“These mills they built the tanks and bombs that won this country’s wars” — Bruce Springsteen, “Youngstown”
Bob Wilson was coming of age when sulfur stung the night sky and the valley glowed with molten steel. Scarfers hissed, slag cooled, unions marched like armies and train tracks knew no...Read More
At the swanky Hollywood bar No Vacancy, movie studio Lionsgate held a tricked-out after party last month for the premiere of its new movie, complete with tightrope walker, a fire dancer and a man with frozen pizza rolls covering his body.
The splashy affair wasn’t to honor a new Jennifer Lawrence...Read More
The voice on the tape recording is squeaky and excitable, the speaker using such a strong dialect that it is difficult even for native Korean speakers to understand. What comes across is that the man speaking in a rapid clip is anxious about his own shortcomings, and his country’s.
The speaker,...Read More
It was another day on the campaign trail — and at a luxury hotel.
I’m Christina Bellantoni. Welcome to Essential Politics.
As Donald Trump’s new hotel in Washington, D.C., celebrated its grand opening, the Republican nominee took a bit of a pause from traditional politicking.
Trump was criticized...Read More
One of the quirkier and controversial elements of the Newport Harbor scene is exiting.
Jetpack America, which fought for nearly a year to secure permission to continue strapping water-propelled jet packs onto customers so they could fly high above the harbor, says it will shut down operations in...Read More
Over its short but eventful life, modern virtual reality has yielded notable pieces involving concerts, sports, outdoor-adventure experiences, vérité documentary, Hollywood movie marketing and Pixar-esque shorts.
Rarely, though, has it seen a traditional scripted series.
A new production, "Invisible,"...Read More
This is an unparalleled time for women in American history.
The polls are predicting the first female president. Narrowing the wage gap has become part of legislative agendas. Activists are battling against sexual assault and for abortion rights with a fervor not seen in decades, and the glass...Read More
The voice on the tape recording is squeaky and excitable, the speaker using such a strong dialect that it is difficult even for native Korean speakers to understand. What comes across is that the man speaking in a rapid clip is anxious about his own shortcomings, and his country’s.
The speaker,...Read More
The surreally amusing vignette that opens the great 1985 Japanese comedy “Tampopo” now plays, more than 30 years later, like a remarkably prescient public-service announcement. A gangster in a white suit (Koji Yakusho) takes his seat in the front row of a movie theater and addresses us through...Read More
Kyle Schwarber landed in Cleveland on Monday evening. He climbed out of the private plane that carried him from the desert and rode to Progressive Field. After six months without stepping between the lines of a big league game, he expected he might cry, and he wanted to soak in the ballpark before...Read More
The Clippers don’t view their season opener Thursday night in Portland against the Trail Blazers as a revenge game.
Rather, they see it as the first step toward their ultimate goal of winning the franchise’s first NBA championship.
Portland is where the Clippers’ season ended last spring in yet...Read More
Where: Moda Center.
On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 570, 1330.
Records: Clippers 53-29 [last season]; Trail Blazers 1-0 [this season].
Records vs. Trail Blazers (2015-16): Clippers 3-1.
Update: Portland’s backcourt, considered by many the second-best behind...Read More
Each week, the graveyard on a barren brown hill swells. Every new dirt mound is more evidence of Islamic State’s ruinous campaign in northwestern Iraq.
Stray dogs creep beside hundreds of slim Arabic headstones that stand cracked and broken, pummeled by the militants who considered them sacrilegious....Read More
USC (4-3, 3-2 in the Pac-12) vs. California (4-3, 2-2), at the Coliseum. TV: ESPN, 7:30 p.m.
Most intriguing story line: Fans should get good bang for their buck at this one: They’re likely to see plenty of plays. California set a Football Bowl Subdivision record with 118 plays in a two-overtime...Read More
Since the shift to current-generation consoles, 2K's WWE series has steered away from the arcade-style formula of its extensive lineage. It's clear that developers Yuke's and Visual Concepts want to forge their own unique path to a simulation style of wrestling video game, iterating further and further in this direction with each passing installment. Much like last year, matches in WWE 2K17 have a distinctly measured pace, focused on capturing the look and feel of the current WWE product as closely as possible. It's an acquired taste, for sure, and if you haven't enjoyed this deliberate style previously--and perhaps yearn for the days of old--2K17 isn’t going to change your mind.
With that being said, however, I wouldn't hesitate to call WWE 2K17 a better video game than its immediate predecessors. For one, singles matches have seen some incremental refinements that improve the ebb and flow of each contest. While the reversal system, pin/kickout mechanics, stamina management, and submission minigame remain relatively unchanged, there's some welcome fine-tuning sprinkled throughout.
Counters, for instance, now feature a much more generous timing window and come in two flavors: minor and major--with the latter eating up two reversal slots but dishing out damage to your thwarted opponent. There's also an alternative submission minigame that ditches the swiveling red and blue blocks for much more intuitive button mashing. And taunting now provides mid-match buffs, which makes sense and gives these gestures the same measure of importance they carry on TV.
For the first time in a few years, you can take the fight backstage, too. With the gorilla position, a hazardous hallway, locker room, and Authority office ready to be demolished, this isn't as gargantuan a space as it was in the halcyon days of WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw, but there's no denying the joy to be had powerbombing your opponent onto a sturdy oak desk while Vince McMahon stands by, undeterred. Sure, backstage brawls are nothing groundbreaking, but it's an anarchic addition that's entirely welcome.
