Tag Archives: Zombie

Winning Science August 10, 2014

For most of history scientists have been forced to experiment on animal brains if they wanted to test the way a brain works. Obviously it’s unethical to experiment on a living human, and a dead one doesn’t really give you quite the same insight. With the use of stem cells however, scientists have been able to start growing mini-brains in the lab that can model certain brain functions. While these mini-brains won’t ever become fully functional brains, they develop all the same kinds of tissue that the real thing has, which then allows scientists to study their functions better.

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Editorial | Review: Nun Attack Run & Gun

For today’s mobile game review, I went to the Google Play Store’s holiday sale.  There I found a plethora of games and at that point the hard part was choosing just one.  I found a holiday game called Nun Attack: Run & Gun which looked interesting and had a controversial name—double win, in my opinion.  This is just running game with the gun element added for some fun.

It's funny because nuns are usually pacifists

It’s funny because nuns are usually pacifist

First off, this game is cute and fun.  The graphics are a little edgy, but it works in the setting.  Players get to choose a nun, which is Rosy, a tall, leggy young lady with an eye patch and a semiautomatic rifle, by default at first.  Other nuns can be unlocked later in the game.

The object of the game is to run and gather coins (much like the oh-so-boring Temple Run), but is made more interesting by the addition of skeletons, werewolves, and zombies, which all want a piece of nun.

I wonder how Rosy lost her eye.

I wonder how Rosy lost her eye.

The controls are fairly easy, considering the lack of physical buttons to work with.  Up and down buttons on the left allow Rosy to jump or slide to gather coins and avoid spinning skill saw blades and other deadly objects.  The button on the right allows Rosy to fire her rifle at the evil creatures who wish to prevent her holy work.

As with most mobile games, this game relies on in-game purchases for revenue.  Fortunately, it appears that jewels/diamonds are only used for free revivals (pun intended) for the nuns.  Unlike many games where jewels are required for leveling up, it would appear that it is unnecessary to spend money in this game to fully enjoy it.  Most upgrades to weaponry, etc, are purchased with coins, which are earned in gameplay.  That’s a huge plus for someone like me.   It’s also nice that these coins are generously distributed.  From time to time, the nun will run into a portal, which will take her through a strange rip in the space-time continuum which for whatever reason has been filled with coins.

Screenshot_2013-12-23-10-37-43There are a few things that do get in the way of a perfectly smooth playing experience.  The nuns do not seem to have a very long life span.  I would have preferred that my character could survive a few attacks before she fell on her face and literally bit the dust.

Another big problem for me is that just as the nun starts her run, a popup screen listing the available power-ups appears and stays there until it is manually closed.  This requires me to move my hands away from the important buttons at the bottom of the screen, which is very scary.

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Go away! I’m trying to run.

Lastly, it is both distracting and difficult to find out what the objectives are for each level.  They appear in small black bars at the bottom of the screen during actual gameplay and are not listed anywhere else in the game.  I can either ignore them completely and hope to accidentally achieve them; or I can stare at the bottom of the screen and wait for them to appear, and potentially allow my nun to run into something deadly.

This is really just a run and shoot game—not that the astute player would gather anything different from its name.  I enjoyed playing it, and it gave me a nice chance to take out my anger from my seasonal retail job (Yell at me because you don’t have a coupon for your purchase, will you? Take that, skeletons!!!!).  The game is available in the Google Play Store and in the iTunes App Store.  All things considered, I give it four out of five death stars.

4 Death Stars

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Winning Science July 10, 2013

So I don’t really understand chemistry, and now apparently those few rules of chemistry don’t apply in space. And its due to quantum tunneling, which is just a bizarre, but cool phenomenon.

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And even more awesome, the effect was observed with alcohol.

A Japanese company is now one step closer to giving us Iron Man. Leave it to the Japanese to come up with something this cool

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Just please tell me they’re not going to try and have sex with it.

Bad news for Android users. BlueBox has discovered a master key that can make 99% of Android devices into zombies.

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Makes me a more than a little glad that I switched to Apple, though I’m sure the government is watching me either way.

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Review: World War Z

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I’m kind of over the whole zombie thing. Over the last few years people have gone a little zombie crazy and the market is well beyond saturation at this point.  Also, I was not particularly thrilled to find out that this movie was basically World War Z in name only.  I am a huge fan of the book and had really been looking forward to seeing it made for the big screen.  My enthusiasm quickly faded a few days ago when I came across an interview with author Max Brooks.  Brooks, son of comedy genius Mel Brooks and actress Anne Bancroft, is no stranger to Hollywood and was well aware that his novel wouldn’t make it to the screen intact.  In the interview Brooks said that people should see the movie and judge it strictly as a movie.

