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NEWS (LAST 200)
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REVIEWS & PREVIEWS (LAST 60)
Armello Review - Nintendo Switch Update...
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Starlink: Battle for Atlas Review - Endl...
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Duncan Hunter campaign repeats unfounded...
Dodgers Dugout: Now its a best-of-five a...
Trump talks to Saudi king and dispatches...
Monday’s TV highlights: Arrow on the C...
Rams didnt get 23-20 win over Broncos do...
Kings kids are all right with ageless Ca...
Tomorrowland Review
Buying Guide: The best cameras for paren...
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Review
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Wandrd Prvke 21L Backpack
Review: Nickelback at Staples Center...
Live: Santigolds retro party
Live: LMFAO has fun with debauchery...
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Shaggy, Alison Hinds, Tarrus Riley shine...
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Sony Alpha a7R III Review
Sony Alpha a7 III Review
Fujifilm X-H1 Review
Google Pixel 2 Review
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Review
Apple iPhone X Review
Huawei Mate 10 Pro camera review
Rylo Camera Review
The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review...
Little Boy Review
Handevision Iberit 35mm F2.4 Review...
Buying Guide: The best cameras under $15...
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III Review...
LG V30 Review
The Age of Adaline Review
Alien Skin Exposure X3 review
Buying Guide: The best cameras for video...
Buying Guide: The best cameras over $200...
Buying Guide: The best cameras for lands...
Buying Guide: The best cameras for sport...
Pitch Perfect 2 Review
Poltergeist Review
Nikon Z7 First Impressions Review
Fujifilm X-T3 First impressions review...
Review: Grip Gear Movie Maker 2
Hot Pursuit Review
Mad Max: Fury Road Review
The Water Diviner Review
Live: The Beach Boys at the Hollywood Bo...


If you're new to this whole Call of Duty Zombies thing or just looking for some quick tips, we got you covered. In this video we break down the basic layout of the Voyage of Despair map, how to get the Pack-a-Punch machine, how to drain the water, and where the workbenches are to build equipment. Read More

Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Mon, 15 Oct 2018 17:03:00 -0700)

[Editor's Note: We have updated this review to reflect our experiences with Armello's Nintendo Switch version]

Armello's hybrid of tactics, dice-rolling, and political intrigue has aged better than expected in the three years since its release, and on Nintendo Switch, the game is almost as formidable as it is on PC. Its charming blend of animal kingdom hijinks and turn-based strategy gameplay has yet to be replicated by a newer, flashier title; Armello has definitely held up well, and its uniqueness is undeniable. However, there are a few major differences between PC version and Switch releases, and not all of them are positive.

The most important distinction is the fact that the Switch version includes all of Armello's DLC content. The Complete Edition of the game includes a bunch of morally-grey heroes, seasonal effects, and a whole new clan to contend with. While the base game has a fair amount of material to keep you occupied, a criticism of the launch content was that particular victory styles were incentivized over others. At their core, the DLC packs attempt to address that by expanding your potential champion pool with heroes that operate very differently from the original ones in the base game.

Luckily, the champion pool increase is more than just a numbers game. The Usurpers DLC in particular has heroes which are brimming with devilish personality, along with playstyles that revolve around more than the just original victory avenues of skirmishing and keeping a death grip on the King's coffers. The Bandit Clan DLC adds around 50 new quests specific to this charismatic new faction, along with a thematically-appropriate follower that gives risk-taking players a second chance when taking up arms against their competition. The other DLC packs focus on mostly aesthetic and minor upgrades to dice variety, but they're still notable improvements on the range of material that was initially available.

The unfortunate change to the Switch version is the performance. Unlike the DLC additions that are, on the balance of things, a net positive, Armello doesn't run as nicely on Nintendo's console as it does on other platforms. It's not the sort of frame rate drop that makes the game unplayable by any means, but there's a clear disruption in the smoothness and timeliness of actions and animations that play out on the screen when you're in-game. This isn't something that you can attribute to online connection troubles either; some graphical degradation was experienced in playing against the AI in the Prologue segments, which in itself contained condensed elements of the game's mechanics. If you can put that to one side, then Armello's unique blend of strategy makes it a worthy pick-up on Switch. -- Ginny Woo, 10/16/2018

[Original review text follows below]

When you don't have three friends and some reasonably good beer to keep you engaged, a board game--especially a virtual recreation of one--has to work a lot harder to hold your attention. Armello accomplishes this and then some, and while it could use some fine tuning, it remains one of the best virtual board game experiences available.

