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CONTENT
FEATURED NEWS FEEDS


NEWS (LAST 200)
Madison Beer seen after denying dating B...
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Which Game of Thrones character will end...
Dinosaur labelling mistake spotted by 10...
Moment Sainsburys driver is ambushed by ...
Kate’s go-to designer Jenny Packham ca...
Gigi Hadid so retro in Star Wars tee and...
Polish party leader hits out at Germany ...
McCains moment: a no on health care...
Trump pushes simple majority vote after ...
UK announces fire safety review after te...
News24.com | Unlikely that Timol jumped ...
Trump to cite gang violence in New York ...
Campolindo’s quarterback reigns handed...
4 Dangerous Myths About the Transgender ...
Indian politicians consider universal ba...
Forecasting the Next Food Fad: Are Kohlr...
UK fire tests show 82 buildings have fai...
TV reporter gets death threats after San...
[BREAKING] N. Korea fires missile which ...
West Bromwich family helped by BBC makeo...
A Scaramucci-watchers guide to Italian s...
Science journalist retires at 98 and war...
There is a thing called a summer nor&apo...
Savage killers of St Austell homeless ma...
BLM leader rips SBA boss for backing NYP...
History buffs celebrate forgotten Revolu...
Cassini finds building blocks of life in...
U.S. economy speeds up in second-quarter...
After deadly UK fire, 82 tower blocks fo...
Wells Fargo may have forced 570,000 cust...
Treasury ends the myRA, Obamas retiremen...
Opinion: Tillerson Should Resign After A...
Author of fake racist MiWay email apolog...
Ben Stokes sparkling century pushes Engl...
US Diplomats in Venezuela: Relatives Ord...
North Korea fires a missile into Japan...
Sterling edges back towards 10-month hig...
AbbVie to remain cautious on drug pricin...
Swimming-World championship womens 200m ...
Multiple people missing in South Dakota ...
- New York start-ups shine light on new ...
Republicans frustrated after healthcare ...
Man arrested over suspected London acid ...
Trump heads to MS-13 epicenter to highli...
New York start-ups shine light on new pa...
North Korea launches ballistic missile t...
Two teenagers accused of arson over Fren...
Palestinian shot dead by Israeli army in...
The Latest: McCain calls for a fresh sta...
At her happiest: Pics of Dianas last hol...
Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon and James Cord...
Grenfell: Councillors cannot keep jobs n...
A 3,500-year-old lunch box was found in ...
Want to live to 100? Dorothy Smith attri...
Rail users warned of large fare rises as...
Princess Diana death: How old would Prin...
Woman forwards man’s unsolicited d–k...
Tobacco companies' share prices tum...
North Korea fires ballistic missile land...
Donald Trumps manic, fantastical and utt...
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North Korea could develop a nuclear miss...
Theres Great News — And Grim News — ...
Rod Stewart donates thousands to familie...
Tesla Model 3 rolls off the red carpet a...
Prince Harry cheers up tearful boy as he...
STASI: Scaramucci’s tirade shames Ital...
Swimming-World championship womens 200m ...
Elon Musk says Falcon Heavy will launch ...
Merck says cyber attack halted productio...
North Korea Launches A New Ballistic Mis...
FDA Proposes Cutting Nicotine Amounts In...
Withholding sex from husbands is 'p...
Dolores Huerta: Voter-approved death wit...
Russia’s new UN envoy: World faces ‘...
News24.com | Author of black baboons MiW...
Firefighters save Ohio woman from boa co...
Grenfell Tower: 82 buildings fail new fi...
MLB trade deadline: The latest rumors, r...
Obama spokesman after Senate health care...
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AnnaLynne McCord hits the beach in an an...
World Championships: Adam Gemili says he...
Pregnant Ferne McCann flaunts blossoming...
Scientists successfully edit DNA of huma...
GRAINS-U.S. corn, soy, wheat futures ris...
German far-right AfD cleared for Sept el...
Marine Corps grounds cargo plane fleet a...
The Latest: Lavrov says Moscow had to re...
Independent review into building regulat...
Chinas Sanyuan Foods, Fosun to buy Franc...
Laurene Powell Jobs is buying The Atlant...
Syria troops enter key IS-held town: mon...
Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere miss ou...
LIFE AFTER DEATH: Astonishing study reve...
Prosecutor: Pharma Bro Shkreli exposed a...
BREAKING: Horror as man drives vehicle i...
How the U.S. can defend against North Ko...
BREAKING: One dead as man drives vehicle...
Need for a borderless Ireland means soft...
Moldova president sees move towards Russ...
The Latest: Some rides re-opening at Ohi...
R. Kelly slams cult speculation as ‘cr...
One person has died after car hits crowd...
Garth Brooks will now play six shows in ...
Penny Oleksiak finishes sixth in 100-met...
Paris hand-shakes on Libya peace deal ma...
S.Africa mine suspends women who refused...
Why Jets grabbing Cowboys garbage is jer...
Attorney seeks new trial after opioid pi...
Democratic Party is in no better place a...
Neymar to PSG: Thiago Silva discusses Ba...
Robert Fulford: In Ontario, your gamblin...
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Rex Murphy: Canada 150 fell flat because...
The VERY different lives of the Peru Two...
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NASA is turning the solar eclipse into a...
Chain store slammed for selling ‘padde...
Omnipresent effects human impact on Engl...
British man wrecks his $288,000 Ferrari ...
McCain says time for Republicans, Democr...
Steve Jobs widow buys a majority stake i...
O’Neill: NYPD is too busy to attend Tr...
Man who thought mom was possessed pleads...
Iran denies rocket test violates U.N. re...
Athletics-Kenya names London lineup afte...
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Ocracoke Island Power Outage Forces 10K ...
Ari Fleischer: No Presidential Aide Sho...
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Rasmussen: Trumps Approval Rating Drops ...
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Fantasy waiver wire: Lucas Duda, Eduardo...
Rams coach Sean McVay, 31, embarks on ma...
Wolfpack adds former Buckeyes recruit Br...
U.S. Economy Glides Back to Steady, Mode...
Chebukati bows to Kenyans pressure, says...
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Red-Carpet Kiss
Siġġiewi council objecting to plans to...
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Officer told Venus Williams she was at f...
‘Super’ Shocker
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Former Roughriders coach Corey Chamblin ...
Will the GOP need to rearrange the orche...
A breathless, visceral experience
Jon Gruden says the Grumors are true: Im...
Canadian women lose water polo bronze to...
Rays acquire reliever Steve Cishek in tr...
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Princess Pose
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Live updates from Day 2 of Redskins trai...
Reports: LaVar Ball ejected after incide...
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Jeff Sessions exposes the sham of Trump ...
George Clooney lashes out over paparazzi...
Jon Gruden: 'I’m preparing to...
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Cozied Up
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NASA has no plan to boycott poll but don...
A love letter to Lea & Tonyo
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Yassi takes the high road
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Costar Chat
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New opera wants the same appeal as telev...
National Lipstick Day: Wander Beauty Is ...
Rays acquire Steve Cishek from Mariners ...
Red Sox's David Price placed on DL ...
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REVIEWS & PREVIEWS (LAST 60)
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Yashica ML 50mm f/1.4 Classic Lens Revie...
Best Everyday Camera Bags Roundup
Theres Still Time To Get Corel AfterShot...
Australia gets its first win over U.S. i...
Senate Republicans skinny repeal of Obam...
Trump tweets another push for Republican...
Dodgers call up catcher Kyle Farmer...
In tweet, Trump appears to cast doubt on...
Michiko Kakutani, Times’s Feared and R...
Literary World Reacts to Michiko Kakutan...
Today in Entertainment: Kesha finds rede...
White House infighting gets very public ...
Fotodiox LED100WB-56 quick review
Panasonic Lumix DC-GX850/GX800 review...
The D Train Review
Meal Kits Reviewed: Amazon Fresh, Blue A...
Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age Review...
2017 Roundup: Consumer Long Zoom Compact...
Leica TL2 First impressions review...
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Review
LG G6 Review
Recipe For Black & White Landscape Succe...
Learning To See Creatively
A Show Of Hands
Rakuen Review
What to Bring on a Road Trip to Keep Kid...
Ever Oasis Review
Hot Pursuit Review
Star Trek: Bridge Crew Review
Wanda pulling out of massive Chinese mov...
Leica TL2 Touchscreen Camera: Specs, Pri...
Google’s New Feeds Show You the Intern...
All the Gear You Need to Stay Secure Whi...
Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit Review...
Sundered Review
GOP Obamacare overhaul stumbles toward S...
Powerful 500 Years doc concludes trilogy...
Goodbye iPod, and Thanks for All the Tun...
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Top DSLR Cameras For Beginners 2017...
Canon EOS 200D Rebel SL2 Review
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Scaramucci tweets, deletes confusing sta...
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Thrill ride breaks apart, killing 1 and ...
From the Archives: Young violinist...
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The cannabis candidate: Gavin Newsom dom...