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Max Brooks and me at NYCC 2010

While not going so far as to endorse the film, Brooks made a very good point by telling people to evaluate it on its own merit.  I knew there was a very real chance that even though this movie was not going to be the book brought to life, it could still be a pretty good story in its own right.  And so with that thought in mind, I went forth and saw World War Z.

As it turns out, World War Z is a pretty solid action flick.  It is most definitely not the book, but that is okay. A few elements from the book were introduced to give the movie a similar feel, but I don’t really think those were necessary.  The main character Gerry Lane, played by Brad Pitt, is a former UN investigator who is trying to figure out how and where the “zombie” plague began in exchange for his family’s safety onboard a US Navy ship.  I use quotes for “zombie” because the characters in the movie, like those in the book, acknowledge how ridiculous mythical zombies are and use the word only to describe the virus in terms that are easily understandable.  Lane’s search takes him on an impressive tour of much of the globe, hitting South Korea, Israel, Wales, and Nova Scotia. Viewers are treated to some stupendous aerial and wide angle shots of the surrounding scenery (albeit, usually covered with the stumbling infected).  Interspersed among these great shots are some pretty standard, though well-crafted, action sequences.  Since this is a zombie movie, there are plenty of escape scenes and crowd chases, but none of these feel tired or played out, as can often be the case in this genre.   I really appreciated the fact that the film got off to a quick start, giving a brief introduction to the characters and then rolling right into the action.  I absolutely hate when a movie takes forty-five minutes to get finally get to the real heart of the plot and then rushes through it to get to some massive climax.

Often times what makes or breaks a movie like this is the acting.  Aside from Pitt, there weren’t any other big name actors I recognized, but everyone gave a consistent performance across the board.  A big film with plenty of money to spend on effects rarely fails because of the visuals, and a big name, leading actor can only lift the movie so much, so it comes down to the supporting cast to either keep the film afloat, or torpedo it.  The only two really standout performances were by actors playing zombies towards the conclusion.  Both play mindless, spastic undead wonderfully, and give them disturbed personalities of their own.  From bugged-eyed head banging to chattering teeth and dog-like sniffing, they make it truly believable that these creatures, though once human, are now something entirely different.

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Whenever Brad Pitt starts running around with the supporting cast, bad things are about to happen.

There are some things that were included that I could have really done without.  First on that list, and probably the ones I find most annoying, are the quick cuts through file footage of riots, wars, natural disasters and the like that start off the movie; and the similarly cut, faux news reports of people fighting back and receiving aid that wraps up the film.  This has been done so many times it honestly makes me want to hurl.  I get what the filmmakers are trying to accomplish but it is cliché and the time for new material has come.  I was also turned off by how fast those who had been bitten turned into zombies.  I think that much of the terror and suspense of a zombie film comes from the impending transformation.  Every time somebody gets bitten it is understood that before long they will be joining the ranks of the undead, but that it will be a slow and horrifying process. Just thinking about it makes the skin crawl.  In World War Z, the whole process from bite to full on zombie takes ten to twelve second.  The virus acts unrealistically rapidly, even faster than almost any kind of venom, poison or nerve agent in real life.

This removes almost any believability from the transformation which doesn’t have much to start with.  My final complaint about the movie concerns the PG-13 rating.  I have nothing against the film having a PG-13 rating, but in order to get this rating, the film makers seriously cut back the on-screen violence.  This led to a few shots that reminded me of R movies that have been cut so they could be shown on cable. What is happening just off screen is obvious and the attempts to avoid showing it just seem awkward.

The movie ends as many zombie movies end:  open to glimmers of hope.  I have yet to hear of a World War Z sequel and while there is room for it if they’d like to do one, the fact that the film was wrapped up enough to stand on its own pleased me.  While World War Z may not be rated among 2013’s greatest movies, it was certainly a strong addition to a genre that often fails to change or adapt and frequently feels played out. There is a real chance that diehard fans of the book will be disappointed if they are unwilling to take the advice of author Max Brooks and judge the movie on its own merits.  As for the rest of us, it’s worth checking out.  World War Z has earned itself a solid 3 Death Stars.

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PS,

While this ending sounds pretty Badass, I’m quite happy with the one that made it into the film.

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