At first glance, Armello can feel like a tangle of things--dice and cards and boards and coins and stats--but the quick four-part prologue does a good job of making sense of these pieces. Your primary actions include moving a character around the board to complete quests and avoid hazards. There are eight playable characters, and each character has different strengths, weaknesses, and abilities in addition to items they can equip to skew their stats in a slightly different direction. They also each have great-looking combat animations. Ever wish Disney's Robin Hood had 40% more bears punching each other senseless? Well, this game is for you!

As if you can't tell Brun means business, in a world full of anthropomorphized animals, he's wearingsomeone's head as a belt buckle.
As if you can't tell Brun means business, in a world full of anthropomorphized animals, he's wearingsomeone's head as a belt buckle.

To win in Armello, you have to either kill the king or have the highest prestige when the monarch dies due to a disease called the rot. Every full day--one turn for day and one turn for night--the King's health dwindles lower while his rot creeps higher, so no matter how things shake out, there are a finite number of turns that can be taken before the King will keel over on his own. It's also possible to defeat the King in combat, either by gathering four spirit stones from quests or tiles, or gaining a higher rot level than him. If a would-be assassin fails, the victory will automatically be handed to the prestige leader. Unless you're playing against clever friends, a prestige victory is almost always the easiest way to win. This can make the game feel unbalanced, especially when playing against AI opponents that frequently make ill-advised assassination attempts. That said, if you can resist the siren song of an easy victory or have other players wanting to spoil your plans, the varied win conditions provide enough variety to accommodate different play styles and keep things spicy through multiple sessions of playing with friends.

You also have a hand of cards--which are as well-animated as the characters themselves--that can be anything from equippable items and followers to spells and tricks that can be applied to yourself, other actors on the board, or specific tiles. Imagine if you could slam your Hearthstone deck down on a Clue board and swarm Professor Plum with Murlocs, and you have an accurate idea of just how neat this is in practice. Cards all have different costs to play, and crucially, they can be played regardless of whose turn it is. This allows for some tense moments and sharp twists in matches with other human players. On the other hand, when it comes to the A.I. opponents, the game tends to jump around a bit too fast to take full advantage of that ability unless you're particularly quick on the draw.

Long live the king!
Long live the king!
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What Armello suffers from most is a lack of customization options, something it could have stood to learn from more-traditional strategy games. There's no way to define whether you want a quick or a long game, A.I. skill levels are static, and when you're playing with friends, you're bound to a move timer whether you like it or not. Graphics controls are also somewhat limited, which means that you won't be able to turn off the haze of clouds in the sky, which would be dlightful if you didn't have to look down through them when you zoom out to see the full board.

Armello picks and chooses a variety of elements from board, card, 4X, and role-playing games without demanding either a familiarity with or a fondness for any genre. It also leaves a lot of room to engage as deeply as you want with the game's guts without feeling like you're floundering if you don't. Whether you're bumbling your way to the top or playing all your cards right, Armello makes regicide ridiculously entertaining.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Mon, 15 Oct 2018 17:01:00 -0700)

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a game about flying through space, exploring new planets, and shooting a lot of aliens. Set in a seamless open-world galaxy, it sees you pushing back occupying forces by battling enemies, setting up outposts, and completing simple tasks set by your allies. For better and worse, it's a distinctly Ubisoft game, from the huge spaces (seven separate planets and the vast depths of space that separate them) to the maps overloaded with activities. But thankfully, Starlink is not quite so full that it feels bloated--just full enough so that there's always something for you to be working towards.

Starlink is also Ubisoft's entry into the toys-to-life market--you're able to buy physical packs of pilots, weapons, and ships, all of which are interchangeable and have their own unique attributes and abilities. Constructing and attaching these models to your controller using a specialized mounting device will give you access to those characters and tools in-game, and while swapping between all these components isn't necessary, doing so brings distinct advantages.

