Saturday, November 28, 2009 0 comments

Game Review: Batman-Arkham Asylum

All right, here goes nothing. My first game review. I have been an avid gamer throughout my life. My favorite categories are action, strategy and RPG. This time, let me start with one of the best games of 2009(if not the best)- Batman :Arkham Asylum.

I am quite sure that most of you have heard of Batman(come on, who hasn’t?). The legendary Caped Crusader or the Dark Knight, created by the late Bob Kane in the early part of the 20th century. Since then, the Batman franchise has grown exponentially. Initially from comics, to TV serials, to cartoons, to video games and finally Real movies. And who can forget the performance of Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger, in the last two Batman movies. Personally, ‘The Dark Knight’ has been one of my most favorite superhero movies of all times, and there was no way I was gonna miss a Batman game on the PC. So here is my review on it:

Graphics: 9.5/10

Go and see the screenshots/trailers for yourself(if you have not played the game). I don’t have words to describe the Graphics of BAA. Simply stupendous. It literally took my breath away. From the cape fluttering in the breeze, to the Batarangs whooshing past the goons, it’s all simply awesome. But of course, most games coming out recently have fantastic graphics too. Is BAA extra special? You bet it is. Am getting a bout of aphasia now. So you better check it out asap. Eidos has really outdone itself this time.

Storyline: 9/10

The main backbone of any game is its storyline. And BAA does not disappoint. With a fabulous plot, devoid of any complicated implications (save the Joker) BAA will keep all players on the edge of their seat. The Joker has ostensibly taken control of Arkham Asylum and has released most of the prisoners. He has also brought a gang of 100 plus goons to do his dirty bidding. And he unleashes his most abominable plan yet, to vanquish Gotham city. Now controlling the Batman, the player has to put an end to the Joker’s demonic plans. Along the way, you will have to deal with a host of puzzles, riddles(guess who?) and traps. And of course, Supervillains. Major amongst them are the Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and Bane.

Gameplay: 9.5/10

This is yet another factor taken into consideration while rating games. The gameplay is equally superb. You have a host of gadgets at your disposal, ranging from the simple Batarangs, to the Bat-Hook, explosive sprays, Bat-lines, etc. You will need to use the Grapple-hook throughout the game. Plus you can also glide along long distances, which is almost equivalent to flying. The combat system is quite engrossing, with a wide range of combos and high-tech arsenal to choose from. You can start out with simply kicking and punching, and go on to perform special maneuvers like Silent Takedowns, Special Takedowns, Hanging villains upside down from Gargoyles, performing a flying Glide kick, etc. Trust me; you will never get bored of it. Plus as you defeat enemies, and solve riddles, you earn experience which can unlock newer items. But quite possibly, the biggest trait of BAA is the Detective Mode. In this mode, you can detect secret passages and hidden enemies. You can also follow the trails of different persons just in case you are stuck. In all, BAA makes a very satisfying playing experience.

Music: 8.5/10

The music is also great. Though it may not be anything superbly outstanding, it’s still quite pleasant and mellifluous. I am not music/sound expert, so I will refrain from further comments on this one. Personally I found the sound and technical affects great. But still, a tad below Excellent.

Overall: 9/10.

Buy it, rent it, steal it(okay just joking). Whatever you do, just get this game ASAP. Even if you are not a Batman fan, you will still love this game. (Its better than Prototype, Xmen Origins:Wolverine, and much better than Resident Evil 5- some of the games released in 2009, according to me). This(BAA) is 12-13 hours of pure fun. Blood and gore lovers, sorry to disappoint you, but this game does not contain any heavy violence or adult material (Stick to the dull FEAR 2 if you want such games).
Batman makes a mark, which you can be sure will remain indelible for a long time.

P.S.(SPOILER)- The game is probably gonna have a sequel as well. According to the ending, ie. But then again, maybe not. It all depends on the makers. After all, Max Payne 2 was supposed to have a sequel made. But it never did. Rather the developers made a mess out of Alan Wake(or some horror crap). Keep your fingers crossed!
Sunday, November 22, 2009 0 comments

Present Scenario

A few days back, I was watching an episode of Yuva Bharat. I really enjoyed listening to the tale of a young Saina Nehwal, an enthusiastic and talented sportsperson who has dominated the arena of Badminton in the past few years. Currently she is ranked sixth in the world and No.1 in our country. She is a good idol for all emerging players interested to make a career in the line of sports. But what fascinated me the most was the problems she highlighted, which a sportsperson generally has to face.

