So, it turns out that lacing your column with reminders that you're going on holiday doesn't get you out of having to write one. This is a shame, because I had hoped to spend my last afternoon reading about New Zealand so I could look clever when I get off the plane. "Hello there, native! You're looking mighty handsome with your 24,797 US dollars per capita GDP. Still exporting around 28% of your agricultural output, and enjoying a diverse heritage influenced predominantly by British, Maori and Polynesian cultures? Are you?"
The real challenge for a humour-impaired man such as myself will be making small talk without wondering out loud what the country's main export is, and then going "LORD OF THE RINGS HAHAHA" and so on. Which is probably what members of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman's crew did when they arrived in 1642, hence their being violently killed. In fairness though, New Zealanders could try a bit harder to shed the Rings image. Friends tell me that if you ever go in a helicopter, the pilot regales you with stories about that time they took the goblin one off to the set and he picked his nose a bit. Then there's the fact I'm going to my half(ling) brother's wedding in "Auckland", which sounds like a sort of Mordor safari park.
Gearing up for the trip has involved all the usual preparations: buying a 4GB memory stick to watch "legally obtained media" on the plane; buying a bigger PSP battery; and clicking on MSN messages from Kristan pointing to useful devices I should buy, which usually arrive in bursts about ten seconds after it's become humanly impossible for me to get to his house and back to borrow things before the plane takes off. Which is a shame, because it also occurs to me that I could steal New Zealand Story DS from him, thus filling at least eight seconds of dead conversation at the wedding with vaguely topical banter about whether anybody there has had all their friends kidnapped by a walrus as well.
I would be the right person to inform about kidnappings, of course, because thanks to my extensive Crackdown experience I am ideally suited to kicking crime off rooftops, wherever I am. We all thought that they were taking us for a ride with Crackdown - using classic "media tactics" to sell things by teasing a superior product with a Halo 3 beta invite - but like early explorers who thought New Zealand was the place Jacob Le Maire had seen in 1616 off the east coast of Chile, we were mistaken! As it turns out, Crackdown is refreshingly silly and unpretentious. It's a game that examines a single profession, expanding on what you might consider the "fundamentals" a pleasing manner, like a hooker covered in yoghurt, or a bear that does crosswords, or a What's New column sprinkled with obscure references to the Wikipedia entry on New Zealand.
And while it seems like there would have to be an imbalance due to the loose association between the upgrade system and the mission structure - perhaps analogous to the population imbalance between New Zealand's north and south islands - the reality is that it - like New Zealand's calling code of "+64" - is not something of which most people will be conscious.
Speaking of which, it's pub of the clock, and I've got "legitimate media downloads" to transcode. Onward!
- Another World 15th Anniversary (PC)
- Blitz: The League (Xbox 360)
- Crackdown (Xbox 360)
- Disney's Chicken Little: Ace in Action (Wii)
- Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
- Fossil League (DS)
- Ghost Rider (PS2, PSP, PC)
- Guilty Gear Dust Strikers (DS)
- Infernal (PC)
- Kororinpa (Wii)
- Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe (PC)
- Pippa Funnell 3: The Golden Stirrup Challenge (PC)
- Rainbow Islands Evolution (PSP)