November 3, 2004
arts. michigandaily. com
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THE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER
"Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith" Trailer - Say
what you want about the prequels, but there is no denying that George
Lucas sure knows how to cut a trailer to excite the masses. Debuting
on the Internet tomorrow, the first peak at the final "Star Wars" movie
is sure to have millions talking around water coolers until May (or
until the second trailer debuts). The teaser will also be shown with
"The Incredibles" come Friday, which is a good excuse to go see that
Current Movie Soundtracks - It's a great time for music in the
movies. Musical genius Jon Brion wrote the score and contributed
songs for "I V Huckabees." Mick Jagger and Eurythmics' Dave Stew-
art have put together new tunes for the "Alfie" remake and the "Team
America: World Police" soundtrack is just plain brilliant. Here's hop-
ing "America, Fuck Yeah!" scores an Oscar nomination.
"World News Now" - If you are ever up late studying, turn your
television to the greatest news program of all time. A staple on ABC
since 1992, this late-night news program combines current events
with healthy doses of irrelevant humor. And you know what Thursday
night/early Friday morning means: World News Polka!
By Jason Roberts
Daily Arts Editor
VI DEOGAMEREVEW ****
During its peak, the Roman Empire was a vast
and powerful region encompassing much of south-
ern Europe as well as northern Africa and parts
of Asia. With its immense power came immense
Nintendo DS - Nintendo's latest handheld system is debuting in less
than three weeks, and you better believe I'm pumped. Featuring two
screens, it's too early to tell whether the console will be revolutionary or
merely be a gimmick a la "Virtual Boy"
(and nearly every Nintendo peripheral).
The fact that the system has a new ver-
sion of "Super Mario 64" ensures I'll
be buying one Nov. 21.
November - There's a lot to be
thankful for this month if you're
a pop culture fanatic: Heav-
ily hyped movies ("The Incredi-
bles," "Alexander"), videogame
sequels ("Halo 2," "Metroida
Prime 2"), loaded DVDs _
("Shrek 2," "Gone With The
Wind") and plenty of new music
(U2 and Eminem). Why does everything
have to cost so much? Courtesy of Nintendo
wealth, luxury and respect.
But these things did not come
easily. Much blood was spilled
and many sacrifices were made
to make the Roman Empire
the superpower it came to be.
Activision's "Rome: Total War"
is a turn-based strategy game
civic structures, increasing and decreasing taxes
to collect more revenue, training new recruits and
so on. The level of detail is overwhelming at first
glance, but because of the intuitive point-and-
click interface and well-managed world map, the
information is organized in such a way that makes
it easy to utilize and understand. There are even
options to automate certain features, making the
game more about the fierce clashes between war-
ring factions than about the micromanagement of
each colonized city.
The epic battles in the game are also very impres-
sive, as literally hundreds of troops clash in struggles
across the Roman landscape. Using a fully three-
dimensional camera, players are allowed to track
certain units through their campaign or float freely
above the battle, only to swoop in and focus on the
fight between two individual characters. Much like
the technology used for the epic conflicts in the
"The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, these displays play
out in very realistic ways: individual units are able
to distinguish between friend and foe and change
their fighting style accordingly. The sound only
amplifies this intense aggression when swords and
shields clash in a magnificent cacophony of noise.
Luckily, the controls within each of the battles
TRIUMPHS ON PC
are as easy to manage as the controls on the world
map. Most commands can be executed with either
the left or right mouse button and the camera is eas-
ily managed using the middle scroll button. There is
also an in-game guide that offers help with manag-
ing armies and understanding basic functions early
on. More advanced users can use the keyboard to
execute quick commands and group together units
for more personalized control.
While the game overall has a solid core, the pre-
sentation could use a bit of refining. The characters
in battle - considering that there are nearly a thou-
sand of them on screen at a time - move with fairly
fluid animation but are composed of blocky geom-
etries and simple textures. Even the landscapes and
the architecture of the cities could benefit from a few
additional polygons and a more diverse palette. All
in all, however, as the game progresses, the visuals
improve as well. Larger cities are riddled with tem-
ples and buildings that visually impress.
Despite its inherent complexity, "Rome: Total
War" makes itself accessible to those gamers new
to the genre and those who find the trying under-
taking of mundane task-mastering to be a chore.
And under that veil is a game rich with possibilities
as one's empire begins to expand and grow.
that mixes the politics and planning of the Roman
Empire on the rise with the fierce and brutal battles
that turned the tides and created an empire from so
many fractured nations.
