By Shaer Reaz
This should be a good year for gamers, with a plethora of titles about to be released within the next month and late in Quarter 4 of 2011. Most are sequels to brilliant games, but don't let the “sequels are bound to be bad” line of thinking ruin your anticipation; in the gaming world, most games can only get better.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - After a mild disappointment with CoD Black Ops (compared to the preceding titles), Infinity Ward is pulling the CoD series back to its Modern Warfare theme. This time America gets invaded again, Captain “Soap” McTavish makes a return, the gameplay is promised to be faster paced, and a new game mode called Survival Mode is also available. Addressing gamers' complaints, Infinity Ward has insisted that the campaign mode will be longer and more satisfying than before. Comes out November 8th.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - If the teaser videos on YouTube and the released screenshots are any judge of a game, this should be a truly epic game: proportions, gameplay and graphics-wise. A sequel to Elder Scrolls Oblivion, Skyrim features a revamped combat mechanism, ultra high-end graphics thanks to Bethesda's Creation Engine, a massive map expanding over five cities and 150 fully explore-able dungeons, an epic storyline with Nordic mythological influences and D-R-A-G-O-N-S. You can fight dragons, absorb the power of dragons, and hopefully even ride them (Bethesda has kept that bit quiet). The skill tree has been cleaned up, with the huge number of skills in Oblivion now lying under a few major skills. The Class System from Oblivion is removed too, to let the player choose his own path to level ups. Comes out November 11th.
Need for Speed: The Run - EA Blackbox lives up to its promise of delivering two NFS games every year. Judging by the response to screenshots and teaser videos released so far, The Run has a fair chance of doing well in the market. The latest NFS game features a “proper” storyline, with a Cannonball Run theme; the drivers are racing cross country from San Francisco to New York for the ultimate prize. The car list so far seems commendable enough, although car customisation seems to be absent from the game this time around. The graphics should be mind blowing as The Run makes use of the Frostbite 2 engine, which will prove its worth in another upcoming game, Battlefield 3. Sadly, Frostbite 2 does not support DirectX 9, so users will not be able to play on Windows XP. This might prove to be a mistake as several old-timer fans of NFS still run XP and DX 9, meaning a potential loss in sales. The Run comes out on November 15th.
Assasin's Creed: Revelations - Ubisoft Montreal has revealed that the fourth instalment in the Assassin's Creed series will feature, for the last time, all three protagonists from previous games, Altair, Ezio, and Desmond, and the setting is still the Renaissance period. The game follows Ezio as he leaves behind his past in an effort to find answers. The gameplay will receive a few additions instead of a complete revamp, one of the significant ones being a new weapon/tool called the hookblade, which enables players to zipline across rooftops and swing around buildings and grapple enemies, like a Renaissance Batman or Spiderman. Graphics is rumoured to largely stay the same too. Comes out on November 15th.
The other mentionables - FIFA 2012 coming out in late September; F1 2011 on September 20th; Forza Motorsport 4 on October 11th; Resistance 3 coming out on September 8th; Star Wars: The Old Republic on November 9th and Max Payne 3 on December 1st.
Let's just hope 2011 is a better year for gaming than 2010 was.
COWSBOYS AND ALIENS
By Safieh Kabir
We're telling you now, the only reasons you might want to watch this film are for Daniel Craig's blue eyes and chiselled nose. The jaw and the body aren't bad either, of course, but there really isn't enough on display to make up for the rest of the film. For those more interested in the fairer sex, the girl is also reasonably pretty, or, as Wiki puts it, top on a list of the 100 hottest women in the world.
Now one might ask the reasonable question of why anyone would expect anything good from a film with both “cowboys” and “aliens” in its name, with no redeeming words like “eclectic” or “facetious” in between. The answer is that the name Harrison Ford rings a few bells and swears on Google that it has been on the cast list of a couple of good movies.
Also, Harry Potter had no good seats.
