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NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit)
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The Witcher: Wild Hunt
The Witcher: Wild Hunt
Price: CDN$ 59.96
4 used & new from CDN$ 59.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GAME OF THE DECADE IS HERE!, May 19 2015
This review is from: The Witcher: Wild Hunt (DVD-ROM)
The original Witcher was a great game, whereas the sequel was even better, bigger and more beautiful in every aspect. Following on this trend of building upon and improving their achievements, CD PROJEKT RED, the small Polish developer that has been humbling gaming behemoths for years, released their best game yet. And what a game this is!

THE BEST VIRTUAL WORLD I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED
Yes, the world of THE WITCHER III is huge, far larger than SKYRIM. Far more importantly though, it feels more real and it is full of life.
The game throws you in a world of unparalleled beauty with details that keep unfolding the closer you observe it. Every spade of grass and every pebble looks real and obeys the laws of physics as set by the new REDengine. From the night and day and weather cycles to gear that gets damaged and needs to be repaired by blacksmiths and from growing facial hair to NPCs with real lives, the world of The Witcher absorbs you in and never, ever lets you go. The flames of Igni feel absolutely real as do bodies of water. Beasts and humans will do the unexpected whereas the skies sheltering your travels are absolutely mesmerizing. One can easily spend hours in the game simply observing the gorgeous world around him.
There are some concessions to absolute realism one can take advantage off (quick traveling and in-battle repairs for example); however, purists can ignore them and sink in the extra hours to go old school.
Now, all these come at a price. A couple of weeks ago, I made sure to upgrade to a nVidia 960 (pouring with a brand new 352.86 driver) and 12GB of RAM just for this game (at some point, CD PROJEKT has to ask ASUS for dividends!) and the game runs smoothly at Ultra.
(Also, no save-files crashes this time around. So far).

AN EPIC SCORE FOR AN EPIC STORY
Once more, the music is an essential part of both the atmosphere and the gaming experience. The composers are different than those of the previous games and this translates into a novel approach to the world of Geralt of Rivia. You will recognize a number of variations on themes from the previous games and it feels like meeting old friends, matured yet still dear to you; however, I found the music more subtle and effective and not less powerful.

CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS OF DESTRUCTION
Remember the days form the very first Witcher when you basically finished the game with the same sword and kept saving every last oren to buy the 5,000O leather jacket? Well, Geralt not only yields an extra crossbow but he also enjoys an ever growing choice of armor and weapons. Combine this with a huge library of books and an endless supply of potion and bombs ingredients and you will soon find your hero to be overburdened. And then you realize that there is no storage chest! Not to worry, the game now employes Roach's saddlebag (buy it as soon as possible and enlarged it). This way your storage is always close by. And, take my advice, do NOT sell anything! From ingredients to older swords, you will need them for crafting. And even find loot is abundant, it always feel great to gather all the ingredients to finally forge a sword or a piece of armor whose schematics you had been carrying for some time.

IT'S ALL ABOUT CONTROLLING THE WORLD AROUND YOU
Some people have been complaining about the PC controls and, up to a point, I can understand why. As with all games, I remap almost everything so that I am able to use only the right end of the keyboard (arrows for movement are default here but I use the Num-keys 1-5 to select my Sign, Num-0 to use it, / for the steel sword, * for the silver one, and so on). The game is enjoyable when set at the highest difficulty one can survive at so having quickly accessible controls are essential. That is why I hope to see a key-rebinding option Menu soon and not have to to dive in the input.settings file.

WITH MY HIGHEST RECOMMENDATIONS!

The Office: The Complete Series
The Office: The Complete Series
DVD ~ Steve Carell
Price: CDN$ 151.44
4 used & new from CDN$ 149.98

5.0 out of 5 stars BEARS. BEETS. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA., Feb. 16 2015
I have been a huge fan of THE OFFICE ever since its first season. And, up to and including the very last episode, I am glad I did. The Series was original in its premise and execution, the pseudo-documentary format opening up numerous previously little explored avenues of storytelling. And it was great fun to watch.