Starlink's combat is fun thanks to simple controls and the two weapon system--different enemies are weak against or impervious to different weapon types, and swapping the two weapons mounted on your ship will change your methods of attack and the kinds of elemental combos you can perform. Using a stasis missile on an enemy so that they float helplessly in mid-air, then setting them alight with a flaming minigun, never gets old. Every weapon can be leveled up individually and augmented with mods that you collect, so by the end of the game, your most-used guns will likely be able to absolutely rip through certain enemies, provided you have the foresight to equip them.

When you're grounded on a planet, you'll be doing a lot of strafing and aiming for big glowing weak points, whereas fights in space are more freewheeling, with dogfights often pitting you against swarms of enemy fighters. These feel like all-range mode battles from Star Fox, and swinging around to land a precision assault on an enemy (often thanks to the game's rather generous auto-aim) is satisfying every time. The controls for each ship are the same, but there are minor differences between them; a light ship is better for maneuvering through a delicate situation on the ground, for instance, while a heavier ship can take more hits during battles.

Like weapons, each pilot has their own upgrade tree and unique special ability, and they even get their own unique script during missions, which is a great touch. There are only a few big story-driven missions, and in the back half of the game, you're given some freedom as to how you go about weakening the enemy forces. There's an order of operations in each sector of space--clear out mining sites guarded by enemies to weaken 'Primes,' which are big robot monsters on each planet. Killing Primes on planets that are near each other will weaken a related Dreadnaught, a giant spaceship that will, in turn, produce more Primes if you don't take it out too.

No Caption Provided
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The one drawback to this structure, though, is that you're essentially taking on the same kinds of fights with occasional difficulty spikes. Taking out the game's three Dreadnaughts will make the final boss easier, and you can theoretically take on a Dreadnaught at its maximum strength regardless of how under-leveled you are. It's repetitive, but you also get a good sense of your progression, and the feedback loop of loot and rewards hits a good balance where you rarely feel like you're stuck grinding. The battles might repeat a lot, but they're consistently entertaining, and figuring out the best way to take down a huge enemy with the tools you have on hand is a satisfying challenge. The Dreadnaughts are particularly fun to take down--every time you take out one of their mounted guns a swarm of enemy ships will attack, leading to the game’s most intense dogfighting, and each encounter ends with a Star Wars-inspired "fly into the center and destroy the core" sequence.

If you're playing on Nintendo Switch, you'll have access to Fox McCloud and his Arwing. He can call in one of the other members of Star Fox, complete with the Corneria theme from the original game, and if you're a fan it's very tempting to play as him the entire time. The Switch version consistently runs smoothly, although there's a visual trade-off. The planets are not particularly detailed, everything's a little fuzzier in handheld mode, and there's a lot of pop-in--it's weird to have an asteroid belt suddenly appear in front of you when you're flying towards a planet.

But the Star Fox fan service throughout the game is a great bonus, especially in the mini five-mission campaign in which the team hunts down long-time antagonist Wolf O'Donnell. Wolf is a much more interesting enemy than Andross, as it turns out, and while this campaign is short it feels true to the spirit of the series. Fox and his team get integrated into the rest of the game, too, popping up in cutscenes with the rest of the Starlink crew.

Unfortunately, the game's primary plot--which concerns a crew of adventurers trying to save their captured captain and take down the "Forgotten Legion" forces led by an alien named Grax--is much less exciting. Strangely, despite Battle For Atlas being the first and only existing game in the Starlink series, the script feels as though it's written for players who have a pre-existing relationship with these characters and their situation, meaning that there's not much in the way of pathos or catharsis to be found. Some of the characters are interesting, but even though the game is keen to throw lore at you there's little sense of who these characters are, what sort of universe they exist in, or even what their fundamental role is beyond needing to take down this enemy force.

Despite this, it's always clear what your overarching objectives are and how you need to work towards them. There's a lot that you can be doing at any given point--even in the vastness of outer space, there are wrecks to salvage gear from and enemy outposts to take down. Wrecks can be identified from their flashing beacons and usually contain loot, while outposts are added to your map as you chase outlaws from planets. Exploring the depths of space reveals plenty of neat loot and fun encounters and the thrill of taking off from one planet, seamlessly flying into space, and landing on another never gets old.

