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NEWS (LAST 200)
Ryanair reports soaring profits but warn...
Crash driver walks away unharmed after b...
$90M worth of liquid meth found in semi-...
Sacred Heart Cathedral roof requires ear...
Hi-tech Kiwi wrinkle product made from f...
Fans go wild after noticing Prince Georg...
Native American lacrosse teams leagueles...
Wellingtons longest-serving zookeeper sp...
News24.com | Dunoon soon to get state of...
High-end designers REFUSED to dress Megh...
Franklin free after Hamling hit
Germanys Nazi hunters in final straight ...
M. Bovis costs likely to rise beyond $85...
Congo to begin vaccinating against Ebola...
Four Queensland mayors and one councillo...
Arrest records of Rosa Parks, MLK found ...
News24.com | Its irrelevant whether apar...
Ebola outbreak: Experimental vaccination...
Guilty plea, finally, in Reserve Bank br...
Misogyny and misplaced outrage
Refurbished water supply weathers wild s...
Boy, 8, finds shotgun on waste ground in...
‘Deadpool 2′ ends Avengers’ box-of...
Tributes flow for Australian policeman k...
Legia Warsaw win Polish Championship aft...
83-year-old Palestinian leader still in ...
Royal wedding latest news: Meghan Markle...
Japanese climber dies on eighth attempt ...
Where to get your affordable version of ...
Mada Wines Hamish Young named as Young G...
How to keep Vivid Sydneys 600-kilogram p...
Treasury is wrong, Prime Minister Jacind...
Waikato DHB executive Mark Spittal resig...
Meghan to fight for feminism
Inga Maria Hauser murder: Two men arrest...
All lies: Former prison guard braces for...
Four mayors and one councillor immediate...
Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink ...
News24.com | 25 African migrants come as...
Love Islands Eden claims he cant remembe...
US and UK: 2 visions of great
Japanese climber dies on eighth attempt ...
20-year JGBs firm on expectations of str...
Lionel Messi clinches Golden Shoe award ...
Markets Live: ASX closes lower on banks...
Recent developments surrounding the Sout...
Sheeran wins big at emotional Billboards...
Chrissy Teigen calls out John Legend for...
Poaching of family stag described as an ...
News24.com | Zim government shelves plan...
Suspected meningococcal disease case at ...
Moon heads to US amid fears for Trump-Ki...
Ozell Pemberton: Murder charge over Sutt...
Mother says her daughter, slain in Texas...
Spiritual medium Craig Wright on trial f...
SNL parodies royal wedding reception...
News24.com | How ANC and traditional lea...
Premier promises to jail mentally ill wh...
Fire crews leave Arthur´s Seat after ta...
Grenfell family goes through their recov...
Jacqui Lambie opens up on her struggles ...
Czech Republic - Factors To Watch on May...
How to stop chapped lips for good! Beaut...
Yulianna Avdeeva and Lukas Vondracek rev...
Yuya Kubo boosts World Cup chances with ...
Twitter gushes over exquisite snap of Me...
News24.com | Burning tyres put Cape Town...
Father of fun-loving teen who died after...
ASX falls as CBA hits 20-month low...
Flag hopes to play role in Gaff call...
Driver trapped under live power lines af...
Sentence next for Detroit-area body part...
Venezuelan president reelected amid char...
Texas mourners endure grief ‘none of u...
Texas school shooting, Trump calls for F...
Traveller24.com | SA improves its event ...
Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossib...
Homeless man dies after being struck by ...
Sola Pasta Bar chefs opening three food ...
Six pygmy elephants found dead on Malays...
Fifty illegally overstay Games visas...
India oil minister says considering step...
Grounds for concern: Are AFL Canberras d...
Royal wedding: A cake fit for a prince, ...
Two American women detained by Border Pa...
Westpac fought disability pensioner Caro...
Concerns raised about councillors confli...
Ryanair CEO says not expecting strikes b...
Racist road signs mar gun club protests ...
Hawaii lava reaches ocean, brings new da...
Cheeky guests are caught trying to flog ...
Jennifer Lopez turns heads in sheer pant...
Parliament passes extra budget bill, spe...
Nikkei rises as easing U.S.-China trade ...
Millionaire philanthropist and Order of ...
Billboard Awards 2018: Ed Sheeran wins b...
Sofia Richie attends American Idol tapin...
N. Korean paper warns against dependence...
Trump demands DOJ examine if it or FBI s...
Gifu factory devoted to producing allerg...
U.K. Visa for Roman Abramovich, Russian ...
Harry, Meghan depart Windsor Castle for ...
Royal wedding latest news: Prince Harry ...
Colombia dam: Residents say government i...
Commuters face second day of disruption ...
Mexican rivals attack leftist in second ...
Workplace death inquest hears how Christ...
Hideki Matsuyama finishes 16th at Byron ...
New Zealand dollar falls against US...
Russian agency offers fake restaurant re...
Venezuelas Maduro re-elected president a...
Bose SoundDock Series 1 iPod/iPhone Spea...
Vine smart thermostat 2nd Generation (Q...
Uhuru hasn’t backed Ruto publicly sinc...
Nepal official says 2 foreign climbers d...
Korean banks to see eased regulation on ...
SanDisk Memory Card 16GB (Bedstuy) �...
Brexit: NI survey shows support for sing...
Canon 5D Mark IV w/ Grip, EF 24-105mm f/...
CHIEF PDRUB TV WALL MOUNT EXTENDS 37" KI...
Scottish Gossip: Celtic, Brown, McGinn, ...
Reader Photos Roundup: May 20, 2018...
Labour NI left hanging over Jeremy Corby...
RING VIDEO DOORBELL 2 (Queens) $1...
PHILIPS WAKE UP LIGHTS BRAND NEW (Queens...
Murder of essential witness was arranged...
Honey products exporter Comvita leads sh...
Energy Connoisseur CB-10 bookshelf speak...
Pioneer CS-V935 vintage speakers ( pair)...
Man is fatally shot Sunday night in Prin...
Portuguese director drops out of Israel ...
Don Armand: Exeter flanker calls for foc...
WA Current Conditions
Iran accuses Europe of insufficient supp...
Venezuela declares Maduro winner of disp...
Galw am warior £430m ar drydaneiddio i ...
Korea to spend extra budget to create mo...
Yamaha OIv Digital Mixing Consul (Millbr...
Man Utd can fight for title & Champions ...
CA San Joaquin Valley - Hanford CA Zone ...
Listening out for Fermanaghs elusive cur...
Cyflogi myfyrwyr Meirion-Dwyfor yn Yr Al...
Industry, political heavyweights pay res...
Highland Councils dispute with Tesco res...
Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch 40mm Stainless ...
Royal wedding 2018: What you missed abou...
Polk audio LS 50 floor standing vintage ...
[Feature] Battling MSG myths: Is MSG rea...
Swedens hockey heroes to greet fans in S...
Tokyo rule change could mean more medals...
Telephotos: The Ideal Landscape Photogra...
Transgender people in Iran face discrimi...
Vector Research VT-250 vintage japanese ...
What’s on TV Monday: ‘The Final Year...
Falling migration eases pressure on Govt...
EACC not part of team probing new NYS sc...
BOSE Model 100 Speakers, Off White, Pair...
Meghan Markles stray hair: The tiny, out...
Ulster beat Ospreys 35-17
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol s4 MK...
Psy to appear in JTBC singing show...
D-Day for triple-murder accused #VanBred...
Malaysia sets up new 1MDB criminal taskf...
Woman killed in gang crossfire, child wo...
Transgender people in Iran face discrimi...
Belgian man travelling across Australia ...
Change in BOJs stock buying pattern stir...
Dad shot in the head while trying to pro...
Katie Holmes poses with her mother Kathl...
ANALYSIS-Trumps bonfire of the treaties ...
Ministry dismisses speculation about pos...
Sophie Monk puffs on a cigarette at Heat...
Man rushed to hospital in ambulance, dis...
Love Island Australia plastic surgery se...
Shorter, hotter, earlier: Shrinking spri...
Recent rainy stretch set a record in Was...
Dakota Johnson tries to keep a low profi...
Im out of Origin contention: Brooks...
NK on top of agenda at Moon-Trump meetin...
Romania - Factors to watch on May 21...
PICS: Three men bust with heroin worth R...
PRESS DIGEST - Bulgaria - May 21
Jordaan not going anywhere, says Safa af...
Fire breaks out on Panama-registered car...
Poland -Factors to Watch May 21
Nepal official says 2 foreign climbers d...
Poignant tributes to open first phase of...
2 injured in multiple bombings in Thaila...
Parkwood rent office damaged after prote...
Cops losing war on #CITRobberies
Truckies cop shocking delay for permits...
Russian agency offers fake restaurant re...
Arizona preparing for statewide drill in...
Mexican rivals attack leftist in 2nd deb...
2 injured in multiple bombings in Thaila...
Venezuelas leftist leader Nicolas Maduro...
Details emerge about the 110 victims and...
Chennais Lungi pleasantly surprised by p...
Japanese bank launches $400M ‘patent t...
Australian tourist killed in horror raft...

