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All reviews - DVDs (1) - Books (20) - Games (33)

Let's Get Down to Business...Arabic Style!

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 6 May 2010 07:13 (A review of Business Arabic: Advanced Level: Authentic Texts and Audiovisual Materials)

If you need to acquaint yourself with the language of contracts, forms, and official letters, then this book can help. Business Arabic is page after page of photocopied forms and correspondence of all kinds, from shipment forms to customer service. Some of the documents are in English and Arabic, but you are expected to be fluent enough to navigate your way through all but the most trade-specific vocabulary. Each section contains a short glossary of terms following the authentic material, and a comprehensive glossary is given at the end of the book. This textbook is essentially an exercise book, with questions following the examples. This book is definitely advanced, but there is an [Link removed - login to see] level available as well. And while it says there is an audio-visual component to the text right on the title, there isn't. At least none comes with the book. I asked the Michigan University press about this and they told me one doesn't exist. The CD component was probably only meant for Prof. Rammuny's students.

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Arabic anthology LEFT in Arabic, finally!

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 6 May 2010 07:12 (A review of Anthology of Arabic Literature, Culture and Thought: From Pre-Islamic Times to the Present)

From Yale University - As far as I know, this is the only anthology available to Arabic students in which the texts are left in Arabic. Like the title suggests, the literature spans pre-Islamic times (al-Jahiliyah) to contemporary writings. The pieces from the Golden Age of Islamic Civilization, especially the mystic writings, are practically indecipherable. I'm glad they were included in the collection, especially ibn-'Arabi, but it is definitely not light reading. Each passage also offers a vocabulary list. A CD is included.

Basically, modernday Arabic can be broken down into two large bodies. One is unofficially called Modern Newspaper Arabic, which is the widespread standard used in media across the Arab world. Despite the vast differences in dialects from region to region, educated Arabs from all around the world can understand Newspaper Arabic. This is also the form of Arabic usually taught to foreigners. The other part is called Modern Literary Arabic, which is the language of poets, writers and mystics. Collectively, Newspaper and Literary Arabic are known as Modern Standard Arabic. In other words, if you're used to reading newspapers, this anthology will kick your ass.

From the publisher:
This book—the first comprehensive reader of Arabic literature from pre-Islamic times to the present—is an essential work for advanced students of the Arabic language. Presenting seventy works by seventy authors, it includes:
• pre-Islamic poetry and prose;
• selections from the Qur’an;
• the Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon;
• the powerful writing of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Islamic Caliph;
• writings from the “Golden Age of the Arabs” (750-1258 A.D.) in philosophy, mysticism, prose, and poetry;
• works from the neoclassical, modernist, and metaphorical schools;
• literature of the Arabs in Andalus, Spain;
• discussions of cultural, literary, critical, and political movements of the present day;
• vocabulary lists, a list of idioms and notes, a set of questions about the text, and two glossaries.

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Faust: Sources, Works, Criticism review

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 6 May 2010 07:02 (A review of Faust: Sources, Works, Criticism)

A great study of Faust the work and contemporary documents

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J. S. Le Fanu's Ghostly Tales (Five Volumes in One) review

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 6 May 2010 06:58 (A review of J. S. Le Fanu's Ghostly Tales (Five Volumes in One))

A great collection of all five Ghostly Tales volumes. However, there are no explanatory notes whatsoever. The book consists of only the text.

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The Book of Tea review

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 6 May 2010 06:44 (A review of The Book of Tea)

This book discusses the significance tea holds to the Japanese and what it can offer the West. It has beautiful writing and ends by painting a vivid scene of Rikyu's final moments.

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A Case Study

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 6 May 2010 06:36 (A review of Dracula: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism (Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism))

This version of Dracula is a great study because it contains several appendices full of historical documents related to vampires in religion, folklore and the budding science of criminology.

This edition of Dracula belongs to a series of "case study" editions which bring back the classics in both a contemporary and a critical light. Included in Dracula are critical essays from feminist, psychoanalytical and Marxist viewpoints.

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Overblood - the game with one sound effect

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 28 April 2010 07:42 (A review of Overblood)

Story. Overblood is a sci-fi action horror game. You are Raz Karcy, a Russian scientist who wakes up from deep sleep with amnesia. Something went wrong in the facility and your sleep was luckily interrupted. "Luckily" because if things had gone smoothly, you would've been asleep forever...

Controls. The world is 3-D and you have the option to toggle between three viewpoints. There's a first person view, a third person shoulder view, and a third person cinematic view (which changes from point to point). You also can have a tagalong sidekick, either a friendly droid named Peepo or another human character. You can switch between characters at the push of a button. The controls are a little choppy, but they don't get in the way of enjoying the game.

Mood. Except for Peepo and the woman you find later in the game, you are basically alone in an abandoned underground research facility. Your challenge is to get to the surface. But that won't be easy since the thing that disrupted your cryogenic sleep also took out the facility's power. From time to time, infected mutants appear to kill you. But for the most part, you're on your lonesome.

Puzzles. Just right. You don't need a guide to beat Overblood.

Graphics. Not great but not terrible.

Music. There are a few memorable tracks.

SFX. The "cancel" sound effect in the menu and field is pretty...well, you won't forget it since you'll hear it a billion times.

Endings. Surprisingly great. You can kind of guess the ending as you get close to the end, but it was still really good.

More. Overblood is not hard to find or expensive. It's not a game everyone will enjoy since you don't just go around fucking zombies up. But it's still fun. Plus Peepo was a badass.

