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A PS2 Game Review

Mortal Combat:Shaolin Monks

Review by Le Chupacabra

'Liu Kang! We must stop the evil emperor Shang Tsung!'
'Yes, we must… for he is… evil!'
Now imagine saying that in the most pathetic of pseudo-Oriental accents whilst pausing after. Every. Single. Word. Like. This. In the meantime, you should be making hand-gestures like the rappers in music videos; with each hand raising and falling with the pauses. Makes for a pretty entertaining dance, eh?

Anyway, back on topic. This game has the funniest (although, unintentionally) cutscenes I've seen in quite some time. The voice acting is ridiculously camp and the body language even more so. The dialogue makes no sense whatsoever and the attempts at genuine humour? Well let's say they're hilarious, but not in the way the developers intended.

Now, if you can get past all that, some very basic graphics and other flaws, you'll have found that the core of this game - the gameplay is absolutely brilliant and rather addictive.

Shaolin Monks is a far kry (sorry, couldn't help it) from all the MKs in that it's a 3rd person action-brawler as opposed to a 2D (or 3D) fighting game. At the most basic level, you maul your way through the stages, solve some simple puzzles (usually involving decapitation, disembowelment, or a kombination of both) and face a boss or two. Then you rinse and repeat. With such a tedious formula in tow, one might suspect that the game would lose its appeal within a few hours. Not so in Shaolin Monks. The game may fail in terms of presentation, but it makes up for it in bucket-loads when it comes to that extremely elusive facet that makes a title truly memorable: the fun factor. MK: SM is undeniably, unabashedly and utterly fun.

Enemy AI is just right; they're obviously kind of stupid, but still smart enough to provide a challenge. But in essence they are simply cannon fodder for you to go wild with! The fighting mechanics are very refined allowing you to combine a plethora of punches, kicks, uppercuts and classic MK moves to create your own eye candy. Once you start racking up the EXP points, you can unlock more viscerally satisfying attacks and specials. From the very beginning you have access to moves like Liu Kang's fireballs and Kung Lao's teleportation attacks. Being able to mix these moves into the kombat (last time, I promise) is what makes it so fun! You start off with an initial attack, punching the enemy twice, but then you follow up with an uppercut and send him flying. Just before he falls down, you loft him again but this time you teleport, appear above him and then send him back down with a flurry of kicks to the face. All this is standard in most action games, but it's the MK pedigree that sets this one apart. Ergo, given the nature of MK and its love for showcasing extreme violence, the game becomes even more enticing. The hits are accentuated with unnecessarily loud sound effects and the enemies keep spewing oversized gobs of claret. For some reason, it just feels satisfying hitting away at these hapless idiots! Of course, what's a MK without violent finishers aka Fatalities? Thankfully, you'll have learned the first of many Fatalities within ten minutes of playing. When initiated, everyone freezes and a cutscene plays of your avatar slicing, dicing, mutilating or performing some unspeakably evil act of sadism on the poor buffoon. Guilty pleasure? Hell yeah. Since the game lists the Fatalities you've learnt, there's no second-guessing. In fact the game comprehensively lists all your available movesets so if you're having trouble remembering, just pause and check them out. After a few skims, the moves become second nature so you can keep doling out the pain. You can also pick up and use weapons; these parts are particularly cruel since, much like the Fatalities, the right combinations of attacks will see you chop your adversaries in half (and into more pieces on some occasions!) with their guts spilling out all over the place. Later on, far more carnage is offered in the form of vicious Brutalities and crazier Multalities. MK is definitely not for the weak of heart!

While the Single Player mode is undeniably enjoyable, the “Ko-op” mode is just a blast. Plug in a second controller and play the whole game with a friend or a sibling. The rewards are far more satisfying! Not only can you unlock Ko-op-only secrets but the teamwork element during combat is utterly gratifying. You'll be thrilled when your brother's Liu Kang pops up a grunt with his trademark uppercut only to have the guy's head chopped right off when you use Kung Lao's razor-hat toss. Bosses are no longer unreasonably tough when you get to double-team on them with far more wicked combination attacks that mix-and-match the abilities of Earthrealm's two champions. Need I mention visually arresting Ko-Op attacks that are initiated when your energy bars are full or the fact that there's always a healthy bit of competition when going for the EXP and life orbs?

