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)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Games of the year nominees

The following are games that I played this year and this automatically qualifies these games into my upcoming top 10 games of the year list.

2010 Games
(In alphabetical order)

1. Alan Wake - A competent third-person shooter with superb atmosphere and story-telling.

2. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - Some incremental but terrific changes to the old game plus a very novel multiplayer mode makes this the best Assassin's Creed yet.

3. Bayonetta - So crazy it's awesome. Plus, the best use of 'Fly me to the moon' in a video game.

4. Blur - It's Mario Kart without Mario and karts are replaced with real life cars. Features a mad addictive 20 player combat race.

5. Castlevania: LoS - Still playing through the game. Seems decent.

6. Darksiders - Like Zelda and God of War got married and had a baby. One of the most surprising hit of the year for me.

7. Dante's Inferno - A pretty solid attempt at making God of War.

8. Enslaved - A sci-fi Journey to the West. Great characters. Gameplay's not too bad as well.

9. Fable 3 - Some of the changes made over Fable aren't actually for the better, but I enjoyed it even more than Fable 2.

10. Final Fantasy 13 - Very pretty. Very linear. Very heartbreaking.

11. God of War 3 - God of War in HD! Also features some of the most gruesomely brutal scenes in any games to date.

12. Halo Reach - Great single player and multiplayer game. The last and best Halo by Bungie.

13. Heavy Rain - A series of thumbstick movements and button presses as you watch a movie unfold according to your actions. Very unique.

14. Limbo - An XBLA game that is interesting at first but loses steam towards the end.

15. Mass Effect 2 - Vastly superior to its predecessor, which was already a really good game.

16. Monkey Island 2 - Hey, I finally finished this game... after like 15 years! And surprisingly, it's still a good game!

17. Red Dead Redemption - Gran Theft Horse.

18. Singularity - Looks like Bioshock. Plays almost like Bioshock. Unlike Bioshock, involves time-travelling.

19. The Secret of Monkey Island - Hey, I finished this game after 15 years too!

20. Vanquish - Like Gears of War played in fast forward. Pretty short but is one of the most pulse pounding games of the year.

And just for posterity's sake, here are games of yester-year that I finished or re-played this year
  1. Borderlands
  2. Demon's Souls
  3. Devil May Cry 4
  4. Dragon Age : Origins + Awakening
  5. Fallout 3
  6. Tomb Raider Underworld
  7. Uncharted 2
  8. Mass Effect
Hrm...looking back at this list got me thinking, for someone who has been playing much less than I used to in the days, I still play a lot! :p

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The meanings behind Allahu Akbar

Allahu Akbar. A muslim doesn't have to even know know Arabic to be familiar with these two words. Most if not all muslims know it what means, but knowing and understanding are two separate matters.

I recently listened to a lecture about this word and thought it would be beneficial to share with everyone.

Commonly, it is translated as ‘Allah is the greatest’, or ‘Allah maha besar’ in BM. While I would not go so far as to say those translations are wrong, the more literal translation would yield ‘Allah is greater than’ as ‘Akbar’ is a form of comparative adjective in Arabic.

Now, when someone is to compare something, it begs the question: what is that something compared to. In this case, the sentence ‘Allahu Akbar’ leaves out the object of comparison entirely. This is part of the wonder of these two words.

For one, this omission of an object in a comparative is used in Arabic speech to imply the subject is better than any object you can think of. In the case of ‘Allahu Akbar’; Allah is greater than everything. Thus we get the common translation ‘Allah is the greatest’. But even this is understanding the sentence at face value.

You see, by omitting the object, it leaves the room for the object to be interpreted contextually. For instance, when you are doing your work and you hear the Adhan (the first line being Allahu Akbar), you have to realize it means Allah is greater than whatever your work is, no matter how important or noble you think it is. The fact is your obligation in work is minuscule compared to your obligation towards Him - the solah.

There is a narration about this form *Al-Aswad bin Yaziz. He said : I asked Aisha ''What did the Prophet (s.a.w) use to do at home?'' She said, ''He (s.a.w) used to work for his family, and when he heard the adhan, he would go out (to perform the solah).'' Clearly indicating that there is no responsibility greater than that towards Allah.

