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NEWS (LAST 200)
Dump truck sludge is spoiling streets in...
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Hong Kongs Occupy leaders plead not guil...
Chileans protest with pots and pans over...
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Terenzo Bozzone back and happy to be ali...
Georgia Southern beats Montana for Baham...
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The architect transforming cities into v...
Miss Staten Island keeps swimsuit portio...
Governors Awards 2018: Lady Gaga, Nicole...
Bankrupt US retailer wants to give execu...
Pink hits record earnings with Australia...
Malta police identify suspected journali...
6 killed, 5 wounded in corruption protes...
Sydney Symphony Orchestra: Glorious fare...
Editorial Observer: Go Ahead, Democrats....
Serious crash in Foxton kills one, injur...
Car collides with truck on State Highway...
Old nemesis only makes things worse for ...
South Taranaki police honour acts of bra...
U.S. vice president’s sharp China atta...
CA board meeting under way to rethink ba...
Two years after Philippines ‘divorced...
Jonestown massacre memorials held at US ...
Supernatural feminist fable comes of age...
Embattled Florida county elections head ...
Brumbies skipper Sam Carter determined t...
Korean food: 40 best dishes we cant live...
News24.com | Searchers in California fir...
Eagles embarrassed by blowout loss to Sa...
The law should punish Tinder liars...
150 academics, researchers urge robust a...
Womens World Twenty20: Highlights - Wind...
WWE Survivor Series 2018: Live Main Card...
We want someone charged: Police re-exami...
NASCAR notebook: Truex falls just short ...
EXPERT COMMENT: MPs in Congo maize claim...
Rugby: How Steve Hansen plans to fix All...
Rams, who have stolen stuff from Chiefs ...
Cam Newton can’t convert for Carolina ...
Obado’s security disarmed, guns set fo...
Canada Player Ratings: Whitecaps Rusty T...
Aldridge, DeRozan help Spurs extend Warr...
California fires: Hes inside the Camp fi...
Imported commercial car sales rise 15% i...
Magic 131, Knicks 117: Knicks Lose Fifth...
Joey Logano wins first NASCAR title by b...
USC basketball team regaining its health...
MPs: Ruto wants to bring Congo maize...
Rivers mistake leads Bolts regrets in st...
Northland Regional Council declines all ...
Review: Tim and Tyne Daly Are Dysfunctio...
Harcourts beats ex-agency boss in court,...
Lakers 113, Heat 97: LeBron James Scores...
Calgary Stampeders return to Grey Cup wi...
Fuel Prices Decline on Tax Cut
California fire: Mourners gather at Chic...
School funding: Why it costs £73,000 to...
Woolsey fire now 91% contained
Shed radio DJ realises ultimate dream...
Anti-vaccination community in North Caro...
Tough-on-crime Guy stops for coffee with...
Harlem Holiday Lights kicking off festiv...
Cambodias beleaguered opposition and the...
Hong Kong starts trial for 9 accused in ...
Casuals paid less than permanent workers...
Dogs are so upbeat. honest and playful, ...
Jason Pierre-Paul walks back Giants beef...
Google CEO Sundar Pichai admits we didnt...
Sydney father faces life in prison after...
Kim Porters friends and family make fina...
Markets Live: ASX at four-week low...
Landslides kill 13, leave 4 missing in s...
Mel B admits the tragic death of her fat...
Hong Kong Occupy leaders plead not guilt...
Trump stresses Saudi crown prince's...
Call for urgent climate action backed by...
A consortium of some of New Zealands lar...
Black Friday: Mega sale kicks off on eBa...
Khloe Kardashian says Tristan Thompson h...
Scientists discover unique organism that...
Four held as police bust Asian crime syn...
Wake up in another country – just two ...
Moment woman left disabled in motorbike ...
Frank Bainimarama wins second term in Fi...
Six-year-old girl left brain damaged aft...
Pakistan’s Christians live in state of...
Men-only Tattersalls Club is out of step...
The first waltz
LeBron James drops 51 as Lakers rout Hea...
Man with handgun tried to rob Mawson Clu...
Wounded McGovern ready to hit back at cr...
Seoul court judge found unconscious at h...
An unconstitutional push to protect Muel...
You’ll gobble up Ladurée’s Thanksgi...
Paul Singer scores victory with new Tele...
Benny Tai Yiu-ting: Hong Kong Isn’t Wh...
Can Marijuana Save This Maori Town in Ne...
Maddening Giants defense bounces Bucs QB...
Ford fiesta! Blue oval claims NASCAR tit...
Two injured by fire, explosion at Changw...
Mark Rubbo incredible $3million home con...
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Tesco chief joins business leaders in wa...
Big plays help Giants defense survive fl...
2017 In Review Fast Facts
Myer shares dive after its forced to rev...
Mexican drug lord, Beltran Leyva, dead a...
GPs are prescribing activities such as b...
California Democrats sweep Orange County...
Britains only legal prostitution zone se...
The Latest: Residents who fled flames re...
Nationwide lightning strikes at courts a...
New 13.5m water slide and pools planned ...
Hong Kong Isn’t What It Was, Nor What ...
New delays fiasco hits £11bn smart mete...
Batemon scores 16, Loyola Marymount beat...
CBAs Comyn not unwilling to scrap variab...
Asia shares inch up, Fed caution curbs d...
National Trust sparks anger by hiring ma...
Drug kingpin arrested in Auckland after ...
Late penalties, mistakes doom Cardinals ...
N. Korea touts bumper harvest of potatoe...
Boy, 9, finds three GUNS underneath a si...
Lewd Australia PM angers Baywatch star...
News Analysis: Why Trump Is Sticking Wit...
Florida Gov. Rick Scott Formally Ousts D...
Fairfax shareholders vote in favour of N...
Police ask women to report meeting aggre...
GOP senator on Khashoggi murder: 'A ...
A third of Australians think theyll stru...
The mayor prepares to admit reality on N...
Boy, 8, is fighting for his life after f...
Axe 200 peers from the bloated House of ...
Man dies in states second fatal gyrocopt...
Gang of yobs attack two policemen in sho...
ANDREW PIERCE: Will Sir Graham Keep Calm...
As Joey Logano celebrates NASCAR title, ...
Giselle review: Classic still has plenty...
Embattled Broward Supervisor of Election...
Seoul says NK leaders visit this year is...
Weekend in sport: England finally beats ...
Three separate fires in Hastings - inclu...
Blackouts and Coles Express wipe Viva En...
Pension age may go up AGAIN, forcing Bri...
Korean judoka accused of faking communit...
President Trump says he did not know Act...
Coast guard officer accused of sexual as...
Why de Blasio’s homeless policies are ...
Asian shares mostly up cheered by Wall S...
As Kamala Harris compares ICE to KKK, we...
Around Town Monday November 19 Alt Hotel...
Man dies buried under grain at Marievill...
The MTA just told us that it’s giving ...
In a Walmart Lot, a Rough Refuge for Wil...
‘Golan Heights forever ours!’ Israel...
Maryland women shake off slow start, rol...
Wizards deliver another empty performanc...
Denver Broncos snap LA Chargers' wi...
Charlotte fires Lambert, who has coached...
Mental health test for teen accused of m...
Spark boss names 5G launch date
UCLA basketball team making an extra eff...
McDonald scores 31, Northern Kentucky be...
St. Kitts & Nevis 0, Canada 1 | 2018-19 ...
Fired Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville ...
NFL Today, Week 11
Small brush fire reported in Shadow Hill...
Maryland rolls past Mount St. Mary’s w...
BBC bosses blur out interviewee Glamour ...
MetService Severe Weather Update: Novemb...
Metservice Weather Wellington: November ...
In Tijuana, a city of migrants turns on ...
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says Luke Walt...
Development coach Dusty Imoo has been in...
NFL notebook: Redskins QB Smith sustains...
Gordon, Vucevic lead Magic as Knicks los...
Review: L.A. Operas colorful reprise of ...
Dashcam captures terrifying near collisi...
Truexs planned goodbye bash turns into p...
Angelina Jolie takes Shiloh, Vivienne, a...
Insider: How Frank Reich's swagger ...
ANZ Sports Scene: We didnt take our oppo...
MetService Weather New Zealand: November...
Metservice Weather Auckland: November 20...
Metservice Weather Christchurch: Novembe...
Blackhawks build early lead, beat Wild 3...
Bryant scores 14 to help UAB beat D-II W...
‘Mexico First’? Riot police face off...
Detroit Lions grades: Kenny Golladay, sp...
Stampeders reach Grey Cup, beating Blue ...
Local Focus: Pokies lose out to Gisborne...
The X Factor: Fans convinced Nile Rodger...

REVIEWS & PREVIEWS (LAST 60)
Valeska Grisebachs Western is a brooding...
Full Metal Furies Review - Puzzle-Brawle...
Sony a7 III Review
NFL roundup: Maher boots FG on final pla...
L.A. movie openings, Nov. 19-23: The Fav...
A tofurky trot, a tennis tournament and ...
It will take 10 to 20 years before Santa...
An ugly incident adds more stress to an ...
What to know about every AFC team headin...
Theres still time to find getaway saving...
California fire: What started as a tiny ...
Danger in the air: The worlds best-selli...
Fighting obesity will require more socia...
What to do when your bank gets picky abo...
Trump visits fire ravaged California...
Heres whats behind Mexicos radical move ...
With the Robinson R44s safety issues, th...
History doesnt support the claim that se...
Jet Tila parlayed his Thai immigrant fam...
Americas patchwork system of elections i...
In 2029, well marvel at what remains of ...
Pac-12 football: No. 19 Utah Utah wins, ...
Lakers defense and winning streak vanish...
UCLAs Darnay Holmes makes sure to avoid ...
Fourth quarter belongs to Bruins as they...
Jaime Jaquez scores 40 points to help Ca...
Boys water polo: Southern California Reg...
Lakers winning streak vanishes against t...
Malibu residents help one another as the...
Rajon Rondo hoping to rejoin Lakers duri...
Fujifilm GFX 50R First impressions revie...
Tetris Effect Review - Feel The Groove...
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption Review ...
Canon EOS R First impressions review...
The Book Review Podcast: Big New Biograp...
Fujifilm X-T3 Review
Michael Brown drills 46-yard field goal ...
UCLA vs. USC live updates: the Battle fo...
What we learned from the Kings 2-1 shoot...
Our team expands (!), plus Sinaloan food...
Firefighters increase containment of Cam...
The week ahead in SoCal movie events & r...
Unhealthful air quality continues this w...
This is what a cannabis executive’s pa...
Baseball’s Matt Moore tosses remodeled...
Curious about all the CBD-infused produc...
A Star Is Born: RuPaul turns 58 today...
The FDA is taking aim at menthol and oth...
St. John Bosco rolls into title game wit...
Battlefield 5 Review - On The Front Line...
The Latin Grammys reggaeton problem is a...
Lonzo Ball continues to adjust to his ne...
The week ahead in SoCal movie events & r...
David Hockneys $90.3-million pool painti...
Thousands of Hondurans are arriving on t...
Lou Williams personifies the Clippers wi...
ABC shakeup: Channing Dungey resigns; Ka...
Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L
Review: Perry King’s earnest, western-...
Review: Thanksgiving shenanigans set the...


