Half-Life 2 Review

When Half-Life 2 was first announced I almost Shat myself withanticipation. I had played through the original Half-Life twice and wasplaying it on line at least six out of seven days a week. I can stillremember cursing out those Damned Dirty LPBs as I tooled around on mynewly acquired, “faster”, 56k modem. If only I had known it was myphone line and not the modem. Anyway, it was announced, and thennothing. It was like I had dreamed it.

Games came and went, and still nothing. Until all of a sudden*BANG*, Valve comes back out of hiding to say, yes, Half-Life 2 isalmost done, and it is going to be the best thing since the original!

By this time I was shaking my head. They meant to tell me thatHalf-Life 2 was going to be as revolutionary as the original? I didn'tbelieve it. Besides, even if it was, so what? Other games had made thesame claim and I wasn't impressed with them. OO, better graphics thenever before. Great, I'll be glad to see them two years from now sinceit won't be playable with current hardware. And I can't afford thelatest and greatest anyway! Will it be as fun as the original? I dunno.After all that time the anticipation had died, my drive to play it haddwindled, and I was more exited to play my Xbox then my PC.

Delay after delay, and then finally it was released. On theInternet anyway. Hackers got the best of Valve and it was nationalnews. The game was everywhere and I could have cared less. I had achance to grab it, and passed. If I was going to play it, I was goingto play a final product from valve, not hackers.

Thelast straw was Steam. Valve didn't want me to purchase a real copy ofthe game. They wanted me to purchase it from them directly off theInternet. I said “That's ****ing retarded! Who in there right mind isgoing to do that?” Lawsuits, reported problems with Steam, delays,arrests, it was all too much for a game.

So I passed. I did a private mini-boycott of valve until the presson Half-Life 2 died down and everything came back to normal. When theyannounced an expansion pack, then I said, ok. I should play throughHalf-Life 2, if for no other reason then I enjoyed the first one morethan almost any other game I had ever purchased.

So here it is. A review, after the drama and the hype.

The controls where standard WSAD and where very easy to get usedto. If some one is used to first person shooter games then they canjump right in with the default controls. I didn't change a thing.

The game play was good and smooth. I got annoyed after a while inthe beginning, load after load. I would get two minutes into the gameand then another loading screen. I crossed my fingers, “Please don'tlet the rest of the game be like this”, and it wasn't. Towards the endI welcomed the load screen as it gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Gordon can't jump to save his life so finding ladders, crawl spaces, and learning to move objects is important.

Sound was what I expected.

Graphicswhere what I expected, but let me explain this in more detail. I have a1.7 celeron with 512 megs of PC 2700 ram and an ATI AGP 9700. In orderto play the game smoothly I had to turn the graphics down to the lowestthey would go. Even then during big fire fights or action sequences itwould spit and sputter. If you have a low or mid range system, considerupgrading if you want a great graphical experience. I wanted to havefun; I didn't want to buy a new machine to do it.

Now, the game it's self is a good game. The beginning starts out ofno where and one has to just guess and figure out what’s going on. Fromthere we meet some old friends, travel through a unique city, battle anunbeatable army, and start going nuts. There where some parts where Iwas going nuts. The boat sequence was to drawn out for my taste and Idid even finish going cross country with the buggy, it was easier forme to ditch the buggy and go on foot, and an army of sand lions? Thatwas just odd.

Duringthe final mission, and I'm not going to ruin the ending so you cancontinue reading, I was scratching my head. What's going on here?What's with the weaponry choice? I spent more time waiting to get whereI was going then anything.

I admit it was cool how games like Half-Life are becoming more andmore movie like. They are well scripted, well plotted, well thoughtout, and let you the player take control of the hero. Through it all Inever really got a clear story line. I got to piece together my own.The ending was just BOOM where done.

