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October 28, 2004 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-28

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,tbrThursday
October 2, 2004
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage@michigandaily.com

RTS s

44

8A

'Crimes' exposes
environmental is sue

40

By Steve Cotner
Daily Arts Writer

The Kennedys have always been a
family of surprising sensitivity. It was
John Kennedy who stood on the steps of
the Michigan Union and announced the
Peace Corps. His brother Bobby gave as
keen a speech when he said the national
spirit is not to be found in the Gross
National Product. In their footsteps, Rob-
ert F. Kennedy Jr. has dedicated his life

0

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XBOx LIVE SUPP(
By Jared Newman
Daily Arts Writer

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to the environment,
and his new book
"Crimes Against
Nature" comes at a
defining moment in
the planet's history.
Kennedy's tone
is urgent because he
believes he is expos-

Crimes
Against
Nature
By Robert F.
Kennedy, Jr.
Harper Collins

I

At this point, discussing "Mortal Kombat's" rich his-
tory seems about as unnecessary as spelling the word
"Continue" with a "K," but it'd be a lie to say that the
familiarity doesn't play a role in the series' success.
Indeed, seeing Baraka's spiky
teeth and Scorpion's yellow battle
suit in "Mortal Kombat: Decep- Mortal
tion" is like returning home. Kombat:
The one thing that so many Deception
people know and love about the P2, dXbox
series are Fatalities, the match- ad
ending killing moves used to Midway
humiliate opponents and offend
parents. In "Deception," they're as creative as they are
gory: Kabal can spin his opponent in a tornado and
drive a hook through the twirling victim, sending little
pieces everywhere. Darrius uses a less fancy approach
- ripping the opponents' arms off and using them
to slap away the head. As a defense, potential vic-
tims with fast fingers can execute a Hara Kiri, a self-

destructing Fatality, to save face.
Fortunately, there's gameplay beyond the blood and
guts (a heavily debated issue in earlier installments).
For fighting game purists, there are plenty of combos
to memorize. For series purists, the game still feels
like "Mortal Kombat," eschewing senseless button-
mashing and instead placing an emphasis on using the
right moves at the right times. Players can go far by
knowing when to sidestep, when to throw and when
to launch an ice ball. The inclusion of two bare-hand-
ed fighting styles and one weapon for each character
means that there's a lot to learn, and that no single
move will lead to success.
Therefore, the novices will become easily separated
from the experts - a problem for matches with casu-
al-gamer friends, but a huge plus for online Kombat.
The first thing that one will notice when playing on
Xbox Live - aside from nonexistent lag - is that
the average human opponent is pretty deadly. This is
a good thing because gamers can add worthy foes to
their friends list, hone their skills offline and return
later for a rematch. The motivation to keep improv-
ing for the sake of worldwide dominance adds replay
value that extends far beyond any single-player or
local two-player experience.
That's not to say that the single-player aspect is

lacking. Aside from standard arcade fighting, the
Konquest mode that debuted in "MK: Deadly Alli-
ance" has returned. Konquest stars Shujinko, an aspir-
ing martial artist who makes "MK" history through
his alliance with a mysterious elder god. Part tutorial
and part adventure, Konquest mode allows players to
unlock hundreds of bonuses like soundtracks, secret
characters and costumes.
There are other gameplay modes as well. Chess
Kombat pits two teams of players against each other
on a chessboard with the goal of defeating the king, or
"Leader." Puzzle Kombat is a "Columns"-style puzzle
game set in the MK universe. It's hard to ask for more
with all that has been included, but a more compre-
hensive Practice mode where players could actually
spar against a target that moves or fights back would
have been nice. As long as complaints are being made,
it also would have been nice to see cinematics instead
of still frames with text upon completing the arcade
mode.
Admittedly, fighting game fans that don't have
online support or a good buddy to fight with won't have
much keep them interested. Online gamers, however,
shouldn't miss "Deception," especially if they have a
soft spot for Sub-Zero, excessive gore and words that
start with "K."

