Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, June 28, 2012





By Shaer Reaz

There are few annual gatherings or events that can generate as much nerdgasm in the US as Comicon. For nerds and geeks outside the US though, the Electronics Entertainment Exposition (otherwise known as E3) is just as massive a platform, providing glimpses of extraordinary new tech, hardware and software that they can expect to come out in the following year.

A huge part of the attraction that E3 holds comes from the announcement and showcasing of new games. Here are some of them.

Watch Dogs
The whole internet is buzzing with anticipation at Ubisoft's surprise E3 reveal of Watch Dogs. The E3 demonstration showed a game with open world gameplay and a storyline revolving around hacking and extensive use of technology. The futuristic Chicago the game is set in, like many other megacities, is operated and controlled by a device called the city's Central Operating System (ctOS). Containing a massive amount of data about the citizens, the ctOS controls the telephone networks, traffic lights, and almost every part of the city's electronic systems. For a hacker and anti-hero like Aiden Pearce, all of this info can be manipulated to his advantage. Hit up YouTube and watch the gameplay trailer. Coming out sometime in 2013 for PC, XBOX and PS3, Watch Dogs has the potential to change gaming forever.

Halo 4
Halo 4 kicks off 5 years after the events of Halo 3, and Master Chief fanatics dismayed at the absence of the Spartan super warrior in the last game (Halo Reach) will be finally appeased. New tech, like heat sensing vision will feature, not to mention brand new weapons and tactics. Halo 4 will also feature a new enemy, The Prometheans, so expect a lot of shakeups gameplay wise. The developers are also insisting the co-op and multiplayer experience is going to be revamped too, although we're not sure if they want to mess with Halo's already amazing multiplayer gameplay. Comes out November 6.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist
The pioneer of stealth action shooters returns after the brilliant Splinter Cell Conviction wowed us two years ago. The E3 demonstration was rife with rapid stealth action, and with Sam Fisher now in charge of the spy organisation, 4th Echelon, you get to issue commands to subordinates and make life easier for you in the battlefield. Another Ubisoft title, Blacklist looks promising and should be huge amounts of fun if you like fast paced stealth games. Splinter Cell Blacklist comes out sometime in Spring 2013.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted
No, we have not gone back to 2005. This is a reboot of what many consider to be the greatest Need for Speed title out there. At the helm of the development work is Criterion games, responsible for Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, the last remotely good game in the series. After the horrific mess up that was The Run, EA have their fingers crossed for success. The E3 gameplay video looked promising, with cops and fast exotic cars and loads of excitement, not to mention a familiar Rockport backdrop. The graphics are great too. One thing that has everyone riled up is the apparent absence of car customisation. Considering the fact that car customisation was a prominent factor in their most successful games, EA might be making a huge mistake here. Comes out October 23 of this year.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Some CoD fans were disappointed by the previous Black Ops game in the critically acclaimed Call of Duty Series. So Activision has decided to have a second go at it. While the old Black Ops was set in an alternate universe, the new game is going to take place in the not-so-distant future. The new game includes “Strike Force” missions where you can choose how the mission progresses, using the “Overwatch” option to issue commands and actually select the soldier you want to play in the battlefield. Hopefully this will refresh the tried and tested CoD formula to give gamers a new experience. Black Ops 2 is set to arrive during November 2012, for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Tomb Raider
Square Enix takes us to Lara Croft's roots on March 5th, 2013, in what is going to be the first of many adventures for the smoking hot siren. Survival and puzzle solving are going to play a massive role, and the developers assure fans that Tomb Raider will be completely new while preserving the feel of the previous games.

Assasin's Creed 3
The fight between the Templars and Assassins sees you take the form of Connor, a half-Mohawk in the New World, during colonial era America. Screenshots released shows Connor battling Red Coats and dodging musket shots. Should be fun. Tentative date of release is October 30th, 2012.

Other notables showcased during E3: Dishonored (steampunk inspired RPG from Bethesda, the creators of Skyrim); Dead Space 3 (Dead Space as before, only Isaac in scarier adventures); Borderlands 2 (a bigger and better sequel to a great game); God of War: Ascension (Kratos fans rejoice!); Lord of the Rings Online: Riders of Rohan (not sure about this, but sounds great); Far Cry 3 (meh); Sleeping Dogs (the successor to GTA and open world crime games).

Space limitations suck.

By Shaer Reaz

In the whacky world of gaming it's not uncommon to find individuals inflicted with a form of OCD towards useless gadgets. Like all those whacky pendrives you see everywhere (the RS boss has an Optimus Prime pendrive that transforms and plugs in, when you remove the cap), only most of these gadgets are useless and are quite unnecessarily expensive.

If you have the patience to scour the shops in IDB, you'll find a host of stuff you will never ever need. Like a gaming mouse-pad. Like the Razer Scarab/Goliathus and the Thermaltake Pyrrhus/White Ra/Dasher. They come in funky packets and will look cool on your desktop. Till the sweat from your palms and forearms ruin it, you will be the owner of the most awesome mouse pads in the country. Besides looking exceptionally cool, they will also apparently speed up your mouse's reaction times, making first person shooter games as realistic as possible. Except, in real life humans are way less responsive than a mouse. So the whole point of spending Tk. 3000 or more on a mouse pad seems, er... pointless.

