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Brain Culture: Neuroscience and Popular Media
Brain Culture: Neuroscience and Popular Media
by Davi Johnson Thornton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $72.00
32 used & new from $60.81

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent discourse on the brain and popular culture, November 3, 2011
Dr. Thornton's rhetorical stylings may be far above my own, but fortunately this book, while supremely erudite, is completely approachable to readers from most academic levels. The concept of harnessing the brain's power and strength is a prevalent one in popular culture, and Thornton dissects the reasoning and effect of such a phenomenon with an intensely-researched knowledge and vigor.

Among the many brain-related conceits parsed down in "Brain Culture," Thornton includes myriad facts that caused me to read with a pen at the ready, jotting down notes, terms, and definitions at a frightening pace.

For example:

The brain is actually located *inside* the head.
Brains are mostly comprised of water, which explains the sloshing sound I hear when I headbang.
Q-Tip penetration results in exponentially more brain dysfunction than drugs and alcohol combined.
Neuroscience, or Northern European Science, has only recently become a staple of American academic pursuit. Until the early 2000's, American scientists and academics studied the precise, but decidedly less-known, Smexiscience (South Mexican Science).

Congratulations, Dr. Thornton, on this exhaustively-researched and informative book.


Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon - Xbox 360
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon - Xbox 360
Offered by FRONTIER HOBBY SHOP
Price: $23.93
55 used & new from $3.49

38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Short - Buy It, July 5, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
You begin with one of four armor types (classes), and are able to unlock another after a mission is complete (so, 5 missions in and you'll have them all).

Instead of leveling a character, you level your armor. I have my Battle Armor leveled to Rank 6 (with 8 being the max). It takes more XP to go from 5-6 than it does to go from 1-5. Fortunately, the harder difficulties give exponentially more XP.

There are 3 chapters, each containing 5 missions. They will take you around 15-25 minutes each. There is a surprising amount of variety in the missions - search for missing soldiers, blow up giant anthills, find a downed aircraft, etc.

The minimap shows your character's position, your 2 allies' positions (either friends or bots - after you beat the game once, you have the option of playing without bots), health drops, waypoints, and weapon drops (minibosses and bosses drop randomized weapons).

The loot is very enticing. In addition to leveling your armor (which provides you with more HP, class-specific abilities, etc.), there are around 200 weapons to purchase (ranked 1-8), and 107 weapons that are randomly dropped from bosses. After a playthrough on Normal difficulty, I had 22 of the 107. And unlike the recent Dungeon Siege III, the difference in loot (weapons) is massive and noticeable. A single upgrade to a weapon might double the damage, increase the turn speed, decrease reload times, and feature zoom as well. It's a great system.

One of the final bosses dropped a weapon called the "Air Tortoise." It fires 1 slow rocket and takes 10 seconds to reload. However, that rocket does 9,999 damage. Good stuff.

You're looking at 5-6 hours for the initial playthrough, and 50-70 minimum to level up all classes and get the best drops (and finish on Inferno!).

Pros:

- Lots of incentives to grind levels and gear, and it does not get old quickly.
- 3-player campaign co-op that scales difficulty and 6-player Survival mode (although your class is locked to Trooper for Survival).
- Decent mission variety.
- Ridiculously huge bosses. Like, square-mile big.
- Easy on Normal and hard as hell on Inferno. Something for everyone.
- Mechs, Turrets, Tanks
- Only 40 bucks!

Cons:

- All missions take place in the same city, and while there is some difference as to the districts they take place in, it's still a whole lot of "same" looking streets and buildings.
- The graphics aren't great at all, but it's a budget title, there's a ton of stuff crawling and blowing up all over the place, and the framerate is very smooth (I'd rather have that, in all honesty).
- The first half of too many missions basically tasks you with killing 300-400 ants until the good stuff gets started (again, not that bad considering they'll drop a ton of health to get you ready for the bigger bugs).
- While the bosses are huge and awesome (and aesthetically different), they all have the same weakness. After you kill the first boss, you know how to kill them all, and I'll bet that you could guess even before you play the game, haha.

Anyways, I'd recommend this game to pretty much anyone, but especially people who enjoy...

Too Human
Starship Troopers
Left 4 Dead
Massive destruction and explosions galore
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2011 7:36 PM PDT


Killzone 3 - Playstation 3
Killzone 3 - Playstation 3
Offered by Shopville USA
Price: $10.06
315 used & new from $0.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Killzone 3 Verdict from a Longtime KZ Fan, February 25, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Hey there, guys and gals, you already know most of the essentials, so I'm just going to list some pros and cons that might help you make your decision as to whether this game is for you or not.

