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Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.)

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Euro Truck Simulator 2 - Special Edition (Digital Download Card)
Euro Truck Simulator 2 - Special Edition (Digital Download Card)
Price: £18.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest sims I've ever played!, 26 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a sucker for a well-implemented simulation. I've lost whole days in Rise of Flight and Microsoft's wonderful FSX, that, quite literally, gives you a whole world to explore. Euro Truck Simulator 2, whilst not quite as ambitious as that, still gives you a huge amount of terrain to cover and, above all, shares with the very best sims that elusive feeling of "being there".

From the first moment I pulled out from the depot onto the main road and had to look carefully to left and right before taking my place in the busy traffic, I started to appreciate the attention to detail here. Both the interior and exterior views of your truck look superb and the road networks and scenery is exceptionally well implemented. Of necessity, each journey has been condensed to contain just the major routes and some of the most recognisable landmarks in each city. This is a sensible compromise between allowing the player to drive to their destination in a reasonable amount of time whilst still maintaining a high level of realism.

Regarding driving, I do not have a steering wheel controller and so am currently making do with a combination of mouse and cursor keys. That is not ideal as, even maintaining a straight-ahead trajectory requires a fair degree of concentration. Given that Euro Truck Sim 2 comprises no fewer than 77 major cities across 13 countries, that should ensure several months' worth of gameplay ahead of me, so I think I shall have to invest in a decent steering wheel to get the most out of the game.

Building up a little capital and experience unlocks the opportunity to purchase your own truck and garage and thereby further your career.

You can even park up and listen to European digital radio stations - a very nice touch!

The game installs easily enough via Steam, by entering the pass code on the credit-card sized download card provided in the box. Set-up options allow you to customise your truck and avatar and, most importantly, to set the difficulty level to what feels right for you.

There is a whole community of Euro Truck Simulator players out there in numerous forums, who are happy to exchange tips and anecdotes about playing this massive game. Further downloadable content, both from the publisher and from third party developers, ensures the longevity of the game.

Let's face it, Excalibur have made some pretty mediocre simulations over the years, but they have definitely done a grand job with Euro Truck Simulator 2, which strikes an almost perfect balance between realism and fun. Highly recommended for the serious simmer.

Wolf [DVD]
Wolf [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jim Taihuttu
Price: £19.22

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Competently filmed but curiously unengaging fable, 22 Sep 2014
This review is from: Wolf [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An intriguing aside from the main action reveals the reason for this film's enigmatic title, when the protagonist Majid acknowledges the presence of a fellow predator. Sadly, much of the remainder of this movie falls well short of that near-sublime moment, as it depicts the transition from petty crime to major crime of a second-generation Moroccan immigrant living in The Netherlands.

It all kicks off with a quite amusing scene as Majid and his accomplice Adil are window-shopping and debating the relative merits of two motorbikes. Finally deciding on one - with a little help from a couple of drunken revellers passing by, they smash the window and take it. That was the first and last time I smiled during this movie. The remaining 120 minutes comprise some fairly brutal violence (albeit more implicit than explicit), some dour family melodrama, some unconvincing love interest and perhaps 3 or 4 minutes of kick-boxing.

The main problem is that, with the exception of Majid's philosophical and terminally ill brother, none of the characters are at all sympathetic, leaving the viewer with no-one to empathise with. Even the younger brother is rapidly losing his innocence through his contact with Majid and mixing with some of his own ne'er-do-well peers. I find it difficult to derive any satisfaction or entertainment value from a movie under these circumstances.

The decision to film in black and white was understandable and adds a certain gravitas to the proceedings. No extras and no appreciable 5.1 surround sound effects.

Overall, Wolf just about held my interest and the ending, which I won't spoil, felt appropriate if slightly telegraphed. No masterpiece though and I doubt if I'll ever bother watching it again.

Europa Report 3D
Europa Report 3D
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £12.96

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and slow-paced but enjoyable chunk of hard sci-fi, 17 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Europa Report 3D (Blu-ray)
Europa Report employs the well-trodden found-footage technique in a space exploration scenario. I was reminded immediately of the Canadian sci-fi/horror Apollo 18 from a few years back (and perhaps to a lesser degree Last Days on Mars), but Europa Report, in my opinion, is a far superior film that provides a genuine sense of wonder about the search for extraterrestrial life and the perils inherent in space travel.

