Infinity Blade...Epic Cool!

Okay, I'm not a hardcore gamer as some of my friends are...but I do enjoy PC / PS / Wii / DS games whenever I can. Especially when certain games pique my which I will be playing in earnest SOMEWHAT like a hardcore gamer (play non-stop for few hours / until I feel sick, eat, then continue playing until I finish it or I get bored with it. LOL!)

Recently though, my sis has been rather obsessed with her iPad 2 (and with good reason...I mean, who WOULDN'T be obsessed when they have an iPad 2 right??!) and I noticed that she's been playing this game rather religiously. So, curious I asked her about it...and decided that hey, I would go download the game and play it myself on my iPhone. And omigosh, it's so addictive that I find myself writing this entry JUST to say how epic it is! LOL! 

The very cool intro screen of Infinity Blade

A little intro on the game itself...Infinity Blade is an RPG created by Chair Entertainment and Epic Games for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. We play a character who is in pursuit of the 'God King' to seek revenge for killing his father. At the start of the introductory cut scenes, the story is that this God King killed the father and started a bloodline for his magical weapon. From then on, every descendant from this family who goes up against the God King (and subsequently slain) will create a new bloodline...hence the photo above.

Hello big brute of a monster!

What I really, REALLY loved about the game is the very cool graphics especially with the HD retina display feature on the iPhone 4 and iPad! Not only is it realistic looking, but the details to the characters and the surroundings are astounding. Even on my iPhone 4 - with its small screen - it is a joy to watch the cut scenes and also play; let me tell you that the gameplay graphics are exactly the same as the cut scenes! I'm probably going out on a limb here to say that this game's graphics is on par with those on the PS3. Not bad for a tablet / phone game right?? I thought so too *wink*

Uh oh...he's going in for the kill!

The gameplay is rather simple, I would venture....since it is made for the touch screen, controls are based on taps and swipes that we make on the screen. We explore the castle by tapping on the areas highlighted on the screen, from which we could collect items like gold, weapons or healing potions. But of course the main game-playing is through the battles with the thugs in the castle. When we face the enemy, there will be 'buttons' on the bottom of the screen to make your character dodge or block the incoming attacks. At the top of the screen (just below the life meters) are buttons for the character's super power and magic skills to help you defeat the enemy. Attacking and parrying comes from the swipes we make on the screen...and the character really does follow the direction of the finger swipes, so different directions = different kinds of attacks / combos. With the magic button, there are also 'symbols' to draw in order to activate said spell, so it is quite hectic especially when the attacks are coming in real time! 

My character at Level 8

What is game playing without level-ups and customization right? With the gold collected from your exploration, we get to buy sword, armor, magic rings and helmets to help us fight better in battles. Each item bought has a mastery level, from which we fill it up with XP points gained by defeating said thugs in the castle. When an item has been mastered, it will be of a better value should we wish to sell it later in the game. XP points also levels up the character and with each level up, we can use it to gain extra points for either the health, attack, shield, or magic levels (as seen in the photo above). 

Facing the God King level 8, when he's at Level 50! WTF!

Of course, nothing is all perfect. This game has some downsides to it as well...for one, the whole premise of the game is rather small. It doesn't take much to explore the whole of the castle as the highlighted areas available for us to tap on are rather limited. Hence, you'll probably find yourself facing the God King in no me, I was only at Level 3 when I reached the God King! And the funniest thing was, there is no other choice BUT to fight the God King (you can't move away as the only available place to tap and move forward is towards him. *rolls eyes*) So, needless to say, I got killed off just like that *snaps fingers* and it's the end for the character.

But wait! Just when I thought I had to start ALL over again like some arcade game, I find that my character has re-spawned into another descendant (hence Bloodline 2), and while I start again from the outside of the castle, I remain at the current level that I was when I 'died', and with my items all intact too! YAYY! The only thing that changes is that the thugs' levels are also subsequently higher, so it gets progressively more difficult to get in to the God King. And here's where it'll probably get boring (for the hardcore gamers I guess): you'll have to keep fighting almost the same beasts over and over again just to level up and buy enough items to be able to FINALLY face the God King. But meantime, because the castle is so damn friggin' small, you'll also be slain time and time again by the God King and start all over with the bloodlines. I am currently at Level 9 and have already faced the God King twice...LOL! 

