Archive for June, 2007
I’m in Taipei, Taiwan! One of my all-time favorite cities, though I went to Taipei 101 this afternoon (the tallest building in the world) and I wasn’t as impressed with the shopping center and food court this time. Still, I love being here.
Tomorrow, I have to catch an early shuttle to the airport to meet up with my tour group going to Hokkaido, Japan. So I’m sleeping early today, but right now I’m watching what I call the Voyeur Cam on the hotel TV. One of the TV channels is a direct feed of a security camera fixed on the lobby counter where guests check in. It’s enormously addicting to see what kinds of people are staying here and to see people milling about the lobby. I can watch this all day! But I have to sleep soon.
I spent last week in Tainan and Kaohsiung, both major cities in Taiwan, and I’ve been in Hong Kong since yesterday. I will be leaving for Taiwan tomorrow and going to Japan a couple days after that! As expected, I don’t have much time to spend online so I’ll be posting a lot more pictures by the end of July when my vacation ends. Here’s a quickie I snapped today while at The Peak overlooking the Hong Kong Harbor (I think it’s called Victoria Harbour).
I’ll be in Hong Kong for only a total of three days and this is my first time here, but I gotta say, I prefer Taiwan infinitely more. If nothing else, Taiwanese people in general are exceedingly gracious and helpful. Hong Kong folks… well, I get the impression their lives are so hectic they can’t bother with anybody else.
One thing I’ve noticed is that there’s flocks of fashionable Hong Kong girls roaming the streets and shopping at the many malls in the middle of the weekday. I was wondering why they didn’t have school or work and could afford to spend prime hours of the day shopping, but I figured they might also be on vacation like me.
The more pressing question I have, though, is how these girls manage to look so fresh at all times. They look gorgeous in their immaculate make-up and don’t even break a sweat in this humidity, nor do they even seem bothered. Short of popping into a bathroom every five minutes, I don’t understand how they can achieve this state. It would be a nice survival tip to learn as I am still pretty miserable from this weather. Not that I want to be called gorgeous, you see (I am a guy after all). But to be immune to humidity is a pretty handy status effect to have.
Visiting Asia during the summer is typically always a bad idea because the weather is so insufferable. Unfortunately, summers are the only times I’ve been able to make the trip overseas. The heat and humidity here makes it feel almost literally like I’m walking into a giant sauna every time I step outside. But it’s a giant sauna with none of the therapeutic properties and all of the discomfort. Still, as this is likely to be the last summer I can enjoy without having any responsibilities or worries whatsoever, I’m determined to make the most of my trip while I’m here.
I’m watching the PGA U.S. Open Championship now in HD. It’s been long known that movies and sports are the prime reasons for getting HD programming, but wow, watching this stunning golf course in HD is just unbelievable. The clarity and sharpness! The brilliant greens! You truly can’t go back after seeing HD.
I leave for Taipei, Taiwan in a couple days so I’m busy packing and applying the finishing touches on the points of interest I’ve planned out. My flight to Taipei two years ago was supremely awesome so I’m really looking forward to the flight itself, believe it or not. I fly using Eva Air, and last time I had the best instant beef noodle I’ve ever tasted and was serviced by some hottie flight attendants. YMMV on that last bit, since the planes are gigantic and probably house over three dozen flight attendants each. But I’m hoping the instant beef noodle is still being served.
This is a great time to introduce a guilty pleasure of mine: Airline Meals.net! If you’ve ever been dying to know what those guys up in first class are being served, this is the place. They have tons of photos for pretty much any airline you can think of.
I just found out that GameDaily ran a pictorial last week on Lara Croft visiting the office for a day. I don’t know if she is the official Lara Croft model or just a cosplayer, but still, check it out!
Like many internet-savvy gamers, I have free subscriptions to several videogame magazines. I used to read these religiously, never missing a word. Nowadays, I flip through an issue for fifteen minutes and then toss it. I said previously that gaming doesn’t play as big a role for me now. Is playing video games merely a momentary phase in life, like studying dinosaurs or collecting basketball cards? Do you think you’ll be a big videogame aficionado one, two decades from now?
Readers perhaps might be surprised to know that my previous blog (updated continuously for about three years) was exclusively about gaming. It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about games informally, let alone for a published article on GameDaily. I guess that’s representative of the diminished role that games are playing in my life currently. Good/bad?
One reason for that is because last year I decided to leave my consoles behind at home instead of lugging them back and forth cross country every time I had a college break. But while I’ve been largely gaming-free at school, my house is always gaming central whenever I come back. So when everybody else is complaining about the summer gaming drought, I’m having a blast catching up on old releases!
God of War (PlayStation 2)
I’m a couple years late on this one, and I was actually debating whether to just skip it and try the sequel (which I’ve heard is more combat heavy with less emphasis on puzzles). Yeah, I’m not too big a fan of puzzles in my action games. Nevertheless, I don’t have much to complain about here. The combat largely consists of button mashing and isn’t too deep, but the incredible atmosphere provided by the Greek mythos and orchestrated soundtrack make this game quite memorable. I’m looking forward to playing the sequel, and God of War 3 on PlayStation 3 might be the killer app that finally makes me get the system.
Crackdown (Xbox 360)
I’m usually not a fan of these sandbox games because I feel overwhelmed by the sheer freedom and numerous number of objectives to accomplish, but I enjoyed the demo and went on to pick up the full game. Leveling up my character’s abilities so that he can jump on top of buildings and leap from one block to another is pure fun. The main “plot” of the game, which involves destroying the hideouts of gang members and cleaning up the city, is very shallow and repetitive, but I’m enjoying progressing through the campaign nonetheless. Be warned that the full version of the game is merely an extension of the demo, except with the time limit taken away and access granted to the other islands of the city. Well, cynics will see it that way, but it’s true.
Tomb Raider: Legend (Xbox 360)
Other than a demo of Tomb Raider 2 with my old Voodoo Banshee video card, I can’t remember ever playing a Tomb Raider game. Tomb Raider: Legend makes me want to try TR 1 and 2 though (which I hear are the only worthwhile installments of the series). Legend features some of the best 3D platforming action this side of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and, other than some dull vehicular sequences, is a joy to play throughout. I loved this short eight hour adventure, braving through breathtaking locales such as South American jungles and icy cliffs. There’s an especially memorable scene in the game where Lara Croft climbs up a cliff overlooking an enormous waterfall spread out in front of her that fills the entire screen. I just love quiet yet moving moments of discovery like this, and there are quite a few in this game.
Tomb Raider has been largely an industry joke for the better part of a decade thanks to many subpar sequels in a once heralded series, but it’s very fair to say that Lara Croft is finally back in true form. Think of Tomb Raider as Indiana Jones with a sassy and sexy British female lead… the spirit of adventuring is very strong with TR: Legend.