No Caption Provided
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But Starlink's proposition as a toys-to-life product is hampered somewhat by the comparative financial value of the digital alternative. The physical starter pack varies in content between consoles, but they each give you far less than both the starter and deluxe digital versions, which unlock multiple ships, pilots, and weapons from the get-go. If you get the physical starter pack and don't want to buy additional toys you can still finish the game, but you'll be at an enormous disadvantage.

Having multiple ships in Starlink essentially operates as having extra lives--if you get wrecked during a battle you can choose to either quit or replace the ship immediately. If you don't have a replacement, certain battles are going to be a real struggle, and progress doesn't carry over when you come back to them. It's easy to lose a ship, too, especially since your defensive options during fights are often limited--you can summon a shield or barrel roll, but both eat into your limited energy supply, which takes a while to recharge. The digital starter pack gives you four ships (five on Switch), which feels fairer and lets you worry less during big battles. Between ships and weapons (pilots are less vital), you'd have to buy quite a few toys if you wanted a varied and balanced experience.

The ship models themselves look great, though, and while switching loadouts via the menus is always going to be the more convenient option, physically swapping out the components will pause the game the until your ship is completely decked out again. Changing pilots will require you to remove the entire ship first, but that's only a minor pain--the only real impediment is being able to remember which weapon does what by sight, but their designs are distinctive enough that this isn't an issue once you get accustomed to it to them.

Starlink is an interesting and enjoyable open-world game, one that fully understands the appeal of exploring new planets and dogfighting in the cold depths of space. With a small fleet of ships at your disposal, it can be a lot of fun to progressively assault and weaken the Forgotten Legion's hold on the galaxy. It's just a shame that if you're interested in the physical models, you'll have to spend more to get the same experience as the digital version.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:00:00 -0700)

Los Angeles police were searching a Highland Park high school Monday afternoon after an unidentified caller claimed to have shot a school officer and placed a bomb on the campus, officials said.

Just before noon Monday, police were notified that someone had made a call saying they had shot a school...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Mon, 15 Oct 2018 13:55:00 PDT )

Stephen Elliott, an author whose name appeared on a list of men in media alleged to have perpetrated harassment or assault, has filed a lawsuit against the list's creator, writer Moira Donegan, seeking $1.5 million in damages. In three days, Donegan’s supporters have raised more than $100,000 in...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Mon, 15 Oct 2018 13:45:00 PDT )

The State of Drew was different here this time around, but it was still interesting.

It always is when Drew Doughty and the Kings go to Toronto. Last year was especially frenzied because Doughty’s contract hadn’t been extended and, oh, how good would he look in Toronto Maple Leafs’ blue?

The topic...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Mon, 15 Oct 2018 12:55:00 PDT )

Something is intentionally askew about the opening scene of “Fairview,” Jackie Sibblies Drury’s blazingly inventive new play, which is now at Berkeley Rep after setting New York abuzz last summer. But it takes a little time to figure out the nature of the theatrical mischief that’s afoot.

The production,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Mon, 15 Oct 2018 12:45:00 PDT )

The lead paint industry’s efforts to avoid a cleanup bill for more than $400 million has reached the end of the road.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review California state court rulings finding Sherwin-Williams, Conagra and NL Industries responsible for lead paint contamination in...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Mon, 15 Oct 2018 12:35:00 PDT )

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the Dodgers are seven wins away from … let’s not jinx it.

The NLCS

Wow, a lot happened in two games. Let’s recap.

--I was bummed about the Game 1 loss until I realized the Dodgers played a horrible game and still...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Mo, 15 Okt 2018 08:00:00 PDT )

How far the Rams have come isn’t measured in yards or air miles.

The application is they’re good enough to be discerning about how they win.

They ground out a 23-20 victory at Denver on Sunday, a week after doing so at Seattle — two of the NFL’s most inhospitable venues for visitors. Yet the undefeated...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 18:25:00 PDT )
SERIES

The Neighborhood Dave (Max Greenfield) gives Calvin (Cedric the Entertainer) a key to his house, in case of an emergency, and is surprised when the gesture is reciprocated in this new episode. 8 p.m. CBS

The Voice The blind auditions conclude in this new episode. 8 p.m. NBC

Arrow The superhero...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 20:00:00 PDT )

If it were a movie, it would be called “The Curious Case of Jeff Carter.” As he gets older, his linemates get younger.

