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Game Review

By Shaer Duita Fish Reaz

IT wasn't long ago that Guitar Hero came out and created the party game genre. Several games have followed in its footsteps and in a few short years this area of gaming started booming.

Burnout was the ultimate driving game, which a group of friends could enjoy. There was very little to choose from in this genre of racing platforms, so the only contender was the king. Not anymore. Games like Split Second and Blur bring refreshing changes in pace without deviating from the core principles of such games.

Blur is developed by Bizarre Creations, also the makers of the popular Project Gotham Racing series. A big difference from Burnout and Split Second are the licensed cars. Featuring more than 35 licensed cars in various forms-off road, muscle, tuner, and race cars, the gamers are allowed to choose their weapon of destruction based on what they prefer - grip cars, drifty cars and well balanced ones.

Power ups are the main focus here. It's almost impossible to win races without using them. Mostly designed to wreak havoc on the track, players get access to land mines, fiery projectiles, and nitrous among numerous other extremely effective power ups. Defense-wise the list is a bit sparse, but that would be because the effectiveness of the defensive tactics depends on your driving. Swerve at the last moment after someone has locked onto you with a missile, successfully evade it and drive off with a smug look on your face. Or if you want more theatrics, drift onto a ramp, launch off, launch your own heat-seeking missile at the opponent in front, while detonating a proximity mine to clear off your neighbors. Finish it off with nitro. It's extremely addictive, thanks to the fast paced gameplay and super fun driving dynamics.

Single player career mode consists of several stages, each stage ending with a good old fashioned boss challenge. To challenge the boss in each stage, earn enough fans (fan runs, demands, and so on), complete driving challenges, and place first in as many races as possible. Not a very long career mode, but it is difficult. Expect to stay up for several nights trying to finish first.

This brings us to one of biggest complaints- some of the races are impossible to win. No matter what vehicle combination you try or how carefully you drive, they are extremely difficult to finish. The learning curve isn't steep at all, but there seems to be sudden spikes in the difficulty level at certain stages. Another big minus is the fact that the controls cannot be modified at all on PC or console. Not good, as it gets frustrating holding “Q” to accelerate. I wish the developers would provide a proper customisation feature; the passive modification style doesn't work well enough.

Graphics-wise Blur is just that - blurry. It's designed to give players a feeling of going too fast, and it works. The environments look cartoonish but it's all very well detailed considering it's an arcade game. Music wise it doesn't offer much, but its good enough. Who wants to listen to some woman singing when you're blowing stuff up anyways?

Multiplayer is insanely fun. Split screen, online, either way, nothing beats facing off against human competitors. This is one of those games for which multiplayer is the key attraction. Single player seems terminally boring after a single session of multiplayer gaming with friends. I'd recommend finishing off the career mode, learning all the tricks, and then taking on other humans.

Blur is a whole lot of fun in a neat likeable package. Apart from a few minor gameplay glitches and underwhelming single player (compared to multi player), it's a good game, and worthy of an 8/10 rating.

Feel Better?

By Orin

IT starts off as one of those days. It's pouring outside, a bad cold is preventing you from doing anything productive and there's nothing to do at home. This is when the feeling of sudden helplessness and despair grips you. Even the idea of going outside seems like a lot of work and considering Dhaka, you cannot really opt for a long walk either. Nothing seems to be working for you. Feel good movies are for times exactly like these. After the two hours that you spend watching the movies, your heart will feel a little lighter when the credits start to roll; you'll just feel a bit better about the life outside and a tad more inspired to do something. That's why these movies are so special. Any movie can make you laugh, but to make you smile from the inside is a tough job indeed.

Here we have created a list of movies that will leave you with a grin after you watch it. Here goes:

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946): It's a wonderful life shows how magnificent being alive really is. An angel takes George Bailey, a suicidal guy, and makes him remember how he touched so many lives by just living. Not only is it a timeless classic, but one of the best examples of feel-good movies.

2. The Pursuit of Happyness(2007): Starring Will Smith and his adorable son Jaden Smith, this movies tells the tale of Chris Gardner who, despite his hardships, battles poverty with a strong will and in the end, gets what he deserved.

3. Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001): Nothing can describe this movie. While most feel-good movies just pump you up, this movie changes your life. Nothing went wrong in the Jean-Pierre Jeunet masterpiece. Brilliant acting by Audrey Tautou as the imaginative girl Amelie, superb cinematography mixed with one of the most beautiful musical scores in a movie. Hollywood may brand this as just a feel-good movie, in truth; they probably are jealous because this couldn't have been made there.

4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994): This tops the IMDb list of the top 250 of all time. And there are reasons behind it. It is simply one of the finest movies made that has a great lesson within - hope; which can drive a man insane. And hope is something worth living for.