REVIEWS & PREVIEWS (LAST 60)
Mondays TV highlights: The Final Year on...
NBA playoffs: Warriors blowout Rockets b...
Golf: Aaron Wise gets first tour win, sh...
Zelda: Breath of the Wild Art Book Comin...
U.S. is putting new tariffs on hold whil...
LG V30 Review
The Age of Adaline Review
Tomorrowland Review
Olympus OM-D E-M10 III Review
Peak Designs Leash shoulder and Cuff wri...
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Review
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III Review...
Mad Max: Fury Road Review
Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 First impressions...
City of Brass Review - Hidden Treasure...
Review: Affinity Photo 1.5.2 for desktop...
New & Noteworthy
OnePlus 5 camera review
Huawei Mate 10 Pro camera review
Little Boy Review
The Water Diviner Review
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D Review...
The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review...
Destiny 2: Warmind Review - Back To Work...
Fujifilm X-E3 Review
Gudsen Moza Air gimbal review
Nikon D850 Review
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Review...
Frostpunk Review: Damned If You Do, Damn...
Rylo Camera Review
Handevision Iberit 35mm F2.4 Review...
Review: Power 106 FMs Powerhouse at Hond...
Live: LMFAO has fun with debauchery...
Live: The Beach Boys at the Hollywood Bo...
Live: Lil Kim good, not quite great at K...
Review: Grimes, Grouplove and more at Ma...
Live: The Clean stays youthful at the Ec...
Live: Santigolds retro party
Total War Saga: Thrones Of Britannia Rev...
Avengers: Infinity War: a rousing Marvel...
Shaggy, Alison Hinds, Tarrus Riley shine...
Van Halen at Staples Center: Arena rock ...
The Invisible Hours Review: From Every A...
Sony Alpha a7R III Review
Review: Nickelback at Staples Center...
Hot Pursuit Review
Pitch Perfect 2 Review
Buying Guide: Best consumer drones...
Affinity Photo for iPad Review
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Review
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV Review...
DJI Spark Review: Small but mighty...
Google Pixel 2 Review
Canon EOS M100 Review
Panasonic DC-G9 First Impressions Review...
Poltergeist Review
The D Train Review
Apple iPhone X Review
President Trum says hell order Justice D...
From baseball to date shakes, these four...


SERIES

The Voice Each of the final four vocalists performs a cover and an original song, then sings a duet with his or her coach in Part 1 of the singing competition’s two-night season finale. 8 p.m. NBC

Supergirl A fugitive (guest star Nesta Cooper) from Coville’s cult could hold the key to solving...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 20:00:00 PDT )

Stephen Curry got his groove back to score 35 points with five 3-pointers, shooting over James Harden and driving past the Houston star as the Golden State Warriors made a second-half statement to beat the Rockets 126-85 on Sunday night for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Kevin Durant...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 19:55:00 PDT )

Aaron Wise cruised to his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, shattering the AT&T Byron Nelson record at 23 under on a new course in a race to finish before nightfall after a four-hour rain delay.

The 21-year-old rookie shot a 6-under 65 to beat Marc Leishman by three strokes as both became the first...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 18:35:00 PDT )

Dark Horse has announced a hardcover companion book for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The collector's volume is pretty massive, boasting 424 pages in all. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild--Creating a Champion will cost $40 when it releases on November 20, 2018.

The announcement details just how much space in the book is devoted to its various artifacts. It boasts 296 pages of design artwork and commentary alone, along with another 55 of Hyrule history leading up to the events in Breath of the Wild, and nearly 50 of sketches and illustrations from Takumi Wada. It also includes interviews with the team including Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Satoru Takizawa, Takumi Wada, and Eiji Aonuma. All the material will be from Breath of the Wild and its two DLC packs.

Dark Horse published the Hyrule Historia in the US in 2013, which was notable particularly for outlining the Zelda timeline. That followed by the Art and Artifacts art book last year, and the upcoming Zelda Encyclopedia. Creating a Champion is similarly a localization of the Breath of the Wild Master Works volume, which was published in Japan by Nintendo.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3

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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 19:14:00 -0700)

The Trump administration carefully stepped back Sunday from a looming trade war with China, saying that it would refrain for now from applying major tariffs on Chinese goods in the wake of Beijing’s promise to ramp up purchases of American products to reduce the trade deficit.

“We’re putting the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 16:40:00 PDT )
A selection of books published this week; plus, a peek at what our colleagues around the newsroom are reading. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Tue, 15 May 2018 09:00:10 GMT )
5.0 stars out of 5: Death to the patriarchy.
"Who killed the world?" yells a minor character in Mad Max: Fury Road. This outburst comes after an earlier moment where camera pauses on the question painted on a cave wall. And since it's one of only a couple dozen complete and comprehensible...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 15 May 2015 05:05:45 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: A little much.
The past few years have seen a marked rise in the number of Christian-themed films getting wide theatrical distribution, but to call it a "new wave" of faith-based cinema is probably inappropriate. That designation is usually reserved for a...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:27:52 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: Proustian mush
It begins with a shot of the Earth from space, and omniscient narration. (The voice of Hugh Ross, narrator of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, whose low-key, somewhat conspiratorial, post-sincere, NPR reporter tone turns...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:25:37 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: You can fly. Eventually.
In your initial visit to Tomorrowland, you're not really there at all. That's what scientifically-named Casey Newton (The Longest Ride's Britt Robertson) discovers when she first goes there by touching a tiny, metal, "T"-emblazoned pin. She takes...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 22 May 2015 05:11:54 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: Songs about butts.
Pitch Perfect 2 begins with a crazy, performance-based, wardrobe malfunction, one that, in the film's words, exposes the "down under" region of one of the a cappella Bellas. For this accidental offense they are mocked, chastised, and stripped of...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 15 May 2015 05:04:29 GMT )
1.5 stars out of 5: History written by the winners.
First-time director Russell Crowe has stepped in it, probably without meaning to. But it's happening all the same. His film, entirely devoted to an exploration of the aftermath of a key, nation-defining battle in Australian war history -- the...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:26:41 GMT )
3.5 stars out of 5: Much Avenge About More Things
They're building a giant machine now, a machine made of movies. To participate in the machine's agenda of taking your money, it will not help to begin by looking at this perpetual motion installment and working backwards, trying to catch up. You...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 01 May 2015 00:39:50 GMT )
1.0 stars out of 5: Pursue a ticket to a different movie.
Allow me to mangle Tolstoy for a minute, and say that each good comedy is good in its own way, but that all bad comedies are alike. There's variation, of course, but they all limp along on sad, weak legs and confused direction. They're airless...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 08 May 2015 21:06:08 GMT )
1.0 stars out of 5: Stay home.
Although there is at least one earlier, less sexual, usage of the slang term "the d-train," referring to having a generalized bad experience, lately the expression has become more synonymous with the penis. That's because pop culture always needs...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Sat, 09 May 2015 01:33:01 GMT )
0.5 stars out of 5: BOO-RING
It's hard out here for a ghost. Always having to think up new ways to scare suburban people in movies. You make the kids' toys come alive and play creepy music, and all the other ghosts hold up signs with straight 1.5s across the board. You're...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Sat, 23 May 2015 09:29:13 GMT )
Power 106 FM kept its annual summer hip-hop show, Powerhouse, old school and relatively orthodox, with rappers Snoop Dogg, T.I. and Young Jeezy leading a show that was light on the dance-oriented pop hits that dominate the airwaves. The Times' August Brown reviews. Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before a recent screening of “Avengers: Infinity War,” my fellow audience members and I were asked not to reveal the secrets of what we were about to see. (I’ve done my best, but depending on what you consider a secret, you may wish to read no further.) This familiar studio entreaty against spoilers...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Tue, 24 Apr 2018 15:00:00 PDT )