For years Carter was, semi-jokingly, a father figure to Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. Lately, it’s Jaret Anderson-Dolan, 19, and Michael Amadio, 22, next to the 33-year-old...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 16:25:00 PDT )
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 )
3.5 stars out of 5: Much Avenge About More Things
They're building a giant machine now, a machine made of movies. To participate in the machine's agenda of taking your money, it will not help to begin by looking at this perpetual motion installment and working backwards, trying to catch up. You...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 01 May 2015 00:39:50 GMT )
1.5 stars out of 5: History written by the winners.
First-time director Russell Crowe has stepped in it, probably without meaning to. But it's happening all the same. His film, entirely devoted to an exploration of the aftermath of a key, nation-defining battle in Australian war history -- the...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:26:41 GMT )
2.5 stars out of 5: Proustian mush
It begins with a shot of the Earth from space, and omniscient narration. (The voice of Hugh Ross, narrator of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, whose low-key, somewhat conspiratorial, post-sincere, NPR reporter tone turns...
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Source: Movies.com - Dave White Reviews (Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:25:37 GMT )
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 )
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 )
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: 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 )
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 )
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 )
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 )
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 )
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 )
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 )
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Fri, 24 Nov 2017 14:00:00 Z)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:00:00 Z)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Mon, 30 Jul 2018 13:00:00 Z)
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 )

A section of the 405 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley was shut down Sunday afternoon after a car collided with a bus, triggering other accidents on both sides of the freeway and injuring more than two dozen people, authorities said.

The crash occurred about 1 p.m. in the southbound lanes of the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 14:45:00 PDT )

Jason Sanders kicked a 47-yard field goal on the final play of overtime after Cody Parkey missed a 53-yard try for the Chicago Bears, who blew an 11-point lead in the final 16 minutes of regulation and lost to the Miami Dolphins 31-28 Sunday.

Miami's Brock Osweiler threw for 380 yards and three...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 14:40:00 PDT )

The diameter of the orange rims inside the Toyota Center in Houston is big enough that two regulation-sized basketballs can slip through the hoop at the same time.

It’s a fact taught to shooters to remind them about the basket’s size and how easy it is to make a shot, but last year on a Monday...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 10:30:00 PDT )

Adjusting to the rule changes the NBA has implemented for the 2018-19 season was challenging for players and coaches during preseason games.

They have been trying to adapt to the three rule changes that were approved recently at the league’s Board of Governors meeting.

— The 24-second shot clock...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 07:00:00 PDT )

Riot Games casts itself as the kind of place where gamers dream to work. Its tricked-out Los Angeles campus features a pirate-themed coffee bar, a gourmet cafeteria and spare workstations where employees can fire up “League of Legends,” the company’s sole title. In what the company calls its manifesto,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 07:00:00 PDT )

A Calabasas estate owned by David Broome, the television producer of “The Biggest Loser” fame, is on the market for $2.795 million.

Set on a cul-de-sac in a guard-gated community, the acre-plus property centers on a 6,251-square-foot home designed in Mediterranean style. The two-story residence...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 07:00:00 PDT )

Hello! I’m Mark Olsen. Welcome to another edition of your regular field guide to a world of Only Good Movies.

Among this week’s new releases is “First Man,” the follow-up to “La La Land” from filmmaker Damien Chazelle. The movie stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 07:00:00 PDT )

Rams (5-0) at Denver (2-3)

When Rams have the ball

The Rams’ offense is feeling invincible coming off Jared Goff’s game-clinching quarterback sneak against the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams are third in the NFL in scoring and show no signs of slowing down. The question on Sunday: Will receivers Brandin...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 06:00:00 PDT )
Oct. 19

The Advocates

Documentary on the homeless crisis in L.A. and those seeking solutions. Featuring Claudia Perez, Rudy Salinas, Mel Tillekeratne. Directed by Rémi Kessler. (1:27) NR.

Big Kill

In a dying western boomtown, a greenhorn, two gamblers and a murderous preacher cross paths. With...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 06:00:00 PDT )

A look at the key dates for the 2018-19 season:

Monday: Rosters set for opening day, 2 p.m. PDT.

Tuesday: Regular season opens.

2019

Jan. 5: 10-day contracts can be signed.

Jan. 10: All contracts guaranteed for rest of season.

