Friday, October 28, 2011

1996 in Music Review

*Note - I'm away for 6 days now on an important trip. You'll find out in due course what I'm up to. Enjoy 1996 in Music Review.*

Hey everyone, welcome to the fourth edition in a series of reviews of a year in music. So far I have covered all the 2000s together as the Noughtie series, and so far monthly, the year 1999, then 1998, and then last month, 1997.

Just in case you’re not familiar with it, here’s the format. It will be done in five parts. I'll do a brief history of what happened in that year, followed by my five favourite albums of the year, then what I think the five best videos are. I'll then do a Top 10 most impactful (still refraining from using the word important) songs from that year. To wrap it up, I'll do my favourite songs in a mixtape format. So now that you know where I'm going with this, let's get to it!

By the way, I’d like to wish all of these albums, singles and music videos a happy 15th year anniversary.

Brief History of the Year 1996 in Music

  • The Sex Pistols reunite for the first time in eighteen years for a tour.
  • The Ramones split after a legendary 22 year punk career.
  • MTV2 is launched, providing a further platform for alternative rock music.
  • Jay-Z releases his debut album. It would be the start of a legendary rap career.
  • Rapper Tupac is shot in what is reported as a drive-by. He died six days later.
  • Linkin Park form. They were not to release their first major release for another four years however.

My Top 5 Albums of 1996

#5 – “Evil Empire” by Rage Against the Machine
Released: 16/4/96
Rating: ***3/4 stars
Stand-out tracks: "Bulls on Parade", "People of the Sun", "Year of tha Boomerang"
This was Rage Against the Machine’s second album and their first in four years before their explosive first hit the scene. The pressure was on for Rage to capitalise on their unique and innovative sound and praise first time round and they definitely delivered. That being said, out of all three of their original albums (Renegades being the covers album) I personally think this is the worst. I’m not saying this is a bad album, after all, it’s made this list, but it’s just a step down from the uncontrolled frenzy of the first album, and the quality of the third. What this album is though, is a huge amount of experimentation. Tom Morello is one of the most unique guitarists of all time, and his work with the guitar in this album is astounding. Some of the riffs are out of this world, and that’s what stands out most in “Evil Empire”.

#4 – “To the Faithful Departed” by The Cranberries
Released: 30/4/96
Rating: ***3/4 stars
Stand-out tracks: "Will You Remember", "The Rebels", "Hollywood"
Ah, this is an album from my childhood. My father, despite all his detriment in my life, did have decent taste in music and his favourite band from the nineties was The Cranberries. While “To the Faithful Departed” is not their best work, The Cranberries were on form with this effort, and it sounds great. Dolores O'Riordan's fantastic and distinctive vocals carry the album and the music is decent too. “Hollywood” is a great opener and the main single, “Salvation” is a decent track too. But the song that stands out the most for me is the short yet memorable “Will You Remember”, which is a simple yet effective play on children’s playground tunes, not too far off The Magic Roundabout. “To the Faithful Departed” is an album that doesn’t get the credit it deserves, it’s better than other albums in the nineties that get all the credit to their contribution to the decade.

#3 - “Gravity Kills” by Gravity Kills
Released: 5/3/96
Rating: ****1/4 stars
Stand-out tracks: "Guilty”, “Inside”, “Never”
Haha, I love Gravity Kills. They’re such an awful yet good band I can’t help but like them. Why are they crap? Well, if they ever did an X Factor for industrial metal and Gravity Kills entered, they’d win the entire competition. They just feel like an industrial band that is pumped out commercially. Their lyrics are absolutely awful. All eleven track titles are won word and dimensional. The vocals are poor at times. But their sound… is actually quite good. It’s Gravity Kills’ music that makes them stand out a little, even if it is diluted Nine Inch Nails. I like this album a lot, I enjoy listening to it, and some of the industrial metal on here sounds pretty damn good. “Inside” is basically “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails but tweaked and changed lyrically. But it sounds fricking cool. “Guilty” has a great sound too, even if the song feels like it’s too long and loses steam quickly. A lot of these songs are catchy and simple, and if you like industrial metal, give it a go. It’s not bad at all, it just feels cheesy.

#2 – “Murder Ballads” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Released: 5/2/96
Rating: ****1/4 stars
Stand-out tracks: " Stagger Lee”, “The Curse of Millhaven”, “Where the Wild Roses Grow”
What an album the “Murder Ballads” is. It’s arguably Nick Cave’s most famous piece of work, both as an album and also the single “Where the Wild Roses Go”, was Nick Cave’s biggest hit, where he worked with pop singer Kylie Minogue. The “Murder Ballads” is only ten tracks long, but most of these songs are long, and none longer than the penultimate track “O'Malley's Bar", which is a monstrous fourteen minute killing spree where a man kills an entire pub full of people. As you can tell, the album is a selection of murder ballads, where Nick Cave sings and speaks the stories of many murders, apparently totalling in sixty four in the entire album. Musically the album is just brilliant, none better than “Stagger Lee”, which is just a badass song in sound and in style. If you’ve never heard the magic that Nick Cave has, give this album a listen, it’s full of it.

#1 - “Antichrist Superstar” by Marilyn Manson
Released: 8/10/96
Rating: ****3/4 stars
Stand-out tracks: "Mister Superstar”, “Angel with the Scabbed Wings”, “Minute of Decay”

Of course this was going to be my #1. I reviewed this album a good seven or eight years ago and you can read that here. The review doesn’t do the album justice, I was just starting to write at the time but in a few months from now I’m going to pay a complete homage to Marilyn Manson, including reviewing all his albums so this album naturally will get a full revision when I do.

This album is on top of a large pillar in terms of my favourite albums. When people ask me what my favourite albums are, three albums come to mind. They are “The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails, “Mechanical Animals” by Marilyn Manson, and this. While I prefer the work of NIN on the whole to Manson, between the years of 1996 and 1998 Manson was the best thing around in my eyes. He was untouchable. And Antichrist Superstar was the moment where he was at his best. This album is just phenomenal. It’s Manson in his heaviest, filthiest, and most gifted phase. There are some absolute crackers in here; “Mister Superstar” is one of my favourite songs of all time, the build up is just extraordinary. Say what you want about Manson as an icon, but there’s no doubt that as an industrial artist in the mid nineties, he was almost unstoppable. Antichrist Superstar to me is one of the best metal albums of all time.