Was this game revolutionary? No, not like Half-Life. But it's agood Sequel to a classic. I wouldn't play Half-Life 2 unless I hadplayed through and beaten Half-life. The weapons are different (not bya lot, but it's VERY noticeable), the enemies are more diverse, themaps more elaborate, but it should be that way in a equal. Take whatworked and make it better. The core game play and story of the originalis still there and those that liked the original will want to play thesequel, and for the most part won't be disappointed. There will be afew complaints, but nothing earth shattering.

I'm glad I waited. I was able to play this game with an open mind,and not have anything cloud my judgment or alter my experience. Is thisgame going to be a must play? No, only if you enjoyed the original.Other wise don't bother. You'll probably waste your money and not evencomplete it.
Jul
06
2005

ER Review

"As the new ER intern at Chicago's County General Hospital, your careerstarts out easily enough as you treat a manageable number of patientssporting minor cuts and bruises. However, your skills are quickly putto the test as the stakes escalate into full-fledged ER emergencies. Inaddition to taking on these medical challenges you will have to dealwith hospital politics, make decisions on gut-wrenching ethicaldilemmas and establish personal relationships - even romances! It takesmore than medical training to climb the ranks at County General!" -Official Website

This game is similar to ‘The Sims’. Well, more than similar, it isa near-Sims clone. Basically you walk through the Hospital, takingpatients from the Triage into the Exam rooms and treating theirinjuries. You start out as a mere intern, and have to work your way upthe ranks. You forge relationships that can give you perks. Perks arelittle power ups that will help you treat very severe injuries that youwould not normally be able to heal.

Game Play/Controls:
Nearly every command in this game is issued by the mouse. You movearound by clicking on the screen, the same way you would in ‘The Sims’.You treat patients with a couple of left clicks, and one right click.It is all very simple until you realize that it is just clunky. Movingaround is very cumbersome, as you never seem to move fast enough, andmost of the time your character will make a complete circle beforemoving onto the target you clicked. The A.I. isn't very advancedeither, as you will find yourself stuck on many obstacles, and yourcharacter keeps walking forward never realizing that there is anobstacle in front of him.

ERis a series of left clicking on a patient in the Triage to diagnosethem, right clicking on them to move them to a bed, walking to the bedthat you chose, waiting for the patient to get there, waiting for anurse to get there, left clicking on the patient again to heal him, andvoila, you have just treated a patient. The same way you will non-stopthroughout the rest of the game. There is literally no interaction during the healing process at all.

The one real innovation in this game is the dialog between otherNPCs. When conversing, a menu pops up, giving you many subjects to talkabout. Many customizable topics and more. The person to whom you areconversing with will respond in a positive or negative way, increasingor decreasing the distance to the next level of relationship betweenyou and that person. It is actually a fun mini-game styled task, and intruth, is more engaging than the rest of the game.

Eventually you will have to sleep, wash up, exercise, and eat tokeep your composure, energy, and hygiene almost full to stay at maximumefficiency. This sounds on paper like a decent system, until its flawsstart glaring in the path-finding and A.I. issues. To top that off,there is almost no interactivity while working on your patients, ordoing much anything else either.

Sound:
This game doesn't exactly sound bad... but it doesn't sound allthat great either. Background music doesn't kick in until you areworking on a patient, and when it starts, you don't feel like turningup your volume to hear it as you would another game when the actiongets intense. The music is intended to give you an adrenaline rush.Instead, it really does nothing except exist in the game.

Theenvironmental sounds aren't too bad, as the ER sounds like it should.There is too little personality in the sound to make it really immerseyou. Voice acting in this game is done very well by the real actorsfrom the television ER show, but it is the written lines that fallbehind, as it feels very scripted. The sounds aren't bad, but not good,and they can be described as mediocre at best.

Graphics:
Graphics, graphics, graphics... one thing that a lot of people areconcerned with these days. Unfortunately, this game doesn't try toimprove on them in any way. Yes, they are decent, and yes, they fit thegame suitably. They don't get in the way of playing... much. They looklike barely improved versions of the original ‘Sims’ game, and have thesame feel to them. The face models aren't that bad, and almost lookcomparable to the real actors. However, they are just a little bit off.

