ROCK HELLACOPTERS By the Grace of God (Mercury) 0000
Yet more Scandinawan retro garage rock mayhem? When Wlli this backward-Looking madness end? Weli not too soon hopefully. cos lank-haired Swedish garage gods the Hellacopters rock like bastards. almost precisely placed between the DatSuns and the Hives. In fact this IS the band's fifth. album. and it shows an the slick-as- fuck groowes. blistering riffs and dumber than dumb lyrics.
Injecting a hint of cheesy American stadium rock into proceedings doesn't hurt either. with “Carry Me Home' sounding like a speedfreaking Boston. while “Go Easy Now" is scrotum-twistingly tuneful enough to grace an early Van Halen record. Erm. that's a good thing.
AMBIENT AMORPHOUS ANDROGYNOUS The Mello Hippo Radio Show
This eight-track mini- album is based on a track from Future Sound's album of ambient psychedelia - sorry. ‘cosmic oozescape' — The lsness. And while I've no reason to doubt the Sincerity of Garry Cobain's intentions. it‘s hard to avoid the feeling that this record is in part a tribute to cited influences Pink Floyd. Supertramp et al. and part piss-take.
Check out these lyrics to the original SOng ‘Mello Hippo Disco Show': “She's hiding from the yo-yo/lt's a real
no-no.‘ Yeah. man. and life's a gas. gas. gas. All told. though. the collective's instrumental inventiveness and fresh. easygomg sound makes this a pleasant enough musical milieu in which to spend an evening. (Allan Radcliffe)
ASESINO Corridos de Muerte (Kool Arrow) .0
The world of metal isn't known for subtlety. but where do you go if Norwegian Satanic death metal ain't extreme enough for ya? Natch, you get yer ass south of the Rio Grande for some extreme Mexican serial-killing death-cult murder-metal. Cos that‘s what Asesino purports to be. and they've got the pictures of victims” mutilated corpses on the sleeve to ‘prove' it. Aye. right.
All this is really just an extension of Alice Cooper's panto-schlock nonsense. and as for the music. well. does the world really need another Napalm Death or Bolt Thrower? Answers scrawled in blood on a goat‘s skull to . . . (Doug Johnstone)
FOLK KATE RUSBY 10 (Pure) 00..
If the dreary winter is getting you down. make your insides all warm and gooey by lending yourself to this gorgeous collection of songs. Marking her tenth year on the folk/roots scene. this album is full of uplifting. dreamy pieces that put you on a sunny patch of lawn staring at the clouds. gleeful at the wonderment of life. Most impressive is Rusby's uncanny ability to tell a story in a simultaneously understated. yet powerful way.
A thoroughly sturdy album from a woman who seamlessly combines intriguing lyrics. an bewitching voice and distinctive musical arrangements. (Bree Barclay)
120 THE LIST 12 Dec 2002—2 Jan 2003
XBOX SPLINTER CELL (UbiSoft $339.99) 000
Microsoft has high hopes for Splinter Cell. It has ploughed millions into the ad campaigns. desperate to excite the public over a game that could sell consoles. Unfortunately. in action Splinter Cell falls rather shOrt of that lofty goal. Not that it isn't good. The creep and sneak gameplay is fun and the variety of environments. dictated by the many missions.
P82 HAVEN: CALL OF THE KING
(Midway £39.99) 0000
are lovingly created. If only it hadn't all been done before. And better.
This is Metal Gear Solid-lite. Yet where MGS has Solid Snake. an enigmatic. deathly silent. acrobatic and reluctant assassin. Splinter Cell has Sam Fisher, an ageing. loud. American. muscle- bound oaf. It just isn't as cool. And there are woefully lazy touches. beginning in the first mission with automatic failure if you touch the street. Huh? Why? It might make you learn to move across rooftops but it destroys any sense of realism or tension. Microsoft may have to keep looking for that killer app.
PS2 AUTO MODELLISTA (Capcom $234.99) coo
Hoisted by its own petard: that pretty much sums up Auto Mode/lista. On one hand it is a fantastically detailed racing game. in the mould of Gran Turismo. Forecourt after forecourt of cars to win, buy and trade. each with their own nuances to master, combined with some wicked track design to produce a lengthy and detailed
A game that excites, surprises and genuinely entertains
Even in this PR age of hyperbole and exaggeration Haven: Call of the King has a rather bold tagline. It claims that no other piece of software need be purchased as it contains every other game within its unfolding adventure. Surely even the most gullible of gaming geeks would find this level of bravado laughable? Wouldn’t they? Well, on stumbling through the opening level, this would seem so. While undoubtedly pleasing on the eye, with the rounded, colourful characterisation permeating everything from grass to gadgets, people to pets, there is nothing to persuade you that this is anything other than a cheeky, yet familiar platform game. Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Daxter seem to have had their effect. Spinning podiums, deathslides and powerups abound. Once in a while, between the dodging and jumping, you will have to use your shield-power-gauntlet-thingy to progress, but so far
But within a few more levels, the main character Haven has swum, ridden speedboats, piloted biplanes and strapped a jetpack to his back. And these experiences are a welcome departure from the norm, constantly asking you to learn new skills and triumph over fresh challenges. The graphical detail is constant and the disparate gaming styles do feel part of a bigger event, guiding you through a rather average plot.
So yes, Haven: Call of the King does indeed encompass ground held by many other gaming genres, and does so quite adeptly. Yet, if you want to play a space combat game, you will buy a space combat game. The lack of depth in the various feats undermines the exaggerated brouhaha exuded by the PR pixies, but still leaves a game that excites, surprises and genuinely entertains. Haven may not be all things to all people, but most people will enjoy all of it. (lain Davidson)
On the other hand. to stand out from the crowd, Capcom has gone for gel-shading graphics. making it look like a piece of manga animation. Again, this is expertly done and is as visually striking as a game could ever want to be.
But put these two ambitious elements together and each reduces the impact of the other. The visuals say action while the depth cries realism. And this problem never goes away. It smacks of the smart Alec. and as we all know. no one likes a smart Alec.
(Sony £39.99) 0000
Disney is for girls. We all know this. Warner Brothers. with Wile E Coyote and Bugs Bunny. is for boys while fans of boy bands enjoy Beauty and the Beast and that squeaky mouse. This is called natural order. But now there is a fly in the ointment. a stick in the spokes. a veritable kick in the pants and its name is Kingdom Hearts.
Based on all those well-loved characters (loved by girls. that is). this is an RPG adventure in the style of the later Final Fantasy games. Yes. where once was Sephiroth or Cloud. there is now Donald Duck and Goofy. It is clever. visually appealing and wickedly enthralling and demands much time. So let all the boys put their hands up and admit that there are now two things in the Disney dynasty w0rth enjoying. The other? The dance of the elephants in Dumbo of course.