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November 15, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-15

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U

Monday
November 15, 2004
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage@rmichigandaily. com

ART s

8A

inm......... .

Pop group
Luna still
strong on
finale
By Joel Hoard
Daily Arts Writer
It's so rare these days to see a band
end its career on a high note. Whether
it's drugs, death, internal strife or just the
inability to know when to throw in the
towel and call it quits, music groups have
a habit of leaving too early or sticking
around past their expiration dates.
Unlike so many who came before,
indie-pop's favorite sons and daughter,
Luna, understand that after 13 years, it's
their time to go. While all six of their
previous records have been nothing
short of brilliant, they've sounded pretty
much the same. ____________
And to push it Luna
much further is to
risk sounding stale. Rendezvous
What's differen- Jetset
tiated Luna from
other dream-pop groups over the years is
that they recognizethat there needs to be
more than just atmosphere. Unlike their
counterparts, Luna built their sound on
catchy melodies rather than pure ambi-
ance. They combined layers of sound and
churning Velvet Underground-inspired
guitar riffs with Dean Wareham's deli-
cate and airy vocals and pop hooks to
create a truly unique style.
Wisely, Luna stick to this formula on
their seventh and final album, Rendez-
vous. From the chugging opener "Malibu
Love Nest" straight through to the end,
the band proves that it's still in top form.
Wareham's voice is as affecting as ever
and his lyrics are still evocative of young
love and warm summer nights while
remaining clever and witty. On standout
track "Astronaut," he tells his fictional
lover, "I want to plug you in / I want to
get you things / Send you a pentagram /
Feed you diazepam."
While Rendezvous is far from being
an earth-shattering record, it does exact-
lywhat it sets out to do, which is cap off
the career of one of the most talented yet
nsung groups of the past 20 years. The
gifup foregoes labored farewells and nos-
talgic longings and do what it has done
for the past decade, which is deliver a
handful of finely tuned pop songs. If they
sound at all wistful, it's because they've
always sounded wistful. Only in fleeting
moments does Wareham reference this
as the end. They close out their album
with the slow and somber "Rainbow
Babe," which by no coincidence sounds
eerily similar to "Goodbye," from their
1992 debut Lunapark. "Rainbow Babe"
opens with the reflective line "Souvenir,
soft and sweet," and from there it drifts
off into an oblivion of ringing guitars and
slow, soft drums.
Luna will no doubt be missed by their
small yet loyal following, but Rendez-
vous serves as a fitting end to a wonder-
ful career. From the sound of it, the band
probably has another few solid records
in them, but in the end maybe it's best
to quit while you're ahead. After all, it's
better to burn out than fade away.

Courtesy of Microsoft
GTA's for pussies.

A TALE OF

Two HALOS'

POPULAR SHOOTER FIGHTS

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor

When the Xbox first launched in Novem-
ber 2001, Microsoft's console had one game
that set it apart from the other systems on the
market: "Halo." The revolutionary first-per-
son shooter effortlessly added lush graph-
ics, nonstop action and a sense of freshness
to an otherwise overflowing genre. With
"Halo 2," Microsoft and Bungie have gone
above and beyond gemers' lofty expecta-
tions, easily creating the best gaming expe-
rience on Xbox.
"Halo"saw the super space marine Master
Chief fight off the evil alien aliance known
as the Covenant. "Halo 2" continues after the
destruction of Halo, a Covenant space sta-
tion. Unfortunately, Covenant forces decide
it's the appropriate time to bring their war
to Earth, forcing Master Chief and the rest
of the marines to engage in battle to defend
their planet. The plot as a whole remains just

as gripping as the original and is propelled
through the action sequences and cutscenes
between levels.
What differentiates "Halo 2" from the
origianl are the number of new facets to its
almost flawless gameplay. First and fore-
most, more weapons are available for use
and gamers can also now employ two guns
at the same. The double-fisted action that
ensues adds a new wrinkle to the well-
refined action.
Further separating "Halo 2" from its pre-
decessor is the inclusion of Covanent mis-
sions. Players assume the role of the Arbitor,
a Covenant foot-soldier, and fight through
throngs of oppossing alien forces. Addition-
ally, when playing as the Covenant, gamers
can utilize features like cloaking and fight
with the plasma sword. While the combat is
still extremely similar to the scenarios with
Master Chief, it at least adds some variety.
The most exciting new ability in "Halo 2"
is the skill to steal the enemies' vehicles. By
simply pressing the "X" button, a la "Grand
Theft Auto," the player can carjack Covenent

