Great games: The biggest gaming titles coming your way this year

Great games: The biggest gaming titles coming your way this year
Indie developers Sloclap’s third-person action game looks incredible and promises players “intense hand-to-hand combat.” (Supplied)
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Updated 13 January 2022

Great games: The biggest gaming titles coming your way this year

Great games: The biggest gaming titles coming your way this year
  • From the long-awaited ‘Zelda’ follow-up to brand new fantasy worlds, these are the video games we’re most looking forward to in 2022

‘Elden Ring’ 

Annoying as it may be for those of us waiting for him to finish the “Game of Thrones” novels, the news that George R.R. Martin was involved in crafting the world for this vast open-world third-person perspective action role-player has gamers buzzing. It’s been the Most Anticipated Game at the Game Awards for the last two years. And the fact that Martin’s material has been worked on by the acclaimed Japanese game designer and director Hidetaka Miyazaki (“Bloodborne” and the “Souls” series) makes it an even more attractive prospect. The game is set in ‘The Lands Between,’ which — since the destruction of the titular ring and the scattering of its shards, aka the Great Runes — has been ruled over by the demigods, the children of Queen Marika the Eternal. Each possesses one of the Great Runes, which corrupts them even as it makes them powerful (so far, so Tolkein). You play as one of the Tarnished, an exile summoned back to the Lands Between after ‘the Shattering,’ who must find and recover all the Great Runes to reassemble the Elden Ring.

Miyazaki is famed for his games’ extremely challenging difficulty levels, so don’t expect this to be an easy journey. Players will have to build up their characters’ skills and magic abilities to stand any chance of overcoming all the demigods — but will also be able to summon many spirits, including those of defeated enemies, to help them on the way.

‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2’

The title still hasn’t been officially confirmed, but we will (reportedly) see the sequel to 2017’s excellent “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” this year on the Nintendo Switch. Its predecessor is widely regarded as the finest game yet made for the handheld console. Hidemaro Fujibayashi will once again direct the game, which will be set in the same world of Hyrule, (including the skies above it), but with a new story and different gameplay elements. Details have so far been kept tightly under wraps by the developers aside from a couple of trailers, but they have at least revealed the Link and Zelda will be flying high amongst the clouds — paragliding between floating cities — and exploring foreboding underground dungeons.

‘Starfield’

When the multi-award-winning Bethesda Game Studios (creators of “The Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout” series) announced that it has created its first new universe in 25 years, gamers were understandably wildly excited. The space-themed RPG is set in the year 2330, 20 years after two factions — the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective — engaged in the Colony War for control of The Settled Systems, located around 50 light years away from our Solar System. For now, a fragile peace has been achieved. The developers promise that players of this sci-fi epic can “create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery” as you traverse various star systems. Given Bethesda’s stellar track record, it’s hard to see this game being anything but a success.

‘Gran Turismo 7’

By the time this game’s released, it will have been almost five years since we had a new main installment in Sony’s racing sim series. Nevertheless, “Gran Turismo” remains the benchmark by which any driving game striving for realism is judged — it’s not the bestselling game franchise under the PlayStation brand for nothing. What we’ve seen of the game’s visuals are as breathtaking as you’d expect (this being the first installment for the PS5 and all) and the game will feature the return of the much-loved single-player campaign mode, the used-car dealership, and the tuning parts shop among other favorites from the series. 

‘Sifu’

Indie developers Sloclap’s third-person action game looks incredible and promises players “intense hand-to-hand combat” as you guide a young Kung-Fu student on his path of vengeance against the five assassins who murdered his family. “You have got one day, and countless enemies on your way. For every mistake, time will be the price to pay,” according to the publisher’s blurb. What that last bit means is that when you’re fatally injured (which will happen a lot — the developers chose to make the gameplay extremely challenging with a steep learning curve), your magical talisman will revive you. But every time it does, you will age a specific number of years. 

That might make it sound like you’ll need to rush in to every fight and keep hammering away at your numerous opponents before you get too old — but there’s a lot more to “Sifu” than simple button-mashing: Clever use of objects and your environment will be crucial to your quest and you can occasionally avoid fighting altogether with the correct use of dialogue. And ageing isn’t necessarily a bad thing here; you learn from your mistakes, and that wisdom brings greater mastery of your martial arts abilities. 