The year is 880 AD. West Seaxe has flourished across the British Isles, and you’ve kept yourself in the hotseat of the English kingdoms through years of hasty allegiances, diplomatic marriages, and bribery. However, your adopted son Ricsige cuts a swathe through your settlements in some misguided idea of rebellion before meeting his end at your sword. Before you can grieve, however, a war horn sounds to the east and a barbaric force appears on the horizon. Resigned to taking up arms against lest your citizens turn on you for being a coward, you’ve got no choice but to face the invaders head on despite your exhaustion. As the Vikings advance on your skeleton crew of soldiers, you look once more across the rolling hills of the land that you call home and utter a silent prayer for your slain son. Later, after the crows have descended on your corpse and your countrymen have been enslaved, your former allies whisper about your useless heir and conspire to carve up your remaining settlements for themselves. This is Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia, and your kingdom will never be the same again.

One of the core systems in Total War’s latest is the idea that your kingdom’s legacy is everything, for better or for worse. This isn’t revolutionary for the series, considering previous installments were fixated on the Roman Empire and its own bag of patriarchal succession woes. But the laser focus on lineage, loyalty and responsibility are more pronounced in Thrones of Britannia. It’s nothing short of engaging when all of its gears are in motion, and making sure that those gears are well-oiled is where the challenge lies. As is usual for Total War games, you’ve got to strike the right balance between warmongering and good governance. Your success is measured best by how your townsfolk are feeling, and they react organically to your decisions when you make them. If you lower taxes, they’ll undoubtedly get a boost to their satisfaction. If you’re not zealous enough, or too zealous for too long, their thirst for conflict will decline. If multiple things go wrong at once, you’ll potentially face a peasant uprising just as you’re knee-deep in a Viking-slaying sojourn.

Depending on the faction that you’ve chosen to play as, you’ll also have a number of other competing concerns vying for your attention, along with a corresponding cultural perk. Each cultural faction (there are five, each with two subsets) has its own way of charting the rise or fall of your empire, and they’re all distinctly different. For example, if you’re playing as the Welsh, protecting your culture will be the key factor to watch. If you’re walking on the wild side and playing as the Vikings, then it’s a matter of making sure that lesser kingdoms recognize your military accomplishments via lavish tributes. Keeping those respective meters high for your chosen faction will lead to positive increases in universal metrics like loyalty or even the melee abilities of your units. The differences between the cultures feel much more than skin-deep when these systems come into play, and they each guarantee a unique experience which incentivizes players to try their hand at other factions once they’ve tasted success.

These integral bits and bobs are also affected by the actions of your generals and governors, and Thrones of Britannia does its best to give you the tools you need to be politically savvy. Your henchmen are important, but acquiring them is now a precise science. Unlike the chance acquisition of previous titles, you get to place a follower into someone’s retinue when they level up. These peons assist you with improving specific empire metrics. If you’re struggling to feed your troops, perhaps give a governor a well-trained forager. If you’re looking to crack skulls in battle, then assign a Champion to a general for a little more steel. However, it's hard to keep your loyal subjects truly happy even if you make sure that they’re prepared for anything that the Isles may throw their way. Why? Well, they’re only human, and humans get greedy.

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The aforementioned cautionary tale of Ricsige the Overambitious is just one of the many vipers in your kingdom’s nest that the game can throw at you. If your inner circle are too good at their jobs, their influence may eclipse your own and lead to some nasty confrontations if you don’t use espionage to discredit them in front of the populous. If you let them get too unhappy, then their loyalty suffers and they’ll make off with an army if you fail to placate them. Thankfully, the game gives you choices: You can secure loyalty through bribes, torture, or by doing what any good King would do, giving them estates. If things are looking particularly dire, you can even declare a new heir, though it pays to be cautious about the riff-raff that you’re letting into the royal bloodline. Managing the expectations of your inner circle is a balancing game that has surprising depth considering the immediacy with which your kingdom bears the brunt of your choices. It’s a credit to Creative Assembly that granting titles and destroying marriages never feels like busy work no matter how big your posse gets.

If you thought that your sons would be tough to manage, then your vassal states and potential enemies are an even bigger headache. While there’s no need to negotiate over imports and exports anymore, you still have to do your bit in ensuring good neighborly relations. You can suggest peace treaties, broker mutual military access, and even marry off an argumentative maiden to a frosty sovereign to appease them. You can also just as easily put an end to a friendship; each faction will react in either a positive or negative way to what you may see as a minor act (i.e. walking through someone else’s forest), and things can quickly turn into a diplomatic minefield. End up making a wrong choice and breaking an alliance? You’re signing yourself up for a beating from the very same monarchs that you kicked to the curb. While it can sometimes feel like you’re being pigeon-holed into specific diplomatic relationships depending on your story missions, the general freedom that you get to flip the bird at petty rulers adds a welcome touch of brevity to the proceedings.

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For those who are chomping at the bit for combat, this sort of confrontation probably sounds more like a blessing than an indictment. Thankfully, Thrones of Britannia maintains the series' satisfying war mechanics. Formations for your units make their comeback in Thrones of Britannia, so if you sloughed through Warhammer and Warhammer II wanting the micro-play of the early Total War games, you’re in luck. The loop is conceptually familiar even to the uninitiated: you line your men up, point them at the enemy, and send them to meet either early deaths or victory spoils. Some factions have a leg-up on others at different points of the game, but the usual suspects of cavalry, ranged infantry, and sword-wielders populate the majority of your ranks.

Every location is rendered in great detail, even though the game relies on an aged engine. The camera’s range here is welcome; you can view the action from the top down or you can get up close and personal with the carnage. AI enemies respond reasonably intelligently to the actions of your troops--this isn’t a case where they throw themselves against your pointy weapons until they stop moving. However, there are some instances of the AI becoming prematurely spooked by aggression, and their defensive maneuvers of hiding behind trees and scattering unprompted can feel repetitive after consecutive skirmishes. Despite that, the mechanics around preparing for sieges and the economic minigame of raising your armies pad out the combat experience well as a whole, even if other elements of the game are more abrupt.