The wonders of Allahu Akbar also works in solah. Most of us are easily distracted in solah. Whether it be thinking about the the work we forgot to do, the long day ahead of us, the football game on tv to, what movies we want to watch next, to just about any little thing we can think of. So everytime we say Allahu Akbar in our prayer, we are not just proclaiming the greatness of our Lord, but we are also reminding ourselves that Allah is greater, is more important, than the things going about in our head and that He is the one we should fill our mind with instead.

So the next time you hear Allahu Akbar, I hope you will be able to understand it the way it is meant to be understood. InshaAllah, this will bring us closer to Him. Wallahu A’lam.

*Sahih Bukhari, vol 7, no 276. Taken from http://www.haqvoice.com/hadith/index.php?page=1&s=Adhan on 2/12/2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I am not fond of curses. Swears. Four letter words. Or whatever people want to call it.

Many people however, do not have a problem using it and/or with their usage. These days anyways, it is considered normal to curse. You hear it in the movies, your friends use it when they speak, you read it almost every time you facebook and you get desensitized to it. If that wasn't the worst of it, many even endorse it!

I don't know what's the deal. Maybe cursing boosts your ego. Maybe cursing makes you feel cool. The fact however, is this - A bad word deed is a bad deed. A bad word is a bad word. Take stealing for example. If everyone in the neighbourhood is a thief, that still doesn't the fact that thievery is wrong doesn't it? Likewise, just because it is a norm to curse, that doesn't mean it's right to curse.

Decency doesn't change over time. What was wrong 100 years ago is still wrong today. Rather, it's the people's perception of decency that has changed.

If you are a person who likes to curse and is somehow offended by this post, I ask you this: would you want to hear your kids curse? Please remember that the apple won't fall far from the tree.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Changing the world

Read the news lately? You'll discover 2 stark contrasts. One the one hand, the nation can be seen flourishing infrastructure-wise. New buildings are going to be built, new curriculum for schools, more funds, etc. But on the other hand, the society is plummeting where morality and decency is concerned. Not a single week will go without news of child dumping, underage sex, incest and all kinds of other hideous behaviours.

What is wrong with people?

And while the goverment is supposedly hard at work to curb these issues, is there any hope for change? If the state of the 'advanced nations' that our society seems so bent to be like are any indication, then it's only logical to assume that things are only going to get worse from here on. Afterall, what our nation is currently trying to implement to curb societal problems is only what those countries have already applied and what good did that do to those countries?

I used to think that there was no saving the society. That there was no way to change the world.

History proved me wrong. There was one society which had very bad societal problems. Theirs were a society of drunkards, adulterers, and murderers who would bury their daughters alive out of shame - not too different to what our society is becoming. Who would have thought that in 23 years, they had a complete change in every aspect of life and even went so far as to become a powerful civilisation.

They were the Arabs, whose lives were changed by the Message of the Quran sent by the Messenger of Allah. They flourished when they abided by the Book, and they declined as their people started to turn away from the Book.

In it is a lesson for us - we can't put the responsibility to improve our society solely on the government, or any single body. If we want to change the world, then the change has to start from within us. And we may think that we need to spend millions and millions to treat the disease that is plaguing our society, but the cure is actually free. Turn to the Quran, and let the Message of Allah change us.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The miracle given to us

When people talk about miracles of old, they will remember stories of how Musa (or Moses) peace be upon him split the Red Sea, or how Al-Masih Isa (Jesus Christ) healed, the blind, the lepers and brought the dead to the living. These are indeed wonderful stories, but to the people of today, rings more closely towards fiction rather than factual. It is understandable, given the magnitude of the miracles and particularly because we were not there to witness these miracles first-hand.

However, the muslims believe of a final miracle. A miracle which sadly, many - even the muslims - among us have either forgotten of are simply unaware of. A certain miracle that God had revealed some 1400 years ago for everyone, and that implies even to us, the people of today. This miracle is the Quran, which for the muslims, is the verbatim words of God Himself as a guidance for mankind.

