Atlantis, The Palm

Post by Mark


Last week while in Dubai I ended up staying at the Atlantis hotel. Since it’s launch I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about the place and I now understand why, it’s not meant for everyone, me included.


When I first arrived at the hotel which is located on the artificial island The Palm, I thought I was walking into a shopping mall. There were a lot of people outside the entrance of the hotel and even more people inside the gigantic lobby. It was super busy like no other hotel I’ve ever walked into. It felt like a mall but then I realized it also felt like a Disney resort. My room was their standard room and it looked really generic but had a beautiful view and was pretty large in size. What makes Atlantis so special is the activities they have ranging from swimming with the dolphins to their large Aquaventure Waterpark.


They even have a huge aquarium right inside the hotel thats a lot bigger and nicer than the one we have at the Scientific Center. The hotel also has 21 restaurants, bars and lounges including the very popular Nobu, they have a ton of stores to shop at and they also have a very impressive gym. I actually thought the gym was the trendiest looking place in the whole hotel, it’s very nicely designed, one of the best looking gyms I’ve ever seen.


While at the hotel we were given a tour of the most expensive hotel room in the Middle East, the Royal Bridge Suite. It costs around KD10,000 a night and it’s huge. You check check out the pictures below. And yes I said KD10,000 a night, that’s not an extra zero there by accident.

Personally I didn’t like the hotel. Not that where was anything wrong with it on the contrary, I actually found the hotel really fascinating. I remember watching a documentary once on Harrods and it was mostly a behind the scenes documentary on how the store handles all the traffic and what it takes to keep the place running, I would be very very interested to watch a similar documentary on Atlantis. The hotel is ginormous with over 1,500 rooms and so much foot traffic but yet they still manage to provide great service. In the three days I was there I never felt like I was just another guest. But still, the hotel just wasn’t for me, I prefer my rooms to be trendier looking, I also like my hotels to be a lot smaller and more importantly on this trip I wasn’t interested in any of their activities and thats really what Atlantis is about. On the other hand this is definitely a great place to stay at with children for the weekend. You would never have to leave the hotel and the children would never get bored with all the things to do. Check out their website [Here]

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The Porsche Cayman S

Post by Mark


I’ve had my eye on the new Porsche Cayman S ever since it got released last year. Along with the Jaguar F-Type Coupe it’s one of the two cars I’ve recently been considering for myself. I’ve actually been building my own Cayman on the Porsche website for the past few months, choosing all the different extra options I wanted, deciding on the exterior color and wheels, a very fun process. They even have the KD265,000 918 Spyder available to customize online. I finally decided I’d take the car for a test drive, that way I could have content for my blog as well as decide if the Cayman S is the car for me.


There are two versions of the Cayman, the regular Cayman and the Cayman S. The biggest difference between the two is the regular Cayman has 275HP while the S has 325HP. I picked up the car on Thursday once I got back from Dubai but was really too tired that day to do much driving. Instead I went to sleep early and woke up Friday morning and headed out to the middle of nowhere. Around 5 or 6 years ago while looking for the “Tank Graveyard” I remembered driving on a two lane paved road in the middle of the desert. I figured it would be a great place to take photos and the drive was far enough to allow me to get a chance to properly drive the car. So I headed out from Salmiya north towards the desert and around 50 minutes later ended up at the road I had been on years ago only now it no longer was a two lane road but a six lane highway. I was disappointed since I had driven all the way with a shot visualized in my head and now I wouldn’t be able to do it. I decided to keep on driving in hopes of finding a new location which I did. After another 15 minutes on that road I found an exit which wasn’t marked on the cars navigation nor on Google Maps and I decided to take it and drive and drive. The weather was great, the sky was beautiful and I finally found a spot that I liked and took all the photos I needed.