It has a promising-ish start, with our Bond-shaped cowboy waking up alone in the desert with a mysterious bracelet on his wrist. He beats up a few men, hijacks a horse and rides off to the next town, where a rough but kindly priest sews up a mysterious wound thankfully near his well-defined abdominal muscles. In the meantime, he has had a few flashbacks of a mysterious woman in a mysterious meadow doing mysterious movements back and forth. We ask you to keep your jumped-to conclusions to yourself. A couple of gunshots, some classic Craig indifference and two arrests later, all the mysteriousness is summed up and answered as several alien spaceships zoom in and abduct some people. It all pretty much goes downhill from there.
The acting is reasonable, the least that can be expected from these guys. There are also a few sort-of-sweet touches, like the kid and the adopted Native American, and the dog which follows them all around. But the rest is purely, purely predictable. The aliens are big, green and slimy. They are cruel and must be killed. They are also looking for gold, because for some reason, nature has conspired to create the exact same element on their planet, and also make it equally rare and valuable. Questionable, we know. The movie was inspired by the 2006 graphic novel created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg but unlike 300 which had somewhat the same origin, the movie faltered in recreating the original essence of the novel. But that's a given when books are translated to the silver screen, as Harry Potter would verify on the witness stand.
Something else we object to is the absurd number of deaths in the story. It really is like a video game, bang bang, everybody's dead, no pause, no thought, no nothing. There is little character to the aliens.
But it probably wouldn't have done much for us anyway.
And so we've reached the end. If you like horses, eye-candy, lots of explosions and are a big fan of both Western and Alien genre who is looking for something that, while not quirky, isn't a die-hard serious movie, then this is it for you. Also Cowboys and Aliens together does sound appealing. Otherwise, meh.
By Alvi Ahmed
Mr. Big boasts some of the most technically gifted musicians of all time. So rock and roll fans all over the world breathed a huge sigh of relief as Mr. Big reunited in 2009; and also promised a comeback album. They kept their promise and on February 8th 2011 these fans were rewarded with Mr. Big's first album in about a decade.
The album opens with a feel-good number titled “Undertow”. The song has a very good structure (mainly due to Billy Sheehan's bass line) and sounds very crisp. The best thing about the song is the catchy chorus and of course Paul Gilbert's guitar solo. The song beautifully sets up the foundation for the rest of the album, which is exactly what you want from an opening song.
“American Beauty” - this song takes us back to the Mr. Big of old. Billy Sheehan goes berserk with the bass line and shows us yet again why he's one of the best bass players alive. The song is less guitar-oriented though, which is a good thing because it would complicate the song and turn in into something Dragonforce would have come up with.
Things cool down with “Stranger in my life” and it is yet another signature Mr. Big ballad. Eric's vocals steal the spotlight away from the guitarists. But Paul Gilbert takes back all the attention with a beautiful guitar solo and takes the song to an entirely different level.
Things are slow yet again with “Nobody left to blame”. The song starts off pretty weak, but is eventually saved by Paul Gilbert's mesmerising guitar works.
The appropriately named “Still Ain't Enough For Me” raises the tempo sky-high. Lead guitarist Paul Gilbert and lead bassist, a term invented for Billy Sheehan, are found duelling with each other in this song. Three minutes of rock and roll madness.
Unlike the previous song, Gilbert and Sheehan team up and show how they can combine the guitar and bass together to create magic in “Once Upon A Time”. “As Far As I Can See” brings in more Paul Gilbert magic. But is very similar to the opening track.
“All The Way Up”- Gilbert and Sheehan take a break in this one and let Eric Martin show the listeners his musical prowess. But we'd rather have yet another Gilbert-Sheehan duel. “I Won't Get In My Way” is good, but lacks punch which is not a good thing for die hard Mr. Big fans.
“Around The World”- Billy's back. And dominates the song with his insane bass licks. Eric Martin and Pat Torpey do exceptionally well to keep up with Billy's super fast bass works. Paul takes a back seat on this one, he knows not to “mess” with Billy when he goes all nuts on his bass. Very good track. Gets the adrenaline pumping.
The album ends with a weaker track, “I Get The Feeling”. This is not actually fair, as it is extremely hard to follow a track like “Around The World”.
It is safe to say that Mr. Big's seventh studio album has managed to live up to almost all the expectations. In a time where the music charts are dominated by preteens, such an album was very much needed. Oh, and the album should receive a few extra marks for having a flying pig on the album cover.
Reference- Metal Assault