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Bowie's first recognised foray into the world of music came with Space Oddity; an album which is more of a traditional singer/songwriter record than a glam rock goliath; however it remains a classic album with enough style and swagger to still satisfy today's audience. Aside from Space Oddity which remains a timeless Bowie classic, Cygnet Committee has always been a personal favourite of mine because of its energy and the closing Memory of a Free Festival is another special track which has a real 60's feel to it. The album shows a real maturity from Bowie who would go onto become a huge global success in the 80's. Those who aren't fans of the Glam rock scene could do much worse than to check this one out - it more than stands the test of time. While it's still available, the 40th Anniversary 2CD upgrade of Space Oddity is well worth the money.
Fun House enjoys a much cleaner production when compared to The Stooges debut album, and while fans of the punky debut might disagree I think it makes Fun House a more accessible album. There's also a slight jazz influence to be found; especially within the title track which is an interesting touch and the album has a good flow to it and oozes a certain class. ''Loose'' and ''Burn'' are two of my favorite Stooges tracks and so it's no surprise Fun House is, on balance my favorite Stooges record. The album as a whole is filled with iconic hits, I mean "T.V. Eye", "Loose", "1970" - it's still gritty, lo-fi down and dirty garage rock, filled with attitude, energy and youthful angst. It actually sounds like it could have been recorded live because of the fantastic way they seem to play off of one another and the rough nature of the recording. For fans of 70's rock this is an essential album which stands the test of time and comes fully recommended from me.
Trash represents some classic 80's Cooper; rolling out the guitar anthems as if they were going out fashion (which sadly they did soon after). Poison and House of Fire are both top notch Cooper rockers - the former one of his greatest hits, while Only My Heart Talking provides the essential power ballad (Aerosmith's Steven Tyler provides expert vocal backing). One of my favourite Alice tracks of all time, Hell is Living Without You graces the back end of the album - this is certainly one of his most underrated tracks along with This Maniacs' in Love With You - both are epics in their own right. Strangely enough the title track disappoints which is a surprise taking into account Jon Bon Jovi and Richi Sambora (both legends in their own right) guest, and to a greater extent the closing I'm Your Gun is a stinker too. These aside Trash is a fantastic record I couldn't be without.
The Stooges debut record is an impressive romp especially given the fact that it's now over 40 years old! My favourite track of the album, Ann has always reminded me of 'Alice Cooper' who were maturing as a group at a very similar time which makes for an interesting parallel. I Wanna Be Your Dog has always been considered a classic too, with its gritty guitar riff into making it a fantastic live number. The ten minute We Will Fall is also an interesting piece which is a lot darker than the rest of the album making for a good contrast. This recently remastered two disk edition is the ******** and is certainly the best version of the CD to date (interestingly there is a foreword by none other than Alice Cooper). The second disk is composed of various alternate mixes (which don't sound a million away from the studio versions) however they are all worthy of the final studio album.
After the carefree Have a Nice Day and the Country inspired Lost Highway, Bon Jovi return to the fold with The Circle; an album which combines the best of the previous two to create a fantastic set of tracks which have everything one could expect of a Bon Jovi record. When We Were Beautiful is a beautifully subtle track, and while it isn't a typical Bon Jovi ballad its cutting edge is perhaps typical of the rest of the album - something which has perhaps been missing from the previous two records. The album really is what you decide to make of it; for one I thoroughly enjoyed The Circle and hope it can reignite Bon Jovi in the future years to come. Bear in mind there is also a deluxe CD & DVD version available for purchase which is well worth the additional money - superb presentation and additional content!
Thomas Newman's OST for the desert island American Beauty every bit matches the films dark yet beautiful concept, and the albums manipulation of emotion is second to none. Musically it's reminiscent of Robyn Miller and Brian Eno in places with drifting sounds, rippling strings and plenty of mellow piano and xylophone passages which help to create an uplifting and challenging album of music, which added great atmosphere, sorrow and joy to what was a bitter and twisted web of love and hatred. To listen to the music with no knowledge of the film would be an equally pleasurable but very different experience and I think it's what makes the album that extra bit special. Some of the piano solos are outstanding too and elect memories of Harold Budd - certainly this score is highly underrated and fully deserved greater credit, not only in the field of film but in the field of incidental music too.