The setting (the office of a small branch of paper-selling company) and the stories (everyday life of the people found working in such a low-prospects jobs) seem mundane at first. And there lies the magic of the creators. For (if the endless strings of CSIs are any indication) it not hard to create good TV with car chases, gadgets and explosions. It is extremely hard to make excellent TV with only the everyday grind to work with. It seems effortless only because they made it look easy.

The brief one-way interviews each character had with the camera functioned as either prefatory summaries of stories about to unfold (building up the anticipation) or as instances of pushing back, yet never breaking, the forth wall, and, thus, making the viewing experience more personal and involving. All without the show ever loosing its step.

Producing, directing and writing will only get you so far without the right cast. And THE OFFICE enjoyed such stellar cast. Steve Carell may have risked getting typecast by creating the unforgettable character of Michael Scott but it was worth it. Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) served first as the precarious love interest and then as the familiar friends you care about and the rest of the cast was one successful pick after another. From hypochondriac and hypercritical (not to mention hypocritical) Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey) to perky Kelly Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper), I could not imagine anyone else portraying these memorable characters. However, the show stealer has always been obsessive nerd Dwight Schrute, portrayed to perfection by Rainn Wilson.

Purists and snobs will try to argue that the precursor British Series was better. Strangely for someone who usually finds Hollywood remakes watered down and bland, in this case I strongly disagree. The US version was much better. It had the perfect mix of familiar workday desperation and sweet quirkiness to make it a weekly craved addiction. In contrast, I found the BBC version too mean for my taste. Maybe one should have grown up in a cruel class system carved out by accent hues and prep-school rankings to appreciate it; however, during the handful of episodes I managed to watch I found myself laughing at the characters, not with them, and then felt bad about it. Anyway, in all honesty, how could Gareth ever compare to Dwight!

The series is unique in another aspect as well: it respected its viewers. Every producer, director and writer wants to make his or hers memorable splash so we often end up with unnecessary cliffhangers, ambiguous endings or unsatisfying closures. Not so with THE OFFICE. No spoilers but I will just state that the show does not disappoint to the very end.

Now, how many reams of Dunder Mifflin Premium acid-free paper should I you down for?

Evolve - PC - Standard Edition
Evolve - PC - Standard Edition
Price: CDN$ 69.95
10 used & new from CDN$ 33.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars HOW MANY POCKETS CAN A DINOSAUR POSSIBLY HAVE?, Feb. 10 2015
This is what you get when you allow greed to run unchecked. And 2K GAMES is an insistent and repeat offender of such abhorable tactics.

This is not a game. It is DLC-pushing scheme that will not end before the complete game (which one should expect be getting after sliding over $70!) ends up costing between $400-450. And that too much for any game - let alone a game that brings no innovation in either gameplay or visuals and gets old too soon. Just head over at Metacritic and see for yourself.

Day-one DLCs? Check. (TWELVE of them - totaling $100-extra!)
Endless microtransactions? Check.
Severely limited content? Check.
Single-Player slapped on as an afterthought? Check.
Console-limited graphics? Check.
The ...success of BRINK revisited? You bet!

When the Canadian dollar is at par with the Euro which is stronger than the US dollar, it begs to be asked: why does this game cost more in Canada? And when someone made the mistake of paying $70 for a shell of a game, been asked to pay $15 for each extra monster and $10 for each extra character is not greed: it is information highway robbery!

A product to ignore. Even when the entire bundle will be available on STEAM Sale for less than $10, it will still be an overpriced boring game.

Bound for Extinction.

Mad Men: Season 7, Part 1
Mad Men: Season 7, Part 1
DVD ~ Jon Hamm
Price: CDN$ 21.00
11 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars LANDING ON THE MOON - AND THEN FALLING FROM IT, Feb. 9 2015
This review is from: Mad Men: Season 7, Part 1 (DVD)
When things get bad, we tend to look to the past. And the bleaker the future looks, the further back we search for comfort. As the new millennium keeps disappointing us, TV shows set on the 50's and the 60's (once a rarity) keep growing in numbers. Many have tried and failed. MAD MEN tried and closed the deal. And have been doing so for 6 seasons now.