Lately, there has been a lot of hate for the muslim world and we hear of cases of people doing untold atrocities to the Quran. Yet, how many of the people who do those things actually took their time to open the Quran and read it for themselves.

So here I would like to invite all of you to give the Quran a chance. For the muslims, read it to understand your deen better. For those of different faiths, remember that there is no knowledge that isn't power. You don't necessarily need to believe in it to read it. After all, people read Harry Potter knowing whatever written in it is hardly believable. So if you can read something like Harry Potter, why not the Quran? It certainly won't do you no harm. It's not even all that long if that's what's worrying you.

And while the Quran is in Arabic, these days you can easily find a translation on the internet to get a general understanding about the Quran. From what I understand, the most commonly used English translation is the one by Yusuf Ali, which you can read here.

However, bear in mind that while you can get some of the messages of the Quran from a translation, most of the things that make the Quran what it is will be lost in translation. If you are a person of literature, you will know that a translation of a text from one language to another will never be 100% similar. It will lose a lot of the nuances and features unique to the original language and might even lead to some confusion. That is why the Quran is actually meant to be read and understood in Arabic, the language it was originally revealed in. Don't let this dissuade you though, as I've said, it's okay to get the general sense of the message for starters.

Read it with an open mind and heart, then pass you judgement.

Additional information about the Quran:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Working title

I'm currently trying to write about something serious. Hopefully will be able to get it done at some point and post it here =)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Money money money

I see the world around me revolving around money.

I see people who work with every ounce of energy in their body to earn money.

But I also see civilians mugged everyday for money.

I see people killed for money.

I see people kill for money!

I see people think we could gain everything with money.

It's all to funny.

Because you cannot buy peace for any amount of money.

Indeed true are the words of Allah:

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

You Are Obsessed by greed for more and more. Until you go down to your graves. Nay, in time you will come to understand! And once again: Nay, in time you will come to understand! Nay if you could but understand [it] with an understanding [born] of certainty. You would indeed, most surely, behold the blazing fire [of hell]. In the end, you will indeed, most surely, behold it with the eye of certainty: and on that Day you will most surely be called to account for [what you did with] the boon of life.

Surah At-Takathur (Rivalry in world increase)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Examination


For what purpose do these exams serve? If I recall correctly from one of the courses of which it's name I could no longer remember, the reasons are:

1. To measure how much a person has learnt / gained
2. To discern the good students from the not so good ones.

One who does well in exams also tend to get more privileges than those who didn't, like higher chances to study in better institutions, which at the end of the day usually lands them with better jobs, better pay, a better life in general.

Naturally, every person who could think straight would want to do well in their respective exams, but not everyone will. Some will merely pass and some will fail. However, everyone has the potential to do well if they work hard enough for it.

And in our excitement for all our exams to satisfy ourselves with better lives, with all the pleasures in the world, many forget of THE exam that we are undertaking our whole lives. Think about it - is our life not analogous to an exam? Everyone has the potential to do well and claim the eternal rewards that He has promised. But not everyone will. Some will merely pass and some will fail.

So ask ourselves, do we want to do well in this exam? Or will we be satisfied with a mere pass? Will we even pass?

So, what are we going to do about it?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Najibu the video game journalist?

All my life, I've had little choice in determining my own future. Almost everything was set by my parents. I wanted to be an artist. But NO, said my parents, and here I am today a teacher. I don't begrudge them for that. I'm sure all they want is a better life for me, and as a matter of fact, I'm doing pretty well. But ultimately, this isn't what I REALLY wanted for myself.

Having almost completely giving up on arts, my only interest now is video games. Saying that I'm 'interested' in video games, however, is a gross understatement. It's passion. Naturally, I'd want a work that I can channel my passion into. So when I heard GameAxis, the only real video game magazine in the country was looking for a writer, I knew I had to give it a shot.

I haven't heard anything back since I sent my resume for about a month, so I figured I must have not made the cut. Yet on one inconspicuous Friday, after a less than thrilling day at school, an unknown number rang up my phone, told me he was the editor of GAX, and that had been shortlisted to be interviewed for the job. I had to restrain myself from jumping in joy lest I bring down the shaky wooden house I live in.