Like its title, “Western” is both startlingly direct and full of resonance and ambiguity. Written and directed by the gifted Valeska Grisebach, the movie follows a group of German construction workers into a remote stretch of Bulgarian countryside, near the Greek border, where they have come to...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:30:00 PDT )

It's difficult to define which exact genre Cellar Door Games' Full Metal Furies belongs to. On a cursory glance, the co-op game appears to be no more than a well-structured brawler, and you'd be forgiven if you completed its 15-hour campaign thinking that's all it is. However, if you dig a little deeper into the optional hidden content, there's another five to seven hours of complex, multi-layered riddles to find. There's a fascinating meta narrative interwoven into Full Metal Furies' puzzles, and journeying to its end makes for a satisfying cooperative experience.

In Full Metal Furies, each player takes control of one of four adventurers. If played solo, the game puts you in control of two and you can switch between them at will. There's Triss, the leader whose penchant for sassily drinking tea often leads to hilarious spit-takes; Meg, the lazy, nearsighted sniper with a poor sense of direction; Erin, the brainy tinkerer who desperately wants to be cool; and Alex, the air-headed soldier who wholeheartedly believes bashing in the skulls of the arrogant men she and her friends run into should be both a first and last resort to solving all their problems.

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Collectively known as the Furies, the four girls are on a quest to cross the monster-infested wasteland that humanity once called its home in order to find and destroy god-like entities known as the Titans. The sons and daughters of the mad tyrant Cronus, each of the four Titans desires a better world, and their conflicting ideologies as to how to bring about that dream have led to a war that threatens to destroy all life.

This seemingly straightforward battle between good and evil hides a surprising number of twists and turns. With every step forward, the Furies notice more signs that their efforts might be actually causing more problems than they're solving. But the team keeps pushing onwards, hoping that in the long run, their efforts will have a positive effect on the world. The narrative plays out in a series of sprite-based conversations, both during and in between combat missions. For the most part, these are tongue-in-cheek skits--some even throw in the occasional pun or reference to the fact that this is all a video game--but a few also focus on Triss' growth. Despite putting on airs, she struggles with the responsibilities of leadership and the morality of the Furies' quest. Unfortunately, her teammates don't receive the same treatment, and are fairly two-dimensional throughout the main campaign.

In combat, each of the four ladies handle and attack in their own way. For example, Meg can use a grappling hook to maneuver out of danger and snipe opponents from afar, while Triss can defend her teammates and herself with a near indestructible shield and also clear out enemies by screaming at the top of her lungs. Each of the girls fulfills a unique role seen in many other team-based brawlers--with Triss as the tank, Alex as the fighter, Meg as the archer/sniper, and Erin as the summoner.

Full Metal Furies supports couch co-op and online multiplayer. As of publishing this review, the Switch servers are fairly empty, but we did manage to test online play using two copies of the game and can confirm it works relatively smoothly. There were some brief stutters at the start of a few levels, but none of them negatively impacted gameplay. However, my game did completely crash at one point.

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It's unfortunate the servers are so empty as playing with an incomplete team puts you at an immediate disadvantage. So unless you recruit some friends for couch co-op, you're in for a fairly tough time. Even Erin and Meg are crucial, as Triss and Alex rely on their teammates' supportive attacks to give them both time to recharge their special abilities. Button-mashing with the two melee fighters can be an effective strategy early on, but it will only get your team so far. Mid- and late-game enemies and bosses require a certain degree of tactical assessment, and chaining together each character's abilities is the ideal path to success. For example, when confronted with a mob of jumping werewolves that are too quick for the slower fighters, your team might rely on Triss' area-of-effect shout to stun a few, use Alex's dive bomb jump to launch the weakened wolves into the air, and then have Meg shoot their leader out of the sky. All the while, Erin's portable turret and her mid-range pistol can finish off the members of the pack not caught up in the combo.

Combat in Full Metal Furies is constantly evolving, with new enemy types appearing almost every third level. It keeps the game from descending into a grindfest of similar foes, while leaving room for you to experiment with new strategies on enemies you've encountered before. Sections of certain levels can get brutal, resulting in dozens of game over screens. But checkpoints are numerous, cutscenes you've seen are skippable, and it's typically very clear which careless mistake resulted in the failed mission. If anything, the game's combat seems content to really only punish those who play with less than four people, which presents an interesting way of making the game easier or more difficult for yourself at any point in the game. If things are still too hard with a full team of four, or you can't scrounge up a full team but don't want to make the game more difficult, there's an easier Story Mode too.

Despite being labeled as a brawler, only about half of Full Metal Furies is regulated to combat. The other half is a series of interlacing puzzles and riddles, and it's here where the co-op nature of Full Metal Furies truly shines.

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None of the puzzles or riddles in Full Metal Furies are obvious to find, and the game doesn't teach you how to solve them either. It's completely dependent on the player to be curious enough to wonder if the symbol-covered stones hidden throughout about two dozen of the game's levels are more than meets the eye. Finding the stones themselves is a challenge, and once discovered, each stone's riddle is typically even tricker to figure out.

Eventually, the main campaign reveals that solving these riddles is necessary for gaining access to the game's final area and true ending. The riddles grow more meta as you discover additional stones, some even requiring you to do things outside of the main game, such as watching a YouTube video for a clue or adjusting the game's accessibility settings to perceive colors and sound in a new way. Teaming up with friends to overcome a challenging boss fight is fun, but the most satisfying moments in Full Metal Furies are when you have a eureka moment and are able to figure out the next piece of the overarching mystery. Several of the solutions to certain puzzles and riddles rely on a particular Furies' unique skill as well--some answers even require multiple Furies or the full roster of four--so every player gets to enjoy being a part of the process of figuring something out at some point. Completing this game is very much a team effort, and it successfully makes sure no single player feels left out or useless.

So yes, Full Metal Furies is primarily a brawler, and a good one that promotes teamwork instead of button-mashing. But it's also a very hard puzzle game, one that challenges you to perceive each level, as well as the game's mechanics and characters, in new ways. It's a shame most of the Furies are so two-dimensional throughout the main campaign--especially Meg, who's arguably the most lovable of the bunch--but the story is consistently witty with its humor and an absolute joy to watch unfold. And while coming up with strategies to handle new enemies and piecing together the clues for each puzzle is fairly difficult at times, it's a rewarding and deeply satisfying challenge.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 09 Nov 2018 17:26:00 -0800)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:57:00 Z)

Brett Maher shook off a missed extra point and kicked a 42-yard field goal on the final play, giving Dallas a 22-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday after the Cowboys squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Matt Ryan threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones for Atlanta's...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 18 Nov 2018 13:25:00 PST )
Nov. 19

Caniba

Documentary from the makers of “Leviathan” explores one Japanese man’s fascination with cannibalism. Directed by Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor. In English, Japanese and French with English subtitles. (1:30) NR.

Nov. 21

Creed II

Son of Apollo, student of Rocky Balboa, Adonis...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Sun, 18 Nov 2018 05:00:00 PST )

Before there was a spark, there was the wind.

On the morning of Nov. 8, as the sun rose over the isolated mountains in the Sierra Nevada, gale-force winds tore through the canyon. A fire outpost on the Feather River recorded blasts of 52 mph — a bad omen in a national forest that hadn’t had a satisfying...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:00:00 PST )

Baltimore: Alex Collins, who leads the Ravens in rushing with 393 yards and six TDs, faces a Bengals defense that has allowed 500 total yards in each of last three games.

Buffalo: The Nathan Peterman era ended last week when the Bills released the second-year quarterback, who threw three TD passes...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:00:00 PST )

Thanksgiving plans still up in the air? To borrow from Paul Simon: It’s not too late to make a new plan, Stan.

Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo, a website for member-exclusive travel offers (membership is free), steered me toward four cities where you can find deals. It turns out Thanksgiving...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:00:00 PST )

You can trot off your Thanksgiving dinner, watch tennis, go gift shopping and catch a holiday parade, all in support of good causes and within driving distance.

Palm Springs

More than 300 LGBT tennis players from around the world will play in the 25th Palm Springs Open, a fundraiser for the AIDS...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:00:00 PST )

Two dozen biologists with binoculars and telemetry equipment fanned out across the smoldering gulches and slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on Friday to take a preliminary accounting of the damage caused by wildfire to prime mountain lion country.

It was arduous, dusty...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:00:00 PST )

Thank you for the Fly Guy column about the ugly incident on Ryanair that occurred on Oct. 19 [“Ugly Rant Goes Unstopped,” by Elliott Hester]. I felt that the airline didn’t handle the situation correctly.

As an African American woman, it’s stressful enough navigating some spaces traveling, with...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 18 Nov 2018 04:00:00 PST )

To the editor: Benjamin Bahney believes we need to put more restrictions on the sale of semiautomatic guns if we are to reduce the number of mass shootings. Let’s look at a few historical facts.

