Friday, October 19

Destruction, Distraction?

Today, Makati was rocked by what was at first thought to be a gas explosion (it is now being suspected as a high explosive bomb). The incident happened all the way over at Glorietta, quite a way off from our perch at the other end of Ayala. As you'd expect, first reactions to the news of an explosion ranged from morbid curiosity to attempts at humor (which were, admittedly, a good way of coping with fear). It was only some time later as we saw footage of the damage on TV or on the Internet that the gravity of the situation weighed in.

The stricken part of the mall was a place I was very familiar with- the restaurant, Luk Yuen, which was supposedly where the explosion originated, was a place I had eaten in countless times. It was horrible to see the place, or at least the wide area around it- in ruins. It was like footage you'd see on CNN of some bombed-out buildings in some war-torn demilitarized zone. I never thought this would happens in Glorietta, of all places. I GO there.

The atmosphere in Makati was mixed- places where I went to- a production house near Pasong Tamo- had people crowded around TVs, commenting or wondering about the cause of this latest act of terrorism. People wanted to go home to the presumed safety of their homes, to be with their families. I was one of them.

Was this a terrorist attack? Or could it, as many are now wondering, just our own government exercising a measure to draw away attention from the latest scandal in Malacanang? Let's just say I would not put it past our politicians.

My God. Enough is enough. This is madness.

As of right now, 8 are dead, 113 wounded and 5 missing in this terrible event.

Tuesday, October 16

A Different Kind of Gadget Lust

Okay, I am beginning to sense myself inexorably being drawn to another gadget again.

No, it's NOT a phone. Rest assured, I am still even now enamoured hopelessly with my unlocked, hacked, customized iPhone. Nope, the new toy I am obsessing right now is... well, it IS a toy. A Playstation Portable, in fact. Yes, I already had one months ago, and sold it after I realized that I wasn't using it. Well, I've finally found a reason to play. It's called Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions.

Longtime gamers on the original Playstation (PSX) will probably know what I am talking about. In a universe of RPGs filled with spiky-haired heroes, melodrama and CG cinematics galore, Final Fantasy Tactics broke the mold by being a strategy-simulation game obsessed with menus, stats, levelling up jobs and shifting occupations. You spent as much time planning as much as actually fighting but... DAMN it was obsessively absorbing. Where do I spend my hard-earned Job Points? Do I level up or upgrade that skill? Do I work for a Samurai, Ninja or Dragoon? Is a damn Calculator worth it? What's the best frickin' way to beat that bastard Gafgarion's deathtrap?

The point of it all was an epic, albeit hopelessly confusing story of royal intrigue and high-stakes political conspiracy serving as cover for a diabolical invasion. Your main character, Ramza Beoulve, is a noble-born warrior who eventually finds himself having to fend for himself and a fragile principle of justice and truth in the midst of greed, war and ambition. I didn't know half of what really was going on, save that to progress, I had to build and train the most bad-ass, deadly, unstoppable army to walk the land. Which, unfortunately, could only consist of FIVE people. Gah. Still, once you got into the combat and got knee-deep into getting your soldiers onto their paths to becoming war machines, there was no turning back.

The game has now been recently released for the PSP, with all-new content such as new guest characters (notably Balthier the Sky Pirate from FFXII and Luso, a hero in another upcoming FF game), new battles and multiplayer and, for me best of all, gloriously lovely cinematics that bring the story to life in beautifully realized art-brought-to-motion and full voice acting. Really, I NEED to see the cinematics of this game. I want to see the story as I've never seen it before. I just have to.

This is the reason for me to get a PSP again. I have nothing else to get anyway- I already have the phone of my dreams. The next great PS3 and Xbox360 games are due in 2008. This is my project for the moment. I guess the road back to Ivalice starts now.