Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Game Review: Super Meat Boy

If you don’t lose your head over the difficulty, Super Meat Boy is an awesome homage to retro 2D platformers.
Super Meat Boy was released sixteen months ago on the Xbox 360 Live Arcade and was produced by Team Meat. It’s also seen releases on the PC, the Mac and on Linux since. It’s a 2D platform game and pays homage to the old school genre in general, particularly Super Mario.

Super Meat Boy is the sequel to an online Flash game called Meat Boy. Meat Boy was released on cult gaming and humour website Newgrounds three and a half years ago. Newgrounds is a website where many animated videos and flash games are posted. Meat Boy was a huge success on there and had over 8 million hits on all internet media. It was then decided that the success of Meat Boy could possibly be found on console gaming, so for the next two years hard negotiating, contracts and production were made to release Super Meat Boy. Team Meat contact all three major console gaming companies. Sony were not interested, and Microsoft showed a little interest. The most interest came from Nintendo. Microsoft made a large surge in the end for interest in the game, and a nice contract was made for the release on the Xbox 360 Arcade. Due to contractual obligations, it was to be released on the Xbox 360 first and lots of blood, sweat and tears went into the game, as well as a lack of sleeping hours to get it released on time. So much effort went into the game in the end that the game ended up being too big for Nintendo’s WiiWare, so they had to pull out, as Nintendo were not interested in a physical release for the game. So it ended up out of the three consoles, to be Xbox exclusive, and has since met major critical and commercial acclaim. I’m sure Sony regret their lack of interest now.
This is not going to end well...
Super Meat Boy follows a very simple story line. You play as Meat Boy, a red square with pixels for eyes and a very animate mouth, and small limbs. His girlfriend, Bandage Girl has been kidnapped by the main antagonist, Dr. Fetus. It’s such a simple storyline and the creators are emphatic on this, due to it being a strong homage of the simple storylines in the late eighties video gaming, particularly Super Mario. There’s no extended plot really, you as Meat Boy follow Dr. Fetus through over 300 levels to try and save the girlfriend, Bandage Girl. No further plot is needed either.

The game itself as mentioned earlier is a 2D platform game. To finish one of the 300+ levels, you start off at the far left of the level and have to make it to the end of the level, where Bandage Girl is waiting. You control Meat Boy and run and jump your way through obstacles to reach her, only for Dr. Fetus to take Bandage Girl to the next level. The game is split into 20 levels for the most part, “chapters” as they call them, where at the end you’ll have a Boss level where you have to once again either find Bandage Girl at the end of the level, or more often than not, run away from the boss themselves. Minor story continuation is usually shown between each “chapter” you visit.

Meat Boy himself is a square piece of meat. It sounds quite disgusting, and it is in theory, but the fact that the game is in 2D means nothing is really shown, the game is for the most part probably a 12+; the game itself shows very little that’s graphic or unsuitable for children but there are small references here and there that aren’t suitable. For instance Dr. Fetus quite often likes to stick his middle fingers up at the screen or Meat Boy, but those subtle things aside it would probably class as suitable for children in honesty. Due to the fact that Meat Boy is a piece of meat, whenever he runs, small trails of blood follow him everywhere he goes, once again it sounds quite horrible but it’s all pixelated and is fine once you get over the initial observation. Whenever he runs or moves, small squishy sounds follow him, to emphasise the piece of meat that he is as well. This paragraph is here to tell you that yes, these things are present and if it offends you not to show your children if you have any, that’s understandable, but for the most part it’s absolutely fine for children, if they don’t understand these things.

To control Meat Boy, you use the D-pad like always, and that lets you move Meat Boy left or right on the screen. To jump, you press the “A” button, and you can also jump off walls, multiple times, so you can jump from wall to wall to wall if you’re in a short space. You can also run by holding the “X” button while you move. To jump across large spaces you have to hold the “A” button while jumping. It’s very simple really.
The intro to Super Meat Boy is homage to Street Fighter. If you play the game you'll know what I mean.
But what makes the controls so amazing is how tight everything comes together. Have you ever played “Super Mario” back in the day, and the controls were hard to get your head around when first playing? There’s none of that while playing Super Meat Boy. The controls are incredibly tight; when you stop moving, Meat Boy stops moving. If you time everything correctly, you’ll jump, skid, run and drag against the wall (hold the D-pad direction against the wall to drag) as you are supposed to. The controls in essence, are what bring everything in Super Meat Boy together.

Because the controls are so tight, that usually means everything you do on Meat Boy is to your touch. There’s no blaming the game for bugs or the controls being poor. It’s your fault. And that’s quite frustrating in some ways. Why? Because this game is hard. It’s very hard. It’s really really hard! Team Meat worked very hard on making this game fun to play, but also challenging. There are over 300 levels in this game, but completing the first 40 is in some ways a challenge. But this game is a game of trial and error, you’re supposed to die, and die a lot, to be able to beat the level. Dying is only half the fun, because once you beat a level in Meat Boy, especially later on, it’s some achievement. You have unlimited lives, and the levels are short, and this equation makes for a fun yet frustrating game. You have to time things to an absolute tee (as I said, if you don’t, it’s your fault) to beat levels, especially later on

The levels for the most part take around half a minute to complete, but to beat each level it usually can take a lot longer. But don’t let this put you off, as I said, it’s difficult but the fact that you can try again and again instantly means you get a second go straight away. It’s the trial and error part of Super Meat Boy that makes it fun. If you were to flawlessly play Super Meat Boy it would be boring, trust me. Also, you don’t have to play the levels in order. They are however, as mentioned earlier, split into “chapters”, and to unlock the next “chapter” you’ll have to beat the boss in the previous one, and to unlock the boss of that chapter you have to beat a certain amount of levels. But if you get stuck and frustrated on a certain level, you can skip it, temporarily anyway, and come back to it another time.

There’s other ways to play Super Meat Boy. If you complete each level exceptionally quickly, you get an A+ stamping on the level. Doing this means you also unlock the “Dark World” version of the level. The “Dark World” version of the level is an even harder variation of the original level, meaning the difficulty of the level is increased even further! The “Dark World” levels are usually in design the same as the original level, but certain elements are usually added to increase the difficulty; either more obstacles are put in place to avoid, or certain platforms are shorter or not there at all, making the level harder to cross.
The boss battles are exceptionally challenging, but in a fun 'trial and error' way.
There are other characters to play as in Super Meat Boy, but all require unlocking. Most characters are unlocked by collecting plasters. Plasters are found on certain levels, usually in a difficult-to-reach section of the level, and the idea is to collect this plaster on the level and complete the level at the same time. Collecting a certain amount of plasters unlocks characters individually. All the characters bring something to the table; Gish plays almost identically to Meat Boy although he’s slower, but the main thing he can do well is stick to walls with exceptional grip, making him perfect for the levels in the game that are hard in this department. Jill has horns on her head and can stick to ceilings, while Tim can’t run at all but can turn back time three seconds, in case you do a mistake or fail to get a bandage or a key in the level.