Several models of powerful, effective semiautomatic pistols were on the market by 1900. Semiautomatic...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

Jet Tila, 44, is a chef, instructor, writer and TV personality who has appeared on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” “Chopped” and “Cutthroat Kitchen.” He’s been evangelizing Thai food in America since the 1990s and was named culinary ambassador of Thai cuisine by the Royal Thai Consul General...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

Mexico may soon legalize marijuana, a radical shift for a country whose prohibition on narcotics has been at the heart of its long and violent war against drug traffickers.

Legislation submitted to Congress last week by the party of leftist President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would regulate...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

A somber President Trump toured the devastation of California’s deadly wildfires Saturday, striking a chord of unity as he vowed to marshal the power of the federal government to help recovery efforts in a state he has long criticized.

Trump seemed visibly shocked as he visited the charred landscapes...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (So, 18 Nov 2018 05:00:00 PST )

To the editor: Our elections have always been a source of pride for Americans and admiration from many countries throughout the world. But the chaos, voter suppression and gerrymandering of late has put a blight on our reputation. Accusations of voter fraud from the president and others have not...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

Dear Liz: My husband’s brother had a stroke and is now incapacitated. My husband needs to take over his finances. The bank will not accept the durable power of attorney that they set up 14 years ago because it is “too old.” Another bank asked me if it was set up less than six months ago, because...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

To the editor: Dr. David S. Ludwig misses the boat with his hypothesis that processed carbohydrates stimulate more insulin, forcing glucose into fat cells and depriving the rest of the body of calories, thus resulting in hunger.

It has already been proved that excess insulin results in hypoglycemia...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

To the editor: When California’s bullet train is up and running — allegedly in 2029 — the trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco is supposed to take two hours and 40 minutes. How long will it take a car to make that trip in 2029, and what emissions will be put out by that vehicle?

I cannot accurately...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

In one low-impact crash after another, pilots and passengers in Robinson R44 helicopters were burning to death when the fuel tanks ruptured and burst into flames.

Australian aviation regulators grew so alarmed that in 2013 they ordered all R44s grounded until their all-aluminum tanks were reinforced....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

The flight lasted all of a minute.

The four-seat helicopter had barely lifted off from John Wayne Airport when it nosed down, clipped two houses and slammed into a third, killing the pilot and two of his three passengers.

"It was like a train hitting a wall," said Paddi Faubion, who saw the Jan....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( So, 18 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

Jason Shelley threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns in the snow, leading No. 21 Utah to a 30-7 win over Colorado on Saturday at Boulder, Colo., and Utes learned later that they would make their first Pac-12 title game appearance.

The Utes (8-3, 6-3) clinched their first Pac-12 South title when...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 17 Nov 2018 23:30:00 PST )

UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes positioned himself under a pass that was only his to catch.

It was intended for the sideline as a throwaway but had slipped out of USC quarterback JT Daniels’ hand early in the fourth quarter, making Holmes the lone possible recipient.

Holmes ran down a one-item checklist...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:55:00 PST )

The defense the Lakers had been so proud of in the last four games was punctured by the Orlando Magic on Saturday night, putting the Lakers in a hole they never recovered from in a 130-117 loss before 19,249 fans at Amway Center.

During their four-game winning streak, the Lakers had allowed 104.7...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:35:00 PST )

The USC players pranced onto the Rose Bowl field before the start of the fourth quarter, legs bouncing and arms waving in a display of machismo on their rivals’ turf.

UCLA stared across the field and waited.

There was a last dance to be saved.

The Bruins poured onto the field after their 34-27...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 17 Nov 2018 19:55:00 PST )

Nikola Vucevic had 36 points and 13 rebounds, D.J. Augustin added 22 points and the Orlando Magic beat the Los Angeles Lakers 130-117 on Saturday night.

Vucevic scored 24 points in the second half as Orlando led by as many as 21 and ended the Lakers' four-game winning streak.

Evan Fournier had...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 17 Nov 2018 18:50:00 PST )

When Lakers coach Luke Walton spoke with Rajon Rondo on Friday, both before the team left Los Angeles and after the team landed here, the veteran point guard talked about how the pain was subsiding in his surgically repaired right hand and that he hoped to rejoin the team before the trip is over.

... Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 17 Nov 2018 17:05:00 PST )

The 76 Station at the corner of Corral Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu opened Saturday morning and quickly became a gathering spot for residents fill up, tell stories of their efforts to save one another’s homes and strategize on how to get by without water, power or access to the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 17 Nov 2018 17:55:00 PST )
David W. Blight talks about “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” and Bob Spitz talks about “Reagan: An American Journey.” Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Fri, 09 Nov 2018 20:51:47 GMT )

Many stories like to use religion as a narrative device, and the name would suggest, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption takes a crack at it too, offering a refreshingly pared-down experience of Gothic religious horror. But while the game's boss rush structure possesses some clever mechanical twists, its more superficial elements don’t quite have the same shine.

Enter Adam, the titular sinner, not-so-subtly named after the first man to do wrong. Instead of an apple from a tree, you've clearly been far naughtier than your namesake. Here, the afterlife has dealt you a rather unfortunate hand; defeat the manifestations of all seven mortal sins, and you just might get a happy ending. However, that's definitely a lot harder than it actually sounds, because the bosses are all about 20 feet tall, incredibly strong, and they hate your guts, and you have to give something up before you fight each one. This is the pivotal "sacrifice" part of the equation.

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Sinner is about going from boss to boss and beating them into the ground before they can do the same to you. It clearly takes inspiration from the Dark Souls lineage of games, both conceptually and mechanically. Each adversary you face has succumbed to a cardinal sin, whether it's by lack of action or by a conscious choice to take a particularly unsavory behavior too far. As a result, the bosses are fascinatingly warped beyond human recognition--we're talking about headless noblewomen, hunchbacked sorcerers, and walking fortresses that are more metal than man.

Mechanically, Sinner features animation locking, that has you commit to your attacks, and tough-as-nails enemies. You're given a handful of javelins, health potions, and melee weapon options that you can swap between on the fly before the game throws you at the first boss. All your enemies have unique attack patterns that you'll have to memorize if you want to win, and some are more telegraphed than others, which leads to a good variety of challenges across the board. It's a strong, if familiar, set of systems, but Sinner's biggest feature lies in its sacrifice mechanic.

Inventively, the game puts you in the unique predicament of getting weaker as you progress. Your 'sacrifice' could be a portion of your HP, some of your weapon attack damage, or even resources. You lose that thing, and you get a little bit weaker each time you go toe-to-toe with a malevolent foe. It's an innovative spin and its focus on the core basics means Sinner feels like an evolution of the genre rather than a derivative work. Sinner also includes a new game plus mode, which adds some exciting spice in the form of more challenging boss gauntlets where you fight them in groups along with broader weapon customization options.

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Each enemy is introduced by way of an epitaph and a scene which tells you how they ended up in that sorry state. The scenes are compelling on their own, and despite the sparse monologues which don’t give you a whole lot to go on other than your own imagination, the villainous Victorian-inspired visuals and the individually distinct boss arenas also provide just enough environmental storytelling to pique your curiosity. While you may still be slightly in the dark about what you've truly accomplished for your character in the atonement department when the credits roll, the road to redemption is still a scenic one.

However, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption suffers from some problems with repetition. After about the sixth hour, things start to blend together a little. Each boss has its own unique orchestral accompaniment, which are enjoyable in their own right, but they're all based on the same recipe of overdramatic string sections and choral vocals. Each boss also harnesses a theme or an element of its own, but the arenas don't necessarily hold up to scrutiny over long periods of time; the surrounding textures in the background suffer slightly from a lack of fine detail, and there's only so much crumbly ruined stonework that you can stomach.

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It's also a little disappointing, though not completely surprising, to see the game run worse on Switch than on other platforms. There were instances of framerate lag turned deadly because of the pace of gameplay and also an instance of blinding light effects for a particular boss in a dimly-lit environment that were a hindrance. On the PlayStation 4 and PC versions, the framerate lag is almost undetectable.

Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is an ambitious game that brings something new to an increasingly popular style of action game. While it seems like it's missing a lick of paint to make sure that its aesthetics are as strong as its mechanics, it's still a smart step forward and a good example of how we can pay homage to the beloved works of others with originality.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 08 Nov 2018 18:00:00 -0800)

Without context, the premise of Tetris Effect won't stop you in your tracks. It's Tetris at heart, and its familiar playfield is presented against fantasy backdrops with songs and sound effects that react to your actions. What that basic description doesn't tell you is how powerful the combination of conducting tetrominos and music at the same time can be. Give Tetris Effect your complete, undivided attention, and you'll form a sympathetic bond to the notes and puzzle pieces alike and lose yourself in the flurry of color and energy that permeates every stage. It's a lofty promise, to be sure, but there's no other way to describe the impact Tetris Effect has once it finally clicks.

Though there are a handful of modes--no sign of multiplayer, sadly--with basic twists on the standard formula that are worth exploring at your leisure, the bulk of the Tetris Effect experience takes place in Journey Mode. It's an aptly named trip that will take you to recognizable locations like the moon, but more often to abstract settings that are best defined by a list of adjectives. These dreamscapes can be breezy, electric, stressful, haunting, heavenly, or crunchy, to name a few of the standout qualities. The music in each stage may not always be a predictable pairing, but just because you didn't see a particular harmony coming doesn't mean it can't work.

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Over time, you will notice that the game not only hooks you with music, but that it gets you hooked on songs that may not traditionally fit within your musical preferences. Odds are you don't listen to chanting in foreign languages nor the complicated beats of the tabla on a daily basis, but Tetris Effect makes these uncommon sounds enticing. It's hard to say what these songs would feel like without first experiencing them during gameplay, but when you're enraptured in their rhythms whilst simultaneously flipping and reconfiguring puzzle pieces in a race against time, they become relentlessly catchy, sticking with you long after you stop playing.