With this lightweight yet rugged gear, you can hit the backwoods without breaking your back. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 28 Jul 2017 15:00:00 +0000)
Breville's new espresso machine costs as much as a used car. But it's totally worth it. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 28 Jul 2017 13:00:00 +0000)

Go Inside The Massive Chinese Gaming Show


ChinaJoy 2017 Gallery

One of the world's biggest gaming shows, ChinaJoy, is taking place this weekend in Shanghai. It's expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people now through Sunday, which makes it significantly larger than western shows such as E3 and Gamescom.

GameSpot attended Day 1 on Thursday and we're going back today, July 28, to see more. For now, you can check out some of the photos we snapped on Day 1 in this gallery. Click "Next Image" to begin.

Disclosure: Ubisoft paid for GameSpot's travel and accomodation in Shanghai. We'll have more pictures and information from the trip soon.























































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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 19:00:00 -0700)
Here's a roundup of the best photography content on ePHOTOzine this week.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Photography News (Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:00:06 GMT )
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Tameka Butt scored in the 67th minute and Australia beat the United States for the first time in the 28-game series, 1-0 in the Tournament of Nations on Thursday night.

The Matildas also snapped the Americans' four-game winning streak.

Just moments after Butt's goal got past goalkeeper Alyssa...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Thu, 27 Jul 2017 21:15:00 PDT )

This has been quite a year for Alex Wood. After starting the season in the Dodgers’ bullpen, Wood joined the starting rotation and did so well he made his first All-Star team.

Now the Dodgers are calling up his college roommate.

The Dodgers have promoted catcher Kyle Farmer from triple-A Oklahoma...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 20:10:00 PDT )
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com "One of the things that may have been lost in the politics of this discussion is that when you look back on 2016, there really is an argument, based on the testimony we heard yesterday, that the objective of the Russians was really just to damage the... Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 19:13:00 PDT )
Ms. Kakutani has reviewed books at The New York Times since 1983 and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1998. The paper named Parul Sehgal one of its book critics. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Fri, 28 Jul 2017 01:05:16 GMT )
Did Michiko Kakutani — who stepped down after 38 years as The Times’s chief book critic — influence your literary tastes? We’d like to hear about it. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Fri, 28 Jul 2017 00:32:40 GMT )

President Trump and his aides love to complain about back-biting leaks from within the White House. But on Thursday, the infighting was out in the open, live on television.

The incoming communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, in a morning phone call broadcast on CNN, compared the West Wing...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Thu, 27 Jul 2017 16:20:00 PDT )

Hospitals are emotionally complicated places, especially if you have to stay longer than a trip to the emergency room. It might be nosy, but when you're surrounded by other patients, bored in curtained-off rooms, it's natural to wonder about your neighbors--and worry about them, too. It's not always easy to tell who's on the mend or the decline, but you feel connected to them through the shared environment, often filling in the gaps of their story with your imagination to pass the time.

It's this feeling, this sense of a web of individual stories connected by pristine white hallways and the persistent smell of hand sanitizer, that Rakuen chooses as its stage. You take on the role of an ill boy confined to a hospital and kept company by his mother. Unlike nearly every other character introduced, their names and backgrounds are withheld. In their minds, their story isn’t the most interesting one in the building. Not compared to the man down the hall who can't remember where he is, or the little girl with the sullen face and a big jar of marbles at her bedside.

The tales of every other patient, not to mention the hospital itself, are woven into a fabled, storybook world, the titular Rakuen. Forged in the minds of the mother and her son during bedtime stories, the bright, pastel-hued setting is populated with a variety of creatures. The most important one, a slumbering forest spirit who can grant the boy a wish, compels you to search for the missing verses of a rousing melody. The boy and his mother explore Rakuen in search of this song and solve problems for a cast of characters that are based on other patients in the hospital. There's no combat to speak of--just a map opened up, bit by bit, through straightforward puzzle-solving and story progression.

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The real world and magical realm interact with each other in a way that makes it difficult to discern how much of it is really intended as metaphor, and Rakuen doesn't exactly strain to define that boundary. The question of whether or not this magic is real, whether or not the boy and his mother are stepping into another world, whether or not the problems resolved for the catlike creatures on the other side actually bear out in real life is left more or less unanswered.

Video games have a lot of good examples of dads taking the spotlight, but moms are still a little harder to come by in the medium. Even if that weren’t the case, the mother in Rakuen would still undoubtedly stand out. She’s so much more than an accessory to her son's story--and so much more than a passive companion to the player. Some of the game's most exceptional moments are her moments, and they take what might have been a trite, predictable set of story twists and render them impactful and important again. Without her presence, Rakuen wouldn't be half the story it is.

Rakuen--the place--is sweet and idyllic, full of clever details and locations that are cozy and comforting, and it matches the hopeful tone of the story well. But unavoidable shades of sadness and fear are present, too, and a stripe of a haunting, uneasy, not-quite-horror-but-damn-close aesthetic runs through the game to drive that aspect home. It strikes a good balance, offering well-timed reminders that no one can hide from reality between the pages of a book forever.

As appealing as meandering through a fantastical pastel landscape can be, an inordinate amount of backtracking and the lack of a sprint button combine to make it a bit tiresome.

The beauty of the artwork only makes the limited resolution options in the game all the more disappointing. Your can either play Rakuen fullscreen with the artwork stretched and looking rough, or you can opt for a very small window at the game's native resolution. Given that Rakuen was made in RPG Maker, this is an issue that isn't surprising given the outdated nature of the engine, but that doesn't make it any less unsatisfying.

As appealing as meandering through a fantastical pastel landscape can be, an inordinate amount of backtracking and the lack of a sprint button combine to make it a bit tiresome. Much of the world is gated behind the gradual acquisition of new tools and abilities, so the tedious movement will likely stifle your curiosity and dissuade you from poring over every part of the environment.

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Unfortunately, there are also occasions when the rules for interacting with the world become lax without warning, creating undue confusion in the process. You might get stuck early on if you fail to realize that you can walk through a barrier made of caution tape. It doesn't break, and you don't need to duck or otherwise interact with it--you just walk through it somehow. Moments like this aren't uncommon, and while far from game-breaking, they blur conceptions of rules and logic that normally go hand in hand with puzzle solving.

For the first hour, nuisances like the one described above rise to the top, even so far as to overpower Rakuen's striking aesthetic. But shortly thereafter, when music becomes central to the story, your grievances begin to fade and you settle back into the world's charms. Rakuen's soundtrack (particularly the vocal tracks, many of which developer Laura Shigihara performs herself) will catch you off guard. Individual tracks act as stirring, truly endearing rewards for completing sections of the story. And when the game's theme music swells, and you finally to piece together the song you've been working towards all along, waking up the forest spirit feels like a genuine resolution.

There's no denying that Rakuen has some incredibly strong components. At the same time, it's hard to shake its more basic shortcomings, be it the technical limits of its engine or the plodding exploration. Its most brilliant and glowing scenes stand out and stick with you, but Rakuen remains just a dose or two short of healthy.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Mon, 10 Jul 2017 07:00:00 -0700)
The new TL2 has touchscreen controls, Wi-Fi, and bonkers image quality. It's simple enough to use that it works like a (very expensive) point-and-shoot. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Mon, 10 Jul 2017 13:00:00 +0000)
For the perfect road trip with kids, you need to pack a lot of stuff. The right stuff. Read More

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We review ready-to-cook meal kits like the Amazon Meal Kit from Amazon Fresh. Read More

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With these accessories in your luggage, you can take your Opsec program everywhere you go. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:00:00 +0000)
1.0 stars out of 5: Stay home.
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1.0 stars out of 5: Pursue a ticket to a different movie.
Allow me to mangle Tolstoy for a minute, and say that each good comedy is good in its own way, but that all bad comedies are alike. There's variation, of course, but they all limp along on sad, weak legs and confused direction. They're airless...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 08 May 2015 21:06:08 GMT )

In 2013, Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin unveiled plans for a moviemaking metropolis in the coastal city of Qingdao, with state-of-the-art film and TV soundstages and a massive water tank to draw big Hollywood productions.

Celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman flew out to witness...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 16:05:00 PDT )

For better and worse, Star Trek: Bridge Crew is exactly what's advertised--it's a virtual-reality simulation of operating a Federation starship. For the first few moments, the sheer thrill of taking the Captain's chair in VR, looking around you to see crew members all working away at their stations, and issuing your first commands is all wonderful and novel. But the second you start yearning for new life, new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before, you find a game nowhere near that ambitious.

Set in the J.J. Abrams Trek universe, Bridge Crew's single-player campaign centers around the U.S.S. Aegis--which, after a brief training mission, sets forth on its task to help the Vulcans find a new home. This mission takes the Aegis into a Klingon-controlled territory, the Trench, and into the heart of a potentially ugly interstellar incident. You can fill one of four roles aboard the ship: the Captain issues orders to every other department from the holographic menu built into the player’s chair, the Helm puts you in the driver's seat, Tactical handles shields and weaponry, and Engineering determines how much power gets shifted to the ship's vital systems.

The single-player campaign is brief, but it acts as an extended tutorial on the ins and outs of running a starship. From the Captain's chair, you receive orders from Starfleet and issue the commands that lead the Aegis ever forward. However, particularly in single-player, those commands aren't as simple as just telling your crew to move forward at quarter impulse or fire phasers. Instead, they’re a piece-by-piece process that must be followed and timed just right, with every crew member involved performing their duties with precision. In single-player, even something as simple as warping involves opening a menu, setting the correct course, telling engineering to power up the warp drive, having the helm align the ship towards the target location, and finally issuing the order to perform the warp. The process becomes second nature over time, especially with a proper VR controller like the Playstation Move to navigate the menu-heavy UI.

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You also have the ability to temporarily switch to another position to take manual control over the ship's various functions and levers in single-player, but it's a lot to manage and not nearly the simple power trip you might expect. A.I.-controlled crew members have a nasty habit of being complete knuckleheads who don't know how to properly and strategically fly around obstacles when pursuing a target.

Bridge Crew is somewhat more immersive in multiplayer, where you can speak directly to your crew and coordinate actions by voice, but you need to meet certain requirements for it to go smoothly: four trustworthy crew members, all of whom know their roles inside and out, and who can pull it together long enough to take the game even marginally seriously enough to get through the trickier missions. The situation is helped by the fact that, thankfully, the game supports Cross-Play between PSVR, Rift, and Vive users, meaning there’s typically no shortage of players to fill all four roles. However, since voice chat goes through all sorts of different protocols via the uPlay service, consistent communication remains a problem. Even then, that's assuming you're not stuck with someone who won't stop quoting Galaxy Quest instead of remembering to keep your ship in low-detection mode in Klingon territory.

It didn’t happen often in my time with Bridge Crew, but sometimes the stars did, in fact, align with the right kind of crew: cheerful without being overly silly, strong in their roles, intuitive enough to question an order without the bridge descending into chaos, and being just plain fun, amiable companions. And once that miracle is accomplished, you're left to contend with Bridge Crew as a game. And that game is, ultimately, a fairly milquetoast space shooter.

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The big issue really comes down to the fact that experiencing the minutiae of running a Starfleet ship is such a thin, pedantic aspect of what makes Star Trek a fascinating universe to play around in. It's always been strong character work and far-reaching sci-fi ideas and allegory that have elevated the dry space-navy material. There isn't nearly enough of the former here. The single-player campaign has a story, one that's even a decent jumping-off point from the Abrams films (albeit one that's deeply reminiscent of Mass Effect: Andromeda), but you aren’t making the truly hard decisions that define the best Starfleet captains, nor are you able to interact with your crew or even the ship outside of the bridge room in any meaningful way.

Even Trek’s infamous no-win Kobayashi Maru scenario--playable here as part of the game's introductory chapter--ends up as little more than a mindless shootout while attempting to transport the doomed vessel’s crew. The remainder of the campaign never really rises above that, content to be a game of traveling between systems, scanning areas and artifacts, transporting life forms, and fending off Klingon Birds of Prey from time to time. It's a game that crucially needs more interesting challenges that can't be solved with phasers.

It's still somewhat thrilling to inhabit the captain's chair on the bridge of a starship--at the bare minimum, Star Trek: Bridge Crew accomplishes that mission. When the game is at its best, the spirit of cooperation between various asymmetrical elements is encouraging--even special. In every other regard, however, Bridge Crew is forgettable the second you pull out of VR.


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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:00:00 -0700)

Public transportation has never been my favorite part of city-building simulations. I’ve always treated it as something of a necessary evil--a hassle best dealt with by quickly laying down extra roads, bus lines, or whatever other available gimmick so that I could keep constructing the new subdivisions and industries necessary to keep my citizens healthy and happy.

Mass Transit--the latest addition to the growing Cities: Skylines family from developer Colossal Order--doesn't quite change my mind on all of this, as I'm also a real-world mayor who focuses on the big picture. However, it comes awfully close thanks to an effective collection of people-moving options, ranging from ferries to monorails to blimps. What's included here smooths out some kinks in the original game's transit systems, allowing you to build more efficiently running cities--albeit at the cost of some added micromanagement that moves the game well out of the virtual mayor's office.

Mass Transit is centered on two areas, largely addressed in the three new scenarios and three new maps that present fresh challenges when it comes to efficiently moving your citizens from Point A to Point B. The most obvious facet of the expansion is what it adds to city character. You're free to embrace the quirks of each city's particular geography. You can practice something of a "sea and sky" philosophy for coastal and mountainous locales, for instance, using monorails and ferries to link neighborhoods and give your cities something of a Vancouver or Seattle vibe.

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Since Skylines is pretty familiar to its fanbase at this point, being able to mix things up like this and put a fresh face on everything adds more to gameplay than you might imagine. The new Ferry Empire scenario offers a fairly light challenge when it comes to moving folks around your watery city, but it's set it on a unique, beautiful landscape. Authentically, you have to work within the constraints of this terrain and embrace a municipal vision that's far from the relative cookie-cutter metropolises seen elsewhere in Skylines.

The other focus is city efficiency. Mass Transit provides tools that make for better-running cities. Perhaps the best example of this comes in the form of the new hub buildings. These structures form central locations for public transportation. They allow you to concentrate your efforts and properly plan out transit systems--a big improvement from the more seat-of-the-pants concept of the original game, where you're pressured to jury-rig and make it up on the fly. Here, hubs afford more opportunities to sketch out transit and approach development from a top-down perspective. You have more control as a result and become able to address transit as part of core city infrastructure, just like with electrical lines, water pipes, and sewers in the past.

One problem is the size of new additions, though. Retrofitting cities with hubs and other transit buildings can be a major chore, since they're generally pretty big. The "Fix the Traffic" scenario sums up how challenging this can be, as you can't seem to help leveling about half the city to get the snarled traffic situation smoothed out. Even laying down facilities that are a little easier to work with--train tracks, for instance--is both tough to design and to fit in without doing even more demolishing.

Structuring transit routes can be finicky, too. Simply establishing ferry pathways and routes can be frustrating and requires more trial-and-error than should be necessary for something seemingly so straightforward. So, it's best to start with a clean slate with this expansion, something also advisable to best enjoy the suite of new game options (new road guidelines, for example) released as a free Skylines update alongside this expansion.

All of this combines to make Mass Transit more about micromanagement. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're a control freak who wants to take a hands-on approach to everything in your city. But it does move Skylines further away from a simulation of what it's like to be the real mayor of a real city. With all of the extras added in the various expansion packs, the game now feels a little more like a municipal engineer or municipal planner simulation than anything that properly depicts what it's like to be the mayor overseeing everything.