The budget clearly wasn't huge, but the hardware all looks reasonably convincing, as do the (few) zero G effects. It's competently acted and the story builds in measured manner from the initial jovial camaraderie and expectation of our intrepid crew, through some tense, creepy, poignant and quite thrilling scenes in the denouement. The (German) 12 rating is about right with regard to mild use of language and sense of threat in the later stages.

On this German branded 3D Blu-Ray (which took 7 days to arrive), the start-up menu offers choice of language, subtitles on/off and 3D or 2D versions of the movie. I opted for 3D, which was pretty underwhelming. There is a reasonable sense of depth to the interior of the spacecraft, but no projection effects whatsoever, so any of you expecting the 3D wow factor you got with Gravity are likely to be disappointed. 5.1 surround sound, on the other hand, is extremely good and immerses you fully in the creaking ice scenes. I did find the theme and incidental music a bit intrusive though.

Parts of the plot are non-linear and do require you to pay close attention to make sense of every temporal twist and turn.

So, whilst certainly not the best sci-fi since 2001 or the masterpiece some have claimed, overall, Europa Report is a subtle but intelligent and satisfying movie and well worth adding to any sci-fi fan's collection. Nice lenticular 3D effect on the Blu-Ray sleeve too!

Riviera Line (PC DVD)
Riviera Line (PC DVD)
Price: £9.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and visually attractive sim, but rather limited, 12 Sep 2014
This review is from: Riviera Line (PC DVD) (CD-ROM)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Already having a steam account (ironically anachronistic for a 2014 train simulator!) meant installation was quick and straightforward.

The tutorials take you through the basics very well and there was an initial "wow" factor when I saw how attractive the graphics were. There is some real depth to the scenery, from the track-side bushes and weeds, to buildings and fields in the mid-distance, right up to hills and trees on the horizon. Switching camera views showed that equal care had gone into recreating the interior of the train, even down to scuffs on the floor, warning notices and spots of grime on the windows. The passengers do look slightly mannequin-like though and their occasionally random milling about can look slightly surreal, as does the fact that they disappear, rather than actually board the train. No matter though. Graphically, TS.2014 more than met my expectations and provides a very strong sense of "being there", which is of paramount importance for a simulation.

Be aware though that, to enjoy those gorgeous graphics to the full does require a fairly hefty spec PC. My quad core box will happily run MS FSX at the highest level of detail, but I found the frame rate became too low with TS.2014 until I reduced the graphics level a couple of notches.

There are options to select a controller, but I stuck with the very intuitive mouse-driven interface.

Audio is subtle but very effective, most notably the sound moving to left and right as you pan your viewpoint around and, of course, that evocative clickity-clack sound when you're speeding along the tracks.

Game play is a little limited, being constrained to the Exeter to Paignton run, a few career scenarios and the academy training programme. The chosen line is a particularly scenic one though and you will come to recognise certain landmarks along the 28 miles with fondness after a couple of runs.

The career mode, comprising just 6 scenarios, should take you no more than a couple of days to complete. You can, of course, fork out your hard-earned to buy additional trains, routes and missions and, during the loading screens, adverts are displayed to tempt you into so doing. In this respect TS.2014 Riviera Line sometimes feels like a demo for a far larger product.

Overall, at this reasonable price, TS.2014 The Riviera Line is a good example of an entry-level game which, if you find you are bitten by the bug, can open out into a whole world of train simulation. There's a whole thriving community out there to help you with further ideas too. Just check out for lots of freeware add-ons!

Didn't quite grab me in the way that FSX or Euro Truck Simulator 2 did, but TS.2014 Riviera Line is still well worth trying and, after playing this for a while, you just may have a little more sympathy for the train driver when your train arrives a few minutes late!