My Top 5 Music Videos of 1996

#5 - "Firestarter” by The Prodigy
Firestarter was The Prodigy’s first ever #1 hit and arguably brought the dance music boom forward in the UK (along with other nineties artists like The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim). But what the song is perhaps most famous for is the video. It’s bizarre really, as the video isn’t really innovative, and not much really happens in it. But it stands out visually; it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen when it’s on. It’s basically filmed in an abandoned underground tunnel in Aldwych, London, and is essentially Keith Flint, the singer in the track, pratting about. The video is completely in black and white and Flint has a Mohican and striking clothes. He does weird poses, snarls, pulls his tongue out, pats himself on his head to the beat of the track and flips out in tune to the music. It apparently was considered controversial and children were scared of the video. I was seven years old when this song came out and I don’t remember being scared of it. Don’t get me wrong Keith Flint has an unusual appearance, but he doesn’t do anything that wasn’t done in the seventies in the punk era. But still, the video is striking and stands out very well.

#4 - "Big Me” by the Foo Fighters
I’ve said many times before, but the Foo Fighters are the best music video band of all time, due to consistently bringing out fantastic music videos. This was probably the first great video really, which mocks a Mentos advertisement in the nineties. It’s just really cheesy and shows the band’s great sense of humour, mocking the “Footos” brand they made. There’s nothing much more to say about it really, it’s a good song and a better video.

#3 - "Amish Paradise” by Weird Al Yankovic
I’m a big Weird Al fan. That being said, he hasn’t had the most consistent of careers; he has had some duds in his long career but he always makes great comebacks. You can argue this was one of them. “Amish Paradise”, a parody of the rap classic “Gangster’s Paradise” by Coolio. That being said, this was Yankovic’s last entry in the Top 100 in the US for another ten years (with “White and Nerdy”). Anyway, the video is excellent, where Yankovic dresses up like an Amish man and praises his fantastic lifestyle. He does loads of things in the video, it’s really worth a watch if you haven’t  seen it before, but my favourite bits are the churning of lots of butter, and the mock of LV, (the person who sings the song in the original Coolio version) who in their video is sweating a lot. Yankvoic overdramatically sweats even more than LV, much much more. It’s just really funny.

#2 - "Street Spirit (Fade Out)” by Radiohead
One of Radiohead’s best videos was directed by Jonathan Glazer, who would go on to also do the video for “Karma Police”. It’s just simply one of those videos that is harder to explain than to watch. The whole video is in black and white and it shows things happen out of time, out of synch, things happening like a bucket of water being delayed to allow passage of the band members. The song itself is really harrowing, and this video, while it doesn’t add to the depth of sorrow the song brings, it justifies it well enough. It’s just artistically a great video, and if you’ve not seen it, watch it below.

#1 - "The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson
It may not be a video associated with many “greatest music videos of all time” listings but for me, this is a fantastic video. Like the song itself, it’s the epitome of Manson, as a musician and an art icon. There’s a lot going on in this video, it crams more odd and grotesque themed imagery than some full feature films do. And the presentation is great too. The video was filmed in what looks like an abandoned lab class in a school, and has lots of medical instruments around, some that Manson uses himself. One of the most iconic scenes is the piece of dental equipment Manson poses in, exposing his gums and teeth fully, emphasising on the metal plates on the fronts of his teeth. Other great scenes are the bizarre outfit Manson wares to make himself stupidly tall, and the Hitler-esque crowds that appear to cheer the Antichrist Superstar on. It’s just a fantastic video, one of my personal favourites, and a must if you like this industrial/shock horror genre of music.

The Top 10 Most Impactful Songs of 1996

As I said, I'm NOT calling it the 'important' list, although it's more than just popularity as well. Anyway, here are the 10 songs of the year. It's an unbiased list.

#10 – “Place Your Hands” by Reef

Reef aren’t really a band that are associated often with the greats of the nineties but they weren’t bad either. “Place Your Hands” is pretty much the only song in their back catalogue that has remained popular, for its catchy chorus and almost modern Rolling Stones influence it became their biggest hit, reaching #6 in the UK charts. They did get a few more song in the Top 20 but none of those songs are really played anymore. All that remains really for Reef in the modern day is “Place Your Hands”, which is a shame, but that being said, it’s a damn good song and one that won’t be forgotten.

#9 - "Female of the Species” by Space

It may not have charted higher than some of the songs they released afterwards but there’s no doubt that this track is the staple song of Space. The Brit-pop band released this as their second single off their debut album after the “Neighbourhood", the debut single, barely reached the UK charts, yet this got straight to #14. The impact? They re-released “Neighbourhood" and it got to #11. This song was also used as the main theme in a TV series called “Cold Feet” which was huge at the time. It’s just safe to say that if Space are remembered for one song, this is it. And it’s pretty damn good too.

#8 - "Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai

Getting to #3 in the UK Charts, Jamiroquai has barely had a song that made the impact this did. He’s had moderate success since (Deeper Underground, a very good song, got to #1), but nothing matches the popularity this song had and has; it’s still played somewhat today. One of the main reasons this song is so popular is definitely the video, which was innovative at the time, where it shows Jamiroquai in a relatively plain room with plain furniture, and the objects and Jamiroquai himself appear to be moving at a whim in different directions. The video won many awards and the song was the breakthrough that Jamiroquai needed to cement himself as one of the more unusual artists of the past fifteen years.

#7 - "Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins

No song by the Smashing Pumpkins is as well thought of in this country as this one. “1979” is usually the song associated with the band in the States (and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” for those who like their heavier stuff) but in the UK this song is the most popular, the most played, and also charted the highest, getting to a very respectful #7 in our chart. “Tonight, Tonight” is also well thought of because of the music video, which pays great homage to a silent film made in 1902 called “A Trip to the Moon”. It’s just a beautifully crafted song with a 30-piece string section done by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It’s just a masterpiece of a song and still gets played more than any song by the Pumpkins in this country today.

#6 - "The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson

Trust me; I’m not being biased with this entry. I try to get the best of all rock and metal genres in these listings and “The Beautiful People” was THE metal song of 1996. “The Beautiful People” as mentioned earlier, is the epitome of Manson, it’s the song strongly attached to him as a singer and is a staple in metal history. Not many songs touch this in the nineties as a classic metal anthem. It only got to #18 in the UK, a placement that has been beaten by “The Dope Show” (#12), “Disposable Teens” (#12), “Tainted Love” (his highest UK placement of #5), “mOBSCENE” (#13) and “Personal Jesus” (#13), but this song has outlasted all of these tracks. This song may not have charted too well, but it was groundbreaking for Manson, as an artist at the time only associated with shocking stage antics and chaos, performed one of the best industrial metal tracks of all time. That’s why this song is in this list, it’s simply a metal classic.