Similarly welcome are some of the improvements made to multi-person matches. Previously, these scuffles were a noxious mix of the chaotic and the frustrating. With everyone stuffed inside the ring at the same time, moves were constantly disrupted, and matches would extend far beyond their expiration date as one pin after another was irritatingly broken up. WWE 2K17 fixes this issue and injects a dose of realism into proceedings at the same time. Much like actual multi-person matches, the action is still mostly confined to two warring combatants. As damage is inflicted to various superstars, they'll roll out of the ring and lay on the outside to recover for a short time, making the in-ring action a lot less disorganised. Mechanically, this gives you time to regain lost stamina, but you can also cut this process short if you want to get up early and try to stop someone else from getting a three-count.
Switching between targets is, thankfully, a lot less cumbersome this year, too. A simple tap of R3 cycles through each wrestler involved in the bout, with the name of your target appearing above your wrestler's head for a short moment. Ladder matches have also seen some ease-of-use adjustments. Now, you'll never have to suffer the ignominy of setting up a ladder--only to climb it and find out it's not in the exact right position required to grab a dangling briefcase. Ladder placement is now restricted to specific positions dotted around the arena, which certainly makes things easier but does rob these matches of some spontaneity.
All of these changes, however incremental, move the needle in a positive direction. But some nagging issues still drag down the overall quality of the in-ring action. Now, I'm not expecting this series to suddenly adopt the fast-paced, arcade-style sensibilities of its forebears, but something slightly more sprightly wouldn’t be amiss, either. The pace of the action is still far too plodding, and the game is overly reliant on disconnected reversals dictating the outcome of each matchup. Maybe it's implausible, with such a bevy of moves available, to somehow coalesce the reversal system with the excellent motion-captured animation, but simply tapping a button when a prompt appears above your head feels far too rigid and detached from the action. These issues aren't game-breakers, and some will appreciate the deliberate pacing. But the series is still a long way off from being a king in the ring.
Online matches are effected by the same latency problems that have plagued the series for years. The general flow of each fight is fine, but the timing window for reversals is impacted, so kicking out of pins becomes nigh on impossible. I was constantly defeated minutes into fights purely because the timing of counters gets knocked so far out of whack that it's incredibly difficult to react with the necessary precision. In most instances, it felt like my button presses weren't even registering.
I wouldn't hesitate to call WWE 2K17 a better video game than its immediate predecessors.
The lack of 2K Showcase mode this year puts a damper on the proceedings as well. By offering a guided tour through some of the most memorable moments in WWE history, 2K Showcase was a nostalgia-fuelled romp of recreating famous matches and being treated to WWE’s wonderfully reverential video packages. It’s absence this year can’t help but strip WWE 2K17 of much of its personality, and that leaves MyCareer to pick up the slack.
Much like year’s previous, MyCareer is still an incredibly tedious slog, as you use a created fighter to wrestle your way through the roster, ever so slowly grinding your way closer and closer to a title fight. It’s bland and lacks character, neglecting all of the pomp, spectacle, and engaging storylines that encompass the actual WWE. This is an odd issue, considering how 2K’s own NBA series has embraced the idea of sporting narratives in MyCareer. Wrestling should be an obvious choice for similarly scripted stories, but WWE 2K17 is far more interested in presenting meaningless matches and monitoring T-shirt sales than in aping its real-life counterpart. Even the ability to become a Paul Heyman Guy boils down to fulfilling a few insipid objectives with minimal payoff.
One interesting aspect of MyCareer is the introduction of interactive promos. These exist elsewhere in Universe mode, but they make much more sense as a tool to shape your own created character. The aim of promos is to essentially play up your heel or face persona in order to achieve a positive or negative reaction, depending on how "smarky" the crowd is on any given night. You have four options to choose from for each stage of the promo, but these choices are incredibly vague and rarely reflect what your character is actually going to say. This proves problematic when you’re trying to lean a certain way, especially if you want your promo to be the least bit cohesive. The writing here is also terrible for the most part, which can’t help but break the immersion when Bray Wyatt says "You hate me because you ain’t me" or Brock Lesnar complains about a bad smell backstage. With no voice acting to speak of--just superstars moving their mouths to abject silence--this mechanic feels like a first draft that still needs plenty of work. I appreciate the effort, because it's about time a wrestling video game tried to capture one of the industry's most important aspects, but the implementation is lacking.
Other presentation issues persist throughout. The commentary is as atrocious as ever. It's stilted and regularly irrelevant--which some would argue is entirely true to life. Replays are universally awful, too, often showing pins rather than the moves that preceded them. And the whole game is considerably outdated. This isn't 2K's fault, mind you. At some point, the developers have to lock down their content and actually finish the game. They're just in the unenviable position of releasing a game a couple of months after a vast upheaval in the WWE, with the brand split resulting in a wave of NXT callups, new teams forming, shifting character alignments, new commentary teams, and new sets. Fortunately, if you're a stickler for accuracy, WWE 2K17's exhaustive creation suite means that many of these issues can easily be rectified, with the community already creating plenty of near-perfect new attires, wrestlers, and set designs.