ing the misdeeds of
the worst environmental administration
ever. The Bush administration's environ-
mental reversals come as the "triumphant
outcome" of a three-decade campaign by
pollution-based profiteers to repeal the
victories of Earth Day 1970. According
to the book this history developed under
the influence of green-sounding industry
front groups like Wise Use, which whis-
pered into Reagan's ear a straightforward
message: "Our goal is to destroy, to eradi-
cate the environmental movement."
The Bush administration's history in
the White House is obscured by double-
speak, but the effects are clear. "Healthy
Forests" has meant destructive logging
of old-growth forests, "Clear Skies" has
meant repealing key provisions of the
Clean Air Act, "reforming" regulations
has meant weakening them, and "thin-
ning" has meant clear-cutting. Contrary
to even the most conservative values,
this administration has sacrificed public
interest to corporate cronyism. Kennedy
writes, "You show me a polluter and I'll
show you a subsidy."
The author's defense of environmental-
ism comes from a perspective that should
sit well with Americans: "Free-market
capitalism is the best thing that could hap-
pen to our environment, our economy, our
country." Kennedy writes that the envi-
ronment is suffering, not because of capi-

talism, but because of an oligarchy of fat
cats who use political clout to escape the
discipline of the free market. Put simply,
"corporate capitalists don't want free mar-
kets, they want dependable profits, and
their surest route is to crush the competi-
tion by controlling the government."
Even when he delves into the thick his-
tory of environmental policies, Kennedy's
writing is lucid and purposeful. He draws
not only on a rich knowledge through his
work with the National Resources Defense
Council, Hudson Riverkeeper and Water-
keeper Alliance, but also on the personal
experiences that have instilled in him a
love for nature. He writes of taking his
boys hiking, fishing, and canoeing in the
Adirondack Mountains, and of enjoying
birding as a young boy, watching the per-
egrine falcons nest on the old post office
building on Washington's Pennsylvania
Avenue. "They were the fastest birds in
the world. As a young falconer, I loved to
watch their vertical stoops to pick pigeons
from the air in front of the White House."
Now, the peregrines have been poisoned
out of existence by DDT, and a quarter of
the lakes in the Adirondacks are sterile
from acid rain. Three of his boys have bad
asthma and struggle to breathe on bad-air
days. Kennedy tells his audience what he
has lost, knowing that readers can find a
parallel in their own lives, and hoping that
they might fight to save what is left.

0

RPG offers hack-and-slash action-

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REPECT-E F PH - ICEE. tM1UD TRU

By Forest Casey
Daily Arts Writer
What is the first thing that springs to mind when the
average videogamer thinks about the role-playing genre?
Is it the nearly endless play length? The dense, menu-
driven style of combat? The sometimes indistinguish-
able, fantastical stories? In an attempt to appeal to the
hoards of recreational gamers who play shorter titles
with more button-mashing action,
many developers of traditional RPGs
have broken the mold, creating more Demon
action-oriented games. Stone
The opening stage of the new "For- PS2 and Xbox
gotten Realms" title "Demon Stone"Atr
is the most blatant example of this Atar
new style. Without any training stage,
video introduction or explanation of the controls, "Demon
Stone" throws the player straight into the heat of battle.
Two evil armies of incalculable numbers are fighting one
another for control of the land of Damara; the player leads
a team of three warriors to destroy these warriors. Nor-
mally, with no explanation of controls, this task would be
impossible, but with "Demon Stone," all the player needs
to do is press one button repeatedly as it is hack-and-slash
at its most basic.
Thankfully, the game changes course after this first
level. Not only do more fighting combinations open up, but
the ability to customize characters develops between lev-
els. Of course, fitting with the larger theme of the action
RPG, these customization screens can be skipped with the
new "Auto Buy" option.
Another action feature of "Demon Stone" is the option
to change characters during battle. Each team has a fast
Rogue, a powerful spellcaster and an average warrior, this
feature lends a new dynamic to the hacking and slashing.
The graphics of "Demon Stone" are impressive - not
up to par with Xbox's "Fable" - but quite sufficient for
the underpowered PS2. In-game movies are on par with

Courtesy 0ofAtari

Cold blooded.

those of any good RPG and supplement the larger story-
line, which gets interesting when the three main characters
unwittingly unleash two demons who are trapped in stone,
as the title would suggest.
Players generally prefer a shorter game. Though larger
masses of gamers buy games that don't have any kind of
turn-based menu.system, there are many gamers who care
for intricate fantasy stories with hard-to-pronounce names.
These gamers, and anyone who enjoys pure action escap-
ism, will enjoy "Demon Stone."

5 $3 adv.1$l6 day of 18+ Ooomt@ 9:30 cce , u.p~~

Surferosa brings poor pop stateside

fails to preserve any charm in their
songs. The sexual innuendo on "Ger-
man Socks" reaches almost unbear-
able heights with its kitschy lyrics:
"You forgot to buy me a new pair of
socks / I want to hit it hit it / I want
to touch it touch it / I can touch your
butt and then you can say goodbye"
The lyrics are bad enough to make
even the most patient indie-rocker
question their motives for purchas-
iniz this nabm.

boards and benign
lyrical content.
Lead singer Mar- SUrferosa
iann sings with I .-n.al

awl "~h'No ~I

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