L O A D issue 12
CAZALS WE CHAT TO EAST LONDON’S FINEST AND GET TO GRIPS WITH THEIR DEBUT ALBUM
MURDER ON PROM NIGHT
TIM MELIDEO’S STUNNING PHOTO SERIES
LIVE BLOWOUT HUGE LIVE COVERAGE FEATURING CAMDEN CRAWL, ECC AND MORE...
THE INCREDIBLE THE GREEN GIANT IS BACK...
ALMOST PERFECTION AFTER BREAKING RECORDS LEFT, RIGHT AND CENTRE, WE ASSESS IF GTA IV IS THE BEST VIDEO GAME TO DATE
WE CHAT TO LEAD SINGER BILLY LUNN ABOUT TRIUMPING OVER ADVERSITY TO CREATE THEIR WONDERFUL SECOND ALBUM
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL INDY’S BACK, BUT IS HE WORTH THE FUSS, 19 YEARS AFTER HIS LAST CRUSADE?
8.the subways 14.cazals
50.the incredible hulk
18.cazals - ‘what of our future’ 18.death cab for cutie - ‘narrow stairs’ 19.cage the elephant - ‘cage the elephant’ 19.the pigeon detectives - ‘emergency’ 19.the ting tings - ‘we started nothing’
20.camden crawl 2008 34.eastern conference champions 36.the subways 48.bitchee bitchee ya ya ya
issue 12 - june 2008
66.superhero movie 67.indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull 68.iron man 72.speed racer 73.the ruins
74.death on prom night
written, edited and produced by Sam Bathe www.loadmagazine.co.uk email@example.com
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Trouble in paradise, bliss on the farm For any upcoming indie band, getting signed is the Holy Grail. Bands will play shows for days, weeks, even months on end, with the hope a big record company exec. might just be in the crowd wanting to give them their big chance. But while a handful find fame, fortune and success under the guidance of a popular label, even more will tell you it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
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Second helping Not often to do bands get asked back for a second stint in Daytrotter’s studios, given the wealth of musical talent out there. It’s not that bands don’t make the standard, but so many other groups are knocking on the door for a chance to show what they’ve got.
Releasing their fantastic self-titled debut EP on hometown label Aeronaut Records, The Shys were soon picked up Warner Bros. Records offshoot Sire. Already home to an impressive roster, The Shys had the guile, class, and most importantly talent, to stand out on one of music’s big four majors. Sire sent them straight into the studio and The Shys returned with 11-track stormer ‘Astoria’, full of ambition and powerful tracks. After being well received by the music press and boasting an ever increasing fan base, you’d think Sire would want to push on with a new record but led by the evervescent Kyle Krone, The Shys were heading places with a more cultured approach and a new mesmerising sound, for some reason the label were never really on board, trying to force the band down routes that wouldn’t hold true. Dropping Sire and returning back to Aeronaut Records for second studio album ‘You’ll Never Understand This Band The Way That I Do’, The Shys are free, energised and ready for more. Tours are currently being finalised, including a spot on the bill for fellow Sire drop-outs The Von Bondies’ forthcoming LA gig, and a single is due any minute now. The Shys are right back on track. ‘You’ll Never Understand This Band The Way That I Do’ will be released on Aeronaut Records in June.
Trailer park Given their wonderful debut album, the majority of which was left unexplored last time around, Delta Spirit unsurprisingly filled their return to Daytrotter with a handful of wonderful tracks from ‘Ode To Sunshine’. You can download Delta Spirit’s sophomore selection from Daytrotter.com 4
Hit the cinema and you expect trailers. If the listed time is 8.30pm, there’ll be ten minutes of adverts following a similar amount of “other films you might enjoy”, with the main feature kicking in up to twenty minutes later. It’s part of the experience. Relaxing at home you want something different. Pull
a DVD from your collection for either a quick thrill or a lazy movie evening, and after powering up your player you’d hope to get straight into the action. For some reason a new phenomena is hitting home entertainment.
On an increasing number of DVD releases, distributers are now invading films with a pocket load of film trailers before the menu kicks in. In the cinema I’m all for getting a sneak peak of what’s to come, but on DVDs there’s just no need. At home, you can hit-up Apple’s trailer website and catch the latest teasers and then even visit IMDB to boot. The pre-menu DVD trailers are often irrelevant to the film you’re about to watch, out of date unless you get to grips with the disc the minute you get home from the shops, and unforgivably, they’re almost always unskippable. If you’ve got five minutes to fill or just want to quickly refresh your memory of a particular scene, you’ll come unstuck. Click play to find to trailers popping up and even disc menu buttons or chapter advance options won’t work. I’m not sure if studios are trying to push this as the norm, but I for one couldn’t find it any more annoying.
Flash issuu Our issues are now available in glorious, page turnable, flash-based technology, with a little help from the wonderful people at issuu.com
The Frat pack have ruled cinema’s comedy world for some time now despite lacking the big hits of the turn of the century, but with Ben Stiller behind the camera once more, Tropic Thunder marks the turnaround. Costarring Jack Black as a famous comedy actor and Robert Downey Jr. as a multi-Oscar winning method actor, alongside Stiller as action superstar Tugg Speedman, the cast set out to the jungle to film an epic war movie, only to be drawn into battle themselves. In cinemas 19th September 2008.
A knife in my ear After releasing second album ‘The Sun and the Moon’ just over a year ago, The Bravery always harboured hopes to remix their sophomore works and re-package the LP as a 2-disc reimagining. Working on the alternate versions in the back of their tour bus last summer, before heading to the studio once more late 2007 to finish up their concept, ‘The Sun and the Moon Complete’ was born.
Same Teens are 1 The brainchild of five enthusiastic Mancunian teenagers, Same Teens are a music loving team bearing fruit of a popular fanzine, countless gigs and an impressive reputation as DJs. Put on the same bill as the likes of Foals, Iggy and the Stooges and The Sunshine Underground and organising events with The Answering Machine and many more, never mind running a show on XFM, Same Teens’ first birthday will be a night to remember. With Clint Boom on the bill and taking over the wonderful Hacienda venue, if you’re in Manchester on June 28th, there’s only one place to be.