Not all characters are unlocked by collecting plasters. Some are unlocked by finding warp zones on selected levels. Warp zones are great; they’re usually the same game but even more retro than the style the game is in. They’re usually thee levels of a much more pixelated version of the game, usually harder to complete and worse yet, you only get three lives rather than the unlimited lives you get in the main games. Beating certain warp zones unlock characters, and some even pit you as the character you’re about to unlock, rather than Meat Boy.

The game’s soundtrack is great. It’s not exceptional in terms of its quality, but it’s not supposed to be, the music is there simply to support the game, not to overshadow it. The music is often atmospheric to the level’s that are being played, and there’s also a lot of retro style music, especially for the warp zones. The sounds are also great, as mentioned, the squelches that are heard when Meat Boy runs or dies are perfect, and the guy who does the emphatic shouting of certain events (like “Super Meat Boy!” and “Warp Zone”, similar to the Street Fighter guy) are great too.

Overall Super Meat Boy is well worth every penny if you like retro games, it does the old 8-bit and 16-bit games of old complete justice. If you don’t lose your head over the difficulty, it’s well worth your time. I’d recommend you try the demo out, which is quite fleshy in itself and if you like that, get the full game. Just remember that the game is made for you to fail before you succeed, which is the way games were made in the eighties anyway. So if you don’t lose your head over the difficulty, Super Meat Boy is an awesome homage to retro 2D platformers and well worth a punt if you like Xbox Live Arcade games.
Rating: ****1/4 stars
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Live Thoughts: Cardiff vs Liverpool (Carling Cup)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts when Liverpool took on Cardiff in the Carling Cup final!

Hey there and welcome! Liverpool are in their first final in five years, it's been too long. I remember that final too well, when we lost 2-1 to AC Milan in the Champions League final. It was horrible. I really don't want to feel that feeling again, especially not today. We just simply have to win. If we lose, it'll be the first time in 21 years since a team outside of the top division won the League Cup. We just have to win. I'm thoroughly looking forward to this, but I just wish I was with my family in North Wales, who are all Liverpool supporters, rather than on my own in my house with my three year old daughter who doesn't understand football quite yet. But still, let's hope we can win and I'll be just as happy!

Here are the teams:

Cardiff: Heaton; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; Cowie, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Gestede, Mason; Miller. Subs: Marshal, Kiss, Gerrard, Earnshaw, Conway, Naylor, Blake.

We were expecting Miller to play on his own up front but no matter, he's the main threat and he can score if given the chance. Peter Whittingham has been a great Championship player for years and can also be a threat. But this is a still a team we need to beat, no excuses.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Gerrard, Adam, Henderson, Downing, Suarez, Carroll. Subs: Maxi, Kuyt, Spearing, Carragher, Doni, Kelly, Bellamy.

The pundits on Match of the Day were surprised Bellamy didn't start but I'm not. We're not being overcautious, but this is a balanced side. It's 4-4-2 and there's some nice balance here. I like it. Having Bellamy and/or Kuyt would disrupt the balance in that team and I think it's important today to get on that pitch, maintain possession and go forward when we're in full control. This team allows that. Bellamy can come on later if we need an injection of pace in the squad. 

1' - JOHNSON! He hit the bar! So close! Gerrard on the rebound and it's over. What a shot by Glen Johnson! Both teams had a good attack then and we almost scored! 

3' - They just mentioned Johnson being an FA Cup winner when Portsmouth beat Cardiff here a few years ago. I live in Portsmouth and I can tell you, that was a special win for the south coast team. I'm not a Pompey fan but I was really happy for them. I want a taste of that tonight for my team! 

6' - We're piling the pressure on early, two corners didn't really get that close to their goal, but we're on top at the moment. We need to keep on this pressure early on, hopefully it'll lead to an early goal. 

9' - The pressure is off a little at the moment, but there's a long way to go. What matters is that we win, not how! 

12' - Another corner for Liverpool, Carroll is penalised for a push on a Cardiff player. 

15' - Carroll has an effort at goal and it's over the bar. 

17' - A nice bit of movement from Henderson, Johnson and Suarez and Suarez chips the ball to Carroll who has a troubling yet tame effort on target,

18' - GOAL! Joe Mason. We're behind. Martin Skrtel heads the ball back to a Cardiff player, the ball is played to Miller who passes to Mason, who clips the ball past Reina. Awful defending all-round.

21' - That was a poor bit of defending. Credit where it's due Cardiff passed the ball nice and slick for the goal, but our defence was asleep. I can't believe we're behind. 

21' - Agger doing one of his vintage runs down the the centre of the pitch and his shot is blocked by a defender.

22' - Possession is 65%/35% to Liverpool. Yet we're behind. We need to get back in this match, thankfully there's a lot of time to go. 

25' - We're all around their box at the moment, lovely work from Downing who backheels the ball to Jose Enrique into the box. We pile in their box but Cardiff deal with the pressure. 

28' - Downing loses his defender again and crosses low into the box again, it misses everyone, only Carroll was in the box that was in a Red shirt. It was a good ball from Downing, who's definitely winning the battle on the left flank at the moment.

31' - Handball claims in the Cardiff box but it was too quick in my eyes for it to be a penalty.

31' - ADAM! So close! A low drive from Adam and it's just wide. Good effort.

33' - We're still piling forward but with not much intensity. Cardiff are defending well. Hopefully we can equalise before the second half, it's important that we do in honesty. 

36' - They just showed John W. Henry and his wife Linda in the stands. Man Linda is so hot. Lucky man. 

38' - GERRARD! Over the bar! Downing plays well again on the left flank, twisting and turning his defender out and he whips the ball into the box, Suarez, Carroll and Henderson all miss it and it comes to Gerrard outside the box and he shoots high above the bar. Great chance. 

41' - Suarez has been a nuisance a few times in the box today, but he's not controlling well enough to make opportunities to score. Hopefully he can continue though, he's a pain to deal with for defenders. He takes a shot in the end but it's tame and saved by Heaton. 

43' - Free kick, Gerrard takes it and it's inch perfect for AGGER who heads it straight at Heaton. Gutted, that was a great opportunity to equalise then. 

44' - Gerrard gets the ball in the box but can't control it and shoots high. Three defenders were in Gerrard's way. 

45' - One minute of added time. 

45+1' - Half time.

Well what happened? They got a goal, we couldn't score. Not much else to say in that respect. We've had a few chances but nothing clear cut, we haven't been clinical enough in front of goal. It's been the story of the season but if there's one match, one game of football where we need to right that wrong it's TODAY. We need to score. It's as simple as that. We haven't been bad but we haven't been good enough. Cardiff are defending very well. This needs to chance. I really hope we can avoid embarrassment today. Come on Reds! Please! 

