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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Catherine Review (18+)

There are plenty of movies or novels named after someone's name like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Peter Pan,  or even song names such as Billie Jean and Hey Jude. For me, usually things named after the main character name whom I am not familiar with or not famous will not attract my attention. I was watching Pewdiepie's gaming video one day (it has become a daily routine since he uploads at least one video every day, hahaha) and watched this video where he and a couple of other gamers playing Plants vs Zombies. One of them were Cryaotic, a youtube gamer quite famous of his voice. So I found that it has been some time since I last watched his videos. I scanned through his channel and saw this game called Catherine. The name was not special but I just randomly clicked on it. After I watched the first part, I decided to continue watching the whole series because there are something that really interested me (when I was writing this post I have not done watching the whole thing, unlike other gaming reviews which I have done after I finished everthing, I just can't wait to share this!)

My first impression towards this game after I finished watching the first part of the gameplay by Cry, there were a few key terms in my mind about this game: sheep, church, bell, light, hymn, angel, someone taking care of the sheep, and keep climbing up so that you will reached 'freedom'. It is everything sounds positive in Christianity, but actually this game illustrates Christianity in a wrong direction. It gives people a really wrong concept towards Christianity (maybe you would say, 'nah, why so serious? It's just a game.'), it's just not right to mislead people in religious things or being sarcastic of it. I do not hate this game, just want to tell you guys that, this is not real Christianity, it's a game, make it clear and it is quite a nice game that I would love to own one. Only after I watched the second part the story line became clear to me.

Spoiler Alert!!!

This game is a combination of puzzles and making choices which will lead to various endings. The main character here (the one you are controlling) is not Catherine though, he's Vincent Brooks who has a girlfriend named Katherine (yeah Katherine, no typo here). And one night he got drunk in the bar and slept with a cute girl as shown in the poster above named Catherine. Since then, he has nightmares every single night that he will be trapped in a place where all the cheating men will be thrown in (as heard in rumours)and he has to keep climbing so that he will not die in the dream, which will lead to death in reality. Here comes the puzzle. Vincent has to keep climbing up blocks by blocks by moving them around to create staircases and get onto the top before the rest of the blocks below collapse. You won't have much time to think the next move as the bottom part of the blocks will fall apart little by little. Technically you are being chased by the disaster from the bottom so that you won't fall to your death while competing with other sheep who have the same fate as yours. They need to get on top too just like you and they even might shove you down so that you won't get into their way to stay alive (of course you can do that to them too). Although that is just a puzzle game, the graphic and sound effects make the whole thing awesome and thrilling. There are a total of eight floors where a cathedral is the final destination, which is the 'freedom' towards everything men suffer there. As the stages go (each floor might has several stages), the 'trial' becomes longer with more and more traps (they call each stage of puzzle 'trial') which is really difficult as I watched the progress (many many retries he did). Back to the story, there are news where men keep dying suddenly in sleep and rumours about cheating men are cursed to death in nightmares. All the reactions done by Vincent (decided by you) will lead to his inner voice towards the complicated relationships he has. He is being torn apart from Katherine (his original girlfriend who is pregnant and wants to marry him) and Catherine (a girl who wants to be his girlfriend and already is, somehow).

Cry chose Katherine rather than Catherine in this game. So Vincent breaks up with Catherine but he loses Katherine too. It is a very complicated story because Catherine does not really exist in the reality as no one except Vincent sees her. She disappears after the break up totally. All the information about her is gone. At the end Vincent finds out that the bartender is behind all these dreams. He is the 'god' that creates the illusions in men, causing them to cheat to end their current relationship because of some ******* reasons (really does not make sense to me). Vincent wants the 'god' to take responsibility of what he has done to him. So he accepts the challenge to go for the stages beyond the cathedral, the 'heaven' (this really makes me feeling uneasy). Cry got the good ending where Vincent and Katherine planned to marry each other.