Harbouring the original 12 track album on disc 1, The Sun version, and the new, remixed tracks on disc 2, The Moon version, The Bravery’s finished double record is proof of why they stormed the music scene back in 2005. While The Sun boasts cultured indie riffs, The Moon harks back to the band’s electro roots, basked in experimental synths and Sam Endicott’s trademark vocals. While their first ‘Sun and the Moon’ release was fantastic, the ‘Complete’ version is even better, proving buzz bands can indeed outlive the ‘band of the moment’ tag, and forge a hugely successful career. 5
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LOAD talks to... The Subways
T he ‘difficult second album’ is a phenomena that hits all too many bands after an inventive debut record, unable to take their potential to new levels and mature their sound. The Subways give new meaning to the term. After smashing onto the scene back in 2005 with their bullish first LP ‘Young For Eternity’, the band have been plagued with problems from lead singer Billy Lunn almost permanently losing his voice to countless gig and tour postponements and Lunn and bassist Charlotte Cooper’s break-up. We caught up with Billy to see what is has been like living the life of one of Britain’s most turbulent bands and how it feels to be back on track once more ahead of the release of their followup album ‘All Or Nothing’ this June. The band shot to fame shortly after the debut album ‘Young for Eternity’, were you surprised by your sudden emergence? Yeah we were always surprised by the attention we were given after we released ‘Young For Eternity’. We were very young then, and really just wanted to play as many shows as we possibly could! Way back in 2005, do you think The O.C. effect had a big impact on where the band is today, particularly in terms of cracking America? Yeah, I definitely think appearing on the show allowed us to showcase our music to a lot of people who otherwise would not have heard of about us. That was an amazing opportunity because it meant that we could extensively tour America, which is one thing a lot of bands don’t get a chance to do and it’s also one thing that we’ve always wanted. But things took a turn for the worse in 2006, did you ever think about scrapping the band when you were diagnosed with nodules on your vocal chords? There were points during that period where things were particularly difficult because I couldn’t sing at all and 10
we were all worried that I might never sing again. If that had happened, then yes, the band would have totally fallen apart but we all stayed strong and positive because music is the most important thing to us. What did you do to pass the time during your recovery period? We jammed in rehearsal studios for hours on end – much like Jimi Hendrix or Cream would have done in their early days! So we found ourselves being creative even when I couldn’t sing or even speak at that point. I also began to write in a journal, which helped me articulate my thoughts and become more analytical and opinionated about everything that was going around me in my life and in the music industry. It really affected the musical and lyrical aspects of what was to be our new album, ‘All Or Nothing’. Were you nervous the first few shows back? We were definitely nervous about our first few shows when we started playing because we like to have lots of fun onstage, dance about and get the audience singing and clapping but all the worry soon disappeared and we realised how much we missed playing shows. How is your voice now?
My voice is better than it’s ever been! I can’t believe how well I can sing. I can scream louder too, which is an even better thing! How did the whole experience impact on the band dynamic? It made us realise how much we love music and gave us a perspective that many bands don’t have the opportunity of getting. We were able to step out of the whirlwind of touring and playing music for a while and really look at how we wanted our new album to sound. We had quite a lot of time to write new songs and really talk about what we really felt was important to the band. After your ill heath and then the break with Charlotte while recording, you must have gone through great difficulty completing your second album, but also found great inspiration in everything you had battled past, how do you think ‘All Or Nothing’ was affected? It gave us the confidence to really say how we felt. Lyrically we wanted to be honest and wear our hearts on our sleeves and after the break up we really concentrated on the music and making the best record we possibly could. It made ‘All Or Nothing’ a more interesting, more aggressive album than it would have otherwise been.
Where there any other producers you had lined up before deciding on Butch Vig? There were quite a producers that we’d met before we decided calling Butch Vig, but that was only because we didn’t think Butch Vig would want to work with us! He’s such a legend, and we didn’t think he’d be enticed to work with three suburban English kids but he liked the songs and we found a common ground that we didn’t experiences with the other producers we’d met up with. What was it like working with a man of Butch’s musical stature? I don’t think any of us were scared or nervous around Butch at all, not even to begin with. We were just so confident and excited about finally making the new album that we got down to recording it and had a great time. Butch is one of the nicest and most genuine guys we’ve ever met. First single ‘Girls & Boys’ is certainly more aggressive than a lot of your music on ‘Young for Eternity’, is that a sign of your sound on the rest of the new album? ‘Girls & Boys’ is probably the heaviest and most ambitious track on the album, but yes I think people will be surprised with how much louder ‘All Or Nothing’ is in comparison with ‘Young For Eternity’. ‘All Or Nothing’ is much more intelligent, punkier and aggressive. Why did you decide to release the single for free? We felt that we had been away for such a long time that we wanted to give everyone a special present from our new album as a big thank you for waiting so long for us, so we gave it away for free. What do you think of the music scene you’ve returned to? I don’t think there are many good songwriters out there at the moment. There are a lot of British bands especially who are just focussing on style and not really looking at the idea of making a song – something with impact and dynamics. There aren’t many songs around that you can sing along to at the moment. You’re no doubt hoping for a more pain free run-in to future records, where do you want to take the band over the next few years? No, I embrace pain! As much as I embrace excitement and lots of happy times! I want lots of things to write about, because I want to make interesting and thoughtful albums about life and experiences, and play as many live shows as we can. I want to be totally exhausted by how many shows we play because I love playing guitar and singing and writing songs so much. It’s my life. g 11
I want to be totally exhausted by how many shows we play because I love playing guitar and singing and writing songs so much. It’s my life.