48 ' - Miller! Just wide. Cardiff make a nuisance of themselves in and around our box and Milelr takes a chance from outside the box and it's just wide. Not the start we wanted, Cardiff are in our faces at the moment. 

49 ' - Suarez makes a nuisance on himself and intercepts the ball in the box! He shoots across the face of goal and it squirms under Heaton, then Cardiff clear! Unlucky! 

51' - Henderson is the first for a yellow card for a clumsy challenge. He's had a poor game today.

54' - The game is opening up a little, but we're still not really taking the game by the scruff of the neck yet. 

57' - Liverpool Substitution: Craig Bellamy comes on for Jordan Henderson. Says it all really. Henderson has been poor. Bellamy cheered by both sets of supporters due to his strong connection there. 

59' - GOAL! Martin Skrtel! Our eight corner of the match and Suarez gets on the end of it, it hits the post and then Skrtel shoots low into the box! Great finish!

61' - Finally, an equaliser. Hopefully we can now work for a second goal. No mistakes can be afforded now. 

63' - Skrtel's fourth goal of the season. He's had a brilliant season, both defensively and attacking for a defender. He's been a rock for us. Excellent player. Thanks Rafa! 

64' - Mason has a decent effort at goal, but it's met well by Reina. 

66' - The winds are definitely changing at the moment, we're really going for blood at the moment. It's about time, but we need to make sure we're not left open at the back. 

69' - A few more corners for us but with no end product. We're still the better side though. 

71' - Gerrard knocks a forearm into the back of Gunnarsson's head. The ref didn't see it, poor from our captain. I don't think it was intentional but it was dangerous. 

73' - 89,041 is the official crowd total today. Great work from both sets of supporters!

73' - SKRTEL! Great save from Heaton. It was a snap shot at short distance for Skrtel, that Heaton saves low  to. Good effort again!

74' - 21 shots on goal for us, and only 4 on target. Story of our season in a way, lots of effort but no product. But now is not the time to be negative, we need to score again! 

77' - Mark Hudson has gone down with cramp and we kick the ball out. Boos from some of the Reds faithful. Poor reaction from our own, we should respect things like this, if the boot was on the other foot we wouldn't like it if Cardiff continued. 

77' - DOWNING! Great save from Heaton! Downing takes a low driven shot through the Cardiff defence and Heaton just sees it in time to make the save. Great effort from Downing, who's been my man of the match so far for me. Great effort from Downing today. 

79' - Free kick in a dangerous area for Cardiff, Peter Whittingham shoots and it hits our defence and out. 

82' - TURNER! Just wide! Don Cowie whips the ball and it curls round the Reds and Turner heads the ball just wide. That could have been an upset if that went in, thankfully it didn't.

86' - Liverpool Substitution: Daniel Agger leaves the pitch with an injury, and Jamie Carragher takes his place. 

87' - MILLER! Just above the bar! Cardiff free kick and once again our defence is asleep and Cardiff take advantage, Miller shoots hard and high and thankfully it was just over the bar. Come on Reds! Seriously! 

89' - Free kick for Cardiff and Jamie Carragher doesn't give them the ball! I think his message was because we weren't ready to defend the kick.

90' - Four minutes of added time.

90' - Suarez is on his own up front and is onside! Three Cardiff defenders catch up with him and he takes a shot that's well over the bar.

91' - Corner for Liverpool and it's passed to Johnson who sets Gerrard up for a belter outside the box and it's over the bar. Good idea, but its execution wasn't what it should have been. 

94' - Ten seconds remain and Gerrard delivers a long ball to Downing who puts his hands in his face because he failed to control the cross. Full time. 

Thirty minutes of added time to go now. The main thing is we got the equaliser. We still have one substitution left, Cardiff have all three. You have to give it to Cardiff, they've worked their asses off today to get to extra time. But we need to finish this match off. I really don't want it to go to penalties, despite being confident in a shootout situation. I want us to win on goals scored not penalties. Let's hope we can finish them off in these 30 minutes. Come on Liverpool!

90' - Cardiff Substitution: Filip Kiss comes on for Joe Mason.

90' - Bellamy takes a corner and SUAREZ heads it and Andrew Taylor clears it off the line! So close again! 

91' - Gerrard shoots from outside the box again and once again it's well over the bar. He's not been very clinical today our captain. I dare say he's not had the greatest of games in honesty, but we need him on that pitch that's for sure, in games like this.

94' - Free kick, Gerrard takes it and Suarez frees from his marker and volleys just wide. He was offside anyway, but great movement from the Uruguayan. 

97' - That's an odd statistic, Kuyt has the longest Liverpool career without winning a medal since Emlyn Hughes, in six years without a metal. It's true though, since he joined we haven't won any trophies. 

98' - Kiss gets a yellow card after his little tussle with Craig Bellamy.

99' - Cardiff Substitution: Mark Hudson comes off and Anthony Gerrard comes on, whose cousin is our captain Steven.

102' - Downing takes another corner and Carroll heads it backwards towards goal, a good effort. That's his last touch of the match.

102' - Liverpool Substitution: Andy Carroll comes off and Dirk Kuyt comes on. Carroll's had a mixed game, not as good as recent weeks. 

103' - BELLAMY! Just over the bar! A great one-two with Kuyt and he makes some space and curls a right footer just over the bar. Best effort from the Welshman so far. 

105' - One minute of added time. 

105' - JOHNSON! Just wide again. Lovely work from Adam who set up Johnson, his shot was nice and clean but just wide. 

105+1' - Half time.

Nothing much different to report, it's been pretty much all Liverpool with no end product. It feels destined for penalties, the way it feels at the moment. Hopefully that won't be the case, and we can score in the next fifteen minutes. 

Cardiff Substitution: Kevin McNaughton comes off in place for Darcy Blake. Cardiff and Liverpool have now made all their substitutions.

106' - Kuyt loses his defender and is free! He puts the ball square across the penalty box and it's just slightly behind Suarez, who tries to adjust but can't. Great effort from Kuyt, unfortuante of Suarez not to be positioned correctly!

107' - GOAL! KUYT! COME ON KUYT GET IN THERE! Kuyt shoots and a defender clears poorly back to him, and he shoots hard and low to the bottom corner!

110' - We need to be patient and careful now. We can't let this lead slip. 

113' - Haha, sorry, you've got to love OptaJoke on Twitter, check this tweet:

"55 - Dirk Kuyt's first attempt on goal was going 55 metres wide. Rebound."

Follow OptaJoke @OptaJoke, they're really funny.

