darthfar: (Default)
My dad's clinic was packed today, all the way to closing time. I asked him if the major complaint of his patients was overindulgence during Christmas. Force knows, we came dangerously close.

Christmas eve we went out for dinner and cheesecake, and to catch the Christmas performances at the mall. Christmas day breakfast at this spanking new dim sum restaurant (where hordes of people, most of them coming straight from the church, had similarly gathered), *and* dinner at my aunt's, my uncle having cooked up a giant vat of spaghetti. Then *another* dinner at the country club restaurant the following night, to celebrate my other aunt's birthday. Oi. Antacids all around, please.

Was pleasantly surprised to receive more unique coins from my parents for my (small but slowly growing) collection - two solid gold, one silver, all commemorating special national events - as I hadn't expected them to get me anything (and had certainly said as much!). Also - probably as proof of how much of a games nerd I am - received three games from friends this season: one of which is still scaring the hell out of me because I'm wussy enough to play it only when there's still daylight or when there are people talking to me on Steam (Amnesia: The Dark Descent); one which is something I would never have thought to get but which turned out to be highly entertaining (Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures), and one that I'm going to die of old age before I play it because it's taking forever to download on Steam (Mass Effect 2). And if you don't think that's already enough to last me many, many months, I went and bought Wings of Prey for myself as well because... well, it's a World War II fighter simulator, and I never quite got over my I Want To Be A Fighter Pilot phase. (Fighter/bomber sims were about all I played during my misguided adolescence).

Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures




This isn't the sort of game I would have ever tried on my own, let alone get, but playing it has disabused me of the notion that Lego Video Games are only for little kids. Tory actually got this for me so that we could play co-op. If she'd read the specifications a little more carefully, though, she might have noticed the words, "local co-op"... which effectively means that, unless we find a way to open a wormhole connecting our studies, we're not going to be playing together anytime soon. Which, actually, is a bit of a blessing, given the kind of havoc you can wreak with this game.

I haven't played all that much of it yet, but I can honestly say this: Lego Indiana Jones is singularly The Most Destructive Game I have ever laid my grimy paws upon, and I'm saying this as an action game fan, and especially one who has played Ghostbusters: The Video Game, where they tell you in your financial statement just how many thousand dollars' worth of government property etc you have managed to wreck while taking down your ghosts (my final tally being somewhere in the order of USD300+ K). To put it simply: *anything* made of Lego bricks can be destroyed. This includes all manner of plants, furniture, fixtures, decorations - and, of course, other Lego characters. Not only can you smash *anything*, even upright pianos, apart with your bare fists, the game actually rewards you for this wantonly destructive behaviour by giving you - gasp! - money for anything and everything you break.

Here we see Indy savaging an innocent filing cabinet as coins pour out of it:



Hilarious, I tell you.

Anyway, I digress. The game, as its name implies, is Lego brick-based... or at least Lego bricks rendered in beautiful, shiny 3D. All three original Indiana Jones movies are represented here, each with its own game: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. In each chapter, Indy is accompanied by one or more other characters, each with his/her own special moves/actions/abilities: Indy has his bullwhip, of course; female characters, being more lithe, can jump higher; other characters may wield special equipment, like Satipo who, in Raiders, wields a shovel you can use to unearth partially buried treasure. Gameplay-wise, it's very much action-adventure style, with a hell lot of running and jumping, and finding keys and pulling levers. Only, this being a Lego game, you also get to *build* things to earn rewards or obtain objects for progressing.

It's a highly entertaining game - and not just for kids either. I suspect that it would be even more entertaining playing it with a friend because... there are endless opportunities for annoying the hell out of each other, seeing as you can push and shove and punch each other, and even put them in a position where they die every time they respawn. Of course, these being little Lego people, there isn't any blood when anybody dies, and they just come to pieces when they kick the Lego bucket. It's also interesting how much of the original story can be captured in a game that involves only hilarious facial expressions and body language, and absolutely no conversation, even if the game is more a humourous version of, rather than a faithful, accurate recreation of the original movies. (How serious could Lego Nazis possibly be anyway?).

