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Myst: Masterpiece Edition
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Myst was one of the first computer games I ever played, and it is still the game I rate all others by. Looking back almost 20 years from its release... yes, it's dated: but the storyline is so strong and the concept so powerful that I strongly urge you to try it. The dated elements are the graphics which - groundbreaking in its day, seem quaint now (it really is worth investing in the more recent, and graphically improved RealMyst if you can track it down). But the powerful and haunting soundtrack and the strong storyline more than compensate. Myst is a simple point and click adventure - a puzzle game, if you will - and the object of the game is simply to find out what is going on around you. It takes time, and patience, but rest assured that each of the puzzles is logical and solvable by logic and exploration alone (no turn round three times and right-click twice here) so there should be no need for a walkthrough. Fans of shoot-em-ups will be disappointed, but Myst is not that kind of game. You find yourself alone on an uninhabited island, and the only contact you make with the creators of this mysterious world are through triggering off holographic messages hidden in... ah, well. That would be telling! There are many games out there which will challenge and frustrate you, and Myst will certainly do that, but Myst is totally immersive. There are some games you remember after you have played them, but playing - and completing - Myst is immensely satisfying. There are some games you go to bed dreaming about, and Myst is one you will never forget. Highly recommended.
Kate Bush - CD
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This double album represents all that is the best and worst of Kate's work. On the plus side, this long-swaited release sees Kate continue on her musical journey. The material here is quintisentially Bush, but new, exciting and innovative. Always willing to experiment with new sounds and textures, Kate has produced in the second disc, a concept album which is an absolute masterpiece, ranking right up there with Hounds of Love. It takes a couple of listens, but is worth the effort. It's simply outstanding. The first disc is a collection of independent songs. Some rank with Kate's finest - King of the Mountain and How To Be Invisible spring to mind. But there is some filler here, and a couple smack of experimentation dangerously close to self-indulgence, and don't quite reach the quality of the rest of the work. But this is nit-picking: we should rejoice that we have in Kate Bush an artist who is not afraid to pander to fashion and concern for public opinion, but continues to push her own boundaries. For with Kate Bush - and with this album - the mediocre is still good and when it is excellent, it is simply sublime. Highly recommended.
Torchwood: Children Of Earth (Series 3) (2 Discs)
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Firstly, forget any connection Torchwood may have with Doctor Who. This five-part mini series, which comprises Season 3 of Torchwood, stands alone on its own merit: and handsomely too. Unexpectedly, all the children in the world suddenly freeze and begin chanting the ominous words "We are coming..." - over the next five days, a sequence of events unfolds which results in the government having to confront the consequences of previous cover-ups and embark on a course which not only threatens the members of Torchwood, but every family in the country and the break-up of society as we know it. Combining a tremendously bold, thought-provoking and emotional script, a gripping storyline including a malevolent alien race who are never quite in full view and some tremendous perfromances from John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, Peter Capaldi and Nicholas Farrell this is not only British sci-fi at its best - at times reminiscent of Quatermass, but with more depth and more thought-provoking - this ranks with any sci-fi programme produced in the last fifty years. Beautifully photographed and featuring an excellent heart-thumping score by Ben Foster, the series could have been made for Blu-Ray. If this is the end of Torchwood, as has been rumoured, it's a hell of a swansong. But it would be a shame - for this feels like a series that has finally lived up to its promise and hit its stride.