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By Tareq's Picks

1. Mortal Kombat Armageddon (PS2, XBOX, Wii):
If you've ever been into fighting games then you'll know that Mortal Kombat is legendary thanks to the shameless amounts of gore and violence it contains. This year, Midway put up another offering of this great gaming series. Only somehow this new one seems to pale in comparison to its predecessors. Any character ever to make an appearance is here, but they all seem to have lost their memorable individuality. The fact that the gameplay feels stiff and unpolished doesn't help. The 'Kreate-A-Fatality' mode is nifty and is nice to fool around with but after a while you start missing the symbolic fatalities that define the games. The good thing is that the new Konquest Mode is worth playing even if only to unlock all the stuff in the Krypt (since the story is rather engaging). Basically, the game is good but not great. If you're a Mortal Kombat freak, then get it. Otherwise, try before you buy.

2. Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 (PS2, PS3, XBOX 360, PSP):
This the eighth entry in another classic franchise and obviously offers all those wrestling fans out there the simple pleasure of bashing their least favorite wrestler's face in with a chair. The problems that have plagued the last few previous games are still left uncorrected but a few new things are added. For starters, the grappling system has been totally revamped. The wrestlers' models look better with a lot more resemblance than before. The game has improved in terms of the Season Mode and the voice-over work sounds so much better unlike the commentary of which the AI still needs work. There are more than just a few storylines to follow and the ones that you experience are unique to your chosen athlete. The General Manager mode returns with all the basic kinks in it from the last edition with a few minor changes that are largely unnoticeable. The major problems with this game are prominent like the poor collision detection, AI deficiency, etc. The gameplay issues also lessen your enjoyment. This game is worth the buy because of its season mode alone and because of the fact that you get to kick butt with Stone Cold Steve Austin (he he).

3. Marvel Ultimate Alliance (PC, PS2, PS3, XBOX, XBOX 360, Wii, PSP):
Like Comics? RPGs? Then you'll like this game which is one of the best RPGs this year. It's really good in terms of graphics and the awesome locations you explore. It begins rather bombastically with the cool Dr. Doom establishing a super-villain syndicate. In retaliation, a huge group of super-heroes come to the rescue and with that, the adventure begins. You'll be swept across all the far corners of the Marvel Multiverse trying to figure out what Doom's real intentions are. In the process, you'll come across all your favorite characters and have the choice of recruiting them into your team. The gameplay resembles basic dungeon-crawlers and has an easy learning curve. Commanding a group of four, you will fight swarms of enemies, occasionally gain a piece of gear and grow more powerful. There are a few puzzles which can sometimes be infuriating and the fact that there seems no end to smashing barrels the game is fun. Ultimate Alliance is literally huge thanks to its huge cast of characters and intriguing story.

4. FIFA 07 (PS2, PC, XBOX 360, PSP):
If it weren't for FIFA […and Pro Evo LC] the football freaks of Bangladesh would have died from deprivation of the world's most popular sport. This year's edition has been aptly titled FIFA 07 (big surprise, EA.) and its superb graphics are enough to make you buy the game. There was quite some work done on the commentary; it's superb and less repetitive. Manager Mode returns along with options of playing interactive league matches that will keep you engaged for some time. The gameplay has changed and now the player positions and the direction they shoot the ball decide accuracy an essential facet absent in FIFA 06. This makes the game technically more realistic but also somewhat difficult (no more tricks on a whim!). You still have to lead a manual attack on the opposition but now it's much easier, and resultantly, more enjoyable thanks to the revamped controls. The ball physics have been improved but the game tends to slow down when the screen is crowded. If you're a football fan and would just love to see Arsenal win the League then this game is for you.

5. Need for Speed Carbon (PS2, XBOX, PS3, XBOX 360, Wii, PC, PSP):
NFS Carbon comes with a lot of hype and lot of stuff to fiddle around with. The story starts off where Most Wanted left off and with a significant increase in cutscenes - an obvious ploy to make the story more interesting. In Carbon, the main premise of Career Mode is to take over territories (San Andreas anyone?) and then claim yourself master of the racing scene in Carbon Canyon, Palmont city. The city is divided into four regions; these are further split into smaller areas which you conquer by winning the majority of races. After claiming all the areas in that region, you are challenged by the leader of the local gang (these races tend to be difficult). The Auto-Sculpt customization feature allows you to really have a unique car. The exclusion of drag races and limited police chases is disappointing, though. Fortunately, graphics are superb on next-gen consoles or really high-end PCs; however, the PS2 still fares well. The gameplay is easy and the use of your racing crew will make races marginally easier. If you enjoyed Most Wanted, you will enjoy this one even more.

6. DragonBall Z Tenkaichi 2 (PS2, Wii):
DBZ is one of the most insane and outrageous anime ever to be screened (one of the most popular too). Story-wise, this game is unmatched since it covers every aspect of the DragonBall universe. The first Tenkaichi introduced new concepts into the DBZ game library such free roaming and a behind-the-back perspective; similarly, Tenkaichi 2 possesses the same features which unfortunately means that the infuriating multiplayer split-screens are still there. The controls are simple but exceedingly clunky; that may take some time to get used to, which makes the gameplay somewhat unappealing. This is overridden by the huge character cast offered. Unfortunately, the loading spoils some of the fun and it's a while before you can kick butt with your favorite Z-fighter. The poor voice-acting, repetitive story and awkward controls will get to you after a while, sadly. This one's for the DBZ diehard!

