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T-PAIN "protodevilin" RSS Feed (Sacramento, CA USA)

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Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Stylus for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch (Silver)
Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Stylus for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch (Silver)

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Creative Stylus for iPad, May 11, 2011
I'm not sure where all the hate on this stylus is coming from.

I'm a graphic artist and digital illustrator by trade, and I bought the iPad 2 because its slim form factor, improved performance, and robust app selection make it an excellent portable platform for things like pre-vis and concept sketching. I frequently use the Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Sketch Club apps to do my mobile work. I'm a huge tech/gadget buff, and generally pretty discerning about my art instruments. I've demoed and purchased several stylus pens from various brands, including BoxWave, Griffin, and Targus.

Because of the iPad's inherent software limitations (the capacitive touch screen requires a minimum of 5mm contact radius in order to register the command; also, no pressure sensitivity), no iPad stylus can be expected to match the precision and control of, say, a Wacom tablet. That's just the nature of the beast, but I took the iPad plunge knowing this beforehand.

PROS: I purchased the Pogo Sketch from another website several weeks ago, and it's hands-down the best stylus I've used so far. The tip is very fine, and made of a spongy conductive material that glides smoothly across the iPad's glass surface. It has a little give, but it's noticably less compared to the "rubber dome" tips found on virtually every other capacitive stylus. This makes it easier to place strokes accurately, a huge plus when working with some of the iPad's more intensive graphics apps. There's a pen clip on it (which I use all the time), as well as a lanyard eyehole (which I never use, but I imagine is pretty handy for some folks). The Pogo Sketch's overall construction is simple and sturdy. Though I was ecstatic at its performance, I was worried that the spongy tip would wear and tear easily with frequent use (I draw on my iPad every day), so I bought two extra spares... but after several weeks of frequent usage, my first Pogo Sketch is still holding up like new. I've read at least one other review that complained of tip breakdown, so maybe I just got lucky...

CONS: I find the Pogo Sketch's thin, lightweight body to be slightly too thin and lightweight for my taste. I think it could be improved with the addition of about 2mm of girth (with a tapered tip, of course), and maybe a couple grams of weight (these are really minor niggles, but worth noting for anyone who's as picky as I am).

OVERALL: If you're using any sort of drawing/painting creative app on your iPad/iPod Touch, the Pogo Sketch stylus must not be overlooked. Other styluses may work satisfactorily for general handwriting, app-tapping, and browsing, but they lack the precision offered by the Pogo Sketch; check it out.

Lost Planet 2 - Playstation 3
Lost Planet 2 - Playstation 3
Offered by RushHourWholesalers
Price: $12.99
198 used & new from $2.81

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Multiplayer Action, May 14, 2010
STORY *no spoilers* (7/10): Lost Planet 2 is a 3rd-person multiplayer action title that takes place on the planet EDN III, which used to be completely frozen over. However, escalating conflicts between human colonists and the planet's indigenous Akrid lifeforms have caused drastic climate changes to take effect, spawning dense jungles, arid deserts, and everything in between. All of this eventually culminates in a revelation about how the entire planet is threatened by a looming global calamity, and the involvement of the various interested factions will play a pivotal role in how it all will end. Pretty standard sci-fi action plotline, but it works. It's worth noting that there really isn't a "main character" per se, which makes it difficult to relate to the story and the people affected by it. But then, that's not really what LP2 is about. LP2 is all about...

GAMEPLAY (9/10): ...and here is where it shines. By default, LP2 is set up to allow players to link up via the internet and join each other in a cooperative Campaign mode. It's possible to tackle the Campaign mode in single-player, but as the maps and objectives you'll encounter are clearly built to accommodate multiple players, you'll invariably find them difficult to conquer solo. You've been warned. But if you've got a team of armed militants at your back, the experience is highly enjoyable. No, it's downright awesome. Playing in any mode earns you points that you can use to purchase new weapons, equipment, and armor pieces to customize your character. There's a HUGE selection of weapons, ranging from sticky grenades and magnum revolvers, to energy shields and rocket launchers, to mega-shotguns and Death Star-esque concussive laser cannons. And they're all a truckload of fun to decimate your enemies with. There are plenty of situations that actually call for real strategy between teammates in the pursuit of victory, and this is even more apparent in competitive multiplayer matches. Managing your team's T-ENG (Thermal Energy) reserves is critical to healing wounded team members and arming energy weapons. Teamwork is heavily encouraged by the wide range of VS (Vital Suits - mobile armor/weapon mechs) platforms, some of which can be operated by several players at once, each manning their own cannon or piloting the suit's movements. The grappling hook adds even more offensive/defensive options, allowing you to cross real estate quickly, reach high platforms, rappel down sheer drops, and cling to moving targets while you unload your clip at point-blank. A bloody good time. By the way, don't expect the AI to be very clever or tactical; your enemies are good shots, but they're generally not so hot at seeking cover. Best to challenge real human players. System Link and split-screen multiplayer modes are also available, for the internet-challenged.

