CRYSIS 2 BETA
By Eshpelin Mishtak
First things first, this is a leaked copy of the game. We just want to mention that we don't have copyright and we weren't asked to do a preview. But we're grateful for the leak nonetheless.
Coming to business; Crysis 2 is mostly as expected; with plenty of glamour and vibe, but, it would have been better if the glitches missed the train. Like all other versions before it; it is more about the graphics, a little about the gameplay and a lot about superhuman abilities. This time around though, the nanosuit is more of the hero than you, Alcatraz, the Tequila drunk Special Forces officer who manages to swim his way out of a sinking submarine before being selected by Prophet as the next "cool guy".
We aren't dishing out the spoilers. But just know that you will be playing in the heart of a devastated Manhattan against ugly aliens with Prophet's suit.
The good news with Crysis 2 is that it runs on DirectX 9.0, so there will be fewer jokes about, "Can you run Crysis?" as long as you have a decent graphics card.
There's little doubt that the two legged (and sometimes legless) freaks standing in your way are the finest non-human combatants that have ever been created. Bi-pedal, gun-toting and unpredictable, they're tough to put down and sometimes, too damned brainy for computers. Trust me, that is what makes your day; taking the legs off screaming aliens is seriously fun.
Note that Crysis 2 is more of a precision combat game than a spray-and-pray (Halo style) thing; from collecting magic alien dust to learning to swiftly change suit modes, everything is a dire necessity. If you cannot manage, there is no easy way out; especially from the Hospital scenario you will face when you play.
To its credit, Crysis 2 does away with the irritation of your nano-batteries running out mid-fight, but powers like nano-biff and nano-jump don't merge quite as neatly into the flow of battle; so you might be a tad disappointed. But then again - you can still pull off impressive moves as the suit is a lot faster and agile. Coupled with the increased strength and enhanced options, the suit becomes a perfect weapon to cause havoc among squirming enemies who squirm their squirmiest selves to the squirmiest extremes to see the invisible you.
The tagging system (to track enemies and ammo positions) is a good addition, as is the new menu and the aim assistance; thus, twinned with the unlockables jar, the new additions to Crysis 2 are a sure treat.
Since it is a leaked version; the Beta gameplay is marred by the sound issues and the error messages that prop up from time to time, let alone the glitches (not many) which leave you stranded or dead every now and then.
The gameplay is also rough from time to time; but that could be because of the Beta version. Sometimes, a sniper from a mile away will kill you with one shot while at other times, swarms of legless floaters with Gawd-knows-what-they-throw guns will not take away even half of your green bar. Also, hand-to-hand, or more like hand-to-tentacles combat is probably still under construction; because if not, you are up for a big surprise.
To put it shortly, Crysis 2 is "devastatingly pretty" with all the broken buildings, mashed underground tunnels and night scenes. Word is that the 3D version of the game is a notch higher in "prettiness"; but who cares about that anyway. The level of destruction is as entertaining as you can imagine; and the story, finally, is good enough to match Crytek's name.
Now, If you were to compare it; it is something like "COD meets Halo in New York", only more graphics and tons of vibe surrounding it. But yes, we still miss shooting the crabs at Paradise Island.
Competition is stiff with Battlefield 3 and a new COD in the making; so you can expect Crytek fumbling with the last minute glitches. So, we would suggest you not to buy the pirated Crysis 2 until the real version arrives (if you are a hardcore gamer, try it anyway).
RS READERS'S PICK
TRANSCEND THROUGH A DECADE
By Professor Spork
Rolling Stones had its pick. So did SoundScan. And then, on a fine Thursday when some poor soul suggested writing an article on the dispute, the entire RS team completely forgot about the eight blank pages staring back at them from the weekly planner, and the meeting was thrown into chaos as opinions were exchanged, arguments refuted, expletives uttered, and mutiny nearly declared. After too many heated debates that carried past that single RS meeting, we resolved to let our readers decide.
We bring to you today our top nominees for Solo Artist of the Decade and Band of the Decade and ask you to be as unbiased as possible when you vote for who you think should receive said awards.
ARTIST OF THE DECADE
The nominees are…
1. Eminem - While Slim Shady came out in 1999, it was The Marshall Mathers LP, released in 2000, which became the fastest-selling solo album in USA history. This decade brought forth Eminem's most and least successful albums and almost all his greatest records. He's had his ups and downs, but he never faded, and has been (for many reasons) major news every year from 2000 to 2010.