Because Tetris Effect is so infectious, it's very difficult to put down once you fall into its rhythm. Tetris has proven itself to be a highly effective game, and one that has an ever-rising skill ceiling that allows it to draw in players who have decades of experience under their belts. Journey mode will ramp up, but in keeping with the sense of going on an adventure, it will also slump down, though rarely for long. The non-linear flow is an important part of the experience that charges you with anticipation and rewards you with relief, and is an unexpected benefit to the standard flow of a session of Tetris.

The shift in tone and pace is often determined by your progress within a stage. Most require you to clear 36 lines total (on normal difficulty), with milestones along the way that dictate the present rhythm. You do, however, have a tool at your disposal that is designed explicitly to pump the brakes and give you a chance to salvage a potentially disastrous situation or to build up a high scoring combo. The Zone ability can be triggered with a single button press at any time that you've got some charge in the relevant meter, which is fueled a quarter of the way every time you clear eight lines.

With Zone activated, pieces hover rather than fall, and you get to take your time--as allotted by the meter--placing them in your stack. Clear a line, and it will shift to the bottom of the stack, ready to be cleared automatically when Zone disengages. Because lines persist even when "cleared" while in Zone, you can make combos that go beyond the standard four-line Tetris clear if you're skilled enough. They won't count towards your line count for the level, but they will give you extra scoring opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be possible.

The new Zone mechanic adds an interesting layer of strategy for new and veteran players alike, but more than this new mechanic, it's the quasi-spiritual bond that forms between you and the game that defines Tetris Effect. Even though you don't need a PlayStation VR headset to get a taste, there's no question that Tetris Effect is best played in VR with headphones turned up loud.

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With your vision and hearing cut off from the outside world, you fade into the game. You feel things that you'd never imagine a game of Tetris could make you feel. Don't be surprised if you catch yourself bursting with joy, or on the verge of tears, all because the confluence of gameplay and sensory stimulation works so well. There is no extra physical movement asked of you--the opposite of almost every other VR game in recent memory. Tetris Effect wants your mind, rather than your body, and even though we all dream of one day being completely immersed in a high-end VR game. In truth, Tetris Effect achieves the base goal--belief in your connection to the game.

Tetris Effect is a transformative game that will more than likely be overlooked by people who think it's "just Tetris." Well, it is and it isn't. Anyone who knows Tetris can pick up Tetris Effect and begin playing right away. The fundamentals remain the same; it is a time-tested formula that continues to work, after all. But Tetris is just the beginning of Tetris Effect. It provides the foundation for a complex emotional journey that defies expectations. Its a vector for meditation. It's a driving force that pushes you beyond your presumed limits. It is the definition of awesome, and if you have an open heart and an open mind, you owe it to yourself to take the plunge and see why it's anything but "just Tetris."

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 09 Nov 2018 08:00:00 -0800)

Happy Saturday. This weekend was a long time coming for many folks as we prepare for Thanksgiving and give thanks for more than what’s on our tables. If you’re still planning your menu, refer to our recent stories for both an upscale and a more traditional holiday dinner. If you’ve got that covered...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 17 Nov 2018 08:00:00 PST )

Cal Petersen’s NHL career was born here, while a moment of silence was reserved for what was the Kings-Chicago Blackhawks’ dominance from earlier this decade.

Several storylines arrived full circle Friday, namely the journey of Petersen from Midwestern teenage goalie to his first win against Chicago,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sat, 17 Nov 2018 08:00:00 PST )

Castle in the Sky Studio Ghibli Fest 2018, a celebration of the Japanese animation studio’s impressive catalog, concludes with this visually stunning 1986 fantasy directed by Hayao Miyazaki and featuring the voices of Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Mark Hamill and Mandy Patinkin. Various theaters....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 18:00:00 PST )

Don’t expect to find bongs, water pipes and empty packets of Funyuns at the Los Angeles-area home of Will Htun.

When we asked to look inside the home of the CEO of cannabis brand Sherbinskis, we found a sleek and minimal space where he could host chef-catered, cannabis-paired dinners on the rooftop...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (星期六, 17 十一月 2018 06:00:00 PST )
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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (星期六, 17 十一月 2018 07:00:00 PST )

Some chew it, or place a few drops under the tongue or let it soak in through the skin. There are numerous ways to consume cannabidiol — better known as CBD. It’s touted for its therapeutic effects, but, unlike its better-known cousin THC, does not get you high.

Hemp-derived CBD is increasingly...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (星期六, 17 十一月 2018 07:00:00 PST )

Former Tampa Bay Ray Matt Moore is pitching his place in St. Petersburg, Fla. The hard-throwing lefthander’s home on Snell Isle has come up for sale at $2.2 million.

An All-Star selection with the Rays in 2013, Moore bought the estate a year later for $1.24 million, records show. The two-story...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (星期六, 17 十一月 2018 07:00:00 PST )

The Food & Drug Administration this week announced new initiatives aimed at stemming the increase in young Americans’ use of tobacco and its primary psychoactive agent, nicotine.

The object of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s ire was flavorings — those minty, sweet, nutty or even salty flavors...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 17 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PST )

Before every football game since quarterback DJ Uiagalelei was 9, his father, Dave, has taped his ankles. He did it again on Friday night before Bellflower St. John Bosco’s Division 1 semifinal game against Westlake Village Oaks Christian. If it’s for good luck, everyone should beg Dave to work...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 22:35:00 PST )

Chaos and scale have always been the foundation of the Battlefield franchise, and Battlefield V is no different. Squads of soldiers relentlessly push towards objectives with either sheer force or improvised tactics while gunfire and explosions ring throughout the beautiful, but war-torn landscapes. It's an overwhelming sensory experience and a fine execution of a familiar formula--if you play the better modes.

Battlefield V goes back to where the franchise began by using World War II's European theater as the backdrop for first-person shooting and vehicular combat in large multiplayer matches. It's not too dissimilar to Battlefield 1, where every weapon has a distinct weight and impact that comes through vividly in both sight and sound. The core conceits of Battlefield remain mostly untouched, but small tweaks have been made to the formula, most of which are welcome.

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Ground troops are even more deadly this time around, with a revamped ballistics model (random bullet deviation is gone) that results in reduced time-to-kill for skilled players; floundering in open areas is now more dangerous than ever. Navigating the maps' messy terrain has a smooth, intuitive feel whether you're mantling obstacles or scrambling for cover. All players regardless of class can revive squadmates, which highly encourages sticking together and alleviates the disappointment of dying without a medic around. Since it takes a few precious seconds to perform a revive and is limited to squadmates, it doesn't negate the importance of the Medic class' instant revive. The ability to spot enemies is now exclusive to the sniper-focused Recon class by using the manual spotting scope or having the subclass perk to reveal enemies you fire upon.

As impactful as Attrition sounds, it's not so overbearing as to drastically shake up Battlefield's core, though it does make going rogue less viable.

Class roles and teamwork are further emphasized by the Attrition system, which encompasses the changes made to resource scarcity and scavenging and affects nearly every aspect of the game. The fact you're not given much ammo at spawn makes the Support class's ability to dole out ammo pouches clutch when you survive multiple firefights, while the Assault class has a perk that grants more ammo upon scavenging dead players. Surviving with the game's health system, which is partially auto-regenerating, relies on having a medkit on hand, which can only be distributed by Medics. As impactful as Attrition sounds, it's not so overbearing as to drastically shake up Battlefield's core, though it does make going rogue less viable.

Another new mechanic introduced in Battlefield V is Fortifications, which consists of building predetermined structures within the environment--like sandbag walls, barbed wire coils, and Czech hedgehogs. There are no resources tied to your ability to construct them, though the Support class builds faster than other classes and can prop up things like stationary gun and supply crates in certain spots. Overall, fortifications feels a bit tacked on and inconsequential in some cases, but there's no denying their effectiveness in the right situation. Something as simple as improvised sandbags for a little cover can go a long way by turning a sitting duck into a well-positioned defender who can better hold down an objective when every other building's been reduced to rubble.

The narrative dress-up is a nice touch, but the real reason Grand Operations works is because it keeps up the momentum from round to round and packages a variety of the game modes into one long match, encouraging you to see it through.

Above all else, Battlefield V truly shines in Grand Operations, a series of three consecutive matches (or rounds) intertwined by brief narrative bits inspired by WWII events. Each round, presented as one in-game day in the same theater of war, is a specific game mode, and teams can earn reinforcement bonuses for certain rounds depending on the outcome of the previous one. The narrative dress-up is a nice touch, but the real reason Grand Operations works is because it keeps up the momentum from round to round and packages a variety of game modes into one long match, encouraging you to see it through.

The success of Grand Operations should be primarily accredited to the more focused, well-executed modes like Airborne, Frontlines, and Breakthrough. Frontlines in particular plays out like a tug-of-war; teams fight over varied objectives in sequential order within defined sections of a map, depending on the phase of the match. Teams will struggle to hold capture points in sequence to push the other back, and other phases may be demolition-style attack/defend skirmishes. The opportunity to push back a phase also makes it so you can regain ground if your back is against the wall; by the same token, you can't get too comfortable with a lead.

These game types aren't entirely new; Frontlines was seen in Battlefield 1 DLC and borrows elements from Rush and Conquest, and Grand Operations is a variation--albeit improved--on the original Operations in Battlefield 1. However, the tools and mechanics built around Battlefield V along with how map dynamics shift at each phase make them an absolute thrill to play. It accentuates the best features of the map roster, and also makes the moment to moment firefights distinct since they're concentrated across different sections. The structure of modes like Frontlines naturally ushers a team's attention to a handful of clear objectives at a time and provides a method to the madness, creating a satisfying push-and-pull where success feels earned.

As great as Grand Operations is, the series staple of Conquest has become the weakest link. This traditional mode has devolved into a match-long carousel of flag captures, easy kills, and cheap deaths. Maps like Twisted Steel and Arras function well enough for Conquest, but that leaves a majority of the eight available maps lacking. Narvik, Fjell 652, and Devastation feel too condensed and disjointed for the high player count and mechanics of Conquest; the action hardly ever stops, but cramming everyone together in compact, circular maps means you're often caught from behind or flanked by enemies that simply stumbled upon that fruitful opportunity. It goes both ways, as you'll frequently find yourself catching enemy squads with their backs turned because you lucked into a certain spawn and ran off in the right direction.