GRAPHICS (8/10): I've always liked the unique visuals Capcom's generated using their MTF engine, and LP2 is no exception here. The jungle environments in particular are very colorful and vibrant, invoking images of a romp through Jurassic Park. Except instead of dinosaurs, there are huge, hostile aliens with many sharp protrusions. The Akrid foes you encounter come in all shapes and sizes, and for the most part, their animations are smooth and organic. Probably the most obvious eye-candy can be had in the huge, spectacularly colorful array of sparks, explosions, and electrical discharges issued from the business end of your chosen weapon. Watching as your foe is engulfed in a bright sphere of searing plasma, then launched across the map by the ensuing blast wave is a joy that never gets old. There are also plenty of destructive environments, which is a plus. It's been stated by a few professional reviews that there's a lack of character subtext/facial expression, but LP2 isn't a character-focused game, so I think that's a petty criticism. Aside from some negligible clipping errors, the visuals deliver a unique and engrossing experience.

SOUND (10/10): It's hard to describe the hair-raising chill of awesome that I get from hearing the sound effects in LP2. The thunderous cracks and earth-shaking booms emanated by all the bullets, bombs and plasma bolts flying around the battlefield are some of the most striking noises I've heard this side of a Hollywood picture. The epic musical score a pretty catchy too, lending itself well to the massive scale of the adventures and battlefields you find yourself surrounded by. The voice-overs aren't exactly A-list talent, but they're pretty good. Very solid sound work here.

OVERALL (9/10): This is a game about two things: multiplayer, and blowing stuff up. And in this regard, LP2 is a success. In fact, next to Monster Hunter 3, this is probably one of the best multiplayer experiences I've ever had the pleasure of picking up. Totally worth checking out.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2014 10:50 AM PDT

Final Fantasy XIII - Playstation 3
Final Fantasy XIII - Playstation 3
Offered by Delaware
Price: $20.36
238 used & new from $4.01

250 of 330 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prepare for Linearity (at first), March 9, 2010
I have completed the main story arc, and am now working on Marks. Here's my (4.5-Star) review:

-As many preliminary reviewers have stated, this iteration of the Final Fantasy series is quite noticeably linear in nature in its first half. Compared to the previous FF installments, which allow you to explore a vast open world from the outset and take on various optional side-quests, FFXIII gives you neither for the first 18-20 hours of the game. Things open up after that point, but your options are still very limited compared to earlier FF games. There is also little opportunity to "level grind" (although the term doesn't explicitly apply here, more on that later) until you reach this point. You are given a proverbial "ceiling", a temporary limit to which your party members can be strengthened and developed, and for better or worse, you have to make the most of what's available to you to overcome the next challenging boss battle. Also, NPC interaction is highly limited, almost to the point of non-existence. Luckily, the story development balances all this out very nicely. It's like one big, long, winding corridor full of hurtles to jump, though the game manages to become more and more fun to play as you progress. And damned if it isn't the most visually appealing corridor I've ever seen.