PROS:

1) The campaign contains a lot of variety; there are no seemingly endless drab corridors to shoot through ala KZ2 (and most other shooters). There are great on-rails sections, turret sections, jetpacks, and even a mech level. I never got bored of a level, which I can't say for the first two KZ releases.
2) The controls are revamped and far more friendly, but the game retains a sense of weight behind the character.
3) Graphics are top-notch, and environments are bright and colorful.
4) The story is satisfying in its simplicity; I have read many reviews that complain about the story's lack of cohesion, but I didn't experience that at all. We know who the bad guy(s) are, we know why we're fighting, and we know where we're going. Simple, fun, and not confusing.
5) The multiplayer offers a rewarding unlock system, but doesn't go overboard; this is first and foremost a class-based shooter that emphasizes role-playing and teamwork.
6) The game is much easier than KZ2. I had some troubles playing KZ2, even on the easiest difficulty (I know, I'm bad.). KZ3 is much more accessible; if you want to play at your own pace and enjoy the set-pieces and level design, go ahead. The higher difficulties still pose a serious challenge.

CONS:

1) The campaign is short. I beat it on the easiest difficulty setting in less than 6 hours. Also, higher difficulties won't add that much more time, because there are so many on-rails levels that are timed in a sense. I imagine that a run-through on the highest difficulty might take 8-10 hours at most.
2) The multiplayer has some serious downgrades from KZ2. The squad system has been gimped; there is no more squad chat, spawn-on-squad, etc. Now, it's just like a party system, where you travel from game to game with your "squad." Also - the multiplayer now features matchmaking instead of a server list. This is a big downgrade; it can sometimes take 5 minutes or so to get into a game, and you can't choose what/where you want to play (ala KZ2).
3) Unlike KZ1 and KZ2, the campaign doesn't feature an epic boss battle finale. I found the ending satisfying, but the lack of a real final boss battle was disappointing (however, there are some MASSIVE set pieces and battles sprinkled throughout the campaign).

I hope you folks enjoy the game, or at least know enough now to make a purchase decision.


Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow - Nintendo DS
Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow - Nintendo DS
Offered by FRONTIER HOBBY SHOP
Price: $54.99
14 used & new from $14.88

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Action RPG, June 16, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
*4.5

I've never actually played the other 2 Blue Dragons...but I'm loving this one.

The first hour is exposition-heavy, and the dialogue/story is really cheesy and cliche.

However, once you start questing, this game is a blast.

PROS:

+Camera is controlled by L and R. Will rotate in 8 "clicks," making it easier to focus in a direction than other games (DQIV/V).
+Excellent item/weapon synthesis system. All equipment is reflected on your character, and some of the weapon designs are really cool, with different animations depending on type.
+Aiming and attacking is really simple, even with no analog stick. Combat takes place in real-time, and there are no random encounters.
+Optional bosses and side quests aplenty. Great grinding material.
+I really enjoy the enemy designs - less lighthearted than DQ, but still fun and interesting.

CONS:

-Ugh...some of the dialogue/script is cringeworthy. I'm actually glad there's very little VO.
-The character designs are decent for the main party members, but some of the townsfolk/NPCs look like they're created out of mashed potatoes.
-Story elements can get so generic that I find myself saying what will happen next before it happens. *yawn*

I've heard tremendous things about the online play - haven't touched it yet. Apparently there's only a toy item and maybe one other piece of equipment that can only be garnered through multiplay. Everything else is doable solo (although you may have to grind for hours to even touch some of the higher bosses).

I'd encourage you to play this if you have enjoyed DQIV/V, FF:CC, or Suikoden Tierkreis. Not perfect, but a solid RPG with plenty of content.


Modnation Racers - PlayStation3 (Greatest Hits)
Modnation Racers - PlayStation3 (Greatest Hits)
Offered by Consumer Express L.L.C.
Price: $15.00
130 used & new from $2.00

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ModNation - Definitely Worth It, May 26, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Modnation has managed to tear me away from Red Dead, Killzone 2, and CoDMW2. It's a blast. You probably know how the game works, so here's a brief rundown of the pros and cons:

PROS
+Tight handling/racing (improved from beta)
+Fun risk/reward factor with the weapons (3 levels...do you launch it now, or wait for the bigger weapon?)
+Best creation system I've ever seen. Molyneux, Wright, and other developers should take notice. I made a legit Casey Jones from TMNT.
+Fun tracks, and the user-created content is already top notch. I spent an hour last night on an "infinite drift" track somebody uploaded. Crazy fun.
+Everything "fits." The environment/character/track/kart designs all mesh, and it feels like a fun little cohesive world.

CONS
-Load times. Word on the street is that a patch is on its way.
-As with any kart racer, there is a certain level of cheapness. In action races, you might be first the whole race, and then get blown up 10 yards from the finish line for 3rd place.
-I've experienced framerate problems in the ModSpot (the home world/hub). However, I have never seen jankiness in an actual race, so that's good.

Most definitely recommended.

Weird side note -
I want UGF and Sony to continue the ModNation franchise. I want to see ModNation Fighters - a Super Smash Bros-style game where you create your character and weapon effects. User created levels would be crazy, and fighting with Ratchet/Kratos/Nathan would be a blast.

