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NEWS (LAST 200)
Offender yet to be located after assault...
Greenwich hammer attacks: Man arrested a...
Thailands Queen Sirikit, 86, admitted to...
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Police dashcam captures rescue of 3-year...
One-hour effort to free whale from net...
PepsiCo to buy Israels SodaStream in $3....
Syrians in Idlib brace for the wars fina...
Afghan Taliban kidnap dozens of bus pass...
Myanmar verdict in Reuters reporters cas...
Ngāti Paoa group repossesses Northc...
Kay Longstaff saved 10 hours after falli...
Laura Denmar beaten when she refused to ...
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas engaged...
Amazon firetv fully loaded .. world cup ...
Five things we learned from the Premier ...
iPad 9.7 $200
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Jose Mourinho was powerless to turn the ...
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Focus: Winston Peters on the New Zealand...
Harvey Weinstein accuser had sex with 17...
Kicker L7 15" with Enclosure (Inwood / W...
iPad (6th Gen - Latest) 128gb WiFi (Midt...
WATCH: Big, bold and beautiful women spr...
Roches Alecensa latest beneficiary of fa...
Amid BMW fiasco, Hyundai, Kia to provide...
Emotiva XSP 1 Gen 2 Balanced Refrence Pr...
Brand New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) (wil...
Leigh Griffiths: Celtic will embrace cha...
The latest illustrations from artist And...
PICS: Over 2 million Muslims brave storm...
Korea family reunions resume after three...
37% o garcharorion o Gymru yn cael eu da...
QSC 1400 Stereo Amplifier $150...
iPad 6th generation (Midtown West) �...
The papers: Corbyn begins Scotland tour...
The Popes Ireland visit: A Mass exodus...
Bertens shocks number 1 Halep to win Cin...
Icon Time Systems SP-250 Electronic Time...
Cleifion i gael mynediad at gofnodion me...
PC Launch Helps Monster Hunter: World Pa...
Vape set up (Long island) $150...
David Pope: The Canberra Times editorial...
Chord 2QUTE DAC (Hugo) Made in UK W Upgr...
Xbox one X - Good Condition (Mount Verno...
Photo Wide format printer and extra ink ...
Cd mixer DJ equipment (Bronx) $80...
Apple TV 4 +kodi+live tv USA & all inter...
County Championship: Marcus Trescothick ...
Taxi-hailing firm Ola starts operating i...
Canon rebel XS and bag (Prospect leffert...
Technics SB C700 Speakers Like New w Box...
SA’s Thomas Aiken banks R2.7m in play-...
Brand new in Box - Samsung Galaxy Tab E ...
Snedeker goes wire-to-wire to win Wyndha...
Warshaw: Rooney leads the way, behind Se...
How Tony Abbotts supporters have used th...
We made incredible mistakes: Mourinho fu...
Crystal Palace v Liverpool: Can Eagles u...
DJ equipment Numark brsnd (Bronx) ...
WATCH: Kids say the funniest things...
Meet the Swedish feminist bringing ethic...
After earthquake, Olympics, Singh has As...
The latest illustrations from artist Ala...
Love Food Hate Waste: the top 10 scraps ...
International observers to monitor Swedi...
The latest illustrations from artist Mic...
Wing Ding ding-dong: Michael Avenatti in...
Anything could happen to you: Sydney man...
IndyCar rallies together in wake of Wick...
Bishop Lavis tense after four ‘gang-re...
Multiple quakes rock Indonesias Lombok i...
One missing CPUT student found alive, an...
Taliban take at least 100 hostages despi...
Afghan officials: Taliban take more than...
The forgotten story behind hospital safe...
New contracts will improve coronial post...
Greece completes three-year eurozone bai...
Indonesia relief efforts in Lombok stepp...
Myanmar verdict in Reuters reporters cas...
Kenmare Resources H1 profit surges on hi...
Dozens of elderly South Koreans cross he...
Judge Desai to rule on Henri #VanBredas ...
Are Bangladeshs media freedoms being ero...
Impeachment of West Virginia justices he...
Japanese basketball players sent home fr...
Killer who claimed to be possessed was i...
HMP Birmingham: Government takes over pr...
Mahathir says China will sympathize with...
The Afghan President Has Called for a Ce...
Mahathir says China will sympathise with...
Rocket Internet says CFO Kimpel has resi...
New GCSE grading system has `ratcheted u...
Buthelezi to ANC: If you want me to have...
EXCLUSIVE: New plan to revive business t...
Model claiming Trump secrets pleads not ...
Allen goes from 'Last Chance U&apos...
Rodger Corser gets thrown off a bull as ...
After earthquake, Olympics, Singh has As...
GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares inch up, caut...
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[Newsmaker] Should conscientious objecto...
Spain police shoot man trying to attack ...
Food price inflation: Get ready to pay R...
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UK government takes control of crisis-hi...
Australian father-of-three accused of sh...
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Oprahs sleep doctor shares the ideal sle...
Indonesian earthquakes cause deaths, pan...
Australia weakens commitment to climate ...
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Colleges mull pushing for share of legal...
Vytjie Mentor urges South Africans to wa...
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Canberra United sign South African stars...
GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares inch up with ...
Teacher sexually harassed by Upper Hutt ...
Tornado hits central New Plymouth
Korean families reunite after being sepa...
Govts criminal justice summit launched w...
News24.com | At least six dead in NE Nig...
[Breaking] War-separated families of Kor...
Muslims gather for pinnacle of annual ha...
Turkey: Shots fired at US embassy in Ank...
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Exclusive: U.S. energy group Hess Corps ...
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Taliban kidnap dozens from buses in Afgh...
Motorist fined for parking TOO CLOSE to ...
Shots fired at gate of US Embassy in Tur...
Indian navy opens airport to commercial ...
The US has all but banned underage model...
Yemens Houthi group says it fired missil...
Inglis could miss rugby league All Stars...
The Bachelors Sophie Tieman reveals the ...
Afghan officials: Taliban take at least ...
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Dutch tourist, Gitta Scheenhouwer, remem...
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend take thei...
Qld LNP head denies calls to dump Turnbu...
Cyberbullying summit, Manafort trial, MT...
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Two women, ages 27 and 58, struck by a t...
Brothel madam accused of immigration off...
Asia shares nudge up with yuan, wary on ...
UPDATE 1-Games-Japan send home basketbal...
Korea reunion: Im hoping to hug my grown...
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Korean reunions: Families divided by war...
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Avenatti Considering Challenge to Trump...
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Sack Michael Cheika and his Wallabies st...
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Victory wrap Honda in cotton wool, wont ...
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U.S. energy group Hess Corps SE Asia ass...
Indias surging coal imports driven by ca...
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REVIEWS & PREVIEWS (LAST 60)
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Wandrd Prvke 21L Backpack
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Alien Skin Exposure X3 review
Pentax K-1 Mark II Review
We Happy Few Review
Fujifilm X-H1 Review
Alpine Labs Spark vs Miops Mobile Dongle...
Body of missing L.A. County fire captain...
UCLAs Dorian Thompson-Robinson could get...
Manny Machado finds his swing after swit...
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III Review...
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Review...
What we learned from USCs scrimmage...
Madden NFL 19 Review
Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 First impressions...
Live: LMFAO has fun with debauchery...
Van Halen at Staples Center: Arena rock ...
Live: Lil Kim good, not quite great at K...
Review: Power 106 FMs Powerhouse at Hond...
Handevision Iberit 35mm F2.4 Review...
Live: Santigolds retro party
Live: The Clean stays youthful at the Ec...
Shaggy, Alison Hinds, Tarrus Riley shine...
Review: Grimes, Grouplove and more at Ma...
Live: The Beach Boys at the Hollywood Bo...
Poltergeist Review
LG V30 Review
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Review
Mad Max: Fury Road Review
The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review...
Hot Pursuit Review
Apple iPhone X Review
Little Boy Review
The Age of Adaline Review
The Water Diviner Review
Rhake waterproof backpack
Sony Alpha a7R III Review
The D Train Review
Pitch Perfect 2 Review
Rylo Camera Review
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Review
Hasselblad X1D-50c Review
Google Pixel 2 Review
Tomorrowland Review
Review: Nickelback at Staples Center...
Huawei Mate 10 Pro camera review
H1Z1 Battle Royale PS4 Review: All Kills...
Sweet pensions, secrecy laws: L.A. has i...
A Star Is Born: Andy Samberg turns 40 to...
Such cheery despair: An unsettling curre...
Books: Writing and motherhood, noir, sat...
Butcher shops and goatherds
Frontman Joe Jonas readies for a change ...
Hollywood Burbank Airport becomes the la...
The week ahead at SoCal museums, Aug. 19...
The week ahead in SoCal classical music,...


If it’s summer, then it must be time for WWE’s annual SummerSlam pay-per-view, live from Brooklyn. Let’s get right to the results.

Seth Rollins (with Dean Ambrose) d. Dolph Ziggler (with Drew McIntyre) to win the Intercontinental championship

McIntyre climbed onto the apron, but Ambrose took him...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 19 Aug 2018 19:10:00 PDT )

Todd McNair couldn’t stop moving.

The Village Christian School assistant coach paced the sideline of Burbank High’s football field Friday night as the mountains in the background turned hazy purple. He jabbered with game officials. He hugged other coaches. He ran out of people to high-five after...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 19 Aug 2018 17:15:00 PDT )

Isaac Rochell is not the same player he was a year ago.

He’s significantly less than that. By his estimation, he’s close to 20 pounds less.

“You know you’re lighter so you just mentally feel lighter, a little bit more nimble,” the Chargers’ second-year defensive end said. “You feel better. I definitely...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 19 Aug 2018 17:05:00 PDT )

Just like the forcibly stretched grins of its inhabitants, the joy found in We Happy Few is a facade. The game's fascinating setting of a drug-fueled society wasting away in fake happiness is squandered on repetitive environments, poorly paced and downright boring quest designs, and a variety of confusing mechanics that never find harmony with each other. Its three individual tales of survival manage to deliver some surprisingly poignant moments, but We Happy Few does its best to dissuade you from wanting to play long enough to see them through.

