Category Archives: Reviews and Rants

Powertech P-HC Dual Hyper-extension / Roman Chair Review

A lot of you know that I’m the proud owner of a Powertec rack system since last February. This month, I have decided to purchase a Powertec P-HC hyperextension/roman chair to do back and ab exercises. Here’s my initial impressions on the unit and why I decided to purchase it.

I have noticed that my lower back has gotten really weak as of late, and my abs are almost non-existent. Since I am tight on space in my basement, I wanted a machine that could do both jobs. A roman chair with an adjustable hyper-extension unit was just the thing. Luckily, Powertec has a model dubbed the P-HC. I headed over to Fitness Nutrition to see if they had this model in stock and see if I could get a deal. Unfortunately, they didn’t, but they promised me that they would have it in within two to three weeks. I paid a 50$ deposit using my credit card and left, patiently waiting for the exercise machine to come in. Total price was 350.00$ CDN plus taxes.

Fast forward three weeks, the unit is in. I went over to the store and picked up this rather medium-sized box. I drove home rather excited to put this thing together and work out on it, as my lower back has been killing me on the other exercises (notable the squat and rows…). Once home, I rushed downstairs, ripped open the box and assembled the unit within forty-five minutes using my trusty Mastercraft tools. Finally assembled, this thing takes up quite a bit of space! I didn’t know how I was going to fit it in with the rest of my equipment in the storage room, but I somehow managed to squeeze it next to the rack.

Those who know Powertec will whole-heartedly agree that they are absolute quality: the P-HC is made of pure carbon steel, and it’s a rock solid piece of machinery. The equipment once assembled, can’t be budged that easily, which is a good thing as I don’t want the machine to topple over or senselessly shake while I do my exercises on it!

I did some hypers and crunches on the PH-C today, and I’m happy to report that it does the job with no problems. The unit is well-built and solid, with no budging or rattles whatsoever.

For anyone looking for a great piece of equipment at a decent price, the Powertech P-HC is the way to go. American customers can order it from Amazon for 300.00$ USD + shipping.

Fallout 3 Review

I have been waiting ages for this game to come out (specifically since its announcement, which was over 5 years ago) and I’m proud to say it has finally been released. Fallout 3 came out yesterday (October 28th) and was released to retail stores and on Valve’s Steam. Since I’m a big fan of digital downloads, I opted for Steam as I hate dealing with CDs and serial numbers. Plus, it was less expensive than the boxed copy. Within 2.5 hours, I had the game loaded onto my computer and ready for me to start playing. Here’s my initial review and thoughts on the game.

First, let’s get the less important matter out of the way: the graphics. All I’m going to say is “Wow”… the wastelands, characters and the whole post-nuclear environment never looked so great. I am running the game at the highest quality settings, and it’s a real treat. The 8800 GT 512MB I bought a few months back is really paying it off right now.

Now that the graphics topic is out of the way, time to move on what the game is really about: gameplay. I consider the game’s predecessor, Fallout 2, to be my all-time favourite game. If there’s one game I’d like to have on a desert island, it would be Fallout 2. The gameplay, multiple scenarios and story were what stood out in the original. How does Fallout 3 compare, you may ask? Let’s find out.

Just so you know, I have only played the game for about 3 hours now, so I don’t know what awaits further down the game. I could, however, tell you that it looks quite promising as the developers, Bethesda Game Studios, really hit the nail on the head with the first few levels and quests. The interactivity, character development, weapons, skill system, perks… it’s all there and well done. You can definitely tell the developers sat down and played Fallout 1 and 2 from scratch to make this game. When you first start selecting your character’s stats, the way they presented it really got me laughing (you have to play the game to see). They make it really easy and fun, just the way a game is supposed to be.

In my game, I managed to venture out into the wastelands and get some combat action with some raiders. Fallout 3 is not just a FPS — I’d like to think that’s its a bit more evolved. You can’t just run around shooting and wasting bullets on your targets: you’re limited on ammo and if you take your time to use the V.A.T.S., you can do a lot more damage and become a more efficient marksman. However, I must say that using VATS is a bit too easy and almost cheating-like, as you get to pause the game, analyze your enemy’s weak points and shoot efficiently. I guess the developers added this feature to please the turn-based action crowd. I, for one, am not complaining about this mode as it’s crazy fun to see your character do some serious damage in slow-motion.