The success of Grand Operations should be primarily accredited to the more focused, well-executed modes like Airborne, Frontlines, and Breakthrough.

Battlefield V is also rough in spots. A few bugs are forgivable, like wild ragdoll physics, but some are more problematic. On rare occasions, the map goes blank when enlarging it, or health packs just don't work. Very rarely would you have to revive a squadmate by a door, but when this happens, you're likely to only get the prompt to interact with the door, leaving your friend to die. Thankfully, these issues are not enough to overshadow the game's best parts.

Regardless of your preferred mode of play, you'll be earning XP for a number of separate progression paths. There's overall rank, class rank, individual weapon rank, and for good measure, each tank and plane has its own rank as well. There isn't a whole lot to unlock for weapons given the WWII setting, but leveling up weapon proficiencies lets you customize them to your play style, like choosing greater hip-fire accuracy, faster reload, quicker aim-down-sights, or less recoil in ADS. Various weapons and pieces of equipment (such as the spawning beacon for Recon or the anti-tank grenade for Assault) unlock as you rank up classes. It's a fairly sensible system, though the same can't be said about vehicle progression. Vehicles are tough to come by in Battlefield V as it is and since each one ranks separately, it takes an extra-concerted effort to level them up. There are some useful perks to obtain for vehicles that can provide a slight advantage, but it can be a struggle to acquire them.

The structure of modes like Frontlines naturally ushers a team's attention to a handful of clear objectives at a time and provides a method to the madness, creating a satisfying push-and-pull where success feels earned.

Aside from weapon skins, you'll customize each class's appearance for both Allies and Axis. It's the cosmetic aspect where you can fit yourself with different parts of uniforms, though it doesn't bear much fruit since this is a first-person game that moves so fast, even your enemies won't really notice the 'rare' uniform you're wearing. Cosmetic customization is also how Company Coins comes into play, the in-game currency that you earn through completing challenges (daily orders or assignments) or completing matches. Most cosmetics can be acquired with Company Coins, which can be a grind to earn. You should note that unlocking weapon and vehicle perks are also tied to Company Coins, but at least they are relatively low-cost. There are no microtransactions at the moment, but they are said to coming in the future, and for cosmetics only.

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Battlefield V isn't solely a multiplayer endeavor. War Stories returns as the single-player component that attempts to present a brutal conflict with a more earnest tone. The campaign highlights lesser-known parts of WWII, like the Norwegian resistance, and the Senegalese Tirailleurs who fought for the French Army amid racial discrimination. The effort is admirable, especially when it comes to the Tirailleur campaign as it sheds light on piece of history that has nearly been forgotten; the scale of Battlefield comes through and the story speaks to the horrors of war. Nordlys boils down to a mix of stealth and combat that casts you as a one-person army that's enjoyable at times, but doesn't go beyond lone-wolf skirmishes--at least it showcases some of the game's best setpieces. And the Under No Flag campaign for the English side is an eye-rolling series of tedious missions that goes for a lighthearted note; it doesn't stick the landing, however. War Stories has its moments but is all over the place in terms of design, tone, and style.

The effort is admirable, especially when it comes to the Tirailleur campaign as it sheds light on piece of history that has nearly been forgotten.

Currently, Battlefield V still has features to implement as part of its game-as-a-service approach (designated Tides of War), but there's enough to chew on for now given the quality of the better modes. It's an exciting prospect that there's more to come at no additional cost, but you can't help but feel that the launch package could've been a bit more dense considering there's only eight maps. Additional modes (including co-op), new maps, another Grand Operations mission, and the Firestorm battle royale mode will be rolling out intermittently between now and March 2019. All that could make for the most feature-rich game in the series; unfortunately, we won't be able to evaluate those parts of the game until they arrive.

The Battlefield series has a winning formula that Battlefield V doesn't deviate far from, at least for now. Conquest and the map roster don't mesh well together, however, Grand Operations--and the other modes within it--steal the show and foster some of the greatest moments the franchise has offered. You might be surprised by the impact of the slight changes made for this entry, especially when you're deep into pushing or defending objectives in Frontlines alongside teammates fulfilling their roles. That's when Battlefield V is at its best.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 22:52:00 -0800)

The global embrace of Latin urban beats is undeniable, but it was a pop balladeer, Jorge Drexler from Uruguay, who was crowned a triple winner at the 19th annual Latin Grammy Awards, taking record, song and singer-songwriter of the year, while Mexican crooner Luis Miguel, a no-show at the Las Vegas...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 17:45:00 PST )

When the hammer came down at Christie's in New York on Thursday evening, it made more of a splash than a bang.

David Hockney’s 1972 painting “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” had gone for just over $90 million, an auction sale record for a living artist.

Until now, Jeff Koons’ steel...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 17:30:00 PST )

Lonzo Ball’s role with the Lakers requires more than just the point guard duties he has been accustomed to having his entire basketball life.

So when the moment has called for him to run the offense or become a spot-up shooter, Ball has willingly accepted his part in the offensive system.

It has...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 17:10:00 PST )

Castle in the Sky Studio Ghibli Fest 2018, a celebration of the Japanese animation studio’s impressive catalog, concludes with this visually stunning 1986 fantasy directed by Hayao Miyazaki and featuring the voices of Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Mark Hamill and Mandy Patinkin. Various theaters....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 18:00:00 PST )

ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey has stepped down, becoming the second high-profile network executive to leave as Walt Disney Co. prepares to bring in new management from Fox.

Longtime programmer Karey Burke, who has been developing original shows for Disney’s Freeform channel, on Friday...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 16:45:00 PST )

For Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, playing defense is a test of wills.

His job, as he sees it, is to push his opponent toward the moment when they feel it is not their night and disengage. Sometimes it happens quickly. Sometimes it takes 48 minutes. Eventually, though, every scorer breaks.

There’s...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 16:55:00 PST )

He ran a produce stand back in Honduras, but Richard Umanzor said he’s willing to take any work available — in whatever country that will grant him entry.

He and more than 2,000 other migrants who have arrived in this border city in the last few days can see California with their own eyes. But...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 16:50:00 PST )
“The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2: 1956-1963,” edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil, includes 14 revelatory letters she wrote to her psychiatrist about the crisis in her marriage. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Thu, 08 Nov 2018 19:00:08 GMT )

Family Thanksgiving dinners are often fraught with drama, but writer-director Jenna Laurenzo’s debut comedy “Lez Bomb” could make even the most contentious gatherings look calm by comparison. Though her script overloads its characters with confusion to the point of farce, there’s still a warm,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 8 Nov 2018 14:25:00 PST )

Plenty of heart and soul clearly went into the making of the western-tinged, 1976-set family drama “The Divide.” The result, however, is a sluggish film that incessantly tries but never quite hits its big-as-a-barn emotional targets.

Perry King, light-years away from his 1970s-era “hot guy” image,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 8 Nov 2018 13:45:00 PST )

Although “The Delinquent Season” is the kind of provocative marital drama that’s been in shorter supply in recent years, it maintains a vitality and timelessness that should appeal to anyone who’s ever found themselves at an unexpected crossroads in a long-term romantic relationship.

Mark O’Rowe,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 8 Nov 2018 13:35:00 PST )

Chivalry is dead, or so thinks college senior Blake Conway in the charming comedy “The New Romantic.” Canadian writer-director and AFI alum Carly Stone’s debut feature places a funny, intelligent young woman at the intersection of career ambition, relationship disappointment and 21st century economics...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 8 Nov 2018 13:00:00 PST )

Time travel, death, complicated liaisons, prostitution and racial injustice inform five movies you can see this week in theaters and video on demand.

'Time Freak'

The “quirky-young-lovers-obsessively-over-analyze-a-breakup” plot has been done to death in indie films, but writer-director Andrew...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 8 Nov 2018 05:30:00 PST )

Director Jaron Albertin’s feature debut “Weightless,” written by Albertin and Enda Walsh is a lot like its taciturn protagonist, Joel (Alessandro Nivola), in that it’s more about what the scenes don’t tell us than what they do. The storytelling is often inscrutable, deliberately meditative, and...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 8 Nov 2018 13:30:00 PST )
'Liz and the Blue Bird'

“Liz and the Blue Bird” is a feature spinoff of the animated shojo (girls) series “Sound Euphonium,” about the musicians in a top high school concert band.

Flautist Nozomi and oboist Mizore are best friends, but when they have to share a difficult solo in a piece based on...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 8 Nov 2018 13:20:00 PST )

We all feel a little grinchy sometimes. When holiday cheer becomes particularly oppressive, when we feel lonely in a crowd, when we would rather rain on someone else’s parade than admit defeat, Dr. Seuss gave us a way to describe that feeling with his classic holiday children's book “How the Grinch...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Wed, 7 Nov 2018 17:00:00 PST )

A Hawthorne man who authorities say intentionally drove his family off the side of a wharf at the Port of Los Angeles in 2015, killing two of his sons in a scheme to collect insurance money, is being held without bail on federal charges.

Ali Elmezayen, 44, who was arrested last week, is facing...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 11:45:00 PST )

Brian Dennehy needs no coddling from critics. A two-time Tony-winning heavyweight, he has nothing left to prove, having triumphed (through the blunt force of his acting) in Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”

Just when you think you understand...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 11:30:00 PST )

As a chapter in the lesson plan instructing you to be careful what you wish for, let us consider the case of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the ever-increasing possibility that he soon will be ousted over ethics concerns.

Last week, President Trump said that Zinke’s job was safe — for the moment....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 10:30:00 PST )

CNN has won the first round of its legal battle to get correspondent Jim Acosta back in the White House.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly granted the cable news network’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction Friday that restored Acosta’s White House press...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 09:25:00 PST )

As hundreds of volunteers and attorneys plowed through ballots, and protesters and politicians caviled from the sidelines, Florida’s hand recount of its Senate race got underway Friday morning and almost immediately appeared to be a bust for Democrats.