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One of those such elements is the act of seeking victory itself. There are Short Victories and Long Victories, and they encompass the full gamut of empire metrics: you can win by getting really famous, controlling a certain portion of the map, or simply by sticking around long enough to give the Viking horde what for. Getting a Short Victory can sometimes feel like an accident; a win is in sight if you manage to inherit a foreign landmass, and this can happen through no effort of your own if your chosen target is unlucky enough to incur the wrath of someone stronger. However, the factions all have their own starting difficulty indication that appears to be mostly accurate, so it’s easy to see where you should jump in if you have any doubts about whether you’ll be sufficiently challenged.

Once you’ve gained a victory, the forward momentum of the game seems to slow. While you may previously have been fed missions to move events along, your trusty advisor seems happy to largely occupy the back seat of your chariot while you tramp around Britain looking for people to stick swords into. If you’re lucky enough to have fallen into multiple win conditions, you’ll likely find it hard to motivate yourself to keep going; the AI may not be strong enough to keep up. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to taste only defeat in a playthrough, as the AI is quick to bare its teeth and to close in on weak or unguarded settlements. Regardless, it’s prudent to not take victory for granted: a decisive win could spell an exhausted army ripe for the routing before an in-game year passes.

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Thrones of Britannia is an exciting experience despite the cuts to integral components of the Total War series, such as city planning hinging on military needs, specific building customization, and expanded intrigue options. But this has given Creative Assembly room to focus on enhancing parts of the strategy experience that aren’t quite as impenetrable to newcomers, and to allow the series to return to some of the beloved parts of previous historical games to balance out its newer, slimmer form. While there are minor issues with AI, and pacing suffers when you’ve comfortably gotten the upper hand, this is still a worthy and engaging contribution to the Total War stable that has successfully taken its cues from history’s winners and losers alike.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Wed, 02 May 2018 17:00:00 -0700)

Sharing much of the style of Punchdrunk's 2011 play Sleep No More, The Invisible Hours is more immersive theater than it is interactive fiction. You exist as a ghost in each scene, and you can follow any of the characters at any time, rewinding, fast-forwarding, and pausing as you please. But you don't act on anything; you just observe, gathering pieces of a larger story along the way. That story draws heavily from classic mystery novels, and even though its twist isn't as original as it initially might seem, it's intriguing to watch things unfold from every perspective and learn more about its shady characters.

Set in an alternate version of the late 1800s, The Invisible Hours takes place at inventor Nikola Tesla's mansion, where an assortment of guests--including a very arrogant Thomas Edison--have gathered at his behest. When the first chapter begins, Tesla is already dead, lying in a pool of his own blood in the entryway. If you pause as soon as the chapter opens and wander Tesla's island, you can find five of the guests in their rooms and one outside in a gazebo--and no indication of who the murderer is, of course. In true Agatha Christie fashion, among the guests is a detective who supposedly can help the process along.

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That detective, Gustaf Gustav, is the first character you meet and the only person at Tesla's isolated mansion who arrived after the murder. You start out on the docks of the rocky island just as Gustaf's boat approaches, though you can go anywhere at any time rather than sticking by his side. But following Gustaf through a scene gives you the most straightforward perspective, since he's the only one of the seven suspects who almost certainly didn't do it and is simply looking for the killer. Effectively making him the protagonist for your first playthrough of each of the four chapters is the easiest way to get your bearings, and it's a strong anchor for the rest of the story.

That said, The Invisible Hours works regardless of the order in which you experience different events. The game is structured so that one revelation or detail won't ruin any other scenes in the same chapter, so you can follow whoever interests you the most and go from there. You can listen to a character discuss a murder trial and then find a newspaper clipping about it with new details, or you can find the news story first--each instance works in isolation with the bigger picture. For the most part, there's something going on at any point in time. There are stretches where characters, when left alone, aren't doing much--looking out windows into the storm, reading books, or sitting and staring into the distance--but there's always a lead to chase somewhere, if not more than one.

The characters and their sordid backstories turn out to be far more interesting than the murder itself. The real mystery is not who killed Tesla but why Tesla invited these people to his mansion in the first place, and as the story progresses, those reasons become more and more clear. The depth of each side story makes rewinding and revisiting scenes rewarding, rather than the chore it could have been. The game also tracks who you've seen and at what time during each chapter, so it's easy to find exactly whose perspective you're missing and track them down--and find out what they were doing when you weren't looking.

Because it shares a lot of the same DNA as classic mystery novels, The Invisible Hours can initially come off a little campy. A few over-the-top characters--especially Edison--and some convenient explanations for their behavior feel like dinner theater fare at times, but there are significant reasons for those apparent missteps to appear the way they do. The Invisible Hours' performances are reflective of that, and the more you learn about each character, the more you can appreciate the acting that goes into all of them. The stage actress in particular is impressive, with shifting body language and changes in her speech revealing the different sides to her.

The Invisible Hours works regardless of the order in which you experience different events.

In the same vein, every plot hole I thought I'd found turned out to be solid once I saw it from every angle. That put me in the position of the characters in mystery novels that frustrate me the most: the ones who jump to conclusions, make assumptions, and cause more problems than they solve. It was a reminder that my job wasn't to figure out whodunnit, and I appreciated The Invisible Hours most when I stopped trying to solve the mystery and instead just watched as it unfolded. Once I did find out who the killer was, I wasn't even concerned with it anymore, for better or worse (though a hard-to-find secret ending makes the killer's reveal more interesting than it is on its own).

The Invisible Hours shifts depending on how you approach its story; scenes take on different meanings as you see them from different perspectives, and as a result, finding every detail in the bigger picture is rewarding. It strikes the same tone as an Agatha Christie novel and at times feels campy for it, but the characters are interesting and well-acted, making each trip through the same few minutes worth it just to see a different character's side of things.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 24 Apr 2018 10:00:00 -0700)

Huddled together in a crater, they gather around their last hope against the cold--an aging steam generator. Fueled by coal, it can kick out just enough heat to give the last bastion of humanity a faint glimmer of hope. A moment like this illustrates the essence of Frostpunk, a survival-style city-builder where you must lead a lonely band of survivors not against encroaching armies, but against a frigid storm that's wiped out most of the human race.

As temperatures plunge well below freezing, it's your job to guide the remaining populace towards establishing a successful, self-sufficient camp. You'll need hunters and hothouses, mines and saw mills. And you have to keep all of these machines running in temperatures that would make even the hardiest penguins shiver.

The essentials are pretty simple, though. People need houses and jobs. Because this is a survival situation, everyone works on a near-constant basis. The day starts at 5:00 AM, and people have a few hours to finish any construction projects before they head to their primary job for 12 hours. Then they head back home, finish a few small tasks, and go to bed.

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This cycle is hugely important because you'll need to always make sure you have enough fuel to keep the generator running through the night. A major part of this is planning out when and where people need to be to complete their tasks. If you survive, you'll build outwards in concentric rings, ensuring that, as you expand, your core can keep up with the heating demands and provide enough warmth for your citizens to combat the pervasive chill.

This all works seamlessly, too. There’s a natural pattern to it all, and you’ll be given little challenges throughout the day to help give you a bit more structure. Often, these are emergent consequences of past decisions. If you were able to keep people alive through the night, but not warm enough, then they could get sick--posing a new set of challenges to prioritize for the day after. If any one element of the city is neglected a bit too long, then you’ll start getting more strident demands from your people, which often become more intricate, two-to-three-day goals. The structure for it all is elegant and precise--you always have just enough work, and you’re never left without near and moderate-term goals to help give you direction.

