have been released as part of the Optimus youth music development project currently being run by East Renfrewshire Council and represent the fruit of two years' work from up and coming talent in the area. Opt/mus 2 is the second album from the 15 bands that made up the project's first year intake. while Waiting for Thunder" showcases the talents of a fresh bunch of new recruits. So far. so worthy, but is any of it any good? Thankfully the answer is yes. at least some of the stuff on display here shows real promise for the future. Of the two albums. Opt/mus 2 is perhaps inevitably of higher quality. the bands having had an extra couple of years to hone their sounds.

The general vibe over both albums is an indie rock and nu- metal one. with considerably more variety on the older bunch's long player. Amongst the highlights. the jangly pop of Way Too Blue and the proto punk of Fi'eefall stand out on Opt/rims 2 while No Big Things feisty indie rock definitely rises above the rest on V/(l/flllg for Thunder. A worthy project that could well produce a fair smattering of tomorrows rock'n'roll stars.

il)oug J()illlf3i()ll(}l

lXPi-HIMI Ni’Al ALLESCHWINDEL Luck be a Mustache . . . Tonight

(Demo) 0.

You're sitting there wondering what would've happened if Marlene Dietrich had been into experimental Scottish avant garde indie ja// rock instead of being a Hollywood icon. aren't you? Well wonder no more. for Alleschwindel are here to create an aural impression of what that might've sounded like.

At their most coherent they sound like Goldfrapp With their lederhosen in a twist and their heads in a big bucket of jiigswrll. but mostly

the wonky Weirnar showtunes and oompah awfulness become too much to bear. They get two stars for sounding like no one else on God's beautiful earth though. More power I() '(ziii f()r Iilélt.

(Doug Johnstone)


Unable to manage just one album, music editor Mark Robertson picks his three recorded highlights from 2003

I found a coverless CDR in the piles around my desk one day with ‘Scatter’ written on it. On playing it I was amazed that this unassuming disc contained a bunch of surreal workouts made right here in Glasgow. Like it a free jazz ensemble, 3 group of travelling mediaeval minstrels and a gang of pissed up primary school teachers formed one huge band, Scatter pulled familiar jazz. rock and folk tones into joyous new shapes. Seek them out live if you can.

Meanwhile. The Mars Volta's truly brilliant De-Loused in the Comatorium put song-craft. audacious expression and energy top of the priority list while The White Stripes‘ Elephant was a monumental. multi- faceted beast that illustrated why Jack White's musical vision is the purest and most effective around today. A year for backward looking. forward thinking genius.


XIII: when stealth fails . . .



(Ubi Soft) $739.95) O...

X/// is a game of extremes. Not extremes as in bungee jumping. free—riding. base- jumping. Pepsr Max extremes. Rather, this cartoony FPS sWings from being infuriating to inspirational. from dull to nail-biting. from dumbass to genius. and that's just in the first five minutes of play. It is unlike anything you have ever played before. yet exhibits some depressineg familiar gaming faults. all the while prompting both gasps and groans. It is extremely good and extremely bad.

Based on a Belgian graphic novel. X/l/ looks ama/ing. lt retains the style of its inspiration. yet the animation ll()‘.(}l' suffers. It is slick. smooth and utterly gorgeous to look at. And the comic book influence also has a positive effect on gameplay. with enemy footsteps showing as 'tap tap tap' text and death scenes exaggerated through their own panels. Add this to an intricate. flip flopping story of political intrigue and you have a package that will not let you go until the climax. And the pi'oiiiise of a sequel.

But leave the graphic novel elements behind and the game begins to falter. Cut scenes cannot be skipped. and With many unavoidable deaths in store you will see those scenes over and over. The enemy Al is laughably poor. which in a l-PS is forgivable if all you have to do is shoot. X/ll. however. demands stealth. something rather difficult

when one guard stands like a statue as his friend takes a head shot. yet the next runs for the alarm at the first footstep. Prepare to bounce a keyboard off the wall.

XIII is a game that demands completion despite the irritation. rewarding you with some fabulous moments that stick in the memory long after the frustration fades. llain Davidsoni



Remember the original PoP’? Hunched over that Sinclair Speccy iyes. some richer households played it earlier on PC). cold can of Carnation lvlilk over the power pack to act as a heat sink. desperately trying to get that beautifully animated Sinbad look -a like to jump when you tell him. swing his word when you tell him and generally get further than your playground pals. Playground boasting rights was the reward. Well that feeling is back. albeit in an extra two dimensions. Two? Yup.

not only is this 3D. and that's SD as in "whistle' that looks absolutely spectacular. like a nourishing moisturiser to the eyeballs] but this time it is possible to play with the speed and direction of time. Note the subtitle above. And this all adds up to a very enjoyable platform game that plays as well as it looks. and though IITEIII‘,’ will be frustrated by the physical j)u//les. those who still suffer a twinge in the lower vertebrae Speccy Back it's called will enjoy the feel of sand between their toes again. llain Davidsoni


rljidosl €34.99 .0

Some gaming series fritter away their genius. Hello Tomb Raider. Some tweak and update but little else. Hello FIFA and Pro Evo. Some learn from prevrous iterations and improve. Hello Tony Ht'iirvks. Then there is the Commandos lineage which is slowly disappearing up its own arse. In the first game. the lovineg detailed top- down. isometric landscapes and DIV/IO- based stealth elements blended into a unique. testing and wonderfully rewarding test of skill. Now we are at number three though. the level of detail. the difficulty and the freedom of choice have weighed the game down so much it almost sinks with out a trace. Like a sniper in the undergrowth there is the same great game hidden away in here somewhere. It just takes the patience of a saint. the mind of a


Pythagorean mathematician and the eyesight of a hawk to get to it. Hopefully by the time number four comes around. everything has been stripped down and rebuilt. A Commando with this much baggage would plummet to his death from the plane. parachute or not.

(lain Davrdsonj


The List’s thumb bandit Iain Davidson salutes his top ride of the year

For any Star Wars fan. Knights of the Old Republic on the XBox was the sweetest of plums. Doing what you wanted. whether light or dark Force-wise. while gradually unravelling a stOry that reeked of old school Star Wars made many an adult weep. Details like your character slowly aSSLiming the physical manifestations of their inner morality as defined by the player made SW: KotOF? the stand out title of 2003.

Prince of Persia leaps the generation gap

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