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scream4bruce

scream4bruce
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      13.03.2011 18:07
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      Wages Of Sin by Arch Enemy

      'Ravenous' and 'Burning Angel' were the first tunes I'd heard by the melodic death metal band Arch Enemy - both appear on this album - and I was into the mix of double bass drumming, galloping rhythms, harmonized leads and some of the shredding solos. And although growling isn't my preferred singing style, I was amazed by Angela Gossow's vocals on these songs - especially given that I thought these had been recorded with Johan Liiva, their previous - and male - vocalist! But Johan Liiva'd already left...

      My ratings are as follows:
      [*] - Nothing really catches the attention.
      [**] - Something grabs my attention.
      [***] - Gets me air-drumming, air-guitaring and singing along to the track.

      Musical musings:
      1. Enemy Within - Wages of Sin starts to the sound of the piano, but it's the lead guitar coming in before the minute mark that stands out - it sounds like some violin pizzicato playing! The first song Arch Enemy recorded with Angela! [**]

      5. Savage Messiah - the buildups at the beginning and middle share the same underlying riff - but whereas the guitarwork for the former is brooding, the latter sees to a beautiful guitar solo bestowed with pretty pentatonic passages. [**]

      6. Dead Bury Their Dead - strong guitar riffing throughout, and in-between the chugging and galloping is some top thrashing. Also, the guitars harmonize for triplet tapping leads in the solo, and back off for the bass to do its bit before the finale. My favourite track off the album. [***]

      8. The First Deadly Sin - thrash metal with great grooves! [***]

      9. Behind The Smile - the weakest song on Wages of Sin, and though it feels filler - what with the sparse guitars throughout the slow choruses - it does have a decent guitar solo, and which is not without a harmonised section. [*]

      10. Snow Bound - a nice short instrumental with keys and Michael's leads over Chris' clean arpeggios. [**]

      11. Shadows and Dust - or dust in the shadows of the other songs. [*]

      12. Lament of a Mortal Soul - a bonus track, despite ending the way the album began - to a piano part. But the best bit of this song being the bouncy intro. [**]

      The rest...
      2. Burning Angel [**]; 3. Heart of Darkness [**] 4. Ravenous [**]; 7. Web of Lies [**]

      Though there are few memorable riffs throughout 'Wages of Sin', the guitar playing from brothers Michael and Chris Amott is really good. Daniel Erlandsson's drumming is as impressive as it is immense, as are Angela's vocals - if I could only growl like her! For comparison, the first edition of Wages of Sin comes with an extra CD featuring Johan Liiva on vocals. On this CD are covers: 'Starbreaker' (Judas Priest), 'Aces High' (Iron Maiden), and 'Scream of Anger' (Europe), as well as good - 'Diva Satanica', and bad material of their own - 'Fields of Desolation '99', 'Damnation's Way'. There's also a short, sad instrumental in 'Hydra'. The quality of the songs varies on this second disc, and the same can be said for the first.

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      • Sehnsucht - Rammstein / Music Album / 23 Readings / 21 Ratings
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        11.03.2011 01:01
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        Sehnsucht by Rammstein

        A highlight of 'Sehnsucht', and the best thing about this record for drummer Christophe Schneider, is that Till Lindemann, "has begun to sing [more], rather than just speaking"*. So there's more singing here than on the predecessor, Herzeleid, and it's not just from the Rammstein frontman - with the singing stretching as far as to the warbly middle eastern wailings which start off the album and title track. And there are also female vocal parts, as found in the following song, 'Engel'. Still, much of the music here has simply the song title making up the main lyric for the chorus. Of the guitar-work and beats, these are never needlessly complicated with the riffing and rhythms throughout being tight, and above all, terrific. Sometimes, the guitars will back off from the action in some sections, but even when it comes to solo spots it's keyboards over guitars - with Flake throwing in a fair few effects for good measure.

        Edited highlights:
        1. Sehnsucht
        A strong start to Sehnsucht, with those warbly middle eastern wailings and some solid riffing.

        3. Tier
        Don't be fooled by the indie-esque intro - this song's an altogether different animal!

        4. Bestrafe Mich
        German for "punish me" - the switching between sparse and chugging guitar parts and some great singing from Till makes this a pleasure!