A big problem is the way your characters will heal the patients.They do this by waving their hands above them, almost as if they aperforming some type of voodoo ritual. One very annoying thing is athick outline around all the characters in this game. Grey foruntreated, green for being treated, etc., etc. Yet again, mediocre atbest.

Overall:
Overall, unless you are a die hard fan of both ‘The Sims’ and ‘ER’,don't bother picking this one up. It actually pained me to continuetreating patient after patient with very little interaction. At $30M.S.R.P. it's a little bit steep, as it plays like a bargain bin title.Save your sanity from all the path-finding issues and mediocrity andpick up The Sims 2 if you need a Sims-like fix.
Jul
03
2005

War of the Worlds Review

War of the Worlds will forever be known as the best prank EVER played. Orson Wells had no idea what he was creating with his 1938 broadcast! One night, the world was tricked into believing we were under attack by creatures from outer space. People gathered their loved ones and hid in basements, emergency phone numbers lit up like Christmas trees, and the world stood still... waiting for the attack to be over. Listening with every ounce of energy they had, preparing for the worst their minds could imagine.

It's hard to believe, can so many people really be duped at once? The combination of a new communication medium, an innocent young theater enthusiast, and an unready county, combined to set the stage for something great. War of the Worlds legacy is unmatched. It's an experience that Hollywood has never been able to recreate.

So why not make a movie out of it? We'll call it a movie "based" on War of the Worlds, get Steven Spielberg to direct it, have Tom Cruise star in it, and get that cute blond kid ... what's her name (Edit: Dakota Fanning) ... to run around on screen for one hundred and twenty minutes. In case that doesn't get'em in the theater, we'll hire Tim Robbins and then let people go look, Tim Robbins is in it, when is opening day? While Hollywood has yet to recreate the War of the Worlds experience, those bastards have succeeded time and time again creating mass hysteria over nothing. It's become an ancient Hollywood calling card.

So here we are again, a classic formula and gullible people. Opening day the lines are packed and movie theaters are sold out. Was it worth it? That's a loaded question. Remember this movie is "based" on War of the Worlds, which means they took all the main elements, twisted them around and made something new. This is War of the Worlds, but not.

The movie starts out with a typical American family. You have the angry young teen, the adorable younger sister, a deadbeat father, and a concerned mother and stepfather. One fateful morning, the world is under attack, they all go running, people die, they come face to face with the invaders, they narrowly escape, and the invasion is triumphantly stopped. Wow!

This review is making this film seem like a horrible interpretation, but really, it's not that bad, it's a decent film. It was just hard not to think, "Why is the guy from Minority Report doing running around with that girl from Cat in the Hat? And how did they end up in Dave Boyle's basement? Get what I'm trying to say now? This is a Hollywood rehash with an epic title and a huge budget. Not a must see on any level, but decent enough to go to the theater or catch on a movie channel.

Now nitpicking this movie is easy to do.
1.Why didn't the aliens crash from the sky like in the book?
2.Robbie lives? WHAT!
3.The world is being destroyed, how did Boston get spared?
4.We aren't suppose to know what the read vines are!
5.I didn't know there were any main characters in War of the Worlds...

There are more, but that could be an entire article by it's self. (Edit: and it's been over a decade since I've read the book by H.G. Wells).

Over all the CGI was perfect, the acting was top notch, and the story stayed pretty true to the book. It just seemed that this movie was made more as a money maker then anything else. And for that goal it succeeded very well.

Jul
03
2005

The Jacket Review

The Jacket is a hard film to describe or categorize. They promoted it as a horror film with taglines like "Terror has a new name" which it definitely is not, it feels like a thriller through most of it, and still has time to throw in a love story and even a good dose of science fiction. So what the hell is it? Well it's somewhere between a psychological thriller and sci-fi so I'm going to make my own new genre and call it a psychological science thriller. How about that?!?!!?