First, we all know, is the ubiquitous and nefarious mentality of majority of the parents. ‘You must become a Doctor or an Engineer. ‘Sports’ is for the poor and stupid guys.’ I believe this attitude is one of the BIGGEST reasons for hindering our country’s growth. Not only is it destroying a child’s creativity and destroying his career, but it is also responsible for the state India is in, currently. A state of malaise. Saina is lucky to get her family’s support, but how many others are? I have seen countless people giving up their passion for sports, just to get an ‘Engineering’ or ‘Masters’ degree, and literally annihilate their life, mostly to fulfill the wish of their parents. Parents don’t understand that a child should be allowed to follow his/her passion. They believe that a child should get a job with a steady supply of income, and that only engineering or a college degree can help the child get a stable job. But if you look at the west, you will see that the popular(and even not-so-popular) sportspersons earn much more than what an engineer will make in his entire life. The reason is simple. In developed countries, people do not consider Sports as a hindrance to one’s life, but as a valuable asset, both in terms of money and fame.

Another thing which Saina spoke about is Specialization. The same old topic comes up, ‘Why does India wins so few medals, and other countries like China and Jamaica win so many?’ Saina explains that the sportspersons outside, are highly specialized in their respective field. For example, a Table Tennis player spends his entire time on Table Tennis and nothing else. You will see very few people pursuing multiple sports/activities simultaneously. But in India, the same old attitude comes and blocks our path. ‘If you are Hell Bent on pursuing Sports, you must get a college degree at the same time. Academics always comes first.’ Can anyone give me a plausible reason as to what help will a college degree do to a person who wants to make an entire career out of sports? The answer which most parents will give is, ‘If he fails in making a mark, he can always get a job to supplement his life.’ See, they are thinking of failure even before the child has actually done anything. They want to play safe, and are simply not willing to let the child take any risk. That way, he has to cope up with both studies and sports and usually does not take either very seriously. He/she also has to take breaks for exams, which impediments his progress in sports.

Anil Kumble may be an exception, but go outside India and try to find out how many Sportspersons are Engineers or doctors? Hardly any. The reason is simple. They have spent their entire life following their passion and given all they had to achieve their goal. This is what I call real education. And not memorizing notes and vomiting in exams and getting Engineering Degrees on paper, as is common amongst Indian students.

Finally, yet another issue addressed (Man, I guess I am becoming a Saina fan) is Sponsorship. In India, sponsorship lags far behind than in the West. Sponsoring companies are just not willing to sponsor new talents or emerging sportspersons who may not be financially well off. But they sponsor a person after he/she has achieved a significant amount of success. We have often seen cases where people do not even have the money to invest in high-quality training or to appoint a talented coach for guiding them. Many of them give up, and this situation is really sad, because the Country is losing valuable talent, mainly due to corruption and nepotism. India is probably the only country where we do not give sufficient recognition to talent. A child who is good in playing table tennis is forced to become an engineer against his will. A cricketer is rejected by the selection committee because he is too poor to give them bribes. A scientist is unable to carry on the research due to lack of high quality equipment (Not that the Government cannot afford it, but rather the money is pilfered by rapacious politicians and other corrupt officials) , leaves the country and gets a Nobel Prize.

The bottom line is that we do not appreciate any Out-of-the-Box thinking. We want to follow the same old inane, repetitive trend of ‘A Job(Money) is All what I want’. This is one of the major reasons that a person who does something unique or different is looked down upon and fulminated instead of being encouraged. No wonder we hardly have any Nobel Prize winners or International Medal/Prize holders.

And even after all this; we keep repeating the same old question, ‘Why doesn’t India win more medals in the Olympics even after having a 1 billion plus population?’ I guess we all know the answer but do little to take pragmatic action.

Anyways, thanks for reading, guys. See ya!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 3 comments

Life as we Know it.

