Our teens review music for R & B listeners as well as country/western fans; Kelly Rowland, well-known for her affiliation with Destiny’s Child, dishes out tasty tunes on her latest album Talk a Good Game, while relative newbie Hunter Hayes hits the mark with his special release, Encore. Looking for a videogame experience that promises a “gut-wrenching journey full of action, horror, combat, and stealth?” Cue up The Last of Us, a new release for Playstation 3.
Talk a Good Game, Kelly Rowland (Clean)
Talk a Good Game is Kelly Rowland’s fourth studio album since her split with Destiny’s Child in 2002. Much of the success of her past albums has been the variety of musical styles and wide appeal to multiple audiences. Rowland seems to be streamlining her efforts with a more defined R & B sound, showcasing a modern style. She is out to prove who she is and what she can do outside of Beyonce’s shadow. Talk a Good Game is Rowland’s most personal album yet—she gets very real about sex, relationships and her love/envy feelings for Beyonce. In collaboration with Pusha T, Wiz Khalifa, and The Dream, and production by Rico Love, Mike WiLL Made It, and Pharrell, this album is a slick production that is super sexy and super soulful. Definitely should satisfy old and new fans alike. Tracks to check out are “Dirty Laundry,” “Gone,” “Freak,” “Street Life,” and “You Changed.”—Uma N., grade 11, Floral Park (NY) Memorial HS
Encore, Hunter Hayes (Atlantic)
Hunter Hayes took the country music industry by storm with his 2011 debut album It’s a Wonderful Life, and fans will not be disappointed with this special release, Encore. On Encore, he reworked three of the original 12 tracks while adding five more songs. Hayes felt that Encore was complementary to his debut album, and a good segue into what he is working on next. Encore captures what made him popular with his debut, and bumps it up a notch. Duets with Jason Mraz and Ashley Monroe on “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” and “What You Gonna Do” make these tracks more meaningful and fulfilling. The beautiful harmonies and melancholy sound stay with you long after the song ends. The three rerecorded tracks shake things up a bit, giving the listener more of what they already love. Encore is really just that—an encore. It gives fans more of what already works, and it will be interesting to see what Hayes comes up with next. Check out these tracks—“Storm Warning,” “Wanted,” “Somebody’s Heartbreak,” “I Want Crazy,” and of course, “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me,” and “What You Gonna Do.”—Claire H., grade 11, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
The Last of Us (Naughty Dog/Sony)
The Last of Us is not only a game but a true interactive experience where you become emotionally attached to the outcome. In this postapocalyptic society, survival is the name of the game. The game begins introducing the characters and a world thrown into chaos by a biological virus that leaves humans as survivors, or as infected. Our hero Joel lives in a militarized zone under martial law, and is doing what he can to survive. He is charged with smuggling a teen named Ellie out of the military zone and to a safe haven. This supposed simple quest turns into a gut-wrenching journey full of action, horror, combat, and stealth.
This is not a running and gunning game. With supplies and weapons pretty sparse, the player must make difficult choices. It is all about planning and thinking strategically. The game’s visuals are superb, bringing realism to all aspects of the game, as well as an investment by the player into the anguish and psychological turmoil surrounding this world. Another plus is the real time inventory system that allows the character to access items and create useful items to survive. This encourages exploration and keeps the player engaged, hooked and committed throughout.
The Last of Us is a whirlwind of gaming experience that is unlike most others out there. Worth checking out. Rating: M for Mature. Platform: PlayStation3.—Will P., grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
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