The process hasn’t been so great for democracy,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 09:10:00 PST )
A half-dozen new and newish cookbooks tell you how to cook with cannabis Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 09:00:00 PST )
Addison and Escárcega named restaurant critics for The Times; Peterson will launch a new video series on food

The Los Angeles Times has named Bill Addison, Eater’s national critic, and Patricia Escárcega, formerly the food critic for the Phoenix New Times, the new restaurant critics who will cover...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 08:55:00 PST )

Hitman 2 is out now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The game's first Elusive Target, the first part of IO's free post-launch support plans, releases next week and features actor Sean Bean as an MI5 agent gone rogue named Mark Faba. Read on for our full review, originally published on November 8.

Hitman is a game about killing people. Well, killing specific people and trying not to kill other people unless you really have to. But it's also a game about exploring large, real-world-inspired spaces, learning about how they operate, finding multiple solutions to problems, and using that knowledge to improvise and manipulate the environment to hit the people you're hunting. The episodic nature of the Hitman refresh in 2016 saw IO Interactive release one level every month--a contentious move at the time, but one that helped accentuate the potential in each mission. Hitman 2 ditches the episodic model and adds a few new minor mechanics, but the loop of continuously replaying a single location, slowly uncovering the wealth of possibilities, and being able to effectively draw upon that knowledge in new challenges is where Hitman is strongest.

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Hitman 2 takes you to six new locales, and each poses unique situations to overcome as you attempt to assassinate your targets. Mumbai is a standout with its densely populated streets and labyrinths of tenement buildings--a great environment that makes the most of a new Assassin's Creed-style crowd blending mechanic, allowing you to disappear into big groups of people. A mission in Miami, Florida takes place at an active raceway, a loud and vibrant stage that feels like a theme park with its swaths of attendees, distinct zones, and a concealed backstage underbelly.

These levels are overwhelming in the best way possible, and it's exciting to begin peeling away the layers of these large, intricate areas--exploring the spaces, discovering routes, finding tools and disguises, and figuring out the best places to utilize them. If you're familiar with Hitman, you know that each stage and its AI inhabitants run on routines like clockwork, making Hitman a game that rewards social stealth and patience. Eavesdropping, tailing, and passive observation are good first steps to success. Even the Whittleton Creek stage, a small, sparsely populated suburban block in Vermont, feels like a mindmap of interconnected causality when you begin to dig deeper. Having the curiosity to uncover how things operate within levels, stumbling upon minor plotlines and amusing flavor dialog along the way, is interesting in its own right.

Hitman does make an upfront effort to help focus your scope and give you some momentum toward your objectives, though thankfully your initiative is still necessary to solve some predicaments. Stumbling across a Mission Story (previously known as Opportunities) might lead you to a machine you can sabotage, for example, but you need to find the tool to do so and work out the best method of either distracting or dispatching the people around it.

Mission Stories are a great first step, but Hitman becomes its best when you start to internalize the stages and uncover the more obscure ways things can unfold in subsequent playthroughs, be it through pursuing alternative Mission Stories, Challenges that ask you to perform specific tasks, or your own improvisation. There are few fail states other than your own death, and there are so many approaches and tools at your disposal that the path to victory can be as creative and elegant or as bumbling and messy as it needs to be. Completing a stage typically takes a long time, and there will be plenty of moments when a guard catches you doing something you shouldn't be doing and calls for backup. Unhinged gunfights still feel as futile as ever, but when things get out of control there's almost always the opportunity to escape to a less hostile part of the level, swap your disguises, and come up with an alternative "make do" approach. In fact, Hitman is sometimes more exciting when your initial plans fail.

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The only problem with being presented with such a staggering array of interactions is that the limitations of the sandbox will eventually reveal themselves if you push the wrong way. For example, while you can stash bodies in dumpsters and closets, I was disappointed to discover I couldn't stash them in one of many vacant portable toilets. While Agent 47 can leap tall fences and shimmy across daringly high ledges, he seemingly can't muster the courage to drop down from certain first-floor balconies. Guard AI behavior is stern but generous--if you're found trespassing in a restricted area they'll give you a chance to find the exit before reacting, but sometimes it's too generous. I was amused to see a target's personal bodyguard decide to go home for the day after his employer "accidentally" fell off a building, even though I was the only other person in the room.

Hitman 2 continues to embrace a trial-and-error playstyle in its campaign. The levels are long, but autosaves are generous and manual saving is encouraged, which gives you the freedom to experiment with different ways of approaching a problem. And the closer you get to bending the systems in just the right way--trying to narrowly squeeze past a guard's sightline from different directions, or using coins and cheeseburgers to divert someone's attention--the more thrilling it feels, no matter how goofy it actually looks. Hitman 2's interstitial cinematics are as grim and dramatic as a British espionage drama, and it's hard not to let yourself buy into the clinical overarching conspiracy. But in the field, the series' tongue-in-cheek absurdity happily remains with ridiculous costumes, unlikely weapons, and Agent 47's self-aware deadpan acting, which perfectly accompanies any bumbling improvisation. Both exist distinctly, don't really compliment or detract one another, but are still enjoyable in their own right.

Hitman 2 also boasts a few significant modes outside of its campaign, including Sniper Assassin, which adapts the design seen in the Hitman: Sniper smartphone game and tasks you with taking out a series of targets from a single vantage point using only a scoped rifle. It's a straightforward but enjoyable, low-stakes mode that allows for a surprising amount of creative freedom, and it can be played in two-player online co-op. But Hitman 2's most enticing bonus, at least if you own the previous Hitman, is the ability to download the original stages into Hitman 2, which gives you feature-complete versions of them with the addition of new mechanics like functional mirrors (which enemies can spot you in) and the briefcase (which lets you conceal and transport tools discreetly), among other things. These legacy stages are wonderful to revisit under a new light.

It should also be mentioned that one of the most compelling elements of the 2016 Hitman was the continuous, free live content updates that occurred after the game's launch. Escalation Missions, where you're given specific conditional challenges of increasing difficulty, and Elusive Targets, limited-time events where you have only one chance to take out unique assassination targets, added tense trials that tested both your knowledge of levels and improvisational skills. IO Interactive has announced that these familiar features will be making a return, along with free content updates to Sniper Assassin and Ghost Mode. We obviously can't judge the quality of this content at launch, but it's surely something to look forward to.

The addition of other minor mechanical changes--like concussive weapons, a picture-in-picture enemy activity alert, and visible security camera sightlines--help to improve Hitman 2 overall as a dense and accessible stealth assassination game. But the new locations are the real stars, impressive and inventive sandboxes ripe for picking apart with exciting experiments. Hitman is about experiencing the anticipation of seeing whether a plan will work when you try it for the first time. It's about feeling the tension of briskly walking away from a bad situation, hoping you can lose the suspicious guards. It's the satisfaction of knowing the machinations of a level so well that when a target moves into a particular place at a particular time, you have the perfect way to intervene. Hitman 2 is a familiar experience, but in the Hitman world, familiarity is an incredible strength.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 08:48:00 -0800)

For 10 years, John Bumstead has had a small but profitable business buying old Apple laptops in bulk, refurbishing them by hand, and selling them to wholesalers or via Amazon.com for about $150.

They’re good, working machines saved from obsolescence to bring the Apple experience to buyers who can’t...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 07:30:00 PST )

Last year, the city of Los Angeles approved a bumper crop of historic districts — five neighborhoods packed with distinctive architecture. Called Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, the districts now number 35 and harbor 21,000 properties safeguarded from undue alteration.

Only New York City surpasses...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 06:00:00 PST )

UNDERRATED

Adam Sandler’s “100% Fresh” on Netflix: From a critical perspective, Sandler always doesn’t have the best track record at the movies or on Netflix (though “The Meyerowitz Stories” remains well worth your time). But he unexpectedly released one of silliest, sweetest comic specials of...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 06:00:00 PST )

Not surprisingly in a post-election aftermath, topical issues figure prominently in this week’s sampling of smaller theater offerings. All have either proven their dramatic chops in previous stagings or present promising new works that avoid heavy-handed polemics and focus on engaging human and...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 06:00:00 PST )

Remember when there were three brows – high, middle and low?

The schema was concocted a century ago from phrenology, an inquiry in which racialism and eugenics masqueraded as science to examine the shape and size of the human cranium as an alleged sign of mental capacity. In simplest (and nuttiest)...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 06:00:00 PST )

Best Black Friday 2018 Game Deals


Even though the holiday is still a few days out, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and several other stores have already announced Black Friday 2018 deals. To help you sort through it, we've compiled the best discounts for Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch games.

Exclusive titles for all three consoles--such as Forza Horizon 4, God of War, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2--are included in this gallery, as are third-party titles like Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The game deals are listed in alphabetical order and do not reflect any sort of ranking in the quality of each game or the amount of money you save.

The specific price for each game is not always the same across retailers. We've listed all the discounted prices for each product at each store, so you can see all of your options and plan accordingly. Also keep in mind that each store will open and close at different times on Black Friday. We will continue to update this gallery as additional Black Friday 2018 deals are announced.

If you're looking for a sale for a particular family of consoles or gaming accessory, you can check out our other Black Friday gaming guides.

Black Friday 2018 Video Game Shopping Guides

Best Black Friday Gaming Deals By Console


Assassin's Creed Odyssey -- Xbox One, PS4


In our Assassin's Creed Odyssey review, Alessandro Fillari gave the game an 8/10, writing, "While its large-scale campaign--clocking in at over 50 hours--can occasionally be tiresome, and some features don't quite make the impact they should, Odyssey makes great strides in its massive and dynamic world, and it's a joy to venture out and leave your mark on its ever-changing setting."

Assassin's Creed Odyssey is available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 -- Xbox One, PS4


In our Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 review, Kallie Plagge gave the game an 8/10, writing, "Blackout pushes Call of Duty in an entirely new direction, making use of aspects from both multiplayer and Zombies for a take on the battle royale genre that stands on its own. Sure, there isn't a traditional single-player campaign, but with the depth and breadth of what is there, Black Ops 4 doesn't need it."

