Thursday, May 10, 2007

MUSIC: LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver Album Review

Although the official release for this was in March 2007, this one leaked on the internet sometime in November / December last year. Sucks. Though whether that made any difference to sales, who knows -cos this album kicks. Click the link to read the full review.

LCD Soundsystem
Sound Of Silver
5 stars

The thing I like most about LCD Soundsystem are the moments where half the song seems to go one way while the other half goes the other -and seeing how the two halves come back together. If you try and follow one thread you'll come out with a very defined version of crap, or fantastic. Put them together and you start to see where the talent lies. Not rock, not electro, not anything by itself.

Get Innocuous
, while a great title for a track, features a beat so similar to the hit single Losing My Edge off the self-titled debut, making you wonder if this is going set the scene for a washed out compilation of remixes from their first album. Cowbells, tuned Talking Heads vocals in tribute, crossed with 5th grade socio-political commentary about how shit North Americans really are make up North American Scum, followed by a song that The Killers would have died to have had on their last album -and at the end, a delightful crooning by the man himself in New York I Love You that has more to do with Nilsson than Eno. You can almost spot the songs James Murphy made for the debut on this one too -only this time round there's a level of refinement that was missing from the first album. Less in your face and more intricacy. And a hell of a lot more cow bells. Self-deprecating punk/funk/electro -whatever you wanna call it, no one does it better than DFA.

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TECH: Blu-ray For The Win?

You've probably all read about the so-called sales figures, "Blu-ray outselling HD-DVD by 3-1, by 6-1" etc, etc. I just came across three interesting articles that although rumours, might add more weight to the pro-Blu-ray arguments. Link to more below.

The first one concerns a rumour the Star Wars Trilogies might be Blu-ray exclusive, as there are info pages up on Amazon for the Blu-ray version, but nothing about an HD-DVD version. Of course this could just be down to Amazon not having info on anything on HD-DVD but this is still a bit uncharacteristic.

The second one is from a German tech site, reporting that during a press conference, Pioneer representatives announced that the only major studio exclusively supporting HD-DVD, Universal, will break their exclusivity contract with the HD-DVD camp and support both formats. However, this hasn't been confirmed by Universal yet.

The third is from 1UP, where Peter Moore says an external Blu-Ray drive for the Xbox 360 is a possibility "should Blu-ray win the HD war." Not exactly a vote of confidence for the HD-DVD camp. That said, MS is being smart, and perhaps this is why there wasn't an HD-DVD drive in the new 360 Elite; nor are there plans for this October's 65nm version to include an HD-DVD drive. Either way, MS is being insidiously shrewd about all this - if HD-DVD loses, they can still release a BR drive, and still compete with the PS3.

I dunno, separately, these rumours don't amount to sh*t, but put together (if they're true) with the sales figures of BR outselling HD-DVD, they could spell the beginning of the end for the HD-DVD camp. Either way, I just want one of them to hurry up and win so that we finally get an HD-player for our HD-TVs. It's like VHS vs. Betamax all over again, only this time Sony might actually come out on top.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

MUSIC: Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things Album Review (2006)

Okay, I know this is another oldie, but its a goodie. In case you missed these guys the first time round, here's another look at their exceptional second LP. Think Hot Chip mixed with LCD Sound System...

Click below for the full review

Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things
Tirk/Word & Sound
4 stars

"We were just pretending to be Japanese," admit this strangely named trio, but Fujiya & Miyagi have managed to pull off another album worthy of adding to the already respectable sized collection of Krautrock-electro albums -and in doing so, push us that much closer to finding a new genre to fuck with. Best described as part Germanic-rock (Kraftwerk / Can / Neu!), part Talking Heads, part 90’s electronica (Aphex Twin / Four Tet / Air), Transparent Things collects all of the tracks from Fujiya & Miyagi's first 3 EPs, along with an exclusive new track, Cylinders.

Combined with eclectic lyrics like: I’ve got a slow, a slow, a slow, metabolism, F & M have gathered a legion of admirers, among whom may be counted DFA, Tiga and Hot Chip. Ankle Injuries turns stumbling across a discarded porn magazine on the way to school into some kind of epiphany, while Collarbone reminisces about wanting to pick up a girl but needing a new pair of shoes first. Fujiya & Miyagi's low profile is unexplainable -herein lie the best Japanese-devotee-krautrockers from the UK -they're up there with Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem and Tiga and if you liked the Hot Chip album, you'll love this.

Best bit: Got to get a new pair of shoes / to kick it with her / not kick it with you

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Monday, May 7, 2007

WTF: Sony Slaughters Goat for God Of War 2 Party

One word. Euw (Does WTF count?). More info after the Read More! jump below.