115' - Cardiff are on top at the moment, trying their best to equalise. We're defending well enough at the moment, but they've just won a corner. 

117' - GOAL! Ben Turner. Three corners in succession for Cardiff, they almost score from the second corner and Kuyt clears it off the line, but that third corner was the same, we couldn't clear and they bumble it into the box. Penalties loom.

120' - One minute of added time. 

120+1' - Full time. Penalties.

Amazing match, Cardiff have been amazing. Penalties now. I can't believe this match. I'll cover the penalties on this site as well. I'm in bits at the moment. Horrible feeling, although as I said I'm comfortable with penalties, Reina is usually very good at penalties.

  • Gerrard to take first. SAVED! Tom Heaton! Amazing save! Gerrard top corner and it was amazingly met by Heaton! Instant pressure for Liverpool! 
  • Kenny Miller to take now. He hit the post and out! YES! 0-0 still! Stalemate still! 
  • Charlie Adam now... WELL OVER THE BAR! WHAT THE HELL!? 
  • Cowie now to take for Cardiff and it's in the goal! 1-0 to Cardiff on penalties. Not good. 
  • Kuyt now for Liverpool, come on Kuyt! Kuyt scores! Thankfully! Now we need Reina to save.
  • Rudy Gestede to take now for Cardiff... and it hits the post! 1-1 now after three attempts each! We're back in it! 
  • Stewart Downing now and he scores! We take the lead in penalties! 
  • Peter Whittingham now for Cardiff... he scores. 2-2 now with one penalty each remaining. 
  • Glen Johnson now to take. Come on Johnson! He scores! Cardiff NEED to score now! 
  • Anthony Gerrard now... and he misses! LIVERPOOL WIN THE CARLING CUP!
We did it! What a match! Emotions were everywhere and I'm so proud that we've won. Great credit to Cardiff who worked as hard as they could to cause the upset. We put in a lot of effort today and it felt like it wasn't going to happen, especially when we missed our first two penalties. But we did it, and hopefully this can now be the catalyst for more trophies. Hopefully we can win the FA Cup later on this season. It's about time we won a trophy. Now we want more! Carling Cup winners. Amazing. Thanks for joining me today and if you're a Liverpool fan, enjoy your celebrations!

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Music Album Review: Velociraptor! by Kasabian

Finally, Kasabian have made a great album - "Velociraptor!" is their finest work to date.
“Velociraptor!” is Kasabian's fourth album, and was released last October, just over five months ago. Kasabian have been around for a while now, they're an established British band who have found the respect of the British public and have tried to break out to the States, with unfortunately little success. For me and a lot of people I know, Kasabian have been one of those bands who produce quality singles but their album material never keep up. Does "Velociraptor!" follow the same pattern? Here's my take on the album. 

The album starts off with "Let's Roll Just Like We Used to", a great opener, it's catchy and full of the material that makes Kasabian one of the better indie bands in recent times. Tom Meighan's Leicester accent has always been the thing that make Kasabian stand out from the rest of the indie crowd, and it's prominent in this opening to the album. 

The first single off the album is the second track, "Days Are Forgotten", which is a pretty damn cool track. I love the howling in the beginning of the track and as the choruses fade out. The song was also used on WWE's Pay-Per-View "Tables Ladders and Chairs", which was cool, being a wrestling fan, and it was also great to see Kasabian get some exposure over in America. "Days Are Forgotten" is not as good as some of the other singles in Kasabian's library but it still holds its own amongst them. It's a very good track. 

Track three is also the third single off the album, "Goodbye Kiss", which, in my opinion, is easily one of Kasabian's weakest singles in their catalogue. Kasabian as I've said a few times produce fantastic singles, and they're usually very catchy. This song is different from most of their singles, as it's a slower, more bitter romantic track, something they don't do too often. This song was also used in the montage for Formula 1 at the end of the 2011 season. 

After track three are five brilliant tracks. The middle of this album is fantastic. Track four is "La Fee Verte", possibly my favourite song on the album. It's excellently similar to The Beatles, and it's sung by guitarist Sergio Pizzorno, and his vocals are surprisingly fantastic. I'm not going to pick favourites in terms of vocals on the album, Tom and Sergio both bring different styles to the album and they're both welcome in my opinion. That being said this song is just awesome. It's crafted beautifully and sung so well. I love it. Track five is the title track, "Velociraptor!", by some distance the shortest track on the album but it packs some excellent punch. It's similar to a lot of their singles actually, although it's a bit more fast paced. I'm surprised this hasn't been released as a single yet. It's catchy, a little funky and just sounds really cool in general. Nothing more really needs to be said about it really! 

The sixth track, "Acid Turkish Bath" is also sung by the guitarist Sergio and once again it's another well sung, well balanced track. But this time the vocals aren't what makes the song, it's the drums and the violin. This song for me shows the band expanding their horizons a little. Kasabian use an orchestra and this is the first track on the album where you can definitely here it. I really like this song and it's one of my favourites on the album again. Track seven is "I Hear Voices", which sounds good for the most part, but the one thing I really dislike about it is the frustrating new indie/modern new wave electronic music that they've decided to put in the song. It's a personal pet peeve, but I hate this new indie/electronica hybrid that's been around recently, like MGMT and Foster the People. That sound is a sound that I really hate, and to see Kasabian use it annoyed me slightly. But the song otherwise is really good, I like the chorus a lot. 

After that is the second single off the album "Re-wired", which is fine. All three singles on this album are quite good but they pale in comparison to some of the stuff they've released in the past 9 years. "Re-wired" sounds good on this album, but when you compare it to some of the great tracks Kasabian have released as singles in the past, like "Empire", "Club Foot" and "Fire", it just doesn't sound like it's on the same level. 

But the rest of the album keeps up with these singles very well. "Velociraptor!" the album, is great. I've already said that some of my favourite tracks on this album are the non-singles, and it's true. Because the singles aren't as good as the older material, yet the album quality is much better, the album is overall a very balanced piece of music. It's a strange situation, but the singles lacking in quality a little makes the rest of the album stand out, which is great. This album is critically Kasabian's best work. I'm not the only person who has said this, many critics have and it's true. "Velociraptor!" is their finest work to date. 

The rest of the album drops the quality down a little notch, but the best of the three end tracks is the penultimate track, "Switchblade Smiles", which has been used on the new FIFA 12 game (and also part of my "Best of FIFA Trax Mixtape, you can read that here), as well as on Match of the Day 2. This is the most electronic Kasabian have become, and it's not in an annoying indietronica/modern new wave way like in "I Hear Voices", it really kicks ass with the electronic guitars and the electronica music. It's almost Muse-esque, which is a compliment I swear. 