In The Jacket we are immediately thrown into the Gulf War in 1991 as our main character Jack Starks (Brody) is shot in the head. He soon after dies, but then comes back to life seconds later. We are then suddenly shot forward 12 months as Jack is walking on a road in the cold Vermont winter weather. Jack hitches a ride with a young man and shortly after they are pulled over by a cop. The edgy young man shoots the cop and Jack is accidentally shot in the head once again. When he awakes he has little recollection of the previous events and finds himself being charged with the cop's murder. He is found not guilty due to insanity and committed.

Now locked in a mental institution Jack is forced to undergo a unique treatment being performed by Dr. Becker (Kristofferson). This experiment involves a straight-jacket, psychological drugs, and a cozy little morgue drawer. For reasons that are never explained EVER, while in the jacket, Starks is able to transport into the future. Here he meets up with Jackie (Knightley) who he met when she was a child the day of the cop's murder. Together they try to figure out why he is there in the future, how he dies in the past and develop a love for each other.

First, the acting in the movie is as expected, quite good. With a cast including Adrien Brody, Kris Kristofferson, Kiera Knightley, and Jennifer Jason Leigh you wouldn't expect anything less. Knightley's performance is also notable as she shows a new range of her persona playing a much darker and real role than in her previous films.

I think the main drawback to the film is the storyline. I'll give writers Tom Bleecker and Marc Rocco a lot of credit because I certainly couldn't think up a story as messed up and unconventional as this. However they might have had too many ideas that they wanted to incorporate in The Jacket and it seems they forgot that they may have to explain a bit as to why things happen the way they do. That's the main issue with The Jacket, there is little explanation as to why any of the things happen. Suspend your disbelief and don't ask 'why' too much and you'll be fine, but that's not me and it's a bit of a disappointment that with a storyline with so much potential, it is slightly ruined by the lack of explanation.

That aside director John Maybury did a nice job working with the storyline and used some nice up-close shots of Brody in the morgue drawer to create a disturbing, claustrophobic feeling. Also the makeup work on Brody's eyes and over all physique gave the appearance of a distressed soul.

Overall I think The Jacket is going to be a bit of a toss-up for anyone who watches it. If you liked The Butterfly Effect or Memento you're probably going to like The Jacket. However if you're an active movie viewer who is always thinking about the plot and story like myself you will undoubtedly see the holes in the story. Either way I think it's worth a rent at the very least.

Jun
30
2005

Land of the Dead Review

George A. Romero freaked out audiences in 1968s Night of the Living Dead which was destined to be a cult classic. Night of the Living Dead is still watched by pre-teens and horror gurus today like some of us watch Disney movies. Has Romero given us another classic horror flick?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was caught jumping in my seat. And at the showing I saw I heard screams of "EEWW" and "UCK". On more then one occasion a girl in front of me said "Oh NO!" and the guy behind me accidentally kicked my chair.

Now some of you may be saying, I've seen these movies and the zombies are all the same”. Well not this time. Instead they aren't mindless walking corpses just craving something to eat. The zombies have evolved and can now communicate. Now before some one out there goes and says something negative about thinking zombies, remember, anyone who goes to see this film has already turned off their sense of logic.

If a dead body were walking then wouldn't it be alive? If something were dead why would it need to feed? Since zombies eat human, why don't they eat other zombies? If someone gets bitten on the hand, why would they shoot the zombie in the head first instead of cutting off their arm? I'm sure you can add your own logic driven question here. Putting logic aside, this movie poses the question, what if the dead started to walk the earth and learned to organize?

It's an interesting plot twist, and one that separates this from all the other zombie movies. The only problem with the movie was the ending... but you'll have to see it to find out why.