The Subways’ sophomore album, ‘All Or Nothing’, will be in stores June 30th
OUT FROM THE SHADOWS
LOAD talks to... Cazals
C azals’ long awaited debut album is at last among us, released in Japan a week before the UK having built up an enviable fan-base while supporting Daft Punk. On the cusp of success with 1234 Records before finding themselves label-less one morning, Kitsuné soon recognised the band’s potential and put the East London five-piece to work. Before they set out on a huge tour that will see them play festivals and dates across Europe as well as going back to Japan, we tracked down guitarist/manager Daniel and bassist/producer Martin for a catch up in anticipation of their wonderful debut album hitting stores. After a mammoth never-ending UK tour in 2005, we haven’t heard much from you in the last couple of years, what have you been up to?
when they were in Japan, sent us a message on Myspace asking if they could put it on their compilation album, Maison 2, we said yes. Then a short while later they asked if we were signed, we weren’t so they set about putting pen to paper. With a heritage in electronica, did Kitsuné have a big influence on your album ‘What of our Future’? D: The biggest influence Kitsuné had was to give us complete control of how and what we recorded, that’s not a back handed comment, it was very refreshing and important that we didn’t have an A&R guy sitting in the room every evening hearing what we’d done and asking for more tambourine. How does the album sound compared with your earlier demos and EP? Martin: It’s much more thought out and possibly more self-indulgent, although I’m not sure if that will come across to a listener. When you get to that stage in your career the most important thing is to satisfy yourself and make yourself happy. Whether anyone else likes it remains to be seen. That would be a bonus. Is it more a “get in, play some songs, get out” album or a flowing collection of tracks? D: A huge amount of thought and preparation went into the making of the album and it was our intention to make an album that wasn’t just a bunch of singles and a bit of filler. Hopefully people will enjoy listening to the album from start to finish.
Daniel: We pretty much spent 2006 in the same vein; non-stop gigging, then we got a bit frustrated with it all and waited patiently for Kitsune to put us in the studio. We made the album this time last year and have been getting our act together ever since.
Are there any surprises in store on the album?
There was misfortune and after recording your first single for the now defunct 1234 Records, everything the band owned was stolen? With a massive party to help earn some funds to buy instruments back...
D: As the songs are written by everyone, it’s hard to say that there is a particular inspiration for a track, musically. I come up with the guitar parts by just playing for hours on end and hope that will be the basis for a new song. I think Phil would say lyrically he is inspired by what goes on in his life, this album is in the most part quite autobiographical for Phil and the relationships and interactions he has with others.
D: That’s the crux of it. It was 3 years ago now; someone robbed our studio just as we were finishing our debut single ‘Beat Me To The Bone’. So we hired a Turkish gambling den and put on a few bands and dj’s and a lot of people turned out, more than we expected, which was nice. We managed to buy a few cheap guitars and then found 3 of our old ones in a pawn shop in Bethnal Green. They tracked the thief down, he got arrested, they didn’t find the rest of our equipment and amazingly he got off despite him selling our stolen gear. You’ve since signed to wonderful French label Kitsuné, how did that come about? D: They heard our old single, ‘Poor Innocent Boys’,
M: Yes, maybe not all pleasant but certainly surprising... Where do you find the inspiration for your tracks?
Is it peculiar managing the band (Daniel/guitarist) and producing your music (Martin/bass) while also being a playing member, or much better as you’re more focussed on achieving success? M: I can’t really say… I’m more than happy that Dan is looking after me. He’s one of my best friends. D: Martin producing the album was the most logical thing. We have recorded with a fair few people and it would always end up with Martin sitting there arguing
with them until they made the track sound how he thought it should. So when we were going to do the album I told our manager at the time that Martin had to produce it or we weren’t doing it. As for me managing, we let our old manager go for various reasons last year and as I had always helped with a lot of the day to day managing of the band, everyone felt that I should take over at least until a Peter Grant-style manager turned up and promised us the world. What was it like to open for Daft Punk in Japan last year? One of the perks of being signed to a fantastic label no doubt... D: The greatest gigs I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. The crowds were amazing and really receptive, then getting to watch Daft Punk for three nights was incredible; their shows were absolutely awesome. Daft Punk and all their crew are the nicest people, we thought we’d be lucky to say ‘hello’ at some point to Thomas and Guy Manuel but they came into to our dressing room on the first night and told us to come and have drinks with them and we pretty much followed them around every other night. We’ve stayed in touch and Martin’s in the middle of building them a synth as a thank you for allowing us to support them. How is your French fan base shaping up given your French label and recording your debut album in Paris? Did you play many shows while you were over there? M: We didn’t play any shows during the recording; I didn’t think it was a good idea to mix two very different disciplines. And as for the French fan base, I really wouldn’t know. Unfortunately, we don’t play over there enough. D: We did turn up at this bar one night and were made to do a couple of songs with a little acoustic, and at some other place we did a bit of live band karaoke, not sure if we won over anyone with our drunk renditions though. g 16
Cazals ‘What Of Our Future’ (Kitsuné) Many of Cazals’ fan will have heard about them way back in 2005 as the band spent almost the entire year on the road, touring nonstop up and down the UK, but after releasing their wonderful ‘Poor Innocent Boys’ EP, won’t have heard too much since. The guitar heavy East London five-piece, having been left homeless by vapour label 1234 Records, were quickly snapped up by Kitsuné and set to work on their debut LP. Titled ‘What Of Our Future’, the 11 track salvo encapsulates the energy and verve from the band’s earlier demos but with a more measured approach that was previous missing. You could argue Cazals have lost a little of their bite but over the 40 minute record, it makes for a much better listening experience. That said, lead singer Phil’s rough and ready trademark voice still shines through but feels more balanced alongside the band’s simply brilliant guitar hooks and riffs. From the first few tracks dance label Kitsuné’s influence can certainly be 18
felt. Excellent recent single ‘Somebody, Somewhere’ will soon have you dancing along, making use of some catchy lyrics and effervescent percussion. Glorious Spandau Ballet cover ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ is more synth heavy than ever before, weighing in with electronic feeling guitar rhythms for each 100 mph verse. ‘Life Is Boring’ will hold long on the memory, opening with the band’s signature deep bass, soon jeering the dull and sheltered life in a sleepy town. The song certainly has a more filled out feel to early versions, background noise bombarding listeners without the past ear ripping roughness. At first listen standout track ‘Poor Innocent Boys’ has gone the other way. Phil’s vocals feel over-produced and opening guitar notes without the necessary power. The song is still amongst the best on the album, but it might take a few listens for seasoned fans to really enjoy. Elsewhere, ‘Comfortable Silence’ and ‘We’re Not The Same’ show a slower side to the band, the former boasting a fitting arrogance that carries surprisingly well without tipping over the edge and the latter seeing Cazals’ at last opening their frenzied heart. It would be interesting to see what Cazals would have produced without the influence of an electro label but ‘What Of Our Future’ is nonetheless, a vigorous showpiece of guitar enthused talent, anyone would be proud of.
calming, light guitar before bombarding listeners with powerful chords and emphatic drums, setting the pace for the rest of the album.