Overall "Velociraptor!" is a great album. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's by far Kasabian's best effort and the album songs are good tracks and support the singles well. It's a balanced album, that tries new things while keeps the elements that make Kasabian stand out a little from all the other indie bands. "Velociraptor!" is Kasabian's finest work to date and well worth a listen if you enjoy Kasabian's singles by norm, and want to get one of their albums. Kasabian usually fail to deliver the goods on their albums, but they've proved me and a lot of other critics wrong. "Velociraptor!" is a cracker of an album, and well worth the risk if you're thinking of purchasing their album.

Rating: ****1/4 stars
Stand out tracks: "La Fee Verte", "Velociraptor!", "Acid Turkish Bath"

Here's the music video for the first single, "Days Are Forgotten":
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Q&A with Johnny Mercyside: Part 9

Hey there, welcome to the 9th edition of my Q&A. I do these every month and as always, these questions are all taken off 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: If you could be the president or leader of your country for one day, what would you do?
A: I hate politics, I really do. But one thing I strongly believe in is that it's possible, if every country and leader in the world strive to let it happen, that we can get rid of currency and have official world fair trading. That would be my ultimate aim if I had the power to make it happen.

Q: Would you rather hang out with a small group of friends or a large group?
A: Probably a small group, but it depends on the company and the atmosphere.

Q: Have you been able to keep your New Years resolutions or have you broken them?
A: I didn't make any this year. I rarely make them.

Q: What's your favorite TV show from the 1990s?
A: Probably SMTV Live, although that started in '98. Other contenders would be Robot Wars, Goosebumps and Gladiators.

Q: What rule do you find yourself always breaking?
A: Probably my calorie intake... not that I count them... that's probably the problem!

Q: Who is your best friend and how did you meet him/her?
A: My best friend is my wife to be, Claire/Mimi. I met her online on a forum. If doesn't count as my best friend then it's a difficult one to pinpoint in different ways I have four best friends, and they are Bob, Mer, Tom and John.

Q: What tech gadget do you want to buy next?
A: Now that I've got my HDTV, I'm not really that bothered. If I had all the money in the world I'd naturally upgrade this computer, but it runs absolutely fine and I'm not bothered about changing it.

Q: If you could only drink one thing for a year and it couldn't be water, what would you drink?
A: Pepsi, easy. I love Pepsi.

Q: What was your favorite thing to do during recess at school?
A: I'm not at school anymore, but I used to enjoy playing football with some good friends of mine. Good times.

Q: Who's your favorite Disney character?
A: Very difficult... lets go old school and say Baloo from The Jungle Book.

Q: What would your dream vacation be?
A: Well I wanted to have my honeymoon in the east of France, somewhere like Nancy or Lyon, or in Switzerland. But I couldn't afford a honeymoon so, maybe I can have a vacation around there in the future.

Q: What's the furthest place you've ever traveled to?
A: Argentina, when I took part on BBC1's Winter Wipeout, you can read about my amazing experience here.

Q: What's your favorite sport to play?
A: Football! Although I'm fat and unfit, and no one around me plays anymore. But I love a good game of footie. Always have.

Q: What's the story behind your username?
A: It's my writing alias. I've been using the Johnny Mercyside alias for a good 5 years now. How did I come up with it? You can thank MySpace for that!

When I had a MySpace account there was a little game where you would find your soap opera name. To get this you had your first name being the same, but you would replace your surname with your birthplace. So I got John Merseyside, so I tweaked it around, called myself Johnny and used "Mercy" to make it sound more 'cool' and voila! It's stuck since.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: A hard question, three things come to mind, moving down to Portsmouth from North Wales as an eighteen year old, my website which is getting more and more popular that I'm putting a lot of effort into. The last thing is my amazing daughter, and the great upbringing she is having, which is a credit to me and her fantastic mum.

Q: Who's the best teacher you ever had? What made them your favorite?
A: I've had a good set of teachers, Mrs Brown in English 6th form is usually the one I remember best.

Q: What historical time period would you most like to visit?
A: The Celtic or Roman times. I love the idea of those times although there's many bad aspects of them as well. Naturally with my recent escapades on TV and being compared to Henry VIII, I suppose the Tudors would be a time I'd be interested in too.

Q: Would you rather have toast or cereal for breakfast?
A: Cereal, although my favourite breakfast is a bacon and egg sammitch.

Q: Do you have OCD?
A: I have a minor case, very minor. I'd never put myself or anyone else in harm for anything silly though.

Q: How many people in your family wear glasses? Are you one of them?
A: All my siblings wear glasses but I don't. My eye sight is exceptionally well, despite being in front of TV and computer screens for most of my awake hours. It's very strange.

And that's my latest Formspring update. Once again if you want to follow me on Formspring you can do so here. I'll be back on Saturday for my newest music album review. Have a good night.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mixtape: Best Female-Led Songs

Hey there. It's my first proper post on here in over a week. I've been really ill recently and also in honesty, I kinda needed a little break from this site! I try to post every two days and some of my articles are quite long. But I love doing it so it's no excuse. No one puts that pressure on me but myself. It's good pressure though. But you also need a break once in a while.

Anyway, back to business. Female vocals in rock and metal are, for some reason, hard to find. I mean you find certain bands and certain artists come and make a small dent in the genres of rock, metal and indie, but it's a lot harder for a female vocalist to get the success that a male vocalist does. In pop it's a different story, you have female vocalists and girl bands all over the place. It's an oddity. So today, I'm paying homage to female vocalists in rock, metal and indie music.

Not familiar with my Mixtapes? 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! 

This Mixtape doesn't sound as good as some of the others I've done. But, the content is a nice balance of all the subgenres of rock, metal and indie. So in that respect this Mixtape is a success. Also, some of the choices aren't obvious, it's to my personal taste. Anyway, enjoy!
  1. Cannonball - The Breeders
  2. Not My Idea - Garbage
  3. I'm Not Calling You a Liar - Florence and the Machine
  4. Dreaming My Dreams - The Cranberries
  5. Creator - Santogold
  6. Paper Planes - M.I.A.
  7. Meet Ze Monsta - PJ Harvey
  8. Don't Give Up - The Noisettes
  9. Phenomena - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  10. Vaseline - Elastica
  11. Doll Parts - Hole
  12. Ghetto Love - Spinnerette
  13. Strict Machine - Goldfrapp
  14. BBB - How to Destroy Angels
  15. Peek-a-Boo - Siouxsie and the Banshees
  16. I Heard it Through the Grapevine - The Slits
  17. Oh Bondage Up Yours! - X-Ray Spex
  18. Don't Dictate - Penetration
  19. Rebel Girl - Bikini Girl
  20. Pretend We're Dead - L7
  21. My Cat - Jack Off Jill
  22. Brackish - Kittie
  23. Medicine Jar - QueenAdreena
Don't like some of these? Give these five a try...
  1. Going Under - Evanescence
  2. It's Oh So Quiet - Bjork
  3. Cherry Bomb - Joan Jett
  4. Kool Thing - Sonic Youth
  5. One Way or Another - Blondie
And that's it! I hope you enjoyed this list. There's a lot of variety here. I'm running low on Mixtape ideas, do you want to suggest any? Let me know, comment below or on my Facebook page or Twitter. That's it from me today, have a good evening!