The car was a lot of fun to drive and I ended up covering more than 200KM that morning. It made me feel a bit guilty since when I had picked up the car from the dealer it only had around 200KM mileage and here in just one morning I doubled it for them. The engine is mid mounted meaning it’s located behind the drivers seat and in front of the rear wheels. It’s basically the best place to put an engine in the car if you want terrific handling. Because the weight is right behind you its as if the weight is where your body is and so you kinda become one with the car if that makes sense. I think that’s the best way of describing it. The car is pretty compact, there are no rear seats just the driver and passenger seat so driving the car feels like driving a go kart which is why it’s so fun. It’s not intimidating at all and right from the get-go you’ll feel very confident in the drivers seat making it a fairly easy car to drive. The car felt a bit stiff and the steering a bit heavy during normal city driving but once I was out in the open and I was able to step on it, the car felt right at home.


Whenever I used to customize my Cayman S on the Porsche website I’d make sure I would add all the cool sounding sports features like active suspension management (PASM) and torque vectoring (PTV) or say the sports exhaust system. What I realized after driving the test drive model which didn’t have any of those features is that I don’t really need them. The stock exhaust for example sounds pretty quiet when driving around normally but as soon as you give it a kick down it starts screaming. It sounds beautiful the way it is so I don’t think I want to pay an extra KD590 for the sport exhaust system. The car I drove had a horrible red interior, I mean I don’t mind red leather seats if say the rest of the interior is all black to calm it down but the model I drove had red leather everything, seats, doors dashboard, steering just red leather everywhere. Which brings me to another expensive add-on you don’t need, a full blown leather interior, just stick to the leather seats. One feature I would highly recommend is an upgraded sound system. The model I drove had the stock sound system but for most of my music it just sounded too boomy. Luckily Porsche offer two different sound system upgrades, for an extra KD160 you get a slightly better BOSE sound system or do what I would do and splurge and get the Burmester high end system for an extra KD910. Expensive yes but it’s not like you can get a better sound system down the line if you’re not happy with what it originally came with.


I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like about the car. Other than the ugly interior color and the sound system, both of which are easily fixed when building your own car, I think the only other issue I had with the car was storage space. I couldn’t find a place where I could put my phone and have easy access to it. There’s space in the door but then you can’t charge it or you can charge it in the arm rest compartment but then if you get a call or you need your phone you have to open the compartment awkwardly and take out the phone. The car also doesn’t have enough space for a single piece of luggage, the front trunk is too small to fit a full sized bag and so is the rear trunk. The only kind of bag you could fit into the car is a carry on and that’s it.

I’m personally still undecided if I’d get the car or not, I’d have to test drive the F-Type Coupe once it launches in May to decide. But, in this price range the Cayman S and F-Type are still my two favorite choices. The regular Cayman starts at KD16,200 while the S version starts at KD18,300. With all the options I want the car ends up costing like KD24,000. If you want to try building your own Cayman (or any other Porsche for that matter) click [Here]

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Flying Business with FlyDubai

Post by Mark


Last week I was invited to try out FlyDubai’s business class during a short two night trip to Dubai. I hadn’t flown FlyDubai for quite some time now and I hadn’t flown their business class at all since they introduced it this past November.


Since last September FlyDubai has also been flying out of Kuwait from the Sheikh Saad Terminal (the terminal previously used by the now defunct Wataniya Airways). There are a number of advantages to this terminal over the main Kuwait International Airport. Firstly the airport is a lot more visually tasteful, it’s cleaner and it has more natural daylight coming in. It’s also smaller which means the process of checking in or landing and getting your bags is a lot quicker. For business travelers you also get a whole wing of the airport just for yourselves. The business class section of the airport consists of multiple lounges, a food area and shower rooms. The lounge looks pretty much the same from when Wataniya Airways was running it which is a good thing. If you have Diners Club or American Express you can also use this lounge even if you’re flying economy. The downside to the airport is that you don’t have a proper restaurant to eat at just a Starbucks. Also, the long term parking at Sheikh Saad Terminal is expensive costing KD5 a day while the long term parking at the regular airport is just KD2 a day. But if you don’t mind walking a bit, there is free parking across the street near the military airbase although I could imagine that filling up pretty quickly.