The acting was well done and while some people may have expected Denise Hopper to out shine his cast, he really takes a back seat. For the most part he delivers a solid performance, but John Leguizamo, Simon Baker, & Robert Joy really steal the film.

And of course the zombies do too. The zombie makeup and CGI is masterfully done. There were zombies of all kinds of people, in all different states of decay. Those of you that love gore will not be disappointed. Especially when the zombies start their feeding frenzy.

THIS is a must see in the theaters. If you see one zombie movie this year, Land of the Dead should definitely be it. It was a solid movie, well acted, well written, and has awesome special effect. I highly recommend it. This is one to look forward to on DVD, as I'm sure there will be plenty of deleted scenes and behind the scene footage!

Just when you thought zombies had no other story lines left, the zombie master comes back and proves us wrong, again!

Jun
29
2005

Star Wars Republic Commando Review

Star Wars Republic Commando takes place during the Clone Wars in theStar Wars saga. In this game you play the role of an elite commando andleader for the Delta Squad of the Clone Army. You along with 3 othermembers of your squad are sent on various missions through the galaxyto help the Republics in defeating the Separatists.

Controls/Gameplay:
The controls for the game are setup just fine, they're easy to useand get used to. Default you move with W,A,S,D, aim with your mouse,you get to use f1,f2,f3,f4 to command your squad, F is your use key, Rreloads, right-click to throw different types of grenades and leftclick to shoot. The only thing I had to adjust when I began playing wasthe mouse sensitivity was way to high. It was set to a 6 and I had tolower it to a 1.

Gameplay was easy but the game gets increasingly harder as youadvance. Most of the time you have your team with you so it makes it abit easier but there are times where you are required to split up andthat’s the only time I ran into any difficulty really. Throughout thelevel there are various objects where you can tell your team to get andsetup for sniper cover or grenade cover. There's also plenty of placesto refill your health and for your team to as well.

Theteam you get to work with made this game a lot more fun for me becausethe AI is not retarded, they don't get stuck and they always keep upwith you. Another feature that was pretty unique that this game has isthat when you're with your team if your squad dies you can revive them.If you die 3 little options come up in your screen. You can either haveyour squad maintain their current orders and try to defeat all theenemies in the area, you can have one of them come revive you or youcan restart from your last save point. This feature makes this game alot easier to get through when you're with your squad.

You also get various weapons and grenades along the way. You startoff with your basic rifle which holds 300 bullets and your pistol whichhas unlimited ammo but if you shoot to fast you have to wait for it torecharge. As you progress you get pickups such as a sniper rifle, ashotgun type weapon and much more.

Sound:
The sound is really good and your squad is always telling you whata good job your doing, it makes you feel special. The music is superbas it is in any Lucas Arts game, there are a few songs I haven't heardbefore and time to time I hear a song that I've either heard in a StarWars movie or another Star Wars game I've played before. The weaponsounds were done well but they're pretty much the same as other StarWars games.

Graphics:
I'm running an older graphics card, GeForce 4 Ti 4600 and thegraphics look excellent though it is recommended you have a DirectX 9compatible card to get the full features of the game even with my oldergraphics card I was able to get a very nice looking game without anyFPS drops.

Overall:
Overall this is a must have game for any FPS fan or Star Wars fan.The fact that you get to play in a squad and command them to blow opendoors and setup to give you cover makes it really fun. I haven'tcompleted the game yet so I'm not sure as to how many hours of gameplaythis game will bring but I highly recommend this game.
Jun
29
2005

Plain White T's - All That We Needed Review

Chicago isn’t just known for it’s brotherly love; it’s also the home of the punk-pop group, Plain White T’s. In the past few months since the release of their second full-length album, the band has been gaining some serious momentum. Their popularity is much deserved though, the band is constantly touring and never taking a minute to soak up the successes that hit them like a freight train after going on tour with the likes of The Academy Is, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, and even Jimmy Eat World.