2. Kanye West - Kanye came into the picture as an artist much later than Eminem. His debut album hit in 2004, and from then on his fame has been irrefutable. Although he first rose to heights as a producer, given the amount of accolade he has received as artist and his mulish refusal to give up the spotlight, he's certainly a major contender for the title.
3. Beyonce - Our first female nominee has been around since the 1990s, but her debut solo album hit in 2003. Even dismissing her acting career, we can safely say she is one of the most reputed, respected and influential artists of this decade. The immense success brought about by her solo albums and hit records easily propel her into this list.
4. Lady Gaga - It's easy to see that she has not been present throughout half the 2000s. In fact, her debut album was released in 2008. Yet it's also safe to say that she is without contest the breakthrough artist of the decade. Her two albums granted her international success and tremendous popularity, and she hasn't wavered from the limelight once in her short career as an artist.
BAND OF THE DECADE
The nominees are…
1. Nickelback - From 1995 to 2000 Nickelback was largely in its growing stage, and the year 2000 brought them their first commercial success. Their singles have continuously resided in the US top charts throughout the decade, and they've gained international acclaim besides. Their consistent skill in alternately inspiring love and hate among listeners certainly makes them prime candidates for this title.
2. Linkin Park - Linkin Park's debut album in 2000 catapulted them to fame. The next few albums were also largely successful, and they topped many a chart and award show. However, inconsistency in recording and releasing albums created a gap with their international audience, which is yet to be filled.
3. Coldplay - Coldplay released its first album in 1998, and achieved international acclaim in 2000. Since then, they've been relatively consistent and won more than enough music awards, and 2009 brought their greatest success to date. It's their worldwide commercial success, though, that puts them on this list. Also, they're English.
4. Red Hot Chili Peppers - To call them the Band of this Decade would be undermining them, since their commercial success actually began in the 1990s. They were the most consistent in the past decade, and although they did release two albums in this one, the extended hiatus they're currently on brings them down in the polls. But they're the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They have to be on the list. STADIUM ARCADIUM!
On a final note, we request that you don't just love or hate when you vote. Think of what you know about the nominees, think of the title you're awarding them, and think of who deserves it. After all, it's the people's choice that counts.
Please send in your votes and opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday, 6th March.
Darren Aronofsky's movies are not for the faint hearted. They are unsettling, often scary, not exactly enjoyable, but almost always unforgettable. Requiem for a Dream is probably the best movie you will ever re-watch. Was the same going to happen to the ballet-drama Black Swan? Something is for sure, this movie turned out to be one of the most talked about movies of 2010.
Ballet drama movies are becoming increasingly rare in today's movie world, and a psychological thriller in this context is certainly unique. Black Swan is the story about a naïve and timid ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) who is constantly guided by her possessive and overbearing mother. Nina just cannot seem to have a breakthrough in her career despite all her hard work, her mother's soliciting and her low-level diet. One day she gets the opportunity to prove herself as her ballet company decides to do a new version of the 'Swan Lake' and haughty artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Casse) selects Nina as the swan queen.
Leroy is certain that Nina can play the vulnerable white swan, but is unsure whether she can portray its evil twin, the black swan. He tells her to get in touch with her darker, more sensual side and tells her to admire the free-spirited dancer Lily (Mila Kunis). As Nina tries to go out of her way to suit herself for the role, the more she loses control over herself and her schizophrenic, claustrophobic self takes over.
As a movie the Black Swan simultaneously hits the highs and the lows. On one hand we have Natalie Portman fulfilling the role of a lifetime with her superb acting; on the other we have these extremities with over-the-top-ness of the whole situation. Brilliant acting is quite often overshadowed with the extreme melodrama of this movie. It is okay to have movies without hidden secret metaphors within, but when you have something so riddled with literalness, you become confused.
Sometimes, some movies become funny without ever meaning to be, and Black Swan is like that. Some of the scenes are probably meant to be scary, but the idea is so overdone that it just ends up being silly. That being said, this movie still is genuinely scary at times, you certainly would wish you never saw Portman peeling her skin off.
In the end, yes the movie is over the top and unsettling, but it's enjoyable, the techniques are rare but only a few will go back for seconds.