We Happy Few takes place in a timeline where Germany reigned victorious after World War II and has England bowing to their whims. Children are sent to the German mainland without reason, and the quiet town of Wellington Wells is plunged into a drug-induced mirage of peaceful, happy co-existence. With pills called "Joy" helping citizens forget the atrocities of the past, uprising is far less likely. But this fake sense of tranquility brings about its own problems. Citizens refusing to live under Joy's medicinal spell are outcast to the borders of city, forced to live in decrepit, crumbling houses while they wait to starve to death. The citizens of Wellington Wells are always happy to see you, but only if you abide by their rules.

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Enter Arthur, Sally and Ollie--the three characters you'll control throughout three acts that show all sides of this horrific society. Arthur suffers from post-traumatic stress, reliving the moments where he lost his brother to the German kidnappings. Sally hides a secret within the walls of Wellington Wells while also providing black market drugs to those who pay enough. Ollie is just a confused war veteran, disturbed by events of the past that have shaped his future. The more personal aspects of each character end up being more interesting than the mythos surrounding them. Each new perspective lends context to previously puzzling interactions to create clever "aha" moments, and the stories have powerful themes of abandonment, parental sacrifice, and overbearing guilt. Each finds a satisfying (if not always happy) end to their journey, despite the mechanics fighting actively against you reaching their climax.

In Early Access (where the game sat for nearly two years), We Happy Few was a survival game. That's mostly stayed the same, despite the structure of its design changing around it. As any character, you'll need to manage meters for hunger, thirst, tiredness, and more (Ollie actually needs to watch his blood sugar, of all things), which impose penalties and buffs on your fighting and movement abilities. Early on, managing these statuses is difficult, with a scarcity of resources while you're still coming to grips with We Happy Few's many rules. But they soon end up being just frustrating. The resources to replenish them aren't hard to find, but constantly having to tend to them when you're just wanting to get along with the story is arduous.

There is an unbelievable number of items to pick up and carry in We Happy Few, but only a small handful end up being useful. You’ll frequently be forced to pick up flowers to craft healing balms or bobby pins for lockpicks, for example. But vials of toxins that can knock out or kill enemies don't give you a reason to choose one or the other. The crafting menus for each character change based on their abilities, but the core items that are shared between all three are likely the only ones you'll actually utilize--the specialized items hardly necessitate their complex requirements. It feels like such a waste having a vast crafting system attached to a game that never puts you in a situation where it feels necessary. We Happy Few has many ideas strewn across its menus but nothing mechanically that requires their use.

This frustration is only exacerbated by the lack of interesting quests to undertake in We Happy Few's relatively large open world. Its inhabitants treat you as their delivery boy, never giving you anything more complex than walking to an area, picking something up, and walking all the way back. Quest design works counterintuitively to the idea of having to scrounge to survive. Even if you wanted to reach into the world's nooks and crannies to find something interesting, inquisitive eyes are rarely met with any rewards aside from the plethora of items you probably already have stashed in your inventory. There's a point in Arthur's story where he exclaims, after a multi-staged questline, "All that, just to reboot a bridge?" and it feels like he's crying out for help from you directly.

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What attempts to break up this straightforward structure are the rules of Wellington Wells. Outside of its walls you'll be forced to don tattered clothing to fit in with the rest of the depressing crowd, as well as fighting off temptations to steal from their strewn-about dwellings. Inside is another story entirely. The inhabitants of Joy-infested cities will be quick to throw up arms should you do anything but walk. Haunting guards and eerie Joy-sniffing doctors pose a threat to your blending in, which can force you to pop some pills from time to time. Their effects keep you hidden for a time but have devastating withdrawal symptoms that prevent you from masking your depression, which can have an entire city on your tail in mere seconds.

The setting sounds intriguing on paper: a system where stealth is managed by social interactions and conformity. But its execution is lacking. Obeying the strictly imposed rules is trivial and only slows down your progress towards the next quest marker, negating any sense of tension they might have imposed. Outside, the rules are looser, but there's also far less to look at. You'll spend a lot of time simply sprinting through empty fields with no discernable landmarks, only to be greeted by another bridge into another strict state that brings progress to a crawl. It's a disappointing misuse of a system that might have otherwise been engrossing.

It feels like We Happy Few understands many of its mechanics are a chore to begin with.

The character progression system is even more underdeveloped. While each of the three characters has some unique characteristics, the abilities you're able to purchase are largely shared between them, and many give you ways to turn some of We Happy Few's rules off entirely. One allows you to sprint through cities without rousing alarm for example, while another lets you ignore annoying night curfews entirely. It feels like a concession--like We Happy Few understands many of its mechanics are a chore to begin with.

When rules aren't being (mercifully) stripped away, they often just don't work. The night curfew, for example, will have guards turn hostile should they spot you. But conceal yourself on a bench, and they inexplicably ignore you entirely. Melee combat is monotone and predictably boils down to you exhausting your stamina swinging your weapon and then simply blocking until it recharges. When you're not being forced to contend with that, you'll be sneaking around enemies with a barely functioning stealth system. Enemies are inconsistent in their ability to spot you, sometimes walking across your path without a whiff of suspicion. Their patrol lines are easy to spot and never deviate, making the reward of a successful infiltration feel remarkably hollow. Most times they're just far too predictable. They'll stare for extended periods at distractions you conjure and fail to search an area after spotting you briefly. We Happy Few's stealth is so transparently binary that it just feels like you're cheating the system most of the time.

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It's a shame that so many of these systems never fit together in a cohesive way, especially when the world itself is overflowing with potential. There's some rich environmental storytelling in We Happy Few, even if its visual variety is shallow. It's striking to transition from dilapidated walls with mad ravings written across them to neatly structured hollows parallel with rainbow roads. The way We Happy Few mixes up its visual representation based on your character's mental states is clever, too. On Joy you'll witness double rainbows as far as the eye can see, with a shiny veneer encapsulating the overly cheery nature of your character. Withdrawal sours this into a dreary grey world where the sounds of flies and visions of decay replace usually unremarkable facets of the environment.

This blends well with We Happy Few's interpretation of the era. Monochrome television screens hang from awnings and play the propaganda-filled ravings of the enigmatic Uncle Jack swing towards you as you pass with a startling red hue. The stretched faces of Wellington Wells' most behaved citizens are off-putting in a brilliantly creepy way, even if there's such a lack of distinct character models that you'll find multiple identical faces hanging out on a single street corner. Cartoonish robotic contraptions mingle in more strictly secure areas and whistle off cheery tunes as they pass by. They also tend to mess about with the pathfinding for Wellington's human inhabitants, which is hilarious only the first few times. For everything that We Happy Few gets right in terms of world building, its gameplay leads it astray.

For everything that We Happy Few gets right in terms of world building, its gameplay leads it astray.

Technical issues plague We Happy Few too, ranging from mildly annoying to borderline game-breaking. Characters will often clip through the floor or disappear entirely as you approach. Shifts between night and day see characters appear and disappear from one second to the next. The framerate suffers on capable PC hardware. Quest logs will sometimes not refresh, while getting an item at the wrong time failed to trigger a quest milestone, forcing me to reload an older save. Audio can disappear from cutscenes entirely for long stretches of time. From numerous angles, We Happy Few is in rough shape.

But even if you are able to overlook its technical shortcomings or perhaps wait for more stable patches in the future, We Happy Few's biggest problems are ones that are hard to remedy. Its entire gameplay loop is underpinned by boring quests and long stretches of inaction. And even when it forces you to interact with its world beyond just walking to waypoints, combat, stealth, and otherwise fascinating societies fail to impose the right balance of challenge and tension. There's a clear lack of direction that We Happy Few is never able to shake, which wastes its intriguing setting. It does manage to weave each of its three stories cohesively into a larger tale, but it's also one that's never critical enough to earn the right to repeat "happiness is a choice" any chance it can. There are just too many hurdles to overcome to enjoy We Happy Few, and not enough Joy in the world to cast them aside.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Sat, 11 Aug 2018 10:57:00 -0700)

The body of a Los Angeles County Fire Department captain was found Saturday in Santa Barbara County, authorities said.

Wayne Stuart Habell, 43, was last seen leaving his home in Newhall at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff's Information Bureau said.

Habell's SUV was found Friday...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 22:50:00 PDT )

Dorian Thompson-Robinson might have one major ally in his quest to become UCLA’s second true freshman to start a season opener at quarterback: the user-friendly offense his team is running.