The success came at a perfect time, because the album, “All That We Needed”, is the perfect summer punk rock album. “All That We Needed” is full of emotional lyrics, catchy riffs and full of infectious choruses. From the start, the album drags you in with catchy drumlines followed by some rapid guitar riffs and then some familiar and comforting vocals. The album follows that basic format, and while it isn’t all that original, it most definitely works. I dare you to take a listen to this album and not be captivated by the catchy lyrics, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be singing this album at work the next day, or humming it in the car while you are driving down the highway.

The first half of this album is superb, from the title track, “All That We Needed”, to “What More Do You Want” the album is constantly pumping out rock tunes that dance around in your head, but it’s all downhill from there. The last 5 songs are quite disappointing; they seem far too similar to the first half of the record. However, the very last song on the album, “Hey There Delilah” is the mandatory acoustic-esque, lyrically driven song, and man is it a good one. The lyrics still remain catchy as in all the previous songs, but it still builds up an emotional backdrop and the music compliments it perfectly. Some other songs to check out from “All That We Needed” would be “Revenge”, “Breakdown”, and the first single “Take Me Away”.

If there’s anything holding this album from punk-rock royalty status, it’s the lack of originality. From the first ten seconds of spoken word, you’ll notice the vocalist has a striking resemblance to the vocals from Jimmy Eat World. No, this is not a side project from Mr. Jim Adkins, but the vocals are almost identical. That would be acceptable under most circumstances, but this album seems to take a page right out of the Jimmy Eat World music book, the guitars and drums sound very similar and the arrangement of the songs have a ”J.E.W. flair” to them.

Aside from the overall lack of originality of the whole album, Plain White T’s made an honest attempt to breach the punk-rock scene, and the album is definitely worth a listen. If you’re a fan of bands like Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, and Fall Out Boy, this album is definitely a purchase. I recommend “All We Needed” to anyone who needs a nice spirit-lifter, or just looking for a fun summer record. For Plain White T’s, this album is all they needed to break into the scene, it they’ve done one heck of a job getting their name out. Another few months and you’ll be hearing “Take Me Away” on the radio, mark my words.
Jun
28
2005

Figurine - The Heartfelt Review

Not many bands have been so luck as The Postal Service when it comes to breaking it big. Thanks to soundtracks, television spots, and appearances on The OC by Ben Gibbard, the success of The Postal Service has been huge. However, people often associate The Postal Service with Ben Gibbard, the frontman of indie-rockers, Death Cab for Cutie. How about the other half? The half that pumps out the beats and techno backing on The Postal Service songs we all know and love? That man is Jimmy Tamborello, and if you’re looking for more of his amazing techno work, Figurine is where you’ll find it.

Figurine’s latest release, The Heartfelt is an album full of the beats, beeps, and boops that you know and love from The Postal Service. However instead of being driven by the vocals of Ben Gibbard, this album is driven mostly on the instrumentals. Only a few songs off of the album offer vocals, all of which are very subtle and quiet. Don’t let this turn you away, because this album is a work of art. The production is perfect, the songs are organized with great consideration, and the techno work of Mr. Tamborello is ingenious!

A first listen will not give this album justice, because it takes quite a few listens to actually grasp the music behind the album. If you’re turned off by music with an overdose of synth, dance beats, and underlying techno, than stay away from this album. However, if it’s not clicking with your first listen, then give the album a few more spins and you’ll start to catch on to some of the music. Songs like “International Space Station II” will remind you of some the Postal Service’s music, and then songs like “Heartfelt” will remind you why Figurine is a whole different band than The Postal Service.

If there is one downfall in the whole album, it’s the lyrics (or the lack thereof). They’re not too deep or inspirational and they really don’t fit the music. However, when listening to Figurine, lyrics are a gift, because they are not completely necessary for the album to work. The vocals don’t need to be in the songs, and at times they seem almost intrusive. While listening to the album, I felt captivated by the music, by the noises running under all of the instrumentals in the album, and the vocals only took away from this feeling that the album captured.

