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Ellen Bowness has a proven record for creating guide books to specific areas in the UK - everywhere from the Lake District, to the Yorkshire Dales and even London.

The latest installment...
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Book Reviews (Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:57:21 GMT )

Curious Cameras is a visual journey through the evolution of the camera, from the earliest daguerreotype camera through to novelty toy cameras.

If you have an interest in cameras through...
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Book Reviews (Wed, 3 Feb 2016 12:47:40 GMT )

The elevator pitch for Don't Knock Twice could be applied to dozens of games. You are faced with a door leading to a house in unsettling, chilling neglect, and proceed to explore its spooky, dim-lit hallways to discover a hidden truth about its former inhabitants. However, where the fine details clearly delineate, say, Gone Home from Resident Evil 7, the details of Don't Knock Twice are almost non-existent.

Surprisingly, Don't Knock Twice is based on a movie, a low-budget 2016 British horror flick starring Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff. Sakhoff's Jess is a recovered drug addict whose estranged daughter, Chloe, returns to live with her. This is all complicated by the fact that Chloe has recently disturbed the house of a dead witch, and has brought her tortured soul to Jess's home. The movie itself isn't that notable, but gets brownie points for two things: one of the grossest dinner scenes since Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and intriguing subtext involving the intersection of parenthood and addiction.

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The game hints to that plot here and there. Jess receives frequent, accusatory, and frightened text messages from Chloe throughout the game, and the occasional random document to read fills in some of the backstory. But Don't Knock Twice mostly settles for being a low-key adventure with light puzzle-solving. You spend most of your time trying to figure out which objects open various doors around the house, and solving basic riddles--all while an unseen force slams doors behind you, throws books off shelves, writes messages in blood on the walls, and generally makes life annoying while Jess tries to get stuff done.

Admirably, the house is an accurately moody recreation of the film's sets in virtual space. The soundscape drops thunder and lightning in as punctuation, and random effects like knocking doors, whispers, and screams fill in any empty aural space. But Don't Knock Twice isn't an intimidating experience, aside from the occasional well-executed jump scare. The supernatural stuff is cliche: a pentagram in the basement, a child's ball falling down a set of stairs, an unknown figure in a window upstairs. The entire game breeds a sense of “been there, done that," and is over in around an hour, well before any tension has a chance to build.

The one element that helps is the game being playable in VR, but even this has tradeoffs. Naturally, VR instantly helps with immersion, but Don't Knock Twice ties mobility to short-range teleportation: pointing at a spot in the room with a motion controller to avoid walking, and potentially VR sickness. This process is marred by collision detection almost from the beginning, where the mere act of lighting a candle feels like a wrestling match. You can switch to a regular controller, but there, the controls feel needlessly cluttered, with just about everything tied to trigger buttons.

Don't Knock Twice doesn't share company with the likes of Layers of Fear so much as it does with the large number of “VR Experiences” flooding digital storefronts: quick and dirty cash-ins that feel more like tech demos than full-fledged games. Don't Knock Twice is more solidly constructed than some, but it's largely unambitious and forgettable. It seems content to be a ground-level thriller at a time and on a platform with plenty of hungry competition.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Sun, 17 Sep 2017 10:00:00 -0700)

The first SteamWorld Dig was most notable for its unique blend of mining mechanics and Metroid-style exploration, but it ended right as it began to come into its own. Its sequel is twice as long and puts that added runtime to good use, as both the story and mechanics are given room to flourish. The result is a brilliant and varied evolution of the first game that not only expands upon its hybrid formula, but presents it in its best light.

SteamWorld Dig 2 takes place in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world where Earth has become a desert wasteland; its remaining inhabitants are small populations of steam-driven robots and irradiated humans. You control a steambot named Dorothy searching for her missing friend, Rusty--the protagonist of the first game. When Dorothy hears that he has been sighted entering the mines of an old trading town, El Machino, she embarks on a journey to find him.

The story is more focused than its predecessor. Events unfold at a brisk pace, occasionally hitting you with unexpected twists and tonal shifts that keep the adventure compelling throughout. Also impactful is the way the story contributes to the overarching SteamWorld universe as a whole (it serves as a bridge between Dig 1 and SteamWorld Heist). By its conclusion, past narrative threads that were once disparate and unclear are finally expounded upon, elevating your attachment to the characters and the world.

Even if you aren't invested in the series' lore, Dig 2 gives you more than enough to latch onto with its eclectic cast. Dorothy makes for a likable lead and the characters who surround her are humorous and well-written. In particular, Dorothy's Navi-like sidekick, FEN, is one of the game's standout personalities. His sassy, oftentimes snarky, remarks are amusing, but as you progress, he grows into a far more sincere and endearing ally whose presence is irreplaceable.

Also worth noting is the presentation; both visuals and music are charming and stylish. From the moodily lit underground caverns you explore to the airy and upbeat hip-hop inspired tracks that permeate the various locales, there's an endearing atmosphere that constantly pulls you in.