Even with that caveat, Mass Transit adds more character and depth to what’s already the premier city-building simulation. It may be a bit disappointing that some of the original game's big-picture philosophy and mayoral authenticity has been sacrificed in the process, but it can be argued that these changes have also done an impressive job of filling out the public-transportation element of city design.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 22 Jun 2017 10:00:00 -0700)

Ever Oasis is a cute hybrid RPG that attempts to mix Animal Crossing-like town building with an adventure along the lines of The Legend of Zelda. Its compound formula is appealing on paper, but for a while, Ever Oasis falls short of its potential. Its simplistic narrative, cutesy visuals, and basic town-building mechanics test your patience in the beginning. But when its principal ideas are given a chance to take root, it sprouts into a surprisingly absorbing adventure that consistently rewards your time and efforts.

Set in a hostile desert world, you play as a young creature called a Seedling, who with the help of a water spirit, is capable of creating a magical safe haven known as an Oasis. Your adventure begins in ruin as your brother's Oasis is attacked by Chaos, an evil force that seeks to devastate and corrupt all living things. It lays waste to the area and its inhabitants, but before Chaos can harm you, your brother teleports you to safety in the hopes that you may survive to create a new Oasis and gather up the strength to defeat Chaos.

Ever Oasis' main story never stretches too far outside its basic premise, rarely expanding upon its rudimentary good-versus-evil dynamic. Despite the stakes set by its grim introduction, it predominantly maintains a happy-go-lucky attitude in the face of conflict, and you seldom get a sense of how Chaos has gripped the land or its people. There are a couple moments where it's expanded upon, like the plight of the Lagora, a race of squirrel-cats who once cultivated a lush forest to produce water, only for it to be consumed by Chaos. Details like this offer valuable insight into the game's world, but they're too few and far between.

As a result, it isn't the narrative that pulls you into Ever Oasis. Rather, it's the slow process of building up your personal desert refuge that proves to be the game's most rewarding element. You expand your Oasis by convincing travelers to live there. This can be done by fulfilling their requests, which typically range from fetch quests to escort missions. Successfully convincing travelers to become residents of your Oasis feeds into Bloom Booths, which are shops they can run that sell specific wares, such as juice, books, or fabric. Once a booth is built, you supply it with items the owner needs to stock their goods. This in turn attracts visitors who come to your Oasis to shop, racking up money for you to purchase seeds to grow crops, materials for equipment synthesis, or additional Bloom Booths. It takes time to learn these tenets, mostly due to the game's slow and incessant tutorials, but once you're given the reins, the loop is quickly rewarding.

It's satisfying to build up your Oasis and see it steadily grow more vibrant and lush.
It's satisfying to build up your Oasis and see it steadily grow more vibrant and lush.

The wider variety of Bloom Booths your Oasis contains, the more people that come to visit; and the more people that live in your Oasis, the higher its level, thus increasing its size and real-estate space. Your thoughts are always locked on what you can do to maximize your profits and upgrade your Oasis, or how you can entice a specific traveler into visiting. There's great joy in sorting through and accomplishing the various odd jobs you're given, but what's most fulfilling is seeing your Oasis take on new life as it levels up, sprouting lush greenery, paving wider roads, and erecting stone monuments.

While you spend much of your time developing your Oasis, there are occasions when you must venture into the game's overworld--often to seek out residents or explore nearby caves for materials. Most of the game's locales are wide-open desert landscapes, which sounds dull aesthetically but is actually pleasing to the eye thanks to the way the game's day/night cycle changes the world's color palette. The environments are not as dense as they could be, sometimes coming across as small sandboxes more so than lived-in spaces, but they sport a sense of interconnectedness that remains satisfying to explore.

The ability to customize a party offers a welcome dose of strategy to combat.
The ability to customize a party offers a welcome dose of strategy to combat.

In your trek across the game's arid deserts, you often fight creatures tainted by Chaos' presence. Like much of Ever Oasis, combat is rudimentary and tedious at first, boiling down to dodging an attack at the right moment and counterattacking accordingly. But as you obtain more advanced maneuvers and abilities, fights start to become more exciting affairs, especially when you form a party of three of your Oasis' most formidable residents to accompany you. The ability to customize a party offers a welcome dose of strategy to combat, as utilizing the unique strengths of various characters becomes paramount to your success in the late game's more difficult fights. While combat can be fulfilling, inconsistent party AI frequently leads to moments of frustration. It's common to see your companions running headfirst into a brutal attack, and other times skillfully dodging out of harm's way. The issue is minor, but you're liable to adopt the habit of bringing extra healing items to accommodate your allies' sporadic incompetence.

A major highlight of the overworld is its dungeons. Each contains a varied mix of puzzles to solve and enemies to fight. The myriad puzzles you encounter are elaborate, requiring you to utilize the unique abilities of your party. Some characters can, for example, shapeshift. This particular ability comes in handy when you need one ally to become a ball and another to form a wall for the first character to ricochet off of. While none of the ordeals you face are particularly difficult, they're diverse enough to keep you consistently engaged. However, an issue that detracts from the pacing of dungeons is the constant need to return to your Oasis to change your party members to overcome specific puzzles. Fast-travel alleviates this annoyance to some degree, but the number of times you're forced to go back and forth breaks up the flow of dungeons, reducing the enjoyment of exploring and overcoming these trials.

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While Ever Oasis is rough in spots, it helps that the game maintains a consistent level of wonder, introducing new types of challenges in step with your acquisition of new tools and abilities. Small quality-of-life adjustments, such as the ability to send out resource-gathering parties and bulk Bloom Booth restocking, are introduced to alleviate the demands of your routine as the game's scope increases and you're forced to spend more time exploring. It understands your struggles the moment you experience them, smartly streamlining your ability to accomplish tasks before they can become problematic. But building up your Oasis demands patience, and that can be the most challenging aspect of all. While it's easy to initially write off the game based on its rudimentary narrative and overtly vibrant visuals, what becomes compelling as you play more is the sense of ownership you start to feel for your Oasis and the bonds you create with your allies.

Ever Oasis' tight blend of mechanics and activities are bound to keep you coming back for more well after completing it, if only to see what else you can do to develop your desert sanctuary. While the game's story isn't particularly moving, the consistent gratification of its incisive design makes it a satisfying adventure. Ever Oasis takes time to grow, but the return is well worth the wait.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 30 Jun 2017 17:07:00 -0700)

The Final Fantasy series has always been about reinvention, and the twelfth incarnation embodies this to such an extreme, that you might catch yourself wondering if this is a really a game from the long-running RPG franchise at all. Not only is it deserving of the name, but it's an RPG through and through, where monster hunting and exploration of spacious locales effectively feed into its stat-based progression within an ensemble cast of colorful personalities. Like its predecessors, Final Fantasy 12 puts its own spin on how chocobos, summons, and characters named Cid play into its epic journey. With its long awaited remaster ready for release, Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age puts its best foot forward with a wealth of improvements and changes, delivering a fresh experience even if you've memorized the path from The Phon Coast to The Tomb of Raithwall.

For those who thoroughly enjoyed the PS2 version of Final Fantasy 12, The Zodiac Age is not only a remaster, but also a remix. Keen eyes will notice subtle tweaks to enemy locations and even changes to the selection of merchant goods. Some of these modifications are in service to the character-enhancing License Board, which itself has been overhauled from the original game in order to give each party member more distinctive jobs and abilities. Along with the inclusion of a Japanese voice track and improved loading times, the option to toggle between the original and reorchestrated versions of Hitoshi Sakimoto’s exquisite soundtrack is a welcome feature. Lastly, the improved high definition visuals brings out a fetching painterly look to the characters' faces. As a PlayStation 4 exclusive, The Zodiac Age stands out as a feature-rich rerelease on a platform with a bountiful selection of lesser remasters.

Even if it were an untouched port, Final Fantasy 12 would stand out for its distinct handling of familiar elements. For instance, there's a thriving society centered around hunting, a gig economy where skilled fighters of many races vanquish the game world's most hostile creatures. Being recognized and awarded for taking down bounties effectively weaves a part of FF12's story with any player motivation to complete the bestiary. Equally notable is the emphasis on thievery, which is also narratively tied to the resourceful nature of Vaan, one of the playable characters. You won't go far if you relied solely on money from defeated monsters and treasure chests. Riches instead come from the sales of loot you acquire from the creatures you take down. Much like Final Fantasy 9's Zidane, Vaan's stealing skills helps players develop an appreciation for the series' long line of talented but sometimes overlooked thieves.