‘Forspoken’

Another open-world fantasy RPG, this one published by “Final Fantasy” developers Square Enix. In “Forspoken,” you play as a young New Yorker named Frey, who finds herself transported to Athia, a land under the control of the tyrannical Tantas. Frey is welcomed as a savior by the people of Athia, partly due to her newly acquired magical powers. Reluctantly, Frey realizes she must try and fulfill this role, and defeat the Tantas, if she is ever going to be able to get back home. Its director Takeshi Aramaki told gaming site Kotaku that “Forspoken” would focus on “terrain traversal speed and fluidity.” 

‘Dune: Spice Wars’

It may be (it is) a blatant attempt to jump on the bandwagon of the success of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune (Part One),” which many critics considered among 2021’s best movies, but Shiro Games’ real-time strategy game should genuinely appeal to those who enjoy the political intrigue of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novels. The player’s goal is to take control of Arrakis — the harsh desert planet that is the universe’s only source of spice — a rare narcotic mineral that makes interstellar travel possible and is the most-valuable substance known to man and alien. To do so, you’ll need a combination of military might, money, and smarts. And probably a willingness to play dirty. 

‘Gotham Knights’

With Batman apparently dead, and Commissioner Gordon off the scene, Gotham City has become more dangerous than ever for its residents. So, B-list superheroes Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl and Red Hood team up in an attempt to save their city from the machinations of a sinister organization known as the Court of Owls, as well as other supervillains such as Mr. Freeze and The Penguin. Warner Bros’ recent Batman games have been consistently excellent, and even though the Caped Crusader isn’t the star here, hopes are still high. The drop-in multiplayer co-op feature — each character has different special abilities and fighting techniques — should help make up for the lack of a big-name superhero. 


Cairo International Book Fair kicks off with Greece guest of honor 

Cairo International Book Fair kicks off with Greece guest of honor 
Updated 27 January 2022

Cairo International Book Fair kicks off with Greece guest of honor 

Cairo International Book Fair kicks off with Greece guest of honor 
  • Greece is the guest of honor via a rich cultural program that includes discussion of publications and translated works on the ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations
  • Saudi Arabia is participating via 39 publishing houses and in the fair’s cultural and artistic activities

CAIRO: The 53rd Cairo International Book Fair kicked off on Thursday, with Greece the guest of honor and 1,063 Egyptian, Arab and foreign publishers and agencies from 51 countries taking part.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly inaugurated the exhibition, which will continue until Feb. 7 under the slogan “Egypt’s identity: Culture and the question of the future.”

The late writer Yahya Haqqi is the main personality of this year’s book fair, which comprises five halls and 879 pavilions, and includes discussion sessions and workshops. 

Greece is the guest of honor via a rich cultural program that includes discussion of publications and translated works on the ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations.

Saudi Arabia is participating via 39 publishing houses and in the fair’s cultural and artistic activities.

Algeria’s Ministry of Culture and Arts said more than 600 books and publications by Algerian publishing houses are featuring in the exhibition, as are seven writers and poets.

Oman is participating with publications aimed at introducing the country’s culture and highlighting its intellectual production.

The exhibition has a hall dedicated to children’s books and activities, with the works of the late author, translator and publisher Abdel Tawab Youssef at the fore.

The Arab Publishers Association will hold its general assembly on the sidelines of the fair on Sunday, including the election of a new board of directors.

The exhibition had earlier announced the creation of an award for best Arab publisher, and the raising of the financial value of its annual awards in the fields of story, novel, poetry, literary criticism and human studies.


Grace Kelly's granddaughter appears on horseback for Chanel

Grace Kelly's granddaughter appears on horseback for Chanel
Charlotte Casiraghi, the granddaughter of Princess Grace Kelly, appear atop an actual racing horse. Getty
Updated 27 January 2022

Grace Kelly's granddaughter appears on horseback for Chanel

Grace Kelly's granddaughter appears on horseback for Chanel

PARIS: Huge spinning wheels, “floating” wooden blocks and suspended geometric shapes hovered over a surreal mini golf course Tuesday at Chanel’s remarkable couture show.
Even Pharrell Williams, who is no stranger to elaborate sets, had to take a moment to take stock, before posing beside a white, three-meter (yard) tire.
This sublime, avant-garde decor was the work of Xavier Veilhan and marked the first time in its history that Chanel has entrusted a contemporary artist for staging.
The equestrian photos handed out to guests as they filtered in were a hint of what was to come. But no one quite expected Charlotte Casiraghi, the daughter of Caroline of Monaco and the granddaughter of Princess Grace Kelly, to appear out of nowhere atop an actual racing horse.