Despite the vocals, this album is really a masterpiece and I am very pleased to have experienced the world that Figurine has created with their music. I would recommend this purchase to anyone who is a fan of The Postal Service or Dntel; you’ll surely enjoy this album. Anyone else should take a few listens, and decide whether or not to purchase this album.
Jun
26
2005

Area 51 Review

Have you ever been to an arcade? If you have then there's a pretty bigchance you have already heard of Area 51. It's the one with two guns onit and you shoot barrels and aliens with no story line whatsoever.Well, Midway has finally broken away from that style of Area 51 andturned it into a FPS for consoles and PCs and they even threw in astoryline to this version, thank god.

The game takes place in, well, in Area 51. You know that USmilitary base in Nevada that people still try to deny exists? You playEthan Cole, a member of the Hazmat team and you and a few other membersof your team are sent deep inside below Area 51 to help with a viraloutbreak that's happening. When you get there you encounter aliens,mutated soldiers and some other things like mutated bugs. As soon asyou step foot off the elevator you are greeted by a few other militarysoldiers and you are immediately thrown into a big gun fight trying tofend off a horde of rushing aliens. Once that's handled, the fun beginsas you and your team begin your journey deeper into Area51.

Game Play/Controls:
If you're familiar with games such as, Metroid Prime, Halo andResident Evil you will find this to be some what similar. It's almostlike Midway decided to take all three of these great games and make itinto one almighty game. You might be asking what do I mean? Wellimmediately besides noticing the fact that the characters look somewhatlike Master Chiefs, you'll find you have a melee attack, similar towhat you'd find in Halo. You also get a scanner where you can scanitems and add them to your database and unlock secrets...does anyonesmell a Metroid Prime rip off? I sure do. Now it doesn't exactly mimicResident Evil in any particular way, just as I was playing through thisit kept making me think of Resident Evil, how it was a viral outbreak,these monsters pop out at you, etc.

Nowthe game play was pretty good, well it was good enough for a FPS that'sfor sure. You get a decent variety of weapons, you get your basicpistol, your rifles, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, and a alien impulserifle type weapon, I'm sure there's a few more weapons but I've onlygotten about half way through this game so far. There's plenty of ammolaying around in this game that I never found myself low that I'd haveto resort to using my pistol. Also if I ever found myself low on healththere's more than enough health laying around as well. I can't rememberdieing more than once in this game and that was because I fell.

In the beginning you have a team and they have pretty good AI.They're pretty helpful and the fact that they can't die, can either addor take away from this game depending on your point of view. Well sillyme thinking I'd have this team with forever, because sure enough as youprogress, they die off until eventually you are bitten by an alien andyou become a half alien/half human, which leads me into talking aboutthe controls.

Thecontrols weren't much of a problem to me. You use W, A, S, D to moveand Q and E to lean, you can use your mouse wheel to cycle weapons orthe number keys, G throws grenades and F is your flash light, CAPSLOCKS toggles run/walk on and off, C is your melee attack and X letsyou switch between human and alien form. Now I said the controlsweren't much of a problem, I didn't say they were perfect. First off isthe sensitivity, being the consistent Counter-Strike player that I am Ihad to bring the sensitivity WAAAAAAY down, not that big of a deal butit was one flaw for controls for me and the other is your melee attack,it's just to awkward to try to hit that key and since when you arefirst infected that is your only weapon it gets really irritatingtrying to use it. Keep in mind though you can bind keys to whatever youlike so I'm sure you will. Eventually though as you progress you willearn 2 new attacks in which you can launch 2 types of viral attacks onewith the left click and one with the right click. Though using theseattacks uses some of your mutagen, which I forgot to mention. Mutagenis shown in a bar above your health. Once you run out you willtransform back into a human. You can refill your mutagen by using yourmelee attack, finding mutagen pick ups, using your TAB key to inhale itoff of certain corpses, or while you are in your human form.

