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By Sami Khan

These are games that set out to be huge, not simply in popularity, but in their content .Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is, in a way, not a direct sequel to the events of Red Alert 2. See, after Albert Einstein went back in time to kill Hitler, inadvertently creating an alternate time line in which the Allies are battling the Soviets for control of Europe, the Soviets, facing defeat, have gone back in time to kill Einstein and remove his history-changing inventions (like the Atomic-bomb) from the equation. This creates an alternate-alternate time line in which the Soviets were winning until the Empire of the Rising Sun came out of nowhere to claim world domination for Japan. Does it make a lick of sense? No. Is it a fantastically over-the-top story that perfectly sets the tone for a huge battle with equally absurd units? Absolutely.

Each of the three factions' nine-mission campaigns can be played solo or in co-op mode (see below); in each, you win the war for your side. In solo mode, the forces that would have been controlled by your team-mates are run by a friendly AI competent enough that it usually doesn't require babysitting, and can even respond to your attack orders in a rudimentary sort of way. RA3's boldest move is to allow every single mission to be played in co-op mode. This is a novel approach that's never been tried in a major RTS, but EA has pulled it off almost flawlessly. This mode is a dream come true for non-competitive RTS fans who like to play with instead of against their friends, but find unstructured skirmishes against AI opponents unfulfilling.

The all-new Empire of the Rising Sun faction does an excellent job of setting itself apart from the original factions by capitalizing on the weapons the Japanese do best: giant robots that transform into stuff. The Striker VX attack helicopter and Mecha Tengu fighter jet can both transform into walker robots with different capabilities, and enormous King Oni robots smash through enemy tanks like the Kool-Aid Man through a brick wall.

Meanwhile, the Allies and Soviets have gotten makeovers - the commies in particular have some cool new units like the Sickle anti-infantry walker and the Bullfrog APC that launches infantry over obstacles. (RA2's giant squid is notably absent). The Allies have incredible air power, with heavy bombers and fighters roughly as potent as two Soviet or Imperial planes. The new resource-gathering setup, which forces you to build refineries directly next to ore mines, will disappoint fans of the traditional gathering method (and fans of attacking harvesters). Personally, I never liked having to keep an eye on harvesters that would absentmindedly wander into hostile territory.

A special abilities skill tree unlocks unit upgrades and defence-crippling bombardment weapons that effectively prevent stalemates through combat experience, even if you can't afford an expensive super weapon like the Allies' proton collider cannon or the Japanese psychic decimator. (Due to Einstein's absence, there are no nukes in RA3, but these newfangled super weapons do roughly the same thing.) It's all part of the fast game plan to prevent deadlocks, and it is very effective - it's impossible to maintain a static defense when you're being constantly bombarded.

In the same spirit as the rest of the game, the signature live-action cut-scenes are ridiculously over-the-top, and you can tell everyone is having a blast not taking themselves the least bit seriously. It's a awesome game to play and a experience of endless excitement and entertainment all together for gamers. The startling graphics and the endless action blows you off the hook. So I would rather waste money buying the original one...

Flick Picks

By Naveed Choudhury

First off, the title strikes you as a 'War of the Worlds' wannabe. Difference here is that we didn't have Steven Spielberg messing things up around the set. TDTESS is a near average remake of the 1951 classic. A word of warning: if you're not into science fiction, then this movie is definitely not for you. From start to finish, the movie explores what could be called a science geeks fantasy about what an alien would or could do.

The plot:
Klaatu, an alien from another Civilization lands on the planet to 'communicate' with us, and basically tell us that we're messing up the planet. Knowing the US government, a series of very annoying encounters with the government lead to Klaatu being imprisoned. Enter Jennifer Connelly(Playing Dr. Helen Benson). It might be because I am a personal fan of her, but in my opinion her acting was way better in the movie than that of the main lead.

The flow of the movie isn't really commendable. The actors look like they are being forced to be with each other, and not there due to the intricate machinations of fate. The initial reaction of the Humans to a huge thing hurtling towards the planet is certainly comical. The vice president seems to have missed the last few years at the Whitehouse as well, because…well if you watch the movie you'll know.

The verdict:
Watch the movie if you have nothing else on your plate, and would just like to watch something that isn't an Oscar nominee (i.e. boring). But if you want to watch something that you want to be tell your friends about, this hardly is the title.

(2/5 stars)(If you want a star system) (Hehe, star system)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Starting from the posh English title, and the letters 'Brad Pitt Cate Blanchett' written in golden letters right underneath it, you'd know you're in for a treat.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button came out of nowhere, and jumped into the Oscar nominations list for a great many categories. And it deserves it. This is a unique movie, with a compelling story, and Brad Pitt.

He's born old. He isn't born a fully-grown old man, as all of you might think (and a thought I have disregarded after much consideration, because it is impossible to be born fully grown unless your mother is an Anaconda), but rather a child looking, feeling, and resembling an old man in every way except behaviour. Now, just from the description of this 'curious case', many of you should've decided on watching it.

The movie carries on through the life of Benjamin Button, Showing us snippets of the major moments of his life. This follows through as somewhat of a Forest Gump wannabe, but does not make you feel that the movie is a copycat in any way. It is just the way in which the movie is told.

The performances by all the actors are excellent, and even Benjamin's Mom, played by Taraji P. Henson, also received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Brad Pitt makes you believe that he is young, old, sad and happy, and even 'curious'. Cate Blanchett plays the more serious role, and delivers so naturally you'd think she really did live it. Needless to say that the makeup is also one of the excelling points of the movie, and so is generally everything else you can think of.

The verdict:
This is a must watch for both fans of Brad Pitt and fans of good movies in general. I'd advise against it if you're planning on watching something with a group of friends and you want to just have a laugh, because the movie has a generally serious undertone. At some parts it might even get a bit dull, and the fact that it is more than 2 and half hours long doesn't help. But if you want a good movie with a great performance, and something that you'll be able to blab on about over lunch the next day, then this movie is a keeper.


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