Flash forward a week later, on the morning before the interview, one Brian Ekberg, an editor from Gamespot whom I used to admire just notified on twitter that he had resigned for another job. This post he left on his blog, which seemed just perfect to amp up my motivation for the interview, seemed to me to either be a really good coincidence, or that God was telling me that I am on the right path.

Later that day, I was there at the WriteOn Media office where I was to be interviewed. My wife, all the way with me has been very supportive and patient enough to wait at the lounge for the duration of the 2.5 hour interview. I can't thank her enough for that. Inside the interview room, that much time passed without me even realising it. I was talking to Terence Stephen, the editor-in-chief of GAX, a man who, like myself is deeply passionate about the industry. He was quite surprised to find out I am a teacher, but then again, he had had interviewees who are even lawyers and architects. There I was, in an interview for a job, and the interviewer was asking me questions like, "what's your favourite game?" It was surreal.

As part of the interview, I was tasked to write an article about a game, any game, between 500 to 800 words in about an hour. As much as I like writing about games, juggling between work and play had not left me much time to be writing a lot of game related stuff lately, so pulling off a well written article in an allotted amount of time was actually harder that it sounds. After giving it some thought, I decided to write a review of Blur, a game which I had intended to write a review for but never had the time and commitment to actually sat down and write.

Now all that's left is for me to wait. As much as I want this job, I don't think I'll be devastated if I were to be rejected. I'm a greenhorn with zero experience in journalism after all. However, Mr. Terence was kind enough to inform me that they're still looking for freelancers aside from the one full-time writer they will choose from the interview and the fact that I got shortlisted from god knows how many applicants was already pleasing enough for me. Regardless of wether I get the job, the interview was an experience that I won't likely forget... but man, it sure would be nice if I do get the job =)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Najibu's thoughts on Alan Wake

Despite a menagerie of things I had to do during the school break, I managed to finish at least one game out of the few new games I bought. That game was Alan Wake, a game that I think is one of the most surprisingly good game I've played this year.

The game plays like a mix between Resident Evil and Dead Space. I feel that Alan Wake controls better than the two games I mentioned and the result is a very satisfying shooter. Unfortunately, the game lacks variety to keep things fresh from start to finish thanks to a very limited type of weapons and enemies available in the game. The game could also use some more different settings as the bulk of the action will take place in the dark foggy forrest.

I find myself liking the game more for it's story more rather than the gameplay. The story is a well thought out one, but it's the superb story telling that really holds the game together. I especially liked the way how the game is broken into several episodes, similar to those mini series frequently aired on HBO. Each episode ends with a masterfully done cliffhanger that I find myself wanting to play more just to know what is going to happen next in the story. Each episode also begins with a quick recap of the previous episode. Honestly, I find it hardly necessary, but it's really cool so I'll give them points for that.

The game looks as good as any good 360 game but the lighting and shadow effects makes the game seem prettier than it actually is. My other complaint is the bad lip synching during the cutscenes. While not terrible, it's not up to the standard of recent games.

Alan Wake is a pretty short game - I finished it in under 10 hours, so that might keep some people off this game. My suggestion is either wait for the price to drop or borrow it from a friend. Heck, steal it if you have to (If you got caught, I won't be held responsible). The point is, despite its inherent flaws it is a game that should be played, if only to see how developer Remedy has taken story telling in video games to the next level.

For an in-depth review of Alan Wake, kindly watch this video review by GiantBomb's Brad Shoemaker.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Najibu at VGL Malaysia 2010!

In case you all hadn't heard, Video Games Live happened last Saturday. I had to leave my island prison Friday evening, rush to KL the next day, and return in the wee hours of Sunday. I got home at 4.30 IN THE MORNING for crying out loud. But. I couldn't be more satisfied that I had been to such an outrageously wonderful event.

The host, the orchestra, the vocals and the hall. Everything was top of the class.