        6. Bück Dich
        German for "bend over", this is a brutal and brilliant track which will have you headbanging! However, had it been up to me, I'd have been a bit more unrelenting with the outro!

        7. Spielt Mit Mir
        A song that's slow to start off with, but when, as a band they begin playing, it's great - love the pizzicato (and then synth) strings over chugging guitar rhythms.

        8. Klavier
        In sticking to their guns, no klavier - German for "piano" - features on this track. The song is somewhat similar to 'Seemann' from their debut album 'Herzeleid', what with the looped tranquil arpeggios (not on bass, but guitar this time) and the loud choruses - down to the tremolo picking on the guitars, of which this is tastefully taken through to the solo and lead lines later on.

        9. Alter Mann
        Nifty percussion, neat rhythms, nice singing, and an immaculate two-note keyboard solo! I think this has to be my favourite track from Sehnsucht!

        10. Eifersucht; 11. Küss Mich (Fellfrosch)
        Somewhat similar-sounding songs. Eifersucht - German for jealousy - a terrible emotion to exhibit. Those evil laughs really do add to this song, as do the comic sound effects for Küss Mich (Fellfrosch).
        Fin...

        My least favourite songs on Sehnsucht, and of which English versions of these tracks exist (best not to bother with these), happen to be the singles released from this album - 'Engel' and 'Du Hast'. That's not to say that they're bad tunes - 'Du Hast' is one of Rammstein's most recognised songs, whilst 'Engel' foxily features whistling, female vocals from Bobo, and a stuttering keyboard solo. However, the album arrangement perhaps hasn't helped the latter since it's riff is somewhat similar to that from the following track, 'Tier'. Out of three stars, I'd rate these two songs two stars - so there's not a bad tune on Sehnsucht, and the consistency of the tracks is tops. Put simply, Sehnsucht is a sensational album!

        *Rough translation from a TV interview.

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        07.03.2011 01:36
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        SingStar 90's for PS2

        *Review primarily focuses on the single-player experience.*

        (Though this is a review for SingStar '90s, the review can apply to the SingStar games in general.)
        Although you sing along to music in these titles, I wouldn't classify the SingStar series as being karaoke games.

        [-] SingStar microphones are required, of which these will not work with non-Singstar titles.
        [+] The singing bars can be read similarly to a musical stave.
        [-] No such help when it comes to the rap sections.
        [-] But the singing scoring system isn't great, and it's seemingly suggested that, singing well is doing so without 'sliding' between notes, as well as sustaining them beyond the duration which they can be heard in the song.

        [-] There's no changing the key of the song.
        [+] But players can sing notes an octave higher or lower.
        [+] 30 songs to sing along to.
        [-] Which may not seem like that many considering it's not as if they sought tracks without the lead vocal.

        [+] SingStar games can be switched by swapping discs at the song selection.
        [-] But selecting a song is slow, as is the loading and autosaving scores from memory card.
        [+] Being able to playback, load and save the player performance and add in effects (robotiser, vibrato, bass n' baby talk and reverb).

        Fin
        For when I can't get a karaoke fix - can be seen as a fun singing exercise but shouldn't be taken overly seriously. Luckily I borrowed these SingStar games and mics from friends. ;)

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        06.03.2011 01:22
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        Deathtrap Dungeon for PS

        There are two characters to pick from and play as in this third-person action adventure title: the "alluring assassin" Red Lotus or the "savage warrior" Chaindog - so should you select speed or strength? The Deathtrap Dungeon is filled with as much treasure as there are evil priestesses and booby traps. But the game is made difficult because of graphical glitches galore and dodgy camera work. There is a first-person view with which to see the medievil surroundings and shoot projectiles, spells and stuff, though a cross-hair would have helped with the aiming. When it comes to the inventory, there's plenty of swords, spells and stuff to play with. Despite the fair linearity of the many a massive levels, the chalk can come in handy as a marker. However, items have their importance so players may become stuck for progress without them...

        Audio-wise, the sound effects are satisfying and the music, whilst not memorable, add to the atmosphere of the game. As for the action, when there is much going on, some slowdown can be seen. Deathtrap Dungeon is a violent and gory game as limbs be hacked off and blood be splattered about. The AI in this game isn't great as enemies whom fire projectiles (in combat rock-paper-scissors this beats block) know not to keep their distance! There are enemy types aplenty - from the automata ("machines created by the insane Alchemists of Chaos") to the undead, there's even an imp in a Giant Boot to er, boot! In Deathtrap Dungeon players are sure to die a lot and be loading up from save points - thankfully the load times are not too lengthy! The puzzles in this game are fairly simplistic, but be warned, this is a tricky title, and should players persist in playing Deathtrap Dungeon, for their effort the ending is deeply disappointing.