No matter how you spruce it up, however, WWE 2K17 isn't the substantial leap forward I was hoping for. The in-ring action is still serviceable, and refinements to various aspects of its combat make for a more enjoyable game than in previous years. But there are still a myriad of niggling issues holding it back, and the absence of 2K Showcase only compounds these problems. If you’ve had previous reservations about this series, WWE 2K17 is unlikely to change your mind--and, at this point, it feels like 2K would be better served taking a page out of Seth Rollins' book for next year’s installment. Time to redesign, rebuild, and reclaim.
Eagle Flight is a first-person VR shooter set in a dilapidated version of Paris where you pilot an eagle using your head. If that isn’t quirky enough for you, it’s also a multiplayer-centric game where you shoot other eagles with supersonic screeches.
I’m susceptible to virtual reality motion sickness and can gladly say that I felt completely comfortable playing Eagle Flight. There are a few tricks that Ubisoft implemented in the game to mitigate nausea. For instance, you turn using only your head, rather than a joystick. It feels pretty intuitive, too. The only thing that takes a little getting used to is tilting your head to make sharp turns, since this is not a movement that you’re likely to do in every-day life. Luckily, it took me less than an hour before it became second-nature. While the game requires a controller, you’ll only use it to slow down, speed up, attack, and shield yourself.
While the main draw of the game is multiplayer, there is a single-player story mode. Eagle Flight takes place sometime in the future when Paris has inexplicably been abandoned by humans. Animals and vegetation have overrun the city. You’ll learn a little more about your environment from the game’s narrator, who is well-acted and takes on a nature documentary-esque tone.
There are dozens of short, simple missions. Some will make you fly through consecutive floating rings scattered throughout the city, while others will have you racing against the clock through treacherous underground parts of Paris, like obstacle course-laden subways and catacombs. The game can get challenging because you can’t stop flying forward, and if you crash, you die and have to start missions over. As you progress through the game, you’ll be introduced to the aforementioned eagle screech attack, which you’ll use against other birds in escort-type missions. These levels can feel a bit unfair at times, as you quickly have to dispatch of numerous predators within a relatively short period of time.
The campaign is pretty pedestrian overall and can be beaten in under four hours.
The campaign is pretty pedestrian overall and can be beaten in under four hours. It ultimately feels like an elaborate training ground for the multiplayer, which is where the game is really able to spread its wings. Eagle Flight is a capture-the-flag game at its core. Two teams of up to three players must grab the carcass of a rabbit and bring it back to a nest. There is a surprising amount of depth. Because your screech attacks move slowly through the air, you’ll have to learn how to lead your shots. Diving down from above gives you a temporary speed boost. You can also fly into jet streams and between buildings to avoid enemy screeches. The environment can be just as dangerous as your enemies. Carelessly flying around may cause you to crash into a wall and drop the prey. You can also activate a temporary barrier to block attacks. It’s a silly and unrealistic mechanic, but it’s a fun and useful tool that adds a layer of strategy.
Teamwork is also essential in Eagle Flight. When an ally has the flag, it’s important to fly close to your carcass-carrying ally to kill nearby enemies. Multiplayer can be thrilling, and as odd as it sounds, weaving between buildings at high speed while dodging enemy fire made me feel like Luke Skywalker piloting an X-Wing through trenches of the Death Star.
Weaving between buildings at high speed while dodging enemy fire made me feel like Luke Skywalker piloting an X-Wing through trenches of the Death Star.
The multiplayer isn’t perfect, however. Despite being modeled after Paris, the trees and buildings don’t feel very distinct. Eagle Flight’s multiplayer also lacks voice support, which is an odd omission given how important it is to work together. Finally, while Eagle Flight’s multiplayer is really fun, there’s only one mode to sink your talons into.
Eagle Flight initially sounded like a kooky concept to me, but I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun playing capture-the-flag. The game has a surprising amount of depth, and it’s highly competitive as a result. There were multiple occasions when I couldn’t help but scream when an enemy eagle killed me as I was a beak’s length away from victory. And while the graphics aren’t amazing, just being able to quickly zip around Paris can be breathtaking. If you’re looking for a really fun multiplayer VR game, you should fly like an eagle.Read More
A close aide to Bill Clinton said he arranged for $50 million in payments for the former president, part of a complicated mingling of lucrative business deals and charity work of the Clinton Foundation mapped out in a memo released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday.
The report was written by Doug Band,...Read More
There’s no question that “Full Frontal” host Samantha Bee has set her show apart from the boys club that is the other late-night and political satire shows currently on air, and the show stayed true to form in its announcement that Bee will be interviewing President Obama in an upcoming episode.... Read More
On the afternoon of the final presidential debate, jewelry and accessories designer Jacquie Aiche stood in the backyard of her Beverly Hills showroom with a leafy cannabis-plant crown atop her head, a 14-karat gold-and-diamond pinkie ring on her right hand, and a solution to the ugly campaign season...Read More
U .S. military officers watched grainy video feeds at a small operations center in Baghdad on Tuesday as Predator drones tracked and killed three reputed Islamic State leaders — one after another — in the offensive on Mosul.
The targeted air strikes were due in large part to intelligence extracted...Read More
Shopping for PC components can be intimidating if you’re not up to date on hardware news. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you and have put together three tiered builds (cheap, mid-range, and high-end) geared to deliver great gaming experiences.