The performance was actually pretty similar to the one I attended in Wellington some 4 years ago but there is something about watching it on my own home soil that makes it significantly better. The segments (the songs, if you are so inclined) for VGL Malaysia are catered more for the Asian audience. Meaning : there are more songs from Square, Konami and the likes. The only thing that makes it rather distasteful to me is that 90% of the songs they play are from games likely played by the attendees by rather... illegal means.

In any case, I can stress enough how AMAZING the 2.5 hour show was and I would not have second thoughts to give it another shot anytime. I only regret I couldn't get my copy of the VGL CD autographed because I couldn't possibly queue until 1am when a 4 hour drive still awaits =(

Here are some highlights of the show courtesy of Youtube.

This here is the theme for The Legend of Zelda performed by the very talented Laura Intravia

The Castlevania theme, with VGL co-creator Tommy Tallarico playing the lead guitar.

And in a surprise reveal, the last song, the encore, was Time's Scar. One of my favourite piece of all time.

I was initially a little disappointed that Liberi Fatale wasn't on the show, but Time's Scar more than makes up for it. There's plenty of other songs played including from hits such as Metal Gear, Final Fantasy and even Tetris so if you're interested hit VGL KL up on Youtube and you're bound to find something.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Mid-sem break 2010

Here's a recap of the last 1 week holiday in. Maybe someday, 20 years later or something, I might wonder, "what exactly did I do during that holiday between March 12 and 21 of 2010?" Well, myself in the future, fret not because the old (or should I say, younger) you had brilliantly written your life down so you wont ever worry about losing your memory.

1.Weddings! Two girls I knew got married and I attended them both. Congratz Mass and Nadia!!

2.Went to IPBA for our KISSM cert and got a lot more than that. Met with a whole bunch of my friends, had lunch together and went all over the megamall like we used to when we were still students. Gundams, games, and pointless wandering. Ah, good times.

3.Got lost on the road for 2 hours looking for the hotel the wife and I are going to stay at. Priceless. The next day, I woke up to find my car clamped BECAUSE I PARKED IN THE WRONG RESERVED PLOT. I was only 5 minutes late of avoiding it too.

4.Video games of course! I can't say i've gone to KL without taking some games back. This time it's God of War III, Heavy Rain, Demon's Souls and Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening. That's three PS3 games, finally a reason for me to haul that thing over to the island. Oh, I've actually finished 2 of those.

5.Got two tickets to Video Games Live! Bought the third tier ticket which was not too bad a price, but realized later that we could've just bought a cheaper one. But what's done is done, and I'm super stoked about it. April can't come fast enough!

And that's about all there is. Today, work as usual. And first day of work after a holiday is always a major burn...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lets go to VGL!

Do you like video games? What about music?

If your answers for those two questions were along the lines of "DUDE, YES!!" then you ought to be really excited for Video Games Live which is going to take place right here in Malaysia next month.

What's that, you say?

Here's a promotional poster of VGL, featuring me.

OK, maybe the 'poster' was insufficient. Simply put, it's an orchestra that plays some of the best music that has ever graced the interactive entertainment world, backed by some visual treats that one might expect in to see in a concert instead of a prim and proper orchestra. Or perhaps the talented video game composer cum VGL co-creator Tommy Tallarico can explain way better than I do.

I've had the privilege to attend VGL during autumn of 08 when it was brought to NZ shores, so I can personally attest to its awesomeness. Just the thought of watching it again makes me tingle!

Video Games Live will be going live at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on April 17th. The fact that they're having a show in the piracy central Malaysia is mind-blowing. Malaysian gamer enthusiasts especially, show some support! I'm definitely going (even if I have to take a leave from work!). Now, I'll be frank that tickets ain't exactly cheap, but if you have any passion on both games and music, it's well worth it.

For bookings and pricing, please check here.
If you want to know more about Video Games Live, I suggest you jump the official website here

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Video games, time, and me

So Final Fantasy XIII came out today. For someone who absolutely loves video games, and also someone who had played the series from VII all the way to XII (minus the MMO XI), it's baffling, to even myself, that I'm not all that interested of the new game.

What could this mean? That I'm losing interests in video game?
No, if anything, I've been a much more avid gamer these days that I was when I was in my early teens.