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Friday, February 17, 2012


Hey there, just to say sorry for not posting recently, I've been really ill and it's not going away. I'll write hopefully before the weekend. I had plans to cover the Liverpool/Brighton match tomorrow but that's not happening now. Maybe Sunday.

Take care and sorry once again.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Game Review: Plants vs Zombies

If I were to make a “50 Games to Play Before You Die” list, this would be towards the top.
Plants vs Zombies (will now be abbreviated to PvZ) was originally released on the PC nearly three years ago, but was then released on a multitude of platforms including the iOS, the Xbox 360 Arcade, the Nintendo DS, Playstation Network, the Nintendo DSi, the Android phone and the Windows 7 Phone. I have played both the PC and Xbox 360 versions, the latter being released nearly a year and a half ago. This review will predominantly covering the Xbox 360 version. Popcap are the publishers of PvZ, who also have made other excellent quirky and cartoony titles like Peggle, Bejeweled and Zuma. I’ve reviewed Peggle on this site, if you’re interested in reading that click here.

PvZ is a tower defence strategy game, a genre that despite not being that new is not very popular. The purpose of this game, like most tower defence games, is to stop an enemy attack invading your base. It sounds quite boring when you explain it like that but trust me; PvZ is not a boring game. It’s not a game for people who are purely into strategy games. It’s a game for everyone, even kids, as its difficulty levels start of easy and develop from there, and the visual style of the game is open to everyone. Most importantly, PvZ is a very, very funny game, and that’s one of its best features.
All the zombies want to do is party! Honest...
So what is different from this game than from the ‘boring’ and ‘mastermind’ strategy games? Well your ‘enemy attack’ is zombies, and your ‘base’ is, well, your house. This is a zombie invasion, and the zombies want to come into your house and eat your brains. And what are you using to cancel out the zombie threat? Plants. Yes, plants. It sounds barmy and it is. It’s bonkers. But it’s absolutely brilliant.

The bizarre concept of Plants taking on Zombies and the battlefield being your garden sounds like someone had too many mushrooms, but somewhere in that curiously thought out storyline is a small amount of logic. The plants all have different purposes. And for the most part, they are real life plants. Your main source of firepower is a peashooter. A peashooter, well, shoots out, erm, peas, as you’d expect. These peas hit the zombies and damage them, after ten shots from a standard pea a zombie will be defeated. This is the basis of the game. But there are 51 different types of plant (although they’re not all plants, some are vegetables and mushrooms) and 26 different type of zombie (in the main game, there are other variances too).

The main mode of gameplay is “Adventure” mode, and, you cannot play any other game mode until you have played through a certain amount of the main “Adventure” mode. So you start off with a peashooter but as I said, there are 51 different types of plant in your arsenal. To use any of your plants you need to something called sunlight. Sunlight is gained in quantities of 25 once in a while from the sun itself (if it’s daytime, there are night time levels). But your main source of sunlight comes from another plant, the sunflower. You get the sunflower on your second level. Sunflowers also give you quantities of 25 sunlight at a time, at a more rapid rate than the sun itself. This is where the game starts to really unfold. You’ll slowly start unlocking more and more plants that do diverse things to battle more zombies that have different qualities.
Eventually you'll get all sorts of different plants to kick zombie butt with.
What other plants are there? You start off with a peashooter, then the sunflower, then the cherry bomb. The cherry bomb is a bomb, naturally, and explodes zombies in a certain area of the garden). Then, you get a wall-nut. What’s a wall-nut? Well it’s a play on words, from the walnut plant. It serves as a wall to block the zombies from advancing on the garden grass. It’s this excellent wordplay that makes the game so much fun. There are many real life plants (and other things like mushrooms as I said earlier) that play on the words and make use in the game. Other great plants available in the game are the Jalapeno, which is a chilli, and he explodes across a horizontal area of the garden and the garlic, which makes a zombie go towards a different lane in the garden. But the best in my opinion is the butternut squash, which, hilariously, squashes a zombie. It’s just brilliant. The humour and play on words are what really sells the game.

The zombies as I said also vary and get tougher as you go through “Adventure” mode. You start of with the standard zombie, who walks across the terrain and eats any plants that are in its path. The zombies come from the right side of the screen so the idea is to place your plants on the far left so the zombies are hopefully disposed of before they get to your plants. Later on zombies start wearing protection, first road cones that protect their head for a longer amount of time, and then a steel bucket. Then we get hilarious gimmick zombies, like the American Footballer zombie, who wears full head and body gear and runs instead of the sluggish walking the standard zombies do. Later on you also get silly zombies like the “Newspaper” zombie, who is reading a paper and when your peashooters or other plants that attack shoot the paper from his hands, he runs at you in an angry fashion. There’s also a pole vaulting zombie who also runs at your zombies, but then jumps over the first plant it comes across. Certain zombies are difficult to dispose of, but usually have a weakness plant. The pole vaulting zombie for instance, is opposed to the wall-nut; the zombie pole vaults over the wall-nut but then runs at a very slow pace, giving you ample time to dispose of it. The American Footballer zombie is weak against the Snow Pea, which is a peashooter that also freezes the zombies. So the Snow Pea slows down the American Footballer dramatically, making him a lot easier to dispose of. There’s an incredible amount of zombies that get both sillier and harder to deal with, which adds to the complexity of the game.

In “Adventure” mode you have 50 levels, all in segments of 10. The first 10 levels are in your front garden and are relatively easy to play. The game’s difficulty starts off so easily so everyone can play it. The second set of levels are done at night time. The night time levels are more difficult because you don’t have access to sunlight as easily. The sunflower is a lot less effective at night and instead it’s recommended you use a new plant that’s quickly unlocked at that point called the Sun-shroom which is much more useful. The night levels have new zombies and plants, and also other subtle things like graves that you can dispose of with a new plant called the “Grave Buster”. The third set of levels are once again in the daytime but brings the action to your back yard, which has a pool. The difficulty is once again risen as Zombies start using your pool, either by wearing rubber duck tube or worse, snorkels. The fourth round of “Adventure” mode is also in your back garden but this time it’s back to night time, but it’s even more difficult as a dark and thick fog covers most of the screen. You start using other plants like the “Plantern”, a lantern that makes seeing in the fog much easier and also the “Blover”, a blowing clover that gets rid of the fog completely on a temporary basis. The last 10 levels take the action to the extreme – the zombies invade your roof! Because of the slanted roof tiles peashooters are of no use here, instead you start using catapult plants, first the cabbage-pult, then the kernel-put which lobs churned butter at the enemy, and then, the melon-pult which deals heavy damage (because melons are heavy obviously). At the end of the game, level 50 (or 5-10 as it’s displayed on game), you go against the final boss.