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Further driving the distinctiveness of Final Fantasy 12 is its setting of Ivalice, an established universe with its origins outside of the core series. And like other games based in Ivalice, specifically Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics, 12's plot often feels like a middle chapter of a grander tale yet to be told. It's so rich in backstory that keeping track of names and places during the initial hours can feel overwhelming, though the further you play, the easier it is to get a handle of the intricacies of the lore. What you really need to know at the start is two small kingdoms, Dalmasca and Nabradia, are caught in the crossfire of two larger warring empires, Rozarria and Archadia. Of the countless individuals affected by this period of upheaval, six characters--all of whom come from vastly different backgrounds-- form your party, uniting for a common cause to de-escalate this continent-wide conflict.

Perpetuating this middle episode vibe are the playable characters themselves, who have been appropriately compared to the cast of Star Wars: A New Hope. As examples, Ashe is the captured princess and Basch is the former general in hiding. Balthier is the self-serving pirate with a price on his head and his partner, Fran, has been described as Sexy Chewbacca. Their intertwined backstories and resulting encounters allow for chemistry and conflict as the often engaging narrative unfolds.

Reinforcing Final Fantasy 12's timelessness, The Zodiac Age brings in an enhanced Gambit battle system, which itself felt ahead of its time upon its first release. By stringing together a prioritized series of if/then commands for each character, battles unfold with a semi-automated flow where you can vanquish beasts without pressing a button for minutes on end. The immensely user friendly interface fittingly looks and feels like a Fisher-Price styled introduction to programming, where each player-chosen behavior is simply assigned a specific target, whether it be an ally, themselves, or a single enemy.

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One would think that the hands-free aspects of The Gambit System would deprive you of agency and engagement but it in fact creates the opposite result. Since you're still responsible for every character's actions, the thrill of seeing your handiwork unfold and emerging victorious never gets old. It allows for experimentation and risk-taking but The Gambit System truly shines when you stick to sensible and tried-and-true RPG battle tactics. Remember all those times you died in battle because you ignored a status ailment and thought you could get one last attack in instead? This system removes all manner of impulsiveness and for many, offers a glimpse of the RPG combatant one aspires to be, free of impetuous behaviors.

You don't get your hands on this system in earnest until three hours in, which is one hour too many. Yet this onboarding period is notably improved over the original game thanks to the option to double or even quadruple the speed of play. This is just one of the many new features that makes The Zodiac Age ever more engrossing. In a game that features respawning enemies, every hostile area becomes more inviting. You're motivated by growing your party's stats at an accelerated pace even after you've explored every corner and opened every treasure chest in a given region.

While its enhancements do not translate into a brand new game for existing fans, The Zodiac Age is nonetheless invigorating. For an experience that can last over a hundred hours, the subtle tweaks therein go a long way in showcasing Final Fantasy 12's grand trek in a new light. Its epic, lore-abundant story and its time-tested Gambit System should also appeal to those who missed out on the mainline series' trip to Ivalice the first time around. And thanks in part to the new audio and speed options, The Zodiac Age is an ideal definitive edition: one that improves the game over its original version across the board.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Mon, 10 Jul 2017 05:00:00 -0700)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Sun, 04 Jun 2017 10:00:00 Z)

Learning To See Creatively is all about learning to see design, colour and composition in photography.

Author Bryan Peterson wants you to learn how to 'see' properly, paying more attentio...
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Book Reviews (Mon, 9 Nov 2015 15:48:38 GMT )

A Show Of Hands is a book full of images of people's hands.

You might immediately think that this an odd port of the body to take images with. Usually we go for someone's face, or use th...
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Book Reviews (Wed, 23 Sep 2015 11:13:42 GMT )
Here are 10 steps you can follow today to instantly improve your black & white landscapes.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Photography Techniques (Fri, 28 Jul 2017 00:10:03 GMT )

At first, Sundered seems like one of the many attempts by modern developers to recreate and reiterate upon the classic 2D Metroidvania formula. It closely follows in the lineage of its forbearers, but in doing so, it manages to take its best parts and mold them into a surprisingly fresh and involved experience that stands apart from its contemporaries. It’s a tense and atmospheric adventure ripe with exploration and a combat system that’s as fulfilling as it is flashy. Sudden difficulty spikes can bring it down sometimes, but its brilliant combat and progression systems elevate Sundered above its momentary annoyances.

You play as Eshe, a wanderer of a ruined world who discovers an ancient monument that sucks her into a vast, otherworldly cavern. Stuck within this realm, you’re forced to journey forward under the guidance of a malevolent entity known as the Shining Trapezohedron to find a means of escape.

Sundered’s story is bare bones and mostly exists in the periphery, often relying on you to scour the world for special rooms filled with bits of lore. When you do stumble upon such mythology, the Shining Trapezohedron offers you vague, ambivalent accounts of the cavern’s former inhabitants and the war that caused them to perish. Its unreliable narration is unnerving, as you're never quite sure what to make of the machinations that brought the world to its knees, and whether or not it remains a threat. While you spend time deciphering the cavern's history, you hear next to nothing about Eshe's feelings about the predicament; she's a silent protagonist that rarely reacts to the events at hand. But like her, you are an outsider exploring Sundered’s strange and gruesome world. What you discover is as morbid as it is fascinating, and it imbues your travels with a strong sense of unease.

Due to a rift in reality caused by the conflict between the ancient races that inhabited the cavern, the world is physically unstable; justification for Sundered's procedurally generated rooms. Aside from a few key areas, you rarely feel acquainted with your surroundings and are left helpless to adjust to its constantly changing labyrinthian pathways. It's unfortunate that the environments lack diversity in structure, coming across as repetitive in appearance. The game's hand-drawn characters and animations are a joy to look at, but the environments are inconsistent at best, sometimes captivating you with derelict ancient cities, but other times boring you with dull catacombs. It's an issue that's apparent early on, but once you're busy exploring uncharted territory, it's more of a minor disappointment that falls by the wayside when you're focused on exploration and combat.

 Combat is demanding, but mastering your moves leads to exciting performances that leave you hungry for more.
Combat is demanding, but mastering your moves leads to exciting performances that leave you hungry for more.

During your travels, swarms of hostile creatures will occasionally bombard you from all directions. Sundered is particularly punishing during these moments, especially after having made substantial progress into uncharted territory; the blaring alarm cue that preempts each encounter instantly fills you with dread. It can feel overwhelming early on, but you quickly gain new abilities that give you the upper hand. The combat system is smooth and responsive, utilizing a level of complexity akin to Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden. Familiar attacks like launchers, air-juggles, and downward strikes can all be linked together to create an assortment of devastating combos. In addition, you acquire a fair number of abilities as you progress, including an air dash, a charge slash, and a double jump. They make you stronger, and make the process of dodging and countering attacks during a chaotic fight all the more exciting. Combat is demanding, but mastering your moves leads to exciting performances that leave you hungry for more.

On the occasion you do perish, you return to a safe room at the beginning of an area where you can spend currency on new skills. The wealth of stats you can enhance is as welcoming as it is extensive. Given the number of times you're likely to die, the opportunity to upgrade your character and explore different builds, prioritizing offense, defense, or mobility, is rewarding. You're even given the choice to enhance your abilities further by embracing dark energy from the Shining Trapezohedron, which adds another layer to progression; and your decision to accept or reject the opportunity will determine which of the three endings you ultimately receive.

Boss fights offer the most challenge, steadily ramping up with riveting duels against monstrosities that demand new tactics and quick reflexes to overcome.
Boss fights offer the most challenge, steadily ramping up with riveting duels against monstrosities that demand new tactics and quick reflexes to overcome.
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The constant progression is a godsend considering Sundered's high level of difficulty. Boss fights in particular offer the most challenge, steadily ramping up with riveting duels against monstrosities that demand new tactics and quick reflexes to overcome. But there are times where Sundered's difficulty falters. Much of it roots from issues caused by its procedural room generation, which can sometimes work against you. You will occasionally face a boss or a swarm of enemies in an environment that--by chance--has random obstacles that get in your way. Moments like this--though rare--make you feel like your ability to survive isn't in your hands, but rather by luck of the draw.

It's frustrating when you're dealt a bad hand, but the reward of overcoming hardships outweighs the vexation. You're given the proper tools to succeed, and when you use them tactically, what was once frustrating quickly becomes gratifying. No matter the failure you endure--fair or unfair--Sundered always manages to reward you one small step at a time.