Developed by Acclaim, RC Revenge is the first RC game in the franchise to come to PSX. This game is rather a novelty - If your looking for fun party - come right in. If your looking of a sim - go away (although are there any simulation RC racers? The first thing you are greeted by is the cheesy, party music and a menu full of options. You chose a game mode, and the one of a vast array of RC vehicles, each with their unique looks and set of stats, then you choose from 5 worlds, then a track, of which there are about 6 tracks per world, so there are plenty. There is plenty to unlock within the game, including tracks (as you only start with one from each world) and the remaining half of the selection of RC vehicles - so plenty of life span. The game includes a 2-player head to head race, (some computer RC vehicles race with you, to make it more interesting) and even a very accomplished track design feature. Hear you basically design your own track, choose its music, theme, etc. Whilst racing, you can collect all manor of boosts and weaponry, for example a 'laser cannon' or a 'speed boost'. A quick press of the circle button and you can launch your fire upon an unsuspecting opponent, which is very rewarding or boost to the front of the race! To add variety to the championship modes, there are some RC boat races, racing in a mini boat, you can still collect all those power ups, but you will have to negotiate anything from an octopus to a huge monster! Graphics 7 - This game is old, but the graphics are still solid to this day! Colourful scenery and well-modelled RC Vehicles compliment this well and there are some nice textures as well. Gameplay 7 - Solid and fun to play, RC Revenge Pro has a strong party feel to it. The difficulty level is very well balanced, not too hand, nor is it too easy. Sound 7 - Party music and good weaponry and sound effects add to the Gameplay experience. Life span 7 - Tons of tracks and vehicles to unlock and you can even create your own tracks, which all means that this will last. It also has good 'pick up and play' appeal. Overall 7 - Plenty to do, in way of unlockables, creating, and options. The whole game is solid, and is easy to just 'pick up and play'. Don't write it off due to its age, take advantage of its low price! Definitely worth a glance.
Gauntlet was the fist game in the series, only to be seen in arcades, then this game makes a welcomed release- although this is similar to the PS2's Dark Legacy both worth picking up. Based in the same old arcade style, Gauntlet Legends can be enjoyed by 1 to 2 players. The game is still level based, with 'the tower' being the hub, to teleport to all the other levels in the game. During gameplay, as well as navigating and killing hundreds of relentless enemies, players can collect power-ups (as well as buying them from the shop), keys, fruit and veg (health-ups). Keys are required to access other areas of the game, or secret areas. Talking of secrets, special mini games can be accessed, where players must collect coins, to unlock another secret player. Players must collect Rune Stones, which unlock different lands, which must be visited, and golden items, which again, will give you access to different land which need visiting. So, a lot to do! At the end of a set of lands (which will all have the same theme), three is a boss challenge. Beat the boss to get a shard, 6 or so shards makes a window, for the final level, and in this final level, you must face Scorn, an evil boss dude, beat him to win the game! Graphics 6 - Don't be put of, it is an arcade game. There is some 2-D, but I think the graphics really fit the general arcade gameplay, and they are very detailed backgrounds, with no frame rate problems. Overall, a good job. Gameplay 7 - Plenty to do, with power-ups to spice things up, very similar to Gauntlet Dark legacy really. Not bad, really like an arcade version of Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance. Sound 7 - Good music during gameplay, and sound effects are good too. Lifespan 6 - Took me 14h 30m to complete, which is 2hrs longer than Baldurs Gate. With characters to unlock also, but it may be too easy for some. Overall 7 - An improvement over the arcade Gauntlet , and similar sort of game to Baldurs gate, set in an arcade theme. It doesn't have a solid story, nor spectacular graphics, but it's a wonderful game, at can be found for ver cheap anywhere, so its well worth the money. What I will say is that if you've played Gauntlet Dark Legacy recently, you probably wont be bothered to play on it, but you can take it bit at a time, as it is level based. Good value for money, an arcade gem, which I could recommend.