The “Adventure” mode is a great game. It’s the main mode and it’s so much fun. It takes a good few hours to complete “Adventure” mode so it keeps you entertained for a while. When you beat “Adventure” mode you can replay it and the difficulty remains similar, apart from three of the plants are chosen at random for you in the beginning (where as you can choose your own plants at anytime otherwise).

Slowly going through “Adventure” mode unlocks other mini games, puzzle games and a “Survival” mode option. Some mini games are unlocked before completing “Adventure” mode, but to get full access to them you must complete the main game and then play through the mini games one by one. Beating the mini games one by one slowly unlocks the games individually. The mini games vary, the first game is called “Zom-botany”, which is a science experiment gone wrong where zombies merge with plants and attack your house. It’s a tactically completely different game to the main game and you have to think outside of the box a little to beat it. Other fun games include “Portal Combat”, which pays homage to the Portal series, where Portals appear on screen and zombies can walk through them and end up on another part of the screen, increasing the difficulty, and the Portals move as the level goes on to further add to the problems, another fun game is “Column Like You See 'Em”, which is an absolutely manic level where one plants equals a plant on every section vertically, and zombies come at you in equal measure; one zombie of that type in every vertical column. It’s complete madness but a lot of fun at the same time. There’s a total of twenty mini games and they’re all fun in different ways, and definitely fill the game up, giving you plenty to do if you finish the main game.
Crazy Dave is definitely one of the best things about PvZ, he's incredibly funny and CRAAAZYY!!
There are also twenty Puzzle games in the “Puzzle mode, but it’s only one of two types. First is “Vasebreaker”, which gives you a hammer to break vases containing either random plants or random zombies, and the task is you break all your vases, defeating all the zombies and protecting your house all at the same time. It’s tactically a tricky game to play as you don’t know if you’re breaking a vase that will help you or hinder you. There are ten different “Vasebreaker” levels and they vary in difficulty, ending in the last of the ten beign “Vasebreaker Endless”, which continues playing “Vasebreaker” for as long as you can, and you have to try and extend your undefeated streak for as long as possible. The other ten Puzzle games are “I, Zombie”. This Puzzle game puts you in the shoes of the zombies rather than the plants and your aim is to actually eat the brains of the person living in the house. Your zombies have different values not too dissimilar to the plants, and you use sunflower this time to activate zombies to eat the plants rather than the other way round. It’s once again tactically different to the main game as you have to think of ways to eat the plants and eventually, eat the brains you were trying to defend in the actual game. The 10 “I, Zombie” levels, similar to “Vasebreaker”, vary in difficulty and the last of the ten is “I, Zombie Endless”, which is exactly like “Vasebreaker Endless” but you’re trying to extend your streak in the “I, Zombie” games instead.

The “Survival” mode I mentioned earlier is a lot of fun. The idea is that you’re playing the main game and you have to survive a certain number of waves of zombies, depending on the difficulty. There are eleven different “Survival” games, the first five are the first five different battlefields and you have to survive five waves of zombie, the second five and the five different battlefields but much harder as you have to survive ten flags and the waves are much harder. The eleventh and final game is “Survival Endless”, which is like “Vasebreaker” and “I, Zombie” endless.

There are other little features, are more plants for you to unlock. After a few levels on “Adventure” mode, you’ll come across the only other known human in the game, the awesome Crazy Dave. Crazy Dave throughout “Adventure” mode gives you tips on the story and its progress. Later on he opens his own shop, and it’s here you get the opportunity to buy more plants if you wish. Crazy Dave is brilliant, he’s really funny and has some of the best lines in the game. After you finish “Adventure” mode you’ll have access to another feature, called the “Garden of Zen”. The purpose of this mode is simply to grow and sustain your plants, before selling them off for more coin to unlock even more features. You’ll also be able to grow something called the “Tree of Wisdom”, which gives you random bits of advice and passwords to unlock odd features like giving all zombies moustaches and the like.

Overall, “Plants vs Zombies” is a brilliant game. It’s hard to describe it without playing it. If I were to make a “50 games to play before you die list” this would be close to the top of it. It does much more than the generic tower defence game genre does, purely because it does it with so much charm and humour. I have yet to see one person dislike this game. It’s open to everyone from children to hardcore gamers to adults who don’t play many video games. It’s accessibility is universal and it’s just so much fun. If you’re still unsure whether or not to get this game give the free PC trial a go, you can find it by typing “free plants vs zombies” on Google. Popcap have it for free on their main site and you can get a real taster of what the game is about on there. Or on your Xbox 360 download a free trial on there. Popcap are really good for giving you free tasters on their games so give them a go. PvZ is one of the cutest, funniest and simplest games to come out in today’s hardcore gaming world. It makes a huge change and is more than worth your pennies.

Rating: ****1/2 stars

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Live Thoughts: Manchester United vs Liverpool (Premier League)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts on the match between Liverpool and Manchester United!

Hey there, thanks for joining me for another Live Thoughts post. Big match tonight. We had a big match last week and drew against Spurs. This is a similar match in terms of importance. Big difference of course, it being in away from home to the English Premier League champions. And of course the rivalry between Liverpool and United. And even more, the racial abuse situation between Suarez and Evra. I'm not going into that situation anymore, simply because it's in the past now. We need to move on. Apparently Suarez and Evra will shake hands today and hopefully that will draw a line between the two players and we can all move on.

As for today, can we win? Sure we can. We'll need to work very hard on it though and with the United fans going to give Suarez dogs abuse today and it'd be a pretty sweet win if we can pull it off. It's not going to be easy though.

Here are the teams: 

Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: Amos, Berbatov, Park, Hernandez, Fabio, Cleverley, Pogba.

So Evra starts today. This is a stronger United side than we beat a few weeks ago. We'll get a tough match today. Rooney is back, he's a threat we need to nullify.

Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Spearing, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Kuyt, Suarez. Subs: Doni, Carragher, Bellamy, Carroll, Adam, Shelvey, Kelly.

Carroll on the bench is a little disappointing, he had a good game against United a few weeks ago and I wanted him, Suarez and Gerrard to start for the first time. But he and Bellamy can cause problems later on hopefully. Suarez and Gerrard start so that's fantastic. A strong side is out today, one that can win if we're tactically well set up and we make the most of the possession we'll get.

1' - No handshake today from Evra and Suarez. It looked like Suarez avoided a handshake rather than Evra avoid it. Oh well. 

2' - Apparently Ferdinand withdrew his hand as well. It's a shame we can't all let bygones be bygones and move on. 

