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)

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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