Dig 2 encourages you to be methodical, but unlike the original, it gives you more time to be creative, and rewards your cravings to diligently explore and discover new secrets.
Dig 2 encourages you to be methodical, but unlike the original, it gives you more time to be creative, and rewards your cravings to diligently explore and discover new secrets.
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Like the first game, you spend time exploring various underground mines. With your trusty pickaxe, you smash through blocks of dirt to reveal passageways, while along the way acquiring precious gems and minerals. You also obtain tools and power-ups that help you burrow even deeper. Once your pockets are filled with treasure, you return to town to sell your materials and upgrade your tools, and then you return to the mine anew.

While the digging process seems repetitive in nature, it never becomes tedious. Exploration feels like longform puzzle solving. You're always strategizing how to take advantage of a mine's terrain and the enemies within to clear tunnels and acquire more treasure. And with the more varied tools you have access to this time around, the methods you employ grow increasingly complex.

One moment you're using your pressure bomb launcher to create a pathway that you can't reach with your pickaxe, the next you're using your grappling hook to strategically detonate a TNT barrel to kill a group of enemies. These instances are when the game is at its most fulfilling, as you have a great deal of flexibility in choosing how to approach a given area. Dig 2 encourages you to be methodical, but unlike the original, it gives you more time to be creative, and rewards your cravings to diligently explore and discover new secrets.

Caves provide satisfying opportunities to exercise your reflexes and intellect.
Caves provide satisfying opportunities to exercise your reflexes and intellect.
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New to Dig 2 is the addition of collectables called Cogs, which you can use to enhance your tools with mods. These upgrades are varied and unique, each improving your abilities in different ways. For instance, you can equip a mod that increases your chances of getting two precious materials from one resource block, or you might equip one that occasionally prevents instant death from falling rocks. As you obtain more Cogs, your ability to tailor mods to better suit your playstyle grows, which becomes invaluable when facing difficult obstacles in later areas. And with the varied terrain and hazards you encounter, you always feel an initiative to experiment to better your mining efficiency and chances of survival.

When you're not spending time digging, you're exploring caves, which are special rooms scattered across the map containing either platforming challenges or puzzles to solve. These brief, well-crafted trials test your mastery of the game's base mechanics: a spike-covered room demands quick execution of your mobility options; a block-stacking puzzle challenges your knowledge of the pressure launcher's limitations; and a room with collapsing boulders has you timing your sprints in different spurts to avoid being crushed. On top of rewarding you with much-needed Cogs, caves provide satisfying opportunities to exercise your reflexes and intellect. You often look forward to discovering them, as their distinct challenges are also entertaining proving grounds to test your upgrades.

Alongside the mechanical improvements, it helps that there's a greater variety in level and objective design. From an ancient temple surrounded by lava to an ethereal jungle, each location you explore goes beyond the standard underground mine you might expect. Not only are levels thematically different, they're also structured in distinct ways from each other. At one point, you're tasked to dig horizontally instead of vertically, only to be led to an area that has you completing a gauntlet of caves in order to open a gate with multiple locks. These changes in design frame the mechanics in captivating ways, challenging you to do more than just strategically carve out tunnels. Dig 2 meticulously uses its assets to great effect, continually changing up the pace from beginning to end.

Every advancement Dig 2 makes to its story and mechanics strengthens your initiative to progress. There's an overwhelming sense of momentum that runs through the adventure; as if developer Image & Form sifted the original in a pan, removing its redundancies while expanding upon what made it so fun to persistently play. In your quest to acquire every upgrade and explore every nook and cranny, there's no shortage of hidden collectables to discover. And with post-game content that unlocks after you unearth every secret, the desire to keep digging intensifies. Dig 2 manages to not only be an exceptional successor, but a great adventure in its own right. Where the first game was a diamond in the rough, Dig 2 is a polished jewel.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 14:02:00 -0700)
See why we believe a tripod is an essential tool for photographers shooting landscapes.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Tue, 26 Sep 2017 00:10:08 GMT )
We shoot with the new Fujifilm X-E3, Fujifilm's compact mirrorless camera with a built-in EVF, 4K video and 3inch touch-screen.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:00:56 GMT )
Without our eyes we can't see and cameras are the same without their lenses. This article will look at the different types of lenses there are and tell you how they can be used.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 14:00:01 GMT )
A brilliant close-up image of a common spider has been awarded the photo of the Week accolade.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:43:56 GMT )
The Apple iPhone 8 Plus is the best smartphone camera DxO has ever tested.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:34:19 GMT )
Here are the basic copyright legal terms that will help you understand the world of copyright a little better.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:00:07 GMT )
Vitec extends its photographic portfolio with the acquisition of Lowepro and Joby.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 09:12:50 GMT )
The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM currently has over £200 knocked off its price over on Amazon.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 11:15:14 GMT )

Xander Schauffele ended his rookie season by winning the Tour Championship. Justin Thomas ended the best season with the FedEx Cup.

Schauffele, a 23-year-old from San Diego who was worried about keeping his PGA Tour card just over three months ago, swirled in a 3-foot birdie putt on the final...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Sun, 24 Sep 2017 15:00:00 PDT )

Destiny 2 is a lot more Destiny. The structure is largely the same, as is the mechanically excellent shooting and satisfying loot grind. But there are a variety of changes both under the hood and throughout your activities that make it a significant improvement over the original and a better experience for more than just the most hardcore players.