My character facing the 'Wood Jester'....dang hard to defeat this one. Just looking at the height difference makes you feel like a Chihuahua trying to fight a Rottweiler. LOL!

The other thing that kind of kills (pardon the pun) is the sheer size of the app. Infinity Blade is a whopping 500+ MB game! It is understandable I guess, considering the hardcore graphics in the game. So, be sure to have enough space in your iPhone as it takes up more than half a gig of space in it! But other than those few points, it's quite the addictive game *grins*

Close up on the Wood Jester...I heart the graphics!

So, if you are looking for an iPhone / iPad game with some really awesome graphics and some rather addictive gameplay, give Infinity Blade a go. It will not disappoint! It seems that quite a few gaming sites have also given the thumbs up for this cool game, so it's definitely worth a try even if it's just to gawk at how well they utilize the iOS 4 =) It's in the App Store now for USD5.99, and hey since it's an app, there is bound to be updates so I can't wait to see what else they would put in for this already cool game! I'm still playing it at the moment to see how far I can get before becoming bored of looking at the same faces, or if I can stay motivated enough to keep playing to level up....LOL! 

Horrible Bosses....When Do They Ever Stop, Right?

If you thought you have a terrible boss at work, this movie is definitely one to watch! It will either:

a) Make you feel grateful that your boss is not THAT bad (even though it could possibly be the worst for you)....OR

b) Provide you with some 'ingenious' ideas as to how to get back on your boss!

When I first laid eyes on the trailer a few months back, it was rather hilarious to see how these bosses treat their employees and I thought it would be a nice film to sit and chill as we empathize with the employees who got bullied by their superiors. Well, it certainly delivered the laughs, and a little more! *wink*

While the premise of the film is simple enough (3 different bosses who treats their employees as how the poster described the bosses...the psycho who works his employee to the bone and dangling a prospective promotion in front of him; the maneater boss who probably is the kind of person that sexual harassment laws are made; and the boss who is just a friggin' dumb-ass tool! Watch the movie and you'll get what it means), the little twist a midst all that fun makes this movie even more hilarious! If you've not heard about it on the radio by now, Nick, Dale and Kurt hate their bosses so much that what was intended to be just a 'hypothetical' thought of killing their bosses to make their lives easier became something that they thought they can do. LOLL! 

"The three musketeers" meeting with their so-called hitman. LOL!

To add to the quirkiness of the movie, the movie makers have brought in some rather big names to star in the film...let's see, there's Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston just to name a few! All these stars and their perfect comedic timing add even more spice and hilarity to the movie! Case in point, watch the scene where Jamie Foxx's character (Motherfucker Jones....can you believe it???!!!) explains how he got his name...if you didn't at least giggle, you have NO sense of humour at all. LOL!

The poster says it all...haha!

Other noteworthy mentions include Jason Bateman for his turn as Nick, whose boss is the epitome of emotional abuse at the workplace! Somehow I'm sure there are people who can identify with his situation...even if it's not as extreme as Nick's case. While not straying very far from his "Arrested Development" character, his casting as Nick is spot on.  The best lines from the movie though mostly comes from Charlie Day (who plays Dale), and he did not disappoint in his delivery as a dental assistant who gets harassed by his boss (a very sexy Jennifer Aniston!) most guys, I guess it wouldn't be called harassment at all, especially when your boss is as hot as Jennifer Aniston! But Dale does not like the attention and that's where it gets seriously funny. 

Dr. Julia trying to get some action from Dale....LOL!

Of course, it wouldn't be possible to talk about this movie without mentioning Jennifer Aniston, who was superb in this movie. Totally derailing from the sweet characters that she plays in her other movies, she is now a sex-crazed lady boss who will go through any lengths or depths (pardon the pun) to get what she wants from poor ol' Dale...and wow, she slips into that character flawlessly. LOL! 

All in all, a much recommended movie to watch and recount of how good (or bad) your bosses treat you =) However, do be aware that should you catch this in the cinema, you will encounter a lot of frustrated groans and sighs from everybody watching it as our beloved Censorship Board has been very snip-happy with the scenes. You know, what with the sexual innuendos, scenes and swear words that are so frequent throughout the movie (even though the movie is rated as 18! Pfft!). You have been warned!