#5 - "Don’t Speak” by No Doubt

Gwen Stefani is known nowadays as the hot slim RnB artist who looks ridiculously young for 42. But in the nineties, she was the lead singer of post ska rock band No Doubt who had a very good run in both the States and the UK. “Don’t Speak”, similar to “Female of the Species” above, is arguably the staple track in No Doubt’s catalogue. No Doubt had a few big hits but this was the only track to actually hit #1 in this country. The song is a modern ballad and tells the tale of the real-life breakup between Gwen Stefani, the lead singer and Tony Kanal, the bass player, who were together for seven years. Don’t Speak is still steadily played even today, and is probably played more than most No Doubt tracks, which is why it’s made it onto this list.

#4 - "The Day We Caught the Train” by Ocean Colour Scene

Another band that has unfortunately disintegrated into rock history are Ocean Colour Scene. This is another song that carries the band into modern times, as a relic from the nineties, while most of the other work by the band has been forgotten about. “The Day We Caught the Train” is a classic nineties brit-pop track, with its really catchy chorus and its feeling of nostalgia, Ocean Colour Scene really got everything right in this song. Peaking at #4, no song has charted higher (although “Hundred Mile City” also got to #4), and one thing is certain, this song won’t go away either, like it or not.

#3 - "Stupid Girl” by Garbage

For me, there’s three songs from 1996 that will never die, that are classics and that appeal to many people across a variety of genres. The first of those songs is “Stupid Girl” by Garbage. There are many words to describe “Stupid Girl”; cool, enticing, personal, awesome, I could go on. While I prefer other Garbage songs to it, there’s no denying that “Stupid Girl” follows a similar theme that many songs on this list does, and that is, it’s the staple song by the band. There are songs released before and after this that were well received and charted well but when people think of Garbage, they tend to think of this song. It’s a great song, a classic now as I said, and will forever live as one of the best songs of the nineties.

#2 - "Firestarter” by The Prodigy

We’ve already spoken about the video for Firestarter above but the song itself was fantastic, and as previously reported, got The Prodigy their first of two #1 hits. It’s hard to say more about this track that wasn’t said before, but I’d just like to emphasise that this song had a huge impact on techno/dance music, as it was definitely on the rise at this point in the nineties. In the eighties, dance music was a completely different animal, but this ‘club’ music scene was gathering momentum since the early nineties and then this song is arguably one of the first #1 dance songs to get into the UK charts. The rest is history, as club and techno music has a multi million fan following and has really developed into an art of its own.

#1 - "Street Spirit (Fade Out)” by Radiohead

In at #1 is another song that was featured in my video listing above. I debated whether to put this or “Firestarter” as #1 but I’ve gone ahead with this. This didn’t get to #1, it got to #5, in fact, Radiohead have never had a #1 hit so far in this country (their biggest hit is “Paranoid Android”, which got to #3). They have only had #1 hits in Canada, with “Knives Out” and “There There”. It’s a shame really as Radiohead really deserve a #1 hit due to their influence and inspiration to many bands in the past decade. And “Fade Out”, as it’s often called, is one of those songs that tug on the heart strings and give you goose bumps. It has a strong place in the history of music, arguably more so than “Firestarter”. “Street Spirit” for what it is, is actually an anthem too, and it’s a difficult task to make such a sad and emotional song into an indie anthem. Listening to “Street Spirit” live is an experience I’d love to experience, watching Radiohead perform it on Glastonbury on the television a good few years ago made me very envious of the people who saw that gig in person. This song is unparalleled in certain dimensions, and that’s why it’s my #1 in terms of impactful in 1996.

The Year 1996 Mixtape

Just in case you didn't know by now...

"A Mixtape is a playlist of a certain genre, band or era. The list is generally 80 minutes long, the same length of a blank CD, with further recommendations if some of the songs aren’t to your taste. Remember kids, downloading is wrong!"

So here we go! My favourite songs from the year 1996. Yes, this is a biased list.

  1. Amish Paradise - Weird Al Yankovic
  2. Peaches - The Presidents of the United States of America
  3. Female of the Species – Space
  4. Champagne Supernova – Oasis
  5. Place Your Hands – Reef
  6. Devil's Haircut – Beck
  7. Supervixen – Garbage
  8. Street Spirit (Fade Out) – Radiohead
  9. Big Me - Foo Fighters
  10. The Man Don't Give a Fuck - Super Furry Animals
  11. Car Song – Elastica
  12. Brain Stew - Green Day
  13. Down – 311
  14. Breathe - The Prodigy
  15. Guilty - Gravity Kills
  16. Zero - Smashing Pumpkins
  17. Bulls on Parade - Rage Against the Machine
  18. I'm Your Boogieman - White Zombie
  19. The Beautiful People - Marilyn Manson

And here are the five alternative songs if you don't like some of the above...

  1. Clown – KoRn
  2. All I Want - The Offspring
  3. Salvation - The Cranberries
  4. Don't Speak - No Doubt
  5. Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai
And there we go! The year 1996 in review! I hope you've enjoyed this. So that’s four years covered from the nineties, next month naturally I’ll be covering 1995. What we your favourite songs and albums from 1996? Any other comments or queries? Raise them below. Thanks for your time.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Live Thoughts: Stoke vs Liverpool (Carling Cup)

I wrote this live. Here are my unedited thoughts when Liverpool played Stoke in the Carling Cup.

Hey everyone, welcome to another one of my Live Thoughts feeds. I'm sorry I missed this weekend's action, I had family over and was occupied all day. I'm not going to be covering the weekend's action that's to come either, I'm away from Saturday to Thursday with an important trip. Where am I going? You'll find out in a few months.

Onto the football now. We were disappointing against Norwich on the weekend, and that combined with the fact that we only lost to Stoke a few weeks ago in this stadium suggests there's doubts about the outcome today. All I say is, we were on decent form not too long ago, and I personally think we're a better team than Stoke, no disrespect to them. Yes they are a very tough nut to crack, especially at home, but we can do it. Keep the faith!

Here are today's lineups: 

Stoke: Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson, Shotton, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Jones, Walters. Subs: Nash, Diao, Pennant, Upson, Crouch, Jerome, Palacios.