Sound:
The sound in Area 51 was pretty good as far as the sounds of theguns. The guns are extremely loud and done very nicely but that's aboutas far as the sound gets any credit in this game. There's no music thatyou'll notice that gets you into the game and though Area 51 does havesome Hollywood voices, such as Marliyn Manson who I think does a goodjob on his part, I thought his voice fit nicely, and everyone elsefalls short. Especially David Duchovny, they even have clips you canwatch on Area 51 where they shows these people doing the voices, Iwatched these first and expected some good voice acting throughout thisgame and boy was I disappointed. David Duchovny is just horrible in therole he played in this game. He talks in between levels and soundsmonotone the whole time, even the level right after when he's talkingabout his teammate just being killed, you'll hear no sorrow, anger oranything whatsoever. Sorry to say, but just because the guns sound goodin this game, they in no way make up for everything else that falls wayshort.

Graphics:
The graphics on this game, to me, are done incredibly well, Icouldn't ask for much more. Now it's not exactly a Far Cry or Half-Life2 nor is it a Doom 3 but it is definitely above par with some of theother games being released at the moment. The environments were nicelydone, as well as the characters. Lighting was also done very nicelyhere and something that stood out to me, even though it's an extremelysmall detail, is when you turn on your flash light it's attached toyour weapon and when you reload, since your gun goes down, so does thelight and it gets dark again. It really added to the tension for me,especially when you're getting bombarded by aliens and you have toreload the room goes dark.

Overall:
Overall Area 51 is just another FPS, like I said graphically itdoesn't compare to Half-Life 2 or Doom 3 and as you go through you losesight of the storyline. If you're looking for another FPS just to playthrough I'd suggest getting this, but if you're looking for somethingmore original with more storyline I would pass this up. There is amultiplayer online mode on this game that I haven't played but I'veheard from few people that it's pretty good, I'd still ask aroundthough before picking this up.
Jun
25
2005

Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth Review

Nine inch Nails has a new cd. Pinch me...

Trent Reznor, love him or hate him, no one can deny his talent. From music, to movies, and even video games, Trent is on a scale well above most modern artists. His cult following rivals that of most religious leaders and his notoriety is almost legendary.
And because of this, it makes this a hard album to review. It\'s hard to give this album the praise it deserves with out sounding to fanatical and any criticism will be seen as nitpicking. This will be one of the best albums released in 2005, but that\'s to be expected of Nine Inch Nails!

With Teeth starts off lightly with a synthetic drum beat that builds into a perfect intro, then flows into the next track perfect. Track after track the songs are distinctively different; amazingly they flow into each other. The only track that sticks out like it might not belong is track 4, the hand that feeds. It\'s the first single so that\'s forgivable and it doesn\'t take anything away from the album.

Every song stuck in my head and infected my mind. The first time I heard it I couldn\'t help but think how awesomely simple these songs seemed. Like anyone could make this album (given the right tools), but it was executed to perfection. It\'s amazing and there is nothing simple about it.

This album is a perfect release. Well planed, well made, well produced, everything an album should be!

On track 7, With Teeth, there is a 120 second interlude where the volume needs to be doubled to hear. Then when the time hits 4:20 the song starts back up again at the original volume, if one isn\'t careful they could blow out their speakers. A great song, with twist and a hidden message...

I really don\'t know what else to say. If you’re a Nine Inch Nails fan grab the album already. What are you waiting for? If you\'ve never owned a Nine Inch Nails album this is a great one to start with. Arguably the best NIN album since Pretty Hate Machine!

I\'ve had this album since it came out over a month ago and found it hard to write a review, I just didn\'t know what I could say except “Wow this is a fricken’ good CD”. It\'s only left my CD player under severe protest.
Jun
24
2005


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