Let me clear one thing up before we begin, any wrestling fan can step up for this one not just ECW fans, and if you for one moment think the game is out dated or old hat just because Mr McMahon and his WWE (or WWF as they were back then) put Paul Heyman's ECW out of business at the Survivors Series - wrong partner! ECW Anarchy Rulz features many current WWE grappling greats such as RVD, Tommy Dreamer, Spike Dudley, Justin Credible, Tajiri, Rhyno, Lance Storm, Jerry Lynn and Paul Heyman in their original ECW styles. The game has a comprehensive set of career modes, create a wrestler, pay-per-view and stable, as well as a wealth of other options. The developers of the game, Acclaim have made many a grand grappler and are responsible for all the wrestling games we've played on in the past including WWF The Arcade Game, In Your House, Warzone and Attitude as well as ECW hardcore Revolution, so they have much experience. Anarchy Rulz is similar to the latter games on the list, although the roster, matches, music (Dope and One Minute Silence) and commentary have been updated. As mentioned the match options are plentiful featuring some matches never seen in WWF, and some currently used as gimmick matches in the WWE such as: Tag, Tornado, Singles, 2 on 1, 3 on 1, Battle Royal, 8 Man Tag, Three and Four Way Dances, Survivors Series, Table, Cage, Iron Man, First Blood, Finisher Only, 2 out of 3 Falls, Rage in a Cage, Dumpster, Brimstone, Hate (15 on 1), Backlot Brawl, Death Match, Street Fight, Barbed Wire Ropes, Lumberjack, Stable Match, Team Rumble and I Quit. As well as all that the ECW Heavyweight, TV, Stable and Toughman titles can be earned in the unbelievably extensive career modes. Team up or against a mate in singles, tag or stable careers, or get to the top and beat the cream of extreme on your own! Win you matches that can range from a good old fashioned wrestling bout to an all out extreme blood feast inside rage in a cage! You can create your own stable of wrestlers, pay-per-view event, arena, ring and even create your own grappler! Give him or her move set, music, personality and appearance down to the very last detail. Or listen to you favorite ECW themes and read up on the stats of your heroes (even your creations) in the bio room. The gameplay is certainly much slower than the Recent WWF and WWE Smack Down! games, but is much more realistic and rewarding with more complex button combos and rewarding game play. The game also features good commentary, blood (can be dis-enabled) and weapons which can decimate -and the wrestlers actually realistically stay down for a long time, allowing you to climb a fence or cage, plan your next devastating manoeuvre or position you foe correctly ready to drive them through a table! Unlike other SmackDown! games where your opposition get up after 6 seconds now matter what you do to them. Graphics 7 - Very close look alkies if their real life counterparts, these rugged wrestlers look good, although the crowd isn't so good, you can read their signs and they move well. Arenas and weapons look good too. Gameplay 10 - Rewarding and so realistic - annoyed with anyone? Put them against you in a death match and main them, or maybe a 3 on 1 match, or better a 15 on 1 hate match! So rewarding and fun to play. Life Span 10 - Still playing on it today (although I have a PS2). So much to unlock and so many options, this game will simply never run out. Career and creation and the fact that is so fun to play will keep it going forever. Sound 8- Featuring Dope and One Minute Silence. The wrestlers voice-overs are brilliant and set the scene for the bout. Overall 10 - The fist 10 I have awarded, ever. Simply superb and will never be bettered. I recommend you immediate purchase Sir, as you will never look back. Blows any SmackDown game out of the water, this is extreme!
Following on from the earlier Alone in the Dark games the next installment, The New Nightmare certainly impresses and is up to speed with the Resident Evil series, and is just as good, if not better. The game features 2 disks with 2 separate stories, much like Resident Evil 2, and set in the same survival horror ilk. You play as either Edward Carmby or Aline Cedrac as you embark on an epic quest to Shadow Island, each character has different attributes and different personalities, and they keep in touch via a walky-talky handset - a very original idea! Your helicopter crashes after being attacked by some manor of beast and you are separated, Aline lands on the roof of a mansion, and Edward lands in a tree then falls into the gardens - ouch! As mentioned you choose your character and are on your way. The location of Shadow Island is spooky, as you wonder around the beautifully rendered backdrops; the lightning effects are brilliant, lighting up the night sky. It's a case of surviving the island whilst exploring looking for saving charms, health ups, keys and other objects which you require to progress. There are monsters to kill, but whilst this is no 3rd person shooter there is enough to keep you occupied. Graphics 9 - Beautifully rendered backdrops and good, solid character models add to the experience. Great lightning effects add to the spookiness of the whole place. Environments are filled with all manor of statues etc to fill them out - the game looks very complete. Gameplay 9 - Complete survival horror experience equal to, if not better than Resident Evil series. Keeping in contact, along with some other new ideas keeps the game, and the ilk fresh. Sound 9 - Does the job with spooky background sounds and music. Voice acting is pretty good, with good expression, and is generally realistic. Life Span 8 - 2 Disks with differing locations and stories means double the value. All the exploration will take time too. It will also be quite fun to re-play it at some point also. Overall 10 - As good as any of the Resident Evils or Silent Hill, this game is a must buy for any survival horror fans, or indeed fans of the previous Alone in the Dark series. The storyline is interesting (I won't spoil it for you, just check out the fantastic intro movie).