“The spread offense is easier to teach than a lot of other offenses for the quarterback because it’s a lot...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 14:40:00 PDT )
0.5 stars out of 5: BOO-RING
It's hard out here for a ghost. Always having to think up new ways to scare suburban people in movies. You make the kids' toys come alive and play creepy music, and all the other ghosts hold up signs with straight 1.5s across the board. You're...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Sat, 23 May 2015 09:29:13 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: You can fly. Eventually.
In your initial visit to Tomorrowland, you're not really there at all. That's what scientifically-named Casey Newton (The Longest Ride's Britt Robertson) discovers when she first goes there by touching a tiny, metal, "T"-emblazoned pin. She takes...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 22 May 2015 05:11:54 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: Songs about butts.
Pitch Perfect 2 begins with a crazy, performance-based, wardrobe malfunction, one that, in the film's words, exposes the "down under" region of one of the a cappella Bellas. For this accidental offense they are mocked, chastised, and stripped of...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 15 May 2015 05:04:29 GMT )
5.0 stars out of 5: Death to the patriarchy.
"Who killed the world?" yells a minor character in Mad Max: Fury Road. This outburst comes after an earlier moment where camera pauses on the question painted on a cave wall. And since it's one of only a couple dozen complete and comprehensible...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 15 May 2015 05:05:45 GMT )
1.0 stars out of 5: Stay home.
Although there is at least one earlier, less sexual, usage of the slang term "the d-train," referring to having a generalized bad experience, lately the expression has become more synonymous with the penis. That's because pop culture always needs...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Sat, 09 May 2015 01:33:01 GMT )
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 )
3.5 stars out of 5: Much Avenge About More Things
They're building a giant machine now, a machine made of movies. To participate in the machine's agenda of taking your money, it will not help to begin by looking at this perpetual motion installment and working backwards, trying to catch up. You...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 01 May 2015 00:39:50 GMT )
1.5 stars out of 5: History written by the winners.
First-time director Russell Crowe has stepped in it, probably without meaning to. But it's happening all the same. His film, entirely devoted to an exploration of the aftermath of a key, nation-defining battle in Australian war history -- the...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:26:41 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: Proustian mush
It begins with a shot of the Earth from space, and omniscient narration. (The voice of Hugh Ross, narrator of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, whose low-key, somewhat conspiratorial, post-sincere, NPR reporter tone turns...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:25:37 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: A little much.
The past few years have seen a marked rise in the number of Christian-themed films getting wide theatrical distribution, but to call it a "new wave" of faith-based cinema is probably inappropriate. That designation is usually reserved for a...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:27:52 GMT )

The Madden series aims to be a true-to-life representation of the popular American sport, and Madden 19 is a refined step forward with advancements across the board. There are some issues hanging over from past games, and the Franchise updates are not as big and exciting as you might expect, but Madden 19, with its capable Frostbite engine and its compelling Longshot story mode, remains the best, most complete Madden game to date.

On the field, Madden's gameplay has never looked or handled better, and this is due in part to a new system EA calls Real Player Motion. One of the biggest pieces of this is the new "one-cut" feature for ball-carriers that allows them to change direction quickly and with a burst of speed to get around a defender. An appropriately timed cut, coupled with an acceleration boost, lets you make tight, fast, and precise turns that help you get through the line or to the edge when making runs. You can also perform hesitation moves that can make a big difference in those crucial moments when you see an opening or a gap, and it's thrilling to successfully execute a run, even if it's only for marginal yardage. Establishing the run game can be critical, and it's nice to see Madden 19 make running responsive, fun, and representative of what you see in real NFL games.

To balance out the new tactics for ball-carriers, Madden 19 adds a new strafe burst mechanic for defense. If timed appropriately, this can help you get into position faster than normal and improve your chances of stopping a big run. EA has always strived to give players more control and better responsiveness on the field, and the advancements this year are nice, even if they are only granular in nature. And in a further step towards emulating actual NFL games, Madden 19 lets you choose a custom celebration after a touchdown or a big defensive play with individual and team-based celebrations. Whether you're performing a simple spike on your own or doing the spoon-to-mouth dance with your team, it gives Madden a more authentic feel.

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This is the second year of Madden using EA's Frostbite engine, and it has indeed made strides to make the game look better. Character models are now more lifelike, while small things like player sweat (yes, really), the way bodies crunch and recoil after big hits, sunspots pouring onto the field at dusk, and weather elements like rain and snow get even closer to replicating an actual NFL broadcast. While the graphics looks better, the physics can still be really weird at times. I saw things like arms bending in ways they absolutely should not, mid-air collisions causing the ball to launch through the air at an angle and speed that makes no physical sense, and balls that disappear into the ground for no reason. Crowd animations can also be odd at times. The Madden franchise has always been replete with bugs and weirdness, and I tend to agree that this is part of the charm; none of the issues I encountered were enough to completely break the immersion. Also new in the presentation department are the menus, which now look sleeker and are less cluttered.

Madden 19's commentating is a big bright spot. The play-by-play/color duo of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis return, and they have an excellent rapport. Their banter succeeds thanks to their football acumen, as well as their willingness and ability to emulate real NFL broadcast booths and shoot the breeze on topics like stadium food and Seinfeld references. While Gaudin and Davis turn in excellent performances, the Texas high school commentators from Longshot mode really steal the show with their over-the-top, homer play-by-play calls that left me laughing and wanting more. Another commentating update this year is former ESPN anchor Jonathan Coachman as the pre-game/halftime host; he replaces Larry Ridley. Coachman is enthusiastic and fun to listen to, but most Madden players are likely to skip these segments. Madden 19's commentary will be updated on a regular basis with new dialogue lines that reflect what happens in the real NFL once the season kicks off later this month, though it remains to be seen if the commentators will tackle controversial subjects.

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One of the deepest modes in Madden 19 is Franchise. Last year's game was frustratingly light on advancements and improvements, but the new Madden thankfully adds more to the mix to give you a different kind of control over shaping your franchise--and the individual players on your team. One of the more notable new features is what's called the Archetype Progression system which adds different styles to positions and lets you continue to build and expand your players over the course of one or multiple seasons. The XP you earn in games gives you skill points that you can then spend to upgrade one of the archetypes for your player instead of assigning them to specific attributes. This can feel frustrating as it effectively limits the amount of fine control you have to shape your players as specifically as you were able to previously. This might have been done to help balance teams in online play, but whatever the case, it's a bit of a bummer to have that kind of precise control taken away.

Madden 19's new custom draft class creator for Franchise is another welcome addition. At launch, you'll be able to download draft classes made by the community, so you can expect some dedicated player to create the latest real-world NFL mock drafts in real time.

Another way to play Madden is through the card-based Madden Ultimate Team mode, which remains Madden's deepest pursuit--and it's stocked with things to do this year. In addition to the standard challenges, of which there are more than 100, there are Solo Battles where you can go up against other fan-created MUT squads in weekly tournaments, while there will also be a playlist for MUT squads made by EA Sports developers, NFL players, and celebrities. It's a thrill to take on a different squad each playthrough in Solo Battles, and I can see myself returning again and again to this mode to see how my team stacks up. Already a deep and robust mode, MUT adds the brand-new MUT Squads Challenges, where you and two others take on the CPU in a series of football challenges. Provided your teammates know what they're doing this is a mode that delivers yet another compelling reason to play MUT online and keep coming back. Yet another online mode, MUT Champions, goes live on August 13.

MUT still pushes you towards microtransactions, and that may be a concern for some. But it remains as exciting and satisfying as ever to put together a fantasy team where Tom Brady can throw a touchdown pass to Jerry Rice.

Returning from Madden 18 is the Longshot mode, which was arguably the biggest, most impressive, and fleshed out new feature that the franchise had ever seen. It wasn't perfect, and neither is this year's version, Longshot: Homecoming. The story picks up with Devin Wade having a tough time in the Dallas Cowboys training camp, with Colt Cruise struggling through life in Mathis and getting blindsided by a major life event that puts his entire life and career into question. The voice acting and performances of all the major characters, Wade in particular, are solid. EA also recruited celebrities like frequent Adam Sandler collaborator Rob Schneider, Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us), Jimmy Tatro (American Vandal), and Joey King (The Kissing Booth) for the mode, and they turn in memorable performances.

Homecoming's story is one of pain and struggle, loss and redemption, and how football really doesn't matter when compared to issues at home and in life. Homecoming, like Longshot before it, has bold ambitions in terms of the story it tells and the feelings it wants to evoke, but it doesn't always work. At one point early in the story, Cruise remarks to a character about "some of the most cliched stuff I've ever seen," and this could also apply to Homecoming's story. At times, it can be uneven and inconsistent in its tone, coming across as very hokey and ham-handed.

And in what is a surprising move, EA (almost) completely dropped the Telltale-style dialogue options from the first iteration. It was fun to make choices and steer the conversation in the original Longshot, even if the story never really branched, so it's a real shame that EA moved away from this in favour of a more traditionally structured story. That being said, the narrative will pull you through and, at just about four hours in length, you may finish it in one sitting. Unfortunately, I experienced a significant difficulty spike at the end of Devin's story where he goes up against a much better team and has to make all the right plays to get the win. A lack of variety in this sequence and the upswing in difficulty made what should have been a climactic conclusion a boring and frustrating affair. Those issues aside, I had a fun time playing through Devin and Colt's story, which reached a satisfying and heart-warming end.

Madden 19 is an excellent football game that improves on last year's entry in almost every way. There are problems, but there has never been a football game that more authentically represents the NFL than this in terms of presentation, controls, and depth.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Sun, 12 Aug 2018 16:01:00 -0700)
Power 106 FM kept its annual summer hip-hop show, Powerhouse, old school and relatively orthodox, with rappers Snoop Dogg, T.I. and Young Jeezy leading a show that was light on the dance-oriented pop hits that dominate the airwaves. The Times' August Brown reviews. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews (Sun, 24 Jun 2012 17:40:41 -0700 )
Nickelback has no official connection to the big-screen version of “Rock of Ages,” but on Friday night at Staples Center, it was hard not to think of the just-opened movie musical -- a flashy-trashy dramatization of the 1980s hard-rock scene... Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Sun, 17 Jun 2012 19:36:33 -0700 )
Now in its fifth year, Make Music Pasadena celebrates music at its most casual and community-focused, and has grown from a festival that once largely featured intimate, acoustic appearances in storefronts to one that can draw artists with national appeal. Boasting 149 performances and pop-up stages on Old Town's Colorado Boulevard and the Playhouse District's Madison Avenue, Make Music Pasadena is a large-scale event done on a budget. Ninety-nine percent of the artists appearing do not get paid, say organizers, and headliners such as electronic artist Grimes and peppy local rockers Grouplove were expected to bring at least 20,000 people to downtown Pasadena. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Sun, 17 Jun 2012 17:39:47 -0700 )
Live: Lil Kim driven to give till it hurts: The hip-hop diva's ambitious if erratic show was almost too much for the compact confines of Key Club. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Thu, 14 Jun 2012 17:51:14 -0700 )
LMFAO's Redfoo and Sky Blu stay in character and play debauchery for laughs and fun at Staples Center as part of Sorry for Party Rocking Tour. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Wed, 06 Jun 2012 18:34:01 -0700 )
The Beach Boys reunited June 2, 2012, at the Hollywood Bowl for the band's first tour together in more than two decades. A review for the Los Angeles Times. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Sun, 03 Jun 2012 13:21:26 -0700 )
If you closed your eyes during the sold-out Santigold concert at Club Nokia Friday night -- especially at any point in the first half -- it’d have been easy to feel like you were at one of the Hollywood Bowl’s annual flashback concerts featuring ‘80s British bands. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Sat, 02 Jun 2012 13:49:57 -0700 )
Van Halen returned to Los Angeles to perform to a hometown crowd at the Staples Center, where band members David Lee Roth, and Eddie, Alex, and Wolfgang Van Halen performed during their "Different Kind of Truth" reunion tour. Times pop music critic Randall Roberts says the performance was often lackluster. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Sat, 02 Jun 2012 12:49:42 -0700 )
The New Zealand band the Clean has been around a long time but still packs energy, especially when it performs ‘Tally Ho.’ Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Thu, 31 May 2012 14:57:42 -0700 )
On day two of UCLA's annual JazzReggae Festival, Shaggy, Tarrus Riley, Collie Buddz, Alison Hinds and others showcased the many sounds of the Caribbean, from soca and reggae to reggaeton and lovers rock. Times pop music critic Randall Roberts offers an overview of the day. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Pop Concert Reviews ( Tue, 29 May 2012 12:25:57 -0700 )