The fact of the matter is, that time's a changing. Video games, along with the industry has gone a long way since the last decade. And so have I.

When I was 12, watching a game which had super slick full motion video (for its time) was the best thing ever. Me, now turning 25, doesn't want that in a game no more. I want to be able to actively take part in my video game journeys. And so I turn to games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, games of which are currently my definition of top-tier RPG.

I'm not, in any sense of the word, belittling Final Fantasy XIII here. I'm sure there are some pockets of people out there who are screaming in glee as they get to play the game they've been waiting years for, and it's probably for a good reason. I can't think that a Final Fantasy could possibly be a bad game.

But at this point in time, it's probably not the game for me anymore.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I need this

No... it's not another video game. It's just a drink that I've come to grow fond of since my days in NZ/AU. And it seems I can finally enjoy this awesome beverage locally!! But in Seremban of all places though...
Here's a picture evidence, taken by some guy/girl on Facebook. Whoever you are, I totally missed your name and forgot to copy your link too. In the unlikely event that you stumble upon this blog, I would like to sincerely apologise for this and also thank you for sharing this wonderful news.

Bubble tea....mmmmmm~

Monday, February 8, 2010

I want

You know what, It'd be really cool if I could...
  1. play the guitar
  2. play more games
  3. play more games on a big HDTV with a good internet connection
  4. be a video game reviewer
  5. continue studying Japanese
  6. learn Mandarin/Cantonese
Random things at the top of my head.. but yeah, I want to do a lot of different things (though most of them usually involve video games in some form or another).

But then, life isn't always meant to be about what we 'want' to do. It's more about what we 'have' to do.

and right now, I have to do what I have to do.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Movie day with students

During the past 1 year, this beginner English teacher has been trying different methods to get students' attention, to get them to like, even, this language that is seemingly unnecessary to them. So today I've tried something that I've never attempted before. I called them for a special lesson. To watch an English movie!

Out of the 44 invited students, merely half of them decided to show up including 3 or 4 who stayed at the hostel. Most of them were from the A class, and only 2 of them were male.

The movie was 'Horton Hears a Who', a movie which I had watched for more times than I cared to count and had enjoyed tremendously. I also find the movie very suitable as the language used weren't too hard and there was narration peppered throughout the movie. It's also fortunate that none of them had ever watched the movie. For the purpose of learning, I intentionally put the English subtitles on, despite urges from the kids to switch to Malay. Not that I had that option in the first place.

It was supposed to start at 9.30, but some technical hitches and glitches stalled the showing time for about half an hour. Being the IT savvy person I am, (heh!) I got the situation under control. And so the movie played on.

It was an awkward moment I tell you. There were scenes which were supposed to be funny but the room was just completely silent. They only responded to joke which has to do with gestures. The ones that involve dialogue - none whatsoever. It's clear what the problem here is.

Teacher, cannot understand!!

By the mid point, I find that I was about the only one still giving a crap about the movie, as most of them were either busy with their expensive cellies or just having a forum with their buddies. Some even left midway through the movie. I didn't try to stop them as I didn't made this session compulsory in the first place.

At the end of it, there were about 14 students left and I did get some good feedback from them. They didn't get a whole lot out of the movie, but they at least learnt a few new words. It's not significant, but it's meaningful enough to justify having another movie day in the future.

My only big disappointment is that I could have used that 3 hours playing more games!(and by extension, more achievements)! I only hope the students can appreciate this sacrifice I made by giving me money doing well in their coming tests.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Najibu really likes Bayonetta

Bayonetta is now the very definition of over the top craziness. It's a character action game, much like Devil May Cry, and the similarities aren't startling since the two games are made by mostly the same guys. However instead of cool dude and heavy metal, it's sexy chick with pop, with craziness cranked to the very maximum. While still similar to Devil May Cry in gameplay, there are significant changes that differentiates the two well enough and actually makes Bayonetta even better than its spiritual predecessor. It isn't everything that I hoped it to be though, but for the most part, Bayonetta is a commendably great game.

