Left Coast By Design

Category: Reviews (page 2 of 2)

Einsätze IST Wolfenstein!

With some time this weekend, I picked up a copy of Wolfenstein: The New Order (for my PS4 of course) and spent some time fragging Nazis.

Wolfenstein Gameplay Screenshot

Run and Gun, Baby! – courtesy of Bethesda Games

Built on the premise that the Nazis win the Second World War (by dropping an atomic bomb on Manhattan among other things), you start off as Wolfenstein stalwart B.J. Blazkowicz before this aforementioned turn of events on his way to bring hell to Hitler. Riding shotgun in a bomber during a massive air raid, I was blown away by the level of detail you’re treated to and found myself getting yelled at by my AI friend who really wanted me to get my act together as I took a gander or six at the surrounding environment.

Without spoiling too much, you start off with menial tasks around the plane to get you accustomed to the game controls and eventually find yourself on German soil growing used to gunfire, explosions and foul-mouthed soldiers (I’m assuming their cursing their virtual brains off). In fact, the first chapter or two is designed to rekindle your love of Nazi fragging and get you used to the gameplay before giving you our plot twist and getting you REALLY into the game.

We’re talking guns-blazing, free-flowing, hell-unleashed into the game.

Yet in a shift from previous titles, those of you who would prefer stealth and strategy as an option – essentially all of you smart and patient people – will appreciate the introduction of Commanders. Once they notice your presence, these pains-in-the-neck characters will continue to call-in reinforcements until such time as you dispatch them from the world. While I much prefer running into rooms guns blazing, I can attribute many of my deaths to these irritants and have found myself now taking my time and considering my approach.

It’s obvious from the get-go that the developers ensured enough time and detail was given to the storyline, and while I’ve only really scratched the surface of the entire game, find myself understanding each characters place in the game. Scenes before, throughout, and after each chapter provide a sufficient segue to the next task at hand and give the game a logical feel. If there were anything I could describe as a miss, it’s that some of the characters are given very little back story or definition, and while they do fit into the overall plot, have you wondering why they needed to be there in the first place.

I should probably admit this now, but I’m actually a fan of single-player story-lines. While I do enjoy the squad-play of multiplayer fraggers, I’ve grown ornery in my old age and have found myself trying to avoid hearing pre-pubescent teens and other such trash telling me what they are doing with my various family members.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchase (even if I missed out on the digital download discount) and would recommend Wolfenstein to anyone wanting to relive the simplicity we remember from id shoot-em-ups. Sure it’s single-player only (at least for now), but if you’re anything like me you won’t mind that fact – even more if you’re into achievements and secrets (there are plenty).

Or maybe you just want to experience the gem of an image below!

Wolfenstein Minigame


Kingdom Rush

Having never had the knack for first-person shooters, I’ve always been more interested in games that require a little more brain power than hand-eye coordination. And as I’m always on the go, this tends to have me gravitating towards the simplistic frustration that is the tower defense model of game play. Well gosh darn it, I think I’ve found a winner!

Kingdom Rush

Image courtesy of Ironhide Game Studio

Kingdom Rush by Ironhide Game Studio is a graphically beautiful tower defense game that rolls out medieval fantasy theme. But don’t think it’s just your typical tower defense format as they’ve mixed in a few RTS elements to set it aside from the usual fare.

While you have your usual fare of towers (arrow, magic, artillery, defense), the largest deviation from the norm is how the defense tower places soldiers in the path of oncoming enemies allowing you to focus your other three towers to create a world of hurt. And as you progress in the game, you gain options to have each tower progress to one of two specialties both with pros and cons – in reality no tower is the wrong tower, you’ll just find some work far better it specific situations.