Your mission is also strained by all manner of unavoidable disasters. Everything from sudden cold snaps and necessary amputations to mining disasters and refugee crises crop up, requiring your intervention. This forms what could be called the crux of the game--balancing hope and discontent. Compassionate actions give your people hope. They remind the huddled masses that we (in the general sense) haven’t lost touch with humanity. Dispassionate or draconian acts, however, drain the collective will. Unlike most moral choices in games, neither are unilaterally better.

Compassionate actions are typically better long-term goals for short-term hits. For instance, taking on gravely injured or terminally ill refugees will help hold your people together--reminding them that if they are ever left out or lost, they will be found and cared for. At the same time, medical care in the post-apocalypse is damned near impossible, and if you don't have the facilities to care for the people, you'll soon end up with a pile of bodies spreading disease throughout the colony. Manage to fix up the wounded, though, and you'll have an able-bodied workforce embued with the unbreakable spirit of hope.

These are the kinds of choices Frostpunk lives on, and what separates it from every other comparable game. Frostpunk gets a lot of mileage from it, too. It’s hard to cling to the moral high ground--even if you succeed--when you’re reminded of the sacrifices you’ve made along the way. That gives your decisions weight in a way that SimCity and many of its ilk simply can’t. Here, the effects of disasters are tangible, and the game rightly blames you for your personal failures.

One of your citizens approaches you: "Children should be put to work. We're all in this together, and we need help right now." Then, you're shuffled over to a rough-hewn book of laws for your band. There you can, with a click, start putting the kids to work. Or you could build child shelters to house the kids and keep them healthy and safe from the cold. The citizens didn't present you with that second option--and why would they, they can only see what's immediately in front of them?

Frostpunk itself, in the tutorial, notes that the people you serve are always looking for a solution, but not necessarily the best one. What's ultimately best depends on the emergent challenges you face. Do you have a mysterious illness spreading wildly through the camp? Are you struggling to find coal, forcing you to char firewood and construction materials to keep the generator going? These questions are constant and agonizing throughout. Frostpunk drips cynicism and bleakness. And yet it is that hopelessness, that fundamental need of human beings to persist in spite of everything that Frostpunk seeks to embody most. You become the bulwark against fear--even as you look across the land and internalize just how hard this fight will be.

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That's powerful precisely because it hurts. Every time you make a tough call, doubts linger. If you had been better, if you had chosen differently, maybe you'd have been able to save everyone. Adding to the distress, Frostpunk's Hope meter shows you the consequences of your decisions right as they happen. Send children into the mines and you can watch the camp's faith evaporate as a whole chunk of meter gets lopped off.

This system--balancing the will of the people against their own needs--works so well precisely because every mechanism in the game is built to support that core idea. Your job is to manage the emotional fortitude of the people as much as it is about anything else. In time, you'll be able to form scouting parties, outposts, and build a sprawling network of makeshift towns and settlements that stand together. But again, that arc intersects with countless brutal decisions. Should you send a scout to help survivors fight off bears? What about risk turning off an electrical super-weapon that fries everything it touches--but with the potential of a new safe haven from the world outside? The story of your civilization, of your masses hoping, is forged in the choices you make along the way. And they become a part of the narrative you build.

Frostpunk is among the best overall takes on the survival city builder to date. Its theming and consistency create a powerful narrative through line that binds your actions around the struggle to hold onto humanity in uncertain times. Hope is a qualified good, but you may not always be strong enough (or clever enough) to shelter that flame from the cold.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 24 Apr 2018 15:00:00 -0700)

City of Brass opens with an ominous warning about the many dangers lurking within its cursed city, before dropping a tantalizing tease of incredible wealth should you manage to overcome all of its obstacles. You play as a thief trying to reach the mythical treasure through endless foes and dangerous traps, and if you're able to overlook some technical and presentation shortcomings, there's a lot of fun to be had with City of Brass's thoughtful combat and first-person dungeon crawling.

City of Brass is a roguelike which takes place over 12 procedurally generated levels and one final boss battle, and every playthrough is different. Shifting level layouts, enemy spawn points, and different trap types require you to be on your toes, and keep the game engaging and continually surprising. But though it's exciting to experience "new" levels in each playthrough, the presentation leaves a lot to be desired.

Each of the twelve levels is broken down into four unique backdrops--cities with desert, overgrown, and opulent themes, as well as underground catacombs. They're initially impressive to look at, but repeating textures and assets quickly become noticeable, resulting in stages that are virtually indistinguishable from another. The Arabian Nights-inspired audio design is minimalist and fitting for the game's aesthetic, but is generally unremarkable. Oud and flute-heavy themes feature heavily, but like level assets, are reused time and time again. The shortcomings in the presentation also extend to the menu--cumbersome interfaces make learning about City of Brass' levels, enemies, weapons, and gear needlessly frustrating and unhelpful.

The lack of stage variety means that City of Brass occasionally feels like a four-level game being padded out into 12. But while they can be dull at times, the first-person combat plays a huge part in alleviating the tedium. You're armed with a whip in one hand and a sword in the other, and the interplay between them is wonderfully implemented. Should you be unable to break through a foe's defenses, there's the option of using the whip to pull their feet from under them before rushing in for the final blow with your blade, which feels incredibly good to do.

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When overwhelmed in situations where your sword and whip are simply not enough, you can use randomly scattered items or the many available traps to turn the tide of the fight. Items like an explosive jar or a lamp can help clear out a big horde of enemies; pushing an enemy into a venom jug will make them easier to kill; docile enemies can be lured or pulled into traps like floor spikes and bottomless pits. There's a satisfying amount of strategic thinking and creativity allowed within City of Brass' combat. There is also a sizable roster of enemies and mini-bosses scattered throughout each location, most of whom require different strategies to overcome. The enemy designs aren't particularly inspired, but the rudimentary AI offers up enough of a challenge to keep you alert, particularly during moments when large groups of enemies relentlessly chase you down.

Memorable and heart-stopping combat moments are also generously sprinkled throughout City of Brass. One particularly notable encounter has you tailed by a near-indestructible enemy statue that only comes to life when your back is turned and can only be damaged by explosive jars. As soon as you're within the proximity of an enemy statue, the music immediately hits high-pitched notes, and you're on edge trying to keep sight of the statue while searching for an explosive jar or the exit.

Death will be a regular occurrence, but the short stages and friendly learning curve help encourage repeated attempts. City of Brass also allows you to generously tailor difficulty according to your skill level. A total of twenty modifiers aimed at buffing or nerfing both you and enemies alike are available from the beginning, allowing you to be as flexible with the difficulty as you please.

The fantastic sword and whip mechanic is unfortunately tarnished at times by the combat system's poor hitbox recognition. Several times over the course of a single playthrough, sword swings can pass harmlessly through a skeleton's head despite standing at point blank range. Similarly, the whip doesn't have any noticeable effect on enemies outside of small strike zones on their head, feet, or weapon. Skirmishes on PlayStation 4 were also negatively impacted by occasional frame rate drops that interrupted the flow of fights.

But performance issues aside, City of Brass is notable for its impressive balance between its pacing, difficulty curve, and combat systems. Each level takes only a few minutes to complete, but the time limit, the high-paced nature of all enemy encounters, and the constant wariness of traps and ambushes instills high-stakes tension to every stage. In order to combat the progressively tougher enemies, buffs, stronger weapons, and health can be bought from genies scattered throughout each level.

