Thursday, September 29, 2016

Comics this week

Astro City #39- After 20 years, there are a lot of stories in Astro City and writer Kurt Busiek don’t let you forgot it. I barely remember Marta Dobrescu and Busiek clearly didn’t because this is a fantastic re-introduction to the character. Not only that, we get to see the growth of the character. I’m sure Mara was nowhere near as powerful as this all those years ago when she was first introduced. Here she is 20 years later, calling up spirits, seeing visions, and speaking to the Hanged Man. My only problem; the origins of the Hanged Man. It was kind of…meh. Other than that, this is a great issue!

Deadly Class #22- "Die For Me" is over but…it’s also not quite over as the survivors of the Finals return to the school. As Master Lim greets the new class, we see the effects the Finals has on the sophomores and all is not well. I love the way writer Rick Remender shows the aftereffects of the Final on everyone. Saya, the only surviving protagonist, is rightfully depressed from killing Marcus, but even the surviving antagonists are having problems living with themselves. Petra is having a metal breakdown; Shabnam is both stressed and paranoid (with good reason); and Stephen looks to be self-destructing. Also I have to say artist Wes Craig outdone himself with that graveyard scene. Showing Saya standing over the graves of all her friends…man; what a scene!

Spider-Gwen #12- The previous issue setup the battle between Spider-Gwen and Frank Castle beautifully. The battle was kind of underwhelming but writer Jason Latour then hit it out of the park with the aftermath. With her father in the dock due to her actions, Spider-Gwen decides to make a deal with the devil (literally). No matter how things turn out, her life will definitely change and from the look of determination Spider-Gwen has at the end (shout-out to artist Robbi Rodriguez for that), she knows it. A wonderful end to the issue that made what came before pale in comparison. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Comics this week

Trinity #1- Do we need another series on team of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman? DC thinks so and in the hands of writer and artist Francis Manapul, they seem to have something here. With the New 52 Superman dead, Manapul offer a debut that give us an in-depth look into the emotions of what is basically a new Trinity. How would Batman and Wonder Woman deal with this new Superman who comes with his own family and a son that has his powers? Looks fun.

Justice League #5- “Extinction Machines” had an interesting hook but the double play by writer Bryan Hitch basically ruined the story and I’m afraid the conclusion did not help at. At the end of this concluding chapter, nothing was resolved and we only have our heroes’ word that’s the battle is over. Considering how good the previous JL series was, I hope DC is not going to regret rebooting this series. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

So What If It's A Rip-Off?

Anyone with Steam will know that game developer Hi-Rez has a new game coming up. The upcoming free-to-play game Paladins is officially in "Open Beta" on Steam and already many gamers are screaming "rip-off"! 

Guess what? They are right. Paladins is a team-based shooter which falls under the sub-genre of "hero-shooters" and is an obvious rip-of of Overwatch. But you know what; who cares? Yes, although I played Overwatch a lot, to me it's to be expected that after the success of Overwatch, other developers would want to jump on the bandwagon. Besides, it could be argued that Overwatch itself was a rip-off of Team Fortress 2. Honestly, I haven't tried Paladin and I may not. If I'm already playing Overwatch, it doesn't make sense for me to play 2 different hero shooter at the same time right? 

Besides, I'm kind of hoping that Paladins fail. If it does, maybe Hi-Rez can finally get back to making Global Agenda 2. Where is my Global Agenda 2? There was to be a Global Agenda 2 and it's still not here yet! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Tax Amnesty

Why is Singapore trying to hinder Indonesia's tax amnesty plan? That’s the question a lot of Indonesians are asking after a Reuters report state that private banks in Singapore were passing the names of clients joining the amnesty to the Singapore Police unit dealing with financial crime. This got a lot of Indonesians in Singapore worried because…well, they’re guilty.

It has been an open secret for years that there is a lot of dirty money hidden in Singapore. Indonesians hold an estimated $200 billion in private banking assets in Singapore and it has been rumored that a good percentage of this money are here in Singapore because, let’s admit this, Singapore is a tax haven. The Indonesians are avoiding taxes in their home country.

The tax amnesty from the Indonesia's Finance Ministry is supposed to be an out for these people as Indonesian President Joko Widodo want the repatriated funds to help pay for Indonesia's large budget deficit and broaden the country's tax base. So why is Singapore trying to hinder that?