Well, I have always been an avid fan of Astronomy. And passing time thinking about Extraterrestrial life has been one of my biggest hobbies. So I am writing this article in lieu of that.

Well, recently scientists are claiming that the moon hosts water, and it has been doing so for millions of years. And that it has water is an indication that it might have given refuge to living organisms sometimes in the past. Some say it has life even now. Apart from the moon, similar theories for life existence exist for Planets such as Mars, and also other moons of Jupiter and Saturn. In almost all cases, scientists and astronomers are for the lookout of water, or ice and in some cases even oxygen and the presence of a suitable atmosphere, which is essential to sustain life. My question to all of them, is a simple ‘Why?’ Yes, why. Why is it essential for water or oxygen or even an atmosphere to be present for life to exist? Why cannot life persist in absence of water and oxygen? Is there any real, valid, irrefutable scientific theory to endorse this statement?

For long, I kept on wondering about this. There are billions of planets in the universe. Any one of them could harbor life. And it is next to impossible for us, with our current technology level, to locate life in places far outside our solar system. We should keep in mind that we are not looking for earthlings, but any sort of life forms present. So why should they drink water and breathe in oxygen, and live in moderate temperature regions. Let us take a hypothetical situation. Say a living being X, lives in a planet whose average temperature is 500 degree centigrade. Say, X takes in nitrogen and releases hydrogen. Say the planet has no trace of either oxygen or water. Say, X depends on carbon related food material which can even be rocks. So whats the harm? You may say that it sounds too far-fetched, but hey its nothing compared to some of the alien movies we have seen and endured and live to tell about it. The thing is X may exist. There is absolutely no valid law that can refute this statement since we hardly know anything about the entire universe.

One explanation is similar to our mathematical models. We take it that a certain statement is true, and then based upon such given facts, we try to prove that other statements are true is well. Sort of similar to mathematical induction. So we assume that since life exists on earth(and that is a fact), so if we apply the conditions for life to exist on earth, or rather the conditions of the environment, temperature, proximity from the sun, atmosphere, etc, and we replicate these conditions for other planets, we may find life elsewhere. This theory may be correct, but it may be fallacious at the same time. We cannot predict with 100% accuracy, whether or not life can exist in other conditions. But I personally believe that it can. Other living beings need not be similar to Homo Sapiens or any other species found in Earth, for that matter.

But most scientists still follow the principle of ‘Life can exist only if a planet/moon is similar to Earth’. Namely the principles are:

The planet must be average size. Neither too big nor too small. Since life does not exist on Mercury and Jupiter.

2) The planet must have an atmosphere belt to protect us from UV light, meteors, harmful gases, etc. Since it is universally assumed that gases harmful for us will be harmful for other beings too. Duh!


4) The planet must have the same amount of oxygen and nitrogen, as in Earth. Even if some other being depends primarily on hydrogen.

5) The planet must have an average temperature of around 15 degree centigrade, the same of Earth. Else it is too hot or too cold to sustain life. Yawn, can anyone tell these people that hot and cold are relative terms. 1000 degrees may be hot for you, but not for X.

Anyways, enough of my blabbering. Obviously all the Nasa scientists and World renowned astronomers know much more than I do, and if they say the above principles hold true (Note: Without any solid proof), then perhaps they do. But I still believe what I feel like, and that is Life CAN exist without the above 5 principles.

Friday, November 13, 2009 1 comments

2 States - Book Review.

All right, as I promised here is the book review for 2 States by Chetan Bhagat.
Like all Chetan Bhagat books, this one too is priced at Rs. 95, and has been flying off the shelves. Almost!

To begin with, this book is partly autobiographical. At least that’s what the author says. So its hard to predict what actually happened to him in real life, and which part is total fiction. In any case, the story revolves around Krish and his girlfriend Ananya. Both batchmates at IIM-A(they even share the same room-weird). Both are madly in love and want to marry. But what is the impediment? They belong to two different states. Krish is Punjabi and Ananya is a Tamil Brahmin. So naturally their parents object to their marriage according to conservative Indian traditions and beliefs- blah blah, and thus begins the tale of convincing, separating and re-uniting. With some masala, and fun poured in, to make a typical Chetan Bhagat novel.

