Gameplay: 8/10 Graphics: 9/10 Sound: 10/10 STORY: 9/10 Overall: 9/10
MAX PAYNE 3
By Dr Who
Certain things in life need to be savoured: the first iftar of Ramadan; a last minute miracle victory of your favourite team; the first rain after a hot summer. Nine years is a long time to wait for a game and I was determined to relish Max Payne 3 chapter by chapter, unlike a friend of mine who finished it in one moronic Friday. Hence, the lateness of the review.
With Max Payne, right off the bat you expect a few things: shootdodge, an intricate and carefully built plot, great graphics and an awesome soundtrack. When the first poster was released, showing Max with a bald head wearing a sando genji, the immediate reaction many of us had was that the franchise will crash and burn. But fear not, Max Payne 3 has all of that.
Max is now an ex-cop working as a bodyguard for the Broncos, a rich family in Brazil. When some thugs attempt to kidnap his boss and manage to run off with the boss’s wife, Max and fellow bodyguard Raul Passos try to get her back while Max gives monologues with a hell of a lot of awesome lines. But things go to hell in a handbasket and three different organisations of bad guys crop up, each one deadlier than the other. Obviously, the plot is too convoluted to explain and at point you might lose the thread of it. But the game, as always, does a wonderful job of bringing everything together. Those missing the good old NYPD days - don't worry, because Max has a few flashbacks.
The gameplay has been tweaked a lot. There’s now a cover mechanism in place, with the opportunity to shoot from behind cover, which doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be shot in your hand. The shootdodge is less overwhelming. Now, if you jump out from cover, coolly pumping bullets into enemies, you’ll end up lying on the middle of the floor out in the open like a jackass. And if you hit anything while shootdodging, like a box, you fall out of it immediately. In all likelihood, you’ll be fighting most of the battles from behind the cover, stepping out to finish the last enemy in style, which is made all the better with the new bullet cam view with very satisfying sound effects and extremely accurate portrayal of what a shotgun round actually does to a man’s face.
Realism has been brought to the armament as well. You are no longer going into fights with an armoury. Max has two holsters, so weapons are carried accordingly. You can have pistols or submachine guns [good old Ingrams] or a combo of one each, with dual wield options; but if you do that, you have to drop the rifle or the shotgun [two handed gun]. You can carry a rifle/shotgun while you fire away with an Ingram but the rifle/shotgun has to be fired two handed.
The graphics is… different. Its sunshine and dirt instead of darkness and snow. The cutscenes are no longer noir comic strips, but in homage to the old days, sometimes the scenes move in panels. Max is old now, not tall and lean but a 50-ish old man with a paunch. He is no one’s role model, and perhaps his drug addled, whiskey fried brain gives us scenes with double vision, even during the game.
The soundtrack is pretty cool. A little more modern and party themed. It is strange to kill people while Latin drums and party music are playing in the background. But it manages to add a different dimension to the game, like Walking Dead did with Space Jam by Wang Chung in the horse scene in the first season.
Is the game all good? Not really. Some of the settings, in particular a raid a police station is reminiscent of the warehouse mission at the beginning of Max Payne 2. There are one or two places like that where you might stop and say, “Hang on, haven’t I seen this before?”
At times, it might feel a little tedious to fight through hoards of enemies, which was fun enough when games weren’t as developed in 2001 and 2003. They haven’t changed too much of the linear gameplay, rather improved on what was already there. There are some slightly different missions: covering someone from a helicopter, car chases, etc. You can also score achievements [250 enemies killed with headshots, for example] and collect parts for golden guns, which, if you liked Nick Cage’s guns in Face/off, is pretty cool, but for my part, anything golden cheapens Max.
Is it better than Max Payne 2? Well, almost. The story, while emotional, misses the punch that Mona created. Passos however has quite a few choice comments, like when he points out Max’s uncanny ability to make his apartment look like an existential black hole. The game has more than its fair share of animated women showing off their assets [it’s Brazil after all]. But you will miss Mona and wish they had gone with the non-canon ending of Max Payne 2, the one where Mona lives.
All in all, it was week that was worth it.
Although at first Rockstar claimed that the series veteran James McCaffrey won't be voicing Max this time, later on he was brought back in voicing the character as well as acting in the motion capture.
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MEANWHILE IN BRAZIL:
F.E.A.R. 3: It has similar slow motion ability
that should be enough practice for bullet
time if you haven't played Max Payne 3 yet.
|Authorities are angry about the portrayal of Brazil as a drugged up poverty-ridden corrupt country. But hey, it’s Max. He draws out the worst scum of wherever he is.
LANA DEL REY
A new face to the music world, Lana Del Rey, has already made her mark. Amongst all the vapid music, banal lyrics and auto-tuned voices, Lana's music, stands out in a good way.
Lana Del Rey, originally known as Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, is an American singer-songwriter. She grew up in New York and first became known to the general public when the music video of her song, “Video Games”, went viral on the web. The video helped Lana gain quite a large fan base. It was no surprise that her album, “Born to Die”, released earlier this year, became an instant favourite of many. Although she had released an album named, “Lana Del Rey A.K.A Lizzy Grant”, back in 2010, “Born to Die” was her big breakthrough.