The business class on FlyDubai is a proper business class with large fancy seats and all the business class amenities you’d expect to find. Their business class reminded me a bit of Wataniya Airways, actually because we were flying out of Sheikh Saad Terminal the whole experience felt like flying Wataniya Airways and thats a good thing since I used to love flying with Wataniya Airways. First thing I spotted when I sat down in my seat was the bottle of Evian water. They could have used any other brand like most airlines would do, but I suspect because they really want the customers to feel this is a true business class, they went with a brand easily associated with luxury.


The seats also had power plugs and large touch screens with access to in-flight entertainment. Before take off we were also served complimentary drinks and once we were in the air we were served breakfast. Disappointingly we didn’t have a choice for breakfast and so I was stuck with yogurt and granola. On the bright side, they did have a drinks menu which includes alcohol and I have to say their Sauvignon blanc was surprisingly very good for breakfast.


After arriving to Dubai, we were shuttled to the terminal in a small bus. Once we arrived to the terminal we had our own priority pass line and within minutes we were picking up our luggage. A very smooth and quick process.


Leaving Dubai is where I thought I would have an issue. The reason I used to dislike flying with FlyDubai is because their airport in Dubai (Terminal 2) used to be the saddest airport ever, like worse than the Kuwait Airport even. But since the last time I flew with Dubai their airport has gone through a major overhaul. The airport looks a lot better now, theres more seating and there’s also more options for food with Paul open there as well as Costa and Subway. Definitely a much more pleasant experience and from what I’m told there is still more work being done.

I started flying with FlyDubai because they usually had the cheapest tickets to Dubai and I would guess it was like that with a lot of other people. This is why FlyDubai has to work twice as hard to build their business class brand and reputation. They want people to realize that although their economy class has no frills, their business class is a completely different experience. It’s why I was invited to fly with them, to help spread the word about this. Their business class ticket prices seem pretty competitive, I just checked tickets to Dubai this weekend and the cheapest business class ticket Emirates had was KD362 while FlyDubai was KD173. Thing is they fly to a ton of other destinations other than Dubai and I would imagine their business class prices would be competitive on all the routes as well. So overall, FlyDubai’s business class is pretty damn good.

Update: I was just informed there is actually a Chili’s Express and other coffee shops on the 2nd floor of the airport before checking in.

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Review: Hidden Hotel – Paris

Post by Mark

hidden hotel exterior

Last year when I went to Paris I ended up staying at the trendy Le Citizen Hotel which I loved. This year though when I went back during the holidays I ended up staying at another trendy hotel called Hidden Hotel.

hidden hotel interior

Hidden Hotel is a boutique hotel located near the Arc de Triomphe and a few streets away from Champs-Élysées. Being close to the Champs-Élysées really wasn’t the selling point for me but what did interest me was the fact that the George V metro line that was located at the end of Champs-Élysées was just a 10 to 15 minute walk from the hotel. The street the hotel was located on was very quiet and the same applied to all the streets from the hotel to Champs-Élysées. Not that there weren’t any cafes or restaurants all along the way, it just seems majority of the tourists do not wander out of Champs-Élysées into the adjacent side streets for some reason.

hidden hotel interior

The hotel had a very earthy feel to it. All the materials used inside the hotel and the rooms were made of natural wood or stone giving it a very organic all natural feel. They had four different sized rooms to choose from, the Intuition, Emotion, Sensation and Exception. The Intuition was the smallest room they had while the Exception was their super large one. I ended up staying in the Sensation.

hidden hotel room

When you first walk into the room it splits up into two main sections, on the right hand side you had the sleeping area with a fairly large flat screen TV, a desk and a small seating area while on the left hand side you had the closet area and bathroom. Both sides of the room are practically the same size and both sides of the room had large windows which brought in a lot of natural daylight. My room was located on the top floor of the hotel and overlooked a lot of other rooftops. I would sleep with the blinds open and loved waking up in the morning and watching it rain outside while I cozied up in bed.

hidden hotel interior

I found the bathroom very spacious and it was probably my favorite part of the room. The toilet itself was in a small separate room but the sink and shower area were open to the rest of the space. There was complimentary breakfast included along with two separate breakfast areas to dine in. The hotel is spread out into two building next to each other. I think one building contains the large Exception rooms while the other building contained the other rooms. The building I was staying in had cold cuts, cheese and fruits kind of breakfast while the building next door had the more traditional omelets, crepes and pastries breakfast. I could have breakfast in whichever building I wanted and having the choice was good. The customer service at the reception was friendly and very one on one. It’s mainly why I prefer staying at small boutique hotels compared to larger ones.