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City of Brass' enemy difficulty and character upgrade system is tuned well enough that you will never be too over- or underpowered at any stage of the game. Treasure used to purchase new weapons and upgrades is easy enough to find, but there's an element of strategy on how to most effectively spend your coin. There are several times where you're forced to make a choice between buying an expensive stronger sword or buff, but run the risk of having not enough money for a much-needed health boost later on.

City of Brass is a good dungeon crawler, with some of its best moments and mechanics derived from its rendition of an Arabian Nights theme. While its repetitive scenery and uneven presentation are noticeable tarnishes on its sheen, the satisfying combat and well-balanced difficulty curve will keep you going back for more.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 03 May 2018 10:00:00 -0700)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:00:00 Z)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Fri, 24 Nov 2017 14:00:00 Z)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:52:00 Z)

Destiny 2 has been struggling to keep its players invested for a while now. Going into its second expansion, Warmind, the biggest question was whether or not Destiny 2 can entice people to come back to it. This expansion is geared more toward the hardcore players, offering difficult endgame activities and a slower, more demanding level grind to get there. If you aren't interested in those things, though, there's not a lot here besides the same old Destiny 2 activities to draw you in.

Warmind's campaign consists of a handful of missions, and it takes around an hour and a half to complete. If you haven't played Destiny 2 much since Curse of Osiris, it's easy to jump back in; I started at 310 power and did some minimal grinding to keep up with each mission's recommended level. It remains a very welcome change from Destiny's more punishing pace, where skipping a few weeks meant another few weeks of intense grinding just to catch up.

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Like most story-centric activities in Destiny 2, Warmind's campaign does just enough explaining to justify fighting enemies in the first place and leaves you to fill in the rest yourself. That can work really well, but in Warmind, a lot of seemingly important things are packed into a very short amount of time; a buried Golden Age research facility, new information about Rasputin, a crazy-powerful spear, and suddenly a giant worm that you have to kill. It's not that those things aren't connected but rather that there's no time to absorb anything before you're in the final fight, and it's anticlimactic as a result.

Individually, Warmind's different components are actually kind of cool. The Valkyrie spear can take out swarms of enemies in one very satisfying throw, and fighting a huge, serpentine monster is fun just for the spectacle of it. The new ally character, Ana Bray, is almost interesting--she's related to Clovis Bray, a historical figure in Destiny lore, and can speak to Rasputin--but she doesn't have enough time to develop into anything substantial. Though Warmind is an expansion about a hyper-intelligent AI that's been around since the first game, it feels like these are just the building blocks for what could be a compelling story.

For laidback Destiny 2 players, the more accessible activities are a great way to test out the new Exotic weapon changes that launched alongside the expansion. The 1.2.0 update is available even if you don't have Warmind, but it's at least nice to have a reason to try out the Exotic buffs. My personal favorites are the Graviton Lance, which now fires a two-round burst with a heftier and more satisfying explosion on impact, and Riskrunner, which deals more damage when its Arc Conductor buff is active. They actually feel like true Exotics now and as a result are loot worth chasing, so much so that the changes kind of steal Warmind's thunder.

Two of Warmind's story missions are disappointingly repurposed as Strikes, just like in Curse of Osiris. The addition of Nightfall-like modifiers to Heroic Strikes makes them a lot more difficult, at least, but the loot chest reward for completing them doesn't match the challenge--weapons and gear drop at 340 power, which is right about where you'll be when you finish the story. The new cap is 385, leaving a large gap between the "easy" content and the endgame that could have been filled with mid-tier Heroic Strike rewards. As a whole, the mid-level section of the expansion is unfortunately pretty empty of anything to motivate you to keep going forward.

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The new destination, the polar ice caps of Mars, is around the size of Io. In addition to new Adventures and Lost Sectors, Mars has new secrets to hunt down in the form of Sleeper Nodes. They're primarily for other quests, but they can be fun to look for and a good excuse to explore. Mars also boasts a new activity, Escalation Protocol. It works kind of like a Public Event in that anyone in the area can join, but it's way harder, throwing waves of high-level Hive at you. As of week one, it's basically impossible to complete it, which makes it a nice accomplishment to chase if you've been wanting more to do in the late game. So far, Escalation Protocol is the most intriguing thing in Warmind--I actually want to level up enough so I can see what happens and what kind of loot I can get.

It certainly feels like Warmind has a slower burn than vanilla Destiny 2 or Curse of Osiris. In order to get the Exotic fusion rifle Sleeper Simulant, for example, you have to complete a time-intensive multi-step quest that involves running both Heroic Strikes and Escalation Protocols. On the hardcore end of things, the challenging new Raid Lair is a big incentive to get your power level up. The grinding alone will likely keep the most dedicated players busy for a bit, and figuring out and implementing a viable strategy once you actually make it to the Raid Lair is, as always, a reward in itself.

However, if you aren't already dedicated to reaching the level cap and completing every late-game activity, Warmind doesn't offer many draws for you; the only reason to do anything is to level up or get new loot, and that can keep you busy for a while this time around. How busy depends on your patience when grinding and your desire to jump through every hoop to get there. That barren middle-tier--when you've beaten the story and need to grind 20 or 30 power levels so you can reach the endgame--is a very easy place to lose steam.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Sat, 12 May 2018 08:00:00 -0700)

Here are four family-friendly driving trips that might entertain your kids and sharpen your appreciation of California. I came across some of these spots during my years of reporting in the state and others while on vacation with my own family.

Carlsbad and San Diego

Head south on Interstate 5...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 05:45:00 PDT )
May 25

Feral

Medical students on a wilderness getaway transform into rabid beasts after being attacked by a wild animal. Written by Mark Young and Adam Frazier. Directed by Young. (1:30) NR.

The Gospel According to André

Documentary on fashion journalist and influencer André Leon Talley. Featuring...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 06:00:00 PDT )

All You Need Is Love The Opera Ensemble performs works by Verdi, Mozart, the Beatles, et al. St. Augustine By-The-Sea Church, 1227 4th St., Santa Monica. Sun., 3 p.m. $25. www.eventbrite.com.

Goyescas by the Sea Pianist José Menor performs Granados’ complete “Goyescas” piano suite in this Jacaranda...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 06:00:00 PDT )

Momentum 2018 Orange County Ballet Theater’s showcase for emerging dancers includes two new contemporary works, plus a performance of the suite from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” featuring guest dancers from San Francisco Ballet, et al. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. Fri., 7:30...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 06:00:00 PDT )

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

Openings

Audra McDonald in Concert The six-time Tony winner, backed by the LA Opera Orchestra, sings show tunes, standards and more. Dorothy Chandler...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 06:00:00 PDT )
Horse racing newsletter Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 05:00:00 PDT )
Not every mile of every road trip is a buffet. Here are some scenic pieces of a car trip pie across the Western U.S. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sun, 20 May 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

A pump fake and dribble to the left, rise, release and swish.

Trevor Ariza’s smooth stroke from the right corner happened during a defensive breakdown for the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, because a good defensive possession doesn’t end with an open Ariza three-pointer.

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

Re: “Royal Caribbean’s Dress-Code Flip,” Need to Know, by Rosemary McClure, May 13: As far as requiring appropriate evening clothes in formal dining rooms on cruises, some lines look the other way on the first and last nights of a cruise.

As was explained to me by a dining-room staff member, on...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

Watergate happened in audio. Bless his patriotic soul, President Nixon generously bugged his own offices and tapped his own phones. It was Nixon’s own unmistakable voice, conspiring on dirty tricks and putative obstruction of justice, that checkmated him.

​President Trump is also his own wiretap,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sun, 20 May 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

Memorial Day weekend is a time to reflect on war, peace and the sacrifices of America’s veterans. You can also explore Mexican American culture, art fairs, food festivals and the world of wild horses.