Lana possesses an aura of mystique, which attracts many towards her music. She has a very good mastery over her vocals, moving from high to low at will and with panache, which allows her to cover genres such as indie and hip hop. Lana's album exceeds the standards of those of her contemporaries in terms of both music and lyrics accompanied by simultaneously haunting and soothing melodies. She also writes most of her own materials.
“Born to Die” has several interesting tracks. Numbers like “Diet Mountain Dew” provide the listeners with a light and relatively more upbeat music while “Carmen” and “Video Games” are for a more sombre mood. Other notable songs include “Blue Jeans”, “Radio”, “Dark Paradise”, etc.
However, there are some critics who have issues with her music. Although different and fresh, it would be wrong to deny that most songs have a melancholic feeling to them and eventually her style of singing, while different from the masses, might seem monotonic between tracks.
Lana's songs topped the charts in eleven countries including UK, Australia and Germany and she was nominated as “Best New Artist” in the MTV Awards. She's currently on her world tour.
Lana's music has a strange vibe woven through it, odd to some, beautiful to others. I personally believe she successfully delivered in her latest album, showing great skills in all aspects. While controversial opinions dwell around her she must be given credit for what she has created and achieved. Those of you looking for songs to dance along to, Lana is probably not the artist for you. However for those of you, who are looking for something a little different, be sure to pick up her latest album.
If you haven't watched Detroit Metal City, I suggest you stop doing what you are doing and go watch it NOW. Doesn't matter if you are into anime or not, or if you like pop music or heavy metal. It's hard not to laugh your pants off watching DMC.
The name of the anime is taken from a KISS song called Detroit Rock City. It is a parody of the heavy metal scene. Be warned though, it is not for the faint of heart, i.e. if you can't take heavy language and explicit jokes, this might not be the anime for you. There is nothing in the way of actual nudity or violence. Not even the usual fanservice one usually expects from humour anime. However, there are some disturbingly funny imagery in the anime which might creep out your parents.
Plot: Enter Soichi Negishi, a graduate from a music college who aspires to form a pop band and sing songs about love and life and butterflies. In some strange mix-up (divine intervention plus money troubles), he ends up becoming the vocalist for a death metal band called Detroit Metal City. Infamously known by the stage name Johannes Krauser II, he becomes an idol for all the metal groupies.
Negishi is almost a schizophrenic, switching back and forth between Krauser II and himself in odd situations. He has sort of a love-hate relationship with his alter-ego, despising what Krauser represents while relishing the release of being a different person who can vent all he wants.
The entire anime is exaggerated to the point of being ridiculous but still manages not to overdo it. The anime mostly parodies the black metal and the death metal scenes and while sometimes the jokes fall flat, they are usually pretty good; the situation humour present throughout is another positive.
The music is actually pretty good. It's not really death metal, though. It's more like a heavier and darker version of KISS with really silly lyrics. The artwork is cartoony with anime-ish touches. The atmosphere it creates compliments the anime rather nicely.
Verdict: An anime that parodies the metal scene, that's an anime screaming to be seen. If you are not a fan of metal, you can laugh at the genre. If you are a fan of heavy metal like myself, you can sit back and take the time to laugh at all the silly things you know are true about the scene. It's brilliant.
My only complaint is that the anime is too short. It has 12 episodes, each around 13 minutes long, which leaves viewers hungry for more.
Metalocalypse: It's a cartoon on heavy metal. Worth checking out.
Beck: A slice of life based on the rock music scene; it's one of my personal favourites.
Nodame Cantabile: Slice of life based on classical music. The best comedy anime, in my opinion.
NEVER LET ME GO
By Rannia Shehrish
What I'm not sure about is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've lived through, or feel we've had enough time.
You hear there's a new movie about clones and automatically thoughts go to The Island and The 6th Day and you expect a lot of action and chases coated over with a few ethical questions. Thankfully, this movie is different. The movie is directed by Mark Romanek of One Hour Photo [with Robin Williams] and if you have seen that, you'll know the simple captivating story telling style.
Never Let Me Go is based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel and is set a British dystopian sci-fi drama with an alternative history, where a medical breakthrough during 1952 has enabled human life expectancy to exceed 100 years. We have our clone protagonists Kathy H (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield), who are destined to donate their vital organs in order to save the lives of others.
The movie is narrated by Kathy and is divided into three acts. In Act I, she talks about her childhood and we see her childhood at a boarding school which encourages creativity more than academic knowledge. Act II deals with the teenage years and early adulthood, where love and loss starts popping up. There are rumours of a possible deferral which allows couples to postpone their donations if they can prove that they are in love. Act III deals with the culmination of the life of a clone completing - and the anxious wait prior to donations. And we also have a bid for redemption.
Like we said, this isn't a flashy action movie. But if you want something thought-provoking and touching with a generous amount of romance thrown in, this is the movie for you. The acting is very good and the music score can seem underachieving but fits the movie perfectly. The message from the movie is also pretty clear appreciate the good things in life, because status quos change. The reminder about our mortality might be a little off putting, but the movie is worth it.
If you like this you may also like:
Dear John (directed by Lasse Hallstrom; starring: Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum)
A Walk to Remember (directed by Adam Shankman; starring: Mandy Moore and Shane West).
The film won Overlooked Film of the Year 2010 in the Phoenix Film Society Awards. Previous winners include Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and About A Boy,