Finally, the game’s player controls and overall user-interoperability: moving around the wastelands is easy as pie and plays like any other first-person shooter (keyboard and mouse). There’s not much to say here, as a company can’t really screw up player controls these days. If there’s one gripe here, it would be the weapon selection process. In your basic FPS, you can use the scroll wheel to cycle through your weapons. In Fallout 3, you must go through your Pip-Boy and select the weapon you wish to arm yourself with. I don’t think I can really argue about this aspect of the game, since I don’t see Fallout 3 as a first-person shooter. Going through the PB3000 pauses the game mind you, so this function of the game is tolerable.

If I have one more complaint about this game, it would be the following: I noticed Bethesda crammed every aspect of the game into the Pip-Boy 3000, which I find can be a pain sometimes to navigate through. I find the Pip-Boy screen is a bit too small for inventory management, and there’s a lot of stealth menus and buttons that the player must figure out to click on.

If I were to develop a Fallout game in 3D, Fallout 3 would be it. Bethesda managed to do an excellent job at recreating the post-nuclear environment in all its eye-candy glory. I honestly don’t know what the general public and hardcore fans think of this game, but I’m pretty sure there will be the ones that hate it and ones that love it. You can’t always please everyone of course. One must realize that Fallout 3 is NOT Fallout 2, and that’s a good thing. Fallout 3 isn’t even considered a sequel to the two previous games. What we have here is an excellent alternative in the Fallout universe, giving us a look at what happened on the eastern side of North America.

I believe this game is going to kill my social life for a while. I suggest you snag yourself a copy if you want to hide under a rock for a while. 🙂

Jouets Choo Choo; Educational Toys in Montreal

I would like to take a small opportunity and introduce everyone to a new website that deals with educational toys: Jouets Choo Choo. They launched this week after several months of website development, and the site looks great. For anyone looking to buy educational toys (such as Playmobil, Schleich, Meccano, Ravensburger puzzles, Plan Toys, Thomas the Tank Engine, etc) then look no further, as their prices are the best. These guys have been in business for over ten (10) years now, with two stores active. One of the stores is located in Pointe-Claire (next to Fairview) and the other one, which was recently opened, is located at Quartier Dix-30 (right across Indigo mall). I actually know the owners personally (family friends) and they’re very friendly people with tons of experience in the toys department. If you ever wanted to get a gift for a newborn, young child or games that are non-violent for the kids, and you’re out of town, in a different province or simply too far away to visit the stores, Jouets Choo Choo’s online retail outlet is the answer to getting educational toys and games delivered to you. Check them out today!

The Dark Knight Review

I managed to get a pair of tickets to The Dark Knight premiere screening through a friend who has hookups with a local movie theater. The show was at 12:00 AM Friday morning, and there were quite a lot of people who were crazy like me to go see the Batman Begins sequel. I have been waiting for this movie to come out all summer when I first saw the preview. I’m sure it was announced well before the summer started, but I live under a rock so I’m good like that.

To get a good understanding of the continuation of the film, I watched Batman Begins with a few friends to simply refresh my memory on what had happened. Basically, Batman stopped the League of Shadows, managed to get rid of some dirty cops (although a lot still remain), made friends with the Lieutenant of the police force (then the chief of police) and succeeded in starting to turn Gotham city around for the better. As Bruce Wayne, he returned after a 7 year disappearance (his death warrant had been executed) and managed to regain control of his company, Wayne Enterprises. Finally, his mansion burned down (because of Ra’s al Ghul’s revenge on Bruce) damaging the Batcave as well (the south-east foundations). The movie ends with a new villain, calling himself the Joker, leaves a calling card for theatrical reasons. Batman promises the Lieutenant to look into it and this is where the sequel, The Dark Knight, resumes.

This movie was a lot darker than I had expected, and that’s a good thing. I always saw the Batman movies as dark, gritty films; it really adds a certain atmosphere to the entire series. Gotham City looks darker than ever in The Dark Knight. Throughout the movie, I was amazed as how they managed to pull it all off… I could even go as far as to say the movie was disturbing through certain parts. It was that evil.

Christian Bale yet again returns to give a stellar performance of him as Batman. Fact is, Bale never disappoints, as I’m a huge fan of his films (I love American Psycho; Equilibrium was superb). The Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, is a phenomenal character. Wow is all I can say. It is up to par with Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker in Batman (1989 film by Tim Burton) if not better. Quite a shame we will never see the continuation of Ledger’s performance. A new face in the series, Harvey Dent (played by Aaron Eckhart from Thank You For Smoking fame) was also an amazing character to watch.

The movie definitely lived up to its hype my expections. Actually, it exceeded them. I’m going to watch The Dark Knight again sometime next week.