Our mid-range gaming PC is tailored around delivering a high-end experience that will be able to max out most games at 1440p.
|Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo||$29.99|
|Graphics card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070||$399.99|
|Motherboard: GigabyteGA-Z170X-Gaming 3||$132.99|
|RAM: G.SKILL Aegis 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 clocked at 2133MHz||$78.42|
|SSD: SanDisk SD8SBAT-256G-1122 Z400s 256GB SSD||$69.99|
|HDD: Seagate Desktop HDD ST2000DM001 2TB||$74.99|
|Case: Fractal Design Define R5||$119.99|
|PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA 550 G2||$84.99|
Listed prices reflect time of publish.
Click through the gallery to read why we chose our respective components.
Intel’s Core i5-6500 is one of the best gaming CPUs out on the market. Retailing for a little over $200, the 14nm Skylake processor has four cores, four threads, and offers 6MB of cache. It also carries a 3.2GHz base frequency and a 3.6GHz turbo frequency--plenty fast for games.
While the i5-6500 comes with an acceptable freebie air cooler, if you can spare around $30, we suggest upgrading to Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Evo. This great-bang-for-the-buck air cooler keeps temperatures and acoustics low at an affordable price.
For our graphics card, we recommend Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070, which features 1920 CUDA cores, a 1771MHz boost clock, and 8GB of GDDR5 video memory clocked at 8GHz. One of the more affordable variants on the market is Gigabyte’s GTX 1070, which retails for around $400. While the 1070 isn’t cheap, it’s actually a beast for the price and will max out most 1440p games with smooth frame rates. For reference, it outperforms Nvidia’s 2015 Titan X GPU, which debuted at $1,000 when it released last year.
To supplement our CPU, we’re going with Gigabyte’s GA-Z170X-Gaming 3 motherboard. Not only does it have the LGA 1151 socket support we need for our CPU, but it also has four DIMM slots, supports USB Type-C and USB 3.1, comes with high-quality audio capacitors, and has three PCIe slots. The motherboard also supports the Z170 chipset and has an upgrade path to Intel’s future Kaby Lake desktop processors.
For system memory, we’re going with two 8GB sticks of G.SKILL Aegis DDR4 RAM clocked at 2133MHz. This amounts to 16GB of RAM, which is enough for any game you throw at it and offers enough memory to feed tab-hungry Chrome browsers.
For our SSD, we’re going with SanDisk’s SD8SBAT-256G-1122 Z400s. It’s a 256GB SSD large enough for the OS and your favorite games and applications. The 2.5-inch drive offers sequential read and write speeds up to 546MB/s and 342MB/s, respectively. It also isn’t prohibitively expensive at $70.
For mass storage, we’re recommending Seagate’s Desktop HDD ST2000DM001. The 2TB drive is priced affordably at around $75 and offers plenty of space for games and movies. It’s also a 7,200rpm drive, which is faster than common 5,400rpm HDDs.
A premium PC deserves a premium case. That’s why we’re recommending Fractal Design’s Define R5 with side-panel window. The R5 is a clean-looking, mid-tower ATX chassis made out of steel and brushed aluminum. It’s also designed to deliver a quiet experience with its noise-dampening material. The front of the case has four USB ports and 3.5mm mic and audio jacks. Inside the chassis, you’ll find removable drive cages that allow you to install up to eight storage drives. The chassis also features a cutout on the back that makes it easier to install a CPU cooler. Finally, when you turn the case on, there’s a little blue accent on the front that gives the R5 some pizazz.
To power this rig, we recommend EVGA’s SuperNova 550 G2. It’s a 550-watt 80 Plus Gold-rated power supply unit made of high-quality components, which will help keep your build safe from power shortages. It’s also fully modular, which means you’ll only need to install the necessary cables. This will help you keep your rig nice and tidy.
For a little under $1,200, you’re getting one of the best gaming PCs with this build. Our rig here is outfitted with near-top-of-the-line components and offers plenty of storage in a sleek, high-performing package.
[UPDATE] The show has begun. Watch it below via GameSpot sister site CNET's livestream.
Microsoft's big announcement was the Windows 10 Creators update. It comes out in spring 2017 as a free update for all Windows 10 users. Windows boss Terry Myerson said the Creators Update will offer "unparalleled new ways to create and play."
Myerson also talked about how the Windows 10 Creators update will allow for 4K gaming and in-game broadcasting on PC.
The event is ongoing; keep checking back for more.
The original story is below.
Microsoft's Windows 10 news event kicks off today at 7 AM PT / 10 AM ET, which is coming up very soon. "Please join us to see what's next for Windows 10," Microsoft says on the event's website.
You can watch the livestream broadcast right here on Microsoft's website or through the embed above from GameSpot sister site CNET. The landing page for the event event teases, "Imagine what you'll do."
Xbox boss Phil Spencer recently told people not to expect any Project Scorpio news during the event, but it's still possible there will be some gaming news. Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" is at the event, which may or may not mean anything.
According to CNET, the event is expected to bring news about Windows hardware, possibly including the rumored Surface all-in-one system. CNET also reports that a new Microsoft Band, among other devices and accessories, may make an appearance.
We'll report back if there are any gaming announcements at the Windows 10 event.
The New Xbox One Experience update that came out in November 2015 made every Xbox One technically a Windows 10 device. More than 400 million devices worldwide are running Windows 10 right now, including PCs, Xbox Ones, smartphones, and other devices.