-Which brings us to the graphics. Square Enix has historically made painstaking efforts to keep its Final Fantasy games on the very cutting edge of the graphics scene, and FFXIII is no exception. The characters--even token NPCs--are all meticulously rendered and animated, each doing justice to the art of the series' premiere character artist, Tetsuya Nomura. Their facial subtext is unprecedented in the series, making for very convincing performances. The way they move in battle is consistently a treat to watch, particularly in Lightning's case, as she vaults and flips about, slashing up baddies and tossing fireballs around the arena. Despite participating in chaotic battles with as many as 10 enemies on-screen, I've noticed absolutely no lag or slowdown in the framerate. The environments are positively SPECTACULAR in both their scope, lighting, and design. It's enough to make you cry, knowing that you're chained to a single path and unable to freely explore these awe-inspiring vistas, but don't worry, you'll get more freedom to roam in the latter half of the game. The prerendered cutscenes are even more beautiful, in my opinion surpassing the taut action and visual appeal of even the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete [Blu-ray] feature film. They occur fairly often, and they're an absolute joy to watch.

-About battles: the new battle system is a great departure from what FF vets might be used to. There are up to three party members fighting on your side, and you directly control the actions of the leader only. The other two members provide AI support based on their role in your party's currently active Paradigm (a battle plan that assigns specific roles to each party member, and can be changed on-the-fly at any time). Timing these Paradigm Shifts is the name of the game, otherwise you'll get pummeled in short order.
Gone are the days when you'd have to manage your party's HP and MP between battles; HP is automatically refilled for all party members (even KO'd ones) after every battle, and MP is non-existent.
Magic spells take the form of elemental techniques that are seamlessly integrated with physical attacks and other special techniques, in long hitstrings that cost only ATB Meter stocks. The focus is not only to survive and win battles, but to finish them quickly and decisively. It pays to have your strategy thought through before challenging the next group of enemies. Judiciously switching Paradigms in mid-battle is indespensible to victory, and necessary to receive a 5-star rank at the end of the battle, and ultimately more valuable spoils.
Summons take the form of Eidolons, who join you as AI-controlled battle buddies when called upon. You can also press Square to enter the Eidolon's "Gestalt Mode", wherein it transforms into some sort of vehicle that the summoning character rides on/in, unlocking new attack options and enabling you to execute the Eidolon's ultimate technique on command. Only the party's currently assigned Leader may summon an Eidolon.
"Limit Breaks" (as they are more popularly known) can be unlocked for each character once they've reached Chrystarium Level 4. They do not cost TP, and there are no special prerequisites for executing them; fire away to your heart's content. As with Eidolons, only the Party Leader can execute his/her Limit Break.
It takes some getting used to, but the game offers plenty of tutorials to explain how to make the most of the options available to you. Personally, I find this new battle system to be a lot of fun.

-Character levels as you know them are gone as well. Your party members' stats are boosted through the expenditure of Crystogen Points (CP) in the Chrystarium Development system (very similar to the Sphere Grid system of FFX). As you advance through the Chrystarium, you gain new techniques and spells, and increase the levels of each character's available Roles.
What does level up are your weapons and accessories. Spoils you earn in victory can be spent to allocate Experience Points to your equipped gear, raising their stat bonuses and special attributes, and even transforming them into other, more powerful items. I guess this is your incentive to shoot for that 5-star battle score.

-Camera movement feels a bit sluggish, but smooth. It gives the battles a cinematic feel, but when you're running around the map, it can be a pain. I like to sneak up on enemies so that I can get the initiative when the battle starts, but the slow-turning camera has robbed me of this opportunity more than a few times (though it's not a game-breaker).

-BOTTOM LINE: It's definitely worth checking out, but I recommend you rent this one first, even if you're a Final Fantasy veteran. FFXIII has its own unique style and flow; you either love it or you hate it. The story is deep, mysterious and compelling, and the characters each have very interesting, multi-dimensional personalities. If you can stick it out, you'll be handsomely rewarded with gameplay that just gets more and more exciting as you progress.
Comment Comments (48) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2013 10:52 PM PDT

DVD ~ Gurren Lagann

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Finale, March 5, 2010
This review is from: GURREN LAGANN Set 3 (DVD)
I was a bit worried going into Part 3 of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The beginning of this final chapter appeared much more mature, somber, and at times downright depressing. But luckily that was just a momentary departure from the series' signature high-blown mega-scale fist-pumping F**K YEAH crazy overdrive insanity. Like its predecessors, Part 3 delivers the goods with plenty of comic relief, and heaping helpings of some of the most ludicrously explosive giant robot battles you'll ever see, and then somehow manages to magnify their scope by literally hundreds of times (Simon takes the helm of a mecha so massive, it uses galaxies as stepping stones).