Death Cab For Cutie ‘Narrow Stairs’ (Atlantic Records) Newcomers to Death Cab For Cutie might be surprised to find such a densely populated discography. Forming over 10 years ago, despite never quite breaking into the mainstream, the band have amassed a devout indie following, lapping up every one of their six previous studio albums, and after a three year wait since the most recent LP, ‘Plans’, ‘Narrow Stairs’ arguably comes under the most anticipation. For followers new or old, ‘Narrow Stairs’ is a striking piece of work, harbouring similar bittersweet tendencies to ‘Plans’ but with a faster, more abrasive undertone. Lead singer Ben Gibbard’s silky, sultry vocals take an excellent lead once more opposite an equally melodic back chorus of spritely guitars, persuasive bass and occasional soothing organs. From opener ‘Bixby Canyon Bridge’ right through to final track ‘The Ice Is Getting Thinner’, ‘Narrow Stairs’ won’t disappoint for a moment. The aforementioned lead-in picking up right where ‘Plans’ left off, gently rousing interest with
Meandering between pacy tracks and slower refresher songs, ‘Narrow Stairs’ feels like real time and effort has been put into making it. Wonderful progressive 8 minute track ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’ will have you turning back for more, carefully arranging a slew of instruments into the diverse and compelling final form. The likes of ‘Cath...’ and ‘Long Division’ will slot in effortlessly into any Death Cab compilation, sticking to the band’s trademark composition. Either side of Gibbard’s story telling lyrics, alternating guitar riffs drag your attention this way and that before coming together for each intense chorus. ‘Grapevine Fires’ boasts a Radiohead-esque calming rhythm, swapping the striking baseline for soothing calls for love. The chirpy ‘In Sunlight’ and teary ‘Your New Twin Sized Bed’ continue the trend of brilliance, and complete Death Cab For Cutie’s songbook variation. Boasting gloriously dark lyrics, ‘Narrow Stairs’ is a poignant return for Death Cab that overshadows even the best of their previous work. The album plays effortlessly throughout and will have listeners swooning despite the frequently heart-breaking message. ‘Narrow Stairs’ will be top of your playlist for a long time to come.
Cage The Elephant ‘Cage The Elephant’ (Relentless/DSP) Already with a Queens Of The Stone Age support slot under their belts, it’s not surprisingly Cage The Elephant’s brand of uncompromising classic rock is going places. Filling a spot somewhere between the aforementioned Wolfmother and fellow Americans Kings Of Leon, Cage The Elephant come filled with boundless energy and the thirst for excitement. Capturing the vivacity of their live performances, Cage The Elephant’s self titled debut album will leave you gasping for air despite cutting off after a relatively short 40 minutes. Opening with ‘In One Ear’ to a decidedly stronger first half, the song boasts a youthful swagger so fitting to the sound, ushering that the band don’t care what people think, they’re just in the business to make music. The classic Americana hard rock riffs continue throughout the meandering ‘James Brown’ and superb ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’, both of which display a musical aptitude far beyond the band’s relative inexperience.
The relentless ‘Tiny Little Robots’ and lead singer Matt Shultz’s carefree vocals hark back to an older day in music and yet are just what the saturated indie scene needs right now. Towards the end of the album, the pace starts to tail off and the likes of ‘Judas’ and ‘Soil To The Sun’ can quite match what came before but ‘Free Love’ gives a truly explosive finish. Cage The Elephant haven’t quite mastered their obvious talent just yet, but this self titled LP shows boundless promise and still offers more than enough for fans to enjoy.
The Pigeon Detectives ‘Emergency’ (Dance To The Radio) Released almost a year to the day since breakthrough debut LP ‘Wait For Me’, ‘Emergency’ sees Yorkshire band The Pigeon Detectives hope to solidify themselves as indie rock frontrunners. The quintet are famed for their emphatic riffs and racy songs but despite a wonderful first album, cynics have struggled to see beyond each track’s near identical structure.
First single and album opener ‘This Is An Emergency’ gives more than a hint as to the direction of The Pigeon Detectives’ follow-up record. Filled with the very same dominant harmonies and off-beat riffs listeners have become accustomed to since ‘Wait For Me’, before lead singer Matt Bowman wails in with “Don’t make me go, don’t make me go home!” The track would slot perfectly into the band’s first album, which given the close proximity of this sophomore release, is not entirely surprising. Standout track ‘Keep On Your Dress’ is amongst The Pigeon Detectives’ best to date, offering a more relaxed verse before the typically energetic track title chants. Beyond slow song ‘Nothing To Do With You’ a bare few of the rest of the album will breach your speakers and really get your heart pounding. There is certainly an attraction to ‘Emergency’ and there’s nothing to particularly pick out that the band have done wrong, the album just doesn’t really do enough beyond a hugely successful debut. Despite the title, ‘Emergency’ lacks the breathtaking raw passion and energy you know The Pigeon Detectives possess deep inside, and feels like a second album from a contented band without ever pushing themselves. Hardened fans will no doubt be pleased with more of the same but shouldn’t be surprised if festival crowds pass on the opportunity to sing along to this latest batch of tracks.