From the onset, there's an overwhelming amount of stuff to do. The Red War story funnels you through the four areas you can explore, introducing you to each one as you go. At each destination, there's a bunch of optional activities to choose from, including story-like Adventure missions, simple loot dungeons called Lost Sectors that lead to hidden areas of the map, and public events and patrols, which return from Destiny 1. Then, as you progress through the story, you'll unlock the strike playlist and PvP in the Crucible. For a newcomer to Destiny, it can be hard to decide what to do and when.

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The Red War story missions are less about plot and more about acclimating you to everything there is to see. You'll level up at a pretty steady pace, but there are two level-gated missions that essentially force you to complete Adventures and other activities for XP before you can move on. There's no actual reason for the missions to have level requirements, which can be annoying, but having direction is welcome after Destiny 1's lack thereof. And aside from netting you XP and loot, the semi-hidden Lost Sectors reward exploration while Adventures are filled with lore and interesting details about the world that fall outside of the scope of the main story. If you're burnt out on standard PvE, you can switch to PvP to level up, which requires different gear and skills.

The story is enough to serve its main purpose, which is to contextualize the shooting and looting you're doing through it all. Its villain is a derivative conqueror figure with a hunger for power and destruction, and the save-the-world plot is tired. But you don't need to know much to get going except that humanity is in danger, and you of all people have the power to help. The story's strengths lie in atmosphere and side details, like the endearing craziness of the deranged AI Failsafe or the mysteries of the Vex machine race, and that should be fine for the majority of players who see the story as something to rush through in order to reach the high-level "endgame." The mournful soundtrack in particular is fantastic, and it carried me through the most basic story beats, even on repeat playthroughs.

Like Destiny 1, there's a lot of grinding to be done between finishing the story and moving onto the high-level endgame activities like the Nightfall strike and the Raid. And again like in Destiny 1, the shoot-and-loot feedback loop feels fantastic. The gunplay is still excellent, and being rewarded for your efforts with an even better gun is something worth celebrating. The biggest change is how much quicker it is to increase your Light level--now called Power--with minimal grinding early on. The combat isn't any easier because of it, though, so it simply takes away the Destiny 1-era frustration of running the same few strikes a dozen times before you can move on to literally anything else. Plus, knowing you might get a slightly more fashionable pair of gauntlets from a five-minute public event gives you the kind of instant gratification that will sustain you through to the endgame.

There's a decent variety of weapons and gear to find, mostly in random drops. And once you know what gear is desirable, it becomes a fun metagame to hope you'll find it. A favorite around the GameSpot office has been the exotic auto rifle Sweet Business, and though no one has been using it, we had a lot of fun embarking on the quest to get Rat King. You might get lucky and get what you want right away, but for most people, finding a combination of great weapons for both PvE and PvP and gear with abilities that complement them takes some time. As far as customization goes, the Eververse and its microtransactions return, though leveling up after the official level cap grants you the new Bright Engrams that can be redeemed for consumable shaders, emotes, and more (for free). The change to shaders wasn't popular among fans at first, but making them consumable allows for a greater range of customization on different pieces of armor as well as weapons.

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Some activities and areas are more cleanly or interestingly designed than others, and after a handful of hours, you'll start to identify the ones you love to play again and again and the ones you aren't as fond of. At least two of the Crucible maps are circular in design and essentially funnel you to your death if you aren't paying attention, which can get pretty boring; some areas require a fair amount of platforming, which can vary from tolerable to tedious depending on your class. But others are laid out in all the right ways to be memorable and fun to replay, like the Arms Dealer strike that keeps you running from room to room and preserving your heavy ammo for a series of tanks.

Though there's plenty you can do on your own, Destiny 2 is undeniably better as a shared experience. That can come on many different levels; you can work silently with complete strangers to trigger a heroic public event that gets you all better loot, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, you can coordinate with five friends for hours on end to tackle the Raid. You can also join a Clan, which can grant you a number of passive benefits, like legendary gear, as long as someone in your Clan is meeting certain milestones. On top of that, Destiny 2 also introduces Guided Games, where solo players can search for groups who are short one person and willing to help them through difficult endgame activities like the Nightfall or Raid.

Success through strong teamwork is absolutely the best part of Destiny 2.

Success through strong teamwork is absolutely the best part of Destiny, and the top-to-bottom tweaks and additions in Destiny 2 make it more accessible without dampening your sense of accomplishment. Meeting the level requirement for the Nightfall or Raid and actually completing it are two very different things, and getting in sync with your Fireteam and flawlessly executing a strategy takes a lot of work. The first two Nightfall strikes, for example, both introduced a modifier to the original strike that forces you and your team to coordinate loadouts and stay in constant communication about which weapons and subclasses you're using. You have to figure that out while also shooting waves of enemies and trying not to die. You'll most likely fail, but each failure helps you perfect your strategy incrementally, and the process of collectively achieving that goal is immensely satisfying.