USC coach Clay Helton knows what to expect from his veterans.

So Helton rested his upperclassmen during the team’s scrimmage Saturday. It was time for the young Trojans to prove themselves — Helton’s last chance to study them before the upcoming week of practice, the team’s mock game week.

“We...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (星期六, 18 八月 2018 15:50:00 PDT )

Manny Machado punctuated the frustration of his first month as a Dodger with a powerful but fruitless gesture. On Aug. 12 at Coors Field, after striking out to strand a pair of runners late in an eventual loss to the Rockies, Machado gripped his bat with both hands and snapped it over his thigh.

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (星期六, 18 八月 2018 15:10:00 PDT )
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Fri, 24 Nov 2017 14:00:00 Z)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:00:00 Z)

Battle royale games have established themselves as more than just a fad, and as the space becomes more crowded, games strive to carve out their niche. With the console port of H1Z1, focusing on simplicity and streamlined mechanics is how it stakes its claim. Significant changes were made to H1Z1's original formula on PC to get you moving and encourage more action, which is further supported by intuitive controls. Where H1Z1's lacking is in variety, due in large part to an uninspired map that's missing interesting setpieces for its most intense firefights. But if the thrill of besting 100+ other players is what you seek, H1Z1 delivers just that.

As with many battle royales, your first objective is to quickly scavenge the dropzone for anything to improve your chances of survival. H1Z1 limits what's available on the ground and in abandoned structures to common loot, but you'll find enough to stay competitive in the opening minutes of a match. It's not too difficult to get equipped with a pump shotgun, basic assault rifle, a few healing items, low-level armor, and small backpack, which alleviates the frustration of coming away with nothing even after combing through buildings. However, the good stuff is tucked away in supply crates that litter the map as the match progresses. Boxes of high-level equipment dropped from the sky is a genre staple, however, H1Z1 focuses on this element by strictly keeping the best items exclusive to crates.

By cranking up the frequency of supply drops and shining brightly colored beacons on them (that are visible in the distance), crates serve as hotbeds for action. The risk-reward nature instigates tense firefights, and encourages improvising a tactical approach; will you stake out the crate from a distance and use it as bait, or do you rush to loot it and get out of dodge before you're preyed upon? When powerful weapons like the RPG, scoped burst rifle, or automatic shotgun are likely within grasp, it's impossible to ignore these drops. Even if you're unfamiliar with the effectiveness of specific gear, traditional color-coding to indicate rarity--white, green, purple, gold--makes it easy to identify what's worth swooping up. It's not groundbreaking, but H1Z1 devises a way to sensibly deliver the better elements of battle royale.

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It also helps that H1Z1 doesn't hide much from you as it conveniently plots out nearby vehicles and supply crates on the map. While it takes some of the mystery out of this style of game, it's another tweak that gives you the tools get to the fun parts without delay. Especially because the deadly gas zones close in on the remaining players quickly, it's nice that the means for mobility are readily available. Considering that players parachute into the map at random locations (there's no choosing where to drop), making resources available and visible upfront mitigates the feeling of getting the short end of the stick.

The systematic changes to the core of H1Z1 would be all for naught if there wasn't a practical control scheme to tie it all together. Thankfully, the changes to gameplay mechanics feel as if they were done with a gamepad in mind. Support items like grenades, bandages, and first-aid kits have dedicated buttons, and swapping out weapons or changing your armor is as easy as picking up a replacement. Small backpacks open a third weapon slot, while the rare ones grant a fourth slot in a simple weapon wheel, effectively negating cumbersome weight management that'd be tough to incorporate for gamepads. Most significantly, item crafting has been nixed altogether. As a result, combat flows smoothly, and you're a lot less likely to fumble around with the controls under high-pressure situations since there aren't any clunky menus to navigate.

As with the PC version of H1Z1, though, there's a dissonance between its military-sim DNA and quirky rules of engagement. Movement and weapon behavior are still very much in line with what you'd see in a tactical shooter. But being able to instantly pop out of cars at full speed without taking damage itself seems incongruous, and using that as a tactic to close the distance for shotgun kills adds further dissonance. To top it off, vehicles don't inflict damage when ramming players. The wide-open design of the map makes these oddities stand out in a way that feels both thematically incoherent and disparate in a gameplay sense.

H1Z1 also falls short in its single map that's largely made up of open fields and a scattering of deserted buildings. There's a striking lack of features or interesting backdrops to stage the frantic firefights and make encounters feel fresh from match to match. The more dense locations like Pleasant Valley, Ranchito, or Dragon Lake offer some of those tense moments when you don't know if enemies are weaving through buildings or peeking around corners. But overall, even marquee locations are visually uninspired and plainly laid out, which makes battles grow stale over time. Outside of outlandish cosmetics, the distinct lack of style or variety to how the game presents itself makes it hard to want to stay for long.

As a free-to-play game, microtransactions come part-and-parcel. Crowns work as purchasable in-game currency, and Credits are solely earned through playing the game and completing daily challenges. Here, H1Z1 has evolved with the times by incorporating a Battle Pass which unlocks an exclusive line of rewards--like cosmetics, emotes, and in-game currency--to earn as you level up (though nothing that provides gameplay advantages). It may be irksome that a loot box system remains the prevailing method for rewards, but it's worth noting that each box spells out the rarity of the items you'll receive.

H1Z1 doesn't shake up the battle royale formula in any big way, but instead offers a simple, streamlined experience. It differentiates itself from its PC counterpart to its benefit by revamping the core systems at play, giving you just enough to work with in battle without being overwhelmed. But it's still missing diversity in its action that would create lasting appeal. Bare presentation aside, the only map available isn't the best vehicle for solid gameplay as its largely made up of uninteresting locations. In a crowded space of battle royale games all vying for your attention, H1Z1 makes room for itself by just focusing the action-packed moments--nothing more, nothing less.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 12:00:00 -0700)

This is it.

I’m going into retirement and wanted you to be the first to know.

But I worked out a really sweet deal with my employer.

I’m going to keep writing columns for five more years so that I can collect my regular pay and my retirement pay simultaneously.

It’s a double-dip bonanza.

All I’ve...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 08:00:00 PDT )

Happy Saturday. It’s halfway through August somehow, and as the summer draws to a close, it’s time to appreciate the last few weeks of having the kids at home and the somewhat lighter traffic. Head to the beach if you can, and hit up all the ice cream shops and taquerias on the way there. Speaking...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 07:00:00 PDT )

About a week ago I was heading out of Alabama, hoping I’d get to Oxford Miss., before William Faulkner’s house Rowan Oak closed for the day. I did, but that’s a story for another day. I’m Books editor Carolyn Kellogg, and here is this week’s Books newsletter from the L.A. Times.

THE BIG STORY

I’d...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sat, 18 Aug 2018 07:00:00 PDT )

Brooklyn artist Jonny Negron paints lovely portraits inflected with a despair that contradicts their bright colors and fulsome bodies. Executed in a style that draws from comic books, Japanese woodblock prints and maybe Frida Kahlo, they depict fleshy figures struggling amid the forces of nature...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sat, 18 Aug 2018 07:00:00 PDT )

Joe Jonas is moving on from his Sherman Oaks home of two years. The singer-actor of Jonas Brothers and DNCE fame has put the gated spot on the market for $4.25 million.

Built in 2016, the two-story house presents as a Cape Cod-inspired contemporary in the farmhouse style. Modern touches include...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 06:00:00 PDT )

The first of two pods designed to give privacy to nursing mothers has opened at Hollywood Burbank Airport.

The 9-foot, 5-inch-wide pod, created by a Vermont-based, woman-owned company called Mamava, is located in Terminal A, across from Gate A4. The second pod is scheduled to be added in September...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 06:00:00 PDT )

Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.), Margaret Gray (M.G.), Charles McNulty (C.M.) and Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.).

Openings

High Street Broadcast Old-fashioned radio-style show features original music, comedy sketches, and a tale of suspense with live sound effects....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 01:00:00 PDT )

Compiled by Matt Cooper

California Philharmonic The orchestra wraps its summer season with selections from John Williams’ film scores for “Star Wars”, “E.T.,” “Jurassic Park,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the “Harry Potter” franchise, plus highlights from Bernstein’s “The Young Person’s Guide...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 01:00:00 PDT )

Reviews by Leah Ollman (L.O.).