What are you hoping to see from today's Windows 10 event? Let us know in the comments below!Read More
Blindspot Rich Dotcom (guest star Ennis Esmer) is back, and his presence could mean fresh trouble for the team in this new episode. Jaimie Alexander, Sullivan Stapleton, Ashley Johnson, Archie Panjabi and Michelle Hurd star. 8 p.m. NBC
Arrow Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Lyla (guest star...Read More
Harvard-Westlake won its first 21 games in water polo, but it was Santa Margarita on Tuesday finally handing the Wolverines their first defeat.
The Eagles won, 10-9. Harvard-Westlake had been 21-0 and ranked No. 1 in Southern Section Divison 1.
Junior A.J. Rossman had five goals for Santa Margarita.... Read More
For months, Steve Alford has gushed about UCLA possessing the deepest frontcourt since he’s coached the Bruins and five high-level guards who could comprise one of the nation’s top backcourts.
A recent spate of injuries has made him increasingly thankful for every available body, regardless of...Read More
Freshman Angelica Kusnowo of Diamond Bar and junior Mary Shin of Sage Hill each shot 70 on Tuesday to lead the finishers in the Southern individual regional at Dad Miller Golf Course in Anaheim.
Kusnowo finished first based on her back nine score. Caroline Cantlay of Rosary and Irene Kim of Kennedy...Read More
Billionaire Sumner Redstone is suing two former companions for what he says was elder abuse, alleging in court documents that the two women schemed to isolate him from his family as they drained his financial accounts.
The ailing 93-year-old mogul contends the two women, Manuela Herzer and Sydney...Read More
With the basketball season beginning in three weeks, keep your eye on 6-foot-7 freshman Johnny Juzang of Harvard-Westlake.
The younger brother of former Viewpoint point guard Christian Juzang could be an outstanding shooter from three-point range this season, besides contributing as a scorer and...Read More
Nevada’s state treasurer has a message for electric car company Faraday Future: Show me the money. The company building a $1-billion factory for Faraday in Nevada has a similar message: Pay up now.
Money problems appear to be plaguing the secretive Gardena-based start-up, which is trying to rival...Read More
Things were not going well for the best college football player you’ve probably never seen.
Every time Donnel Pumphrey ran the ball up the middle, he slammed into a jumble of bodies. Every time he swung wide, linebackers and cornerbacks waited for him at the edge.
“I was kind of hesitating,” he...Read More
Whatever Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban does he plunges into it wholeheartedly, on the ice or off. Last Sunday, that meant stealing the show in the role of the Tennessee Titans’ honorary 12th man.
Subban, acquired by the Predators from the Montreal Canadiens in June for defensive stalwart...Read More
World of Final Fantasy feels like a game that celebrates the series’ massive legacy while also making it friendlier to a younger audience. Unfortunately, it stumbles in a few key places, making it more of an awkward mixer than the all-encompassing RPG party players might be anticipating.
Things don't exactly get off to a rollicking start. After a cryptic initial cutscene, you’re treated to a too-long set of introductory cinematics that offer little in the way of actual introduction. You meet fraternal twins Lann and Reynn, who apparently have been living a normal life in a city working at a coffee shop--until a mysterious woman and a strange creature give them surprising news. The twins learn that they--and their mother--were once important figures in a world named Grymoire filled with monsters and tiny people known as Lilikin. It’s a pretty head-scratching introduction--and not in a good way. It doesn’t help that Enna vanishes while calling herself “god.” The duo are left with Tama as their guide, who has a speech the-pattern that will very quickly start to drive you the-bonkers.
When the twins get to Grymoire, they discover they can change from tiny to normal size to get around and interact with the populace. They also can “imprism” the Mirage monsters that roam Grymoire, turning them into battling companions. Bad things are afoot in Grymoire, however--a group of armor-clad figures called the Bahamutian Army have annexed numerous territories in the realm under the guise of benevolence, though their true goal is to enact a complex prophecy involving plenty of good old fashioned chaos and destruction.
Grymoire is a beautiful place filled with otherworldly environments that, combined with the cute monsters that lurk within, capture a whimsical, storybook feel. When they’re not traversing the wilderness, Lann and Reynn wind up in towns based on locations from previous Final Fantasy games, such as Nibelheim from Final Fantasy VII. It’s here that the duo will usually encounter familiar (but cuter) Final Fantasy characters who harbor the souls of “champions” and use their abilities to help Lann and Reynn defeat the Bahamutian Army’s evil machinations.
Despite its chibi-sized Final Fantasy heroes and focus on monster collecting, you won't be summoning an army of adorable Final Fantasy characters to do battle for you. Most of your battling companions are of the monstrous variety--you can only summon famous Final Fantasy characters to battle after dealing and accruing enough damage, and only after meeting them in the story and acquiring their Champion Medal. They don’t show up for long--they just unleash a special attack and then peace out, acting much like summoned monsters would in a traditional Final Fantasy game.
Despite its chibi-sized Final Fantasy heroes and focus on monster collecting, you won't be summoning an army of adorable Final Fantasy characters to do battle for you.
That isn’t to say that combat is a completely by-the-numbers affair. Lann and Reynn can have up to four monsters accompany them in fights. Every monster is assigned a size--small, medium, or large--and you can “stack” the twins and monsters into a cute critter column to fight with. Stacks offer a lot of benefits: characters in a stack pool their health, ability points, attack and defense power, skills, and elemental resistances together to create a powerful entity that can withstand heavy hits and deal more damage than the characters would individually--at the cost of the turns each individual character would get in battle.