It's a strong lineup, especially in defence. It's not going to be easy and Jon Walters is turning into a decent player recently. Crouch, Pennant and Palacios on the bench also shows some strength in depth for Stoke. It's still a team we can beat though, if we play our game right. 

Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Coates, Agger, Henderson, Lucas, Spearing, Maxi, Suarez, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Aurelio, Kuyt, Adam, Skrtel, Flanagan, Bellamy.

Who's playing at left back? Carragher? Agger? Kelly? If Kelly is playing left does that mean Carra is playing right? We'll find out soon. I think it's Kelly on the left and Agger on the right. That confusion aside, having Suarez and Carroll up front from the start is great. As much as Carroll is getting a lot of stick recently, I still want and hope that Suarez and Carroll can be a perfect match up front for Liverpool. There's no reason why they shouldn't. Let's give them our support today and hope they both have a great game!

2' - Agger is playing at left back. It's the best option I think, I still don't understand why we don't play Flanagan or Aurelio instead though.

3' - We're playing the better football at the moment. Some early pressure without any threat at the moment. 

5' - The commentator comments on us taking the Carling Cup seriously this season. We have and it's really refreshing. 

6' - Walters! That was close. He drives the ball form the corner of the left side of the penalty box and it dips just over the right side of the bar. 

8' - Suarez! Should have done better. Carroll takes a shot from distance and Thomas Sorensen  palms it low and it comes to Suarez but he shoots wide. He had more time than he thought.

9' - Walters again! Wide. There's a bit of frenzy in the Liverpool box and it ends with Walters on the left side of the penalty box and he shoots it wide. Very lively opening this match on both sides!

12' - Some good passing from Liverpool in the centre of the pitch. We're playing the better football now but it can still go either way based on the attempts so far. 

15' - An opening for Liverpool and we counter attack, Stoke only have two players back but Carroll couldn't control the ball in the box and it dissolves. Shame. 

17' - Carroll! A low header bounces of the ground and it goes straight to Sorensen. 

20' - Yellow card for Carragher. He fouls Etherington and walks off in a huff. 

23' - The game has slowed down a little now. We're still playing a little better than Stoke, but you just can't rule them out. Not after last time. 

25' - Carroll! Saved. A neat bit of football ends in Maxi Rodiguez being surrounded by Stoke players and he shoots, it ricochets off one of the players into the path of Carroll who shoots low and it's saved by Sorensen again.

28' - Kenwyne Jones has gone down and it looks like he's going to have to be replaced. 

29' - I tell a lie, I think he's staying on. 

31' - Tensions are rising as both teams claim fowls for separate incidents.

34' - Stoke celebrate as they head the ball into the net but the whistle blew for a foul in our box. Thank god. 

36' - Kelly! Good shot but saved. Some good attacking football all over the pitch, it ends with Kelly who takes his chance from a good 35 yards out, a low drive to the bottom right but Sorensen gets to it. 

39' - Stoke keep giving the ball away in midfield but we're just not capitalising at all. 

41' - Ryan Shawcross gets a yellow card for a tackle on Suarez.

42' - This match is very similar to the previous match at the Britannia. I don't like that feeling.

44' - GOAL! Kenwyne Jones has scored. A sloppy interception, Coates loses possession and Jon Walters storms down the Stoke right wing and cuts it back and Kenwyne Jones heads it into the bottom right corner. Against the run of play arguably. Frustrating. 

45' - Two minutes of added time. 

45+2' - Half time.

It's been a good first half if you're an unbiased fan. As the match went on we made more and more chances and played better football than Stoke. Then we had the sucker punch at the end of the half. It's very similar to the match earlier in the season when we lost here. We played very well that day but couldn't score, they got a goal and we lost. I really hope this isn't going to be the same outcome.

I don't like being negative in general, especially when it comes to the younger players, but I really don't think Coates is ready for the first team yet. He always looks nervous and concedes too easily, it's disappointingly his fault we conceded that goal, he didn't control the ball and Walters intercepted with some ease. It wasn't good. I'm not going to say "sell Coates" or anything stupid, but I do think he should go to the reserves, build his confidence from the ground, get him used to how football is played in England and then give him some game time towards the end of the season. He's not ready for the first team at all unfortunately.

45' - Liverpool Sub: Martin Skrtel is coming on for Jamie Carragher. It must be because Carra is on a yellow card. I'd rather Coates go off but hey ho. 

48' - Am I being too harsh on Coates? Comment if I am. I try to give the younger players a chance and long term I reckon he'll be a great asset. It's just too soon I think. 

51' - Free kick in a dangerous area for Stoke. Around 25 yards out, central. Spearing is the culprit. 

53' - GOAL! Suarez! Belter! The free kick is dealt with and we slowly counter attack, it ends with Spearing crossing the ball to Suarez who is on the left wing, he goes to the corner of the penalty area and bends it round the defence and into the bottom right corner! Excellent! 

54' - Well we equalised. A quality goal too. We've done more than we did last time we were at the Britannia. That's good. Let's see if we can now get a second! 

55' - Glenn Whelan has been booked for Stoke. 

57' - I forgot to mention, the Stoke fans were starting to boo Suarez in the second half, his response is his fantastic curler. Great stuff. 

58' - Jermaine Pennant is coming on for Stoke. Glad to see he's finally got a club that he seems happy with, and them in return like him.

59' - Stoke Sub: Pennant comes on for Ryan Shotton. Like for like swap. 

62' - Pennant's best moment in a Liverpool shirt? This

63' - Stoke Sub: Another quick sub, Cameron Jerome comes on for Matthew Etherington. 

66' - Cameron Jerome will offer more presence up front for Stoke, and with no Carra and a Sebastian Coates who's very green, that could be dangerous for us. 

69' - We could have had a free kick but the ref played on and Carroll was on his own up front, he got pushed to the right wing and we didn't really take advantage of the situation. 

72' - I'd like to hope we can score a second, I'd rather us not go to extra time if we can avoid it. 

75' - Glenn Whelan knocks Spearing over and you can argue he could have been given a second yellow. He's still on the pitch for now. 

76' - Kuyt and Bellamy are warming up. A good move if you ask me. 

77' - Shawcross and Suarez have a few words and one of the other Stoke players moves Shawcross away. That's two games now where Suarez has a sparring partner. He likes to annoy the opposition doesn't he! Just for the record I doubt Suarez said anything racist last week. 

79' - Stoke are starting to pile some pressure. There's been a lot of Rory Delap throw ins the past five minutes. 