hidden hotel interior

My only gripe with my stay was with the bed. Although the room had a large king sized bed it was in fact two beds stuck to each other. I hate that since I always end up uncomfortably in the middle. Other than that there really isn’t anything I didn’t like. The room had a safe, hair dryer and lots of power sockets. The internet was fast, the TV had English channels and practically every night when I came back to the room I found goodies waiting for me like chocolates, cookies and even jam. If you do end up staying at the hotel make sure you pass by Café Latéral one night. It’s a typical French style cafe near the hotel filled with mostly locals and a great atmosphere. For more information on the hotel you can check out their website[Here]

Note: The first image in this post is taken from Hidden Hotel

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Pizzeria Amami

Post by Mark


Pizzeria Amami used to be located in Salmiya near AUK and behind Smash Burger, but last week they moved to a new location in Symphony Mall. I hadn’t tried the place until earlier today when I passed by for lunch with a friend of mine.

The place was empty and quiet so we picked a table near the window overlooking the Gulf Road. Once we sat down an Italian waitress came up to us with the menus. From what I could tell everybody working there was Italian which was a great first impression. The menu on the other hand was fairly disappointing being just A4 sheets of paper printed and then enclosed in transparent plastic. Mine was all bent and it just looked very cheap. The waitress recommended us the Parmigiana di Melanzane to start with which was fried eggplant with cheese and tomato sauce. I also ended up ordering the closest thing to a simple mushroom pizza I could find on the menu which was a pizza called Capricciosa containing, tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, olives and artichoke (I asked them not to include the artichoke). The waitress asked me if I wanted fresh mozzarella with my pizza and I figured the alternative was frozen mozzarella or something so I said yes. Once the bill arrived later I realized by fresh mozzarella she meant extra cheese on my pizza. Not cool but it must have been a lost in translation moment.


The first thing that arrived was the Parmigiana di Melanzane starter. Although the presentation wasn’t appealing the dish did taste better than it looked. But, I’d still order something else next time since it tasted more like a pizza topping than a standalone starter. Our main dishes arrived once we were done, my pizza was pretty big and looked delicious. I was hesitant to ask the waitress for ketchup since I know it’s usually frowned upon at Italian pizzerias but turns out they didn’t have any issues with ketchup and I was able to get a bottle. The pizza was good although I found it pretty heavy the rest of the day. I left there feeling like I had eaten something very unhealthy but I think that had to do with the fact my pizza had all the extra cheese on it which I hadn’t asked for (I should have said no to fresh mozzarella).


My biggest issue with the place was with their prices. My pizza cost KD5.5 while my friends Penne Al Formaggio (cheese pasta) cost KD6. With two mains, the starter, three soft drinks and 750fils for the extra cheese, the bill came out to KD19.250. The pizza barely makes it into my top 5 favorite pizzas in Kuwait ranking, maybe at #5 so combine that with the restaurants atmosphere and interior which was bland and the total experience just wasn’t worth it for me. If you’re interested in trying out the place they’re located on the Mezzanine floor of Symphony Mall in Salmiya [Map]. They’re open daily from noon till 11PM except for Fridays when they open a bit later at 2PM. Their phone number is 25770733 but the waitress told me it will only be active from next week.

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Koryokwan Korean Restaurant

Post by Mark


Koryokwan is a Korean restaurant that’s been around since the early 80s. They’re considered to be one of the best and even provide the catering for Korean embassy events which is how I found out about them. This past saturday when I passed by the Korean embassy for their lunar new year’s they had the catering from Koryokwan (The Korean embassy in Kuwait by the way has to be the most beautiful embassy I’ve ever been to anywhere). So anyway, I didn’t end up eating at the embassy that day but I did pass by Koryokwan a few days ago to try them out.