Feb. 7: Trade deadline, noon PST.

Feb. 16: Three-point, slam dunk contests,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 06:00:00 PDT )
Few used to consider the former Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic a hiking destination. But a few decades of independence and a strengthening democratic government have given the little nation a growing reputation as an interesting, safe and unique hiking destination. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 06:00:00 PDT )

They met at Cal State Northridge, enlisted after 9/11, married in the Army, then deployed to Iraq. Josette Tolentino drove a truck during the invasion. Marlon Tolentino did three tours with infantry and artillery units.

After becoming pregnant with their first child, she decided not to reenlist...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 06:00:00 PDT )
Chris Toledo dreams of owning a house in Los Angeles. He's been trying to save up money - probably for a starter home that needs a whole lot of work. Meanwhile, Toledo - as a hobby - has been building his dream house in miniature - and it turns out the little house may just help buy the big one. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

Baltimore: The Ravens have lost nine straight — including two this season — when Joe Flacco has attempted 50 or more passes, a streak that started in 2013.

Buffalo: Rookie Josh Allen and Carolina’s Cam Newton are tied for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (three). Allen has two TD passes,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 05:00:00 PDT )
Horse racing newsletter Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 14 Oct 2018 05:00:00 PDT )

With new Kick Off modes and some welcome on-pitch enhancements, as well as the ever-engaging Ultimate Team and now the Champions League license, FIFA 19 is the most complete football video game package available. Sadly, Career Mode and Pro Clubs remain stale and are in dire need of a refresh. Regardless, FIFA is closer to representing Sky Sports' vision of football than ever--for better and for worse.

FIFA has struggled on the pitch in its past few iterations, with matches deteriorating to frustrating slogs. For years we've been unable to play FIFA like football is played in real life--instead we've been zig-zagging the ball up the pitch and abusing pacey wingers to breach the opponent's defence to swing in an unstoppable cross for an equally unstoppable header. FIFA 19's matches are more natural and more varied in the way they unfold, in large part because EA finally has all the pieces needed to make it so. Although it introduced a slower pace in FIFA 18, the newest iteration finally makes this work by tightening up players' responsiveness. Through passes work again, and they (along with player pace) seem to be in a good place in terms of balance--neither under- nor overpowered, as has been the case for too long. FIFA 19's ball still doesn't feel as satisfying as PES 2019's, but it does at least feel something like the real-life sphere it's imitating.

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FIFA 19 includes new tactical options for wannabe managers to fiddle with, such as how many players you want to commit at corner kicks and whether you want your full-backs to over- or under-lap. These are undoubtedly welcome, and tactical changes in your defensive technique--press after possession loss, constant pressure, and drop off are among five options on that front--make a tangible impact in-game, allowing you to further tailor your play style.

However, the much-vaunted new feature of game plans is a bit of a mess. You can set up different tactics for various in-game situations before a match and then quickly switch between them on the pitch, but any change to one game plan, including your default starting plan, is not automatically reflected in your other four plans. So say you decide to switch your wingers over for one particular match or tweak your formation to counter an opponent's star player; that change will be lost if you change to attacking or defensive during a match. This isn't a dealbreaker of course, but it inevitably ends with you spending more time in the team management menu, which is exactly the kind of admin work this feature should have eradicated. And despite the added depth of options, the vast majority of AI teams still behave in a broadly similar (and often unrealistic) way--Wigan Athletic managing to pass their way out of my press with sublime one-touch football was a difficult one to take.

FIFA's brand of football is more physical this year, with strength becoming a far more important stat and crunching collisions feeling much more realistic. You can see and feel players battling for the ball, and goalkeepers are not quite as invincible from crosses as in previous years. Long ball tactics are slightly more viable than last year as a result--including, mercifully, from free kicks--and it feels satisfying for your target man to knock one down for your striker to smash in from 12 yards. Despite this, and the new tactical options, there's still no way to determine which players go up for corners and free kicks, meaning your 6' 6" center-back will still frequently be found on the halfway line at set pieces rather than getting his elbows out in the box where he should be. Timed finishing attempts to add more depth to FIFA's pitchwork for expert players, and while it can be a little temperamental and fiddly, it does add a nice risk-reward layer to what was an afterthought run on muscle memory.