Don’t go expecting for any great literary stuff. Far from it. The story is essentially nonsense, but still manages to keep you hooked till the last page. But throughout the book, one gets the feeling that he/she is watching a C-grade Bollywood flick, where hardly anything of importance takes place, and we don’t even notice where the story begins and where it ends. The book also has many loopholes and features many illogical aspects. Basically that’s what you will get, when you take Hari from Five Point Someone, rechristen or rename him as Krish to get a new character with old traits. Ie the same IIT Delhi Mechanical Engineer who lusted after his professor’s daughter.

The book is quite funny than its predecessor, 3 Mistakes of my Life. There are quite a few hilarious moments (Krish blackmailing Ananya’s brother, getting up and running away during his marriage, making his boss prepare his coffee, etc) but there is a equal share of hodgepodge as well. Ostensibly, Chetan has made fun of both the Punjabi and Tamilian communities, pointing out the subtle idiosyncrasies. Now let us look at some of the negative aspects/loopholes of this novel, and of Chetan’s works in general.

i) How come the guy, no matter how ugly or average looking he is, manage to get a beautiful girl all the time? If you look into statistics, around 70% of Indian men(youth) are single, 29% are committed to average looking or poor looking girls, and less than 1% hook up with really pretty gals. So how come the book’s protagonist always seem to fall in the rarest of rarest category, ie the less than 1% one? And why on earth does the most beautiful girl always fall for an average guy in the book? Why can’t it be the other way around? Maybe because the story would not be too spicy then.

ii) According to Chetan, youth (life) seems to be about drinking, smoking, sex, and even drugs. The way he writes almost makes it feel that all of those are perfectly normal, and innocuous. Many guys feel that if they indulge in all those activities, it will make them look cool and feel better little realizing about the negative ramifications. Worst of all is the fact, that most of the girls have been given manly characteristics. They want to smoke, drink and indulge in sex. I would like to stress that very, very few girls (Indian) are actually like that and the ones who are, lack morality.

iii) There are far too many co-incidences. But I suppose that’s true for most authors. For example, in this novel, how come Krish’s dad repair his relationship with Ananya and their parents, even though both(Krish and Dad) hated each other? How come a Tamilian Brahmin girl from a decent vegetarian cum teetotaler family, crave for beer and chicken? How on earth did nobody say anything when a guy and a girl stay in the same room in a hostel? Surely there are some rules to be followed, right? Plus there are many other minor illogical incidences as well, like how come a guy who screwed up his entire life in IIT, manage to land up in IIM-A of all places? But they can be ignored, considering the work is mainly fiction.

On the whole, I would give this book a ‘5 out of 10’. And I will include it in the ‘Time Pass’ category. If you are feeling bored with nothing much to do, go ahead and read it. But I don’t feel that its worth a second time read. Go read some real fiction or literary work.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 0 comments

Nonsense and Updates


Yeah, had a very busy fortnight. Or rather, as usual I ended up becoming indolent. Dunno why, but am just not getting the mood to sit down and type. I want to do something else instead.

Anyways, sessional exams finally over, had my first IMS exam as well. Oh well, sem is approaching and I am not making much progress. Sigh!

Enough of complaining, lets see whats going on currently,

1)Finished 2 States by Chetan Bhagat. Will write a review in the next post. Found it average.

2) Got 6 new games(mostly highly popular ones like Gears of War, Mass effect and Bioshock) thanks to Kuntal. And my eccentricity for installing them just one month before sem.

3)China and India still arguing. Whatever.

4) Obama passes a Health Insurance deal. Yawn!

5) Attacks continue in Pakistan.

6) India lose Hero Honda cricket cup series versus Australia. Was expected.

7) Unrest continues in many part of the country.

8) I still need to finalize my final plans. Lol.

9) 2010 is coming. No, I said 2010 not 2012. I dont care if Apocalypse is just 2 years away.

10) Big Boss is getting a bit obnoxious. But still addictive for idiots like me.

11) John Cena is once again the WWE Champion. You cant see him though.

12) The world record for typing is 173 WPM. Damn.

See you in the next post. Adios.