The Ting Tings ‘We Started Nothing’ (Columbia Records) Coming from nowhere, quickly boasting features in media across the UK and topping the BBC’s Sound of 2008 poll, The Ting Tings have created a buzz about their new album that sadly feels far from justified. Singles ‘Great DJ’ and ‘That’s Not My Name’ suggested this new indie-electro duo had legs, but alongside another 8 tracks for their debut album, it’s much harder to get excited. That said, ‘We Started Nothing’ is not dreadful, it just lacks the exuberance of The Ting Tings’ live performances that sets them alight on stage. ‘Fruit Machine’ and ‘Shut Up And Let Me Go’ get you dancing along though like the rest of the album, the tracks are so simply composed they’ll be out of your head in minutes. The Ting Tings will undoubtedly find a big fan base of spritely pop loving listeners but their staying power is arguable and ‘We Started Nothing’ will slip out of the charts before you know it.
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THE EDIBLE HULK
T he brainchild of legendary comic book writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirkby, Hulk debuted in a Marvel comic series in 1962. Wanting to create a combination of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein, the superhero’s split personality, with Bruce Banner’s fear of his dark side, and Hulk’s wanton aggression and disregard for morals captivated the comic book world, as Banner transforms into the green beast every time he gets angry.
Despite being cancelled for a few years in the mid 1960s, the comic series was soon brought back and has been in production to this very day, further spawning a cult TV series from the late 1970s. After the advancement of CGI, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Hulk made it onto the big screen, and with Oscar award winning director Ang Lee on board, the first Hulk film seemed a sure-fire hit. But despite a big opening weekend, reviews were mixed causing a huge dip in second week takings and leaving Hulk deemed a relative failure. The film was largely criticised by fans for neglecting Bruce Banner’s inner turmoil, with the plot focussed on showing the Hulk as a fugitive, while the beasts’ appearance was not realistic enough for most fans. However, after the still highly profitable silver screen debut, a sequel was planned, and writer Zak Penn set about creating the second film. A few drafts down the line and Penn’s new script was said to embody more like the original TV series but the studio bosses and attached director Louis Leterrier were never entirely pleased. After Penn left the project to work on The Grand, The Incredible Hulk was set for a new direction. After Batman Begins set new benchmarks for comic book adaptations, Leterrier wanted to give the film a more adult feel, with more realistic and frightening monsters and a darker story. Enter Edward Norton. A fan since his youth, Norton re-imagined the film as a reboot, focussing on Bruce Banner’s conflict with the power within that holds so much potential and yet is the bane of his existence. After his alter ego was caused by exposure to gamma radiation, The Incredible Hulk does though still see Banner again on the run. On a search for a cure, Banner is being hunted down by the military who want to use his power for their own force, and after getting their hands on his experiments, expose soldier Emile Blonsky to the same radiation and mutate his body to create famous enemy the Abomination. As director Leterrier explains, this is a film about heroism. Banner doesn’t want the power of transforming to the Hulk, but knows it hold great potential, and in the end must decide between a normal life with love Betty Ross or reluctantly embrace his Hulk alterego and fight off the Abomination.
Bruce Banner/ The Hulk (Edward Norton) Conflicted by the power within, as we meet Bruce Banner he want nothing less than to transform into the green beast but get the man angry and there’s nothing he can do. And yet, whilst rampaging as Hulk, he wants nothing more than to stay in his allpowerful form. The pair are one mind, and yet so distant, unrecognisable from one another, not only in term of physical attributes. And what incredible physical attributes the Hulk does hold. As adrenaline courses through Banner’s veins and the transformation begins, director Leterrier wanted the Hulk to be “überhuman”, not just a bulked up Edward Norton, in fact the character was designed before Norton was even cast, with a mole and cut on his face added to the Hulk’s complexion towards the end of the digital design.
Emile Blonsky/ The Abomination (Tim Roth) One of the Hulkâ€™s most famous nemeses, the Abomination is the twisted mutation of greedy soldier Emile Blonsky. Driven by a thirst for power, Blonsky cannot be changed back from his devilish recreation, with bones protruding his body as director Leterrier masterminded a more horrific beast. The Abomination is harder, stronger and a full two feet taller than Hulk, with Tim Roth taking the role to please his kids who are fans of the comic books.
Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) The love of Bruce Bannerâ€™s life, Betty Ross is left distraught as the pair end up separated when Bruce goes in search of a cure. With Betty also a scientist, Liv Tyler was drawn to the role by the flowing love story rooted within the film, beneath the heavy action overtones.
General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) As Banner is drawn back to his love Betty Ross, he falls right back into the hands of her father General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, the man in charge of the military search for the Hulk. Actor William Hurt was a big fan of the comics books and is perfect for the explosive “Thunderbolt” Ross, who like Banner, is faced with an impossible decision, to choose between his daughter or his country, on the search for the thing he hates most in the world, and yet the creature who saved his daughter’s life.
