we declare Your Perfection above and beyond all: we have no knowledge whatsoever except what You have taught us. No doubt it is You, and You alone that is all Knowledgeable and all Wise. (al-Baqarah, 32)

Monday, November 23, 2009

I love Uncharted 2

I've finally got Uncharted 2 last Saturday, played the hell out of it, finished it last night, and loved it immensely that I had another go at it today. The game play elements, though are no doubt better than the last game, hasn't changed much at all. In fact, all the cover based shooting, ledge jumping and exploration have been done to death by numerous other games in the market and in Uncharted 2, they are at best, at the standard level. So what exactly sets Uncharted 2 apart and makes it the oh-so-increadible game it is?

1. First and foremost, to me, it's the situations that these game play elements are presented in, and a lot of that has to do with the PS3's processing prowess. The game is cinematic, but rather than having you put the controller down and force 30 minutes long cutscenes down your throat, Uncharted 2 actually lets you in control of the game's many memorable cinematic sequences. There's recently talk about an Uncharted movie in the works. Screw that. This game is a better movie than any movie about this game is going to be.

2. The cast of characters in Uncharted 2, especially the protagonist Nathan Drake himself, is among the most likeable fictional characters I can think of. The interactions between the characters and Drake's frequent talking to himself moments are as believable as you and me. The writing for this game is so brilliant and witty that it often left me grinning as I play. Something that doesn't happen too often.

3. Drake is no Hero figure. He's like John Mclane, but a decidedly more likeable one. Throughout the game, the odds are almost always stacked against him, and seeing him go through all those impossible odds by the skin of his teeth is some of the most satisfyingly breathtaking moments in recent entertainment history.

If I have to name some issues, the climbing animations can look a little janky at time, and I didn't like how the game becomes unnecessarily hard towards the end, but I hated dying so much only because I was so eager to know what's next for Nathan Drake. With Uncharted 2, Naugthy Dog has created a true masterpiece of a video game.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Najibu turns 24

image obtained from some random flickr

And so another year came to pass. I am now 24. That's not big a figure at all. I'm still plenty young with plenty of youth and vigor to go around. And especially young for a married man.

For better or for worse, the one thing that I have never experienced for the life of me was to celebrate my birthday with my dearest friends. Not that birthdays are such a big deal to me, but I've attended them, hosted them, and even organized one yet never had the honour as the centerpiece of the occasion as my birthday always fall during semester breaks. That might have also saved me from being enveloped with expired milk powder or getting drenched by... something. Like I said, for better or for worse....

The birthday that was the most memorable to me thus far was probably my 22nd, on the 14th November of 2007. It was an especially cold day for that time of year in Wellington. I felt so aimless and hopelessly bored that day, and everybody had clearly forgotten - or really, had never even known in the first place - that it was my birthday. Yep, nobody cares for a small fry like me, but I'm fine with that. I kept a low profile afterall.

All my aimless wandering that day (which includes a visit to at least a couple of video game stores) ended up at the doorsteps of a friend's house, who then graciously invited me in to have a cake that she had just baked! No, she had no idea it was my birthday, though, she did eventually found out a few days later, but it might as well be a birthday cake for me.

Well, that's enough of looking back. As for today, I would really love to etch my greatest appreciation to those of you who wished me birthday today. To follow a tradition I started last year, here are the beautiful souls who made my day:

Via Phone (Spoken)

Via Phone (text)
Ah Seng
Sue Fin

Indra - 2 days in advance!


Kak Jaja

Compared to last year, the number of text messages dropped down a notch while Facebook comments increased exponentially. Truly, a showpiece of how the virtual space is where things roll these days.

Again, my heartiest thanks to everyone of you. I only pray that god bless each and everyone of you

One name is intentionally absent from the above list. One person, to whom my greatest appreciation goes to, is to my dearly beloved wife Sofya. Thank You, most of all =)

[Edit : 15/11] Special mention: Hilmy Yakap

Friday, November 13, 2009

Video Games, Sport?

"Is video game not a sport?"

Somehow or another, that was the question that had been in my mind since I got back from a game of badminton yesterday. And thus, began my quest for the truth.

The by the book definition of sports is "games and other competitive activities which need physical effort and skill". Obviously, the words in bold are its defining characteristics according to the dictionary. So let's cross reference those elements with video games and see if they match up.

Competitive: Games, as of late has been getting more competitive than ever. Gears of War and Modern Warfare are the best examples. Nowadays, it is even a standard for MMOs to include competitive Player vs Player matches. Checked!