The Good:
  1. The crazy battle set pieces that is just out of this world. It's hard to talk about this without giving away too much, but I'll just say this: fighting on a moving missile is completely bananas, but also freaking awesome.
  2. The witch time mechanic that slows down your opponents by dodging their attacks at the last possible second, which gives players the opportunity to deal more hurt to the baddies is a both rewarding and satisfying.
  3. It's a beautiful game and it moves at a very smooth 60fps all the time (I've confirmed that the PS3 version has severe framerate issues though)
  4. The game has a lot of reference to various video games , most of which are the dev's previous games, but also other famous games from Assassin's Creed to God of War to Halo. They are most amusing.
  5. The game's rendition of Fly Me to the Moon. Who would've thought that song would be a combat theme, and a GOOD one at that! It's been stuck in my head since.
  6. Good for newcomers and experts alike. The first 2 of 5 difficulties lets even a 4 year old play well (not that I'm recommending this game to a 4 year old) and the last 2 ensures a workout for those inclined for more challenge.
  7. Those who appreciate the combat will definitely come back for more. I've replayed the game for 30 hours now.
The not-so-good

  1. There are one too many cutscenes. Many of which are stylized image stills that are barely entertaining. It makes it that more annoying that to skip a scene, one has to hit start, select skip, and answer yes. A simple 1 button skip would've been most welcome.
  2. Some occasional yet very noticeable screen tearing. It doesn't do any harm, but it isn't nice either.
  3. Typical of a Japanese game, it has a story that cannot be understood in any way, shape or form. There's also this one character that makes me want to yawn hearing him speak.
  4. It's pretty short if you're just going to play it for a single playthrough. Roughly around the 10 hour mark.
Also of note, the AU/NZ premium edition comes with this sexy replica of Bayonetta's gun. How crazy is that?! I would've totally bought it if I were still there!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A foreshadowing, maybe.

If this is a sign of things to come, I already know that I'm going to absolutely LOVE going out on meetings this year.

Last Sunday, I was reluctantly forced to get off the island in order to attend a PMR registration briefing in Rompin the following day. So I had all the things that they told me to; a laptop and a list of names for my school's PMR candidates.

It wasn't until the night before the briefing that I realized that I was just carrying an over-sized paperweight. The laptop wouldn't boot! Stupid government laptop. What was I to do...

OK, so here's the plan I came up with: Just bring the laptop anyways. Pretend that I didn't know it was broken, switch it on, and then *gasp!*, play the role of an innocent "I didn't know what happened" man. Well, turns out that the was hardly a need to bring a laptop in the first place, since they gave us a CD with everything we need in it.

The briefing was scheduled to end at 12. Great, that meant I could still catch a boat back at 1. 12.15 came but still there were no signs of the briefing ending soon. I was already tapping my foot impatiently. By 12.30, I mustered my courage and told the guy in charge that I had to leave lest I couldn't get back in time. Lucky me, the good man understood my circumstances.

The trip from Rompin to Mersing would usually take an hour if I didn't want any speeding ticket - and of course I wouldn't. Keeping in mind that the ferry NEVER leaves on time anyways, I decided to give it a shot.

I did arrive just in the nick of time. At 1.20, the ferry was calling for boarding. Walking triumphantly towards the thing, I figured that I had indeed made it. I was so wrong. The ticket guy said that it was full! Despite my pleas and convincing, he wouldn't let a single poor teacher on. I swear, I should've resorted to threats.

Hopeless, I thought it would be best if I returned to my hometown, which was only 2 hours drive from there. I woul've stopped at the Seng's house, but I didn't want to wait until he gets back from school. That night, I learned that his school had switched to morning session, so he was actually at home at the time. Danked!

Ah... one misstep after another. Meetings, please don't treat me as mean next time, I really want to start liking this job for once.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two Odd Nine

It was exactly 1 year ago today that I stepped foot on the island and really began my career as a teacher. A lot has happened since. Some of the them, among the best things that ever happened in my life. And then there were other, not very good things as well. As a commemoration (and also because I failed to do this at the turn of the new year :p), here's a list of the 5 most memorable and 5 most detestable events of the year that was.