Koryokwan is located on the ground floor of the very old Carlton Hotel in Kuwait City. It’s a 3-star hotel that was refurbished awhile back but the building still looks really old from the outside. The interior of Koryokwan on the other hand is just beautiful, one of those places where once you enter you feel like you’re no longer in Kuwait. I actually had the same feeling when I first visited the now defunct Singarea Korean restaurant in Dajeej. I used to love that place and it’s why I ended up mostly being disappointed with Koryokwan. Lets begin with the interior of Koryokwan, even though it looked amazing they had regular English radio music playing and CNN on TV. If this was Singarea for example they would have had either Korean music playing or some strange Korean soap opera on TV. I also found the prices of the dishes expensive. The soups started at around KD4.5 and the main courses at around KD6 and up. That’s 5-star hotel prices which is expected when you’re at a 5-star hotel and getting 5-star service like at Peacock or a restaurant at the Sheraton but this wasn’t the case here. Service was similar to a casual dine in restaurant and it wasn’t that great. Our order for example arrived in this order: Main course followed by our rice 5 minutes later and then followed by our soup. I went there specifically for one dish, the fried chicken with chili sauce and I liked it but you can’t really judge the food on just one dish.

The place is definitely worth trying out but mostly for the experience of trying something new. If you’re interested in passing by they’re open from 10AM to 3PM and then again from 5PM to 10:30PM. They’re located in the Carlton Hotel [Map] and their phone number is 22452759 or 99608277.

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The Sony QX10 and QX100

Post by Mark


The new QX series cameras from Sony are part of their new range of mobile phone cameras.Sony realized that camera phones in general are pretty limited with the majority for example lacking any kind of optical zoom. Phone cameras also have really tiny sensors so the photos aren’t very sharp or detailed neither do they do so well in dimly lit situations. Thats why Sony came up with the idea to create a new line of cameras that would clip onto your current phone giving it a big boost. I picked up both the Sony QX10 and the slightly larger QX100 from the Sony dealer for this review.


Both the QX10 and QX100 follow the same principle, they both don’t have any screens and other than the power, shoot and zoom buttons, both cameras don’t have any other controls. The Sony QX10 is the smaller and cheaper of the two, it has a sensor delivering 18MP and it has a 10x optical zoom. The QX100 on the other hand has a large size sensor that delivers 20MP as well as an added bonus of having a bright F/1.8 lens. On the downside, the QX100 has only 3.6x optical zoom, it’s double the size of the QX10 and it’s also a lot more expensive.

Lets get something out of the way. Both these cameras perform much better than your mobile phone cameras. Between the two cameras the QX100 was obviously and clearly the better of the two because of the larger sensor and better lens optics. Because of the fact both these cameras easily out perform camera phones I decided this post wouldn’t focus on the quality of the photos but instead I’m going to focus on the practicality of the cameras.


Because these two cameras lack a screen you need to connect them to your phone. That’s a fairly easy process, you turn on the cameras and then you connect your phone to the cameras wifi. You then need to download the Sony app “PlayMemories” which will allow you to control the camera and take photos. Every time you want to use the camera, you launch the PlayMemories app and turn the camera on and wait for the two to connect. This is where I start having issues.


When it comes to capturing a quick moment both cameras fail miserably. If the camera isn’t already on and connected to your phone then you’ll most likely miss your shot because turning it on and then connecting it to your phone is a process that can easily take over 10 seconds. By then whatever moment you were trying to capture is long gone.


My biggest issue is that fact the cameras really aren’t that compact.Between the two the QX10 fits into my pocket but it’s still thick enough to create a bulge, a similar bulge to one I would have if I had a slim full featured point and shoot camera in my pocket. Actually the Sony DSC-TX30 is even slimmer so I would have less of a bulge with that. The QX100 on the other hand won’t even fit into my jeans pocket.

Now both these cameras do have one very cool feature that no regular point and shoot can compete with. The QX series cameras don’t have to be attached to your phone to work. If you’re at a concert you can hold the camera in your hand way above your head and while checking and taking photos from your phone at your eye level like a periscope. You can also set up the camera on a table in front of you and then use the phones screen to setup your selfie. You could even setup the camera in one room while taking photos from another and the reason you can do all this because the cameras work over WiFi. This I think is the coolest thing about these two cameras.