81' - Liverpool Sub: Craig Bellamy is coming on for Maxi Rodriguez. A very good move I say. Let's hope his pace and recent goal scoring touch can continue. 

83' - BELLAMY! Hit the post and out! So close! He sets up a layoff with Carroll and shoots low and it was so close! Sorensen was beat! 

84' - GOAL! Suarez! A brace! The ball is headed back to Henderson who whips in a lovely sharp cross from the right and it's a perfect header for Suarez from the left, straight into the net! Great stuff and it looks like we're in the quarter finals!

87' - Peter Crouch is about to come on. His best Liverpool moment? This.

87' - Stoke Sub: Kenwyne Jones is off and Crouch is on. All Stoke's subs are used.

87' - Liverpool Sub: Dirk Kuyt is coming on for the man of the match, Luis Suarez. Of course, he's taking his time to come off. Good times!

89' - There's a huge scramble in the Liverpool box and Crouch scores but he was offside. Very confusing then, so many bodies. 

90' - Four minutes of added time. Yellow card for Robert Huth. 

90+2' - Despite Stoke's dominance since the second goal, we have a moment of attacking football and both Agger and Kelly were high up the pitch. It was good but concerning due to the fact that we need to be careful for the next two mintes. 

90+3' - Nice to see Suarez having a laugh and joke on the subs bench. He usually sulks when he's taken off. I love that guy. 

90+4' - One last Rory Delap throw goes for a goal kick and it's full time!

We're in the quarter finals! All thanks to a certain Uruguayan menace! This is a great result, to go to Stoke, where we earlier lost a few weeks ago, and come back from behind. It's a fantastic result. Stoke played very well today for most of the match and gave us a game. We were definitely the better side though, and if it wasn't for that man, we wouldn't have won. Seven goals to his name now. Luis Suarez is turning into a new Kop hero and I'm so happy he's playing for us rather than against us. That's all from me, as I said, I won't be covering this weekend's game as I'm away, but I should be back the week after. Have a good night.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Music Album Review: Alpocalypse by Weird Al Yankovic

It's disappointing that nearly half of "Alpocalypse" is rehashed material, but even so, it's a decent but underwhelming effort.
“Alpocalypse” is Weird Al Yankovic’s thirteenth album, and was released just over four months ago. That’s quite a statement, thirteen albums in twenty-eight years; Alfred has had a heck of a career. I wouldn’t say his career has been the greatest, or the easiest, or the most successful, but he’s a legend at the craft he performs and deserves the respect of every musician regardless of age or genre.

Just in case you’ve never heard of Weird Al Yankovic, and trust me, there are those who haven’t, Weird Al is now 52 years old. He is a parody artist, one of the first, and now probably the most famous worldwide. He takes a song that was popular and changes the lyrics for comedy value. He has had many ‘booms’ in his career, his first being the early eighties when he started off, back in 1984 he had a very famous parody called “Eat It”, a version of “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. “Eat It” took the music of “Beat It” and changed the lyrics, and made a song about someone who was fussy with his food “just eat it!”. It was with this track Weird Al started to find he was onto something with his songs. In 1988 he found more success with a second Michael Jackson track, this one was “Bad”, which he turned into “Fat”, a song naturally about a man being overweight. In 1992 another decent hit was “Smells Like Nirvana”, a parody of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and this song took the mickey out of the fact that Kurt Cobain’s famous vocals were hard to understand sometimes. Weird Al Yankovic found it difficult in the nineties when many of his songs barely got airplay, but of those tracks, the most famous was in 1996 when he parodied Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” and turned it into “Amish Paradise” a song celebrating the lifestyle of the Amish.

But it wasn’t really until 2006, five years ago, when Weird Al had finally got the major recognition he arguably deserves. He released “White and Nerdy” a parody of Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’”. The original was about ‘riding dirty’; gangsters riding in cars with drugs, and Weird Al changed the lyrics dramatically into a song about white nerds who want to be cool and hang out with the cultured black population. It was a brilliant parody, no, a brilliant song, and was the platform Weird Al needed to finally start to get the recognition of the younger population. The album that came out with that hit, “Straight Outta Lynwood”, Weird Al’s twelfth effort, was a huge hit and was fantastic. I reviewed it around five years ago but that review has disappeared into the obscurities of the internet. I gave it ****1/4 stars and touch on its greatness in my Top 10 Albums of the Noughties here. 

So this is Weird Al’s thirteenth major effort and his first since the fantastic album that was “Straight Outta Lynwood”, released five years ago. So what has Weird Al got up his sleeve this time? Well, if I say that the material on this album is new I’d by lying. Yes, this is Weird Al’s first major album in five years but three years ago Weird Al released “Internet Leaks”, a five track EP, and five of the songs on this album are actually those songs. Keep in mind this album is twelve tracks long, that means nearly half the album is re-released material. Now, Weird Al hasn’t been criticised for this by many people but I personally wasn’t approving of this move. For the fans who bought “Internet Leaks”, the hardcore Weird Al fans, it probably feels like being a little ripped off I’m sure. The songs that were on Internet Leaks are "CNR", "Skipper Dan", "Craigslist", "Ringtone"  and "Whatever You Like".

The album starts with "Perform This Way" a parody of "Born This Way" by mega star of the moment Lady Gaga. Now this song has a story of its own; Weird Al approached Lady Gaga's management for permission to use her song, not that he has to, by law he can do parodys but out of respect he always asks the original artists. He bent over backwards for her management, something he doesn't do, he gave them ideas of what the song will be about, made all the proceedings to go to charity, and even, make the song for them to listen to before it was released. That also, was created on the spot as he was busy doing an Australian tour. The management rejected the idea, and it was a complete waste of Al's time. As a consolation he released it for nothing on Youtube. Lady Gaga was hounded about this on Twitter for the next 24 hours, and it turns out she had no idea about Weird Al trying to contact her, and that she was a fan and definitely approved his version of her song.

Now onto my review of the track itself. Well, I don't really think it's that good to be honest. It's okay, but it lacks the invention that other parody's Al has done in the past. I need to give credit where it's due, Weird Al didn't have much time to produce this track, but surely, after he got full and proper permission from Gaga herself, surely he should have reworked the song and made it sound richer, and more crisp? Based on how the song came about, you can feel that the song was rushed and not done as finely as it could have been. Another problem personally I have with this song is that it's aimed directly at Gaga and her lifestyle rather than a complete parody lyrically. Most of my favourite Weird Al tracks are where he takes the music from a song and changes the lyrics dramatically into a completely different topic, rather than talk about the artist. One of the reasons "White and Nerdy" was so good was that the song had nothing to do with gangsters driving fast and taking drugs. It was about white nerds doing nerdy things. It makes the song stand out on its own while being funny at the same time.