The Incredible Hulk is in cinemas worldwide from June 13th 2008
Directed by: Craig Mezin Starring: Drake Bell, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald, Leslie Nielson, Kevin Hart, Marion Ross & Ryan Hansen Studio: Dimension Films Distributor: Momentum Pictures Release: Out now (USA) June 6 (UK)
When the Scary Movie series was first unleashed on screens, the debut could at least claim some originality. Four films down the line and with a fifth to come, the formula has grown decidedly limp, pushing its creators onto a new target for their parodies. Superheroes. Poking fun at, you guessed it, superhero movies, Superhero Movie sees lead character Rick Riker (Drake Bell) bitten by a mutant dragonfly on a school trip to a local science lab. After a day or two in bed, Rick is feeling better than ever and soon discovers he has gained a number of special abilities, which is fortunate timing as evil scientist Lou Landers’ botched experiment leaves him with a devilish life sucking ailment. Of course it is down to Rick to stock Landers’ wicked plans, but despite following the most obvious of plotlines, at least Superhero Movie boasts a basic narration the previous Scary Movie films could only dream of. On the whole parodying the SpiderMan films, featuring the famous upside-down kiss amongst countless other imitations, X-Men and Fantastic 4 don’t go unnoticed. Compared with the relatively fruitful film references, Superhero Movie’s ventures into popular culture are wholly unremarkable. Poking fun at YouTube, the iPod, Barry Bonds, online doctor services and more, swathes of the film will wash over your head with consummate ease, doing nothing but aggravate the viewer. Sadly the vast majority of the comedy skits throughout the film are equally forgettable, focusing all humour on slapstick falls, thrills and spills rather than witty dialogue and timing. There is certainly an audience that will find much of Superhero Movie simply hilarious but the vast majority of film fans won’t laugh for than a handful of times. 66
Leslie Nielson makes the obligatory appearance and the rest of the cast are adequate if far from spectacular, meaning at barely 85 minutes, Superhero Movie won’t try your patience for too long. With the atrocious Meet The Spartans still fresh in the memory, this latest
spoof is a marked improvement though still shouldn’t be considered little more than watchable. Here’s hoping writer/director Craig Mazin and crew don’t push their luck with a sequel.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Directed by: Steven Spielberg Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt & Karen Allen Studio: Lucasfilm Distributor: Paramount Pictures Release: Out now
Originally planned as a five film series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comes a full 19 years since third outing, once befittingly titled The Last Crusade. After creator/writer George Lucas previously bemoaned of not being able to think of a new plot device for the adventurer, he started to become interested in crystal skulls, and after his fruitless attempt to work the phenomena into the would-be third series of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was born. To compensate for series star Harrison Ford’s now 65 year old frame, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set in 1957, an equal 19 years after The Last Crusade. This time around Jones is on hunt of, you guessed it, a crystal skull, that must be returned to an ancient temple deep in the Amazon but of course Indy doesn’t have it all his own way. Contested every step of the way,
and unceremoniously locking Indy away in the boot of her car in the opening scene, the wicked Irina Spalko (Blanchett) leads her Soviet troops on their own trail of the crystal skull. First ransacking a secret military storage base, the Russians force Jones to help them find a mysterious magnetic casket but Indy escapes and proves the extra years on his brow are nothing when it comes to swashbuckling action and the search for last skull. Along the way Indy picks up sidekick, Mutt Williams (LaBeouf), a biker tearaway who first alerts our intrepid adventurer to the search for the crystal skull, and Ford and LaBeouf’s interaction is one of the film’s main strong points. Sadly the plot doesn’t quite stand up, especially when compared to the thrilling stories that hold the previous three Indiana Jones film together. Despite director Steve Spielberg’s best stylistic efforts, viewers will be lost as the plot draws to a conclusion and the skulls are explained in what draws to be a
ridiculous manner. You’d be best to ignore the monkeys along the way too. But Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is far from an awful film, effortlessly slotting alongside past Indiana outings in terms of ambience, with a raw feel to a lot of the action, in the majority, using minimal apparent special effects. Harrison Ford really does throw back to years to reprise his role but despite the best efforts from Cate Blanchett, it is Shia LaBeouf that steals the show, once again proving his mettle as an engaging and thoroughly entertaining actor, set for very big things in the film industry. Long term fans will be pleased, rather than delighted Ford and co. have returned to the legendary series, and while an adequate addition to the brilliant first thee Indiana Jones films, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is far from essential.
Directed by: Jon Favreau Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Faran Tahir & Leslie Bibb Studio: Marvel Studios Distributor: Paramount Pictures Release: Out now
After last year’s storming summer blockbuster Transformers, Paramount are ready unleash another metallic behemoth onto the big screen and with a first appearance in comic books way back in the early 1960s, Iron Man boasts an even more impressive history than Optimus Prime and co. Despite a hit-and-miss start, fans soon grew to love the Iron Man series, as the creators moved away the heavy political undertone found in the first few stories, towards more conventional hero-villain plotlines, and some devilishly wonderful enemies. Planned as a trilogy, it is no surprise that this the first in the series, takes on the mantle of an origin story and we pick up the action as weapons billionaire Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) traverses the Afghanistan desert. While he may act up his reputation as a wealthy playboy, under Stark’s arrogant veil lies a remarkable mind, starting at MIT while still a pubescent teen and leaving at the top of his class. However, after being ambushed on the return journey from an army missile exposé, Stark is forced to use every ounce of his engineering wonder as captors demand he recreates one of his deadly weapons. Instead, after first constructing a device to keep the shrapnel from
his heart, Stark builds a crude bionic suit and fights his way to freedom. Back home, Tony realises the error of his ways. Stopping production at his advanced weaponry company, he develops his idea of a metallic suit, giving him super-strength, impenetrable armour and flight, but after his company fear a collapse, they attempt to force Stark out, and in suitable fashion, the film climaxes with a thrilling, high impact showdown. With a plethora of Marvel villains to choose from, the success or failure of Iron Man partly lay in the hands which enemy would maraud the big screen. Opting to recreate arguably Stark’s most famous nemesis Mandarin in one of the sequels, the beastly Iron Monger, alter ego of Stark Industries’ director Obadiah Stane (Bridges), made the cut. Compared with the relatively skintight suit of Iron Man, Iron Monger looks truly humongous and has been perfectly recreated under the vision of director Jon Favreau. While I was more than apprehensive about Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role as Tony Stark/Iron Man, he more than pulls it off, giving a brooding performance and making light of his frequently intrepid situations with well placed comedy. While
it is far from her most challenging role, Gwyneth Paltrow further adds a likeable performance as Stark’s aide, and really throughout the cast, everyone fits nicely into their characters. While Iron Man can’t go toe-totoe with Transformers’ expansive crunching fights, it will certainly get your heart pumping, packing each scene with energy, vigour and downright aggression. The crowdpleasing entertainment further helps draw the best possible film out of a narrative that was always going to follow a generic plot. Bar a few oversights (how Obidiah manages to perfectly control Iron Monger within seconds of getting into the suit for the first time, I’ll never know), Iron Man is effortlessly slick with stunning CGI and a feeling of grandeur that powers the whole feature. Pleasingly Favreau’s will to stick closely to the source material has held true, only further enhancing Stark’s upgrades with more futuristic technology. Where the Spider-Man trilogy tailed off after a highly promising debut, here’s hoping Iron Man is the ignition to an accomplished series, worthy of the glorious comic books. Part 1 certainly makes the grade.