Les Misérables - 25th Anniversary In Concert

A quick break from my trip blogs *wink* I can't believe I have not blogged about this amazing concert when I had watched this previously! Watching it again a few days ago still gives me goosebumps and I feel that I HAD to blog about this amazing DVD.

Les Misérables (or more fondly known as Les Mis to fans) is no stranger to anybody who likes / loves the theatre / musicals. Actually, even if you aren't a fan of the theatre / musicals, there are still many songs that are covered by many contemporary artists here these days. I'm pretty sure many have heard Susan Boyle's rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream"...or even if you live under a shell until today, perhaps even the ever popular TV series Glee's rendition of it (and some other songs from the musical too!). 

The musical is set in France in the 1800's, a time where the poor are plenty and many are oppressed. Prisoners are worked hard like slaves, justice by the police is kinda weird, business owners are not as honest as they seem, and ladies with nowhere to go end up selling their own hair and bodies to stay alive; just to name a few of the scenes you will see in the musical. Then in the second act, there is drama as zealous young men rise to the occasion and fought against the injustice of the government to try and free the people from poverty. Quite a sombre musical, but very inspirational and touching as we also see the strength of the human spirit when put against the odds!

This DVD though is not a full-on musical. Rather, it is a concert (as the title mentions), where the cast stand in front of microphones and sing the musical numbers. Everyone is dressed in costume though, and there are some props used in the scenes as well as sound effects that are well-timed to bring out the feel and atmosphere of the time. 

While at first I was put off by the idea of the actors just standing there and singing, by the second song I was hooked and couldn't take my eyes of the screen as I was swept into the whole experience. This, I believe, is due to the excellent casting...they really brought out the emotions of the characters and making you feel as if you're in the moment with them! For the 25th anniversary concert, they have roped in some of West End / Broadway's biggest names like Lea Salonga (best known for her role in Miss Saigon), Ramin Karimloo (the current Phantom in Love Never Dies!), and Norm Lewis (who originated the role of King Triton in the musical version of The Little Mermaid).

(Left to right): Norm Lewis as Inspector Javert...LOVED his interpretation of the character! His deep voice just brings something to Javert; Lea Salonga as Fantine....although her voice has changed a bit since her Miss Saigon days, she still brings a lot of depth to Fantine. Her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" really brought tears to my eyes as she sings of what she had lost.

Ramin Karimloo!! ♥ He was superb as Enjolras...the leader of all the young men who fought for their freedom! I first wanted to watch the concert after hearing about him being in it after seeing him perform live when he was in KL with Stephen Rahman-Hughes, and he did not disappoint in his turn as Enjolras =)

The biggest surprise for me was Alfie Boe, cast as Jean Valjean (the protagonist). I have no idea who he was at the time, but his voice is amazing and OMG there's something about his eyes...I don't know, I guess I'm a sucker for guys with lovely eyes. Whenever he sings, there is always a twinkle; so much kindness in his eyes, which really befits the character he plays...a doting father to his daughter and a man with a really big heart. The biggest solo for Jean Valjean just tugs at the heartstrings when he sings and prays about bringing Marius safely home from the war. Couldn't stop listening to it! Video is and you'll see what I mean *wink*

Ah yes, forgot to mention about Nick Jonas as well! He was another surprise...cast as Marius, he actually held his own quite well even though his voice was not as strong and not really made for theatre. Not bad for a teen pop star =)

And just when you thought the end of the concert was amazing enough (I was tearing and smiling as the audience rose to their feet applauding the cast), there is yet another surprise! For the encore, they brought out the ORIGINAL 1985 cast of London who proceeds to perform some of the numbers....words can't describe it! Especially the performance of "Bring Him Home" by the Jean Valjean Quartet - which are the 4 gentlemen who have played Jean Valjean throughout the years, including Alfie Boe....listen to the oldest Jean Valjean (Colm Wilkinson). I was absolutely gobsmacked that he can still pull those notes even at his age (though I shouldn't be surprised since he IS a performer)! 