Track two is a style parody. Once again if you're not familiar with Weird Al's work, as well as do direct parodies to artist's tracks, Al also does style parody, where he takes an artist's general sound and makes a song in that style. He doesn't often release style parodies as singles but he usually has a few on each album. Track two is one of my favourite style parodies on any Weird Al album. It's called "CNR" and it's done in the style of The White Stripes, and it sounds fantastic. The guitars and the drums are great and sound just like the original band, and the lyrics are pretty damn good too. "CNR" tells the story of Charles Nelson Reilly, a real life actor and comedian, most famous for his work a game show called "Match Game". He died a few years ago, and Weird Al pays overdramatic homage to the guy, talking about his superhuman capabilities, in a very similar vein to the internet meme Chuck Norris Facts. It's a great song on its own and even funnier with all the silly 'facts' about CNR.

"TMZ" is the third track and like the website itself, it has loads of 'oh my god!' celebrity stories in its lyrics and just mocks the stupid obsession that many people have with celebrity status. The song it's parodying is "You Belong To Me" by Taylor Swift. Track four is "Skipper Dan" and is a style parody of alternative rock band Weezer. The lyrics are about a man who despite having a degree has to resort to working as a tour guide. These two songs are okay, they're a step below the quality from the previous album "Straight Outta Lynwood".

Next on the album is the polka. Again, if you're not too familiar with Yankovic's work in nearly every album there's a polka styled medley, that incorporates many famous songs all wrapped up in a polka track. They're fan favourites and are often always fun to listen to. In this track, appropriately called "Polka Face" mixes a lot of the more modern pop and RnB tracks like "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, "Womanizer" by Britney Spears, "So What" by Pink, "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry and "Tik Tok" by Kesha. Comparing this to the other polkas on the other albums, it's pretty good, not the best, but it's difficult to rate polkas as Weird Al has to work with what's popular today.

One of the best highlights of the album for me is "Craiglist", another style parody, this one paying homage to The Doors and even the original keyboard player from the original band plays in this track. "Craiglist" sounds fantastic, once again the music is close to perfection in comparison to the originals. The song itself is about the website Craiglist, which specialises in online advertising for pretty much anything and everything. The lyrics are great and it's just one of the best songs on the album.

I personally find the album gets better as it goes on, with further highlights being track eight "Ringtone", a style parody of Queen and talks about how annoying personal mobile ringtones are. While the quality of the Queen parody is not as good as the previous ones on The Doors and The White Stripes, the lyrics make up for that by being very funny. In terms of direct parodies my favourite is track nine, "Another Tattoo" which is a parody of "Nothin' On You" by B.o.B. and naturally talks about a guy getting many many tattoos. As I said previously, my favourite parodies tend to be the ones that change the lyrical subject completely, and this is a great example of that, the lyrics work so well with the beat and style of the original song.

Weird Al likes to have a song of great magnitude either near the end of the album or as the last track. He follows this trend by having "Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me" as the final track. The song is not as long as similar songs on other albums, but is very similar in style to "Don't Download This Song", the final track from "Straight Outta Lynwood". In fact, it almost sounds exactly the same but the lyrics have changed. I don't know if it's just me that feels this way but because the songs sound so similar I can't help but feel that it's a bit lacklustre in effort by Yankovic.

All in all "Alpocalypse" is a decent but disappointing effort. "Straight Outta Lynwood" was such a great album and all the pieces in the jigsaw fit perfectly, where as this album feels disjointed. There are some very good tracks on here and some songs that are just below par. Having nearly half the album full of rehashed material was a bad move in my opinion and definitely has a direct impact on the quality of the album. If you like Weird Al Yankovic then I think you'll like this album overall, but if you're new to his work then I'd avoid starting your interest here, and get "Straight Outta Lynwood" instead, that album has great quality all over from start to finish where as this album lacks in certain areas.

Rating: ***3/4 stars
Stand out tracks: "CNR", "Craigslist", "Another Tattoo"

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Q&A with Johnny Mercyside: Part 5

Hey there, I've got no time to cover the football today unfortunately, and I'm away next week, so there's no Live Thoughts for two weeks. But I do have enough time today to quickly post the new Q&A, part 5, for your reading enjoyment if you want to get to know me a little more. These come from my Formspring account, which you can find here. These were answered a while ago, and I've changed the answers if the situation has changed since then. Enjoy.

Q: Exactly how ginger are you?
A: I am ginger by beard only, no where else. It's annoying that people call me ginger, because it is the only place I have ginger hair.

Q: Would you rather be a famous musician or a famous actor?
A: A famous musician, it was always something I wanted to do but never had any talent with.

Q: What do you wear in bed?
A: I usually wear some boxers and a pair of socks. I don't like having cold feet.

Q: Milk, white or dark chocolate?
A: I like all three, however milk is the best by some distance.

Q: Who's your favorite musician?
A: Trent Reznor, the guy is ridiculously talented. A second would probably Josh Homme, he also, is ridiculously talented.

Q: If you could instantly become fluent in another language, which language would you pick?
A: Spanish, it would be very useful to learn Spanish. It's quite a nice sounding language as well.

Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: You see, I never really knew what to be when I grew up, I always said an astronaut but I never really cared to be one really.

Q: Sneakers or sandals?
A: Trainers, or sneakers as the question says.

Q: Who's the most underrated musician?
A: Saul Williams, a great hip hop industrial political musician. Very serious, but very good.

Q: What household chore do you hate to do the most?
A: I hate them all, but probably the basic picking up crap off the floor, cleaning sides stuff.

Q: What one thing are you exceptionally bad at?
A: Getting out of bed.

Q: What's the best place near you to get a pizza?
A: I'm not as high on local pizzas as Pizza Hut or Dominos, and I'm a Pizza Hut guy, so I'd go with that.

Q: What's one food you'll never eat again?
A: Parsnips, ergh, they make me gag.

Q: If you could be invited to one person's birthday party, whose would it be?
A: Dave Grohl, I bet he has good birthday parties.

Q: If you could instantly become an expert at one style of dance, what style would you pick?
A: Breakdancing, I'm not huge on rap but I have respect for breakdancers.

Q: If you could attend any concert, what would it be?
A: Well number 1 on my list at the moment is The Queens of the Stone Age, who are great live from what I've seen and heard.