Gurren Lagann shatters the borders of rationality, blithely discarding any notion of limitation or restraint. It spins up, rips loose and rampages nonstop through every episode. Just sit back and let this chaotic spectacle of imagination unfold before your eyes. You won't regret it!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2012 5:55 PM PST

Sword of the Stranger [Blu-ray]
Sword of the Stranger [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Tomoya Nagase
3 used & new from $99.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Anime, March 3, 2010
I can't speak for the special features, since I haven't checked them out just yet.

PLOT (no spoilers):
Pretty standard fare. A nameless swordsman must protect an innocent boy against the hostile battlefield of two warring factions. The main antagonist group consists of an elite bunch of highly-skilled Chinese warriors who feel no pain, at the head of which is a mysterious blonde swordsman ailing at his inability to find a worthy adversary. Lacking somewhat in the originality department, the story nonetheless draws you in by the sheer charisma of its characters. The characters themselves convey their archetypes well, without being overly obvious. The cliche factor is evident, but luckily it doesn't detract from your enjoyment of the film.

Though at times inconsistent (read: some of the battle clips appear noticably choppy, while others are smooth as silk), this feature is still head and shoulders over many of its contemporary counterparts. The characters' movements are believably natural, and their facial subtext succeeds in making you actually care about what they're thinking. At times, CGI is used for set pieces and background work, but it's so well-integrated that it complements without distracting, and is often unnoticable. Most memorable of all is the climactic battle between the swordsmen No-Name and Luo Lang: this is far and away the single most visually arresting swordfight I have ever seen in an animated feature. Ever. It invokes a tangible feeling of suspense and wonder, the choreography is brilliant, the scope is incredible, the pacing is thrilling, and their movements are positively GORGEOUS. It'll make the hairs on your neck stand up, mark my words.

I usually prefer subtitled anime over dubbed, as English voice-overs can be spotty, and often omit certain important nuances. However, Sword of the Stranger's English voice actors are all very talented, and they mesh perfectly with the setting and their respective characters. The sound effects are particularly well-done; at the moment when No-Name strikes the killing blow against his first Chinese opponent, the explosive crack of wood beams shattering and the brutal gnashing of bone pound straight through to your core. It gives every action scene a very visceral and immersive feel.

Sword of the Stranger simply must not be missed. It's certainly not the most original thing out there, but its tried-and-true story formula can be appreciated by most anyone, and the action is definitely top-tier material. This isn't a film you can watch only once.

PS3 Shadow Wireless Controller with Rumble
PS3 Shadow Wireless Controller with Rumble

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Close, but no cigar., March 2, 2010
-The contorller's construction feels quite sturdy and solid. The soft silicone grip material is very cool and comfortable, and it fits well in your hands.
-The 2.4GHz wireless receiver has no noticable input lag, and its functionality equals that of the DualShock3 (you can access all menus with the PS button, and even switch the console on and off with it).
-The placement of the left analog stick is the most obvious advantage. It feels much more natural and intuitive when playing FPS games.
-The rumble gyros are high-quality as well.

-The right analog stick (which I most commonly use for freelook in FPS games) feels slightly sticky. In games like Borderlands, where precision aiming is not absolutely crucial, this isn't a big problem. But in the competitive arena of Modern Warfare 2, it's enough to make you rage at how difficult it is to line up long-range shots. Being that I almost always play the "sniper type" in FPS games, this is a big negative.
-The D-pad contact points kind of suck. It will often register an "up" press when I enter a "right" press, etc. Useless for any game that requires precision D-pad commands (like any fighting game and many action games).
-The L2 & R2 shoulder buttons still have too much play. Again, not a major problem for some titles, but that split-second delay in Modern Warfare 2 will get you axed.
-No turbo function. I paid 40 USD at a local retailer for this controller, and I would've expected at least that for the price.

It's not a bad PS3 controller, when you take its competition into account. Good idea switching the d-pad and the left analog stick positions (friggin' FINALLY, somebody gets it), but that's the only big positive this controller brings to the market. It's other drawbacks should make any serious FPS gamer shy away from it.