Beverly Hills

Poet Walt Whitman’s involvement with injured soldiers during the Civil War is the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 20 May 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

The royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was grand in many ways, but perhaps the most striking aspect was the myriad collisions of American and British culture.

The wedding was an unprecedented mix of royal pomp, British tradition, African American culture and Hollywood celebrity. Britain’s...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 19 May 2018 15:00:00 PDT )

Johnny Manziel is heading to the Canadian Football League, the latest move for the Heisman Trophy winner whose NFL career was a bust with the Cleveland Browns.

The quarterback said on Twitter on Saturday he signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, ending months of speculation on his possible path back...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 19 May 2018 12:30:00 PDT )

Mariana Leal won’t be voting in Sunday’s presidential election because she believes the fix is in for President Nicolas Maduro to win reelection. Besides, the physical therapist from Caracas has something better to do: pack for her imminent departure from Venezuela.

“These elections don’t mean...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sat, 19 May 2018 11:35:00 PDT )

Joseph Díaz Jr. se podría convertir en el cuarto campeón de peso pluma de Los Ángeles el sábado por la noche cuando enfrente a Gary Russell Jr. por la corona de peso pluma del Consejo Mundial de Boxeo. 

“Eso va a darme las oportunidades de enfrentar a Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Óscar Valdez-...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 18 May 2018 21:39:00 PDT )
A substitute teacher who relatives say had a "lust for life" and a foreign exchange student from Pakistan are among the first confirmed victims of Friday's mass shooting at a Texas high school. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 18 May 2018 20:40:00 PDT )

Bruce Fraser, maybe the most prolific passer in all of the NBA, really needs to see a trainer.

The Warriors’ 53-year-old assistant coach ust finished throwing his 200th or so pass to Golden State guard Stephen Curry at the end of the Warriors’ practice Friday afternoon, and before he could answer...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 18 May 2018 18:40:00 PDT )

The University of Southern California said Friday it has received about 200 reports from former patients of gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall in the wake of a Los Angeles Times investigation detailing years of misconduct complaints and is establishing a process to forward some of those accounts to...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Fri, 18 May 2018 15:55:00 PDT )
Ray Bradbury believed that serious thought was under threat from television and mass media. Ramin Bahrani, who adapted Bradbury’s novel for film, says it’s more relevant than ever. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Thu, 10 May 2018 09:00:12 GMT )

Adults need wish-fulfillment fantasies too and the amiable Melissa McCarthy comedy “Life of the Party” indulges our collective hope that mistakes can be mended, we’re never too old for redemption and, given the chance, we could still slay in a frat house dance-off if the DJ played the right song....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 10 May 2018 12:15:00 PDT )

For the second time in as many years, a French female filmmaker has upended a horror sub-genre, flipping it upside down and injecting fresh blood with such force that it might never be the same. Last year, Julia Ducournau transformed the cannibalism film into a female sexual coming-of-age parable...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 10 May 2018 12:45:00 PDT )

The home-invasion thriller “Breaking In,” the tale of a young mom battling a quartet of burglars to save her children, is fairly brilliant Mother’s Day programming (or counterprogramming), which is why it’s a shame that the movie itself, starring a stern Gabrielle Union, isn’t more fun.

Thrillers...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 10 May 2018 11:45:00 PDT )

Germans, just like Americans, were big filmgoers during World War II, but what exactly did they watch, and what did it all mean?

“Hitler’s Hollywood: German Cinema in the Age of Propaganda,” a fascinating film that is as thorough as it is idiosyncratic, provides an answer.

As directed by Rüdiger...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Wed, 9 May 2018 18:05:00 PDT )

“The Guardians” is an intimate French epic, elegantly made and quietly emotional, a family story filled with characters whose lives we sink into, feeling the hope, the sadness, the sorrow and the joy right along with those on the screen.

The rare wartime story in which women's lives take center...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Wed, 9 May 2018 18:25:00 PDT )

The first 26 years of life haven’t gone so swimmingly for Moll Huntford (Jessie Buckley), a ginger-haired resident of the British island of Jersey, and the 27th doesn’t look much better. Her mother, Hilary (Geraldine James), has thrown her a birthday party, though whether it’s really for her is...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 10 May 2018 12:30:00 PDT )

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze arrives on Switch in great shape after four years confined to Wii U, and it's a treat to revisit. It's a straightforward platformer packed with delightful moments, but a steady stream of peril ensures that any fun you're having is underscored by ever-present tension. It doesn't have as much added content as other Wii U-to-Switch ports, but even so, Tropical Freeze is an easy game to recommend.

Retro Studios' second Donkey Kong Country game doesn't deviate too far from the series' familiar foundation. It presents you with six worlds and a handful of levels in each, as well as a bunch of optional challenges that considerably ramp up the difficulty if you're in the mood. You can attempt to beat stages as Donkey Kong alone, but you can also team up with his fellow Kongs: Dixie, Diddy, and Cranky. Riding on DK's back, each sidekick offers a slight advantage that he wouldn't have on his own; Dixie can extend the length and height of jumps, Diddy can hover in place, and Cranky can bounce off of his cane to attack enemies. There's also the option to play with a friend controlling one of the secondary Kongs independently from you. Surprisingly, the coordination required to find success as a pair can make things more difficult than playing alone, despite the extra set of hands.

Regardless of how you play, the Kongs' abilities are dutifully tested by Tropical Freeze's tightly orchestrated gauntlets of obstacles and enemies. There's little room for hesitation, and the emphasis on commitment is one of many factors that makes Tropical Freeze's charming cartoon world so stressful. More often than you'd expect, platforms and structures transform on the fly, and you more or less have to rely on instincts when making blind jumps. Tropical Freeze thrives on keeping you at the edge, where death-defying performances feel like the norm. There's practically always a twist or gimmick waiting to upend your expectations and test your reflexes.

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With enough memorization and muscle memory, you shouldn't have too much difficulty clearing the game's main path in less than ten hours. You can, however, dial up the challenge and longevity quite a bit by making it your goal to find the many collectables scattered throughout each level. There are coins that you can collect to purchase single-use items, but the real hidden prizes are the puzzle pieces and K, O, N, and G letters in every stage--one of the consumable items is built explicitly to help you find them, for example. Finding these will help you unlock bonus content, including extra-difficult stages in each world. These items are often situated in difficult-to-reach corners of levels, but they can also be obscured by environmental structures that you have to move, by either obvious or cleverly disguised means.

Hunting for hidden items is usually manageable in stages where you control the overall pace. However, Tropical Freeze has many levels that scroll automatically, say, with you outrunning a lava flow, flying on the back of a rocket, or tumbling down bumpy tracks in a rickety mine cart. These can be such exacting challenges that you will most likely be too concerned with staying alive to discern a means of collecting that seemingly out-of-reach item that you so often zoom past. Of course, once you have the confidence and knowledge under your sleeve to replay a level without trepidation, the challenge of pushing yourself further than before (in different ways) makes repeat playthroughs just as exciting as the first time around.

The primary addition to Tropical Freeze for Switch is the addition of Funky Kong, a surfer who has a far easier time of things than his relatives. Funky comes with his own mode, and the rule changes therein are significant. Where spikes instantly hurt everyone else, Funky can land on them without taking damage. He can also double jump, swim underwater indefinitely without an air supply, and comes with more than double the health of DK. The only thing he lacks is the ability to team up with others when playing alone, but with all the other advantages, you won't exactly miss them.