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


Dragon Ball FighterZ -- Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch


In our Dragon Ball FighterZ review, Peter Brown gave the game a 9/10, writing, "FighterZ is complex and distinct enough to be enjoyed by fighting game competitors, but there's no question that it's been designed to tap into the hearts of Dragon Ball's most dedicated fans, and no doubt those same qualities will win people over who've never given the series a chance."

Dragon Ball FighterZ is available for Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Xbox One

PlayStation 4

Nintendo Switch


Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age -- PS4


In our Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age review, Heidi Kemps gave the game a 9/10, writing, "Innovation in games is talked about a lot, but it's also great to see traditional gameplay formulas that have been around for decades presented exceptionally well. Dragon Quest XI is one of the best modern examples of this; its beautiful presentation, both visual- and story-wise, combines with a tried-and-true gameplay formula for a journey that’s full of heart and soul."

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is currently a PS4 console exclusive, with plans to port the game to Nintendo Switch.

PlayStation 4


Forza Horizon 4 -- Xbox One


In our Forza Horizon 4 review, Edmond Tran gave the game a 9/10, writing, "There's such a diverse range of activities stuffed into every corner of Horizon 4, and meaningful changes contribute to smart driving dynamics and a more consistent sense of achievement. Everything you do in Horizon feels valuable, no matter how big or small...."

Forza Horizon 4 is an Xbox One console exclusive.

Xbox One


God Of War -- PS4


In our God of War review, Peter Brown gave the game a 9/10, writing, "In many ways God of War is what the series has always been. It's a spectacular action game with epic set pieces, big-budget production values, and hard-hitting combat that grows more feverish and impressive as you progress. What may surprise you is how mature its storytelling has become."

God of War is a PS4 exclusive.

PlayStation 4


Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle -- Nintendo Switch


In our Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle review, Edmond Tran gave the game a 9/10, writing, "Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle exudes off-beat optimism that never dissolves. It's a consistent delight, no matter how challenging the road becomes, because Kingdom Battle's unique turn-based tactics system is in every way a pleasure to engage with."

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a Nintendo Switch exclusive.

Nintendo Switch


Middle-earth: Shadow Of War Definitive Edition -- Xbox One, PS4


In our Middle-earth: Shadow of War review, Justin Haywald gave the game a 7/10, writing, "[Shadow of War] tries to be larger than its predecessor, there are more abilities, more weapons, more Orcs, yet it leaves you wanting less. But at its core, it's a fun experience with brilliant moments that provide fascinating insight into some of the untold stories of Middle-earth."

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Definitive Edition fixes the largest issues--loot boxes and story pacing--of the original game. It is available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


Nier: Automata -- PS4


In our Nier: Automata review, Miguel Concepcion gave the game a 9/10, writing, "Thanks to Platinum Games' knack for riveting and gratifying combat, Automata is Yoko Taro's most exciting game to date. The combat mechanics click after hurdling a low learning curve, and the end result is a skillful dance where balletic dodges complement wushu-inspired aggression."

Nier: Automata is available for PS4 and PC, and as a digital-only title for Xbox One.

PlayStation 4


Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido -- Nintendo Switch


In our Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido review, Kevin Knezevic gave the game a 7/10, writing, "Despite its imperfect transition to Switch, Sushi Striker is one of the more enjoyable puzzle games in the console's library. With a substantial campaign that's propped up by clever mechanics and a charmingly ludicrous story, the game offers a wealth of single- and multiplayer content to dive into."

Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is available for Nintendo 3DS and Switch.

Nintendo Switch


Valkyria Chronicles 4 -- Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch


In our Valkyria Chronicles 4 review, Ginny Woo gave the game an 8/10, writing, "Valkyria Chronicles 4 doesn't necessarily tell a new tale, but it doesn't have to; for all of its clichés and expected twists, there's a charm to the game's unwillingness to let up as it drives you and your friends forward at a rapid clip towards its bittersweet end."

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is available for Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo Switch


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 -- Nintendo Switch


In our Xenoblade Chronicles 2 review, Peter Brown gave the game a 7/10, writing, "Adventurous types that enjoy complex combat systems can easily spend more than 100 hours uncovering Alrest's secrets and developing their team of Blades, provided they can come to terms with a handful of unavoidable shortcomings. It's equal parts pleasing and frustrating, but the struggle to keep up with everything thrown your way is more of a hurdle than a roadblock."

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a Nintendo Switch exclusive.

Nintendo Switch


Xbox Game Pass -- Xbox One


Subscribing to Xbox Game Pass unlocks a library of over 100 free titles--that includes backwards compatible Xbox 360 games--for your Xbox One, Xbox One S, or Xbox One X. The list is updated with new titles each month.

This Black Friday, you can buy a 12-month subscription from Best Buy for $70, which is only $10 more than the normal price for a six-month subscription. The Microsoft store also has a pretty good deal for a one-month subscription if you don't want to make a year-long commitment to the service.

Best Buy

12-Month Subscription -- $70

Microsoft Store

1-Month Subscription -- $1


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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 05:10:00 -0800)

Each week, the Los Angeles Times’ college football experts — it’s how they refer to themselves — make picks on a variety of games. Warning: If they could accurately predict results, they wouldn’t be reporters or editors.

Ben Bolch

USC at UCLA: UCLA 28-27

Michigan State at Nebraska: Michigan State...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 04:35:00 PST )

The death toll from the devastating Camp fire in Northern California rose to 63 Thursday, while the number of people reported missing jumped dramatically to 631, authorities said.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told reporters that search crews recovered seven more bodies in the burn area: three...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 21:50:00 PST )

The last surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge that brutally ruled Cambodia in the 1970s were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes Friday by an international tribunal.

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were sentenced to life in prison, the same sentence they are already serving...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 21:40:00 PST )

With his broken right hand dressed in a splint, Rajon Rondo was on the practice court Thursday offering instructions and advice to the Lakers’ second unit even though he knew he was going to be having surgery to repair the third metacarpal of his right hand.

The Lakers said that Rondo had a successful...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 20:45:00 PST )
While interviewing the anonymous French street artist Invader, I discovered one of his tiny alien mosaics had been right outside my front door for years. I had no idea. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 15:20:00 PST )
Video games and novels have more in common than you might think. Jeremy Klemin explains how the logic of both involves enigmas and resolutions. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Wed, 07 Nov 2018 19:00:04 GMT )

A search of Dion Phaneuf’s name on Twitter is enough to confirm that he’s tailor-made for social media.

He’s amusing and provocative. He’s hated and embraced.

The latest example was a bit of both, from a recent game against the Calgary Flames. During a break in action, a close-up of Phaneuf showed...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 14:10:00 PST )

Six months ago, Delta Air Lines employees began to strut around planes and airports across the world wearing new uniforms created by fashion designer Zac Posen.

But the old uniforms worn by the more than 86,000 employees of the Atlanta-based carriers weren’t dumped into a landfill. They have been...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 16:05:00 PST )

The interactive movie--that nebulous, hard-to-define genre briefly fashionable in the mid-1990s, when CD-ROM technology made it possible for developers to integrate live-action footage into games--is not exactly remembered for its high quality. But even in the tradition responsible for such notorious follies as Night Trap, Sewer Shark, and Who Shot Johnny Rock, The Quiet Man is astonishingly dire--a graceless, outdated game that belongs squarely in the era of laserdiscs and the Philips CD-i. When it isn't an interactive movie, it's a simple 3D beat-em-up of the kind once ubiquitous at arcades. But an interest in the past does not make The Quiet Man a love letter to video game history, and its ideas are poorly realized.

The Quiet Man boasts a formal conceit that is at least moderately interesting. You play as a svelte blonde 20-something named Dane, who is deaf, and as a consequence the game is almost totally silent. You hear only the muffled patter of footfalls while walking, some indistinct notes of synthesizer to represent voices, and a faint patina of generic ambience elsewhere. The marketing materials describe this as an effort to allow the player to "experience the world in the way Dane does." But we clearly do not experience the world as Dane does. Dane reads lips; he communicates extensively and effortlessly with every character he encounters. So why are these conversations not subtitled? In one lengthy scene of dialogue after another, people talk with Dane, presumably advancing the story. Meanwhile, we have no earthly clue what's being said or what's going on.

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This sort of inexplicable design is entirely typical of The Quiet Man. It’s difficult to understand so much of what transpires. Consider an early narrative sequence in which Dane meets either a colleague or a friend--the relationship was not apparent to me and only gets more confusing over the course of the story--and converses with him in his office. In a series of mundane closeups the other man speaks as Dane nods along, rapt; the nature of their discussion is opaque, and their performances, amateurish and hammy, are abysmal. You can imagine this scene being staged in such a way that the content would be clear even without sound or subtitles. The Quiet Man doesn't even try.

When these mystifying, interminable full-motion-video scenes at last end, the actors are switched out for crudely animated substitutions, many of whom bear such a poor resemblance to their real-life counterparts that it is frequently unclear who's who. It's never hard to pick out Dane in the heat of battle, though, because he's the only one who's white. The endless procession of villainous henchmen you're asked to brutally dispatch are uniformly latino, broad caricatures of "cholos" in street-gang garb who sneer at you between pummelings. You fight them pretty much exclusively throughout. The political implications of the game's demographic makeup are appalling, in this fraught time of wall-building especially, and the end result is plainly, unforgivably racist.

In any case, it's quite fitting for the enemies to be the same cliched type repeated ad nauseam, because repetitiveness is the very nature of The Quiet Man's beat-em-up combat system. Brawling has what might generously be described as an arcade-like simplicity: one button to punch, one to kick, and one to dodge, plus a finishing move that can be triggered on occasion. It would be more accurate to call this rudimentary. Almost every battle boils down to a dull frenzy of button-mashing, as enemies rarely block, scarcely fight back, and practically never come at you more than one at a time. Though waves of 10 or even 20 must be defeated to clear a given room, they don't change their approach or vary their style, and mostly seem to stand around awaiting their turn to be vanquished. There's no way to vary your own attacks, either, which gives every encounter the air of a chore.