At the highest level, the vast and visually striking Raid combines the need for top-tier weapons and gear, picking the correct subclass and loadout based on what your team needs, strong combat skills, and problem-solving as a group. Destiny 2's first Raid, Leviathan, is very, very difficult, and solving its often obscure puzzles can be both rewarding and frustrating. For the most part, each failure teaches you something new, and the GameSpot Raid team actually cheered when we came up with a solid strategy after going in blind. But there was one section in the middle that we struggled to complete even after we figured out what to do conceptually. Of course, this was after about five straight hours of raiding, so fatigue was definitely a factor--but it didn't blend the puzzle-solving part with actual execution as well as the previous sections of the Raid.

In true Destiny fashion, if you do something once, you'll probably end up doing it many more times. The difference with Destiny 2 is in the variety and accessibility of what's available, which cuts down on a lot of the frustration associated with grinding. And even after you've leveled up, there's still more you can do, from keeping up with daily and weekly challenges to just hanging out with friends. It's a much stronger foundation than the original had and one that's enough on its own to keep people coming back week after week.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 20:00:00 -0700)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Sun, 12 Feb 2017 11:00:00 Z)
Here are a few tips on capturing a sense of motion in your shots.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Mon, 25 Sep 2017 00:10:09 GMT )
The redesigned August Smart Lock lets you use your phone as your key. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Sun, 24 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000)

A prostitution ring shut down in Compton included several child and adult victims of human trafficking, authorities said.

A raid by law enforcement officers on Wednesday resulted in 36 arrests, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Three children were released to the care of...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews ( Sat, 23 Sep 2017 22:40:00 PDT )
Give some thought to how you can make the best use of that old device you're leaving behind. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 19:24:00 +0000)
Google's official kit lets anyone with a Raspberry Pi build a smart speaker. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 18:29:22 +0000)
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Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 17:59:00 +0000)
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Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 14:00:00 +0000)
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Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 13:00:00 +0000)
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Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000)
Need to save that text message for proof in a friendly dispute? Something more salubrious? Here's how to back up all the text messages on your phone. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 20:08:00 +0000)

PlayStation 4 launch game Knack was most memorable for its impressive use of particles; it used lots of tiny floating cubes, spheres, and pyramids to make up its main character. But beyond that, it was a throwback to PlayStation 2-era of linear 3D action games. As it turns out, not a lot has changed in the sequel, but as far as cooperative-centric action games go, Knack 2 ends up being a more enjoyable romp than the original.

Several years have passed since the events of the previous game, where the titular Knack and his friends stopped a rampaging goblin army from overtaking civilization. Knack 2 starts right in the midst of a fresh attack on the city of Newhaven, and over the course of 15 multi-stage chapters, the story takes some odd twists and turns for a game that is clearly aimed at a younger audience. There are bigger enemies than goblins afoot and the solid if cartoonish at times story includes some surprisingly not subtle parallels to real-world dictators and extremists.

Admittedly, things start off pretty slow, and for the first several chapters Knack 2 is a linear experience with basic combat and straightforward puzzles. As the game moves along, however, Knack’s moveset opens up thanks to an expansive upgrade tree and regular new move updates acquired during cinematic sequences.

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Once you've gotten past the initial stages, Knack 2 throws a good variety of different-sized foes at its hero, from human-sized soldiers to giant robotic menaces. As Knack grows in power, he can string together powerful combos, and you begin to feel the heft and power behind his attacks. The upgrade system is such that he’ll essentially earn new moves right up until the end, so there’s always something new to try, which adds appreciable variety to the game's numerous battles.

Where things get really interesting is when Knack's ability to shrink and grow is called upon with greater frequency. Knack can grown from an adorable pint-sized doll to a 30-foot-tall hulk--the more artifact parts he finds during a level, the bigger he becomes, although the truly giant-sized Knack is sadly reserved for only a few spots.

One sequence in particular has giant Knack rampaging through a goblin city, for instance, and the sense of power and scale is exceptional. Knack can run over enemies that were previously challenging foes like they were speed bumps and it’s a thoroughly entertaining power trip. The way Knack changes his stance and demeanor as he grows--from adorable to athletically lean to outright massive--also adds a lot of personality to his character.

Even more intriguing is how the game uses little Knack. Every level contains at least a few secret areas only accessible while he's in his tiny form, but many of the puzzles and platforming sections require switching from big Knack to little Knack regularly. Since you can easily drop (and attract) his built-up parts with the press of a button, this size shifting mechanic gets a lot of mileage.

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So, while giant Knack feels nearly invulnerable, tiny Knack’s ability to deftly flip from one small platform to the next gives the game an almost side-scrolling platformer appeal. He’s deadly fragile when small, so avoiding enemies is frequently necessary, often by finding side routes (such as small ledges and air ducts) that would be impossible for larger-sized creatures to pass. It’s a refreshing interchange of gaming styles within the levels that gives Knack 2 a surprising extra layer of depth. There are even vehicle segments, where you take control of a goblin tank, and, in one of the most entertaining sequences in the game, rampage through a city in a giant robot capable of crushing enemy tanks under foot.