Getty Images

The beautiful beast and its VIP rider, in a black Chanel tweed sequined jacket of course, began the show to a symphony of gasps and clopping hooves around the Grand Palais Ephemere’s auditorium as celebrity guests snapped pictures.
The horse seemed to enjoy its 15 minutes of fame, trotting by with ease, snaking in and out of the 1920s and 30s constructivist installations and by sand and imitation grass, before breaking out into a canter around the set.
Virginie Viard, Chanel's designer, said the art backdrop was not just decor, but the collection’s creative starting block.
“These geometric shapes made me want contrasts, a great lightness and a lot of freshness: ethereal dresses that float as if suspended,” she said.
Thus Chanel produced a relatively pared down aesthetic for spring with matching tweeds, minimalist touches, clean curved peplums and lots of white. A split leg on heavy three-quarter length skirts was this season’s big theme, creating a silhouette with lots of swag as the models walked.
A pink tweed jacket with white stripes possessed beautiful loose proportions, which perfectly captured the spirit of pared down femininity. It was the best piece in the show. Yet the 47-look collection at times seemed to fall victim to its own restraint, seeming to lack vibrancy.


International Prize for Arabic Fiction announces longlist for 2022 award

International Prize for Arabic Fiction announces longlist for 2022 award
Out of the 16 novels, six will be shortlisted with the titles revealed in March. File/Getty
Updated 27 January 2022

International Prize for Arabic Fiction announces longlist for 2022 award

International Prize for Arabic Fiction announces longlist for 2022 award

DUBAI: The International Prize for Arabic Fiction has announced the 16 longlisted authors competing to receive a $50,000 award when the winner is revealed in May.

Among the authors in contention for the 2022 award are Emirati author Reem Alkamali, Egyptian novelist Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, Eritrean writer Hajji Jabir, Nizar Aghri from Syria, Algerian novelist Boumediene Belkebir, Syrian author Yaa’rab Al-Eissa and Egyptian writer Tarek Imam.

Also competing for the prize are authors Bushra Khalfan from Oman, Morocco’s Mohsine Loukili, Khaled Nasrallah from Kuwait, Mohammed Al-Nu’as from Libya and Algerian Rouchdi Redouane.

Rounding out the longlist is Kuwaiti author Mona Al-Shammari, Syrian novelist Dima Al-Shukr and Egyptian writers Mohamed Tawfik and Belal Fadl.

Five judges, which include Tunisian novelist and previous IPAF winner Shukri Mabkhout and Libyan doctor, poet and translator Ashur Etwebi, chose the list from among 122 entries from nine countries across the Arab world.

Out of the 16 novels, six will be shortlisted with the titles revealed in March. All six shortlisted authors will receive $10,000 each.

Jordanian writer Jalal Barjas won the prize last year for his work “Notebooks of the Bookseller,” announced at an online ceremony in May. In addition to the $50,000 prize, the author also received funding toward securing an English translation of his novel.


‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date
Updated 27 January 2022

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

DUBAI: The Middle Eastern version of “Say Yes to the Dress” is premiering on Feb. 11 on Starzplay, the streaming service announced on Wednesday. 

The Arab program, which is the 25th spin-off of the popular US series, will feature 20 brides from various cultural backgrounds, ranging in age from 23 to 50, all in search for their dream wedding dress.

The nine-episode show, which is a partnership with US media company Discovery, is hosted by Lebanese celebrity stylist Khalil Zein, who has dressed stars from across the region including Haifa Wehbe, Rahma Riad, Nancy Ajram, Maya Diab and Nadine Nassib Njeim. 

The nine-episode show is hosted by Lebanese celebrity stylist Khalil Zein. (Supplied)

Shot at the Hazar Haute Couture in Dubai, the bridal boutique houses a collection of dresses ranging from $615 to $14,000. 