Which brings me to a question, who would prefer these two cameras over Sony’s other cameras? I honestly don’t know, I guess it’s for people who would take advantage of the fact you don’t have to have the camera connected to your phone. Price wise, both cost nearly the same price as Amazon with the QX10 costing KD69.9 and the the QX100 KD147.9 at the Sony dealer. If I was to choose between the two I would go with the QX10, its cheaper, its smaller and it has the added benefit of a 10X optical zoom.

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Solo Tacos – Tijuana Style

Post by Mark


Solo Tacos is a new local restaurant that opened up just this past Saturday in Kuwait City right next to Solo Pizza. It’s owned by a few people including the owner of Solo Pizza as well as the two Mexican women who used to run the Mexican home catering service I previously posted about, Sahuaro.


The restaurant is pretty small with a few tables inside and outside as well as a bar on both sides of the window to sit on. One wall is covered with photo frames while the other wall has a cabinet with some colorful Mexican wrestling masks on display. Their colorful menu located on the wall on top of the kitchen counter is very focused with just quesadillas, tacos, a bunch of sides and drinks.


I originally ordered just the beef taco but found it so good that I ended up ordering the fish taco as well. Between the two I preferred the beef taco but next time I’ll also have to try the chicken. One of the Mexican partners was there and she told me about how they don’t fry anything and how they don’t even have salt on the tables because they’re trying to keep things as much on the healthy side as possible which I found comforting. On my way out I also got to sample two of their drinks, their Jamaica hibiscus juice (pronounced khamaica) and the Horchata (pronounced orchata) which smelled of beautiful spices and was the one I preferred from the two.


I really liked the food and I’m definitely going back but I also do think it’s a bit on the pricey side. For more information including a map to the location you could visit their website [Here]


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The Toyota Dealer – My Review

Post by Mark

I’ve had my Toyota FJ Cruiser for more than 3 years now and after just completing my 80,000KM service I think I’m in a good position to write a review about my experience with the dealer. My biggest concern when originally getting the FJ was the local dealers success. They sell a ton of cars everyday and I was worried I wouldn’t get any attention or be given any importance as a customer after the sale was completed. I was also concerned because of the amount of cars they sell, a simple oil change might be a very time consuming process. I got those concerns and more answered and they’re in my review below which I’ve divided into 4 parts; the buying experience, the quick service experience, the spare parts/service prices and finally the customer service.

The Buying Experience
This is by the far their weakest aspect. I purchased my FJ from their large showroom in Al-Rai, it’s not a pretty showroom and the cars are just lined up side by side like a supermarket shelf. They seem to have very few salesman and too many customers. I don’t think there is any other dealership in Kuwait that gets as crowded as the Toyota dealership. Not a good starting experience, but everything actually gets a lot better once you do buy a car.

Quick Service
If the buying experience was the weakest aspect, their quick service garages are their strongest. After buying my FJ I was given a list of quick service locations around Kuwait which I could go to to service my car. I found my preferred quick service location and started to pass by over the weekends to get my oil changed and the experience wasn’t that great since there would always be a long line. Then I found out that my quick service garage would actually stay open till 9PM and that’s when things became so much better. I just started passing by in the middle of the week during the evenings and the quick service garage would be completely empty. Actually, even if you pass by during the day in the middle of the week there would probably be just one car ahead of you, super convenient.

Spare Parts / Service Prices
I just performed my 80,000KM service which according to the service employee is the most expensive service for my car. I paid KD200 and that price included changing front and rear brake pads. A regular oil change also costs me I think like KD11 (my FJ takes 7 liters of oil). I had also purchased a discounted service package right after buying the car which lasted me till 60,000KM. Basically if the total amount of services was going to cost me say KD450 over the years, they offered me to pay around KD250 in advance and all my services would be covered till 60,000. They even offered me another discounted package when that had expired but I decided not to take it since I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep my FJ for another 3 years.