All this action is aided greatly by terrific graphics and notably wonderful character animation. Knack looks amazing, the giant robots seem to have stepped straight out of an epic anime, and many of the locations are gorgeous, ranging from rocking deserts and snow-covered mountains to beautiful gardens and ancient temples and urban sprawls. Unfortunately, Knack 2 uses a set camera, and it can be terrible at times. It sometimes presents issues with enemies attacking from positions you can't see or reach, and during some platforming sequences, the camera can be more dangerous than any physical obstacle. Knack 2 is also really meant for cooperative play. It’s fully playable for one, but some of the puzzles and fights are much more frustrating without a partner.

At around seven to ten hours, Knack 2 is longer than you might expect. The issue with this is that there's obvious artificial padding afoot. One glaring example is how the game starts off in the story’s present day, then flashes back. When you actually get back to the starting point again, it actually makes you replay that exact same level. Other times, platforming and combat sections dragged on a bit too long, but at least in those case you’re still earning more treasure and skill points for upgrading.

Knack 2 is definitely a holdover from the past, but it manages to surprise with varied combat and the pleasing back and forth between big and little Knack. Where the original game felt, frankly, like a launch title meant to show off the power of a new system, Knack 2 is a more realized version of Knack as a character, and the wonderfully weird world he inhabits.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 05 Sep 2017 17:00:00 -0700)

Developing a series for a yearly release must be a tricky business. In the space of just a few months, you need to make everything look nicer and produce meaningful gameplay strides (and even think of some new buzzwords to put on the back of the box). With PES 2018, Konami's annual soccer game looks and sounds a little too similar to last year's edition--the presentation is flat and its lack of licenses is an ongoing problem--but some excellent on-pitch tweaks are enough to make PES 2018 the most satisfying football game ever made.

The most noticeable change is a distinct reduction in the game's speed. That applies to both the ball and player movement, meaning matches have an altogether more methodical pace to them. Players sprint and turn more slowly, and therefore do so far more realistically. Crucially, however, everything feels just as responsive as before.

Combined with a number of new animations, the slower pace lends each kick a greater sense of weight. It also means, when you lose the ball, it usually takes longer to get it back, which can frustrate--especially when defending has not improved meaningfully in a couple of years now. Individual tackles can feel clunky, and opposition strikers are given too much space by their markers when receiving the ball to feet--Mourinho would be having none of it.

Despite PES shifting down a gear, however, its mechanics still allow you to pull off some spectacular maneuvers. Passes feel more satisfying than ever, rising and curling and dipping oh so beautifully. They're aided by better positioning of wide men, allowing more opportunities to pick out players with pinpoint cross-field balls--too often in PES 2017 I would try a million-dollar pass to a winger that would inevitably get cut out by the full back. Now, rather than being a delightful shortcut to losing possession, these Hollywood balls are a legitimate tactic. Ground passes are now executed with greater variety, meanwhile: your players will contextually change from spraying the ball with the outside of the boot to curling with the inside to punting with the toe to tapping to flicking to threading.

Passing's versatility allows you to produce some beautiful football: play with Barcelona and you can actually play like Barcelona--but it also means you can lump it to the big man up top or play it wide and get crosses in if a particular match or situation demands it. Changes to your attacking intent level, for example, affect how deep your team sit more than ever--set it to maximum and your biggest defender will act as an emergency striker. This then allows you to play direct if you're losing in the final stages of an important match.

This is especially helpful from set pieces, which have been reworked to allow you to pick different tactics depending on the situation. You can now choose to send your center backs forward for long free kicks, for example, and hope for a knock down. Or, from corner kicks, you can ask for two players to come short or for your entire team to line up on the edge of the box before making a late dash to the back post. Direct free kicks have been improved, too, and they now feel more intuitive and more fluid--and I'm finally able to score from them.

Players also shield the ball and stumble past opponents more realistically, not only helping you hold on to the ball but also making them feel more like players, not just dots on a screen. This makes it all the more disappointing, then, that goalkeepers still act like robots: their static animations and inconsistent saves might be a little better than last year, but they still shatter the illusion that you're controlling a real-life team and serve as a reminder that you're playing a video game.

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However, that's a minor sticking point compared to the licenses--or lack thereof. Of the world's major leagues, only the French and Italian leagues are licensed in PES, with the Premier League, EFL, and the Spanish leagues only included in make-believe form. As is traditional with Pro Evo, teams are replicated with fake kits and pretend team names like Man Blue (Manchester City), London FC (Chelsea), and MD White (Real Madrid), while the German league is not present in any form. Worse, the kits are often wildly different to the real-life versions they're meant to be imitating. The Champions League is licensed, but the magic of reaching it with your favorite team is killed if, rather than playing as Manchester United, you're actually controlling Man Red--playing in black. Thankfully, it's relatively easy, with the help of the community and a USB stick, to mod in authentic kits on PS4 and PC--and this can help mitigate many of PES's gripes as it appears when you insert the disc for the first time. Xbox One users, however, are stuck with the likes of West Glamorgan City and Merseyside Blue for good.

The Champions League is licensed, but the magic of reaching it with your favorite team is killed if, rather than playing as Manchester United, you're actually controlling Man Red.