Things are different with a gaming mouse though. Most of these mice are not very mouse-like at all. Like the Razer Deathadder, which sounds positively venomous but oh-so-cool. It even looks like a poisonous snake, making the Tk. 6000 price tag almost justifiable. How many pet snakes can you buy for 6 grand?

Razer also makes the less impressively named Habu, going for a pretty steep Tk. 5900. There's also the Nostromo, going for Tk. 6500. If your budget for mice is relatively limited though, Thermaltake comes to the rescue, with the Saphira/Azurues/Black selling for in and around Tk. 3600. Whichever way you go, you will have complete control over your cursor and look ultra-cool while clicking away at Minesweeper. However, don't expect the mouse to help you win at Minesweeper, because it is impossible to win at it, snake-like mouse or not.

Keyboards are to a gamer what a guitar is to, uh umm… guitarists. Primary input device and all. So whether you're screaming at someone online with the Caps Lock on or knifing down enemies in a game, your keyboard is bound to take a lot of abuse. Of all of the “gadgets” listed here, gaming keyboards make the most sense. Mostly because when you have to pay Tk. 12,000 for a keyboard like the Razer Anansi, you expect something big and imposing (although the name Anansi conjures up nothing of the sort). The Razer Black Widow, much more appropriately named, goes for Tk. 10,800. If you want a much cheaper option, Thermaltake's zany-looking Challenger is more affordable at Tk. 4100. The cheapest good quality keyboards are Genius ones, providing a good balance of looks, durability, and price, almost all of them going for something around the Tk. 2000 mark.

Of course, not everyone is comfortable playing on a keyboard/mouse setup. More compact and cost effective solution would be a controller or game pad. Logitech is one of, if not THE, best manufacturers of gaming devices, and their controllers are legendary for their smoothness and reliability. As a result, the prices can be a bit steep, but at the end of the day it is totally worth it. The F710 Wireless by Logitech sells at Tk. 5000 and will hook up to your Xbox360 or PC really easily. The F510 Rumblepad is a great option if you don't mind the hassle of tangled wires, and the price is quite a bargain at Tk. 3000. If your budget is tight, go for the Microsoft manufactured Xbox360 wired controllers, a good quality original pair would cost less than Tk. 2000. Avoid cheap Chinese neon coloured controllers that sell for Tk. 400 or less.

In fact, try not to go for anything Chinese at all. Once you go down that path, prepare to be disappointed on a massive scale.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

In 1968, visionary director Stanley Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey, breaking the boundaries of the visuals that were possible given the technology of that time.

Eleven years later, another forward thinker, Ridley Scott (who makes no secret about being a Kubrick fan) made Alien, which crossed over from science-fiction thriller to horror territory, creating not just the creepiest extra-terrestrial ever, but a whole new template for movie buffs and film makers to geek out over.

If you've watched and liked these two movies, this should be a cakewalk.

Close to the beginning of Earth's history, a strange humanoid giant stands at the mouth of a waterfall and commits some seriously messed up suicide by drinking some sort of germy substance. His disintegrating body falls into the water, and a few surviving strands of DNA give way to the fancy opening credits.

Cut to the 2080's - a jump that rivals the flash forward in Kubrick's 2001 - where two scientists Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) discover some ancient cave paintings that point them towards the stars in the search for answers to life's big question.

One last fast-forward to 2093, and the same scientists are on board the starship Prometheus. Along with the crew are Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a representative of the private company that sponsored the trip, and David (Michael Fassbender), the world's first perfect android. They soon arrive on the planet indicated by the star system in the cave paintings, a place with a curiously Earth-like environment, and with what appears to be a massive tomb. And that's when everything goes horribly wrong.

The good:
It's hard to say much about the pros and cons of this movie without giving away spoilers, but even if you've just seen the trailers, you can tell that the visuals rock. This is one of the few movies where the use of 3D is actually justified. Ridley Scott has created a visual feast that manages to capture the larger-than-life canvas and themes of the story. The casting has also been perfect, with each actor delivering just what the role demanded of them.

Noomi Rapace brings her trademark toughness, Charlize Theron is sexy and sinister, and Michael Fassbender is impeccable as always. The plot avoids entering cheesy territory by providing a cutesy explanation for the larger questions, and although it echoes the developments in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it emerges from it with a hopeful, rather than a bleak outlook about humanity. There are also plenty of subtle references that will keep the film geeks and theorists busy.

The bad:
The movie has way too much going on for the casual viewer to keep track of, and there's more subtext than actual action, which is what elicited complaints about the 'holes' in the plot. The film demands active engagement, and you'll have to do some work connecting the dots, or leave feeling unsatisfied. While the two lead characters played off each other very well, the secondary characters could have been better fleshed out. The biggest flaw, however, is the pacing. With so much to pack into such a short amount of time, you get the feeling of being rushed along instead of being allowed to savour it. This further adds to the sentiment about plot-holes and cardboard characters.

As mentioned above, if you liked 2001 and Alien, you'll enjoy this. The good mostly outweighs the bad - for the serious viewer. If you prefer something easier on the synapses and packed with decent visuals and action, you're better off watching something else, like The Avengers.


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

© 2012 The Daily Star