Cosmetically, it seems that the developers spent considerable time on every little detail whether it be the movement of mobs to the voice-overs that each of your towers possesses (including the censor beep for those foul-mouthed artillery dudes). While the game comes across as very cartoonish, the gameplay is definitely mature enough to keep adults occupied and quite possibly frustrated if they happen to be perfectionists like me. And while a few hours of gameplay will have you finishing the game on normal mode, there are both challenge levels and a heroic mode to add new quirks (and hair losing frustration) to keep things fresh

For a mean $2.99, this game is available to those of you rocking the iPad for full HD glory. However, for those of you who tend to be frugal like me you can rock the whole game for free via Armor Games. So why don’t you give a try and tell me what you think?

There Be Orcs

Image courtesy of Ironhide Game Studio

Theatre Under the Stars – Joseph

Theatre Under the Stars

If there is one thing I’d like to do more of, it’s to partake in more of the fantastic theatrical productions we have access to here in Vancouver. I can’t even remember the last time I went to a play, so I jumped at the chance to take in Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park when the opportunity presented itself.

Beginning back in 1940 (for a total of 64 years as a few years the production ceased for a variety of reasons), TUTS has been providing great entertainment at fantastic prices throughout the summer. This year, alternating productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Singin’ in the Rain can be seen for prices as low as $29. Joseph (the particular production I saw) began on July 9th, while Singin’ was seen the following day – July 10th. And if you’re worried about getting the seat you wanted, a new experience this year is “all-reserved” seating.

Joseph & Cast

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – courtesy of TUTS

I should qualify what I’m going to say next with something simple – this will be the first time that I’ve seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Futhermore, this edition of Joseph is also a “dynamic and fresh approach to this classic, with plenty of magic and comedy and a few other surprises.” Here’s what James Cronk (TUTS producer) had to say:

“Although Joseph has been done numerous times, this will truly be a unique adaptation. We have a few surprises up our sleeve and are excited to offer people the opportunity to see Joseph like never before. It’s about fun, singing and laughter, and it’s a show that will be enjoyed by everyone in the family, which is exactly what Theatre Under the Stars is all about.”

Suffice to say, I quite enjoyed the “fresh” approach, even though I had nothing to compare it to. And what was really neat to see, was the involvement of one lucky child from the audience to act as the “12th” brother throughout the production. I may be 32, but I was wishing I was at least 20 years younger because something like that would have been right up my alley.

I’ll concede that many purists out there might buckle at what they have just read, but the energy from the stage was awesome. Nearly everyone (I couldn’t see every face, but from the sounds of the audience I’m pretty darn close) was engaged throughout the show and the applause roared like thunder when it concluded, so I’m sure there were a few impressed purists in the crowd. Heck, Marnie who happens to be the enlightened one, and had seen the Donny Osmond version of Joseph when it was last in Vancouver, was impressed – that’s good enough to me.

If my schedule allows, I was so pleased with what I saw that I’m thinking of taking in Singin’ in the Rain. In fact, maybe we all should? Just keep in mind that it’s all over until next year after August 21st!

Disclosure: I received the tickets through a 3rd party (unrelated to Theatre Under the Stars) for providing some voiceover work – http://cmp.ly/0

Review: Inniskillin Icewine

Inniskillin Ice Wine Sculpture

Inniskillin Icewine Gallery

If you’ve walked by the fantastic Ice Gate outside of Richmond City Hall on your way to the Richmond OZone, you’ve likely passed the Inniskillin Icewince Gallery providing tastings of three of their Icewines.

Established in 1975 (and being granted the first winery license in Ontario since prohibition), Inniskillin has vineyards in both the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and the Okanagan Valley here in British Columbia. Furthermore, parent company Vincor is also the official supplier of wine for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Icewine Gallery is located at the main entrance to the Richmond OZone with Inniskillin having two 36′ bars serving tastings as well as a VIP lounge – all of which is designed to match the icy appeal of the Ice Gate across the way.

Now for anyone keeping score, I’m far from an expert when it comes to Icewine. In fact, I’d wager to say that I’d never tried Icewine prior to stopping by the Icewine Gallery. So after some discussion on twitter, I was offered a chance to try a small taste of each, not bad way to take the first step to becoming an Icewine connoisseur.