The lack of attention paid to how kits look is reflected in the game's presentation as a whole. While PES's main rival, FIFA, replicates the experience of watching soccer on TV pretty closely, Pro Evo 2018 looks somewhat flat by comparison. Player models look largely fine (and some obscure players have surprisingly accurate faces), but crowds appear like cardboard cut-outs and sound almost as fake as they look--cheers when you score and moans when you miss sound muted, while chants are just a cacophony of noise with no discernible tunes or words. Peter Drury and Jim Beglin's awful, stilted, disjointed commentary returns, with a cliche-ridden dialogue library that contains few new lines and zero extra excitement. These complaints are not new to PES 2018 of course, but as EA continues to make strides in these areas with FIFA, PES's continued poor sights and sounds are put in starker contrast with every passing year.

The same is, to an extent, true of PES's online offering. MyClub is Konami's answer to FIFA Ultimate Team, and this year its big new feature is 3v3 co-op online play, a mode in which you sacrifice most of the control in return for some laughs with your friends. You and your teammates each contribute a few players to a combined squad, which the three of you then control in the match, sharing the rewards at the end. However, far too often PES is unable to connect enough human players to the lobby, meaning rather than simply giving me full control or searching again, I was dumped into the worst-of-both-worlds option of controlling one third of an otherwise AI-controlled team. It's not quite the fun addition it should be, especially when I was occasionally subject to some egregious input lag when playing online.

Far too often PES is unable to connect enough human players to the lobby.

The offline, single-player-focused Master League, meanwhile, makes strides in some areas while remaining infuriating in others. The new menu layout is a welcome change that makes the mode easier to navigate, but Master League as a whole still contains a number of glaring oddities that need to be addressed next year. Youth teams are still littered with unknown players whose names were seemingly assembled by a monkey on a typewriter (those well-known Liverpool prodigies Fighejlani and Tzarqamilov are my favorites); wage budgets and salaries are still displayed in yearly terms rather than weekly; and transfer budgets are still criminally low--while PSG were out spending £150m / $200m on Mbappe and £200m / $270m on Neymar in real life this summer, I was restricted to just £50m / $67m in total with them in PES 2018. Thankfully, a couple of neat touches such as customizable training regimes and release clauses in players' contracts do add some depth, and the new Challenge Mode keeps things interesting with unexpected scenarios like players wanting to leave.

Thankfully, I think I have a new favorite way to play PES. Random Selection Mode returns from Pro Evo 6, and if--like me--you can't remember all the way back to 2006, it shakes things up wonderfully. You and a friend (who has to be in the same room, as the mode is local only) are each handed a squad of random players from a selection of leagues or countries you choose, so you might end up with a weird hybrid team of players from across the world of varying standards. What follows is a psychological battle of attempting to steal your opponent's star players while protecting your own. Up to three trade rounds allow you and your friend to pick a player from the other person's team who you want to pinch. You then pick a player from your own squad who you want to protect, and one you want to get rid of. Crucially, at no point until after all three are chosen do either of you know who the other person has picked, leading to a tense moment at the end of the round where it's revealed if you've successfully robbed that 92-rated striker your lucky friend got dealt. Manage to steal their top player and the bragging rights are all yours--at least until they manage to win the following match against the odds, that is.

It's a small addition that some people may never even see, let alone try, but it's the best silly party mode I've seen in a soccer game since FIFA 12 unceremoniously ditched Lounge Mode. Along with (slightly) improved player stamina and (also slightly) improved goalkeeper animations, it's one of a few unglamourous but nonetheless important changes Konami has made this year. Another of these, a simple gray marker that shows which player you'll switch to next when you press L1 / LB, is a tiny masterstroke, and one that seems so obvious I'm now kind of annoyed I didn't think of it sooner myself.

When you get onto the pitch, no other football game feels as good as PES 2018.

PES 2018, then, is the proverbial game of two halves. Off the field, it's sorely lacking; online modes and server issues leave much to be desired, and the game's presentation as a whole is lagging behind the competition--even if the PES community produces some sterling work in recreating the unlicensed kits every year.

And yet, when you get onto the pitch, no other football game feels as good as PES 2018. The slower pace is a definite improvement, helping tread the line between realism and fun near-perfectly. There's just something about the players' movement and the kinds of arcs the ball makes in the air that's just so pleasant to control--every pass, header, and shot just feels right. And when it clicks, and you score a thunderous strike from the edge of the area or finish off a slick passing move or even when you launch an ugly long ball forward to grab a last-gasp winner, it's the closest feeling you'll get to being out there scoring yourself.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 15 Sep 2017 04:06:00 -0700)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Wed, 01 Mar 2017 14:00:00 Z)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Wed, 05 Jul 2017 17:11:00 Z)
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Sat, 23 Sep 2017 10:00:01 GMT )
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Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:00:00 +0000)
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Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000)
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Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 14 Sep 2017 17:52:31 +0000)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Sun, 23 Apr 2017 10:00:00 Z)
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Source: Depreview - All Reviews & Previews (Mon, 27 Mar 2017 14:00:00 Z)
In Emily Culliton’s entertaining debut, “The Misfortune of Marion Palm,” the antiheroine makes off with a bundle of other people’s money. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Sunday Review (Thu, 31 Aug 2017 14:26:31 GMT )

How do you depict a nightmare? How do you re-create — and do justice to — events completely outside ordinary human experience?