5 Things I wish never happened in 2009

  1. My job
  2. Being myself, occasionally
  3. Teaching them half-wits
  4. My students' PMR result
  5. My job.

5 most memorable event of 2009
  1. Definitely the best thing that ever happened to me was getting married to my long time girlfriend. I mean, I'm married! To the girl I've been going out with for 4 years. I couldn't ask for anything more
  2. Meeting my friends in Malacca. What a way to end the year! They are the best friends I've ever had. To spend time with them, even if it wasn't very long was easily among the moments that I cherished most in 2009.
  3. In spite of me not totally appreciating the fact that I'm posted in this here island, it was a free opportunity given to me to do activities I've never thought I wanted to do before. Najibu goes jungle trekking? Swimming??? It's almost sounds preposterous!
  4. The trip to Aishah's wedding. I disliked traveling, but then, I knew that going on a trip with a bunch of friends could be so much fun. It's a shame that things will never be the same again since.
  5. Attending my cousin's wedding in Sarawak. It's the first time in many, many years since I got to stay together with my once-upon-a-time close cousins. It was a lot of fun, even if we just spent most of the time watching HBO. Actually, it was boring, but it was fun anyways. So weird.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dragon Age: Origins mini review

If you've like the old-school Dungeons & Dragons type RPG's such as Baldur's Gate or more recently, Knights of the old Republic, Dragon Age should be right up your alley, but if you missed out on those old gems, then Dragon Age should be the game to kick start you love for the genre. This is a hardcore esque RPG, where your characters' stats determine their hit ratio and damage and victory in battle has more to do with positioning and managing your team's abilities than having dexterous fingers.

It sound cumbersome, and truly, it is. Fortunately, Dragon Age remains accessible to everyone, from the newest of newbies to the stalwart dungeon crawlers thanks to the different difficulty options you can choose from. The game also has a really interesting, if not entirely original story, but unlike most other games where you're just there for the roller-coaster ride, in Dragon Age you take roller-coaster where you want to go. The sheer amount of interactive story elements in the game is astounding and this ultimately lends itself to making the story extremely immersive and also personal. I don't think there's been a finer RPG than Dragon Age in a good long while. Truly, this is the age of great video games.

The Good:
  • Multiple character classes and races to choose from, each with different origins story and and various skill sets to choose from.
  • Highly interactive story allowing you to shape the fiction to your whims.
  • Interesting companion characters who has their own motivations to follow you on your quest. Some of which you can even flirt with, if that's your thing.
  • Outstanding voice work overall. Especially loved the dialogue with the companion characters.
  • A fully realized fictional world. Hundreds of codex entries to help you better understand the world you're living in, or you can simply ignore. Your choice
  • Satisfyingly long, though how long depends on you play style. I played and finished it at the 65 hour mark, doing almost every side-quest I discovered (at 75% completion), including the time I spent reading every single codex entry I found, which was mountain loads.
The Not-so-good
  • No voice work for the player character during conversations.
  • A lot of the different monsters make the same, annoying noise.
  • Lack of ability to respec your characters. I'f you screwed up leveling your characters, you're pretty much screwed.
  • The 360 version's quality of pre-rendered videos suffer from what looks like an overly compressed video. I can't say for the PC and PS3 version.
  • It will consume a lot of your time, which unless you are a student or unemployed, is not a very good thing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Where there's a will...

About a decade and a half ago, there were a couple of medical students who were avid video game players. We all know what video games does to studies.... nothing. So they both graduated and received the title of Doctors. Not long after, they decided to drop their stethoscopes in favor of joysticks. I wonder, at that point in time, do these two doctors even thought that a decade later, their co-operated video game development company would become one of the world's most prestigious. As of today, their company has churned title like Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect and Dragon Age, among others which millions upon millions of happy gamers have played the world over. And of course, that translates into millions and millions of cash into their pockets. How else could they have their own private jet otherwise.

While it is true that not everyone just everyone could pull this off like Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk of Bioware did, they do show that putting your effort where your passion is can be something to be considered. The future is a fog that non of us can see through. You'll never know whether your path will soar you to the stars. Or maybe even fall down to the lowest depths. But this I know is also true - there is always a different path to choose
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