Customer Service
I love the customer service at Toyota from small things like getting a phone call to remind me about my car services to more complicated things like customer treatment. I actually had a really good experience with one of their employees just last week which is what actually led me to wanting to write this whole review. I won’t go into details because it’s a bit complicated to explain the whole scenario, but basically the service advisor called me and told me my car would be ready at 1PM the following day. I tried to push for the car to be done by 12PM since I had a meeting at 2PM and the service advisor said he would try his best. Next day I headed to Avenues which is near my service center to kill some time. 12:45PM the service advisor calls me to tell me my car is done but I would have to pass by after 2PM to pick it up because they have to wash it and the service center closes between 1 and 2PM for lunch. I got super pissed and told him how he had promised me to have the car done at 1PM even though I was pushing for 12. I also told him he should have told me they had a lunch break from 1 to 2PM since I could have been at the service center before 1PM to wait for my car to be ready. I told him I was at the Avenues now and would need more than 15 minutes to get to my car and then to get to the service center. He told me not to worry and that he wouldn’t go on his lunch break and I could come by between 1 and 2PM to pick up the car but that it wouldn’t be washed (which wasn’t an issue at all for me). So I got there around 1:15PM and the employee was extremely professional with me. Even though everyone else was on a lunch break, he got all my paperwork signed and walked me himself to the cashier and the collection point and then even brought up my car from the garages basement himself. I told him I was really impressed at how professional he was and loved how he managed to keep his composure while I was blowing up on him on the phone (I can be a dick when I’m pissed). I was really impressed and I don’t get impressed.

At first I thought I would email the dealer my feedback on my experience but then I was like you know what, it’s been three years of great service and people generally tend to write about stuff when things go wrong (like me with my bank last week). So I figured I would take the time and write up a review about my positive experience with a company in Kuwait. If you’re considering getting a car from Toyota, you should know you’re also probably getting the best after sales service as well.

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The Playstation 4 Review

Post by Patrick

The Playstation 4 was released in North America on the 15th of November and sold a million units in 24 hours. We’ve had to wait until earlier this week to see the PS4 officially released in Kuwait and the Gulf and as of this post, it’s pretty much sold out with supposedly no new shipments arriving until early January. So what’s the noise all about? Do you need to own the PS4 now? Are the launch games worth it? These are some of the questions I’m going to be answering in this post.

The PS4 itself is designed nicely, it’s as small as the slim Playstation 3 (maybe even a bit smaller) and it’s pretty light. Complete opposite of the first iteration of the Playstation 3 which was huge, bulky and ugly.

The second thing I’m going to talk about is the new controller, the Dualshock 4. I wasn’t a big fan of the Dualshock 3 and preferred the 360 and Wii U controllers over it. The Dualshock 3 felt light, cheap and didn’t fit well in my hands. I also wasn’t a big fan of the design as it was difficult to clean due to the dirt getting caught on all the edges. The Dualshock 4 changes all of that – the design is nice, sleek and clean, it fits comfortably in my hands and it doesn’t feel cheap. The small touchpad on the face of the controller works well and isn’t overly sensitive to touch (unlike the Sony Vita’s rear touchpad). The controller also features a mono speaker that plays some sounds as you’re playing games. It takes a few minutes to get used to the fact that the controller doesn’t feature a “START” and “SELECT” button like the majority of controllers have had throughout the years, those buttons have been merged into one “Options” button. One of the new additions that’s been making some headlines is the “SHARE” button. When you press it, the PS4 will create a screenshot of the moment and a video clip of the last 15 minutes of gameplay. You then decide where you want to upload them to Facebook or Twitter. If you also feel like broadcasting what you’re playing to the rest of the world, you can also do that through the services of Twitch or USTREAM. All this is done seamlessly and I was surprised to see how Sony have simplified the process.

One thing I dislike about the controller is the light bar which is located on the back of the controller. The light bar displays different colors to alert you on things like low health (it’ll glow red), but it’s kind of a useless feature unless you’re looking at your controller as you’re playing. If you sit directly in front of your television as you’re playing, the controller creates an annoying reflection on your TV when the games you play feature dark levels or segments – it just breaks the immersion. Hopefully there’ll be an update in the future that’ll allow us to choose whether we want to keep the light on or not.

