Duty clone. Very fast paced and utterly brutal (if you are an idiot play in normal difficulty/if you think you're good then play in hard), the only difference from Call of Duty is you have less freedom around the map in MoH; which is not a good thing, giving the missions a linear and predictable feel. Set in Afghanistan in the first days of the war on terror, you either play as a member of an elite spec-ops group (Wolfpack) or as a US Ranger. Having no proper storyline and a predictable feel to the missions themselves, this is not a game you want to come back to after beating it once.
Which brings us to the biggest complaint: this game is so short; any novice could finish it in the time it took for you to read this sentence. For experienced gamers then, it wouldn't be a waste of time at all, mostly because there IS no time wasted. Maybe it was the fast gameplay that plays tricks on the mind, maybe the developers ran out of coffee for those late night coding sessions, who knows? In the end, the game length is its most glaring flaw.
Otherwise, this game is decent. Devoid of any tangible storyline, it feels like a heap of random missions stringed together - much like previous MoH titles. The frantic combat and glossy graphics make up for that though. The graphics is very, very good, especially if you have a high end graphics card and lots of RAM, or at least as good as a desert setting can ever look. The Afghanistan/Iraq theme may be a little overplayed nowadays, but nonetheless the Taliban beards in the game look very pretty indeed (!). It's nothing extraordinary though, which is just sad.
Another great plus point is the sound effects. Explosions and gunfire, mixed in with high tempo soundtracks and teammates' shouts all add to the aural experience that is a must for games of this genre. Multiplayer should be very good too (participants can play as crazed fundamentalists in multiplayer mode) although yours truly didn't actually sample it. One thing everyone should avoid: DO NOT play this after playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, otherwise you'll rate it lower than it actually deserves.
As a more or less experienced gamer, I have immense respect for the Medal of Honor series. It gave gamers worldwide the best experience of World War II warfare, back when almost no one played Call of Duty without having played MoH first. The shingles in the Normandy Beach mission of MoH Allied Assault was enough to make veteran gamers wet their pants. Comparatively, the new game feels commercialised, relying on hype and success of others to define its own gameplay. MoH? More like Meh.
Rock Redefined: Skillet
For those who find metal too loud, but aren't ready to stoop to Lady Gaga either, Skillet steps in as a saviour. Christian rock and brilliant with every bit of it, Skillet was formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996. The current line-up features singer/songwriter/bassist John Cooper, one of the founding members of the band. His wife Korey Cooper joined in 1999, doing vocals, keyboard and rhythm guitar. Ben Kasica joined in 2001 as guitarist and Jen Ledger, drummer and vocalist started working with Skillet from 2008.
Across the past fourteen years, Skillet's eight albums have covered various sub-genres of rock such as hard rock, industrial rock and symphonic rock. Their first self-titled album was released in 1996, and since then, there's been no looking back. Proud recipient of two Grammy nominations and a BMI Songwriting Award, Skillet just keeps the fans coming back for more.
The lyrics are a strong point in any Skillet song. With 'lyrics' like 'ooh la oh ra ra' dominating the airwaves, it's a relief to find that not everybody has forgotten how to think. The lyrics touch on a wide range of topics, from socially conscious issues to deeply personal narratives. But it's not all depressing messages, either. Fun singalongs can be found in Skillet's repertoire too, with songs like Those Nights sure to make you smile.
Skillet has toured with the likes of Breaking Benjamin and Three Days' Grace. Their last album, Awake, released in 2008 was perhaps their best to date. Amazing compositions build on the success of their previous album Comatose, with surprising variations keeping the listeners paying attention. Switching between rock numbers like Monster to melodic power ballads like The Older I Get, Awake showed us the full extent of the band's creative prowess. “... we never want to make the same record twice”, says frontman John Cooper. “... that's why Awake keeps it fresh and surprising.” The all-round awesomeness that was Awake was certified gold this July, completely living up to fans' expectations.
So the music is great. But what's with the weird name? When the band was first formed, it was a joke among the members. All of them were busy with their own music and Skillet was a side project for them. “It was putting all those different styles in a big skillet to come up with something unique,” laughs John. He, however, admits that he is not too fond of the name himself.
And there you have it - a decade and a half of amazing music that is Skillet. Although they haven't previously been very popular in Bangladesh, these days you'd hardly find a person who hasn't heard of Whispers in the Dark. With each day that Skillet continues to grow as a band, so does their place for them in our hearts.
Must Hear - Hero, Whispers in the Dark, Looking for Angels, Monster, The Older I Get, Awake and Alive, Those Nights, Collide, Live Free or Let Me Die
By Musarrat Rahman
The much-awaited animated Despicable Me by Illumination Studios is finally out in master-print and it is a must-watch.
Animated movies have always been, and probably will always continue to be, some of the best movies. With all the cynicism and real evil-ness in the world, it's always nice to watch light-hearted comedies full of funny one-liners and crazy antics to lighten the mood and keep our minds off this all too gritty and un-funny world.
The film centres on evil supervillain/criminal mastermind Gru, voiced by the funny man Steve Carell (The Office), who is brilliant at taking-over-the-world schemes and mind-blowing gadget inventions, but when his arch nemesis the much younger Vector, voiced by Jason Segel (Marshall from 'How I Met Your Mother'), steals the pyramid of Giza, Gru must come up with a more diabolical plan to win back the spotlight. With the help of his little adorable yellow minions, who will keep you saying 'awww' throughout the movie, and his mad scientist assistant Dr. Nefario, voiced by Russell Brand (Aldous Snow from 'Get Him To The Greeks'), he sets out to accomplish his lifelong dream of stealing the moon. His evil genius plan is, however, road blocked by the arrival of three even more-adorable-than-the-minions little girls - Margo, Edith and Agnes whom he adopts as pawns in his wicked plan. The feel-good laugh out loud movie is about how Gru discovers that under his rock hard shell, he is warm and gooey like melty chocolate, how he becomes a real dad to the little girls, and how they all live happily ever after as a family.
The presence of three comedic heavyweights, Carell, Segel and Brand, guarantee that the movie will be thrice as funny but for those who think it's basically Carell vs. Segel in a movie that is going to be focusing on the whole villain against villain theme, then a lovely surprise awaits you. Every character plays a major role, giving the movie a big heart. It's funny, incredibly sweet and the little minions are hilarious. They're adorable but don't let the cuteness fool you - they are deadly!
Other notable cast members include Julie Andres, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove and Jack Mcbrayer.
All of the voices in the movie are excellent. Carell's Russian accent makes him unrecognizable and the incredible Julie Andrews continues her recent successful run in family films as the voice of Gru's mother and she delivers great lines!
Despicable Me is a movie for all ages - kids will love the little girls, the action, and the silly gags, while parents and adults will appreciate the story and the funny dialogue and, of course, the minions will be loved by everyone.
Also it has a happy ending, and don't you just love happy endings?