Directed by: The Wachowski Brothers Starring: Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon & Matthew Fox Studio: Silver Pictures Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Release: Out now
Speed Racer marks a strange turn for the Wachowski brothers. After making their name with the Matrix trilogy, then turning writer/producers for V For Vendetta, the pair have scarcely hidden their penchant for dark, brooding thrillers. Wanting to make their work more accessible to younger audiences, the Wachowski brothers have cast off the 15 rating that usually accompanies their films, and with Speed Racer, have a true family film under their belt. Based on the classic Japanese cartoon series, Speed Racer revolves around a talented young racing driver, spurred on by the memory of his late older brother Rex. From a young boy, Speed (Hirsch), yes, that’s the name of our hero too, only ever dreamt of the circuit, idolising Rex as he took record after record. Fast forward to present day and Speed is the name at the top of the standings. Winning his last race and only choosing not to break the lap record because it was held by his brother; Speed draws the eye of mega-bucks businessman Royalton, wanting to sign Speed to his own motoring empire. But when Speed 72
rebuffs the offer, remaining loyal his family racing team, Royalton warns the Racer family he will crush their business and Speed will never finish a race again. Facing the prospect of a career left in tatters, Speed is forced to race Royalton at his own dirty game, as he attempts to oust the criminals fixing the racing league. Set in a stunning retro-futuristic technicolour city, you can see the Wachowski brother let their imagination run wild when designing a backdrop that will leave kids drooling in wonder. Although the film’s real showpiece are the races. For those familiar with the classic Nintendo games F-Zero, Speed Racer will be like home from home. Speeding around at 400mph, making 360 spins before corners to help with steering and shunting opponents off the track, as a rainbow of colours fills the screen, the races are truly magnificent and look entirely real despite being made solely in the computer studio. In fact, given the glorious scenery, it’s not entirely surprising the film was shot solely in front of a green screen, using a special layering
method to create a 3-D environment around the characters. And you can partially sense the lack of physical setting from the actors. Throughout the film, the each role feels a little too overemphasised, which might only fill younger viewings with excitement, but for the more cultured cinema-goers, will frustrate, and sadly this is not the last of your worries. Speed’s younger brother Spritle and pet chimpanzee Chim Chim will likewise draw laughs out of kids but will severely annoy older teens and more mature viewers to the point you’ll want to blot out their image every time they make an appearance. After being treated to the pulsating racing sequences, Speed Racer drags its heels between scenes, with a plot timidly moving forward to ensure young eyes can keep up. The Wachowski brothers’ urge to make a film for family audiences certainly welcomes new viewers but it is not without annoyance for old ones, with original franchise fans left in the middle. The Matrix this is not, but at times Speed Racer still ranks up there with the pair’s very best work.
Directed by: Carter Smith Starring: Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, Shawn Ashmore, Jon Anderson & Sergio Calderón Studio: Spyglass Entertainment Distributor: Paramount Pictures Release: Out now (USA) June 6 (UK)
The Ruins starts like every other tourist horror movie. Relaxing by the pool in the glorious Mexican sunshine, four carefree American travellers are reaching the end of their trip. Starved of culture, when the group are offered the chance to join a friendly German vacationer, Mathias (Anderson), on his trip to an ancient Mayan temple, deep in the Mexican forestry, Jeff (Tucker) jumps at the chance. The others take a little more persuasion but come the morning, all four are on the local bus from the centre of town, joined by Mathias and Greek wannabe explorer Dimitri. If the likes of Hostel and Turistas are anything to go by, an hour in and you’d expect the four Americans to be tied up and gagged by the double crossing leader Mathias, however as the group eventually reach their destination and a huge temple ruins appears on a clearing in the forest, it’s obvious the frights are going to come from another source. As the travellers approach the base of the temple, an old Mayan tribe emerge from between the trees, and trap the group on the ruins, killing Dimitri as he gets a little too close. Forced to make camp on the stone structure, they discover the belongings of Mathias’ brother and a fellow archaeologist but the people themselves are nowhere to be seen. Abandoning the option of just waiting it out, the two girls in the group are sent down the central shaft in search of a mobile phone they can hear bleating within, but upon discovering the source of the sound, realise they are in for a shock they had never expected. To its credit, The Ruins throws up some interesting surprises but struggles to maintain any real sense of suspense, relying on graphic, bloody scenes to shock audiences and a creepy vine that seems silly by the end. As the travellers cause
most of their distress amongst themselves, you’ll feel little sympathy as they inevitably start to die off. Adapted for film by the author of the book upon which the film is based, the plot feels strangely inept
at times, when the source boasted an intense psychological side. The Ruins offers nothing new but at 90 minutes, certainly can’t be called a bore despite a misconstrued twist.
murder on prom night PHOTOGRAPHY TIM MELIDEO www.timmelideo.com
almost peRfection 86
gRand theft autoIV
f orged in little old Dundee, Scotland, you might have predicted a bright future for the creative minds behind one of video gamesâ€™ most iconic titles, Lemmings, but never that they would be celebrating the release of a multi-million pound game, at the forefront of creative industry. Selling 3.6m copies on its first day of release and a total of 6m after the first week, Grand Theft Auto IV trounced even the remarkable record sales figures of previous itteration Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and ensures Rockstar North, previously DMA Design, a well-deserved place in video game royalty. For a game that has such received widespread critical acclaim, already being mooted as stand-out game of the year and a contender for the peak of all-time lists, you should not be surprised by the remarkable speed at which GTA IV has flown through the tills, but brilliance is not always a sure-fire route to success. Brimming with originality, breathtaking graphics and gameplay, the simplistic yet stunning action/adventure game Ico won more awards than you could count on several hands however never quite found mainstream success. Futuristic roller-blading game Jet Set Radio saw gamers tag a dazzling Tokyo with graffiti against rival 88
gangs, but was only enjoyed by a relative few, and the same can be said of masterpieces such as Shenmue, Okami or classic point and click quest Secret of Monkey Island. Rockstar North have brought their creative thinking to the masses and should be congratulated on making a technically magnificent game so accessible for the adult gaming community. So what of the game? Like previous titles GTA IV puts you in the body of a two-bit crook, wheeling, dealing, killing and generally making a nuisance of himself on the ladder to the top of the criminal underworld. Even newcomers to the series will be familiar with the formula, but might be surprised to hear this latest video game forage is actually the 11th in the series. With numerical taglines preserved for great developmental leaps in GTAâ€™s history, a number of locational spin-offs have more than tided fans over between each genre re-defining game at the emergence of new console generations. From GTA I, a simplistic top-down crime caper, boasting Londonbased spin-offs before the graphical and gameplay advancements in GTA II. GTA III dawned the emergence of a 3-D environment, subtly tweaking visuals and building on engaging plotlines and in-game cross-character factors for Vice City and San Andreas locales. GTA IV is
certainly befitting of the next evolutionary label.
through GTA IV is developing bonds between characters in the game.
