By Shaer Reaz
As we wait in anticipation of the next Tomb Raider game, we take a look back at a Lara Croft game we haven't reviewed yet.
Released in August 2010, this game pretty much passed under everyone's radar because it wasn't a “proper” Tomb Raider game. A fixed camera elevated view 3D game, like Blizzard's Diablo games, you aim Lara's deadly dual pistols with your mouse and use the keyboard for basic movement and weapon selection.
The gameplay is arcade inspired, with loads of action in every stage. Lara and the other playable character in the game (co-op), Totec - an ancient Mayan who is helping Lara on her way - can dive, roll, and dodge oncoming projectiles hurled at them. This makes for some slick moves in the middle of combat, whether you're using Lara's guns, Totec's spears, or the bombs they can both carry. Being an arcade game, there is no shortage of ammunition, so shoot up everything in sight if you want to.
Story-wise, there isn't a lot on offer. Totec is the mythical Guardian of Light of the Mayans who battled the Keeper of Darkness Xolotl, two thousand years ago. Xolotl was defeated and imprisoned in a mirror of smoke, which a band of mercenaries let loose unknowingly in present day Central America. Lara, in search of the mirror, finds a tomb full of Xolotl's unearthly, monstrous minions. With the help of Totec, Lara must dispatch the evil monstrosities and defeat Xolotl before dawn.
The puzzles are much less complicated than the time consuming head scratchers that can be found in the regular series of Tomb Raider games. Lara can use Totec's magic spear as a swing bar or temporary platform to reach seemingly unreachable places, while her grappling hook makes her life a lot easier. The bombs can be used to lay traps or clear the path, making them useful additions to Lara's arsenal.
Speaking of Lara's arsenal, the zoomed out view doesn't serve quite the view that the other games provide. Graphics is decent for a fixed camera game, the lighting and the colouring creating a temple-of-doom-feel. You don't expect much from an arcade game.
Overall, the game is a good 5 hours of fun. This might be the perfect way to build up for the next Tomb Raider game, which hits the shelves in March 2013
(If we get past 2012 that is).
Ratings: Overall 8/10; Gameplay: 8.5/10; Graphics: 7.5/10; Story: 7.5/10.
"I write so much that I'm going to do a solo record because there are some songs that I'd hate to think wouldn't see the light of day because they don't work for Creed or Alter Bridge.” Mark Tremonti.
Something different, then. Being a huge Tremonti fan, I could barely wait for his first solo album All I Was to be released. Heavy riffs, intricate plucking and out-of-the-world solos are his trademarks and fans take it as a given in all of his song. But that's classic Tremonti. The real hype was in the anticipation of what new things he would incorporate into his bulging portfolio. The fact that he was singing too was an added bonus (a proper solo album). The album released on 17th July and the jury's still out on this one.
All I Was has 12 tracks with a run-time of 49:25 and if you have listened to Tremonti before, it will not surprise you. While I say that with a slight flicker of disappointment, it's also one of the most enjoyable hard rock albums out this year. Combining with Eric Friedman (of Creed fame, too) and Garrett Whitlock, Tremonti provides a master-class in heavy guitar-work. The album starts off with the single Leave It Alone, which contains all the strong points of Mark's ability. And that can be said for most of them: good ol' head banging stuff. It's not till you get to Brains does he actually venture out an inch from his comfort zone (even then, just an inch). The middle contains all the best songs in the album with The Things I've Seen being a standout. But by the time you reach the end, you'll be left wondering how it's any different from an Alter Bridge or even a Creed production.
That was the real let-down in the album, for me. Most of it sounded like any other generic rock song and if you strain your ears hard enough, you could even imagine Myles or Stapp in there somewhere, even the compositions and lyrics, too. No different. The solo album was Tremonti's chance to experiment and get more into aesthetical compositions, but he played it safe. Maybe I was expecting too much. But that being said, this album is a whole lot of fun and the solos are a treat to your ears. A must for Tremonti fans and for everyone else it's a chance to listen to one of the best in the business in all his glory. Give it a shot.
MUST WATCH TV
BORED TO DEATH
By Shaer Reaz
Every once in a while, I declare a show I'm reviewing to be the best show on earth. Of course, the attributes of “being the best” can spawn many varied arguments, but I stand by my personal verdict.
As you can guess, “Bored to Death” is the best comedy show on earth. Period.