Sundered is an enjoyable journey that iterates upon the Metroidvania style in ways that are both satisfying and substantial. Its progression systems are constantly fulfilling and combat is complex and exhilarating. While rare moments of unfair circumstances hold it back, Sundered remains a compelling and rewarding experience that you’ll be eager to play again, if only to seek out its other endings or to simply to wipe out another swarm of grotesque creatures.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 15:00:00 -0700)

With just hours to go until voting could begin on a new Republican bill to roll back the Affordable Care Act, GOP senators emerged from another strategy session Thursday afternoon with no agreement on what that plan should be.

Several Republican lawmakers sounded increasingly downbeat about the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:00:00 PDT )

Serving as the final chapter in her Resistance Saga trilogy of documentaries chronicling Guatemala’s human rights struggles, filmmaker Pamela Yates’ “500 Years” is a palpably passionate if somewhat less contained effort than the two films preceding it.

As in 1982’s “When the Mountains Tremble”...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 12:20:00 PDT )
Today officially marks the end of Apple's era of standalone music players. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 18:37:45 +0000)
It makes cooking so easy, and the end result so delicious. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:00:00 +0000)
Here are a range of DSLR cameras for photography beginners who are on a budget.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Equipment Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:59:17 GMT )
We review the new 24mp Canon EOS 200D - Canon's compact Digital SLR with Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:04:53 GMT )
Curious about podcasts? We tell you how to listen, and which shows to listen to. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:00:00 +0000)
We’ve just gotten used to drones buzzing in the skies over public parks; now they’re set to invade the duck pond. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 12:00:00 +0000)

In a now deleted tweet, incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci tweeted a confusing statement Wednesday night, addressing information reported earlier by Politico as a "leak."

The article reported on Scaramucci's financial disclosures. According to Politico, those details had been...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 22:30:00 PDT )
Park Cameras are offering some fantastic prizes when you purchase or pre-order the Canon EOS 6D Mark II.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 10:45:36 GMT )
For years, the parole board followed one unspoken rule: Let no one out. Now they are tasked with weighing the release of thousands under Proposition 57. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 00:05:00 PDT )

Santa Barbara suits Scott Reed. A fit, life-long swimmer, his perfectly tailored crisp white shirt and clean-cut red hair pop against the seaside city’s bright blue sky.

To look at him, you’d never know he got the job that led to him becoming president and chief executive of the Music Academy of...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 02:00:00 PDT )

One man was killed and seven others were injured Wednesday at the Ohio State Fair when an "aggressive thrill" ride broke apart, officials said.

The fair will be open Thursday, but the rides won't be running until they all are determined safe.

Dramatic video captured by a bystander Wednesday evening...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 01:00:00 PDT )

Endre Balogh, a young prodigy, was first American child to receive the Yehudi Menuhin Scholarship.

Balogh, age 9, was playing his violin during a portrait session with staff photographer Harry Chase when Binkie yawned. Of course that was the photo.

Staff writer Julie Byrne reported in the March...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 01:00:00 PDT )
Some cannabis entrepreneurs see a state- or city-owned bank as a solution to the marijuana industry's banking problems. They might be right, but it's complicated. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 00:05:00 PDT )
For years, the parole board followed one unspoken rule: Let no one out. Now they are tasked with weighing the release of thousands under Proposition 57. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 00:05:00 PDT )

The fundraising dinner for Gavin Newsom in Salinas was in most ways a typical night for a political candidate. Local business leaders paid up to $5,000 for a chance to talk with the man aiming to be California’s next governor over cauliflower bisque, strip steak and Meyer lemon pudding cake.

The...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 00:05:00 PDT )

Real Madrid plays in a stadium nearly 6,000 miles away under a French coach and with a superstar from Portugal.

Yet each summer, it doubles as America’s team.

Since the inception of the International Champions Cup five years ago Real Madrid has drawn the two largest crowds in U.S. soccer history,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 22:40:00 PDT )

When the final whistle sounded on Wednesday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup final, Bruce Arena pumped his fist, then turned to his assistants and smiled.

As celebrations go it was a muted one, especially since Arena was commemorating more than just a win. He was making history as well.

With the U.S. beating...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Mi, 26 Jul 2017 21:00:00 PDT )

SERIES

Hollywood Game Night Celebrity contestants include singer Michael Bolton, Nick and Vanessa Lachey, and “SNL’s” Chris Parnell. 8 p.m. NBC

Penn & Teller: Fool Us Veteran comic Louie Anderson puts in an appearance on the reality series. 8 p.m. KTLA

Boy Band The 13 remaining hopefuls sing...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 20:00:00 PDT )
Wildfires in the West have threatened homes and forced residents to pack up and flee. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 18:05:00 PDT )

The average length of a college football game last season was 3 hours and 24 minutes, or about the time it takes a commercial jet plane to fly from Los Angeles to Chicago.

It was the longest average game time in college football history, and in the Pac-12 Conference it made for late nights.

“For...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 17:50:00 PDT )

President Trump moved Wednesday to restore gender-based discrimination at the Pentagon, saying transgender people will be prohibited from serving “in any capacity” in the military, a shift that could affect thousands of Americans now in uniform and others hoping to serve.

In three posts on Twitter,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:55:00 PDT )

Un año y medio después de que fueron cerradas para dar paso a la construcción de la nueva tierra de Star Wars, cuatro atracciones de Disneyland a lo largo de los ríos de América pondrán ser reabiertas.

El Mark Twain Riverboat, el barco de vela Columbia, las canoas de Davy Crockett's Explorer y...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:56:00 PDT )
The Cheese Grotto promises to extend the life of fine cheeses by creating the perfect storage conditions. But in reality, deli wrap just as well. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 09 Jun 2017 11:00:00 +0000)

Real Life Family Photography is a guide to capturing love and joy through the ages and stages of your children's lives.

The book is aimed at everyday people who want to be able to take f...
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Book Reviews (Thu, 14 Jul 2016 14:56:25 GMT )

Splatoon 2 is easy to love. It's colorful and quirky and unafraid to be different, and it's consistently a blast to play. As far as shooters go, its unique movement mechanics stand out and make each match exciting. And while the logistics of its multiplayer aren't perfect, Splatoon 2 is a vibrant and exuberant sequel with enough fresh additions and changes to set it apart from the original.

Like the first game, Splatoon 2 stars human-squid hybrids called Inklings. Their world is bright and filled with nautical puns both spoken and implied, and even just walking around and picking out new clothes is delightful. The shoe store is called Shella Fresh, for example, and cute fish-themed decor peppers the hub area. That extends to the gameplay, of course; your weapons shoot (or sometimes fling) ink, and you can instantly change into your squid form and swim through ink puddles to reload. Swimming also has a stealth element to it, since you're harder to see and faster, and therefore better equipped for surprise attacks. You can also ink walls and swim up them in squid form, which adds to your verticality in matches. In the standard multiplayer mode Turf War, you're tasked with inking more of the map than your opponents while also "splatting" them to limit their progress.

Multiplayer is undoubtedly the main draw of Splatoon 2, but both new and returning players should absolutely try the new-and-improved single player mode before jumping into any matches. Unlike in the first game, where you could only use the standard Splattershot gun in the campaign, Splatoon 2's serves as a fantastic introduction to all the basic weapon types you'll have access to--and it's much more robust, with collectibles that require a sharp eye to find and creative platforming challenges that really showcase how unique Splatoon 2's movement is for the shooter genre. And while it starts out a bit basic, each level builds on the last and requires clever application of your knowledge to complete. Grinding on rails while shooting targets, then switching to your squid form and successfully landing a tricky jump is satisfying not just because it's fun and cool but because it really feels like you've mastered Splatoon 2's new mechanics.

Unfortunately, not all of the single player campaign's lessons make it into the multiplayer. Most notably, rail grinding, which is the standout from single player, isn't possible on Moray Towers' rails. That in particular feels like a missed opportunity, especially since that map is returning from the first game. However, getting to use a wide variety of weapons in single player makes the transition to multiplayer easier, and subtle tweaks to weapons and gear, like faster movement with the roller, add a layer of new strategy for veteran players. On top of that, the majority of the maps are new, and favorites include Inkblot Art Academy and The Reef, both of which have several vertical levels that result in intense struggles for control of the higher ground.