Dracula: The Last Sanctuary is the sequel to one of my favoured games, Dracula: The Resurrection based on the novels by Bram Stoker. The game is a point and click adventure and has come under much scrutiny (as all point and click games do, basically because people haven't got the cranial capacity or patients to understand the story and solve the puzzles). As usual, the game is mouse compatible, but the joy pad does a superb job. The mouse pointer changes as it passes over areas depending on weather an object and be collected, or used etc. The inventory displays all of you pick-ups, and you often need to select an object e.g.: a key and click on an object i.e.: a door to progress - your usual point and clicker then. You also have to search around for these objects as some are very devilishly hidden! Without spoiling too much, you do meet vampires and must find a way to escape, which involves a gun! [END OF DEMO]! The game looks very similar and works very similarly to its predecessor and is another double disk, vampire based adventure. So, lets talk about the different aspects: Graphics: 9 Graphically the game is excellent, the graphics are very good (possibly a bit fuzzy at first sight - like Amerzone) but the dark lighting effects and haunting music fit the vampire mood very well. I suspect the game engine and graphics engine to be the same (or very) similar to its predecessors - but why change a winning formula? Gameplay: 9 The gameplay is the same as The Last Sanctuary, find objects and manipulate them to progress, whilst unravelling the intriguing story. The gameplay is fluid and as mentioned the music and dark lighting effects really remind me on the Dracula movies. The mood and atmosphere is excellent. The whole feel to the game is very well done. Sound: 9 I always feel music and sound in point and click games is the most important factor, simply to hold interest and attention. You're bound to get stuck at some point and good sound will help hold interest and concentration. Dracula is no different: the sound creating excellent, haunting atmosphere, daunting mood and gameplay. Voice acting is brilliant too and is very believable. Life Span: 8 Can't be sure but the game has 2 disks and it is so atmospheric, it begs to be re-played. Overall: 9 Great feel to this very underrated game. Worth a look (or rent) if your fans of the Count, even if you hate point and click. I didn't think I was going to get this due to many poor reviews - I'm glad I did. Many will have wished for a Dracula action/adventure game, but this is point and click - a dam fine one too.
Assassins Creed was one of the most hyped early PS3 titles, and with the publisher keeping their cards close to their chest in the run up to release, the anticipation and hype grew to an enormous level. In reality, the game has many floors which sadly drag down what could have been an amazing and genre defining experience. Firstly, the game has many positive points, none more so than the impressive game engine which owes thanks to the heightened capabilities of the next generation hardware. Being able to climb practically every building within the huge, sprawling cities creates a real sense of scale and masculinity, especially when taking a leap of faith from a tower hundreds of feet in the air. The combat, although limited in terms of weaponry (an area I'm sure will be addressed in future releases), is both engaging and enjoyable in the most part, in terms of assassination kills using a hidden blade and in terms of the general day to day sword fighting. Not bringing or attracting unwanted attention from guards is an integral part of the game, and this can be done through subtlety, as well as blending in with the crowd. Wherewith, lays a slight loophole you're to ignore (I guess?). Whilst blending Altier walks very slowly with his hands raised in prayer, imitating preachers who are also cloaked in white. Only difference is that Altier has a sword and numerous throwing knives hanging from his person... hardly subtle. As for the negative... the mission structure is far, far too repetitive (and surly the guys who made the game realised this too and thus the lack of information before the games release?). Basically there is one scenario which is recycled nine times over, with the only difference being the final assassination. Each of the nine missions involves visiting town, finding view points, and then interrogations, pick pocketing, eavesdropping, the saving of villagers... and the final assassination. This repetition, as well as a confusing and at times, basic and predictable storyline really rip out the heart of the game and in doing so, leave a whole which cannot be filled. There are several other similar annoyances, such as very limited villager dialogue which gets repeated over and over... hardly next generation. Also, each of the thugs and many of the annoying madmen, pot carries and crate carriers are all the same character models which is again unforgivable. This is a great shame when considering the impressive character models and voice acting of the main characters. The end result is a game which sets the foundation for a fantastic sequel but as for itself, a game which is very over hyped by people who no doubt have only scratched the surface in terms of game play. The game feels rushed in many ways, a prime example being flag collection side quests which are a complete waste of time bearing in mind the player gets no reward what so ever. All of this, summed up with a very disappointing and unsatisfying ending will no doubt leave hardened gamers wanting.