Openings

Ink: Stories on Skin Exhibition focuses on historical and cultural aspects of tattoo art in Southern California through the decades. Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach. Opens Sat.; ends Jan. 21. Closed Mon.-Tue. $7, $10; under 12,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 01:00:00 PDT )

Compiled by Matt Cooper

Memoirs of a ... Unicorn Dancer-choreographer Marjani Forté-Saunders performs this solo evening-length dance piece inspired by stories from her Arkansas-born father’s life. Ford Theatres, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m. $25. (323) 461-3673.

Letters...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 01:00:00 PDT )

Unavowed sounds straightforward on paper. It's a classic-style point-and-click game about demonic possession set in New York City with people to talk to, and puzzles to solve. However, as you get to know its characters and fall further into its mystery, it becomes increasingly clear that Unavowed is much more than it appears: it's a brilliantly written adventure that makes you care deeply about its inhabitants and subverts your expectations.

Many tales involving demonic possession typically conclude with the entity being banished from its host, but in Unavowed, this is where the story begins. Your character wakes up on a rain-soaked Brooklyn rooftop with a hazy memory, surrounded by people you've never met. To your horror, they inform you that you've spent over a year slaughtering people throughout New York and there's a citywide manhunt for your capture. They are the Unavowed: an ancient, hidden order of demon-hunters dedicated to protecting the city from all kinds of supernatural threats. With the spirit seemingly gone, you join their ranks and work to piece together the what, how and why of your demon's bloody murder spree across the city.

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It's a good setup for any mystery, but Unavowed sets itself apart with charismatic, fascinating characters and stellar writing. From the members of the Unavowed to bystanders you encounter on street corners, every inhabitant of this version of New York is a compelling character study. A struggle with alcoholism, the burden of generational history, and deep sadness of personal obligations are some of the powerful ingredients that are deftly woven into future quests and conversations in ways that organically reveal themselves to be integral to the game's fiction.

For your own character, three origin stories--bartender, actor, or cop--factor into your interactions. Not only does this change how you're able to interact with people in certain situations, but entire sections of the game will be entirely unique based on your initial choice. There's a surprising replayability to Unavowed--on my second playthrough as an actor, I experienced numerous conversations and encounters that I had no idea even existed the first time around as a bartender, and these lent new perspectives to the overarching narrative.

As you recruit and develop relationships with your team members, they'll quickly grow into well-rounded characters, complete with their own fears, desires, and vexes. These personalities are fleshed-out through incredible writing and voice-acting that genuinely conveys a human experience. It's a strength that permeates the dozen or so hours of the game; their individual histories and shared trauma inform how they interact with you, the world, and each other. In Unavowed, getting drawn into a lengthy conversation is a joy.

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But it is the overall mystery that is at the forefront of your adventure here. Investigations lead you all over the city--Brooklyn, Staten Island, Chinatown, Wall Street, The Bronx--and locations are beautifully realized in the colorful 2D artwork. As you progress, you'll need to navigate delicate relationships with business owners and neighbors as you journey to discover the true intention of your ex-demon, who has been manipulating the fear and anguish of these same people.

You'll also need to solve puzzles to defend yourself against ghosts, release tormented souls, and uncover layers of the mystery. The quests you're tasked with are varied and often unpredictable. You might be trying to decipher a hand-written code for an office keypad one minute, and trying to release an interdimensional dragon before it devours you the next. Some puzzles are satisfying to solve through deductive reasoning, and others serve as narrative tools that absorb you into the story. A number of branching choices also arise throughout the game, and they never feel fleeting--even the smallest moments often prove to be consequential in some respect. In addition, because you're limited in only taking two members of your team on any given mission, you have to weigh your choices carefully. Who you bring impacts your puzzle-solving and dialogue options, as well as possible outcomes based on a character's history with an area, their individual talents, and the existing relationships they may have with people you encounter--the number of possibilities here is impressive.

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But Unavowed's greatest strength is that it maintains an admirable focus on incredible characterization that feeds into every quest and conversation. Every question you ask, every decision you make, and every sacrifice you make carries you and your team members on an impassioned journey that epitomizes the best qualities of an adventure game. It never rests on tropes, a strong sense of empathy is present through its entirety, and not only do you come to wholly understand character motivations, the way these people deal with supernatural situations helps to build a bond between them and you as a player. From its wonderfully realized locations and its inviting, three-dimensional characters, Unavowed will have you eager to discover the captivating stories lurking in the demonic underworld of New York City.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Wed, 08 Aug 2018 20:00:00 -0700)

WarioWare, one of Nintendo's strangest and most inventive series, tasks players with completing increasingly quick and difficult 'microgames,' each just a few seconds long. It's a pure expression of one of Nintendo's strengths--its games are often overflowing with abundant ideas that are all quickly experienced and equally strong. WarioWare Gold is positioning itself as the ultimate WarioWare experience--one that mixes together the three play styles that have defined the series' previous handheld releases.

The 300 microgames are split between Mash games (which use the D-Pad and A button, like in the Game Boy Advance original), Twist games (which are controlled by tilting the console, à la WarioWare: Twisted!), and Touch games (that use the touchscreen, like DS launch title WarioWare: Touched!). There are also a handful of games that make you blow into the microphone, making the playlists that incorporate them slightly more embarrassing to play on public transport. Just under 40 of these microgames are new, with the rest being pulled from previous games in the series.

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When you start one of WarioWare Gold's microgame playlists, you'll be hit with a cavalcade of tasks in quick succession. In the space of a minute you might find yourself hammering the A button to snort up a dangling snot bubble, using the D-Pad to guide Wario as he jumps on Goombas, or navigating a short maze to find a treasure chest. You could be tilting the system to ward off samurai attacks or to extract a dead tooth from an open mouth; if your stylus is out you might be guiding a needle through a thread on the touch screen or slicing flying food, Fruit Ninja-style. You'll be given a very brief instruction at the start of each game ("Avoid!," "Stack!," "Remember!"), and a few seconds to decipher and complete the task.

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In Story Mode, each supporting character is given a playlist with a control type and game theme. Most of the games are divided between Sport, Fantasy, Nintendo, and That's Life (essentially miscellaneous) categories, although these are mostly aesthetic distinctions, as a lot of them play similarly. When you select a playlist for the first time you only need to beat a handful of microgames and the character's Boss game--a slightly longer, more involved event that is closer to minigame than microgame--to clear it. The next time you play, you're going for a high score, with the games increasing in difficulty and speed as you go. The Nintendo-themed retro games are a highlight, as always, although the boss levels for the Mash and Touch playlists are disappointing (thankfully the tilt-controlled version of Super Mario Bros. you'll get to play in the Twist section is fantastic).

You can comfortably complete every character's playlist and "finish" the game within two hours, and unlock all the microgames in five, but WarioWare is all about the long tail. Over time you'll want to build up familiarity with each microgame to get a high score--the best way to succeed is to immediately know what to do when the instruction pops up. There's a lot of repetition involved, but thankfully it's extremely fun. The three WarioWare games that Gold most directly pulls from--the original GBA game, plus Twisted and Touched--were all fantastic in their own ways and having all three play styles in a single game is a delight.

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The challenge playlists that unlock after you beat the story, which allow you to play microgames under numerous different conditions, offer even more immediate thrills than the story playlists, which can take a while to heat up. Playing with only a single life, or testing your mettle in a mode where games switch between the upper and lower screen with very little time in between, can be tense and exciting. Sneaky Gamer mode, the one excellent mode from Game & Wario, returns here too. In this mode, you play as series staple 9-Volt, who plays microgames on the bottom screen but must occasionally hide under his blanket on the top screen if his mother comes into the room to check if he's asleep. Keeping track of your game progress while also looking out for the telltale signs that your mum is about to burst into the room is a surprisingly nerve-wracking experience. There's great variety in these lists, and you can choose which control styles you want to focus on--in the extremely fast Very Hard challenge mode, for instance, you're given separate leaderboards for Mash, Twist, Touch, and Ultra (which mixes every control style) modes.

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WarioWare is also where Nintendo lets its freak flag fly, and Gold gets beautifully weird. The artists interpret Wario in different ways throughout the game--one microgame might render him in janky polygons, while another might draw him as a downtrodden everyman working in a factory. He might be fat, thin, or absurdly ripped--it feels like each microgame was designed with a huge degree of artistic and creative control. The cutscenes before each chapter in Story mode are legitimately funny--WarioWare has a firmly established cast of characters, all of whom have separate personalities and backstories, and they're a delight to watch. Wario is given far more spoken dialog than is typical of Nintendo's characters, too. You'd be hard-pressed to find another game with so many lines delivered by Charles Martinet, who imbues Wario with a sense of pride and malice here that's a delight to witness. You can also unlock the ability to redub each character's intro and outro cutscenes with your own voice, which is perfect for anyone who thinks Wario doesn't swear enough.

Outside of finding all the microgames, there's a long list of extras to unlock within WarioWare Gold. They're available through what is essentially a loot box system, although, thankfully, it only uses currency earned in-game. You can spend coins to crank the handle on a capsule machine, which will drop one of several prizes ranging from oddities (character-themed alarm clocks and collector cards) to educational props (a gallery of past Nintendo consoles and inventions), through to more enjoyable and substantial offerings, including soundtrack albums and larger, more fleshed-out minigames. Those minigames vary in quality and complexity, but a few of them are truly great, and they're really what you want every time you crank the wheel. While there's a lot of filler in the capsules it's also not too difficult to earn coins, which are handed out through regular play and whenever you achieve any of the goals set out in the game's Mission screen (which include several demanding high-score goals that should keep you engaged for a while). This means unlocks are tied to persistence rather than skill, and that anyone who sticks with the game for long enough can reasonably unlock everything.