Playing as Funky Kong is essentially playing Tropical Freeze on easy mode, but it is also a nice treat if you want to revisit the game under a new lens. Funky is fast and can fly through levels without much hesitation on your part. While there's no doubt plenty of opportunity to speedrun the game as DK, for the less talented or ambitious, Funky can give you a taste of the fast life with little fuss or frustration. It's not a game changing addition, but it's one that mixes up the feel of play in an immediately enjoyable way.

Finally, it's worth noting that Tropical Freeze looks great and plays smoothly on Switch. Docked, the game is beautiful at 60 frames per second at 1080p (it ran at 720p on Wii U), with the vibrantly colored and expressively animated world looking better than ever. Surprisingly (as reported by Eurogamer) Tropical Freeze runs at a sub-720p resolution when played handheld. Truth be told, the downgrade isn't that apparent, likely an effect of the Switch's relatively small screen. Regardless, playing handheld on Switch is a significant improvement from streaming it to the GamePad's 480p screen from your Wii U, leaving no question that this is the definitive version.

Tropical Freeze isn't a heavy-hitter from Nintendo in the same way Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey are, but it's a fantastic platformer that's bursting with creativity and expertly designed challenges. It's tuned just right--always tough but rarely frustrating--to ensure that even the most common moments feel great. If you missed out when the game first debuted back in 2014, give it a shot today. It easily stands the test of time.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 01 May 2018 06:00:00 -0700)

It's very easy to dismiss Nintendo's new line of Labo build-and-play toys as merely cardboard. For adults especially, building the Variety Kit's five toys--or the Robot Kit's suit--and playing their simple games might feel like a short-lived novelty. But there's a surprising amount of depth to what you can do with the kit's stack of cardboard sheets and cutesy software. It's a remarkable educational tool and an opportunity to see your creations come to life, and that's something very special, even if the games themselves don't stand out.

The Variety Kit comes with five different Toy-Cons to build and then play with: the RC car, the fishing rod, the house, the motorbike, and the piano. In that order, the process of building them gradually increases in difficulty, with the more complicated projects expanding on the concepts introduced in the easier ones. The RC car takes around 10 minutes to build and is effectively a practice run, showing you the importance of precise assembly and how to work with cardboard without bending it in weird places. (The cardboard itself is pretty sturdy if you're reasonably careful with it.)

After the "make" portion, you move on to "play." The games are all relatively straightforward; drive the RC car, fish with the fishing rod, play piano using the piano. It's more rewarding to see how the cardboard translates to the software than it is to play any of the games at length, though they're deeper than they look at first glance. Even the most basic one, the RC car, has a self-driving function and a multiplayer battle mode; in the motorbike's game, you can design your own tracks just by moving a Joy-Con through the air. The least interesting, at least from an adult's perspective, is the house--the game there is to experiment with three insertable parts and see what kinds of rooms and mini-games they can unlock when in different combinations.

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The piano is the most impressive component of the Variety Kit, with a regular play mode and a surprisingly deep studio mode. It only has 13 keys, but there's a lever on the side that changes the octave, giving you access to a wider range of notes. You can layer recordings for more sophisticated songs, change the envelope and reverb of the notes before you record, and insert cards of different shapes into the top of the piano to change the waveform patterns. You can also create drum beats (composed of bass drum, snare, hi-hat, and cymbal sounds) using a kind of punch card that goes in the waveform card slot; the infrared camera in the Joy-Con detects the shape of the card and then uploads the card's "data" into the studio UI.

Not much of this is apparent when you first start playing the piano, though. A lot of the depth can be found in "discover" mode, where three cheeky characters walk you through the technology behind each Toy-Con, any extra things you can make or do with them, and how the games work. Like with the building process, a lot of the enjoyment comes from learning how each of the Toy-Cons works and understanding why you had to make them a certain way. For kids in particular, there are straightforward explanations of abstract physics concepts that benefit from having the Toy-Cons as hands-on aids. There are also plenty of resources on how to fix the Toy-Cons, including how to repair bent or ripped cardboard (which is good for all ages).

In addition to the Variety Kit, there's also a separate Robot Kit available. Instead of five different Toy-Cons, you build one large one: a robot "suit." The basic suit consists of a visor and a backpack with pulley mechanisms for each of your hands and feet that control the in-game robot. The visor part utilizes the left Joy-Con's gyroscope, while the backpack works using the right Joy-Con's infrared camera and reflective tape. It's a complex project that can take three or four hours to build, but the instructions are as easy to follow as they are in the Variety Kit, and it's broken up into eight steps so you can pace yourself.

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The Robot Kit's games are especially geared toward children's imaginative play. The main attraction is a destroy-the-city mode, in which you punch buildings to dust and rack up points. In addition to that, there's a versus mode where two robots can battle and a "studio" mode where you can assign different sounds to the robot's limbs and step and punch your way to a beat. You can also customize your in-game robot and unlock better abilities in a challenge mode. These games do show the different applications of the Toy-Con you've built, but they're not likely to grab you for very long unless pretending to be a robot is your jam. Like in the Variety Kit, the Robot Kit's discover mode is the place to learn more.

In both the Variety and Robot Kits, the secret endgame is the Toy-Con Garage, a mode where you can program your own games using if-then statements. You can pick an input, like "if the Joy-Con is face-up," and connect it to an output, like "vibrate," by dragging a line between them on the touchscreen. Depending on how many rules you weave into your program, you can make some decently complex games as well as mod the Toy-Cons you already made. It's both a great learning tool at its most basic level and an opportunity to challenge yourself and apply everything you've learned so far.

It's nice to have something to tinker with long after building the Toy-Cons, and that's mainly because the official games are more like demos to show you how everything works. The only one likely to keep your attention for any length of time is the piano; everything else is a jumping off point, and you're limited by how much it inspires you to create. And that's just what Labo is at the moment: a great tool for creation, rather than for playing.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 01 May 2018 08:00:00 -0700)
Rachel Slade talks about “Into the Raging Sea,” and Clemantine Wamariya talks about “The Girl Who Smiled Beads.” Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Fri, 18 May 2018 20:59:59 GMT )
The transcript from El Faro’s voyage data recorder is the most detailed record of a maritime disaster ever, and with “Into the Raging Sea” Rachel Slade makes excellent use of it. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Tue, 01 May 2018 18:30:06 GMT )
In her new book, “Fascism: A Warning,” the former secretary of state finds the seeds of authoritarian rule in social, political and economic chaos. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:40:06 GMT )
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding begins at 4 a.m. Pacific on Saturday. Here are the essential details on how to watch it and what to expect from the English festivities. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 18 May 2018 10:55:00 PDT )

While speculation is mounting around Meghan Markle and what she’ll wear down the aisle on the big day, WWD is taking a look at royal groom Prince Harry, and how he might dress on May 19.

According to Joseph Waving, military manager at Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes, Prince Harry will most certainly...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 18 May 2018 10:50:00 PDT )

There are two things that people have been talking about in connection with Saturday’s running of the Preakness Stakes — and both seem to be powerful forces of nature.

Experts have all but conceded the second leg of the Triple Crown will go to Kentucky Derby winner Justify, who could become the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 18 May 2018 11:00:00 PDT )

Liz Johnson, the chef at the new Echo Park delicatessen Freedman’s, has put in time at Noma, the Michelin two-starred L’Effervescence in Tokyo, and the tiny New York brasserie Mimi. Her three-tiered smoked fish platters at Freedman’s are the equivalent of a first-class plateau de mer (I encountered...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 18 May 2018 10:00:00 PDT )

California added 39,300 net new jobs in April, as the unemployment rate fell from 4.3% to a new record low of 4.2%, according to data released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.

The report indicates that the California economy remains robust despite some fears job growth was...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Fri, 18 May 2018 09:55:00 PDT )


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