Meet Don Draper (Jon Ham), a Madison Avenue water-walker (and based on real life ad-man, George Lois). He is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. He is brilliant and secretive. He wants to keep walking the tight rope with no safety net. And definitely no contract. He is a chain-smoking, hard liqueur guzzling, womanizing alpha male. He was a loving father of three, married to a picture-perfect ex model. He had it all. And yet he can never peace. Because he learned early on that the world is always yawning at your heels, eager to yank everything you love away. And more often than not, it succeeds.

From bursting with joie-de-vivre Roger Sterling (hilarious John Slattery) and ever scheming Pete Cambell (baby-faced Vincent Kartheiser) to the gorgeous women (such as barbie January Jones and refined Jessica Paré as his first and second wife, respectively), the cast is one perfect pick after another. And the writing is brilliant, reproducing the tastes and smells and nuisances of the era around Camelot, while drawing you in to the personal stories of characters polished yet inevitably flawed.

The 50's and the 60's were before my time so it is not nostalgia that makes me love the show. Yes, I find the era mesmerizing and (probably undeservingly) less complicated. If nothing else, though, back then they knew how to dress. Women looked feminine and men looked manly. You see January Jones on the red carpet, for example, all dressed up and groomed for a Hollywood function - and that modern image cannot hold a candle to herself dressed for everyday(!) life in the early 60's. When did we loose it? When did we decide men should stop wearing suits and hats and women should start wearing sweat-suits outside the house? I, for one, blame the hippies!

There is little doubt in my mind that Don Draper will be killed in the series finale, as hinted in both the opening title sequence and in the words of the ghost of the dead soldier who warned him "you think death makes as whole again? You should see the mess you are". I only hope Matthew Weiner gives a clear answer as to who will be the one pushing him over the edge.

This is one of the best TV shows ever and this box-set includes the first part of the ongoing season 7. As I have said again before, good TV is best watched on DVD. Make weekends out of it. It is much more enjoyable to watch an entire season in a couple of days than having to wait week(s) between episodes. And (quite ironically, in this case), you will not have to suffer the...commercials.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Brabantia 333941 Biscuit Barrel- Fingerprint Proof Matte Steel Finish- Pack of 2
Brabantia 333941 Biscuit Barrel- Fingerprint Proof Matte Steel Finish- Pack of 2
Offered by dealkings
Price: CDN$ 86.95
2 used & new from CDN$ 86.95

5.0 out of 5 stars BISCUITS FROM DRY STEEL, Jan. 18 2015
I love how these BRABANTIA canisters look on my kitchen counter-top. And this is a beautiful canister, specially designed to hold biscuits and cookies. Not only is the inside made of hard plastic (easier to wash and not absorbing of odors or oils) but the inside of the lid also contains a dehydrating capsule that absorbs all moisture in order to keep the contains dry. Popping in a warm oven for 10 minutes every six months renews them.

The quality of the fingerprint-free steel is unparalleled. It looks and feels sturdy and it will not accumulate fingerprints most brushed steel items do. Not the same can be said about the plastic lid though. Once more the top came with a small molding imperfections.

Brabantia keeps offering products of excellent design and made of good materials. That is why I will keep favoring their products. However, they do need to look into bringing their manufacturing back to their old standards.

Recommended (although I cannot see why anyone would need two of them).

NEW Rain Fall (DVD)
NEW Rain Fall (DVD)
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 26.01
24 used & new from CDN$ 2.58

1.0 out of 5 stars What A STINKER!, Jan. 18 2015
This review is from: NEW Rain Fall (DVD) (DVD)
This may well be the absolutely worse movie adaptation of any book. Ever. And what adds insult to injury is that the book this let's-call-it-a-movie was based upon was a great action-packed, well thought out covert-assassin/martial arts novel. I can only imagine the agony of Barry Eisler when he first sat through this!

Absolutely nothing works. The plot has gaping holes one could drive a bullet-train through. The main cast is barely adequate whereas the supporting cast is absolutely amateurish - including Gary Oldman who phoned in yet another over the top lips pouting and spit-shouting that he tries for years to pass as "acting". I have seen middle-school students giving better performances than these. The camera work is often unflattering and almost always obscuring; the writing was utterly uninformed (would it kill them to read a CIA agent manual beforehand?), the dialogue wooden and the story progression generally intolerable.