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Echo Night - the haunted ship game

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 28 April 2010 07:27 (A review of Echo Night)

The Echo Night games are unique and hard to compare. This is the first in a lineup of three. Echo Night 2, also on the PSone, was only released in Japan. Echo Night Beyond was released on PS2s worldwide. Sadly, not a lot of people have played these games even though they are fantastic.

Story. The basic idea is to help ghosts find peace. You do this by looking for items, listening to their stories and solving puzzles. In Echo Night, you are drawn into the story of a haunted ship called the Orpheus. Something has gone terribly wrong and you must find out how your grandfather is connected to the tragedy. The ghosts you meet reveal clues about the events that happened. You also weave in and out of other times in the past, sometimes from the past lives of ghosts, which gives you a better picture of what's going on in the main story. When the spirits finally cross over, you receive Astral Pieces. You collect one for each ghost.

Controls. The world is 3-D and you can investigate the environments at will. Unfortunately, the right analog stick is unused. Instead, you use the shoulder buttons for strafing and tilting up and down (like King's Field). Also, to kneel, you have to hold the circle button for a short time. This all felt awkward at first, but you get used to it.

Graphics. I have to admit, the graphics are poor even for its time. However, there are lots of positive things about Echo Night to help you overlook this.

Mood. Your challenge is to help the troubled ghosts, even the malevolent ones. Their stories are simple to the point of being melancholy. You are practically alone in the game and when you come across the spirits, they typically do not bother you. There are only four "fights" in the game.

Music. Really, really good.

Ending(s). There are multiple endings for Echo Night, depending on if you save all of the ghosts. The ghosts in the casino are particularly hard to save since you need a bit of luck to do it. Overall, the endings are definitely worth it. The entire series is known for its strong stories and endings.

More. The Echo Night series is worth visiting for any horror game fan out there. What it lacks in graphics, it more than makes up for in other areas. If you do like to be dazzled with pretty graphics and button-mashing controls, Echo Night will probably disappoint you. But if you're more into story and mood, I think you'll love it.

This game isn't hard to find or expensive. Even though I wanted to play it for years, I only played it for the first time about two years ago and it mesmerized me. If you're not into PSone games, try Echo Night Beyond for the PS2. It is also inexpensive and has a similar feel to it.

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Hell Night - short and tense

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 25 April 2010 06:05 (A review of Hell Night)

Hell Night should have been brought here to America, but it wasn't. Luckily, you can still play it in English if your Playstation can play PAL games.

Story. This is a neo-Tokyo game setting. You explore abandoned parts of the underground capital trying to escape. The game is an adventure in running away from some kind of terrible creature from a lab. You meet various characters and some can join your party. If the monster gets you, you may lose your companion, leaving room in your party for another person. You have a map in the game and if you keep the girl alive, then you can see the monster in the radar.

Mood. Hell Night is eerie. You are not alone in the world, but you may as well be. The NPCs are lifeless and do not move. Even your companions come and go (unless you're careful). But the best way to describe Hell Night is tense. There's always the same monster lurking somewhere. It's hard to avoid at times and just plain annoying sometimes.

Graphics & Control. Not spectacular. Most of the game takes place in a 3-D world where you have 1st person control. This mode is where the monster comes out, but there is nothing you can do except open doors and hide in 3-D mode. Search mode is when you enter a room. The game becomes sort of like a point-n-click except you can't move.

Puzzles. Not challenging. Pretty straightforward.

Ending(s). Hell Night has multiple endings depending on which character you have with you. I thought the endings were weak, but then again, it's a short game.

More. Hell Night can be beaten in one serious sitting or maybe two casual plays. The tasks are very simple. Avoiding the monster is the only thing you must do. However, it does a good job making you feel very tense about being stalked.

Hell Night is hard to find in great condition. If you want a copy, it will probably cost about $40-50. I don't believe it is a must play game, but it will keep you on the edge of your seat for at least five hours. If you like tension similar to Resident Evil, you should see about playing Hell Night.

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Juggernaut - a pretty eerie game

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 25 April 2010 05:49 (A review of Juggernaut)

Story. Juggernaut is hard to describe. The word "eerie" does capture it, but it's a game you just have to play. You are a nameless character and your girlfriend has been possessed by an evil ghost. With the aid of a priest, you have to enter her spirit and remove the blight. So, this game takes place in a sort of dream world.

Control. Juggernaut is a point-n-click game. Between clicks, a short animated sequence plays (sort of like in D). Even though this is a point-n-click game, moving around rarely is slow. The clicks get you to places pretty quickly.

Mood. There are no enemies in Juggernaut (except at the end.) You are alone most of the game as you explore an empty mansion that represents your girlfriend's soul. From time to time, you hear her voice. Your challenge in the game is solving puzzles. There are many good riddles in Juggernaut, but they are not too hard that you need a guide. Also, there are eight side-stories that you play. Imagine having a dream inside a dream. That's what these bizarre side stories are like. You aren't yourself anymore, which just makes the game weirder. In the main story mode, you must also pass between three different incarnations: a free spirit, a man and a homunculus.

Puzzles. Great, spread throughout the whole game, but not too hard.

Ending(s). Is it worth it? Yes. Juggernaut has a good, satisfying ending.

Graphics. It's a 3-D world that looks pretty good. I played it on an HDTV and it wasn't too bad.

Music. Decent. I found myself humming the main tunes a lot.

More. Juggernaut is 3 discs and fairly long as far as PSone games are concerned. You'll spend a lot of time switching back and forth between discs so don't let someone borrow your disc one until you're done with the whole game!

The greatest thing about Juggernaut is that even though it is a lesser known horror based game, it is not that rare or expensive. You can probably find a complete one for under $15. If you like problem solving and strange, quiet settings, you should check out this game.

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