Simply put; the Singapore government doesn’t want the money to fly out of the country. The Singapore economy is already in trouble, can you imagine what would happen if even half of these $200 billion go back to Indonesia? 

That’s why Singapore trying to hinder the tax amnesty plan and honestly, Indonesia should have expected this. It’s $200 billion! If they think the Singapore government will just allow all the money to fly out of the country without getting their pound of flesh, they are in dreamland. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pokemon GO

After getting a new HP last week, I’m finally joining the monster mobile named Pokémon Go. After playing it for a few days, I will say this of the game. It’s fun, it’s addictive, but I doubt it’s going to have a long shelf life.

Using a player’s smartphone camera and GPS signal, the game put players in the shoes of Pokémon trainers. Going around the real world, players now can enjoy their childhood dreams of being Pokémon trainer and to become the next Pokémon Champion.

In many ways, Pokémon Go is great. I know many people worry about going to places to catch the Pokémon but I don’t see as a problem here in Singapore. Everyone know where to go and at certain places, there’s no shortage of the little monsters. I started the game at Vivocity, walked to Sentosa, took the tram to Siloso Beach, walked to Fort Silso, U-turn back, and took the tram back to Vivo. By then I was level 8 and my bags was full.

It took me about 2 and a half hours but it’s not that difficult. It’s just a walk. The walking aspect is really the highlight of the game. The world aspect of the game is superb. On Sentosa, I was walking to the tram when I saw 2 girls running across me with HPs in hand. I then checked and noticed a Lapras in the area. I followed the girls to the waterfront and 8-10 Pokéballs later, I got my Lapras. Without those girls, I would probably still be missing the Pokémon.

In many ways, Pokémon Go is the first true mobile MMO where many players play together. No one playing alone in your room. This is a true MMO where you will see players of all ages playing. However after a few days of the game, I could see some problems with the game.

Simply put; there’s not much to do. Take away the walking and catching, there’s really nothing more to the game. The Gym battles is simple and, if you are the attacker, easy. The catching of the Pokémons isn’t that difficult, and well, that’s all there is to the game.

Even for a mobile game, the gameplay is really very sparse. I think the game need a lot more to hold on to the players it currently has. If the game can do that, then the future looks bright. If not, then it will get into problems very quickly. In all, what Pokemon Go lacks in polish and depth, it makes up for with a fascinating social experience. It’s a fun game. Let’s all of us see if it has legs. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Comics this week

Astro City #38- After the greatness of the last issue, I must say I’m a little let down by this follow-up. Writer Kurt Busiek moved the story to the soaring 20s but instead of the epic in the previous issue, he decided to focus on the heroine, Jazzbaby. Not a bad issue by any stretch of the imagination but after the epic of Silverstring and Mister Cakewalk, this was a climb-down. Instead of great, this issue is merely good. Yes, I know this is a little unfair but that’s just how good Astro City has been!

Birthright #19- When Birthright first began, the issues would always spilt between the current story and flashbacks to Mikey’s life on the fantasy world of Terrenos. It was a good idea that overstayed it’s welcome. Writer Joshua Williamson has cut down on the flashbacks in recent issues and that was a welcome move. The flashback is back this issue, and perhaps because absence makes the heart grow fonder, it worked.  The flashback this issue was on the Mages’ decision to abandon the war against Lore and the reasons behind their decisions. For the first time in awhile, the flashbacks was exactly more important and better than the current action. Good work!

Superwoman #2- Was this issue rushed? I had to ask because some of the art in this issue by artist Matt Santorelli sure looked that way! On the whole, the art in this issue was pretty good but on certain pages and scenes, it jumped up at you. That was too bad because the story by writer Phil Jimenez was very solid. Several new characters were introduced to roundup the supporting cast of Lana Lang and I could see most of them adding value to the proceedings. So far so good in my view. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Unfair But...

You have to give them credit. Since Yip Pin Xiu won the gold medal in the S2 100m backstroke at the Rio Paralympic 2016, the Singapore media has been trying to push up the achievement and get Singaporeans excited over it.