Making all the excellent elements of previous Grand Theft Auto games just that bit better and introducing an even more engaging and predominant social factor, GTA IV captures two of modern day life’s most important elements; friends and the mobile phone.
By hanging out friends at one of Liberty City’s many attractions, you’ll build ties as your friends will not only pop up from time to time in the game to help you out, but each offer an individual ability such as car bombs, hired muscle or from a couple of girlfriends; an on the spot health increase or police wanted level reductions.
One of the keys to making your way
While the vast majority of missions will be launched by meeting criminal minds at their business or home, you’ll contact friends, set up arrangements and receive information through your mobile phone, the game’s social hub. In previous titles in the series, bosses could call you, here you can simply bring out your mobile at any point to phone people or take photos for mission specific challenges.
Cars at the side of the street are now more often than not locked, unlike the series’ previous apparent lack of anti-theft mechanisms. Smash the window to make entry and you’ll likely be met with an alarm before needing to spend a few seconds hotwiring the engine. Not a major improvement but a nice touch that brings a glint to gamers’ adoring eyes. Be caught breaking into a car, or committing a plethora of other crimes possible within GTA IV’s Liberty City, and you’ll rouse the interest of the police. Reworking the entire police system, cops will take chase and a search cordon will appear on your HUD map, the higher the wanted level, the larger the zone of police attention, moving as you’re tailed or spotted elsewhere. To lose the fuzz you’ll need to escape their grasp and break the zone, keeping out of sight for a couple of minutes or by hitting spray shops.
Adding the social element to GTA IV takes Rockstar North’s latest far ahead of their prior achievements but it is the little tweaks that give the game a more complete feel and makes gameplay a more realistic and engaging experience. Perplexing and often annoying in-game rules of physics that saw cars explode without explanation if they were flipped are gone. Sure, give a car enough punishment and it will eventually break into flames but leaving a vehicle lying on its roof and it won’t automatically be left a flaming mess within seconds. With a few sports cars you’ll even encounter engine failure after a few bumps, crashes and scrapes rather than the token firey blaze.
The shooting system was due an overhaul and introducing a new cover system and the ability to raise lock-on targeting for head or leg shots, which alongside the ability to break police hold, the anger of fellow motorists if you career into their vehicles and the abandonment of the rapidly irritating fitness system of GTA: San Andreas, all make GTA IV as rounded gaming experience as you can find. Despite the gloriously gory violence and remarkably addictive gameplay, the real jewel in GTA IV’s crown, and the element that holds the entire game together is the engaging, dynamic plot. Following the life of illegal immigrant Niko Bellic, joining his cousin Roman in Liberty City to escape a shady past in his Eastern European homeland, GTA IV does anything but glamorise the under-hand lifestyle, telling a tale of adversity that sees his flat burnt down, countless hits on his life and even a heart-breaking finale that will leave you gasping for air, and justice. As the flowing and creative story plays out, giving you the option of
killing several characters or mercifully letting them live, you’re actions will impact on Niko’s destiny with multiple endings giving players encouragement to replay through the title once complete if the estimated 100 hour full completion time isn’t enough for you. Rockstar has managed create a plot so original that it would challenge blockbuster thrillers, despite no reliance on lengthy cutscenes like Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series. 92
Sadly Grand Theft Auto has though again come up short on the multiplayer side. Rockstar have stepped into the online sphere to give a range of excellent modes from straight up deathmatches to more mission based heists and cops and robbers face-offs but there is still a deep lack of split-screen multiplayer options. Perhaps more of a hardware issue with the new crop of consoles still unable to render two views side by side.
However, on the grand scale of things this is far from a major issue for GTA IV as whatever else is would have been on offer, the game is rooted in the single player campaign. Given the violent content and criminal overtones of the gameplay it is unsurprising GTA IV has attracted unwanted controversy as the “video games fuels violence” bandwagon grows ever bigger.
Critics claim the game should be not be allowed to be released, or at least be edited with more violent scenes cut and gore toned down, as it was for the Australian release. US radio host Glenn Beck proclaimed “we are training our kids to be killers”, while on the same show, director of the Parents Television Council, Jack Thompson, called the game “a murder simulator”. With a Mature rating in the States, an 18 rating in the UK and relevant adult ratings across the rest of the world, necessary classification boards clearly state the game is not for young eyes and that they should not be allowed to play the title.
Shops are on the whole vigilant and will not sell GTA IV to any underage gamer so the onus is on responsible parents to ensure their children do not play the game, and that is nothing Rockstar North can do anything about, or should hold the responsibility for. We wouldn’t force the creators of the ultra violent film Hostel to hold behavioural seminars so why should Rockstar be any different, and in any case, GTA IV portrays a life of bloodshed to be a miserable, unfulfilling existence, and no-one should be attracted by that. But what will anger fans even more is the fact many critics are yet to actually play the game. On a recent BBC Radio 5 phone-in discussing if the video game was a great British achievement or a twisted piece of work, inciting violence across the world, the resident expert arguing against GTA IV’s release, and calling for stricter classification, had not played the game, nor any of the previous iterations, claiming she had been told of the gameplay characteristics by colleagues, and was also unaware of the unglamorous story. Gladly GTA IV has risen above the criticism and Rockstar North can hold their head high after creating what will surely become not only the most successful video game to date, but the most successful title across the creative industry, already toppling blockbuster films for first week takings. Expect to see GTA IV challenging for the no. 1 spot on alltime lists for years to come. GTA IV is g the complete game. Almost. 93
next month LOAD issue 13 available july 2008