I do not want to watch the other endings played by other gamers because this game was making me feeling uneasy. At the beginning it was interesting but it is really a depressing game with all the misunderstandings between people, tragedies in relationships, deaths etc. And it gives people the wrong thinking that you have to go through all the sufferings in order to be 'baptised' and gain freedom. This is not right in Christianity. Yes we are lambs of God but we are saved through God's love towards us as His children, no climbing stuff, ok? (ah am I getting too serious on this?)

Yeah, the guy in boxers and holding a pillow, has horns on his head is Vincent. Every other sheep there are people like him but he will only see them as sheep, they will also see Vincent as sheep. (image from www.gamespot.com)
One of the bosses in the puzzles who looks like Katherine in wedding gown, trying to get your life, creepy. (image from pinoytutorial.com)
The Landing, which is the place you will reach after each stage of puzzle and you will go into the confession room behind the curtain to answer a question. The results of all the players will be compiled into a pie chart which you will view afterward to see what is the answer others chose. (image from cheatcc.com)

Ok before I end this post let us see it as a pure game, ignoring the theme. Besides the sound effects and graphics, another thumbs-ups for this game are you can receive or send texts on your cell phone and also interact with other people in the bar. It is quite dynamic that topics of conversations change every time and people come and leave. Compared to games with the same NPCs (non-player characters) with the same caption all the time, it is much more interesting as you can see the progress, and your interactions with them can decide their fates, too. This is not the first blocks-moving puzzle that I have ever seen but this definitely is a creative one especially the traps (ice blocks, spike blocks, bomb blocks and many more).

Well, my final thoughts about this game, I won't want to watch it anymore. It's like The Hunger Games, once is enough, to me. Hope that my next gameplay walkthrough review will not be a depressing one.

P/S: Catherine is only available on Playstation or Xbox (too bad, I only own a PC), and you can buy it here.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Shah Alam Trees for Life (June 2014)

It was another tree planting event held by Eco Warriors Malaysia together with Shah Alam City Council and UMWT at Taman Tasik Kota Kemuning last Saturday! Yes, it was Shah Alam Trees for Life again which would be going on almost once for every month throughout the year! Too bad I can only write a post-event post instead of an event trailer as I was still in examination week before that weekend. Anyway, even though this was not the first tree planting event (this was the second one, here's the first one) that I have gone to, this one could be considered as a brand new experience because my fellow coursemates joined the effort!!! They drove all the way from UPM, Serdang to Kota Kemuning and somehow got lost in this place, hahaha. At the end they managed to get to this mesmerising lake on time before the tree planting section started.

Evening view of Taman Tasik Kota Kemuning, or we used to call it Lakeside.

Sometimes I live in Kota Kemuning so I go to this place quite often for some morning or evening stroll. Lakeside is a recreational place with a very large lake and a fountain shooting up into the sky and spraying lake water at passer-bys. There is also pavement surrounded the circumference of the lake for people to walk on besides land covered with grasses. Scenery there is taotally amazing especially during the evening when the sun is setting. If you are lucky enough, at the correct orientation and time you can see rainbows as a result of the refraction of sunlight by the fountain. People living there love to get some fresh air at the lakeside and you can see all sorts of activities going on there: kite-flying (even the four-stringed one which can do tricks), fishing (which is actually forbidden), jogging, cycling (it is quite dangerous as joggers share the same pavement with cyclists, and the pavement is not very wide), having picnic, strolling and the list goes on. So when I heard that Shah Alam Trees for Life is coming to Kota Kemuning, I was thrilled! It was so near to where I live! And there is no excuse for my dear for not coming with me (hehehe).