On the flip side, the controls make me want to throw my mouse at the monitor at times. Characters can get stuck in various odd places, enemies can spawn where you can't get to them, and you can trip over a ledge and fall to your death on a bed of spikes - and respawn right at the edge of said ledge to fall in and impale yourself again and respawn right at the edge of said ledge to fall in and impale yourself again ad nauseam. And to make it worse, characters you're not currently playing can block your path out of said hazards, keeping you locked in a vicious reincarnation-violent death cycle. Saving is also a headache: the game only saves after you complete a chapter, which is pretty dang long, so if you have to shut off your computer or go anywhere before you complete one, you can kiss your game goodbye. Oh, and lest you think you can play *any* of the three games at will... think again. I spent a considerable amount of time dismantling everything I could crack my bullwhip at in The Last Crusade, only to realise that, to progress to the next section, I needed a character I did not currently have, and couldn't obtain unless I played the game right through from Raiders and Temple. GAH!

All in all, though, it's a fun game for when you're tired of violence, blood and gore, and want a little good, clean stress relief. Unless of course you find yourself in one of those loops, in which case the game actually causes stress, and rather a lot of swearing.

Next up: Wings of Prey.

Quote of the Day:
 Linda: [On Christmas day, upon seeing that I'd launched Amnesia] "So you're celebrating the birth of Jesus by playing a game that causes you to scream out his name frequently?" ROFLMAO.

Amnesia Diary:
Do not ever assume, when reaching a door, that the monster you hear growling necessarily has to be beyond the door. Turning up a staircase in the sewer to a heavy wooden door, I heard the ominous rumble, and turned and RAN back around the corner - only to crash headlong into one of the goddamn freaks. Needless to say, Daniel's face got torn off in the encounter, and my heart jumped out of my ribcage in a panic and ran away with my lungs.
darthfar: (Default)
I always keep my phone handy at Chinese restaurants, because who knows when I might be presented with the opportunity to document hideously mangled English like these gems below:



I wasn't aware that beans had musculature, let alone tendons.



"Why yes, ma'am, we do serve paste. And we have gum and cement as well."


Run for your lives! Mongols have invaded your food! (Or worse: they're *in* your food!)



... I don't think I want to know.



Special Seafood Clap Pot. What you get for free if you order Seafood Blow at a shady restaurant.



Apparently, light fixtures are edible here.

And a sign I noticed outside a grocery store:



I guess the thief ran away.

Oh wait, it says "theft". So you just convict the act of thievery, but not the person committing it? I'm sure it does wonders for the crime rate here.

Of course, my favourite Mangled English Menu/Sign of all time is still:



Pig Spare Parts. Order them in bulk! Available only from Chinese restaurants.
darthfar: (Default)
When it comes to food, my mother does not take "no" for an answer. It is her chief belief that I'm ridiculously fussy about my food, and it is her duty to (1) disseminate this information to anybody who mentions food preferences and (2) condition me to like them with repeated, forced exposure. (Well, not so much anymore, since the last repulsive food she exposed me to a few times caused severe allergic reactions for two nights in a row, a few months back). Obviously, the latter doesn't work, because I have not managed to like anything that I was repulsed by upon initial contact, but more annoyingly, everybody who has heard this now assumes that I was spoilt rotten as a child, and am now insufferably, reprehensibly picky.

I choose to believe that there is an in-built biological reason why people like or dislike certain foods. )
darthfar: (Default)
Here's an enlightening little conversation I just had with my mother:

[mum watches me remove a microwaved leftover pizza slice from the oven]
Mum: Didn't you cover that? You and your dad are exactly alike. Why didn't you cover the pizza?
Me: Because it's dry, and there's nothing to splatter all over the inside of the microwave?
Mum: But you should cover it! My friend told me all about MICROWAVE RAYS. What if those MICROWAVE RAYS get into the food?
Me: Mum, they're called waves. What do you think cooks the food?

It's both hilarious and appalling how many people don't know how their modern gadgets work.


In other news: MAFIA II WILL BE OUT IN TWO DAYS' TIME!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, I have waited for this game for six years. And god, how I loved the original. I really, really want this new one to be good.

You're never seeing me again.
darthfar: (Default)
I haven't decided if PLAY is a blessing or a curse in my life. All these years I've lusted openly after firearms (both real and replicas), grousing over local firearms laws and the absence of (local) shops that sold replicas and not being able to purchase them overseas. And then PLAY goes and sets up shop in the mall five damn minutes from my house.( It's like having Michal Negrin's store right next to Despard's appartment, oi).