Boss battles aren't much different in terms of character or technique. They distinguish themselves instead in terms of overwhelming difficulty. I almost never lost a fight in the course of regular gameplay; each of the handful of boss battles, though, kept me stuck for a long time, as I labored through dust-ups with enemies that seemed absurdly overpowered and virtually invulnerable to damage. Worse than simply losing these battles was how consistently vague they proved to be. Seldom is it apparent why you might be losing a fight. The game doesn't track damage or show the enemy's health, and it's never certain whether your hits are landing or registering much effect--hitboxes are indistinct and attacks almost always clip through bodies, which makes the whole process feel at once feeble, confusing, and outrageously imprecise.

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Simplistic, ungainly combat is all the more surprising given that it is The Quiet Man's only gameplay mechanic. From beginning to end there is nothing else to do--no places to navigate, no items to collect, no weapons to wield, no puzzles to solve. It's just those same mind-numbing punches and kicks broken up by extended narrative scenes that by virtue of the enforced silence you can't hope to follow or understand. The broad contours of the plot are vaguely discernible: the drama involves childhood trauma, a seedy metropolitan underbelly, various acts of conspiracy and revenge. As for the details, it's impossible to say. The game's final moments tease an upcoming addition that will allow you to play it through a second time with the sound restored. This feels like both a preposterous cop-out--that's the main conceit!--and a cruel punishment. With sound the story will surely make more sense. But having suffered through The Quiet Man once, I can't bear to try it again.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Wed, 07 Nov 2018 09:55:00 -0800)

Editor’s note: We are waiting to finalize this review until we are able to test Battlefield V’s server stability with more players and see if certain bugs persist after initial patches upon release. While the free Tides of War updates for Battlefield V are scheduled through March 2019, we are evaluating the game based on what is currently available as of its November 2018 launch. Look out for our final review in the coming soon.

Chaos and scale have always been the foundation of the Battlefield franchise, and Battlefield V is no different. Squads of soldiers relentlessly push towards objectives with either sheer force or improvised tactics while gunfire and explosions ring throughout the beautiful, but war-torn landscapes. It's an overwhelming sensory experience and a fine execution of a familiar formula--if you play the right modes.

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Battlefield V goes back to where the franchise began by using World War II's European theater as the backdrop for first-person shooting and vehicular combat in large multiplayer matches. It's not too dissimilar to Battlefield 1, where every weapon has a distinct weight and impact hat comes through vividly in both sight and sound. The core conceits of Battlefield remain mostly untouched, but small tweaks have been made to the formula, most of which are welcome.

Ground troops are even more deadly this time around, with a revamped ballistics model (random bullet deviation is gone) that results in reduced time-to-kill for skilled players; floundering in open areas is now more dangerous than ever. Navigating the maps' messy terrain has a smooth, intuitive feel whether you're mantling obstacles or scrambling for cover. All players regardless of class can revive squadmates and highly encourages sticking together and alleviates the disappointment of dying without a medic around. Since it takes a few precious seconds to perform a revive and is limited to squadmates, it doesn't negate the importance of the Medic class' instant revive. The ability to spot enemies is now exclusive to the sniper-focused Recon class by using the manual spotting scope or having the subclass perk to reveal enemies you fire upon.

Another new mechanic introduced in Battlefield V is Fortifications, which consists of building predetermined structures--like sandbag walls, barbed wire coils, and Czech hedgehogs--within the environment. There are no resources tied to your ability to construct them, though the Support class builds much faster than other classes and can prop up a stationary gun in certain spots. Overall, building fortifications feels a bit tacked on and inconsequential given the pace of some modes, but there's no denying their effectiveness in the right situations. Something as simple as improvised sandbags for a little cover can go a long way by turning a sitting duck into a well-positioned defender who can better hold down an objective when every other building's been reduced to rubble.

As impactful as Attrition sounds, it's not so overbearing as to drastically shake up Battlefield's core, though it does make going rogue less viable.

Above all else, Battlefield V truly shines in Grand Operations, a series of three consecutive matches (or rounds) intertwined by brief narrative bits inspired by WWII events. Each round, presented as one in-game day in the same theater of war, is a specific game mode, and teams can earn reinforcement bonuses for certain rounds depending on the outcome of the previous one. The narrative dress-up is a nice touch, but the real reason Grand Operations works is because it keeps up the momentum from round to round and packages a variety of the game modes into one long match, encouraging you to see it through.

The success of Grand Operations should be primarily accredited to the more focused, well-executed modes like Airborne, Frontlines, and Breakthrough. Frontlines in particular plays out like a tug-of-war; teams fight over varied objectives in sequential order within defined sections of a map, depending on the phase of the match. Teams will struggle to hold capture points in sequence to push the other back, and other phases may be demolition-style attack/defend skirmishes. The opportunity to push back a phase also makes it so you can regain ground if your back is against the wall; by the same token, you can't get too comfortable with a lead.

These game types aren't entirely new; Frontlines was seen in Battlefield 1 DLC and borrows elements from Rush and Conquest, and Grand Operations is a variation--albeit improved--on the original Operations in Battlefield 1. However, the tools and mechanics built around Battlefield V along with how map dynamics shift at each phase make them an absolute thrill to play. It accentuates the best features of the map roster, and also makes the moment to moment firefights distinct since they're concentrated across different sections. The structure of modes like Frontlines naturally ushers a team's attention to a handful of clear objectives at a time and provides a method to the madness, creating a satisfying push-and-pull where success feels earned.

As great as Grand Operations is, the series staple of Conquest has become the weakest link. This traditional mode has devolved into a match-long carousel of flag captures, easy kills, and cheap deaths. Maps like Twisted Steel and Arras function well enough for Conquest, but that leaves a majority of the eight available maps lacking. Narvik, Fjell 652, and Devastation feel too condensed for the high player count and mechanics of Conquest; the action hardly ever stops, but cramming everyone together in compact, circular maps means you're often caught from behind or flanked by enemies that simply stumbled upon that fruitful opportunity. It goes both ways, as you'll frequently find yourself catching enemy squads with their backs turned because you lucked into a certain spawn and ran off in the right direction.

The success of Grand Operations should be primarily accredited to the more focused, well-executed modes like Airborne, Frontlines, and Breakthrough.

Battlefield V is also rough in spots. A few bugs are forgivable, like wild ragdoll physics, but some are more problematic. On rare occasions, the map goes blank when enlarging it, or health packs just don't work. Very rarely would you have to revive a squadmate by a door, but when this happens, you're likely to only get the prompt to interact with the door, leaving your friend to die. Thankfully, these issues are not enough to overshadow the game's best parts.

Regardless of your preferred mode of play, you'll be earning XP for a number of separate progression paths. There's overall rank, class rank, individual weapon rank, and for good measure, each tank and plane has its own rank as well. There isn't a whole lot to unlock for weapons given the WWII setting, but leveling up weapon proficiencies lets you customize them to your play style, like choosing greater hip-fire accuracy, faster reload, quicker aim-down-sights, or less recoil in ADS. Various weapons and pieces of equipment (such as the spawning beacon for Recon or the anti-tank grenade for Assault) unlock as you rank up classes. It's a fairly sensible system, though the same can't be said about vehicle progression. Vehicles are tough to come by in Battlefield V as it is and since each one ranks separately, it takes an extra-concerted effort to level them up. There are some useful perks to obtain for vehicles that can provide a slight disadvantage, but it can be a struggle to acquire them.

The structure of modes like Frontlines naturally ushers a team's attention to a handful of clear objectives at a time and provides a method to the madness, creating a satisfying push-and-pull where success feels earned.

Aside from weapon skins, you'll customize each class's appearance for both Allies and Axis. It's the cosmetic aspect where you can fit yourself with different parts of uniforms, though it doesn't bear much fruit since this is a first-person game that moves so fast, even your enemies won't really notice the 'rare' uniform you're wearing. Cosmetic customization is also how Company Coins, the in-game currency that you earn through completing challenges (daily orders or assignments) or completing matches, comes into play. Most cosmetics can be bought with Company Coins, which can be a grind to earn. You should note that unlocking weapon and vehicle perks are also tied to Company Coins, but at least they are relatively low-cost. There are no microtransactions at the moment, but they are said to coming in the future, and for cosmetics only.

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Battlefield V isn't solely a multiplayer endeavor. War Stories returns as the single-player component that attempts to present a brutal conflict with a more earnest tone. The campaign highlights lesser-known parts of WWII, like the Norwegian resistance, and the Senegalese Tirailleurs who fought for the French Army amid racial discrimination. The effort is admirable, especially when it comes to the Tirailleur campaign as it sheds light on piece of history that has nearly been forgotten; the scale of Battlefield comes through in and the story speaks to the horrors of war. However, the campaign doesn't quite stick the landing in the end. Nordlys boils down to a mix of stealth and combat that casts you as a one-person army that's enjoyable at times, but doesn't go beyond lone-wolf skirmishes--at least it showcases some of the game's best setpieces. And the Under No Flag campaign for the English side is an eye-rolling series of tedious missions that goes for a lighthearted note that doesn't work. War Stories has its moments but is all over the place in tone and style.

The effort is admirable, especially when it comes to the Tirailleur campaign as it sheds light on piece of history that has nearly been forgotten.

Currently, Battlefield V still has features to implement as part of its game-as-a-service approach (designated Tides of War), but there's enough to chew on for now given the quality of the better modes. It's an exciting prospect that there's more to come at no additional cost, but you can't help but feel that the launch package could've been a bit more dense considering there's only eight maps. Additional modes (including co-op), new maps, another Grand Operations mission, and the Firestorm battle royale mode will be rolling out intermittently between now and March 2019. All that could make for the most feature-rich game in the series; unfortunately, we won't be able to evaluate those parts of the game until they arrive.

The Battlefield series has a winning formula that Battlefield V doesn't deviate far from, at least for now. Conquest and the map roster don't mesh well together, however, Grand Operations-- and the other modes within it--steal the show and foster some of the greatest moments the franchise has offered. You might be surprised by the impact of the slight changes made for Battlefield V, especially when you're deep into pushing objectives in Frontlines alongside teammates fulfilling their roles. That's when Battlefield is at its best.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 15:48:00 -0800)

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