        Based on Ian Livingstone's fighting fantasy novel of the same name, it's a shame the game isn't so fantastic.

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        26.02.2011 02:21
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        Cartoon Network Racing for PS2

        *Review primarily focuses on the single-player experience.*

        From the back of the case: "Cartoon Network Racing pits characters from Cartoon Network's classic shows in a Kart Racing tournament" - these being shows I watched when I was younger. Yes I'm old!

        Positives & Negatives:
        [-] Can be slow to get started/set-up.

        [-] Wrong race results suggest the races are closer than they are. As if the game's rubber-band AI wasn't already keeping the competition close; the AI is so that Cartoon Network Racing isn't a skillful racer as such.
        [-] Nor is Cartoon Network Racing a speedy racer.

        [+] Though the single-player game performance seems solid.

        [+] There's loads of stuff - such as cartoons! - to unlock.

        [+] Mix and match many characters to create driver/co-driver team.
        [-] However, many characters need to be unlocked. Also, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup not seperate selections, but appear solely as The Power Puff Girls.

        [-] Only up to 2-players, although there are modes aplenty.

        [-] The music and sound effects are weak.

        Fin:
        Although there's loads of modes and lots to unlock, the slow-paced gameplay and rubber-band AI means Cartoon Network Racing grows old quickly.

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        24.02.2011 23:57
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        Jeff Buckley Live L'Olympia

        Jeff Buckley's live album, 'Mystery White Boy' was good but I didn't like 'Live A L'Olympia' so much - there's not many songs I'd listen to on here over those on his other recordings. But for the final track, the recordings are from the July 6-7 '95 concerts at Paris Olympia.

        'Lover, You Should've Come Over' is a fairly solid start to the album. But comparing the performances of the 'Grace' album tracks to his previous live album 'Mystery White Boy' (MWB): 'Dream Brother' and 'Grace' are only arguably better on this, however I much prefer the MWB versions of 'Lilac Wine' and 'Hallelujah' (with the verse from 'I Know It's Over'). In the former, here he loses himself too much for my liking; and in the latter Buckley loses his composure and is too taken aback by the audience - whom seem too eager to please. As such, it's a start-stop ("d'you want me to finish the song?") and it's a broken Hallelujah. Then there's 'Eternal Life' - still not a fan of the song, and still the section of the song that I do like sees the vocals in the album version give way to guitar solos.

        This is followed on the album by fellow hard rock track, and MC5 cover (and also not a favourite of mine), 'Kick Out The Jams'. Elsewhere, the French audience can appear to be too easy to please, so it's as if they're rapturing into applause just because Jeff Buckley speaks as well as sing in the language - see 'Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin' (another cover), although in this song he creates a carnival atmosphere and gets the crowd going with his guitar-playing.

        Jeff Buckley also covers Nina Simone's 'That's All I Ask' (only one other official recording of thus far), and to answer Buckley: "that was nice, wasn't it?" - yes that was nice indeed. Though there is a parody of Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' which comes after - amusing or not it doesn't really make for repeated listenings.

        Finally, the recording of 'What Will You Say' from the Festival of Sacred Music has Jeff Buckley performing with Alim Qasimov together as a duo, with their guitar and tabla, respectively, and taking turns on vocal duties. Despite it being a delight to listen to them sing, the song doesn't hit the same heights as it does on say, MWB. And similarly, the same can be said for the albums in general.

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      • Rush Hour (DVD) / DVD / 14 Readings / 12 Ratings
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        22.02.2011 01:40
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        Rush Hour

        When stolen artifacts are reclaimed from crime lord Juntao, the mysterious man seeks revenge... on this case Consul Han (Tzi Ma) calls in Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan), whom finds himself working with Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) - who prefers to work without a partner.

        Jackie Chan's English isn't great, so it feels forced when Lee is speaking some sense into James. And his struggles can be seen (though Tucker trips up too when talking the talk) in the outtakes at the closing credits, which as standard also show when the stunts are not so successful. His chemistry with his co-star Chris Tucker - whom is hilarious as motormouth Detective James Carter - is really good however. The fighting scenes though, are nowhere near being Jackie's best, but that with the vases was well worth watching.