It starts off as a disjointed action film only to end up as a sappy Bollywood love-story. The only thing missing is the happy dance at the end with everyone, dead or alive, joining their voices to sing the praises to John Rain.

A movie so bad one cannot even laugh at it.

Shadow Warrior (PC DVD)
Shadow Warrior (PC DVD)
Offered by Rarewaves-CA
Price: CDN$ 23.81

5.0 out of 5 stars GAMING AS AN ART-FORM. AND THIS IS A MASTERIECE, Nov. 15 2014
This review is from: Shadow Warrior (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
If there ever was any doubt that gaming is an art-form, this game shreds it to pieces.

The game offers traditional Japanese settings (from the temples and the castles to the mythology and the paintings), rich late 80's environments (from shipyards and inner courtyards to caves and snowy mountains) and a great collection of interesting guns. It may be only 9 in total yet I got more excited when I got the shotgun or the rocket launcher than I ever was finding any one of the bazzilion guns in Borderlands 2.

Each type of enemy has different strengths and different weaknesses so you will have to try to figure out the best and quickest way to put them down. Each gun comes with three purchasable upgrades and augmentations. No sniper rifle because this game wants you to be up close and personal.

The music is sublime, the dialog witty, the atmosphere mesmerizing, the hidden secrets will keep you exploring every nook and cranny (and try again and again to find your way to that impossible to reach bonus statue) and the story unfolds in twists and turns and double-crosses. And the ending will make you misty.

I know it is not fair to this epic game but it does bring to mind the game Daikatana should had been. See, Mr Romero, if you fail to get it right, someone else eventually will. Now, I usually subtract a full star for games that come with an online DRM such as STEAM (required here); however, because the game is so good - and also available in the DRM-free GOG version, I decided to make a rare exception.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars FITS LIKE A GLOVE. ROTATES LIKE A CHARM., Aug. 21 2014
This was a gift to my sister who had just acquired an Asus Transformer TF300TL - and she loved it.
The tablet fits perfectly, not too tight to damage the coating, not too loose to be in danger of falling off (although I would suggest not to keep taking it on and off as the plastic may loosen). It has an opening for the camera lens and another for the ASUS logo to show - which also serves as a pivot to allow the tablet to be turned on its side.
The case can also be used as a stand in both orientations.

Recommended.

Distrust That Particular Flavor
Distrust That Particular Flavor
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A GENEROUS TREAT TO HIS FANS, Aug. 21 2014
If anyone expects this to be a novel, well, it is clearly not. It is a far greater treat.

Distrust That Particular Flavor is a collection of essays and articles William Gibson had given over the years. If you have been touched by his mesmerizing prose and kaleidoscopic Futures he keeps weaving one trilogy at a time, you would want to read all of them. Instead of fine combing the net to locate them all, you can easily find them now in one printed source. I am a great fan, ever since I plunged into Neuromancer as a freshman in the nineties, and thought I had a complete collection of all of William Gibson's articles. Well, I was not even halfway done!

What I particularly appreciated was how Gibson took the risk to humbly come back to every essay of his with honest criticism. And I was thrilled to learn that we share a wrist-watch chronograph fetish (and now the Jaegers traded on the Bridge, in Virtual Light, make a whole different kind of sense).

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (especially for fans and aspiring SciFi writers).

SanDisk Cruzer Fit 16GB USB 2.0 Low-Profile Flash Drive- SDCZ33-016G-B35
SanDisk Cruzer Fit 16GB USB 2.0 Low-Profile Flash Drive- SDCZ33-016G-B35
Offered by Ninjas' Secret
Price: CDN$ 14.70
52 used & new from CDN$ 10.96

5.0 out of 5 stars THE Tardis OF FLASH DRIVES, Aug. 21 2014
I recently bought a Panasonic Mini HiFi for my kitchen and I needed a reliable, ample yet micro USB FlashDrive to keep it attached. This SanDisk 16GB Cruzer was exactly what I imagined it to be. Small (only the black plastic stays out when inserted) yet easy to remove and with enough space to fit hours and hours of digital songs.

I have trusted SanDisk again and again with their Flash Drives and (with the exception of a Ultra Cruzer Titanium that one day simply refused to function) they have rarely let me down.

Recommended.

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