Unfortunately, Singaporeans are just not biting. In a way, that’s not really surprising. The Paralympic swimmer had won Paralympic gold before. Yip won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, yet most Singaporeans had already forgotten about it. In fact, Yip was considered one of the favorites in her event but her win came as a surprise to most Singaporeans.

On sheer gold medal count, Yip has Joseph Schooling beat but as a Paralympic athlete, she’ll never be as famous as Schooling. Is it fair? Hell no, but that’s just the way it is. No matter how hard the Singapore media try, that’s the way it’s going to be. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Too Late to The Party?

Embarrassingly, I have to admit I had never really played World of Warcraft (WoW). I know, I know; WoW is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 2004 and had 6 expansions since then. How can I say I never played it?

Well, I played the starter edition before which means my characters are all at the max of level 20 but I never had been a subscriber. It’s a good game but I never had the urge to sub to the game before because I never thought of it as a great one. The latest expansion, Legion, has me seriously reconsidering that.

From what I see online and read almost everywhere, Blizzard seems to have scored big with Legion. Fans loved it and watching clips of the expansion on Youtube, I can see why. However it is a 12 year old game with 6 expansions. The max level is 110!

So, am I too late? Is it too late to get into the game now? What do you think? 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Do Not Trust The Internet

How did a plane bounded for Malaysia end up landing in Melbourne? The news headlines have been stating a Malaysia-bound AirAsia X plane end up landing in a different country but guess what? The headlines have been misleading (to say the least).

When reading the details, the AirAsia X plane took off from Sydney bound for Malaysia. Air traffic controllers then went on alert when they noticed the plane was flying in the wrong direction. After some checks between them and the pilot, it was found that the wrong longitudinal position was entered into the aircraft system. Attempts to fix the problem came to nothing and the pilot decided to return to Sydney. However bad weather prevented that and the pilot was forced to fly to Melbourne instead.

That’s it. That’s all there was to the story, but in a bid for more eyeballs, news site on the internet say the plane “landed” in the wrong country. Technically true, but also totally wrong. Another reason not to trust news on the internet!  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Comics this week

Bloodlines #6- This series has been a nice surprise and DC must have noticed too because they let writer J. Krul finish the series in an open-ended way that gives everyone hope for more in the future. Now I know some people dislike the series, but I love it! It’s one of those fun action-packed series that remind me of series in the 90s and yes, I’m a child of the 90s so I’m biased. Hope we get a sequel to this!

Justice League #4- Uh…what’s going on? I have to ask this question because this issue just didn’t make any sense. Last issue, writer Bryan Hitch hints that the guys we thought were the villains were actually trying to save the world while the JL were actually doing more harm than good. Then this issue, we got hints of the direct opposite. Seriously, this sleight of hand followed by another sleight of hand is getting old in a hurry.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Zika Is Overblown

As the world now knows, the Zika virus is now in Singapore. Thus far, doctors said the total number of cases in Singapore stands at 242. This number is expected to rise. As the Singapore government has tried it’s best to combat the virus, I will say this; Singaporeans are getting paranoid for no reason.

Honestly, the threat posed by Zika has been overblown. The Zika virus affects unborn babies yet we have Singaporean parents who keep their kids indoor, not letting them out of the house. Not counting the fact that mosquitoes can fly into the house, the more important fact is that Zika does not affect children or adults in any serious way. The infection often causes no or only mild symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. Infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other brain malformations in some babies, but even then doctors say the malformation affect about 10% of babies born to mothers with the virus.

So if you are not pregnant, then the Zika virus is not really a threat. Even if you are a pregnant, there is a good chance Zika will not affect your unborn baby. So please do not over blow the Zika threat. It’s a danger, but it’s not “that” great of a danger. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Comics this week

Jupiter’s Legacy Vol. 2 #3- After 2 issues of action, writer Mark Miller slow the story down this issue with the return of Starfox. The bitter ex-villain is now in retirement but a chance to get back at bitter enemy Walter Simpson is just too much to pass up. Also, Kid Guilt Trip (his grandson) is on his case so…well, the old man never had a chance. Pick this one up people!

Spider-Gwen #11- This is it! After a series of setup issues, writer Jason Latour hit it out of the park this issue with both Frank Castle and Gwen getting help in their war against each other. The tension builds as the duo also at the same time try to keep the people they care for away from the inevitable fallout of their coming confrontation. Excellent!