A highly recommended DVD to watch especially if you're a big fan of musicals or just music in general....just remember to have some tissue at hand =) Now, if they could bring this musical over to Malaysia that would be just AWESOME! Or, I could go to London...even better idea! LOL! 

Bali Trip - Mt. Batur, Luwak Coffee & Dirty Duck Diner

Day 2 continues! *grins* We next were driven to the famous active volcano, Mt. Batur. We had our lunch at one of the restaurants there. Should have taken a photo of what the restaurants look like, but I forgot. LOL! But imagine restaurants built right on the edge of a cliff....the 'balcony' looks like it's suspended on air =)

The view from the place where we sat at. If we looked down, it's like a 20-feet free fall down into the trees below. o.O" But the view is spectacular...and the breeze blowing at you while you bask in the splendor of the mountain just completes it.

This is the view I'm talking about...doesn't really do it justice though coz it was REALLY breath-taking when we first laid eyes on it.

I played around with my phone apps....look what it produced! I heart the second photo A LOT =) was a buffet lunch. Nothing to shout about as it was kind of standard fare...though I did enjoy the sate and noodles there. The view more than makes up for the average food!

After lunch we headed down Kintamani where Peter said he will bring us for some coffee. We passed by some more fruit stalls...I love the colors here. Gorgeous!

Coffee turned out to be a coffee was so much fun to go through and look at all the different plants that these spices came from. Left photo: Vanilla! I was so excited coz I wanted to get some fresh vanilla pods to try out in my baking! Right photo: Cocoa...SOOO many of them!

Left: Cinnamon tree. Right: Bunga kantan...a type of flower used typically in Tom yum dishes. The flowers are at the bottom actually...the branches look a little like bamboo from afar =P 

Banana...*sings the Banana-fana song*

Before we reached the processing part of the plantation, we came across a cage with these animals. They're called luwak and Luwak Coffee is very famous in Bali. More on that later *wink*

From there, we proceeded to the processing area. There were trays and trays of samples for us to see. Left: Unprocessed Luwak Coffee. Right: Dried vanilla bean pods. Was so disappointed that they didn't sell the fresh vanilla pods...=( There goes my hope of getting some to try in my baking. Oh well..

More trays...this was unprocessed cocoa pods...don't know why they have so many other stuff surrounding it though. *shrugs*

And coffee...this was already dried, before they are roasted...

To become THIS =)

There was a local doing some roasting of the coffee beans the traditional way...the aroma was so tempting!

That's Peter there (don't know why I snapped the photo cutting his head off...LOL!) showing us the traditional way of pounding the roasted coffee beans into powder which is then ready for consumption.

There were also other fruits for sale like this 'Snake Skin Fruit' or Buah Salak as the locals call it....the skin of the fruit really does kind of resemble a snake's scales! Little weird so I didn't try it...but I was told that it's a little sour like soursop. Hmmm..

After the explanation, we were treated to some samples of the coffees and teas sold there! Look at the array of drinks! There was (from the top): Luwak coffee, Balinese coffee, hot chocolate, ginger coffee, ginseng coffee, ginger tea, lemongrass tea and rosella tea. Yum yum! All had their distinctive tastes and it was such a nice experience getting to taste these different kinds of teas and coffees even though I'm no connoisseur of coffee / tea. My favourites were the Luwak coffee, hot chocolate, ginger tea and the ginger coffee *grins*

Close up on the Luwak coffee...this small little cup was not a free sample. And the cup was not cheap costed 50,000 Rps which amounts to almost RM20 for this small espresso cup. o.O" But it is SO worth it, as the coffee is really tasty. It has a very rich, full-bodied texture and a nutty, chocolate-y aftertaste. The photo next to it is an explanation of how Luwak coffee came about. As disgusting as to how the beans were obtained, the taste is unforgettable (no pun intended) a good way =)

And so, we finished our tour in the plantations. As we headed to our next destination, this was the view from our car....throughout the trip, this scenic view greeted us almost 80% of the time. How can one not feel relaxed looking at all the green and peacefulness around here?

As it was festival time, there were quite a few locals (especially ladies) 'transporting' a lot of offerings to the temples or their's so amazing to see some even doing this without any hands supporting the baskets! Even young girls can do it...and never breaks a sweat. Eat your heart out, beauty pageant girls! LOL!