The morning of the event! Fresh air!
The other side of the lake. See the fountain?
As I was a bit late for the event, the tents were already full with volunteers. For the last Shah Alam Trees for Life event that I attend, there was not so many people compared to this one! Guess what? There were more than 1000 volunteers in this event!
I went to Lakeside a week before the event and found that all the holes were dug (a bit disappointed as they were not dug using the driller, hahaha, I kinda like the tractor with driller), leaving behind holes which were quite an ugly view. Finally came the event day where we were going to plant the trees and cover up the holes with healthy-looking topsoil! As usual, volunteers were divided into a few plots and the volunteers from UPM (us!) and University Technology Mara (UiTM) were given one of the furthest plot at the end of the lake. Me and Hanis had fun working together in getting the tree-lings planted as nice as possible so that the authority did not have to replant these poor trees (if mishandled). Firstly we had to remove the tree-lings from the poly bags. Although the bags were cut open vertically, we had troubles removing the tree-lings from the bags without breaking the rootballs because I think the tree-lings had overgrown that the roots had penetrated the bottom of the poly bags. Some of the tree-lings were somehow crooked as their stems were not upright but bending in weird direction.  However one good thing about the tree planting event this time compared to last time was we don't have to move the top soil from one particular site to the planting site which would be really exhausting! After planting the trees, we had to insert a pole beside the tree then tied the tree to the pole using a string to make sure that the trees grow in the right direction. 

The mayor and other VIPs heading towards the plot.
Bernard (leader from Eco Warriors) giving instructions and reminders to fellow volunteers. The crowd was so huge!!! 
Demonstration of tree planting. The tree-ling on the ground was planted in a biodegradable poly bag instead of the normal black colour one as shown in the photo, which means we do not have to remove the poly bag! What a good innovation! Less waste will be created!
Me and my coursemates together with some other volunteers were the last who left the planting sites as we saw there were lots of unplanted trees on the other plot. So we planted as many as we could but at the end we surrendered due to the scorching hot sun and the overwhelming workload (seriously there were still a lot of unplanted trees there due to uneven distribution of volunteers, some plots got more than enough volunteers but some not). No matter how, it was the first time we attended tree planting event together! When we work on something with the physical support of friends, things seem easier and more enjoyable! After the exhausting work we sat at the wooden table under the trees and chatted about our future plan as an active environmental student. It doesn't matter how many trees we had planted but how encouraging this feeling of cooperation has given us to fight for the environment creating awareness among the public. It would not be easy, but we will still give it a try despite all the difficulties ahead that we can foresee.

My fellow coursemates! (made by Faiz)

So dear Selangorians! If you live in Shah Alam, keep an eye on the Eco Warriors fanpage on Facebook or MESYM to update the information regarding the next tree planting event! The weather is really hot recently and we definitely need more trees to chill the atmosphere a little! Lets do it together!

Cheers~ See you next time!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Ok this was unexpected. I am now taking the train heading North to my long left hometown (ahem, just for one whole semester though) in first class coach which has a much bigger space compared to the second class coach I usually take (and we got free mineral water and banana cake). It is not because I suddenly feel like spending more money on travelling (the fee is doubled!!!) but other tickets were sold out. I have never expected that the tickets would be all gone because it is no where near any public holidays or festivals so I tried to book a ticket online five days before departing and my jaw dropped. Anyway, thank God that there was still one seat left for the first class coach. I have to go home before Wednesday because my sister is getting into the Institute of Teacher Education Temenggong Ibrahim Campus in Johor Bahru (which is 8 hours drive away from our hometown!!!) very soon. Otherwise, I am not sure when I will be able to see her face to face again (I think that I will miss her even though I seldom do so when I was away in Selangor...). At the very beginning it was me who left the home to further my study in Selangor. When I got the result saying that I got a place in Selangor Matriculation College I was thrilled but the first reaction of my dad was 'so far away???'. Now it is my sis's turn, which is much more further, the Southest end of Malaysia.