Take it easy.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 29, 2010 11:07 AM PDT


Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - Nintendo DS
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - Nintendo DS
Offered by Fulfillinc
Price: $37.95
48 used & new from $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It really is that good, April 10, 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I was very skeptical before I played it, but was instantly won over within the first few missions.

The controls (especially driving) are very clean and intuitive. The dialogue is mature, funny, and totally fits with the GTA series' mold. I really enjoyed the cutscenes - the comic-book style progression was way better than chunky animated scenes would have been.

This is a great game - huge, not frustrating, funny, action-packed, and a steal at 40 bones.

One last thing - an earlier reviewer commented on how this game is appropriate for teenagers. While it is a parents' decision, I would like to mention that the game prominently drops the "f-bomb", constantly references pornography, sex, and prostitution, and deals largely with drug use and distribution.

Be ye warned.


Halo Wars - Xbox 360
Halo Wars - Xbox 360
Offered by Shopville USA
Price: $29.99
90 used & new from $4.76

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Addition to the Series, March 9, 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Halo Wars - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
You can read about most of the gameplay from other reviews - I'll try to add some extra information, positives, and negatives.

I am a fan of the Halo Universe (read the books, played the games), and this is a worthy addition. Although it takes some serious liberties with the canon, it works as a great story in the Haloverse - every unit, building, and vehicle looks and operates exactly as it should.

The gameplay is fast and arcadey - it's technically an RTS, but I tell people to think of it as an action game with resource and unit management.

I really do love this game - playing cooperatively online against Legendary AI skirmish opponents is some of the most fun I have had in a long time - rivals most online gaming.

The game is excellent, but is not without its flaws -
1. The game is short. Very short. I played through a few times and nabbed 44/50 achievements (805GS), and the game clock said I had played for only 19 hours.
2. The script is one of the worst I have ever heard. There are childish one-liners galore. I love the character of Forge, but I would rather him be a mute than listen to his drivel - "I'm getting tired of saving your a**!".
3. The online ranking system is messed up. It takes 500 points to reach Recruit - this can be achieved in your first match, whether you win or not. The next rank is Lieutenant - 80,000 points - doable in maybe 15-30 games. The next rank is General - 3.2 million points. This will take well over a year legit. The problem with the ranking is not that it takes forever to reach General, but that there are only 3 ranks. In other games like Halo 3 and CoD, you rank up consistently and it provides a great motivation and reward system. The system is broken in Halo Wars. Fortunately, this could be patched in the future.

Great game, succeeds despite a few flaws - pick it up if you love the Halo Universe, action games, or online co-op or competitive gaming.

EDIT: My bad, there are 8 ranks. I still would like more, but 8 is better than 3.


Grand Theft Auto IV - PlayStation 3
Grand Theft Auto IV - PlayStation 3
Price: $12.50
416 used & new from $2.39

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grand Theft Frustration, April 30, 2008
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
GTA 4 is as good as all of those reviews say it is, but I thought I would throw out some of the negatives for people on the fence (it's easy to find a list of positives).

The game is far less accessible than GTA games of the past, in my opinion. It takes a few hours to get your hands on weaponry, the majority of the city is locked off from the get-go, and the driving controls take some serious getting used to. I am a decent gamer, and play a ton of games in all genres, and I had to retry quite a few of the early missions due to some seriously tough vehicle handling. that's not to say that it's bad, but rather that you won't immediately be zipping around, pulling off perfect drifts and turns. The combat, however, controls brilliantly, and is a blast.

So, basically, this game's amazing, but not without its flaws. If you get frustrated easily, it's still worth getting, just because there's so much "free play" stuff to do.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2008 11:59 AM PDT


Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 - Xbox 360
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 - Xbox 360
Offered by Exuby
Price: $13.00
202 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Sequel, March 24, 2008
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This quick sequel to R6V is great; it offers more of the same (a good thing), but the devs listened to some criticism from the first game and it plays out much better. In my opinion, the story missions are way better than the first game - it's shorter (the co-op campaign can be completed in under 5 hours), but it's a more intense affair. The locales are decidedly different than the first, which provides some tactical variety. The co-op is second to none due to the actual cooperative elements in the environments (multiple entry points, cover tactics). The only thing dragging this game down is the crappy matchmaking. Whay aren't we using a party system yet?!? The multi is a blast to play, with tight, choke-point centric maps, but having to search for every game and then play with random people in a sparsely populated map half of the time is unforgiveable. If you have a buddy to play co-op with, this game is a must-buy for action fans.


Dragon Heat
Dragon Heat
DVD ~ Michael Biehn
Price: $9.42
38 used & new from $3.50

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worthless, March 13, 2008
This review is from: Dragon Heat (DVD)
This movie is absolutely worthless - the editing will give you epileptic shock due to its amateurish handi-cam manuevers and jump-cuts. The plot is a cliched joke, and the "action" consists of a few subpar gun battles and some trashy fighting sequences. Steer clear - Dragon Dynasty should never have picked this one up.


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