Physical effort: This
picture taken from http://professionalprocrastinators.com/

That's probably taking it a little too far though, so I'm going to call it a no.

Skill: There's definitely an element of skill involved in video games. This is especially true in fighting games. That's why some players are better than others. Checked!

That's two for three, but the bit that it doesn't involve much physical effort is a really big factor. Of course, this wouldn't be a credible argument with just one source. The following is the the first paragraph of the Sports entry in Wikipedia (though, not that Wikipedia is the most credible source either).
Sport is an activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively. Sports commonly refer to activities where the physical capabilities of the competitor are the sole or primary determinant of the outcome (winning or losing), but the term is also used to include activities such as mind sports (a common name for some card games and board games with little to no element of chance) and motor sports where mental acuity or equipment quality are major factors. Sport is commonly defined as an organized, competitive and skillful physical activity requiring commitment and fair play. Some view sports as differing from games based on the fact that there are usually higher levels of organization and profit (not always monetary) involved in sports. Accurate records are kept and updated for most sports at the highest levels, while failures and accomplishments are widely announced in sport news.
Mental acuity, equipment quality, commitment, fair play, and an accurate tracking of records. Every one of these things are present in video games. And from that lengthy description, the part that strikes me the most is that card games and board games are considered as sports as well.

Frickin' board games!!

Given these facts, how can video games not be considered as sports.

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

Monday, November 9, 2009

For the assassin wannabes

If you're big into video games, you'll now that Assassin's Creed 2 is rolling out this month. If you're not, there, you just found out.

In any case, you don't need to be even remotely interested in the game to enjoy this amazingly received short film that Ubisoft had conveniently made to promote the game's release.

Aside from leaving me all excited about the game, this short really leaves me wanting for a full on Assassin's Creed movie. With over a million hits within the first 24 hours of this short on youtube, I suspect the question isn't a matter of 'if' but 'when'.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Out on a boat

Courtesy of a school activity, Sofya and I had had the pleasure to go on a boat ride halfway round the island. We stopped by a few places during the ride, but the highlight of the day was the boat ride itself. That is to be expected when you get to ride a boat as cool as this!

Uh, not exactly..but it'd be pretty cool if it was eh? OK, this one's the real deal...

Introducing the Fila D' Nara, one of the largest tourist ferrying transport vessels available in Tioman. While it might not look much from the outside, the lower deck of the boat is equipped with a toilet as well as a kitchen to ensure a comfortable ride throughout the voyage.

The boat is spacious. There's plenty of places to hang around be it it on the lower or upper deck. My personal favourite though, has got to be the roof. Standing on top of the boat and looking at the great ocean around made me almost think being posted to this island isn't that bad afterall. Well, almost.

Normally, it'd cost somewhere around RM1500-ish to charter a boat this big for a trip around the island. Lucky for me, this being part of a school trip meant I got the ride free of charge. It is unfortunate that the wind wasn't doing us much favour that day, so we had to turn back half-way through the trip.

If any of my friends are reading this, we really should make this an event next year!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My time stopped at 1

This is the story of my ever so trusty wrist watch. A watch that was given as a gift to me from Her Royal Highness the Sultanah. A very special watch that I have been wearing almost exclusively for the last 5 years. The watch has been a taking a rough amount of beating through those 5 years - getting knocked at metal bars, grinded against walls, fallen off tables - but it never ceased to fail me. That is, until yesterday. A single quick fall from the table in the meeting room. A single quick thud. And just like that, it stopped, right at 1.

Alright, now it's finally time to use my hantaran watch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Who wants to watch Prince of Persia? I do

It's been a while since a good video game-based movie graced the cinemas...wait, has there EVER been one?? Well the recently released trailer for the upcoming Prince of Persia : The Sands of Time movie looks to make good on that one. Here's a trailer I found on Kotaku. The quality is a bit low but it's watchable

I wouldn't say it good, just from the trailers, but it certainly holds promise. As a fan, I'm really glad that series creator Jordan Mechner himself is involved in the project (screen story). Also, with the famed Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Carribean) at the helm, the chances are pretty good. The only but that leaves me a bit disappointed is that they gave a name to the Prince since he was never mentioned by name in the games. The heroine also isn't called Farah. But alas, the rest of the world who aren't fans of the games certainly wouldn't care less about it.

Regardless, here's a movie that needs watching come summer 2010 =)

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