Characters in a stack can also combine certain skills and turn them into more powerful techniques. For example, if two stacked characters have water magic, you’ll get access to a higher-level water spell. Enemies can also stack up for similar benefits, so sometimes you’ll want to use attacks that can topple a stack of characters. When a stack collapses, everyone in the tower winds up stunned for a turn, giving you free rein to smack them around. Naturally, your towers are just as vulnerable to collapsing, so you need to be careful when you see signs of wobbling.
Of course, before you can stack up critters like a pile of pancakes, you’ll need to capture them. While many monsters become catchable after a few simple attacks, others require very specific actions before you can imprism them: You may have to hit them with a particular status ailment, give them an item, or use a particular style of attack. While this helps make the game’s monster-catching element a bit more dynamic, it can be extremely annoying in practice. You may run into some one-time-encounter monster in the field, only to discover that you don't have the skills in your current party necessary to capture them. You can't run from these fights, nor can you swap out monsters in battle, leaving you no choice but to beat the rare monster normally and cry over the missed opportunity.
That’s only one of a pile of little annoyances that drag down the World of Final Fantasy experience. The battles, even at max speed, move at a glacial pace, making it almost necessary to hold R1 to fast forward through them at all times (and tiring your index finger in the process). Every monster has a “Mirage Board” similar to the Sphere Grid and Crystarium from Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII, respectively; these unlock various skills and abilities by using points earned from leveling up. These kinds of skill-up grids work nicely in role-playing games with limited character sets, but they become a royal pain to manage when you’re juggling numerous creatures in and out of your party. Most monsters in the game have alternate forms that you can access when they reach a certain level, but these variations don’t retain many of the skills of their previous incarnations, and the new forms have their own Mirage Boards to futz around with.
The overarching story, exploration, and monster collecting didn’t interest me nearly as much as seeing which Final Fantasy character I might encounter next.
Dungeons tend to be very linear (and they’re less fun to explore than they are to look at), and you’ll sometimes come to a puzzle or obstacle that requires a specific monster skill or set of properties in order to progress. If you don’t have the right monsters in your current party you must either use an expensive item or go back to a teleport/save point to swap in the correct monsters or capture some new beasts with the properties you need (and perhaps grind them up to unlock the necessary skill to progress).
At least there’s some reward for suffering through these aggravations: The dialogue and character writing are both incredibly charming, filled with lots of peppy exchanges between the twins and the assorted NPCs they encounter (the aforementioned Tama excepted). A little bit into the game, you get the ability to participate in various character vignettes starring the Final Fantasy characters.These segments are ridiculously adorable and tons of fun to watch. The further I advanced in World of Final Fantasy, the more it felt like I was just playing to see the little interactions among the twins and the other characters--the overarching story, exploration, and monster collecting didn’t interest me nearly as much as seeing which Final Fantasy character I might encounter next. The game is ultimately worse when it stops being cute and goofy and tries to tell a serious story.
Unfortunately, you have to put up with a fair amount of frustration and filler before you get to enjoy the best of what World of Final Fantasy has to offer, namely charming writing and Final Fantasy fan service. If you’re willing to put up with some of the game’s mundane sequences, you’ll get some enjoyment out of it, but if you’re not a Final Fantasy fanatic, the magic in these moments may be lost altogether.
One teen was killed and two were injured in a shooting Tuesday afternoon near a Los Angeles high school, police said.
The shooting was reported about 3:15 p.m. near Pacific Coast Highway and Broad Avenue in Wilmington, according to LAPD Officer Sal Ramirez.
The attack occurred near Banning High...Read More
As Iraqi forces traded fire this week with the Islamic State fighters who held his village hostage for the last 2½ years, Taqayadin Hawas hunkered down with his seven children and prayed not to die.
Mortar shells nearly leveled the house as his children wailed. With snipers outside, the family...Read More
Manny Pacquiao threw the first sparring punch of his brief Los Angeles training camp Tuesday.
As Pacquiao moves nearer to his Nov. 5 welterweight title fight against Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas, the most interest in him is whether he packs enough power in his blows to provoke Floyd Mayweather Jr. out...Read More
Bank regulators have started to investigate the sales practices and compensation policies of many of the nation's large and mid-sized banks, something they had promised to do in the wake of the unauthorized accounts scandal at Wells Fargo & Co.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which...Read More
Battlefield 1 wastes little time in conveying the savagery of World War 1. The inevitability of death is the focus of the bleak story prologue. A burning man’s screams can be heard at the start of every multiplayer match in the Argonne Forest. It’s ruination on a multi-continental scale, a conflict so large that its location menus showcase a large portion of the Earth. EA DICE splendidly interprets the early 20th century as a world in technological transition while humanizing the war's participants through well crafted, albeit fictional, narrative vignettes. Combined with an enthralling multiplayer component, the overall result is the studio’s best work since Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
The horrors and heroism of The Great War are well told in War Stories, Battlefield 1’s campaign. It’s a more focused experience compared to prior Battlefield story modes of globetrotting and one-note powderkeg narratives. These new tales are organized in a non-linear anthology format that doesn’t need to be played in any particular order. You are exposed to a variety of perspectives from the characters you play, each with their own motivations, from altruistic to self-serving. And each tale is presented with distinct narrative flavor. The exploits of the mostly unlikeable Clyde Blackburn, for example, represent the stories that get mixed up in the chaos of war. This gambler and swindler leaves the events of his alleged adventure open to interpretation. His tale is an effective contrast to the somber post-war account of Luca Vincenzo Cocchiola, an armored Italian soldier tasked with protecting his twin brother from everything from bombers, shock troopers, flamethrowers, and more.