Filmmakers who represent the Holocaust have dealt with this dilemma for decades, and Angelina Jolie faces it in "First They Killed My Father," her examination of the nightmarish...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 14 Sep 2017 13:15:00 PDT )

There’s a moment early on in “mother!,” a thrilling descent into house-of-horrors madness from writer-director Darren Aronofsky, that suggests the proverbial calm before the storm.

A lovely young housewife (Jennifer Lawrence), not sure which color to paint her living room, decides to consult the...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 14 Sep 2017 11:45:00 PDT )

The Everybody's Golf series has consistently hit that sweet spot in providing arcade-inspired accessibility while preserving the unique challenges that make the sport of golf riveting. As its first foray on the PlayStation 4, the simply titled Everybody's Golf not only continues this tradition but also expands the franchise's specific brand of golf culture. This is embodied in an involving hub world and the new option to freely roam courses to pursue leisure activities beyond actual competition, shaking up the franchise into a fresh golfing experience.

Everybody's Golf--which is a reversion to the Japanese series' name 20 years after it was named Hot Shots Golf in the West--effectively captures the strategic demands of the sport and the myriad variables that professionals consider when planning a shot. Choice of club, wind speed and direction, and yardage are the commonly known factors, but there's also the lie of the ball, the surface that the ball is projected to land on, the part of the ball you choose to make contact with, and so on. Hitting a great shot as a result of considering all these ingredients is the beauty and attraction of this series. Having this substantive sense of control never gets old, especially when you have slightly less control over the precise act of hitting your ball.

Thankfully, developer Clap Hanz has never strayed from the classic video game three-click swing mechanic: click to start, click to set power, and a final click to determine accuracy. The trick is in matching your desired meter length with what your reflexes can pull off, and attempting to tighten that gap swing after swing is one of the most involving aspects of Everybody's Golf. Moreover, this control method has always been more sensible than the less predictable back-and-forth motions of swinging with the analog stick, a feature common in other contemporary golf games.

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Your career in Everybody's Golf grows on a swift RPG-inspired progression path, where nearly every good shot yields minor performance bonuses affecting both your stats and the clubs you use. In other words, you and your equipment earn experience points. Over the course of several rounds of golf, those upgrades from hundreds of shots add up. It's both rewarding and motivating to see stat meters grow in areas like power and backspin. Adding to these dopamine hits are the awards and unlocks for ranking up and placing in the top three in tournaments against the CPU, which include items such as specialized clubs and balls. Like building an armory of weapons, you feel accomplished when amassing a range of diverse equipment to suit both your play style and the unique layouts of each course. It's especially gratifying to replay the earlier, simpler holes with new gear and increased stats, allowing you to score eagles with regularity instead of pars.

The player's modest beginnings and basic gear also serve to make Everybody's Golf immensely accessible to newcomers. Your starter clubs and balls suit the friendly layout of the first course, Eagle City Golf Club, where--like real golf--making par is the yardstick that competence and skill should be measured. Averaging par in the first half dozen rounds is cause for celebration and sets you on the very long road to pulling off feats that would rank you in the top 10 of the PGA Tour. Naturally, this can make the initial hours a cakewalk for Everybody's Golf veterans, which is why a well-implemented "Serious Mode" option--where the AI-controlled field posts better-than-usual scores--can be toggled on and off before any tournament.

The career matches against the CPU are not without their difficulties, but the truly humbling competitions are against your peers online. While its asynchronous multiplayer--where you play at your own pace and compete on daily leaderboards--has been one of the series' main draws, the new Turf War mode is an even more engrossing format. Two teams of up to 10 per side compete in a timed match where you attempt to play as many holes as possible. Since this mode uses the free-roam version of the courses, half the rush is effectively managing your time when travelling from hole to hole, whether it means running, driving, or spending a limited-use fast travel teleporter. It's a balancing act of playing quick and playing well, and if you pull off both, you have a chance at winning the MVP award. In a match of 20 competitors, that prize is a well-earned badge of honor, reflected as a number next to your username that shows other players how many MVP awards you've won.

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Whether you're primarily an online competitor or someone who prefers to face AI opponents, your time in between matches is spent in the hub world or roaming freely in the courses you've unlocked. Both types of areas encourage exploration since there's a scattering of consumable items like speciality golf balls and extra warp privileges for Turf War. The most appealing features of the hub are rewards you earn as you surmount hurdles in your career. Defeating a boss who is also a race car driver, for instance, grants you cart privileges, while outplaying a fisherman in a round of golf unlocks fishing mode. The button-mash mechanic of fishing can prove monotonous over time, but it doesn't completely diminish the appeal of casting a rod next to the courses' ponds and lakes. Not only is it a challenge to collect dozens of fish varieties, but many of these specimens carry the same aforementioned consumables.