Death Anxiety [Explicit]
Death Anxiety [Explicit]

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Crushing Blow from Bleeding Through, February 11, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I never get tired of listening to this track. It's about as hardcore as metal gets, and the punishing drop and machine gun pedals after the first verse really punch through to your core. Beyond kickass!!

Microsoft Zune 4Gb 8Gb Kroo Forza Leather Case - Black
Microsoft Zune 4Gb 8Gb Kroo Forza Leather Case - Black

5.0 out of 5 stars Does the Job, February 11, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This leather case is tough, well-crafted, and convenient. Given the general lack of options out there for Zune accessories, this one is definitely one of the better protective cases available. Highly recommended.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars - Nintendo Wii
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars - Nintendo Wii
Offered by DealTavern
Price: $50.00
31 used & new from $24.00

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For 'Vs. Series' Veterans..., February 4, 2010
Story: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Controls: 10/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Fun Factor: 10/10

...I'll just stick to citing the major differences between Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom and previous Vs. Series titles:

-All-new characters! The Tatsunoko cast, though largely unfamiliar to American fans, offers its very own style and flow to the arena, headlined by anime titans such as Gatchaman and Tekkaman Blade. Tried and true Capcom favorites return with welcome new additions to the Vs. series, including Zero of the Megaman X fame.

-Deeper Partner Crossover system! Though the battles have been reduced to 2-on-2 matchups, players can now do more than just switch out partners and trigger Team Hyper Combos. Now you can call in Partner assists to mix up your offense, use your partner to strategically absorb attacks, and even switch partners in mid-combo to lengthen your attack strings and stack up insane damage.

-Huge playable fighters like Gold Lightan add a whole new dimension to the experience, allowing you to utterly crush your smaller rivals! Or you can topple one of these giants with your more traditionally-sized fighting team.

-The wall bounce! Grizzled fighting veterans will quickly learn to incorporate this brutal knockdown technique to string together even longer combos and mount an unprecidented offense. Truly a technique for the swift-minded.

-The Baroque Cancel allows you to instantly cancel your attack recovery in mid-combo, so you can further lengthen the attack string while reducing damage scaling! This allows for some truly fearsome combo setups for anyone willing to practice up.

-The Megacrash allows you to break out of an enemy's combo attack, at the cost of some Hyper Meter and a bit of your lifebar. Use this to escape a dire situation and turn the tables on your opponent!

-Simplified button layout. Instead of the classic 6-button attack system of the past, TvC features 4 basic buttons: Light attack, Medium attack, Heavy attack, and the Partner button. But don't let it fool you; these commands combine with the direction keys to activate varible attacks that greatly expand each character's arsenal and offer a huge range of ways to pummel your enemies.

-Breakaway stages! Mostly an aesthetic novelty, but still welcome eye candy after you've slammed your opponent into the floor. ;)

Compared to the Japanese release, TvC: Ultimate All-Stars has made drastic changes and additions to re-balance and revamp the entire experience. Nevertheless, this one is most certainly worth the buy, offering hours of high-flying, fast-paced combat and a truckload of unlockable features. An excellent title worthy of Capcom's legendary pantheon of excellent fighters.

PSP GRIP With Built-in 6 Hour Rechargeable Battery
PSP GRIP With Built-in 6 Hour Rechargeable Battery

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent grip, crappy battery., October 2, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'd owned one of these before purchasing another here on Amazon. The tines on my last one broke off because I didn't realize that this grip was made to fit the PSP Slim models, and not the thicker 1st generation PSP 1000. My bad.

Anyway, I own a PSP 3000 now, and this grip works perfectly. It eliminates all the cramping and discomfort I suffered through trying to play games like Monster Hunter and Dissidia: Final Fantasy, which require high levels of dexterity. In my opinion, this grip is the best, lowest priced, lowest maintenance PSP grip on the market.

The advertised "6-hour rechargeable battery" function is pretty much non-existent though. I don't notice that it extends my PSP's battery life at all. But I bought this knowing the battery was next to useless anyhow. For the price, the comfort this baby offers alone is most definitely worth it.

An absolute must-buy, especially for PSP owners with big hands/long fingers. Your hands will thank you.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 16, 2010 7:41 AM PST

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