Meanwhile, EA's implementation of the newly-acquired Champions League and Europa League licenses is excellent, with the official branding, specific commentators, and authentic atmospheres adding to the feel of this being club football's biggest event. The competition has its own mode in FIFA 19, as well as implementation in The Journey, Ultimate Team, and Career Mode, and to its credit EA utilizes the license in a much more comprehensive way than Konami ever did.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much it in terms of new Career Mode features, and this is where FIFA 19 suffers. Career Mode is the most in-depth single-player mode remaining in FIFA, and yet it has seen almost no meaningful improvements for years. This year the mode has not been touched at all, save for the implementation of Champions League, and the cracks are showing. That means you get the same "Boss, I was hoping you might be experimenting with the team?" messages; the same bugs and problems (such as the inability to loan out newly purchased players); the same typos and grammar errors in news reports; and the same lack of depth when it comes to club strategies like hiring and firing of staff or stadium expansions. Similarly, Pro Clubs is exactly the same this year as it was in FIFA 18, and it's hard not to sympathize with those who speculate around EA's shifting priorities, given how much ongoing attention the microtransaction-driven Ultimate Team receives in comparison. Frankly, two modes as big and popular as these receiving no new features or even any quality-of-life improvements is unacceptable, and EA needs to up its game in this regard next year.

Kick Off is where most of EA's offline attention was focused this year, with the introduction of detailed stats and some interesting new sub-modes contained within House Rules. These allow you to turn off fouls and offsides, turn on the battle royale-like Survival Mode--in which a goal results in one of your players being sent off--or disallow any goal not scored from a header or volley. These modes are shallow, and being available in local play only is a baffling decision, but they offer a nice change of pace for when you're playing with a friend. It's surprising how much rewiring of your football-addled brain they require; after 23 years on this planet appealing for offsides, it's quite hard not to scream "REF!!!" at the TV when my brother scores his fourth of the game, even when the traditional rules have been thrown out.

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FUT's major addition this year is a new sub-mode named Division Rivals, a replacement for the now-cut online seasons mode. It's another, shorter way to qualify for the FUT Champions weekend event, and it adds to the ever-growing and -evolving behemoth Ultimate Team has become. Otherwise, Ultimate Team remains largely the same year-over-year, but the mode's strength lies more in its constant live support over the course of a season, which is shaping up to be exemplary once again. Champions cards, limited-time packs, daily and weekly objectives, special events and tournaments--Ultimate Team has something to draw you in every week, and it is truly the lifeblood of FIFA 19.

The Journey's third year sees the conclusion of Alex Hunter's story, but sister Kim and best mate Danny Williams join him in a GTA V-like three-pronged story. You can switch between the trio to play their individual storylines at any point, though there is a recommended path to follow that keeps their narratives vaguely in line with each other. Each character also has their own special features, such as Alex's choice of mentor squad at Real Madrid (spoilers!) or Danny's choice of advert he wants to take part in. The Journey's scripting and acting isn't exactly outstanding, but it remains a unique way to play, and I hope EA continues it after this Champions League special episode concludes.

Ultimate Team has something to draw you in every week, and it is truly the lifeblood of FIFA 19.

As impressive as FIFA 19's recreation of broadcast football is, there are a surprising number of details that remain inaccurate. You still don't get a fourth substitute in extra time, for example, and the double jeopardy rule--where a red card cannot now be shown inside the penalty area if a player is deemed to have attempted to play the ball--is still not applied in FIFA, despite these law changes having been introduced over two years ago now. Transfer deadline day still comes on August 31 in Career Mode, despite English clubs having the earlier close date of August 9 this season, and many teams that are not deemed one of the "big" clubs do not get third kits or away 'keeper kits. When the rest of FIFA's presentation package is so impressive, it makes these smaller, incorrect details stand out, especially when they appear to require small tweaks to fix.

It's promising that EA is listening to its community. FIFA 19 is much more responsive on the pitch than last year, and the company continues to evolve FUT to keep it fresh. However, the lack of progress in Career Mode and Pro Clubs is sorely inadequate. Thankfully, The Journey's continued entertainment, FUT's long-lasting nature, and some inventive new Kick Off modes mean I'll likely still be playing FIFA 19 by the time next year's game rolls around.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 05 Oct 2018 02:52:00 -0700)


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