Q: Have you ever dreamt something that's stuck with you?
A: Good question, I've once mentioned about the dream I had as a boy that I woke up in, went to school and did normal things. It's a nothing dream really, but when I woke up as a little boy it was weird, I thought I was still dreaming. And to this day I contemplate if my life is a dream, and if I will wake up anytime being that little boy again. Very weird and possibly stupid, but that dream will stick with me until I, wake up.

Q: If you could change one thing about the world today what would it be and why?
A: Change, I'd probably go with the media, they influence so much, and make the world be percieved in such an incorrect way it's unbelievable. They also get involved in so much that doesn't concern them, or the public.

Q: Name one thing you couldn't live without.
A: It's difficult because I see things realistically, so I can't really say. I'd say my daughter, but losing her would make my life incredibally miserable, but I could still live.

Q: If you could date any celebrity, who would it be?
A: Zooey Deschanel, she seems like such a lovely lady, and she is so cute as well.

And that's it from me again today. I'll hopefully be back on Monday or Tuesday and either talk about the pending wrestling of Monday or to review "Alpocalypse" by Weird Al Yankovic. Just in case you missed it earlier you can follow me and ask me questions on my Formspring here. Have a good day.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mixtape: Best Debut Singles

Hallo. Welcome to another Mixtape. This is a personal Mixtape, because it's a topic that is purely biased from anyone's perspective.

Today I reveal my favourite debut singles. When a band is new on the scene they have to choose their first single very carefully. They have to hope that the song they release gets the ball running for the sake of their careers. If it flops or worse, is panned, it can destroy careers. It definitely can make a band's career a mountain to climb. But debut singles can work the other way too, it can make a career start brilliantly, but the success is short because they are then a one hit wonder.

Not familiar with the Mixtape? Here are the rules.

A Mixtape is a playlist of a certain genre, band or era. The list is generally 80 minutes long, the same length of a blank CD, with further recommendations if some of the songs aren't to your taste. Remember kids, downloading is wrong!

No matter how the careers of the band's below went, these songs kick ass in my opinion. Enjoy my favourite debut singles!
  1. I Only Want You - Eagles of Death Metal
  2. Santa Domingo - Jon Fratelli
  3. Fever for the Flava - Hot Action Cop
  4. Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja - Lostprophets
  5. Romantic Rights - Death From Above 1979
  6. Nobody - Skindred
  7. Bodies - Drowning Pool
  8. Thunder Kiss '65 - White Zombie
  9. Down in It - Nine Inch Nails
  10. Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus
  11. The Way I Walk - The Cramps
  12. John the Fisherman - Primus
  13. Love Your Money - Daisy Chainsaw
  14. Love Buzz - Nirvana
  15. Three Little Pigs - Green Jelly
  16. Get Your Gunn - Marilyn Manson
  17. Institutionalized - Suicidal Tendencies
  18. Cowboys From Hell - Pantera
  19. Cult of Personality - Living Colour
  20. Dragula - Rob Zombie
Don't like some of these songs? Here are five alternatives...
  1. Loser - Beck
  2. Get it On - Grinderman
  3. Sugar - System of a Down
  4. Processed Beats - Kasabian
  5. Killing in the Name - Rage Against the Machine
And there you go, my favourite debut singles. I hope you like some of these, if not all. It's a heavy playlist but heavy is good in my opinion. That;s it from me, take care.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Game Review: Resident Evil 4 HD

Resident Evil 4 HD is the most complete version to date, of one of the best video games ever made. A true classic.

Resident Evil 4 HD was released just under four weeks ago here in the UK but the original game was released on the Gamecube just under seven years ago. This HD version is available both on the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, and is a direct port from the version released on the Playstation 2, which itself was released just under six years ago. As you can see this game has been released on many gaming platforms, including the four above the game was also released on the PC, the Nintendo Wii, on the mobile, on the iPhone, on Zeebo and finally, the iPad, totalling in ten different formats.

To clarify, this is a direct port from the Playstation 2 version, with only one change; it’s been remastered in HD. What was different from the Playstation 2 version and the Gamecube version? Well; the main addition being a new game mode called “Separate Ways”, which explains what happened in the original game but from the perspective of Ada, similar to the way Resident Evil 2 works (with the two scenarios with Leon and Claire). So in short, with all the content and a crisper look, this is the most complete version of Resident Evil 4 yet.
Asplosion in three... two... one...
Work on Resident Evil 4 actually started back in 1999, six years before it was actually released. The idea was for the game to be more action packed and less about survival horror. The backgrounds and atmosphere was more reminiscent of old Gothic locations, similar to those found in Europe. They eventually started to notice that the game was becoming something completely different to Resident Evil, and decided to make it a game on its own. They added demons and rewrote the storyline, and released the game as Devil May Cry, a game series that has had a great amount of success on its own.

The game went through three more development segments, most notably the one before the actual game release. This development time was spent making the game even scarier than the previous four instalments (Resident Evil 4 is the fifth main title in the series, after Resident Evil: Code Veronica) and took an almost Silent Hill approach to the series. The gameplay was similar to the actual release of Resident Evil 4, but the locations and atmosphere was much darker. The main villain in this game was a man dubbed Hookman, who naturally, carried a large hook with him. He would pursue Leon in a fashion not too different from Nemesis from the third entry into the series. The game was dropped and development finally started on what we now know as Resident Evil 4.

Just in case you’ve never played the game before, Resident Evil 4 features Leon Kennedy, an ex cop who was involved in the Zombie Outbreak in Resident Evil 2. Leon was a cop for one day, and that was the day of the outbreak. Six years have passed since that time, and Leon now works for the American president. An unknown insider kidnapped the president’s daughter, Ashley, and was brought to a small desolate village in rural Spain, where a mysterious cult resides. It is Leon’s job to work with two Spanish police officers to work undercover get Ashley home. Virtually no time passes from the beginning of the game before these two police officers have been killed and Leon must wade through hoards of villagers hell-bent on keeping Leon away from the president’s daughter. These villagers are not zombies, but what is then known as Los Ganados (or “The Cattle" in Spanish) who seem to be possessed by something. These villagers are much more dangerous than the zombies of old; they can work together in groups and are intelligent enough to throw or yield weapons. The story unravels and answers all the questions needed, like why was the president’s daughter kidnapped? How did these villagers get possessed? What’s possessing them? Who was involved internally with the president to actually kidnap his daughter Ashley? Everything gets answered.