More pretty poles decorating the streets! This is what we see at every stretch of road with houses.

As we were heading down, we passed by this terraced paddy fields. It was also a famous tourist spot, but there were just too many people stopping here and no parking spots available that we told Peter to just go slower so we can enjoy the view from our car. This time around, the paddy had already been harvested so the fields look a little bare...if there had been paddy, the terraces would be a majestic golden yellow =)

Balinese people are very creative, as I was told...the amount of craft shops that we passed by is astounding! There are paintings, wood carvings, stone carvings, clay plates with ceramic mosaic decorations, batik, etc etc. You name it, they probably have it! Fascinating to watch even as we drive by...if we were to walk, I think we would have never left. LOL!

Believe it or not, this was an ornament in the middle of a elaborate is that? Another thing that is quite different from Malaysia is the traffic. 'City roads' in areas like Kuta are a little similar to KL in the sense that there's always a traffic jam. But in smaller areas like Ubud, the roads are seriously narrow (imagine a two-lane road that can barely fit two sedan cars side by side...and it's a two-way road! O.O). And yet, drivers drive like they're on the highway there; people use the horns to tell the other drivers that they're passing by / overtaking your vehicle (hence you hear a LOT of honking!); and the hazard lights are put on in a crossroad to signal that you're GOING STRAIGHT....o.O" A little freaky but hey, it's the way they drive no? And Peter says there are hardly any road accidents in Bali...amazing!

Our next stop...a spa session! This was a little spa tucked away in between some shops at Jalan Monkey Forest (I kid you not, that is the name of the street! LOL!) where a one-and-a-half hour massage session only costs 150,000 Rps which amounts to about RM50! It was my first time at a spa and I'm a little miffed as to why I wasn't introduced earlier. LOL! It was such a relief to the tired muscles and so SO relaxing to have a full body massage....<3 <3

After our amazing massage session, we headed to this famous restaurant! Peter told me he's never stepped into the place before but he said that everybody that he's taken around Bali has heard of this diner and he brings them here every time. I had heard about this diner too from other famous bloggers so it was a no-brainer to go try it =)

From the outside, the diner looks like a normal restaurant, but the minute we stepped inside, it was like a 180 degrees change! Everything looks posh and sign of a dirty duck running around the diner. LOL!

The lovely decorations around the diner. Pardon the lack of was evening after all, and the sun had already set.

Dinner time! Food here is quite pricey (no surprise) so be prepared to burn a little hole in the wallet. We had to have of course their specialty, the crispy duck. The duck is rather similar to the Ayam Tulang Lunak. The whole duck can be eaten (even the bones) and the exterior is really crispy and tasty. It's served with rice and some sauces that really enhances the taste of the duck. Without it, it can be a little bit dry as the duck was fried really to a crisp ("Crisp"-y duck...geddit, geddit? LOL!)

This was another recommended dish...the Nasi Campur. Basically rice served with many different side dishes. Can you believe this serves one??!! We shared it amongst the 3 of us and we couldn't really finish it all...but it was splendid! The rendang, sate lilit and ulam vegetables are great complements to the fluffy white rice.

Mom said there was a shortage of vegetables in our meal (the ever health nut that she is!) so she ordered this dish called Gado-gado. It's different kinds of vegetables that are steamed / boiled, served with some tofu and (the thing that makes it different)....peanut sauce! Yes, believe it or not, it was served with a plate of peanut sauce not unlike the satay sauce we have in Malaysia. Love the little twist on it. The sauce goes very well with the vegetables =) All in all, quite a satisfying meal!

As we headed out to wait for Peter to come pick us, I spotted this basin of pretty! These are fresh flowers floating in the water. Lovely end to the night as we headed back to our hotel. The nights in Bali start very early while we were there...all the shops in Ubud close at about 8-9pm and the sky is pitch black like it was already midnight in KL. Sometimes it feels a little weird that we're very tired and want to head to bed, but the clock shows it's only 8pm! O.O" Thank goodness for DVDs in the hotel room =)

So, that's about it for Day 2....stay tuned for Day 3! *grins*