4' - I've got to be honest, United fan's booing of Suarez is quite tame, especially in comparison to the abuse the Liverpool fans gave Evra a few weeks ago. 

6' - Jose Enrique brings Valencia down JUST outside of the penalty box on the right wing. A free kick for United in a dangerous area. Glen Johnson heads it back for a corner. Ryan Giggs takes a corner and Rooney heads a tame shot and Reina collects easily.

9' - A nice bit of movement from Gerrard and Suarez set up Glen Johnson down the right wing, he cuts into the box and takes a shot with his left foot and De Gea meets to it. It was a decent shot though, and United shouldn't have given Johnson that much space then, he can be really dangerous. 

10' - Jeez, the United fans are being out-sung by the travelling Anfield faithful. Steven Gerrard chants at the moment. United fans, where are you? 

11' - That's twice now that Johnson has had space on the right wing. We seem to be playing better than United at the moment. Only just of course. 

14' - We're dealing with United quite well at the moment. Still early days. The only danger I can see at the moment is that Enrique has struggled with Valencia a little. 

16' - United have more possession than us, as expected. It's 56%/44% at the moment.

18' - Rafael! Good shot and saved by Reina. He curled that with his left shot outside of the box and it troubled Reina a little. Welbeck was waiting for a spill but there was none thankfully. 

21' - United looking a little more dangerous at the moment, certainly more than they did 10 minutes ago. 

24' - Despite United looking better now than they did earlier on, Johnson is still getting forward down the right wing, I really hope he can score today. 

26' - Rooney has a rare shot at goal. I say rare, because he's barely been relevant so far in this match. I hope I don't eat my words later. 

29' - Credit where its due, United have dealt with Suarez comfortably so far. It's a shame. 

30' - SCHOLES! Reaction save by Reina! A lovely bit of attacking play from United and it ends with a left wing cross that Scholes heads straight at the keeper.

31' - Welbeck is free! He tries to pass to Rooney but Agger is there thankfully. United are definitely starting to creep confidence into their play now. Not good!

34' - Evra! Just over the bar. Valencia chips a lovely cross and Evra meets it well. Just over. We need to do something about this and fast. 

37' - Welbeck looking dangerous skips past a few players, stays on his feet and tries to lay the ball to Rooney but it's just a little too much. Kudos to the young Englishman. 

40' - A bit of pressure from Liverpool now. Suarez and Kuyt combine nicely but Kuyt's legs are just a little too stretched to return a one-two with Suarez. We earn a corner.

41' - Two Liverpool corners and both were dangerous. The first ends with a fizzing Gerrard cross being dealt with by Rafael, the second corner ends with a Skrtel shot that's wide.

43' - Downing goes in the book. Took a chance with that, he takes down Rafael and it was always a losing battle while Rafael was pacing forward. 

44' - Suarez goes down and the referee gives nothing. After the replay it looked like an honest tackle by Ferdinand. Right decision from the ref Phil Dowd I'd say. 

45' - One minute of added time.

45+1' - Half time.

Well it was a cagey match for a good 30 minutes, I thought in that time we were the slightly better side. After that United really piled on the pressure and looked dangerous. Towards the end of the half we looked a little better but it's still goalless. Hopefully we can make a better impact in the second half.

46' - Late coming back to the match and I find us down a goal...

47' - GOAL! Rooney scores. He volleys a cross from a corner that Liverpool frankly, don't deal with. Not good.

49' - GOAL! We're two down. Jeez. Spearing gives the ball away and Valencia takes advantage, he puts the ball square to Rooney who's free in the box and he slides it past Reina. A brace for the old Bluenose in two minutes. 

51' - Sorry I'm late coming back to this match, a personal issue has occured. Quite angry at the moment both for the match and my personal situation. Liverpool need a quick response now. 45 minutes of solid defending has just gone to waste. 

54' - Carroll is now warming up. I think we need Bellamy at the moment not Carroll. 

56' - Rooney is hungry for a hat trick. I really hope we don't give him the pleasure of one. 

59' - Rooney was close to a hat trick then, Valencia crosses square again and Rooney is free in the box, he takes a touch too much and we intercept. Very close. He's been pretty rubbish in the first half and I knew I'd eat my words later. Frustrating. 

61' - Double Liverpool Substitution: Jay Spearing and Stewart Downing and come on for Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy. Good move if you ask me. Spearing must be distraught after being responsible for the second goal.

63' - The game is end to end at the moment, we're committed to attacking and United are counter attacking us. It feels like either we'll make a good comeback today or worse, we'll get a drubbing. Both sides are committed now.

66' - Gerrard and Rooney tussle and Gerrard ends up fowling Rooney. A decent battle from the Scouse duo.

69' - I can't see us getting anything from this game. Attacking-wise, we've not looked threatening enough. 

72' - United are playing the possession game at the moment, just pinging the ball back and forth in the middle of the pitch, while the fans are cheering every successful pass. 

75' - Liverpool Substitution: Dirk Kuyt comes off for Charlie Adam. I think this is to try and get us some possession and passing ability in the middle of the park. We have had the ball more in this half, 47%/53% so far in this half alone. That's all three subs used now for Liverpool. 

78' - Times ticking away. It feels like we've pretty much a hopeless cause now. United defending very well at the moment. 

79' - Michael Carrick is booked for a tackle on Suarez. Free kick.

80' - GOAL! SUAREZ! He quickly picks the ball up and heads for the centre of the pitch. A Charlie Adam free kick is inch perfect for the head of Suarez, Ferdinand and De Gea could do nothing. Come on Liverpool! 

82' - The complexion of the game is different now that we got a goal. We needed that. Hopefully we can get a second. 8 minutes of normal time left.

85' - Five minutes left... little showing we're going to get a second, come on...! 

88' - Same as above, nothing really showing from Liverpool that we're going to get a second. United defending well enough, delaying the play where they can. 

90' - We have three minutes to equalise. Come on Liverpool! 

90' -  JOHNSON! Great save by De Gea! Brilliant save, Johnson's shot was fierce from outside the box!

90+1' - Suarez heads and it's just over the bar! So close! He was offside anyway. 

90+4' - After about a minute of time wasting from Rooney by the corner flag it's full time.

Well, that was poor. Not our display, that wasn't poor, it wasn't great but it wasn't poor. United weren't that good either. A lapse in concentration from Liverpool let two goals in by Rooney, who in the first half was nowhere to be seen. Man of the match for me isn't Rooney, but was Valencia. In both matches against United recently he dominated the right wing. He let Jose Enrique chase shadows today and got an assist for his hard work. We weren't good enough. Simple as that. Ah well. Hopefully we can get a win next week against Brighton and move onwards and upwards from there. That's it from me today, enjoy the rest of your afternoon.

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