The next thing I want to bring up is the Playstation 4’s user interface. This is another feature that I think could be improved. I’ve never been a huge fan of Sony’s user interfaces, whether it’s the Playstation 3’s menu or the Vita’s terrible use of bubble icons. The Playstation 4’s user interface has three sections. The first is the main menu; icons for your games, the browser, music, video, etc are all accessed from there. The second section (when you press down on your D-pad) is specific to the application or game you’ve selected. So for example, if you press down when Killzone: Shadow Fall is selected, a menu will appear that shows your recent activity, a shortcut to the community, multiplayer modes, and the game manual. If you press up on the main menu, the third section of the menu system appears and this is where you can access the Playstation Store, Friends List, Trophies, Settings and a few other options. I just don’t find this system to be intuitive at all. Why is the Playstation Store icon not located in the main menu and instead hidden in the upper section? Why aren’t the menus customizable? Nintendo and Microsoft both offer menus that are somewhat customizable, so why can’t Sony?

Moving on to launch games. I was given two games to try out by Sony that were launched exclusively for the Playstation 4, Knack (a 3D platformer adventure game) and Killzone: Shadow Fall (a first person shooter). Knack was developed and designed by SCE Japan Studio and Mark Cerny, both have an impressive repertoire of games and so I was surprised to see the below average reviews for this game. An hour into the game and you could see why it’s been getting poor review scores. First off, all the characters (especially Knack) are bland. Think of all the great characters in 3D platformers that we’ve seen in the past; Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Banjo-Kazooie, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, These games featured a whole cast of colorful, interesting characters and most importantly, the main characters were memorable. Knack’s design is forgetful and pretty ugly. He’s made up of all these tiny pieces and shapes and as you progress through the levels you start to grow as you gain more of these pieces until you’re huge and you’re able to do massive amounts of damage. The combat in this game is just “X, X, X” repeated, until you fill up your special power gauge and then you can perform a special move. The level designs are incredibly linear and lack any sort of inspiration. How linear are they? Well, there’s only one path through the level – no little deviations, no hidden paths, no shortcuts. There are “secrets” behind walls that have very large cracks to visually tell you that the wall can be smashed. Those are placed along the paths so they’re not even really hidden. There’s literally no sense of exploration and the platforming segments aren’t even challenging. Very young kids (younger than 10) might enjoy it, but I recommend most of you to skip this game if possible.

Onto Killzone: Shadow Fall. Before playing this game I had only ever played and beaten Killzone 2 which I thought was fun with very intense firefight, but also had a forgettable story with forgettable characters. The characters were beautiful and had fluid animation but the level layouts (which were well designed) were visually boring to look at. Everything seemed to be just a variation of grey with some brown tacked on. Shadow Fall seems to continue the trend of having forgettable characters and horrid writing but has much more beautiful and varied level layouts. The first level you play is vivid and colorful (there’s a bit too much lens flare for my taste though), the second level is the opposite, it’s dark, gloomy and kind of freaky. The shooting and firefights are really fun. Graphics? Not a massive leap from the PS3 but for a launch game it looks really good. You’ll enjoy this game if you go in expecting a straight up first-person shooter with a fun single player experience and multiplayer modes. But, you’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for a FPS that has an interesting plot with memorable characters.

Now the important question, is it worth buying the Playstation 4 now, or should you wait? The controller has been improved, the console is designed nicely, it isn’t heavy, it isn’t bulky and it has a promising line-up of upcoming new games. There’s no doubting the potential of the console, just one look at Killzone: Shadow Fall will tell you that. 2014 will be a good year for gaming with titles like Tom Clancy’s The Division, Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes coming out. My issues with the PS4 are minor. The light bar on the controller, the menu system and the lack of a media server wont affect my enjoyment that I’ll get from playing games on the machine. Still though, I’ll wait a few months before purchasing one. None of the exclusive launch games interest me and the ones that aren’t exclusive I’ve already played on my 360/PS3/Wii U. If you can’t wait and want to pick one up now, the games I recommend are Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Killzone: Shadow Fall, FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, and Lego Marvel Superheroes.

Posted by Patrick

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