**** UPDATE ****

On 18th September, my TS.2014 updated itself via my steam account to TS.2015. This resulted in slightly smoother graphics and an improved frame rate. On the downside, I also found I started getting frequent crashes accompanied by "Failed to dump file" errors. I sent a support request, which was answered admirably quickly within a couple of hours, offering the advice to clear the cache by the following procedure:

Open Train Simulator to the Main Menu
Click on Game Settings
Click on the Tools
Click Clear Cache.

This improved stability and I have now successfully completed the career mode at expert level. The game does still crash occasionally, so it is advisable to save your progress part way through each scenario. I am now exploring the other features and looking at the free downloadable content available.

Despite the minor inconvenience of having to reload occasionally, this is a very enjoyable simulation and the free upgrade to TS.2015 is a welcome bonus!

Heli [DVD]
Heli [DVD]
Dvd ~ Armando Espitia
Price: £9.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well directed, grittily convincing and competently acted but..., 10 Sep 2014
This review is from: Heli [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
... Heli is one of the most depressing films you will ever watch. If director Amat Escalante's intention was to put viewers off ever visiting Mexico, then he has succeeded admirably!

**** Slight spoilers ahead ****

Our eponymous main antagonist (I hesitate to use the word hero), little more than a kid himself, lives in grinding poverty with his wife, baby, father and 12 year old sister. She is heavily involved with Alberto - a far older trainee cadet with the federal militia (cue some age-inappropriate sexual fumbling scenes, which are very uncomfortable to watch). It is through this relationship that the tragic main narrative of the movie ensues.

Along the way, there are scenes of social injustice, domestic violence, murder, police corruption, a couple of unpleasant animal killings, a little sex and nudity and a particularly jaw-droppingly horrible torture routine, which provides the context behind the initially enigmatic opening scenes of the film and which is made all the more ghastly by the fact that it takes place in front of some computer-gaming youngsters.

The remainder of the film focuses on Heli's reaction to these events. Does he manage to put things right and achieve some sort of closure? Well you'll have to watch to find out but, be warned, you will feel like you need a bath afterwards and may praise God that you were not born in Mexico!

The pace is grindingly slow at times but the anticipation that the next shock or revelation is just around the corner is sufficient to maintain interest throughout the 105 minutes running time. Extras comprise some interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Overall, an undoubtedly worthy film that depicts the darker side of Mexican culture with brutal authenticity, but it is as grim as it gets and, if you're looking to be entertained by a movie rather than depressed, then you should give Heli a wide berth.

Bop It! Beats
Bop It! Beats
Price: £16.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling electronic game with attitude!, 6 Sep 2014
This review is from: Bop It! Beats (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My daughter loved the original Bop It and now my young nephew is having great fun with the Bop It Beats!

It's suitable for pretty well any age and, with very young children I can see the benefits of this helping to develop hand/eye coordination and reflexes.

The tactile feel of this latest incarnation of the craze has, in my opinion, improved on the original, particularly the fun scratch and spin features.

5 different game modes allow for single or communal play and there genuinely is something compelling in trying to anticipate the next random prompt, ensuring you don't flip when you should be reversing and trying to beat your previous high score.

The accompanying music is clearly not to my taste (I'm more metal and prog!) but seem to appeal to youngsters. Even they are likely to get a bit sick of the 4 songs after a while though.

All in all, whilst perhaps a bit limited in overall scope, Bop It remains a compelling and highly amusing game for the young and young at heart and this new twist on the theme is probably as good as it gets.

Mark and Chappell Ltd Vet IQ Flea Guard, 90 Tablets
Mark and Chappell Ltd Vet IQ Flea Guard, 90 Tablets
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Palatable and inexpensive solution to flea problems, 5 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Our domestic long-haired Puss is a very fussy eater, who turns her nose up at most tinned cat food, so I was a little concerned that she would not tolerate these tablets. On opening the container, the fairly pronounced yeasty smell added to my concerns.

I did note, however, that the tablets are easy to break up and seem to fall quite naturally into two halves - half a tablet being the suggested dose for a cat. So I crumbled the tablet into a powder, sprinkled it over her favourite Hi Life tuna and stood back to watch.

Well she sniffed her bowl slightly warily at first, but then tucked in as usual.