The only multiplayer mode for non-ranked matches is Turf War, which is consistently so much fun that only having one casual mode isn't really a problem. Covering the most ground with your ink is a simple enough concept, but skillful movement, well-timed inking, and the right strategy for your weapon all work together to give each match more depth. There are some wrinkles with the logistics of these regular battles: there's no way to change your weapon once you're in a lobby, so you're stuck with whatever team composition you get, and you can't guarantee you'll be on the same team as any friends who join your lobby. But, as the most laid-back of the multiplayer options, Turf Wars' quick games and random team assignments make it easy to jump in and out and have fun without too much pressure. It might be frustrating when your team of randoms doesn't seem to know what they're doing, but the fast-paced struggle to cover turf with your team's ink is as exhilarating as ever.

Ranked battles return with Tower Control, Rainmaker, and Splat Zones. Each mode is similar to game types you might be familiar with in other team shooters; Tower Control consists of escorting a tower to a goal, Rainmaker is like reverse capture the flag, and Splat Zones requires you to "control" specific areas for a certain amount of time by covering them with your team's ink. Unfortunately, the lobbies for ranked matches haven't been populated enough for us to play them ahead of launch, but based on our experience with the first game, we can expect these modes to work essentially the same way. Splatoon's ink mechanics make these modes feel different from other games, and the focus on specific objectives is great for competitive players who want something more than the informal structure of Turf War.

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There's also a new co-op mode called Salmon Run that lets you play alongside one to three friends in a horde environment. It's surprisingly challenging and requires more strategy and finesse than Turf War by far. Even on lower difficulties, my groups struggled against minibosses that require specific strategies to take out--they're less threatening than the single-player bosses but hard to deal with in high volumes. Successfully clearing the waves was satisfying knowing that we had to have worked well as a team in order to survive. In addition to the updated single-player campaign, this is another mode that shows off what's so great about Splatoon 2's unique gameplay in ways that PvP multiplayer doesn't.

The biggest problems with the original Splatoon's multiplayer were limited matchmaking and a lack of voice chat, which made team strategy extremely cumbersome and difficult. While regular battles still lack shooter matchmaking mainstays like parties, there's a new mode called League Battle that lets you group up with either one or three other friends and play together in a more competitive environment. League battles include the same modes as ranked but don't affect your solo rank, which is a great option if your skills aren't quite in line with your friends'. That said, voice chat is still a problem--you have to use a phone app to communicate, which is inelegant at best and ridiculous for a modern team-based game. There's no good reason it couldn't have been included in-game.

At first glance, Splatoon 2 seems very similar to the first game. But all the small changes, and even the bigger ones in single player and League Battles, make for a fresh take on the already unique shooter. If you played a lot of the original, the sequel has enough to keep you coming back, and if you're new to the game, it's a fantastic place to jump in.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 18 Jul 2017 08:00:00 -0700)
Plus: Microsoft's Surface Laptop, Monument Valley II, and Dyson's fancy cord-free vacuum. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 30 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000)
Why is it so hard to build a smartphone that doesn't drive us crazy? Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 30 Jun 2017 11:00:00 +0000)
The high-tech fabric found on Nike's running shoes makes the perfect material for a soft, supportive sports bra. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Tue, 18 Jul 2017 11:00:00 +0000)
Stick pens are not elegant, effortless writing utensils. But like so many of life's best things, it's their very badness that makes them great. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Sun, 16 Jul 2017 11:00:00 +0000)
The Multi elevator goes up and down, left and right, even diagonally—and it could change the way buildings are designed. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Sun, 09 Jul 2017 11:00:00 +0000)
Don't look now, but QR codes are back—and they're going to change your digital life in all sorts of previously impossible ways. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:00:00 +0000)
Putting Alexa on the HTC U11 is a small step, but it gives Amazon new footing in the voice revolution. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Tue, 18 Jul 2017 11:00:00 +0000)
After five years in development, one of the best original task managers comes back. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 18 May 2017 16:00:09 +0000)

Nex Machina is a modern revamp of Robotron 2084 in all but name, and developer Housemarque even managed to collaborate with Robotron's creator, Eugene Jarvis, to bring the high-quality homage to life. Conceptually, the two games are nearly identical, and every aspect of Nex Machina is appropriately chock-full of nostalgia; the gorgeously trippy graphics feel simultaneously modern and retro, and the synth-wave soundtrack complements the sci-fi action perfectly. In the same vein as Pac-Man Championship Edition, Nex Machina is one of the best modernizations of a classic arcade game that you can find.

The plot is brief and to the point: you're a lone hero trying to save what remains of humanity during a robot apocalypse. The twin-stick shooting action that defines your fight is tight and responsive, and every world is relentlessly challenging. Individual levels are relatively small, fast-paced, and frequently packed with secrets to discover amidst the chaotic hero-on-robot action. And death comes instantly, whether you get hit by a lone bullet or simply bump into a nearby enemy.

Nex Machina's pronounced difficulty is by design, hearkening back to the challenge of its arcade source material. Beyond advancing through stages, skillful play is rewarded with item upgrades, bonus points, and a strong sense of satisfaction from overcoming seemingly impossible odds. Nex Machina is consistently challenging, but it's also thoroughly gratifying as every power-up gives you newfound confidence in the heat of battle.

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Your primary objective in each level is to destroy a number of enemy waves before rocketing off to the next set piece. There are, however, numerous secondary objectives to consider along the way. As with Robotron, there are a handful of humans haplessly wandering around each stage. Rescuing them (just by touching them) requires precise timing as you must not only protect your own hide, but also defeat enemies who're whittling away the wandering humans' health. Saving humans is considered optional, but it's a relentlessly tempting (and risky) distraction that you'll chase time and time again, even when you should know better.

Boss battles at the end of every level are the biggest test, throwing out dense curtains of bullets that demand exacting movements to avoid. All are challenging, and each is drastically different--from a mechanical ape that sits at the top of the screen and throws flaming debris at you, to a giant Terminator-like Skull and a hivemind boss that attacks from the safety of a protective field. Adding to the challenge, boss fights follow a series of dense enemy waves; if you lose all of your lives and end up using a continue, you have to start the process all over again.

Nex Machina is difficult, intensely satisfying, and packed with enough secrets and lofty secondary objectives to keep you enraptured for hours.

You can point to dense waves of enemies and monstrous bosses as the reasons Nex Machina is so hard, but more than their numbers or size, it's the range of tactics they employ that ultimately stress you out. Some enemies mindlessly plow toward you, others will make beelines to humans, and there are burrowing turrets that send out waves of exploding balls, among a variety of other robotic dangers. You typically face myriad enemy types at once, from all directions, creating a juggling act that would be impossible to contend with if not for your special abilities.

Dashing is central to surviving in Nex Machina's harsh world, as it was in Housemarque's previous games, Resogun and Super Stardust. Once activated, you're invulnerable for the duration of the lunge, and your timing has to be perfect given the small margin for error in most levels. Misjudge the duration of your dash through a crowd by a nanosecond, and you'll lose a life. Since there is a brief recharge period between dashes, you can't abuse it. This is alleviated somewhat if you spot and grab a triple-dash power-up, but these are few and far between and don't completely diminish the risk of an untimely sprint in the wrong direction.

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Secondary weapons, however, are more prevalent and can make or break you depending on the scenario. Your options include powerful lasers, rockets, floating bombs, and a sword for deadly close-up attacks. These also require a brief pause to recharge, reinforcing the idea that your ability to manage cooldown meters is a critical skill--and another layer to track during frantic onslaughts.

You can, in theory, play through Nex Machina in under an hour, but it's eminently replayable thanks to the number of secrets waiting to be found, and the skills you need to hone in order to survive and climb to the top of the leaderboards. You do have the option of bringing a friend along, but Nex Machina's multiplayer is woefully limited to local engagements. The lack of online play is a notable disappointment given how useful a partner can be on the game's harder difficulties.

Limited multiplayer options aside, Nex Machina is a game that confidently meets expectations. It's difficult, intensely satisfying, and packed with enough secrets and lofty secondary objectives to keep you enraptured for hours. It's a classic game at heart, but with refined challenges and exacting mechanics, it feels right at home in the modern era.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Wed, 21 Jun 2017 07:00:00 -0700)

What if you could re-live your memories and the memories of others to see the world through their eyes? How would that make you feel about your own life decisions? Get Even, from Polish indie studio The Farm 51, tackles those questions and more. Get Even's best element is no doubt its story. With plenty of twists and misdirection, this psychological thriller contains an emphatic and thought-provoking ending. But its gameplay, which consists of puzzle-solving and shooting, does nothing of note other than distract you along the way.