Beyond these heartfelt tales of brotherhood and solemn reflection, War Stories gracefully complements the multiplayer scenarios as a glorified yet effective training mode. Along with practice time commanding vehicles and heavy artillery, it provides an opportunity to learn melee combat, as well as how to survive against high concentrations of enemy forces. It also presents scenarios that you wouldn't find online, such as valuable lessons in the ways of stalking enemies and how best to move wounded allies to the safety of cover.
The vehicular sections of War Stories introduce you to the first generation of tanks and fighter aircraft that were the advanced warfare of their time. In “Through the Mud and Blood,” a Mark V tank is its own character, endearingly nicknamed Bess by its crew. Short on space though tanks may be, a carrier pigeon joins you for the ride, and proves to be a valuable passenger during one of the campaign’s most touching scenes.
Battlefield 1’s multiplayer stays faithful to the series’ roots of open-space combat, now marvelously tailored with World War 1’s weapons, vehicles, and terrain. Its centerpiece, Operations, finds one side pushing forward while the other holds them back in conflicts that can last an hour. It’s not an emotionally draining endurance match, however; the changes in environments as the battle progresses keeps the fight fresh. A match can move across up to five areas across the same region, which is analogous to playing five different small maps. As a cavalry-inspired twist, the losing side gets two last ditch opportunities to win with the help of an airship, attack train, or a dreadnought.
Operations also offers a surprising amount of historical context thanks to informative pre- and post-match voice over. For instance, the Kaiserschlacht operation not only broadly educates players on the 1918 Spring Offensive, it also hypothesizes what could have happened had the Germans won.
Like a band of brothers reuniting, the reprise of Conquest, Domination, Rush, and Team Deathmatch delivers the goods for the Battlefield devotee. Beyond amassing the highest kill count or earning the best kill/death ratio, there’s a thrill in adapting to changing circumstances mid-battle. This is especially true for team players, who must constantly try to figure out how to be the best contributor. That could mean protecting a capture point or stopping an enemy charge by assaulting them from an airship. Lastly, War Pigeon--which has the hallmarks of a throwaway novelty mode--shares some fundamentals with Capture The Flag, where the bird serves as the flag. The challenge comes in finding a safe place to write a message for the bird to deliver, releasing the pigeon outdoors, and ensuring it doesn’t get shot down.
A mode is only as good as the map it's based in and Battlefield 1's maps are all smart and interesting in their own ways. Peronne, with its mix of small town in ruins and untended fields, requires bit more time to memorize its layouts and strategically advantageous points. From the vacant French palace in Ballroom Blitz to the labyrinthine streets of Amiens, every locale has its own sense of character. This is aided by the inclusion of armed gargantuan machines like the airship and train. The Argonne Forest in particular--with its light mist, detailed vegetation, and man-made ruins--is one of the most gorgeous multiplayer maps ever conceived. Compared to the many near-symmetrical maps in Battlefield: Hardline, these new fields of operations feel natural and, more importantly, inviting.
With Battlefield 1, EA and DICE have proven the viability of World War 1 as a time period worth revisiting.
The series’ best maps are those that encourage you to play outside your comfort zone, to spend time with things you typically ignore and to play around with the available vehicles. The FAO Fortress in Mesopotamia and Monte Grappa in the Alps, for instance, are ideal maps to acquaint yourself with the exhilaration of sniping. The outstanding expansiveness of the maps and the abundance of routes in a given area create myriad opportunities to circumvent bottlenecks and camping spots.
Challenges in navigation are found in the multiplayer menus. Getting into a match isn’t a problem, but the online UI isn’t very intuitive, particularly in defining some of the categories of unlockables. Furthermore, it’s disappointing that it’s not possible to leave the multiplayer mode in between matches; you actually have to wait until the next match starts before you can exit. But these minor issues do not dampen the overall experience.
The robust and satisfying progression system is how you customize your online experience, where much of your arsenal is built on whatever you spend your level upgrade rewards on. Growing a collection of firearms is rewarding for veterans while the simplicity of most of the antiquated weapons makes the conflicts accessible to newcomers. It’s meat-and-potatoes 20th century combat; no drones or heat seeking bullets to concern yourself with. Every meaningful action is recognized--even dealing a flesh wound earns you experience points. You’ll have more armaments to choose from than your average World War I soldier, though, which is indicative of the creative liberties Battlefield 1 takes.
However accurate or inaccurate Battlefield 1 is--lite J.J. Abrams lens effects notwithstanding--the immersive production values superbly amplify the sights and sounds that have previously existed in other war shooters. Examples include the distinct clatter of empty shells dropping on the metal floor of a tank and the delayed sound of an exploding balloon from far away. The brushed metal on a specific part of a revolver is the kind of eye-catching distraction that can get you killed. Beyond the usual cacophony of a 64-player match, salvos from tanks and artillery guns add bombast and bass to the large map match. And many vistas are accentuated with weather-affected lighting with dramatic results, like the blinding white sunlight that reflects off a lake after a rainstorm.