HBO's dark comedy-mystery-crime show revolves around a struggling, recently broken hearted, writer whose name is Jonathan Ames (It also happens to be the name of the show's creator), played by Jason Schwartzman. His girlfriend moves out because he is addicted to marijuana (to try and solve his writing problems) and an alcoholic (because he likes it). Even Ames switching to “white wine only” isn't enough for her to stay.
Depressed, broke, broke-en hearted, and out of drugs and alcohol, Ames goes to the one place that welcomes losers and failures: the internet. More specifically, Craigslist. He puts up an ad brandishing himself as an unlicensed private detective, whose rates are not very high for an unlicensed detective but is high enough for him to pay for himself. Like most TV show private detectives (Burn Notice anyone?) he ends up doing most of the work for free.
His best friend is a comic book artist called Ray (played by the MASSIVELY talented Zack Galifianakis), founder and creator of Super Ray the superhero. His girlfriend and her two kids absolutely adore him, so Zack is going through what he calls “constant relationship problems”. Competing for Ames' attention with Zack is Ames' boss, George Christopher (played by Ted Danson, a new favourite actor of mine). Like all the people around Ames, George likes to get high a lot. Like, loads.
In pretty much every episode, Ames starts out doing something silly for some woman who stumbled onto his Craiglists ad, but winds the whole affair into a pile of trouble. Factor in Zack's constant need for attention, George's constant need for a hit or a drinking buddy, his ex's rebuttal of all the effort he puts in to get back with her, you can see how hectic Ames' life is. Throw in a couple of random weird-to-the-power-of-infinity women that Ames meets on his adventures, and you have a show that is not very suitable for children, so steer clear if you're not old enough to remember the Swat Kats.
The humour is so dark its Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate. Like dark chocolate, it's good for you, and the aftertaste leaves you satisfied even though you had trouble getting it down your mouth. The show fits in so much in one episode that you are likely going to miss a few of the jokes and humorous jabs. Which is why you should watch it again.
Re-watching it is all you can do, because after three brilliant and heartwarming seasons, the noobs at HBO cancelled the show. It pains us intelligent TV show viewers to see Bored to Death cancelled when mind-numbingly bland and boring shows like Castle continue to air the empty spaces in the heads of millions of airheaded viewers. Castle and Bored to Death are very similar in concept, except for the fact that one show doesn't take a mystery-writer-turned-detective very seriously at all. Instead, it paints the main character in utterly ridiculous colours, the way it should be.
There you have it. Best show on TV, the best show I've seen so far, the best show I've reviewed. If you don't think so, there's always Castle.
THE DIVING BELL
AND THE BUTTERFLY
Once in a while we come across a movie that questions our version of reality. It shows us the flimsiness of our health and life itself, and how naively we count so much on them. These movies might not be the most happy-go-lucky ones, but they are the ones that depict the horror and beauty engraved in our fragile existence.
Released in 2007, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the film adaptation of the 1997 book by the same name, written by Jean-Dominique Bauby. At the height of his success in the publication business in Paris, Bauby suffered a massive stroke at the age of 43, which led to him suffering from 'locked-in syndrome'. He could see and hear perfectly fine, but his whole body was paralysed, and apart from batting his left eyelid (his right eye had to be sewn shut because of complications) he had no other means of communication. Just when existence became insufferable, Bauby turns to only the parts of himself that he can control: his imagination of possibilities unthought-of and his memories of a good life. Painstakingly, with enormous effort from his speech therapist Henriette, he learns to communicate by blinking through a special alphabet code, and dictate what he wants to say. And it is by this 'dictation' does he try to finish the memoir that he always wanted to write. While his illness was plunging him down like a diving bell, his lone fluttering eyelid became the butterfly of hope.
The movie is extraordinarily well-made. Not only is it about an incredible triumph of human spirit, but the acting by the leads, especially Mathieu Amalric as the paralysed Bauby is exemplary. We see the world from Bauby's bedridden point-of-view; his phasing out when others talk, sodden sympathy he doesn't really need. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a breakthrough for director Julian Schnabel; it is thought-provoking, intelligently creative with deep melancholy. But after you've seen the movie, the tears you'll shed (and trust me there will be tears), won't be because you feel pity for Bauby, but because you have realised a simple fact. That, after all, life is still a gift worth enjoying.