Inniskillin’s Vidal Icewine Commemorative Edition – courtesy of Inniskillin

Available to try in the Icewine gallery were the Inniskillin Vidal from Niagara, the Inniskillin Okanagan Riesling Icewine, and the Inniskillin Vidal Icewine Commemorative Edition from Niagara. Although I can’t remember the exact order I tried the first two in, I was blown away by the intense flavour each provided – it was like an explosion on my palate to tell you the truth. But my favourite, was the last of the three – the Commemorative Edition.

I can’t really begin to describe why I liked the Commemorative Edition over the other two. I just found the flavour to have the right intensity and the the Icewine itself just to go down nice – heck, I could see myself sticking a straw in the bottle it was that good. Not only did the selection taste great,the artwork on the bottle itself is awesome – work from Gordon Halloran, the creator of the Ice Gate itself. To me, I’d love to have a bottle (empty or full) simply out for display, the image is so neat. Furthermore, proceeds of each bottle sold go to the Canadian Olympic Team and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games so how can you not feel good about supporting our Canadian athletes?

Available throughout the 2010 Winter Games, the Inniskillin Icewine Gallary will be open from 3:00pm to 11:00pm on weeknights and noon to 11:00pm on weekends. The tastings cost $5 for each half oz. sample, but the best deal is $10 to try all three. Make sure you also follow them on twitter (@2010Wines) to keep abreast of news and events.

Disclosure: I received a half oz. tasting of all three icewines (value $10). I simply chose to review the tasting on my own afterwards – cmp.ly/1

Review: HP A646 Photosmart Printer

For the past three years, I’ve been using an HP A516 Photosmart printer to meet my photo printing needs. So when I saw that Raul was having a contest offering an HP A646 Photosmart Printer to those who left a comment, I figured I’d drop a line to let all those entering know how happy I was with mine. Now true I understood that by leaving a comment I was also entering the contest, but never in a million years did I figure I’d win.

HP Photosmart A646 Printer & Bag

HP Photosmart A646 Compact Photo Printer & Bag

Yet, that’s just what happened. So figuring that I now had this fancy dancy new printer in my hands, it made sense that I share my initial experience with all three of you that swing by.

Upon receiving the printer, the first thing that caught my eye was how eco-friendly it was compared to my “old skool” A516. Built from 32% recycled materials, the printer also includes a stylish carrying case which was made from recycled plastic bottles. It’s also important to note that it’s an Energy Star Qualified Product and uses less than a watt of energy while off. It also boasts a 3.45″ touchscreen to navigate through the many creative options and has ample means to acquire photos to print – whether plugging it direct into a computer, using a USB key, a number of memory cards, or via bluetooth from your phone.

Similar to the A516, the stylish A646 was a breeze to setup with my PC (I’m going to see about setting it up to my Macbook later tonight and figure the experience to be the same). I’m also happy to report that the pictures I printed using the included HP Advanced Photo Paper were phenomenal, but keep in mind that I’m no photophile – to a more technical saavy person the pictures may simply be acceptable.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the product. It’s done everything I’ve asked of it in the short time I’ve played with it and therefore I really don’t have anything to complain about. I do find it interesting that it comes with the tote, as it’s not necessarily something that’s all too portable considering it’s need of an electrical outlet to work (although a battery seems to be available, you still need to “plug” it in). It also prints slower than the 28 seconds as advertised, but I’ve got no need for speed so that doesn’t bother me too much. Lastly, it would have been nice if it was a WiFi enabled, but again not a large deal to me.

So if you’re in the market for a decent photo printer and the $189.99 pricepoint isn’t too scary (Best Buy – 17Nov), I’d recommend that you give the HP A646 Photosmart Printer a go.

I wrote this review after receiving the HP A646 Photosmart Printer via a contest (thanks again Raul of Hummingbird604.com & Linda of Hill and Knowlton). I was neither paid for this review nor asked to provide one and simply did of my own regard – so take what I say for what you figure it’s worth and read my disclosure statement. I’m always game to provide a review – feel free to contact me via this form so we can discuss the details.


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