The owner just got back to me on their collection of flintlock firearms, and this is where I'm mired in deep faecal matter: I'm suffering from hyperoptionitis, because I originally *saw* and wanted a British Brown Bess with detachable bayonet (and, hopefully, scabbard), but - goddamn, goddamn! - there's also a very sweet Napoleonic-era French rifled carbine (which was, like, the main firearm of Nappy's officers and the like).  Getting both at the same time is not an option, because, while I have a nice stash of disposable income to be used on, uh, whimsies, I was *planning* to spend the greater portion on a new Hamilton this year. (Also, I have my sights set - haha - on a sweet 1795 Springfield replica (that isn't likely to become available anytime soon, and is quite prohibitively expensive, but I can dream, can't I?). GAH.

In other news-

My mother's use of logical reasoning is so cute sometimes. One of the dishes served up at lunch today was - gah - leek-and-celery (and godknowswhatelse) soup, which I loathe with an almighty vengeance (gah, why don't people just go all the way and add coriander! and carrots! to it!). When I refused to be coaxed into eating more than a spoonful of it, she asked plaintively, "But why don't you LIKE it? We (my dad and her) both love it!" ... Uh. Haha.  It's a line of reasoning she invariably springs on me every time I express profound hatred for a dish/vegetable, and one that tends to confuse me, because how exactly does one respond to a question like this? "Uh mum, just 'cos you and dad like certain very awful vegetables, doesn't mean that I have to as well?" "Well, you hate pungent mutton, and  malodorous fish - which I love -, so why can't I hate celery and leek?" "Even if it's an acquired taste thing, the fact that I refuse to put that revolting thing in my mouth removes all possibility of my ever developing a love for it?" "Oh, and if genetics were involved, then there's absolutely no chance of my acquiring a taste for leek and celery from either of you since I was adopted, and my gene donors were probably leek-and-celery haters?" LOL.

Maybe I could simply resort to the childish, but sure-fire conversation-stopper, "Yuck, I'd sooner eat slime!"
darthfar: (Default)
Today's the fifth day of my mother's vacation in China1, and the fifth day my father and I have been taking care of our own meals2. My mother takes such good care in feeding us that it's never occurred to her that two people, who in their college days lived on bread, biscuits3 and bananas (perhaps more so me than my father, since I have far higher priorities than eating), can and will happily live off leftovers in the fridge for a good week. Except for yesterday, anyway, when we got tired of microwaving and went out, and Actually Ate Vegetables.

1 I agree that it is a highly fascinating place, but seriously, surely going to the same country three times in the same year must count as overenthusiasm?
2 Never fear, the master chefs of the microwave are here.
3 Crackers.


OFF-TANGENT

I am of the personal belief that education shouldn't stop at school syllabus, and that questions concerning anything pertaining to knowledge should always be welcome. Unfortunately, my weakness for making cross-subject examples and discussing practically anything and everything at the drop of a hat means that my biology class has a tendency to go desperately off-topic on occasions. Today's session managed not only to cover the exam syllabus, but strayed into topics that ranged from the evolution of hinged jaws and bendy necks in early tetrapods, and Ediacaran and Cambrian biota, to diffraction gratings and CD surfaces, and [facepalm] curveballs, Joe Jackson and the Black Sox Scandal. Perfectly entertaining and informational to my students, I'm sure, but I can't help but guiltily wonder sometimes how the parents feel about paying personal tutors to discuss Bjørn Lomborg and issue science fiction book/movie lists.

BRING OUT THE SKILLET, THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING

The Left4Dead 2 demo unlocks at 4 tomorrow morning for people who've pre-ordered the game4. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I get dibs on Nick and the frying pan.

Bring on the zombies!

[On the other hand, the female Boomer-in-a-bikini in one of the gameplay videos was decidedly unnerving. That's got to be scarier than the original Boomer, the Tank, and the two Witches combined.]

4 And because we banded together to get the four-pack (a full USD16.24 cheaper than retail!), we're each getting an exclusive in-game baseball bat. Awesomeness.

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