All of this constitutes into an experience that's far more fulfilling than the sum of its parts and if you have a second kontroller (okay, this is the last one ^_^) and someone willing to play, you owe it to yourself to go through the entire game in Ko-Op mode it'll be a time worth remembering!

Rock Link

Rocking up the underground!

By Shamma M. Raghib

Watching the same old boring programs of the Bangla Tv channels? Well, Banglalink and ATN Bangla are here to the rescue with Rock Link, the newest buzz around town! This musical show is going to keep your musical bottoms pinned down on your chair every Thursday midnight! What makes Rock Link more appealing is that it is hosted, directed and scripted by the most prominent musicians, namely Sumon(of Aurthohin) and Jewel(of Miles). Young musicians who have worked behind the scene for a long time to make this show truly different! The show will have various music videos, exclusive interviews of Bangladeshi musicians, concert news, and album news and also SMS quiz contests.

The noticeable stuffs in the first show included Russel's interview, music video of Jewel-Fusion City and also the video of Black's 'Uthshober Porey'. There was also a 'Guitar Clinic' featuring Kamal, with the demostration of the song Oshamajik's guitar cords. The hilarious news reading by The Watson Brother's Arafat also proved that this was a show with a twist! At last the headline in the bottom added up to the 1st show's success, “If you did not like this show, then switch to any other hindi channels”! I bet none of the people who watched the show would switch channels at this hour!

The second show started off with the prominent band Artcell, talking about their upcoming albim 'Oniket Prantor' which is going to be released on November 30, 2005. Also the how aired two music videos, Sumon's (a.k.a Bassbaba) 'Tomar Jonne' (an original John Denver song- Annie's Song) from the album 'Megher Deshey' and Arbovirus's 'Artonad'. Artcell's Shaju appeared next with Rock Link Drum Clinic where he demonstrated parts of their song 'Onno Shomoy' and 'Rahur Grash'. As usual there was the news section with Arafat in lungi and also a very simple SMS quiz question.

In short, Rock Link gives us a reason to watch a Bangla Channel! 20 minutes is a short time and keeps us wanting for more! Starting out on November 10th, Rock Link will be on air every Thursday at 12:10 am midnight, on ATN Bangla channel. Keep watching the most exciting rock music show in Bangladesh!


Review by Gokhra

It was surprising that so many people had comments about the movie Doom and out of all of them I am yet to meet someone who actually saw the flick. Everybody heard from somebody who heard from somebody. I have a nagging feeling that so far, one person watched it and the chain reaction is continuing until this day.

Doom is a video game derived movie so plot wise there isn't much to expect. In fact the lower your expectations the better your enjoyment. It can't be all that bad considering that other forays into the video game derived movies have done very well in the box office. Evidence: "Resident Evil," "Tomb Raider" and "Mortal Kombat."

The game was a mega seller and that meant it had to become a movie at some point of time. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as Sarge, head of the Rapid Response Tactical Squad, which storms a futuristic Mars-based experiment facility where science has gone awry. Muscle-bound mutants are killing the residents and Sarge is called in to talk some sense using many, many bullets. His band of merry NRA members include Duke (Raz Adoti) and Reaper ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy's Karl Urban). Also in these types of stories there has to be an attractive female protagonist for good measure and this is supplied by Reaper's estranged scientist sister, Samantha Grimm (Rosamund Pike). She also provides the movie with some semblance of story.

The game "Doom" and its sequels were always shy on plot. The focus was on terribly garish monsters and outrageously powerful weapons for its players. It's a pure adrenaline rush and the movie aims to keep that in mind.