        I know some can't stand Chris Tucker's high-pitched voice, but where he is suspect is in his reaction to being kneed in the nuts...

        The supporting cast are solid. Julia Hsu plays the part of the Chinese consul's daughter Soo Yung, whom gets to show for as Lee's martial arts student, which is pretty neat. A memorable moment of the film has to be when she is singing along to Mariah Carey's 'Fantasy' in the back of the car - check out the expressions on the faces of the chauffeur and bodyguard! This was whilst they were stuck in 'rush hour' - also memorable was the title line being delivered by bad guy Sang (Ken Leung).

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        22.02.2011 01:35
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        Jeff Buckley: Mystery White Boy

        Recordings taken from 6 concerts in Jeff Buckley's Mystery White Boy tour make up this live album.

        My ratings are as follows:
        [*] - Nothing really catches the attention.
        [**] - Something grabs my attention.
        [***] - Gets me air-drumming, air-guitaring and singing along to the track.

        1. Dream Brother
        Slow to start, and though in the buildup there is some laidback vocal improvisation, Jeff is having to squeeze hard for some of those falsetto notes.
        [**]

        2. I Woke Up In A Strange Place
        though the chorus is clear - its buildup heavy, and the riffs dirty.
        [***]

        3. Mojo Pin
        Solid but for the final bridge where Jeff slips into sheepish singing - however he does come on strongly for the finale.
        [**]

        4. Lilac Wine
        As if Buckley has had too much to drink here, what with the guitar losing its way and his vocals being reduced to a croak at the end, though the improvisation in the singing is as strong as it is soulful.
        [***]

        5. What Will You Say
        Similar to Dream Brother in that Jeff's Eastern influences can be heard here. Has great guitar work and singing from Jeff Buckley - where the song title is sung in falsetto being a peak of the performance.
        [***]

        6. Last Goodbye
        Good song and a good performance.
        [**]

        7. Eternal Life
        My least favourite track on 'Grace' - I just don't dig this tune, but even on my favourite section of the song, instead of the singing there's a little lead guitar on one of the breakdowns. Despite the feedback guitar and aggressive, angsty, vocals, Eternal Life just doesn't rock.
        [*]

        8. Grace
        Good song and a good performance.
        [**]

        9. Moodswing Whiskey
        Good song and a good performance (although I prefer Lilac Wine, ahem).
        [**]

        10. The Man That Got Away
        Or the men that got away - just Jeff and his guitar - nice singing but perhaps it would have been better with backing from Buckley's bandmates?
        [**]

        11. Kango Roo
        An awesome song with brilliantly brooding buildups. Where the instruments stop. And Jeff is wailing - his singing sends shivers down my spine.
        [***]

        12. Hallelujah/I Know It's Over (Medley)
        I love the lines from 'I Know It's Over' - the highlight for me in this 'medley'.
        [**]

        Fin
        I wrote in my review of Jeff Buckley's (one and only studio album) Grace that, from what I had heard of his singing live, I was not a fan. I retract that statement - Jeff Buckley is a great singer, and though he can be prone to overdoing the vocals, this does not happen often in the recordings on 'Mystery White Boy', thus making for a good live album.

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        • Gekido (PS) / Archive Game / 10 Readings / 9 Ratings
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          16.02.2011 23:15
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          Gekido for PS

          Gekido - Urban Fighters is a 3D side-scrolling beat-em-up developed by Naps Team whom, must have been sleeping on the job when asked to make a good game.

          Positives & Negatives:
          [-] The Wipeout move could have been assigned to a button.

          [-] Players are supposed to pick up on new combos which are shown only for a short while.

          [-] Gekido's graphics are not solid and the camera is crap - judging distances tricky; cannot anticipate what's ahead, and objects block the view.

          [-] What's all the rage about the er, Rage feature? Gekido feels badly balanced what with poor move prioritising so it's not that great.

          [-] Frequent silly scenes (some skippable) of enemies jumping out of vehicles and/or your character being surrounded by enemies, whereby they take the initiative.

          [-] Some of the stuff that can do damage to you does not hurt the enemy and thus cannot be used to the player's advantage, which is a damn shame.