18-Wheeler: American Pro trucker, one of Sega's classic arcade racers comes crashing onto the PS2, by way of the good people Acclaim, who have already teamed up with Sega, to bring the memorable Crazy Taxi, from the arcades to PS2. So the next arcade instalment, 18-Wheeler has much to live up to, and, well, it delivers in part. The only real problem with the game, is its slight lack of substance to the more hardened gamer. The game is over a bit to quickly for some, whilst others keep on enjoying the arcade novelties it has to offer. Game modes include a wonderful set parking mini games, where you must park and maneuver your rig in different spaces allocated to it. This is my favorite mode, it is challenging but not impossible, I wish they'd included more levels on this one, oh well. There is a time trial, where you try to set the best time, on all the tracks, and an arcade mode, which is a port from the original arcade version of the game, racing against a rival trucker, you must drive from Key West to New York. The only problem with this one is that it is very hard, a little too hard for me in any case. Also there are single races, for you to practice your trucking skills, or just mess about. In all modes you get to choose a driver, whom each have their unique set of stats and even a trailer, which can range from a digger to a portable home! Whilst racing, if you hit cars or walls etc, you damage your rig and loose money but if you hit a bonus car you earn extra cash which goes towards your final score, as well as all that your racing against a rival trucker, so plenty to do whilst racing. Graphics 9 - Shiny, big, arcade graphics make it a pleasure to play on, a very impressive job, with good detail in places, and nice environments, which are breakable! You can break boxes and fences etc - great fun! Gameplay 7 - Plenty to do whilst racing, and racing in huge trucks is a novelty in itself. The parking levels are fun to play on as well. Sound 7 - Good rig sounds and voice-overs, although they do get repetitive. Menu music is fitting, but also repetitive, but overall, no a terrible job. Life Span 6 - Not super, but not terrible either. If you're touched by it's hearty arcade novelties, you'll love it and if not, then this isn't one for you. A nice game overall, but may be too short for some. Also there is a 2-player made, and records for each mode, which will lengthen it. Overall 7- Note that the game can be found very cheap now, so I'd go for it at £20, I think that it will be a good buy. Don't be too put off with what I've said about it, it's arcade charms certainly touched me, and it's worth the money to me. May be an idea to rent, if your still not convinced.
It has fallen upon Acclaim to convert one of the best and highly acclaimed horror movie franchises to PSone with their recently acquired license. The game has been described as a doom clone in the Aliens theme and in my mind delivers with solid graphics and atmospheric sounds, really transferring the suspense, horror and isolation of the movies through to the console. The films Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 are of course the trilogy the game is based upon, and it is set in the first person, and plays and looks like the PC classic doom. When the game was announced I thought it would be a 3rd person adventure, and was disappointed when my thesis was proved incorrect. When the game did come out it was a level based affair, witch breaks up the adventure, but overall I feel the game has been made by Acclaim in a way they thought they could do best, and I feel that although my initial expectations weren't met, the end product is superb and a good tribute to the films. During game play they are a few menial tasks to break up the shooting like finding something or opening doors etc. The music ambience in the background really sets the mood and adds to the overall game play experience. The graphics are solid, and although all Aliens like queens, chest busters and face busters are included, they are all 2-D, but I feel it fits in well with the game, and does make the foe look all the more formidable. There are plenty of weapon pick up, health ups etc tom pick up whilst you're navigate the map, trying to satisfy mission objectives and find the appropriate level exist. Every so often there is a boss fight, which again breaks up the game, which is overall quite challenging, although there are plenty of good cheat codes for the ones of us you can't persevere with the pressure of challenge. Graphics 7 - 2-D aliens but they look quite good, and fully 3-D backgrounds witch work well. Gameplay 7 - Fans of Doom or Hexen will enjoy this arcade level based shoot-em-up which is a great tribute to the movie franchise. Sound 7 - Scary, daunting background ambience which adds to the experience and keeps things fresh during game play. Lifespan 8 - Will last and a must for the aliens fans. Some good cheats also. Overall 7 - Has its problems but a good level based 1st person horror romp, which impresses and transfers the isolation and mood of the movie thru to the console. Reviewer's Score: 7/10, Originally Posted: 01/24/03, Updated 05/11/03
For many longtime fans, the departure of Fish and the introduction of current vocalist Steve Hogarth in 1989 marked the end of Marillion as they knew it. In many ways they were right, and Seasons End was supposed to be a way of introducing them to Hogarth. To their credit, Marillion have been able to advance and progress on, combing their early Progressive Rock leanings with Rock and Roll, Hard Rock and even Jazz. Even so, I still have been unable to get into them even in the slightest and despite the sound quality being very impressive in this live release, which isn't to its credit as bad as some of the studio stuff, still isn't something I'd rush out and buy. Season's End is in essence the beginning of a new era and while it marked Hogarth's first appearance with the band and yet, the content was primarily written prior to Fish's departure. This remastered copy contains a bonus disk of oddities which period fans should enjoy no danger. Overall, a good performance and release, just not quite for me although some passages within the music are quite relaxed.