What makes "Rome" such a unique entry into
the strategy genre is its clever and well-executed
method of blending two very different modes of
play. With each city conquered, players are allowed
to build up the towns to their liking, improving
By Kevin Hollifield
Daily Arts Writer
E3Goodman's back as'center' of family
Courtesy of Comedy Central
With virtually every genre of televi-
sion being turned into a reality show,
animation once seemed immune to
the trend. Not anymore, as Comedy
Together" com- Drawn
bines "Big Broth- Together
er" and Bugs Wednesdays at
Bunny, only with 10:30 p.m.
more profanity. Comedy Central
In the show, the
toon characters stop being polite and
start being real, resulting in a racist
princess, a pig with a self-control
problem and the biggest keg parties
this side of Dr. Seuss.
In the pilot, the young and naive
Princess Clara (voiced by Tara Strong,
"The Animatrix") speaks her mind
about her housemates. When Foxxy
Love (Cree Summer, "Rugrats"), a
mystery-solving musician, hears her,
Hey, Halloween was three days ago.
she takes exception to the princess
's comments and the two come to
blows. Captain Hero (Jess Harnell),
the beer-swilling, ultra-macho super-
hero, then has to separate the two.
To show there are no hard feelings,
Foxxy throws a party, with freely
flowing alcohol, which corrects the
animosity and leads to debauchery
and spontaneous outburst of song.
Others sharing the house include
Spanky Ham (Adam Corolla), a foul-
mouth Internet character that uri-
nates all over the house, Xandir (Jack
Plotnick), a videogame warrior on a
quest to save his girlfriend, and Toot
(also by Strong), a full-figured mono-
chromatic '20s sex symbol who likes
to cause trouble when events do not
go her way.
The only fun here is the inter-
action of the characters, most of
By Kevin Hollifield
Daily Arts Writer
The premise of the well-meaning father in constant conflict
with his irksome relatives on network sitcoms has been done
before. CBS's "Center of the Universe" follows that long line.
The storylines and characters are often predictable, but still
good for a laugh. John Goodman is John Barnett, the owner
of a security company and a devoted family man. He and his
wife Kate (Jean Smart, "Garden State") constantly run into
the problems of daily life, most notably
those within their family.
John's father-in-law, Art (Ed Asner), Center of the
is an aging and sex-crazed. His mother- Universe
in-law, Marge (Olympia Dukakis), con- Wednesdays
stantly pursues attempts to feel younger, at 9:30 p.m.
- copying Kate's hairstyles and clothes CBS
- to John's extreme discomfort. John
is also at odds with his brother, Tommy
(Diedrich Bader, "The Drew Carey Show"), a slacker whom
John is guilted into hiring, and John's sister, Lily (Melinda
McGraw, "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps"), is a mentally
anguished therapist. Miles (Spencer Breslin, "The Cat in the
Hat"), John and Kate's son, has the potential of carrying on
the family legacy of eccentricity, wearing the family crest and
kilts to school.
In the pilot, John plans a wedding so he and Kate can renew
their vows. While John tries to make the preparations for the
perfect celebration, the family's problems get in the way right
before the ceremony. John has to handle these annoyances,
including Art's newfound obsession with a Malaysian anti-
impotence drug. John tolerates them and tries to be a good
Courtesy of Comedy Central
I feel like I'm in Normal, Ohio.
whom would hold distinctly sepa-
rate timeslots on Saturday mornings.
The triangle of Captain Hero giving
relationship advice to the androgy-
nous Xandir, the object of Toot's
affection, is unique if nothing else.
Spanky Ham also is a tired, overex-
posed character; his bodily function
exploits that once would have harm-
lessly elicit laughter from viewers
now results in embarassment.
While the object of the game or
how a winner is selected in this real-
ity offering is not revealed, the point
is the interaction of the characters,
all drawn from different worlds.
Viewers who like "South Park," a
good cartoon brawl and a skewer-
ing of the reality genre might like it.
Otherwise, voters should vote this off
Comedy Central's schedule as soon
husband. While he realizes that for all his family's insanity,
without them in his life, he would be lonely and boring.
"Center of the Universe" has its moments. It is refreshing to
find a new sitcom with jokes that elicit at least some chuckles.
The always affable Goodman and Asner provide the chemistry
of uneasy in-law relations, trying to make the best of the family
around them. Kate is suitable in the role of the anchor in John's
turbulent life, and the rest of the cast - even in their dimin-
ished roles - are nutty enough to stand out on their own.
While "Center of the Universe" provides a good number of
laughs, the formula of an average Joe with a crazy family has
been done several times before. Still, the characters and writ-
ing make it worth a look. Viewers will not be disappointed by
making this show part of their universe.
DAILY ARTS. WE'RE WITH YOU MAKING TOUGH DECISIONS,
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