5. Dead Poets Society (1989): It is a gem of a movie. John Keating (Robin Williams) teaches a group of boys to find beauty in life and appreciate their lives. Robin Williams also has a similar role in 'Good Will Hunting', which is another amazing inspirational movie. Keating, as their English teacher, helps them realise that life is worth living, and it's our job to 'seize the day and make our lives extraordinary'. We're just here for a short while and it's our responsibility to make a difference and suck the marrow out of life.

6. Forrest Gump (1994): Skilful blend of comedy, drama, action and tragedy makes this movie one of the finest of all time. Forrest Gump's character has been played to perfection by Tom Hanks. Forrest expects nothing out of life because, 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get' and maybe that's why he manages to get everything out of it.

7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): It was one of the most anticipated films of 2008. David Fincher cast Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button, a man who ages backwards and no matter what everyone thought of the idea, they all were waiting eagerly. The movie didn't fail them. Every minute of those 3 hours was breathtaking, deciphering what it means to be young at heart and old in age or being just a boy and being oh so old at the same time. It deciphers the wondrous epic journey that is called life.

Some other movies like Click, Big Fish, Little Miss Sunshine might not have been mentioned here, but there is a word limit and writing about all those movies made me want to go and watch. Since you have some names, watch them and feel better!

Source: IMDb.com

What Is Alternative?

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

Idistinctively remember The Cure on a broken player around the '90s. Only years later, I realised that was a defining moment institutionalising what alternative music would become one fine day, and only now I think “Friday, I'm in Love” isn't that a queer song after all.

So, where does alternative music begin? And at what point does it stop being alternative to something, and an apocalyptic remake of exactly what its predecessors have done? These are pounding questions that Grammy juries ponder upon before they decide Death Cab for Cutie is a hip, youth-palette-defining artist worth an award under 'Best Alternative Music Album' for a product that can be termed 'plucky pop' at best (in agreement with the remark made by Helen Popkin, MSNBC.com).

And thus is the fate of alternative rock.

The Coming
Wiki-ily, the term 'alternative music' was coined for punk influenced underground bands emerging around mid-1980s. Broadly, it essentially defined all forms of music that rejected mainstream commercialism. The first bands played at small gigs, recorded on independent or indie labels, aired on college radio stations and were popular via word of mouth.

In time, like everything that's good enough to be famous, alternative music began to receive mainstream attention. In 1983, R.E.M's debut album reached The Top 40 in US and “inspired” imitation across the American underground scene. Everyone began mixing psychedelic rock with punk and a punch of folk rock-esque guitar interplay. Artists began signing with major record labels, and eventually emerged the so-termed sub genres of alternative pop, noise rock, punk pop, industrial rock and grunge.

The Becoming
Who doesn't like money, huh? By early 1990s, underground had found its ground. Any alternative band with a commercial possibility signed with major record labels. Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Firehouse, Jane's Addiction and R.E.M attained colossal success, leaving a blueprint for emulation. “Smells like Teen Spirit” became THE alternative song of the time (and other times).

Nirvana's groundbreaking success escalated alternative music and the 'grunge explosion' to new heights. Every media outlet was eager to capitalise on any alternative rock band on the planet. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains scored in top 100 most selling albums of 1992-93. Radiohead saved the day with 'Pablo Honey' a characteristic mix of rhythm guitars, post punk and electronic music (oh, alternative!) In 1993, the New York Times wrote:

“Alternative rock doesn't seem so alternative anymore. Every major label has a handful of guitar-driven bands in shapeless shirts and threadbare jeans, bands with bad posture and good riffs who cultivate the oblique and the evasive, who conceal catchy tunes with noise and hide craftsmanship behind nonchalance.” (source: Wikipedia)

I wonder what NYT has to say now.
In 1997, The White Stripes emerged on independent labels with a DIY approach common to the first alternative artists. Although hailed profoundly as 'rock', their initial compilations maintained a similar style as that of alternative bands before them (note, by now 'alternative' has become a genre by itself defined by a certain “way of doing songs”). U2 released 'Pop' in the same year, and thanks to Larry Mullen Jr.'s injured back; the band experimented with different songwriting techniques while incorporating electronic into their numbers. Sadly though, it wasn't any different from their previous eight albums. Bono, with his penchant to stick a falsetto in where no falsetto should go, decided that the best way to deliver good vocals is to wear shades. In a minimally lighted stadium. Yes, shades. (quote on Bono: Tareq Adnan). Alternative music was officially dead.

The Ending
Radiohead provides hope. Through a barely visible strand of optimism, the band's continuous zeal to experiment and only experiment since the mid '80s has been prolifically alternate to surrounding noise. Which brings us to square one, what is alternative alternate to? It's overwhelming how every 'alternative' artist manages to puke a story about an aphrodisiacal-ly deprived adult with the maturity of a hormone overrun teenager and their rage against the world within the given parameters of instrumental lineup. Anything beyond that line automatically becomes fusion (?), techno (?!) and when popular, pop.

I'm up for a new sound, if that's possible. All the Misdirected Hostility from five boys with a shot of oestrogen ranting about how they're too unique to fit in the box is getting old.



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