As for the gameplay, the game has moved forward in leaps and bounds from the old style. Resident Evil 1, 2, 3 and Code Veronica used predetermined camera angles and when your character moved out of the picture, the camera angle would change to suit the location of the character. This has been thrown out of the window and instead the camera is always behind the character, slightly above shoulder height. This new perspective adds a more first-person approach without ever being a first person shooter. When shooting, a red laser comes out of the gun to show the player where the target is placed. Unlike before, where you shoot at a zombie’s upper torso or low to their feet, you can now target individual limbs which do different things; shooting the head makes the enemy stumble backwards or result in the head to explode, shooting the feet makes the enemy crouch forwards, and shooting a hand results in the enemy dropping a weapon if they are holding one. If you shoot the head or feet correctly, you can run up to your enemy and pressing the action button (“A” on the Xbox 360 controller) when near them gives you the option of attacking your enemy physically. With Leon, pressing the action button when they’ve been hit in the head allows him to roundhouse kick them to the floor, knocking over nearby enemies. Depending on how far you are in the game, pressing the action button when they’ve been hit in the foot allows you first to kick them straight on, resulting them flying backwards a decent distance. Later on this is replaced by the Northern Lights Suplex, a fine wrestling move, where Leon actually lands the enemy backwards onto their head, usually resulting in the head exploding. These moves are more than welcome to the gameplay, which makes the game much cooler.
Watch out for that guy, he's pretending his arm's a cobra!
The signature weapons have returned, with a few more added in; there’s a nice selection of handguns available that all specialise in different things. The same applies to the shotguns and the magnums. These weapons aren’t readily available, you start off with just the handgun (and a shotgun on the easiest difficulty), but as you progress more and more becomes available. The handgun is easy to use and very effective in the beginning against most of the Ganados, and the shotguns are good against big groups of enemies, or the stronger enemies you encounter later on in the game. Magnums, like always, are the elite weapons that have very little ammo available in the game that should be used sparsely; the bosses are recommended for such instances. Added to these signature weapons are the rifles. Rifles have rarely been featured in the Resident Evil series due to the fact that the games aren’t first person shooters (apart from the Survivor and Chronicles series), and while this isn’t a first person shooter, the camera angle works in favour of the use of a rifle. Rifles, like in many other action shooter games, are great for long distance and also pack a decent punch. There’s only one machine gun in the game which is the TMP, a minigun that can be used effectively once in a while. There are other bonus weapons too but these are usually unlocked after completing the game and dramatically make the game much easier.

As mentioned earlier these weapons aren’t readily available, but are slowly unlocked as the game progresses. They’re made available through a merchant, who looks like one of the Ganados but speaks perfect English (in a fantastic cockney accent) and has a hooded coat for his wares. You’ll soon appreciate seeing the site of his blue flame that he is often standing next to, as he often offers you the next and better versions of your weapons. On a side note the Merchant is a fantastic character despite having virtually no purpose to the plot other than providing you with better weaponry, his accent and phrases while aren’t intentionally funny, are delivered fantastically you can’t help but fall in love with him. As well as having the option to buy weapons, you also have the option to upgrade them. Upgrading your weaponry is important at it allows you to keep up to date with the pending difficulty increase in enemies. Upgrades allow your weapons to deal more damage, to fire faster, to reload faster and to hold more ammo in the gun itself.

Another new addition to the game is the items case. In the old games you had usually six, eight or ten item slots and that was it. Most items would hold up one space, with the exception of the very large guns like machine guns and rocket launchers. Still there was a flaw; a shotgun was one space and so was a small key. Naturally a shotgun is much larger than the small key yet they take the same amount of space. This observation now doesn’t exist with the new suitcase; Leon carries a case which has many items slots and each item holds different amount of spaces. For instance, the smallest item is now an egg that is used to increase your health, and this only takes up one item space. In comparison, the handguns take around six spaces, and the shotguns can take anything up to sixteen spaces. Your case has probably around sixty spaces at first but like the weapons, your case can be upgraded to carry more and more as the game goes on. This new system removes the flaw of the old item space situation, while giving you much more customisation as well, unlike the older games you can now also drop items.
Good luck...
The game itself can be completed in fifteen to twenty five hours, which is a huge increase in time when compared to the older games. Not only is the game much bigger than others, but there is still more to do when you finish the game. You can take part in The Mercenaries game mode, which is similar to the one in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, where you have a time limit to kill as many enemies as possible. The difference between this and the Resident Evil 3 version is that you are only allowed in one large area in this game, and you can get time bonuses by going across the level. Killing enemies in succession starts a combo which when finished gives you more and more points as the tally increases. There are four levels in the game, which are all diverse and are similar in design to particular areas of the game. As mentioned much earlier in the review you can also play “Separate Ways” with Ada, which takes a good hour or two to finish. Lastly, you can play another game mode called “Assignment Ada”, which once again features the lady in red, where you are trying to receive random ‘plaga’ samples across a terrain.

While that is the majority of the game, also added into the game are the options to save your game and start afresh, a New Game+ if you will, where you keep all your weapons and advances from the previous game. You can also play again in a different difficulty, keeping in mind the easier your difficulty of choice, certain sections of the game are removed to make the game easier, meaning if you play on the hardest difficulty you play the game in its entirety. You can also unlock new costumes for both Leon and Ashley, by completing the game multiple times. So there’s a huge amount of content in this game, and it’s all worth sinking your teeth into.

On the whole Resident Evil 4 HD is the most complete version of Resident Evil 4 to date and is well worth getting no matter how much of an experience you’ve had with the game in the past. If you have the original Gamecube version, or a Playstation 2 or Wii version, it doesn’t matter, this HD remaster looks incredibly smooth and stands well with the games being released to day, despite being seven years old now. If you’ve never played Resident Evil 4 before, I can’t recommend this game enough. If you like survival horror and action packed shooter games, get this. You won’t regret it. Yes, its seven years old but it’s still one of the most complete games to ever come out. It’s a true classic, a game that will go down in history not only as one of the best games from the sixth generation of video gaming, but one of the best video games of all time. Everything from the graphics, the action, the controls, the enemies, the storyline, the vastness of the game, everything is close to perfection. The only problem I’d say with the game is that at around £15, it’s quite a steep price for a seven year old game, but it’s still worth it based on the content you receive. Resident Evil 4 for me, is the best in the series and this is a must for fans of survival horror shooter fans.

Rating: ****3/4 stars

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