During a virtual event held on Wednesday, the organizers shared a sneak peak of the show, revealing some of the brides who will be part of the show. 

Among the women spotted is a part-Saudi bride, Sabrin, who appears on the show with her family. 

The series will also feature Egyptian beauty influencer and vitiligo advocate Logina Salah, Dubai-based fitness blogger Amy Fox and Iraqi-Polish radio presenter Eve Jaso. 

Fox and Jaso, who attended the press event, shared some of their favorite highlights from the show. 

The series will also feature Iraqi-Polish radio presenter Eve Jaso. (Supplied)

“(It is) definitely definitely putting the dress that I chose on and just feeling like I can be myself in this dress. It just fitted my whole personality, my whole vibe. I didn’t feel restricted. I felt like I could move . . . It was just the best moment,” Fox said.

For Jaso, her favorite memory of the show was “finding everyone in tears,” she said. “You think that being on a TV show, there is not going to be emotion, there is not going to be feelings, but I walked away from that show feeling like everyone was just crying. It was a shock.”

During the event, Zein expressed his gratitude at being part of the Starzplay original series.

“As everyone knows, your wedding day is one of the most monumental days of your life. So being able to take part in making sure the brides feel their best on their big day really means a lot to me,” he said.  


‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez
Updated 27 January 2022

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

DUBAI: It is never too late to attend a concert by legendary Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez — thanks to hologram technology — and organizers are marking the launch of the “Dubai Hologram Universe” at the Al Habtoor City Theatre with a show dedicated toward the late artist on Jan. 30.

“Dubai Hologram Universe” is a joint venture by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) in collaboration with New Dimension Productions (NDP) and will feature state-of-the-art hologram concerts by legendary singers and musicians twice a week at the Al Habtoor City venue.

The tribute concert, titled “Sawwah,” saw media guests enjoy a hologram of Hafez singing some of his most famous songs. (Supplied)

Arab News attended a press preview that took place earlier this week.  

The tribute concert, titled “Sawwah,” saw media guests enjoy a hologram of Hafez – who died in 1977 aged just 47 – singing some of his most famous songs. 

The 90-minute concert featured six backing vocalists who got a chance to sing alongside the star years after his passing. (Supplied)

With live musicians performing behind Hafez, the show kicked off with the star’s hit “Awel Marra,” which he sang in his 1957 movie “El-Wesada El-Khalya.” 

As ardent fans admired Hafez’s hologram figure, which replicated his body movements and facial expressions, a group of dancers joined the show for an immersive visual experience. 

With live musicians performing behind Hafez, the show kicked off with the star’s hit “Awel Marra.” (Supplied)

One song after the other, the eight performers wowed the audience with contemporary dance moves that hit every beat of Hafez’s music. 

The theater’s various special effects, ranging from water falls to haze, gave a modern twist to the music sensation’s show.  

The 90-minute concert featured six backing vocalists who got a chance to sing alongside the star years after his passing. 

One song after the other, the eight performers wowed the audience with contemporary dance moves that hit every beat of Hafez’s music. (Supplied)

Music fans also watched the celebrated singer, nicknamed the “Nightingale,” perform “Betlomooni Leh,” “Asmar Ya Asmarani,” “Balash Etab,” “Gana El-Hawa,” “Bahebek” and more. 

The show ended with a rendition of “Sawwah,” which he released in 1972.

The theater’s various special effects, ranging from water falls to haze, gave a modern twist to the music sensation’s show. (Supplied)

During his career, Hafez, who was also an actor, conductor, businessman, music teacher and movie producer, appeared in 15 films and produced more than 200 songs.

In 2019, fans of the singer were able to watch a similar light show in Jeddah.

Music fans also watched the celebrated singer perform “Betlomooni Leh,” “Asmar Ya Asmarani” and “Balash Etab.” (Supplied)

He is not the only late star who fans have been able to enjoy on stage. The late Egyptian songstress Umm Kulthum also appeared in 2019 at the Winter at Tantora festival and at the Dubai Opera in 2020. 

“Dubai Hologram Universe,” which, according to organizers is the world’s first regular hologram series to focus on immersive digital entertainment, will feature future concerts by holograms of Umm Kulthum, Warda Al-Jazairia and more.