BACK
rides like the Ghost, a hovering speeder.
Moreover, with the more powerful vehicles,
Master Chief knocks out the driver, and the
player can choose to toss a grenade into the
hull of the tank. But the vehicular theft is not
limited to the good guys, as Covenent mem-
bers can just as easily swipe Master Chief's
Warthog, a hi-tech Jeep.
"Halo's" incredible multiplayer returns to
form in the sequel. With even more custom-
ization and all of the abilities added to Cam-
paign mode present, death matches have
never been more fun. The split-screen action
is reminiscent of past console shooters, exac-
erbating the limitations of the mode. Gamers
can spy on their opponent's screen to discern
their location, eliminating any attempts at
stealth. Xbox Live support might be the most
anticipated advancement in the series and it
doesn't disappoint.
Though there are some graphical issues
such as the loss of textures, and the short
length of the Campaign mode, "Halo 2" is
easily the best game available for Xbox. If
only all sequels could live up to the hype.

nave carect to d
Halo 2 . "halo 2"
Offline: ****I Online: ***I still thm
Xbox
Microsoft nu

Atkinson brings back happy fairy-tale feel with latest book'

By Bernie Nguyen
Daily Arts Writer

What happened to the wonder-filled
stories of our past? Where did happily
ever after and once upon a time dis-

appear to? Most
of us just seem to
grow out of them,
losing the map to
fairyland once we
leave childhood
behind. Accord-
ing to Kate Atkin-
son, however, this
the corner.

Not the End
of the World
By Kate Atkinson
Back Bay Books
map is just around

in the real world. Places like London
and Scotland are turned into land-
scapes where anything can, and often
does, happen.
"Not the End of the World" revolves
around many characters, most of
whom are connected in small, seem-
ingly random ways. Atkinson fills her
stories with sagas of offbeat men and
women whose histories are as color-
ful as a book of the Brothers Grimm's
fairy tales. However, the wide range
of characters does not make up for
the fact that some of them are lacking
in depth. Some are strongly cast and
skillfully woven, while others remain
somewhat flat. This undercuts some of
the stories' effect and results in sev-
eral which ,though not without merit,
do not provoke deeper thought.
One of Atkinson's strengths is
her ability to change the tone of

each story to match its content and
its characters. She writes in clear,
descriptive and extraordinarily adap-
tive prose that immediately heightens
the impact of each individual story.
For her, the transition from moody
adolescent to precise nanny to angst-
ridden orphans is an easy and effec-
tive one. In this manner, Atkinson's
stories both complement each other
and stand alone, just as fantasy and
reality are both strengthened when
they are put together in combina-
tion. Human desires and emotions
are investigated through strange phe-
nomena. For example, she tells of a
childless woman who adopts a very
odd cat, a dull man convinced that his
doppelganger is more successful and
a ghost who comes back to stay with
her family. Atkinson walks the fine
line between funny and inane with

precision. Her writing is never dull:
Though some of her plots are cliche
and recycled, she polishes them to a
bright shine.
Atkinson's stories are meant to
entertain, and in this regard they
succeed excellently. She maintains
a sense of easy humor while deal-
ing with a few heavy issues, such
as orphaning, single parenting and
growing up. Though some stories are
not as solid, the witty and thought-
ful writing sharpens the focus of the
book as a whole. It throws into sharp
contrast the difference between the
staid, dull steps of human reality and
the bright, vivid world of imagina-
tion. Atkinson cleverly blends the
two together. "Not the End of the
World" is a imaginative collection
and a thoroughly enjoyable romp of
whimsy through a familiar world.

I
I

"Not the End of the World," her
fanciful collection of short stories, is
filled with wonder, mystery and fan-
tasy that is enhanced by its setting

1

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