With Battlefield 1, EA and DICE have proven the viability of World War 1 as a time period worth revisiting in first-person shooters. It brings into focus countries and nationalities that do not exist today while also shedding light on how the outcome of that war has shaped our lives. As World War II shooters proved many years ago, no game can truly capture the entirety of a global conflict. This is why the focused structure of the War Stories anthology works well. Moreover, Operations succeeds as an effective educational primer on the battles that this gripping adversarial mode are based on. Battlefield 1 is just an introduction to one of the deadliest world events in history, but it is an outstanding, feature-rich package in both its emotional stories and strong multiplayer.
Shaky results from consumer companies dragged the U.S. stock market lower Tuesday as shares of well-known names such as appliance maker Whirlpool and athletic apparel maker Under Armour suffered their worst declines in years.
Third-quarter earnings continued to dominate the market, and some of...Read More
Ron Howard’s “Inferno,” which sees Tom Hanks resuming his role as a globe-trotting professor, should top the box office charts this weekend as the sole new release in theaters. But a No. 1 opening does not always a successful movie make.
The Sony Pictures sequel to “Angels & Demons” and “The Da...Read More
With a market capitalization of $150 billion, the Walt Disney Co. is an entertainment behemoth.
But the Burbank-based company could soon find itself in an unfamiliar position: dwarfed.
If regulators approve AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc., the combined company would be far...Read More
“Excuse me, are you Aaron Burr, sir?”A passerby had caught sight of Leslie Odom Jr. outside of Cipriani 25 on Monday night. The actor was arriving at the Princess Grace Foundation Awards Gala, where he was being honored along with Camille A. Brown with the Princess Grace Statue Award. He’s gotten...Read More
Apple says it sold 45.5 million iPhones in the last quarter, 5% fewer than it sold a year earlier. But the giant tech company's rosy forecast for the holidays was better than what Wall Street had been expecting.
Apple reported Tuesday that its revenue declined 9% to $46.8 billion for the quarter...Read More
Dame Natalie Massenet returned to her “hometown” of Los Angeles on Tuesday (she’s a former Los Angeles-based WWD staffer) to announce the nominees of the British Fashion Council’s re-branded annual event, The Fashion Awards 2016 in partnership with Swarovski, which takes place in London Dec. 5....Read More
On its third day of release in China, “Mechanic: Resurrection” unseated a Chinese action film for the top spot at the box office.
The crime thriller stars Jason Statham as an assassin chasing a man who kidnaps his paramour, played by Jessica Alba. In order to save her, he must complete a series...Read More
Federal officials are expected Tuesday to release new details about the crash that killed 13 people after a tour bus returning from a casino collided into a big rig on the 10 Freeway in Desert Hot Springs.
The crash, the deadliest in the state in several decades, has focused attention on the owner...Read More
Billionaire Sumner Redstone is suing two former companions for what he says was elder abuse, alleging in court documents that the two women became partners in a scheme to isolate him from his family as they drained his financial accounts.
The mogul contends that the two women, Manuela Herzer and...Read More
It has not been the best of seasons for Crespi (2-6, 0-4) or Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (3-5, 0-4), but a Southern Section Division 2 at-large berth could be decided on Friday night when the two San Fernando Valley rivals meet in a Mission League game at Notre Dame.
Both schools have strong strength...Read More
The cream of the fashion crop rose to the top Monday night, literally and figuratively, at the second InStyle Awards, which took place on the garden terrace of the Getty Center, overlooking Los Angeles.
Hosted by InStyle magazine’s freshly minted editor in chief, Laura Brown, who has been on the...Read More
Richardson, an under-the-radar, envelope-pushing streetwear label with a single brick-and-mortar store in New York City, officially opened door No. 2 in Los Angeles last week, filling a 700-square-foot space on West 3rd Street with a mix of irreverent, though-provoking and occasionally decency-offending...Read More
It may not seem like it when you’re planning a trip, but the average domestic airfare has dropped to its lowest level in years, according to government data released Tuesday.
The average domestic airfare was $353 in the April-through-June period, down nearly 10% from the same period in 2015, the...Read More
The New York Giants have released placekicker Josh Brown after police documents revealed Brown had admitted to repeatedly abusing his former wife while they were married.
The release came Tuesday shortly after the player issued a statement insisting that he never hit his wife during a six-year...Read More
Actors Emily Blunt and John Krasinski have parted ways with their second home in Hollywood Hills West this year, selling the renovated single-story for $3.505 million, or $10,000 over the asking price.
The fenced and gated house, built in 1965, came to market in September and was under contract...Read More
During an early preseason practice, Lou Williams caught a long rebound and looked around for a point guard to pass to.
Immediately, Lakers Coach Luke Walton gave him another idea.
“Go Lou, go Lou, go Lou,” Walton said, quietly but with urgency. “Take it yourself, push it, push it, push it.”
Indians around the world will be celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights, on Sunday. For most, this includes elaborate celebratory meals in the days leading up to the holiday and after, often at home. But if you don’t have an Indian grandmother (or grandfather) to cook for you, here are four...Read More
Prince’s elaborate Paisley Park recording complex and residence in Minnesota will open permanently for public tours after the Chanhassen City Council unanimously approved the plan Monday.
Two tours are being offered. A general admission trek lasts 70 minutes and includes stops in the main floor...Read More