          [-] Gekido fails to punch it's weight in the audio department - despite tunes from Fatboy Slim the music is lacklustre and the sound effects are too lightweight to deliver.

          [-] The inclusion of civilians whom cannot be hurt, and hence solely serve as human traffic.

          [+] Weapons can be fun.

          [+] Gekido has artwork and illustrations by Joe Mad.

          It's a struggle to think of positives - there is some stuff to unlock, but Gekido is just a bloody s**** side-scrolling beat-em-up. It's bad.

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        • Grace - Jeff Buckley / Music Album / 21 Readings / 21 Ratings
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          10.02.2011 01:01
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          Grace by Jeff Buckley

          'Grace' is not the first word that comes to mind when considering the CD cover art (if you can call it that) for the original release of Jeff Buckley's one and only studio album. One could mistaken Columbia to be the album, or artist, it being that bad.

          But there are good songs on this album aplenty. My favourites include opener 'Mojo Pin', which, might seem to ease listeners into Grace, but before not too long the instruments build up for a blistering attack with Jeff Buckley letting loose some soulful wails. Another favourite is 'Lilac Wine'. A song with a simple, slow, but sure rhythm, about an unsteady love. It's difficult not to tempted in another drink/sip as Jeff Buckley pours his soul into this cover.

          And also a favourite off this album, 'So Real' is the first of only a few songs with an obvious chorus, although clever arrangement leaves listener in anticipation. Then there's the guitar solo, which sounds like a pneumatic drill at work.

          In 'Grace' and 'Last Goodbye' is a show of string sections and some strong singing from Jeff Buckley, whilst 'Lover, You Should've Come Over' and 'Dream Brother' feature respectively, a warm organ intro and tabla. All good songs, and the covers, 'Corpus Christi Carol' and 'Hallelujah', with just Jeff and his guitar(s), are just as good. 'Eternal Life' is the weakest track on this album. By Jeff Buckley's admission, it's an angry song. It's slow, but it's not heavy by any means, and the melodies are not memorable.

          There are no lyrics in the inlay, although the songs are not simple to sing! I'm not a fan of Jeff Buckley's singing - he had a tendency to overdo the vocals live however, this is not the case with Grace (and I'm guessing his studio recordings in general). Jeff Buckley doesn't go for straightforward chords and chord progressions, and some of the song structures are complex, at least for my attention span! I guess there are not that many memorable moments in Grace for me.

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          09.02.2011 01:13
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          Appetite For Destruction by Guns N' Roses

          Well, well, well, sex does indeed sell, and Appetite for Destruction, what with the pornographic sounds on Rocket Queen, can be proof of that - over 16 million records sold! (Though this may not have been the case had they chosen to stick with the controversial painting of the same name for the cover art.) Tongue-in-cheek aside, I must admit, although I'd never be a fan of Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction is a really good rock record.

          Music musings:
          1. Welcome to the Jungle; 6. Paradise City; 9. Sweet Child O' Mine
          Appetite for Destruction opens to a swarm of guitars that is Welcome to the Jungle, which is sure to whet the appetite for hard rock! The three tracks are good choice of singles, though not my favourites off this album.

          3. Nightrain; 8. Think About You
          These are my favourite tracks off this album - both happen to begin with a count-in from a cowbell. Nightrain, released as a single, showcases some great guitar solos from Slash. Izzy Stradlin shows some decent leads on Think About You, which he wrote. This song also has a cool clean guitar riff in the choruses. However, it's the singing that is supreme in these songs, and I love how they come to a climax (oh yes I do).

          2. It's So Easy; 5. Mr. Brownstone
          High or low singing - Axl Rose makes it look so easy.

          7. My Michelle
          The opening clean guitar arpeggios effectively establish a dark mood to the song. (A remix of this track is used as Neon Tiger's theme in MegaMan X3!)

          11. Anything Goes
          Including a talkbox! Of which it can sound similar to a Juice Harp and even a harmonica in this song.

          12. Rocket Queen
          Another favourite. A rocking riff, sex sounds, and some great singing in what is, a magnificent second half to the song, means that Rocket Queen comes to multiple climaxes.

          The bass and drums have few standout moments, and despite great guitar work from Slash and Izzy, the star of the show on Appetite for Destruction for me is Axl Rose. His singing prevents the weaker tracks from being forgettable, and he makes many of the tunes on this album that much more memorable.