Of course the film does intend to go a little further being a simple gory shoot em' up. So how well does it meet the objectives? Let's start with the characters. The Rock's Sarge is a soldier with a mission, which is basically to contain all the hell that has broken loose without too much regard for bystanders innocent or not.

"Gentlemen, we've got ourselves a game," he aptly says to his troops.

The movie has sparse dialogue following the action movie strategy of violence followed by a witty joke or one-liner. And then there's a lot of swearing. A hell lot of it and it rubs off damn well. See what I mean?

Most of the movie is fast paced in typical monster slashing action. Corpses rise from the dead and put the living back to dead that come back to life and so the circle continues. In the closing minutes of the film, "Doom" quickly turns the audience into one of the characters, hunting down monsters in computer-generated landscapes and battling flesh-munching zombies. Admittedly there's some amazing graphics and many mean bad monsters lurking around every corner.

It's a decent action flick and if you're a fan of the game it's a treat except for the last few minutes. It's a movie critically critisied by critics, favoured by fanatic fans.

Sites Unseen

By Niloy

The greatest gaming console for the next six months (I sincerely hope that I'll be proven wrong about this) has been released. You'd expect the excitement about something like this would be tremendous… but that's not the case. So far the reaction is: “eh? It's okay.” "Good, but not great," says CNN at doiop.com/CNN360. "Don't buy the Xbox," The New York Post at doiop.com/360NYpost.

Want an Xbox 360? Wait a year.

"Each new console forces game designers to relearn their craft. It takes about a year before they've figured out how to get the most out of a new machine. Remember last year's Halo 2? By the time it hit the shelves, the Xbox was three years old and technically archaic." An interesting article from Boston.com explaining to the gamers why buying a 360 now is not much of a good idea. Most of his reasons are understandable, really: the games are not next-gen enough, but they'll be so in a year when the devs get to KNOW the system and the prices will drop. Significantly.

Screenshots of Xbox 360 Games!

High quality screenshots of games including Perfect Dark Zero, Full Auto, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Dead or Alive 4, Project Gotham Racing 3, Ghost Recon 3, and Quake 4.

Rejected Xbox 360 Designs

So that waffle maker design was real? It's nice to see how Microsoft has experimented for its console.

Dreamcast 2.0?

Is the Xbox 360 the second coming of the Sega Dreamcast? 1up.com lists 23 parallels between the consoles that spell doom, and 10 reasons why the 360 could succeed where the Dreamcast failed.

Journey of an Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 goes through a lengthy process from the factory to in your hands at Wal-Mart. As the Wall Street Journal says: “It takes a global train of component suppliers, factories and distributors to turn 1,700 different parts into an Xbox 360” Damn! That's a lot. So what's the deal with the 360? What happens to it when it's finished being assembled and is “ready” to go? Read on if you're interested.

Perfect Dark Zero heroine in FHM

“How is Microsoft going to get you to buy the Xbox 360? Bill Gates will hack your brain. If that fails, the backup plan is Joanna Dark."

The Best Geek Novels - Top 20

The Hitch Hicker's Guide to the Galaxy right on top! (So you know that it's a good list) How many of these have you read?

They're made out of meat!

A great short story by Terry Bission.

Google Base officially launched
Google just officially launched a new service that crawls services. According to it's about page, “Google Base is a place where you can easily submit all types of online and offline content that we'll host and make searchable online.” Nice, isn't it? Check it out.

Real Time 3D Physics Simulator App

This is a fun real-time 3d physics simulator created by James Bromley. You can adjust gravity, pan, rotate, and play with atoms and rods. Try it out!

The Solar System... according to scale

Take a look at this and then wonder if we really do matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

That's it for this week. All the links are available at niloywrites.blogspot.com so that you can easily visit the sites just by clicking the links. You can also log on to my site BDcomics.blogspot.com if you're into downloading comics, or check out my (rather good) photography at flickr.com/photos/niloy/. You can contact me for whatever reasons at niloy.me@gmail.com



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