Sony used a freshly slaughtered goat to promote the company's new God Of War II video game for the PS2 console. According to the Daily Mail, the dead animal's still-warm corpse was used as the highlight and centerpiece during a launch party for "God of War II." Sony challenged guests to reach inside the goat's carcass and eat offal, which were bought elsewhere and intended to resemble the animal's entrails.

• Click here to read the full story in The Daily Mail.

The company then further caused outrage when it used images from the party in its official PlayStation magazine. After being contacted by The Daily Mail, however, Sony issued an apology and promised to recall the materials. Here are is the full explanation and apology from Sony:

"The media event for the PS2 title God of War ll took place in Athens, Greece on 1st March. Approximately 20 journalists from European countries attended the event from a variety of gaming and lifestyle media - although none were from the UK.

The event was a theatrical dramatisation with a Greek mythological theme and, as part of the set dressing, a dead goat was provided by the production company from a qualified local butcher. Following the mainstream popularity of shows such as 'I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of here' a series of challenges were set for the journalists. The 'warm entrails' referred to in the invitation and in the Mail on Sunday article was actually a meat soup, made to a traditional Greek recipe and served to attendees in china bowls direct from the caterers. There was never any question of journalists being able to touch the goat, or indeed eat the soup direct from the body of the goat, as one report has alleged. The goat was returned to the butcher at the end of the event.

The article in UK Official PlayStation Magazine (OPSM), from which the Mail on Sunday article was sourced, was written by a journalist who did not attend and done on the basis of the invitation for the event, which employed a degree of hyperbole in order to encourage attendance - the journalist chose to take it as fact!

The photograph was one of many supplied to the magazine to provide a balanced view of the event. Unfortunately, the article was sensationalised and focused on a picture that was unrepresentative of the wider event. When we saw the article for the first time on Thursday of last week we contacted the Publisher of OPSM who accepted that the article was not appropriate for their broad audience. On Friday, before we had received any contact from the media, they agreed to remove the centre page article before the magazine goes on general sale.

We recognise that the use of a dead goat was in poor taste and fell below the high standards of conduct we set ourselves. We are conducting an enquiry to establish the circumstances behind the event in order to ensure this does not happen again. We also apologise to anyone offended by the article in the OPSM (subscription copies were sent out ahead of street date)."

Dave Karraker
Sr. Director, Corporate Communications
Sony Computer Entertainment America

Animal rights groups are in a complete uproar over Sony's stunt. The International Fund for Animal Welfare said it was "outrageous" that the animal's death had been used "to sell a few computer games".

All I can say is they must never have played Black & White, cos there aren't many games that let a cow become the right hand man of a deity.

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Wii: Nintendo's 2007 Wii Games Lineup

So, Wii owners, what IS life like after Wii Sports and Zelda? What now?

Click below to find out what Nintendo has in store for the rest of 2007.

So yes, maybe you've had the nights with friends round, laughing hysterically at the first three levels of Warioware, the odd scrub in with Trauma Centre, or rediscovered the joy of a very Mario childhood in Super Paper Mario, but what now?

* Donkey Kong Taru Jet Race (DK Jet or DK Bongo Blast, US) - June 28

* Wii Health Pack - TBC

* Disaster: Day of Crisis - TBC

* Mario Party 8 - TBC

* Project H.A.M.M.E.R. - TBC

* Wii Music - TBC

* Super Mario Galaxy - TBC

* Super Smash Bros. Brawl - TBC

* Battalion Wars II - TBC

* Forever Blue - TBC

* Mario Strikers Charged - TBC

* Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - TBC

* Mario and Sonic at the Olympics - TBC

Watch this post for more details, screenshots and possibly demo videos of the above games.

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

PS3 / Xbox 360: Xbox Live vs. Playstation Home

By far the best online service for gamers right now, Xbox Live features downloadable games, movies, demos, TV shows, and a whole host of other online goodness, like being able to join games that you see your friends are playing. Until now, Sony's answer to this has lain in the relatively pokey Playstation Store -and while it offers downloadable games and demos, it is very much an empty closet so far.

Sony's upcoming response to XBL lies in what it calls Playstation Home. An online virtual community akin to Second Life, and resembling the Sims 2 for its visual scope and customization of characters, and one that has just recently opened its doors for beta trial testing for US customers.

Does it have what it takes? On the one hand, XBL is a lesson in simplicity and some would say a lesson in how to make gaming online very, very boring. Home however, while looking incredibly grand and impressive, might just be a total waste of our time, no doubt there will be people who just "game" on Home, and not by playing actual PS3 games.

Click the link below to a video comparison

Playstation Home vs. Xbox Live video comparison

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PS3: Upcoming PS3 Games Releases

Hexus Gaming has posted a nice collection of upcoming games for the PS3. About time too, seeing as playing Motorstorm over and over again is getting tiring (and incidentally, where is the hotly anticipated two-player mode? Get with it Sony!).