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          • Star Sweep (PS) / Archive Game / 13 Readings / 11 Ratings
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            07.02.2011 01:40
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            Starsweep for PS

            *A review of Starsweep which primarily focuses on the single-player experience.*

            I've read somewhere Starsweep is said to be similar to Tetris Attack, though the obvious similarities I see is that the pair are puzzlers and have nowt to do with Tetris, despite the latter's title and former's poorly picked Tetrominoes themed PAL release cover art.

            Though there is a Practice mode, Starsweep is simple. Eliminate blocks of the same colour by matching up their stars. The capacity is there for chaining, and there are only three colours. Straightforward stuff.

            The gameplay stays smooth for when the pace of the game picks up, of which it does quite quickly - such is the speed of Starsweep that really quick reactions are required, and it is so that strategy stays secondary. The controls are responsive yet surprisingly their configuration is incomplete, as blocks - given in a fixed position so that a star is facing right to start off with - can only be rotated clockwise.

            There are features to be unlocked by accumulation of Star Pieces. However, as these are rewarded for results, retrying One Player Mode can have its rewards, whereas with Story Mode - which has hilarious Japlish and happens to be harder - not so! Replay value also comes from Attack Mode, whereby there are records to challenge, as well as rewards.

            The graphics are colourful whilst the cartoon characters and sound effects are crazy. Players can select between the original Arcade or PlayStation revolution soundtrack, but both have their weak and strong themes.

            A good, but not great, puzzler with challenging single-player modes.

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            • Cruis'n USA (N64) / Nintendo 64 Game / 21 Readings / 21 Ratings
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              05.02.2011 21:25
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              Cruis'n USA for N64

              The N64 limitations meant Midway were never going to come close to producing a perfect port of the arcade checkpoint racer, Cruis'n USA, but to rub asphalt into the wounds, the title would be censored by Nintendo (at the least animals were removed), whilst bloody fighting games Mortal Kombat Trilogy and Killer Instinct Gold avoided being butchered...

              Speaking of which, the frame rate gets rather choppy when driving through detailed surroundings, such as downtown San Francisco - this is also the section where the external views can be blocked, albeit partially and briefly, by cars behind. There are direction signs in Cruis'n USA but nothing to tell how tight an upcoming turn is - there is a radar for CPU presence, but no map present so you never know until too late, and traffic is sure to come blind as well.

              The analog stick works well for when weaving in and out of the traffic, but the collisions in Cruis'n USA are crazy - traffic does indeed jam, and the CPU are capable of taking each other out, and when vehicles (cars, buses, trucks) come together there's no knowing whom'll be sent spinning. There are collisions where the game just jerks. And, from the traffic cones to the trees, you can send these tumbling - timber! Though there are police cars present on patrol, none are prepared to pull you over.

              See, some of the stuff that happens in Cruis'n USA is silly. There's how the bikini babes (and topless dudes) are stood right behind the finishing line - thankfully for them the racing freezes just as the player passes the finishing line. And also, the initials for a record time to be put up on the Hot Times board should be mirrored for stamping onto the license plate.

              There are only four themes to cycle through for listening to in a race, but the MIDI instrumentation is weak. 'The House Special', with the naughty "ooh ahh", is the best of a bad bunch, but the strongest song is the starting theme.

              It can take about two hours to complete Cruis'n USA for the end credits - this cannot be skipped, yet unlocking goodies requires replaying the game. The game has five difficulty levels, but regardless, despite being a checkpoint racer, players never really run the risk of running out of time. Still, that's not to say it will indeed be cruisin' USA as players need to finish first to progress - though the difficulty of the game depends on the vehicles available. Cool as it was to be sight seeing and landmark spotting in the USA, the game does become a drag, what with the infinite continues.

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            • Motorhead (PS) / Archive Game / 11 Readings / 11 Ratings
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              02.02.2011 01:44
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              Motorhead for PS

              *A review which primarily focuses on the single-player experience.*
              Motorhead can be seen as being halfway between futuristic and modern, and halfway between arcade and simulation, but for sure it's no a half-hearted racing game - far from that.

              Presentation-wise, Motorhead has solid, stylish graphics and a pumping, pulsating techno soundtrack. In the Options menu competition can be sacrificed for smoothness - up to seven computer controlled cars at 25 FPS or only three opponents at 50 FPS. Still, when the PlayStation is pushed to the limits the game suffers slight stutters.