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WarioWare Gold might not be entirely new, but it's the best representation available of what makes this series special. It's a true greatest hits package that showcases Wario's unique weirdo vibe, and this style of play remains inventive and thrilling 15 years after the original Game Boy Advance game. We're still hoping for an entirely new title on Switch in the future, but for now Gold is a compelling, generous victory lap.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 31 Jul 2018 08:00:00 -0700)

Although Chasm offers a rare procedurally generated spin on the classic Metroid formula, its demanding combat is what makes it stand out from the sea of imitators. Monsters roam among the twisted confines of an underground lair, demanding deft swordwork and stubborn determination to survive. And it's in that deadly dance against lurching zombies, scurrying rats, and all manner of creepy-crawlies that Chasm truly shines. The tense fights leave you with sweaty palms and an elevated heart rate, keeping you glued to the action as you venture ever deeper below ground.

As a recruit stationed in a castle far away from civilization, Chasm hints at a greater world just waiting to be explored. But after you're chosen to investigate the disturbances at a small village, it soon becomes clear the world's mysteries have to take a backseat to more pressing dangers. Journals uncovered as you explore the mines, temples, and jungles explain why evil beings are being summoned, but the story doesn't offer an interesting spin on a ho-hum premise. The little narrative appeal comes from the citizens you release from cages. Each person has their own tale to tell and errand for you to run, giving you someone to fight for as you eradicate the enemies.

Thankfully, combat is the main draw of Chasm. Melee is the predominant manner of attack, and there are a wide variety of swords, hammers, knives, and other short-range weapons to find throughout the adventure. Fighting relies heavily on timing as you must learn the behaviors of each enemy to have a chance at survival. Wights, for example, lunge at you with a sweeping sword strike that can be avoided if you know what to expect but could spell your doom if you're too slow. The clear signs from every enemy ensure that it's your skill that determines fights and not cheap tactics.

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Once you learn an enemy's attack patterns, patience is often your toughest foe. Monsters can take a half dozen strikes or more to die, but just one mistake can drop your life bar down to nothing. Trying to get one more hit on a bouncing Grilla or boomerang-throwing skeleton can be a suicidal strategy. The enemies take advantage of even the tiniest mistake, and there's no worse feeling than dying because of your own hubris.

The first half of Chasm offers a tough-but-fair challenge that is every bit as intense as you'd expect when there are demons and ghosts milling about. Save points are few and far between. Trekking across unknown places with little health makes every encounter agonizing in all the right ways. Even a mere bat--among the weakest of all video game enemies--can strike terror in your heart. I died more times than I'd like to admit from a swarm of flies when I got cocky that no insect would be the end of me. Whenever I came across a branching path, I would poke my nose in every new area, hoping that a save point would relieve me from the pressure. More often than not, there was an undead knight or green slime waiting, and I'd have to calm my nerves as I prepared for another life-or-death battle.

Bosses pose a formidable threat during those early hours when you're still weak and inexperienced. Like normal enemies, bosses telegraph every attack, so it's on you if you take too many hits. The first boss in the game--a Wendigo who can become invisible and cling to the ceiling--killed me over and over again before I mastered its attack pattern. Finally tasting victory was incredibly fulfilling because I knew I earned the win, and I was eager to see what new challenges awaited.

Chasm emphasizes the "vania" in Metroidvania, giving you experience points for every enemy you kill. There are dozens of weapons to collect and pieces of equipment to wear, so you can tailor your character to your playstyle. Like slow but powerful weapons? Grab an ax! Prefer quicker ones with less range? Go for a handy knife instead. In addition to melee weapons, there are also ranged items that use your magic meter. Hurl shuriken at faraway enemies or throw a Molotov cocktail to set the ground aflame. None of these are as satisfying to use as a sword, but they can be mighty handy when things become overwhelming and you need a little help to progress. There are also food and potions to stock up on if you're feeling acutely vexed by a particular enemy.

All of these extra items, though, lead to an unbalanced difficulty as you get deeper into the adventure. Although I never set out to grind, I did backtrack frequently and killed every enemy I encountered as I retread the underground world. By the end of the game, I was so powerful and the enemies were so easy, I never felt threatened. I defeated the last two bosses on my first attempts, which would have seemed impossible after I struggled for hours to kill those early bosses. The last boss was so easy it was almost comical. I just stood underneath it, never bothering to avoid its many attacks, as I hacked and slashed at its glowing weak point. I had more than half my health left when it died and felt the dull ache that only an anticlimactic final fight can produce as I watched the credits roll.

I did start again from the beginning, this time on Hard difficulty, but couldn't find that sweet spot I had been hoping for. Hard is, as you'd expect, hard. Not needlessly so, or even unfairly so, but harder than I could have endured as a novice. It's a real shame that the difficulty balance is so out of whack. I enjoyed playing every second of this game, even when I was killing enemies without breaking a sweat, mostly because the combat mechanics are so satisfying. But I missed that creeping danger from the early goings when I could die at any moment.

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The randomly generated levels also sound more impressive in theory than they are in practice. Yes, the layouts of the stages were different the second and third times I started over, but not so different that it felt like an entirely new adventure--the rooms were mostly the same, just located in slightly different positions. This isn't to say the random element is bad--my first time through was so fun that any extra incentive to start over again is appreciated--it's just not as noticeable a change as I was hoping.

I'm a sucker for beautiful pixel art, and Chasm is bursting with rich backgrounds and well-realized enemies. It's the little details that make all the difference. The rats eagerly wag their tails as their sprint toward you, making them seem almost cute as you thud them hard on the back with a hammer. The human-sized Meatman is every bit as gross as his name implies, and it almost felt like a mercy kill when I struck it through its muscled heart with my sword. Every new creature brought with it its own delights, so I was happy that there are almost 90 different enemies to meet and kill.

Even when its flaws are obvious, Chasm is a well-crafted adventure, and during the more than 12 hours I spent playing through my first time, I got lost only once. That's a huge bonus in a genre where getting lost is often the most frustrating aspect. Even after I finished, I was eager to venture forth on a new adventure, to test my combat mettle against harder foes and find the one secret that eluded me the first time through. It's a shame the randomization of the world isn't that big of a deal and the challenge could be better balanced, but the superb combat and visual design ensure your time with Chasm will be well spent.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 31 Jul 2018 05:00:00 -0700)

Writer-director Josh Mendoza finds a fresh angle on the post-apocalyptic thriller with “What Still Remains,” a well-acted, low-budget drama, set in a world that’s moved a full generation beyond a devastating plague. Forget “28 Days Later” and “28 Weeks Later” — Mendoza’s film is more like “28 Years...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Wed, 8 Aug 2018 17:35:00 PDT )

Fifteen wolves recently removed from a facility in the Midwest accused of killing animals for their pelts in violation of the federal Endangered Species act are now living in the Angeles National Forest.

There are six pens for the predators at the Wildlife Waystation, a nonprofit animal sanctuary....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 15:50:00 PDT )

Highlight-reel plays don’t come easy or often, especially for NFL rookies in their first games.

But Rams running back John Kelly produced a few last week against the Baltimore Ravens. The sixth-round draft pick from Tennessee showed his moves and his speed when he broke off a 40-yard run.

Kelly,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 15:45:00 PDT )

Filipino action director Eric Matti’s epic and insane “BuyBust” takes place over one night in a Manila slum, when a drug bust goes belly up, and turns into brutal, bloody chaos. Trapped in a labyrinthine maze of shacks, a police squad is set up by their higher-ups during a sting operation and have...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 9 Aug 2018 11:10:00 PDT )

The crowding of influences in Sebastian Gutierrez’s neo-gothic/sci-fi thriller “Elizabeth Harvest” — from Bluebeard to Brian De Palma, from Poe to “Ex Machina” — is a commotion that never quite lets this lurid love quadrangle-empowerment saga be its nuttiest best self. It starts with the suspicious...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 9 Aug 2018 11:55:00 PDT )

Chronicling the reunion of a folk-rock band you’ve likely never heard of — unless you were living in Boulder, Colo., during the early ’70s — “40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie” transcends the trippy nostalgia to deliver a moving message about the healing power of reconciliation.

An...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 9 Aug 2018 11:35:00 PDT )

Writer Stephanie Mickus turns the teen-with-cancer trope upside down in the lightweight and treacly “Hope Springs Eternal,” starring Mia Rose Frampton. Directed by Jack C. Newell, the film posits this question: What happens when the dying girl goes into remission?

The dry-humored Hope (Frampton)...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 9 Aug 2018 12:20:00 PDT )

The supernatural thriller “Along Came the Devil” opens with four long, screen-filling sentences of back story, explaining how the heroine, Ashley (played by Sydney Sweeney) moved in with her Aunt Tanya (Jessica Barth), after her occultist mother, Sarah, mysteriously disappeared. Then, for some...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 9 Aug 2018 12:30:00 PDT )

A Hollywood satire with all the teeth of a Gerber spokesbaby, “Pretty Bad Actress” takes aim at celebrity culture — and misses. Written and directed by first-time feature director Nick Scown, the would-be comedy is a tonal disaster from a jumbled mess of a script. It doesn’t actually offer much...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 9 Aug 2018 12:40:00 PDT )

You can imagine how Ariana Grande’s new album might’ve turned out.

The pop singer’s first record since the terrorist bombing that killed 22 people last year as they left a concert of hers at England’s Manchester Arena, “Sweetener” would likely have surprised few if it had arrived Friday as a heavy-hearted...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 14:05:00 PDT )

“House of Cards” producer Joshua Donen has dealt a final hand in Malibu, selling his Midcentury Modern-vibe home for $4.77 million.

That’s more than three times what it previously sold for — $1.3 million — in 1999, records show.

Landscape architect Sean Knibb designed the grassy grounds that surround...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 12:05:00 PDT )

Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget doesn’t need a schedule to remind him his team has hit the skids, winning just one of its last five games.