7. Bully (PS2, XBOX):
Love or hate school, you will like Bully! Its unique premise of a fifteen-year old boy (Jimmy Hopkins) getting enrolled into a new school and then slowly climbing the social and academic ladder to become the top dog offers you a whole new experience. In terms of graphics this game is pretty nice and the voice acting is certainly worthy of praise. The cinematic cutscenes will ensure that you're hooked to the main story throughout. It's got an easy learning curve and even though the game might seem a bit confusing at first with all the classes (it is based on a school) and disorderly story missions, you'll get used to it. If viewed from a technical perspective, Bully won't necessarily astound since the frame-rate isn't that impressive but if you take everything else into consideration, such trivialities matter little. In the end, Bully is game worth playing and spending your money on.

Reviewed By Gokhra

Mel Gibson is turning out to be quite the director and especially of epic flicks that deal with brutal violence. His latest creation "Apocalypto" is also produced and co-written by him.

"Apocalypto" is based on one man's struggle to save his family. This simple premise is used as a metaphor to preserve civilization itself. Though set is the ancient and mythical decline of the Mayan empire, "Apocalypto" brilliantly and scarily draws parallels to the distressed state of the modern Western world.

The tale begins with a frantic hunting sequence that contains a lingering feeling of impending doom. The entire scene includes tropical-paradise like scenes that if seen on a big screen will definitely leave you breathless.

During the hunting trip, the hero Jaguar Paw and his friends witness a tribe, which speaks fearfully of its devastated homeland, fleeing through the nearby rain forest. Later, Jaguar Paw experiences hallucinatory nightmares.

One night, Jaguar Paws paradise is lost as warriors attack his village. To appease their gods, who have brought a famine down upon them, the marauders brutally round up the villagers. They intend to offer Jaguar Paw and his tribe members as human sacrifice.

As the invaders prepare to march their captives off to a nearby Mayan city, Jaguar Paw manages to hide his pregnant wife and young son in a natural cistern.

Though wounded by a spear, he promises his family that he will return for them. Before that can happen, Jaguar Paw must escape his captors leading several Holcane warriors on a wild pursuit through the jungle, over waterfalls and around other natural obstacles.

Though this gripping and often harrowing trip he has to face increasingly dangerous traps, pitfalls, snakes and predators.

Gibson's crew traveled to the state of Veracruz and on the Yucatan Peninsula building an elaborate metropolis on a sugar-cane field. Also the entirely native cast (some of them first-time actors) turn in exciting performances. Whats' differnrt abot this epic movie is that it has very little to do with dialogue.

Heck, you wouldn't bother with the dialogue anyway as in his quirky manner, Gibson wanted the entire flick shot in the Mayan language of Yucatec with English subtitles but that doesn't prove distracting. It's a simple formula combining minimal dialogue, edge-of-the-seat action and moind boggling set design.

The violence is intense and may dissuade many a viewer. There are some temple scenes where the captives are led to sacrifice. Priests carve out the victims' hearts and display the still-beating organs to cheers and decapitated heads bounce down stairs. But thankfully the gore is kept to somewhat acceptable levels without splatter effects like in Jason movies. Gibson keeps his camera at a distance for effect and not for grossing out.

If you love action, this is an intense period movie that will wear you out. It's a non-stop thrill ride.

Mood Dude (DM): Auto shows are held all over the place except Bangladesh. And the cars are usually not in running shape. They are posers like in beauty pageants where girls dress up in bikinis but cannot really do anything worthwhile.

Gokhra (G): People like you only manage to see the cars behind the bikinis.

(DM): But when Toyota debuted their latest creation at the umm, some show in the U.S. it was anything but a poser. Toyota frankly isn't known for anything too exciting. In fact, it's a company very well known for incredibly reliable if somewhat bland cars.

(G): Yep, you own one and we know how excitingly bland that is. It's a car that would make a priest feel hip by comparison.

(DM): But this time around they have managed to come out with a super sleek stylish sports car with a slightly ridiculous name

(G): ……..unless you only read the initials. Weird how usually the initials hint at something really cool but when you read them out they sound very nerdy. In this case the Toyota is called FT-HS. It's a bit hard on the mouth but it stands for Future Toyota Hybrid Sport. You gotta hand it to the Japanese for being direct and precise with their names. Good news for Supra fans though. This could very likely be the successor.

(DM): But the FT-HS is more than just a Supra replacement. It's what Toyota feels a responsible person caring about the environment should drive in the 21st century. Sure, responsible people should drive super fast cars that drink less fuel but can go fast enough to kill people with the ensuing sonic blast alone.

(G): The Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain (whatever that means) includes a 3.5-liter front-mounted V-6 and a mid-rear mounted battery pack for a grand total of 400 bhp, transferred to the road via a properly sporting rear-wheel-drive setup. Oh ok, so that's what it means; two separate powerplants.

(DM): Alex Shen, Project Chief Designer of the exterior, showed the press al about his designs and he even coined some nifty names for his sleek shape. The edgy design on the FT-HS is what Toyota calls “Freeform Geometry,” “Subtractive Mass” and a “Perfect Imbalance.” For instance, “Subtractive Mass” is shown by the deep sculpting of the car's tail section, the purpose being to get rid of all excess weight. Hmm, we will just call it 'edgy design'.

Also those air scoops on the back edge of the front fenders aren't just for looksthey actually whisk away heat caused by the gaggle of LED headlights. Yes, they get hot enough to fry eggs.

(G): Other monikers include “Solo Space,” basically the driver's personalized space similar to a pod and “Touch Tracer Interface,” which eliminates the use of all knobs for the interior controls. Touch screens and internet are so common in show cars these days that designers need to come up with new ways to show off: fancy names.

(DM): It's like saying we are 'Automotive Data Inscribing Personnel'

(G): Duh?

(DM): We write car stuff.


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