              Cars can be sent drifting with ease, though taking into consideration the tricky nature of the tracks, braking is best. There are some seemingly slack sections in course design - sometimes cornering by slamming sideways into walls works well, as there's not much of a momentum loss. But that's not to say the courses are forgiving - let any of the game's fair share of snakes, snags and snares catch you out, and you may as well say sayonara to the chances of catching up with those already ahead.

              The car physics in this game are not well worked - the CPU cars brush you aside whilst you can barely budge them. However, the CPU opponents do make mistakes on the odd occasion; and oddly, there are situations in which they would rather overtake whilst racing, than slip by should mishap happen upon you.

              Putting some of the single-player modes into pairs: quick race and single race, time attack and ghost mode - there are two of these that are throwaway. League Mode is where further cars and tracks can be unlocked through promotion from the racing divisions. The choice of cars is given for each race, and though starting race positions appear to be arbitrary throughout, all those whom finish the race are awarded points, but as the gap in the distribution is small, this keeps the competition close whilst calling for consistency in performances. Drivers do face the drop if they fail to deliver, which can be disappointing as this then prolongs attempts at winning the final race (a one-on-one). Only those whom can muster manual gears will be able to get the most out of the cars, and thus be in with a chance of becoming the Transatlantic Speed Champion.

              Cars are rated on three parameters: (top) speed, acceleration, and grip. As unlocked cars are better than previous choices, best car or not, the choice is not great since many become obsolete for racing, however two-player is only head-to-head. It would have been cool if the game were able to shift seven cars smoothly but in Motorhead, Digital Illusions have delivered a decent racer for racing fans.

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              • Rapid Racer (PS) / Archive Game / 15 Readings / 15 Ratings
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                01.02.2011 01:17
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                Rapid Racer for PS

                *A review primarily based on the single-player experience.*
                Unfortunately, I didn't have the instruction manual for Rapid Racer, and information on the internet was lacking, so I imagine I figured out the format of this powerboat checkpoint racer the long (and hard) way.

                In the 'One Race' competition, as well as avoiding being timed out, it is necessary to finish first to unlock stuff and thus progress. On top of these requirements, five yellow powerups are to be collected in the course of a race for a boat upgrade. This is tricky - it's not so much the handling of the powerboats rather the reading, and riding of the waves which is difficult to predict. Then there's the Bonus round to tackle which, though much easier, players can equally mess up and miss out on an upgrade - however players are given three attempts. It's hard to see these upgrades as Bonuses though, since the game gets tough enough that you will need them.

                Whilst potential upgrades can be tested, selling to upgrade parts comes at a deficit, and it was not until too late that I knew which powerboat will be unlocked. As such, should players feel forced to start from scratch, then they have to delete the data through the PS bios since the sole memory card save is loaded on starting up Rapid Racer. Note how the game asks for a name yet never does it come up (clearly it's for cheat codes).

                The good and bad of the CPU opponents is that they can collect the green boost powerups as well as the red bad buoys (these slow you down). Powerup placement changes across difficulty setting and the race being at day, at night, or mirrored - though the difficulty rating of these are debateable, half of the courses I felt were rubbish rides. I loathe to play as passenger in the uphill spiral sections. And it's not so much the idea of racing on lava that burns, but rather the orange/red hue of the trail being an eyesore. The lens flare effect however, gives the game a realistic touch. Visually, Rapid Racer is as smooth (game runs at 50fps) as it is rough - what with the pop-up and laggy graphics. Audio-wise, the announcer is annoying, but is drowned out by the sounds of the powerboats and a decent Apollo Four Forty soundtrack.

                By the time the Championship competitions become unlocked, these will feel pointless - as it's still checkpoint racing, it'll just seem silly to be timed out when in first position and not be awarded any points. However players can choose to pause and restart, but not even the powerboat babes in the FMV for winning the Championship make it worthwhile. Then there's the Fractal Generator whereby a hexidecimal code generates a course - though the possibilities are huge the resulting tracks are not great.

                Those into the thrills of powerboat racing might look to lap Rapid Racer up, though they could well be thrown off by the format and modes as these are not well-realised.

                Rapid Racer for PlayStation - 5/10

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