Yet, the Galaxy have picked up points in 11 of their last 12 starts, going 5-1-6 over that span. They are in a tie for fourth in the Western Conference...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 12:05:00 PDT )

Violent stories, one argument goes, inevitably endorse violence. No matter how much pacifist moralizing a writer brings to a war story, it will always play up the thrill and clamor of battle to some degree. And a murder tale will always stoke our voyeuristic urge to witness violence. That’s not...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 12:00:00 PDT )

SUNDAY

Keep it clean! “The History of Comedy” looks at family-friendly comedy in the season-ending episode “No Offense.” 7 and 10 p.m. CNN

The new true-crime series “Dying to Belong” details the lethal lengths some mentally unstable folks have gone to to fit in. 7 and 9 p.m. Oxygen

It’s bigamy...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 11:55:00 PDT )

The red dress and long veil are instantly familiar. It’s what this 7-1/2-foot Virgin Mary is holding that’s surprising: an eviction notice.

“When you do look at the Virgen, her hands are already to her chest," says Nico Avina, the artist who painted the plywood figure. “She’s looking down and she’s...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 10:55:00 PDT )


If you're a wrestling fan, the WWE Network is a must. It's $9.99 a month, and for that price, you get every new WWE PPV and a glut of original content--mostly behind-the scenes interviews and feature documentaries. You get an archive of nearly every past WWE pay-per-view and every episode of Raw, Smackdown, and NXT. And you also get hours of archival footage from the old territory promotions, WCW, ECW, and more.

The WWE Network is nothing if not sprawling; there's no other repository of wrestling content like it. But even so, there are some things that are missing. Some of it just needs patience; it takes time and resources to rewatch and digitize these tapes, many of them decades old, before uploading them online. But the Network debuted back in 2014, and some of this stuff should have been uploaded by now. And some of it may never see the light of day.

Here are 12 things you can't find on the WWE Network, along with our guesses as to whether we'll ever be able to find them. If you liked this, check out our gallery on awful WWE fans. You can also read our predictions for WWE Summerslam, which airs live on the WWE Network on Sunday, August 19.


12. Episodes of WWF Superstars


Chances of Seeing It One Day: 50/50

For a kid growing up in the early '90s, WWF Superstars (1986-2001) was a Saturday morning staple. It was a TV show where new talent took on enhancement talent in one-sided fights, as a way getting them over as legitimate threats. A match between two full-timers was rare. And because stakes were so low, guys like the Brooklyn Brawler and Barry Horowitz (think Glass Joe) would actually look competitive. They still didn't win though.

WWF Superstars has nostalgic value but unfortunately, not a whole lot of historic value. And that means it's low on WWE's upload priority list, though the company almost certainly possess the tapes.


11. Plenty of Great Entrance Music


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Close to zero

Hillbilly Jim, whom WWE recently inducted into its Hall of Fame, had one of the catchiest entrance themes. It's called "Don't Go Messin' With a Country Boy," and you can listen to it here. But if you tune into any of his matches or any of the Godwinn tag matches (Jim was the Godwinns' manager), you'll hear a stock banjo track instead. "Country Boy," along with many other themes, is a casualty of music copyright laws. The track was not produced in-house, and thus, it was overdubbed with a different track to save on royalty costs.

This happens pretty often. The same thing happened to Sandman's ECW theme: Metallica's "Enter Sandman." For early Chris Jericho matches, WWE dubbed over Saliva's "King of My World" and replaced it with "Break The Walls."

Lots of special entrances have been dubbed over as well. The Undertaker's entrance at Wrestlemania 27, which used Johnny Cash's "Ain't No Grave," has been altered to use his "Phenom" theme. Salt-n-Pepa played Lawrence Taylor to the ring by singing "Whatta Man" at Wrestlemania XI; that's dubbed over too. And speaking of which...


10. Plenty of Live Musical Performances


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Close to zero

Several live musical performances from WWE events are missing too, probably due to the same copyright issues. You can still see Salt-N-Pepa in the Wrestlemania XI footage, but you can't hear them perform. If you're a Juggalo, you'll be disappointed to learn that the Insane Clown Posse's performance was removed from Summerslam (1998). Most disappointingly, The Rock's acoustic guitar concerts, from March and April 2003, have both been edited from their respective Raw episodes.

On the upside (depending on your perspective), Kid Rock's mini-concert at Wrestlemania 25 is still there, intact, in all its glory.


9. A Decent Search Function


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Possible

The WWE Network has a terrible search function; there's all this content but no way to view it in an organized manner. Say, for example, you search for Batista. It'll pull up all his appearances, but they'll be out of chronological order with no option to filter or sort them. His appearances on Raw, Smackdown, and PPVs are all jammed together.

The WWE also made Chris Benoit unsearchable. And although that's understandable, considering the heinous crime that he committed, it approaches a level of ridiculousness with the episode and match descriptions. For example, his match at Wrestlemania XX, during which he won the World Heavyweight Championship, is listed as "World Heavyweight Championship Match" with no mention of Triple H or Shawn Michaels, who were his opponents.

The best way to watch what you want is to use Google and then go to the desired match directly. That completely sidesteps the search function, which is currently more trouble than it's worth.


8. More Episodes of OVW/FCW


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Likely

OVW and FCW were the predecessors to NXT: developmental territories meant to train and hone the skills of WWE's future superstars.The first wave of OVW graduates was legendary: John Cena, Batista, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, Shelton Benjamin, and others. So it's disappointing that we can't watch any of their awkward growing pains on the Network.

But it took awhile to get all the NXT footage uploaded. So hopefully, now that that's finished, WWE can start uploading OVW/FCW content and recognizing its historical importance. We'd love to see Batista as the Demon of the Deep. And we'd love to see Cena as The Prototype, before he was the squeaky clean role model he is today.


7. Episodes of Stampede Wrestling


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Slim

The galling thing about Stampede Wrestling, the Canadian Hart-run promotion that included Bret Hart, Owen Hart, the recently passed Jim Neidhart, and the British Bulldog, is that it used to be on the WWE Network; the company had begun uploading its episodes in 2015.

But then, Bret Hart contacted WWE and informed them that he owned the rights to all footage of himself. WWE pulled everything, only a few days after putting it up. And since the episodes haven't gone up in the three years since then, it's seems likely that things will stay this way. If Bret wanted to make a deal, he would have done so by now.


6. A Wraparound Scroll Function On Consoles


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Possible

This isn't a major problem; it's more of a pet peeve. But the console app for the WWE Network needs some work. Currently, the only way to scroll through the PPVs and programming on the PS4 is from left to right. So, if you want to watch one of the Wrestlemanias (W), you have to click through every alphabetical PPV, starting with Armageddon (A).

This would be less of a pain if you could go left from "A," loop around, and end up at the end of the alphabet, but the App doesn't provide that option. And considering that the Big Four PPVs--Survivor Series (S), Royal Rumble (R), Wrestlemania (W), and Summerslam (S)--all occur at the end of the alphabet, it becomes irritating to constantly click through this entire list. There should be a better way.


5. The "McMahon" DVD


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Unlikely

In 2008, WWE released a self-congratulatory DVD entitled McMahon, which gave a personal, yet highly sanitized biography of the McMahon family and Vince K. McMahon's rise to power and infamy in sports entertainment. The first disc is a documentary, with exclusive interviews with the McMahon family and members of his inner circle. The second disc is a collection of Mr. McMahon matches, mostly from the Attitude Era, when his evil boss character was at its peak.

At the time, it was criticized for its defensive posturing over hot button issues, such as territorial disputes from the old days, the high-profile steroid scandal, and the XFL. Today, it's been largely forgotten and is nowhere to be found on the Network. Perhaps, Vince decided that defending against a scandal made him look more culpable than ignoring or repressing it entirely. Or maybe it's Stephanie and Shane McMahon talking about their dad's proposed incest storyline that doesn't sit well with WWE.


4. That Ultimate Warrior Hatchet Job


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Close to zero

For years, the Ultimate Warrior was on the outs with WWE. And during this time, Vince McMahon produced an in-house documentary titled, The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior. It was, in short, a one-sided slam piece;everyone from Hulk Hogan to Ric Flair to Vince McMahon himself discussed how mentally unbalanced, petty, and untalented Warrior was.

But Warrior would later reconcile with the company. Then he died, mere days after accepting an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Since then, WWE has tried to bury this negative documentary, even creating a newer, complimentary documentary in its place. But assuming that his widow, Dana Warrior, doesn't have a falling out with the company, the original documentary is never coming back.


3. Lots and Lots of Compilation DVDs and Video Cassettes


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Likely

There's a metric ton of compilation tapes that are missing from the Network. Back in the day, WWE released these with regularity through Coliseum Videos, with titles like Bloopers, Bleeps, and Bodyslams. And later, after Coliseum Videos became WWE Home Video, WWE continued to release themed tapes often focused on a single superstar.

WWE is uploading them slowly--the latest Coliseum uploads arrived this past July. Aside from bumper footage by Gorilla Monsoon, lots of this footage can be found piecemeal on the Network; you can make your own personal mixtape of favorite matches and moments. But if you want to relive watching the VHS tape that you wore out 10-year-old, you might have to wait awhile longer.


2. The Chris Benoit Tribute Show


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Never

WWE learned that Chris Benoit and his family died on a Monday, hours before Raw went live. And the company decided, without yet knowing all the facts, to cancel Raw and air a three-hour tribute to Benoit in its the place. When WWE finally found out (right around the time the show was wrapping up) that Benoit had perpetrated the deaths, they began erasing Benoit from the company's institutional memory. And this tribute was forgotten.

But there are still some recordings online, and the show is a fascinating cultural artifact if you take the time to hunt for it. Several superstars, including Edge, CM Punk, and Chavo Guerrero, shared their fond memories of Benoit. William Regal, on the other hand, seemed to sense something was amiss, and he deferred his praise to a later date.

We'll never see this on the Network. And that's probably for the best.


1. The Over The Edge (1999) PPV (Unedited)


Chances of Seeing It One Day: Never

It's the most infamous WWE PPV of all time; Owen Hart died during the Over The Edge (1999) live broadcast from a failed stunt, during which he fell into the ring from the top of the arena. WWE made the controversial decision to continue the PPV in spite of it.