Get Even starts in dramatic, bewildering fashion. Playing as Cole Black, a former soldier with a long criminal record and cloudy motivations, you start in what looks like a creepy psychiatric hospital. You're armed only with a silenced pistol and a smartphone. You are told nothing about why you’re there or where you are, but you quickly discover that your objective is to save a young girl with a bomb strapped to her chest. After taking down the men who captured her, you try to defuse the bomb, but it goes off. Casualties are presumed. Fade to black. You then wake up with a virtual reality device strapped to your head.

Black cannot make sense of what's happened to him or why. (You might also note that he sounds just like Sean Bean, but he isn't). The story gets even more distressing from there, as you try to piece together what happened as a mysterious scientist, Red, guides you through the asylum over monitors and speakers as part of your “treatment." You eventually discover that the asylum is not all it seems, and Red’s motivations only become more murky.

The first half of Get Even is spent under the guidance of Red, who is later revealed to be a character named Ramsey. You revisit Black's memories, piecing together clues and attempting to unravel the story behind the mysterious victim. You find evidence as you explore these virtual memories, which ultimately ends up on a board scattershot with photos and newspaper clippings. You may not discover everything there is to see during your first recollection of each memory, but you're free to return at any time to find what you might have overlooked and add a new piece to the puzzle.

Your vehicle to the virtual world--the Pandora headset--is Red's life work. It allows you to be a fly on the wall in Black's memories, where you can look but you can't touch. Finding the answers you seek is complicated by memories that are maliciously corrupted. Apparently someone or something is trying to conceal the truth to make it difficult to understand what is real and what merely appears to be.

For a while, trust in your own judgement feels out of reach. It's an intriguing way to tell a story, though it can be a lot to wrap your head around as the new and complex possibilities are introduced. But it all comes together in the end for you (and Black) in a very satisfying and unexpected way.

The action in the early stages of the game revolves around puzzle-solving and a limited amount of shooting, mostly with a weapon called a CornerGun. Black steals this item from a business rival of Ramsey's, and like its name suggests, its barrel can turn 90 degrees, allowing you to shoot around corners. This is one of the more unique aspects of Get Even’s shooting. It takes some getting used to, as firing around corners can be disorienting at first. It ’s a logistical challenge to learn where you need to stand or crouch to effectively fire around a corner, and it is very satisfying when you get the hang of it. Once you do, you can sneakily creep around, taking down enemies in secret.

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When shooting the CornerGun, you must land a headshot and make sure other enemies aren't closeby or else they will be alerted to your presence and come after you in an organized way. It's a bit unforgiving, especially on the Traumatizing difficulty (of note: Traumatizing and Gentle are the only two difficulty levels.) But it's a good challenge and very satisfying when you get it right. Enemies inside Pandora vaporize when you kill them, and the action pauses for a moment as they disintegrate into shards. This is a cool-looking effect the first time, but it eventually wears out its welcome as the ensuing pause slows down the action with frustrating frequency.

Another item at Black's disposal is his smartphone. It does basic things like display text messages and play voice calls, but is also equipped with a scanner that you can use on key items to learn more about them, while a heat vision camera alerts you to nearby enemies. A Vision tab on the smartphone illuminates certain key elements based on the context of a particular scene. All of this is critical info when problem solving.

Though it's an unremarkable looking game, Get Even is backed by a wonderful soundtrack from Olivier Deriviere that heightens tension and accentuates action with pulsing, pounding electronic sounds and string instruments.

Get Even's puzzles are rarely challenging or unique, and some can be frustrating when you have to look at the environment through your cell phone; bumping into objects while staring at the phone's screen is a common annoyance. But there are a few puzzles that provide new and interesting challenges. One of the more memorable instances comes in the second half of the game, where you essentially play out a game of Clue. Using evidence like newspaper cutouts and police reports scattered in a room, you must correctly name a murder weapon, a perpetrator, and the bullet's entry wound on the victim. It's not the most difficult task, but it's exciting to play the role of an investigator and it feels satisfying when you finally solve the mystery.

Eventually, you assume control of Ramsey, and this is where the story and gameplay get even more interesting. Ramsey performs an "audit" of Black's memories to try to learn more about the events leading up the the girl in the warehouse. He wants to...get even with the people responsible.

When you're playing as Ramsey, you have even more abilities than Black, one of which is a scanner that shows you where all nearby enemies are. Ramsey isn't armed by default, but he can "assimilate" into the enemies, taking over their bodies and picking up their weapons in the process. You can sprint, but you can move even faster by warping, and when performed in rapid succession, warps allow you to get the jump on enemies in superhuman fashion.

As you play through these memories, you will feel a sense of deja vu, as you're revisiting some of the places you played through as Black, but the story is experience in a new, unique perspective way. It is sort of like The Lion King 1.5, where you see the events of The Lion King from the perspective of Timon and Pumbaa. You tap into "engrams" scattered throughout the memories to see who Black spoke with, what they talked about, and how it contributes to the girl with the bomb. The mystery of the story is key to the intrigue of Get Even, and unraveling it yourself is the best part.

Though it's an unremarkable looking game, Get Even is backed by a wonderful soundtrack from Olivier Deriviere that heightens tension and accentuates action with pulsing, pounding electronic sounds and string instruments. If you are in a memory that begins to break down, strange things can happen. In one situation, I was shooting my way through enemies and a pop song played over the action because I was going in guns-blazing instead of the quiet and controlled manner that Ramsey advised, leading to the memory breaking down and glitching. The performances of the voice actors is also notable, as lines are delivered with believable conviction and emotion, especially in the case of Ramsey.

Get Even tells a devastating story that ends with a striking M. Night Shyamalan-like twist. Interestingly, it's the most crucial part of the entire story, and you see none of it. The visuals are left entirely to the imagination, which is unexpected and impactful. It is these kinds of powerful moments that emphasize Get Even's key strength--delivering a twisting narrative that is fascinating enough to make up for its lackluster gameplay elements.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:00:00 -0700)
Tips on shooting landscapes with brilliant skies.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Thu, 27 Jul 2017 00:10:03 GMT )

Since his brother and father were arrested and imprisoned while visiting Iran nearly two years ago, Babak Namazi has been trying to persuade the U.S. government to step up its fight for their freedom.

Both inmates — 45-year-old Siamak Namazi and 81-year-old Baquer Namazi — are Iranian American...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 15:00:00 PDT )

U.S. stock indexes inched further into record territory Wednesday after AT&T, Boeing and others joined the parade of big companies reporting stronger profits than analysts expected. Stocks that pay big dividends were particularly strong after the Federal Reserve took a pause in its slow-moving...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 15:00:00 PDT )

Scrolling through an ad-free Instagram is now a distant memory, much like the once ad-free Facebook itself. Soon, users of its Messenger app will begin to see advertisements, too — and WhatsApp may not be too far behind.

Welcome to the Facebook ad creep.

The world's biggest social media company...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 13:55:00 PDT )

Michael Vick is not the most popular former Hokie out there. And soon he will not be the most popular person to be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

Less than two weeks after the college announced its intention to include the recently retired NFL quarterback as one of five 2017...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 14:00:00 PDT )

The average length of a college football game last season was three hours and 24 minutes, or about the time it takes a commercial jet plane to fly from Los Angeles to Chicago. It was the longest average game time in college football history, and it concerned many of the sports leaders, including...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 14:05:00 PDT )

Leashes and heartstrings get pulled in “Megan Leavey,” an even-tempered slice of pro-animal sentimentality that may not be the smoothest piece of filmmaking, but wears its emotions honestly and benefits from offering a look at a rarely explored arena of human-animal relationships: dogs trained...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 8 Jun 2017 18:15:00 PDT )

A weekly look at must-hear music from The Times’ staff. This week, we focus on new albums that dig into the past.

Muddy Waters & the Rolling Stones, Live at the Checkerboard Lounge 1981” (Eagle Records)

A group of blues fans did what any self-respecting aficionados of the genre would do when in...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( mié, 26 jul 2017 13:00:00 PDT )


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