Firstly, let me take a selfie~ XD
Back to the main topic of this blogpost, since I am on my way back to my hometown, it indicates that I have officially finished my first year study in University Putra Malaysia (whee~~~) and I am no longer a junior, hahaha (it doesn't matter for me actually, just that I am a step above in my degree). Looking back for the two semesters that I have undergone, there are changes in my life and perspectives but also things that remain the same. The focus of my life in first semester and second semester was rather different. During my first semester I studied quite hard for my core courses (which excluded Ethnic Relation and Asia and Islamic Civilisation, hahaha), the adage 'new broom sweeps clean' explained this. Besides I was active in Wushu training for the Inter-university Wushu Competition 2013 held in Kelantan and got a gold medal in Girls Traditional Long Weapon (because my opponent gave up).For my second semester, the way of classes were conducted changed. I felt like we were left alone to do our own research regarding the topics given. The thing that made this whole semester quite messy was we were divided into two groups taught by two different lecturers for certain subjects, but the content taught by these two lecturers were somehow totally different from one another and all of us were sitting for the same paper. Weird, right? I am glad that I survived although I was quite confused and lost my determination in studying at the end of this semester. One more thing was that I didn't print any lecture notes from my laptop because...I didn't feel like doing so (LOL). This is kinda negative, but the positive one was I got my direction in fulfilling my social responsibility as an environmental student (which I think everyone of us should do). Now I am working as a volunteer for outreach in Malaysian Environmental Sustainability Youth Movement (MESYM) to introduce this website and how to fully utilise it as lecturers and students of UPM. I also play a role as a motivator trying to involve more people especially my coursemates to get active in environmental field although we were still nothing but mere environmental students (don't look down on us, we might be shy but as soon as we are inspired we can do more than you can think!). As overall, my second semester appeared to be duller and less excited (the normal syndrome of all university students?). This is very bad. I must ignite the passion during this 10 weeks break and move myself forward again!

I do have some planning for my semester break and it is definitely not working as a part-timer. 10 weeks are just too short for me to do things that I enjoy! Here is the list:

  • Starting another blog which concentrates on environmental related stuffs. (It is quite messy for my current blog because it looks too 'not professional' for environmental issues as I write about almost anything I think interesting here. Hope that the workload of having two blogs will not be too heavy for me.)
  • Working on initiating the collaboration between MESYM and UPM on green concepts. (This is the biggest project I am involved in. I have no idea what will turn out but I will do as much as I can to let people know about the platform provided by MESYM so that everyone can have a role in contributing to the environment.)
  • Taking online courses so that at least I learn something new outside ordinary classes on ordinary topics. (Just like last semester I want to take some courses from COURSERA. I planned to take a few subjects but hopefully it will not go like what happened last semester break which I was only able to finish one subject out of four that I had taken at the beginning. Even though online learning does not sound serious, it is serious and beneficial as well.)
  • BLOGGING!!! (Finally I got back on blogging after my final examinations. Due to procrastination and laziness, I missed a few quite important posts (important in my own opinion) and now I am thinking whether I should get back on them or simply move on to the following topics I want to write about. There are so much to write but...I don't have the right mood to do so. So much excuses, hahaha...)
  • Reading, simple as that. (Reading is a good habit as recognised by most people in the world. I have forgotten when was the last time I actually read a book no matter what genre it was. During the Big Bad Wolf bookfair I bought some really cheap and nice books but I rarely read them. For your information they are currently hibernating in my dear's cupboard as I am not able to bring them back to my hometown. Nevermind, I have plenty of e-books in my laptop and also kindle, I just have to make myself pressing on the ON button and start reading.)
  • Hiking or jungle trekking. (There are lots of good hiking or trekking sites in Penang such as Teluk Bahang or Cendana Hill. The most important reason is, I brought my brand new Adidas hiking shoes home, bwahahahahaha...)

Three hours left to reach my hometown! I think I should stop typing now, it gives me a jet-lag typing or reading on a moving vehicle (as if I am taking airplane now, hahaha). See you guys on the next post real soon (hopefully)!