Obviously it's too early to comment on how effective this product is at eliminating fleas but, as it is a healthy food supplement and should improve your cat's coat too, I am reassured that it is doing her some good.

At under a tenner for around six month's supply, it also represents very good value.

Arrived two days after placing my order but slightly precariously packed in (or crammed in rather) one of those Amazon boxes usually employed for books or multiple DVD orders. Box was partially open/torn and we were lucky not to have lost the product in transit.

Will post an update in the coming months as to the effectiveness of this product in flea prevention, but so far so good!

Trust Raina 20W Subwoofer Speaker Set, Black - Frustration-Free Packaging
Trust Raina 20W Subwoofer Speaker Set, Black - Frustration-Free Packaging
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good performance for the price, 30 Aug 2014
On the plus side, this is a very low price to pay for a sub and two speakers. It's simple plug and go technology and is USB driven, so doesn't require a separate power socket. Whilst it's never going to rattle your windows, the bass is surprisingly deep and overall volume is adequate for gaming or music.

On the down side, the speaker cables, at a mere 1metre, are ridiculously short. I like to position a sub down at foot level, but was hoping to position the left and right speakers up near ear-level. As they plug into the rear of the sub and need to be spread maybe 6 feet apart for decent channel separation, this is utterly impossible without splicing some more speaker cable into the system. One further slight irritation is that the on/off and volume controls are located at the rear of the sub, which is far less convenient than the usual front-facing controls.

No big deal though. If your budget is tight, this Trust Raina 2.1 system will give you a huge audio improvement over your average desktop or laptop's internal speaker and the value for money is exceptional.

Sunlounger Weather Cover
Sunlounger Weather Cover
Offered by GoodsWholesaleUK
Price: £6.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good value and quick delivery, 30 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a generous-sized and perfectly-shaped waterproof cover, which should fit pretty well any sun-lounger. The eyelets and ties are a nice idea so you can secure it too.

At (currently) the cheapest such item I could find here on Amazon, it's hard to fault this!

Hamilton Beach HBF500-UK Commercial Food Blender with Chop/ Pulse and Variable Speed, 1.4 Litre, 600 Watt, Grey
Hamilton Beach HBF500-UK Commercial Food Blender with Chop/ Pulse and Variable Speed, 1.4 Litre, 600 Watt, Grey
Price: £483.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The mother of all food blenders!, 27 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This device is described as a commercial food blender and the hefty price tag certainly reinforces its industrial catering heritage.

Everything about the HBF500 simply exudes robustness and quality. It is quite a heavy unit at almost 12 lbs and, when fully assembled with jug and dosing cup, stands a whopping 20 inches tall. It sits very securely on its four thick rubber feet and the toggle switches and rotary control are well-designed with a nicely positive action and are intuitive to use. It purées vegetables into perfect consistency soup in just a couple of seconds but, given the massive 1HP power behind those blades, it is not particularly noisy in operation. The blades should cope with pretty well anything you throw at them from whole nuts to ice cubes. The jug/container is graduated in both imperial and metric measures and contains a generous 2½ pints or 1.4 litres.

No extras of any description in the box - just the base unit, jug, lid, dosing cup and a very minimal instruction manual. But I'm thinking in domestic terms once again - I suppose no self-respecting chef would have much use for a suggestions booklet or collection of recipe cards.

So, while it may be difficult to justify the HBF500's eye-watering purchase price for average domestic purposes, it is reassuring to know that this is probably as good a blender as money can buy and it certainly looks like it will last a lifetime.

Arrived very securely packaged, just two days after placing the order.

I am delighted with it!

**** UPDATE ****

Well, my HBF500 has been in almost daily use for a month now and I am still delighted with it. Delicious home-made soups, smoothies and even brazil nut and almond vegan paté are now regularly on the menu. My only criticism is that, on experimenting with the higher blending speeds and an almost-full jug, I would strongly recommend that you keep your hand on the top, as the pressure caused some liquid to escape up the wall and onto my face! I have definitely learnt my lesson to treat this powerful beast with caution! No big deal though, as the slower speeds are more than adequate for general domestic use and the rubber lid will normally keep the ingredients safely contained within the jug.

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