To be clear, there is a version of this PPV on the Network. But it is heavily edited from its original state; there is no mention of Owen Hart at all, during the entire broadcast. The only acknowledgement of him is a still shot before the PPV, stating that he died during its taping.

On the original, unedited live feed, there were several segments where Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler updated the viewers on Owen's condition, finally announcing his death near the end of the show. Several wrestlers also mention him in their pre-match promos.

We'll never see this on the Network; it would be ghoulish to profit from such a horrible tragedy. But if you do manage to find a bootleg copy of the unedited, original broadcast online, you'll see, very vividly what Owen meant to everyone who worked alongside him.


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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 11:16:00 -0700)
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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 01:00:00 PDT )

Despite the cars being the quickest they’ve ever been in the sport’s history, Formula One in 2018 is about much more than pure speed. Impressively, the technical nature of driving the fastest, most advanced cars on the planet is something Codemasters goes to great lengths to portray in F1 2018, and the experience is all the better for it. Behind the wheel, an updated, more intricate tire model and the new Energy Recovery System controls push the game closer to a realistic simulation than the series has ever been before. This shift complements some smart changes to career mode around upgrades and media interaction that expand and broaden the game's appeal beyond a single season.

F1 2018 returns to the starting grid with a huge number of different game modes. Take control of your favorite driver in a single Grand Prix weekend, or lead them to the title in one of numerous championship events across varying disciplines. If racing against other players is more your thing, F1 2018 includes both ranked and unranked multiplayer lobbies, along with a full, 21-race online multiplayer championship that can be raced with strangers or friends alike. But where F1 2018 shines brightest is in its Career mode, which sees you assume the role of a custom-created rookie who’s new to the F1 paddock, freshly signed to a team of your choice.

Who you sign with will dictate the performance expectations laid out in your contract for the coming season. Sign with a first-class team like Mercedes or Ferrari and you’ll receive a car that’s both capable--and expected--to challenge for wins every race weekend. Sign with a lesser team like Williams or Toro Rosso and you’ll need to adjust your expectations to something more realistic to their performance level, and help the team move up the order through building performance upgrades to improve your chances.

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New performance parts come quickly in F1 2018 with the upgrade system having been overhauled to give you more resource points for completing team goals. A steady flow of good performances now mean you can afford to bring multiple upgrades to subsequent races, giving you a noticeably better performing car, and a greater shot at a better finish in future events. The faster flow of upgrades feels far more rewarding than the slow trickle of past games, letting you make tangible gains on the opposition over a season. To keep things interesting in the long run, regulation changes at the end of the year can completely wipe out an upgrade tree, resetting the grid order in the process, making it possible for new teams to rise to the top, and the current dominant teams fall to the midfield.

Each team has a unique upgrade path for each of the four performance departments, and each can be directly influenced by your interactions with the media, who will hound you occasionally after a session with questions on your performance. Keeping your team morale high will keep upgrade costs down along with decreasing the chances of parts failing during development, while saying the wrong thing and upsetting them will have the opposite effect. Although answering the same questions regularly gets tiresome fast, the resulting morale changes to your team make the hassle worth it.

Performing above expectations puts you in a stronger position for contract negotiations, which thanks to the changes to the upgrade system, feels like a more relevant and rewarding process than before. A high driver value gives you more room to push for a deal that will generate more resource points, including the new addition of contract perks, which can grant strong bonuses from extra resource points for upgrades up to faster pit stops.

The only disappointment remains the muted damage system, once a marquee feature of Codemaster’s titles, once again looking like it’s been unchanged since the series' early days.

Eight new classic cars join the twelve from last year’s F1 game, representing a gorgeous range of vehicles from the sport’s history in addition to the monstrous beasts of the 2018 season. All of the game’s cars look impeccably recreated; the meticulous detailing of the winglets and carbon fiber on the modern cars being a highlight, despite the much-maligned ‘halo’ surrounding the cockpit. Each of the game’s 21 locations has been given a lick of paint, too, and look gorgeous whether under lights, baking sun or a heavy downpour. Joining the calendar for the first time is the new Circuit Paul Ricard in France, a labyrinthian maze of tarmac and colored lines with a slightly confusing layout, and the return of the mighty Hockenheimring in Germany, a personal favorite. The only disappointment remains the muted damage system, once a marquee feature of Codemaster’s titles, once again looking like it’s been unchanged since the series' early days.

The difference in driving feel between the modern and classic cars is huge; where the modern cars demand a certain finesse with the controls to get the most speed, the older cars let you slide around and wrestle with the wheel a lot more. But the real enjoyment comes from driving the 2018 hybrids, with their unbelievable power and grip being bolstered by two new simulation elements in the form of the ERS deployment controls and the new tire carcass temperature model.

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While both sound minor on paper, they make an incredible addition to the element of strategy through a race. The ERS system controls the amount of power deployed from the car’s hybrid battery, giving you six different settings to play with, from zero to full deployment. You can change it on the fly to attack the car in front or defend a move from behind, adding an extra tactical element at your fingertips. It can be overwhelming to manage initially, requiring a little thumb dancing on the control pad--it’s much easier with a wheel. Although if that all sounds too much for you, it can be fully automated so you don’t have to worry about changing it while trying to focus on driving.

The tire carcass temperature model is more complex and is the series' biggest step into simulation territory yet, measuring both the surface and inside temperatures of a tire to give a more accurate simulation of how it should wear while you drive on it. If you drive them too hard, or use the wrong compound in the wrong conditions, the tire will overheat and you’ll have to slow down to bring them back into their working temperature range. It puts a stronger emphasis on managing your tires through different driving styles, especially in the longer races, and the way overdriving the tires has an adverse effect on car handling and grip is superb.

The simulation-like additions to the driving model bring you closer than ever to the feeling of sitting on the grid with 1000+ horsepower at your feet.

The racing AI feel more aggressive than ever in F1 2018, and it makes for a noticeably more intense racing experience. Drivers not only defend the inside line into a corner, they will generally make more of a nuisance of themselves when trying to overtake you, rarely conceding a corner unless you’ve managed to put them in a bad position. Multiplayer has been revamped to include a new safety rating, which measures how cleanly you race in ranked lobbies, and a skill rank to matchmake you with other racers of like skill level. However, due to the pre-release nature of the build, we have yet to test the robustness of these rankings.

F1 2018 is brilliant, and the most complete Formula One game to date. The changes to career mode make it the strongest and most appealing it’s ever been thanks to the revamped upgrade system, while the simulation-like additions to the driving model bring you closer than ever to the feeling of sitting on the grid with 1000+ horsepower at your feet, without overwhelming those who just want to jump in and drive.

Editor's note: This will remain a review in progress until we test F1 2018's online modes at launch.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 17 Aug 2018 01:00:00 -0700)

Wearing new red metallic helmets, Westlake Village Oaks Christian came out of its inflatable tunnel a little too early for its season football opener Thursday night against West Hills Chaminade. Players were forced to hang out on the sideline for some 10 minutes before kickoff. Even the smoke sent...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 16 Aug 2018 23:00:00 PDT )

In a remarkable rebuke to President Trump, a dozen former U.S. intelligence chiefs signed a harshly worded letter Thursday in support of former CIA Director John Brennan after Trump abruptly revoked his security clearance.

"We feel compelled to respond in the wake of the ill-considered and unprecedented...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 16 Aug 2018 22:05:00 PDT )

Jurickson Profar started a triple play and homered to help the Texas Rangers rally from an early five-run deficit in an 8-6 victory over the Angels on Thursday night.

Rougned Odor singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth after an out call that would have ended the inning was reversed. Nomar...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 16 Aug 2018 20:55:00 PDT )

Novak Djokovic's quest for his first Western & Southern Open title ran into a different obstacle Thursday night, with batches of rain forcing his match against defending champion Grigor Dimitrov to be suspended overnight.

Roger Federer's match against Leonardo Mayer was postponed until Friday as...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 16 Aug 2018 21:00:00 PDT )
SERIES

The Great British Baking Show This special season, the last one with judge Mary Berry, ends with the finalists challenged to create a Pithivier, a round, stuffed pastry. Other challenges involve fondant and a chiffon sponge. Chef Paul Hollywood also judges the dishes. 9 p.m. KOCE

Diners,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 16 Aug 2018 20:00:00 PDT )
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Mon, 30 Jul 2018 13:00:00 Z)

On some days, Tri Bourne would wander down to Hermosa Beach to watch pick-up volleyball games. Sometimes he’d study surfers.

Bourne grew up on the beach. It’s what he knows best. But for more than a year he was reduced to a spectator, an inconspicuous one at 6 feet 5, although his tanned skin and...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 16 Aug 2018 15:25:00 PDT )

There are no spies who “dump” or “shag” anyone here, much less jump out of airplanes or buildings, but “The Spy Gone North,” based on the exploits of a true-life double agent code-named Black Venus, remains a taut, slowly engrossing, effectively old-fashioned Cold War thriller.

Niftily directed...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Tue, 7 Aug 2018 17:40:00 PDT )

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who died Thursday, had a vast reach that stretched well beyond popular music and onto the silver screen.

Her songs have appeared in more than 200 films and TV shows, often making them that much better.

Here are nine movies that feature Franklin’s scene-stealing...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (خ, 16 أغس 2018 15:00:00 PDT )

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been suspended for two games, Major League Baseball announced Thursday.

Puig was suspended for “fighting and inciting a bench-clearing incident” in Tuesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants, according to a statement from the league.

Puig and Giants catcher...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (خ, 16 أغس 2018 14:50:00 PDT )

League play begins this weekend in Italy and Spain with Juventus going for a record eighth straight title in Serie A and Spanish champion Barcelona looking to improve on a one-loss season in La Liga. Here are some of the more intriguing European matchups available this weekend on TV and streaming...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:00:00 PDT )


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