Click the Read More! link below for more screenshots and info about upcoming PS3 games, courtesy of Hexus Gaming.

Some of these aren't PS3 exclusives, but still. Killzone 3 costing 20m pounds to produce? WTF? This had better be good -you could practically make a Hollywood film for that.

Killzone 3: Estimated Street date - TBA

The third installment of the KillZone franchise is believed to be costing Guerilla games £20 million to develop. There are little details known about the game, but a trailer was released at GDC this year showing a mixture of on-foot and vehicle battles, plus destructible environments.

Sony's Phil Harrison has recently said, "With Killzone, the expectation internally and externally is very high - and I won't show it until it's going to exceed people's expectations. It will be next year before we show it again, but it's coming along very well. The teams are working very hard, they know exactly what they have to do and there's no doubt they will achieve it, but there's nothing to be served by something that doesn't satisfy my goals for the project. I can tell you, though, that some elements already exceed the trailer."

Metal Gear Solid 4- Guns of the Patriots: Estimated Street date - Q4 2007

The Metal Gear Solid series, is highly acclaimed worldwide. From infiltrating enemy compounds and man-made structures in MGS and MGS2, to the challenges of the jungle environment in MGS3, MGS4 brings a totally new concept and situation, resulting in the toughest Metal Gear infiltration mission ever devised. The game is set after the events of MGS2 and players will reprise the role of top secret agent Solid Snake with appearances by characters throughout the MGS series. With the addition of online capability, MGS4 is a leading product for "PS3" and will signal the dawn of a new gaming era for the MGS series.

FINAL FANTASY XIII and FINAL FANTASY Versus XIII: Estimated Street date - TBA

This eagerly anticipated title will apparently take full advantage of the PlayStation 3 system's advanced hardware, providing tangible, intuitive controls while delivering seamless transitions between real-time gameplay and stunning in-game cinematics. The latest in cutting-edge technology has been utilized in development of FINAL FANTASY XIII, thus making this newest addition to the FINAL FANTASY series worthy of the title "next generation."

Not a merely a sequel, but a wholly independent story unfolding in a different world with different characters, Final Fantasy Versus XIII will appear alongside FINAL FANTASY XIII on the PlayStation 3 system.

Gran Turismo 5: Estimated Street date: 2008

Gran Turismo 5 is currently under development for the Playstation 3. It is claimed that the game will output at 1080p and run at 60fps. The game may include online races for the first time ever in a Gran Turismo game, and realistic damage modelling,[citation needed] which has been missing from all previous GT games, although both these features were also promised for Gran Turismo 4 and ultimately not delivered. The game will also feature Ferrari cars for the first time in a Gran Turismo game. There may also be motorbikes featured in the game, probably similar to those found in one of Polyphony's earlier game Tourist Trophy. The game is expected to feature even more vehicles than the 700 found in the earlier Gran Turismo 4 game for the PlayStation 2. The Blu-Ray disk will help to make the game even more diverse than it already is.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction: Estimated Street date - Autumn 2007

The sixth installment of the Ratchet and Clank series.The game was first announced at the 2006 Game Developers Conference, where a Ratchet & Clank next-gen tech demonstration was shown for the PlayStation 3. Many new worlds and weapons will be introduced into the game like in previous installments of the series. It will also be more of a platform game because Insomniac wanted to stop the series from becoming the more weapon based combat game it had become in UYA and Deadlocked.

Lair: Estimated Street date - September 2007

In a world ravaged by endless conflict and natural disaster, a call for peace turns into a bloodbath of betrayal and deceit. Playing as a warrior riding a voracious dragon trained for deadly aerial and ground combat, and capable of scorching, clawing and smashing thousands of enemies, gamers must defeat countless armies to save a civilization. Together, the gamer and the beast will attempt to change the destiny of a world on the brink of extinction. Mmmm, nice water effects

Resident Evil 5: Estimated release date - 2008

Resident Evil 5 promises to revolutionize the series by delivering an unbelievable level of detail, realism and control. Resident Evil 5 is certain to bring new fans to the series while expanding the world of video game entertainment to new heights; confirming once again Capcom's long standing reputation as a bold innovator within the industry.

The emergence of the Resident Evil series began in 1996 and gamers around the world were quickly immersed in the game's engrossing story and wowed by its technological achievements. A runaway hit since its introduction, the entire series has sold more than 27 million units worldwide, winning numerous awards and revolutionizing the survival horror genre. Resident Evil is a proven franchise that continues to captivate gamers with each new installment.

John Woo presents Stranglehold: Estimated Street date - September 2007

Stranglehold allows gamers to play a John Woo-directed action blockbuster movie. Dual-wielding, stunt-laden gunplay combined with massive destructible environments ensures that Stranglehold will be a true tour-de-force. The environmental interactivity and two-fisted gunplay all come online, bringing the experience to a whole new level.

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