The new multi-course golfing paradise filled with NPCs does add charm to an already endearing series. Where it goes one step too far is during the single-player tournaments. Three of the 15 CPU competitors you face in these contests are part of your foursome, NPCs who play at the own pace and are visible as you play the same hole. It's not so much a distraction as it is a mild annoyance to see fast-moving golfers clutter your screen as you're focusing on your own shot. It's not uncommon for them to obscure the camera during your birdie or par celebrations. At least there's no AI ball or character collision that would affect your round.

Ultimately, these bothersome NPCs are the only notable blemishes in an otherwise splendid and activity-loaded sequel, which also happens to be the best golf game on the PlayStation 4. Longtime fans will find comfort in the familiar controls and deep progression system, while newcomers will find the on-boarding experience easy and welcoming. Between the lengthy career mode and online play, you are never short of competition to test your nerves. And no matter how ridiculously superhuman your linksman skills become--there are awards for getting a hole in one on a par-5, after all--Everybody's Golf's strict adherence to the sport's strategic underpinnings is never compromised.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 05 Sep 2017 15:00:00 -0700)

The long-running Ys series of action-RPGs grew to fame thanks to engrossing cinematic storytelling and fantastic music. Almost thirty years after it debuted, Ys continues to thrive thanks to the series’ willingness to dramatically evolve its gameplay while still delivering engaging drama and fascinating worlds. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is the newest--and biggest--entry in the series yet, and it delivers an immensely fun and memorable experience.

Ys VIII begins with longtime hero Adol and his friend Dogi on a huge passenger ship when, out of nowhere, the vessel is attacked by a gargantuan sea monster and destroyed. Adol wakes up to find himself on the mythical island of Seiren, a supposedly cursed land from which no person has ever returned. He soon bands together with a few other survivors of the wreck, and decides to help them explore the island to rescue other passengers and build a makeshift community while figuring out a means to escape. All the while, however, the ancient beasts that live on the island are not pleased with the human intrusion, and a deeper secret behind the island’s curse lies waiting to be uncovered.

Finding survivors and building a village on a deserted island is a pretty unique concept for an action-RPG, and the story does a good job of driving you to explore the island to seek out others. The eclectic cast of characters who come to live in the island village make for an interesting mix of talents and personalities, and it’s very satisfying to watch the capabilities of your island base grow as more people join and you help them out through questing. Ys VIII conveys camaraderie through hardship, making you feel happy when the village accomplishes a new milestone, sad when tragedy strikes, and fearful when a new threat emerges.

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But even if you weren’t out rescuing other shipwreck survivors, you’d likely still feel compelled to explore the beautiful landscapes of Seiren Island. Ys VIII is a gorgeous game, filled with immensely colorful landscapes, dangerous yet captivating dungeons, and plenty of unique scenery to discover. Serene ocean vistas, fascinating geological formations, immense rainbow-casting waterfalls, and mysterious plant life are among the many scenic spots you’ll encounter in your travels. You even have the option to explore some areas at either daytime or nighttime, and the latter casts some familiar locales in an entirely new light. It’s easy to get caught up in a spirit of wanderlust and meander into areas that aren’t essential to the current story, but you want to explore just because you can. The kickin’, energy-infused progressive-rock soundtrack--an Ys series staple--helps a lot in driving you to explore further as well.

Of course, exploring the dangerous parts of Seiren wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if the core action-RPG gameplay wasn’t up to snuff. But Ys VIII delivers wonderfully in this aspect, giving players fast-paced, easy-to-learn combat with a surprising amount of depth. Chaining together basic strikes and special attacks while using your teammates’ weapons to exploit enemy weaknesses quickly becomes second nature. As you become more comfortable with fighting, you’ll learn to utilize skills like the Flash Move and Flash Guard: special dodges and blocks executed with precise timing that give you a huge advantage over the enemy. These skills come in especially handy during the game’s boss encounters, which have you battling against some truly strange and unusual island creatures. The smooth flow of fighting and ease of play makes the combat one of Ys VIII’s high points. Perhaps the only knock against the battle system is that the default controls are a little odd--but, thankfully, the combat controls are completely remappable to your liking.

From action to exploration, Ys VIII has a lot going for it--which, unfortunately, makes the times when it stumbles more obvious. The pacing is inconsistent, sometimes interrupting exploration for long stretches of plot development--and, occasionally, swapping the protagonist of the game entirely for extended stretches of story. The game also has an annoying tendency to deliver “interception” missions while you’re knee-deep in dungeon crawling, asking you to go back to town and play an annoying tower-defense style minigame where you guard the village against waves of monsters. While most interception missions are optional, you’ll feel compelled to do them anyway; they yield very useful rewards and raise the approval of Adol among the commune’s residents, which becomes key in the endgame.

The English localization also leaves a lot to be desired. While it’s certainly not the worst translation I’ve ever seen, it feels like a tremendous missed opportunity. Dialogue is often dry and uninteresting, or awkwardly stilted, robbing characters and story moments of some of their impact. With such a ragtag bunch of interesting castaways on display, it feels like these characters should have a lot more personality in their speech. Ys VIII’s localization also makes some very odd choices with terminology and phrasing, leading to strange moments like a companion shouting “somebody’s here!” in areas where the only things around are trees, rocks, and bloodthirsty monsters.

But even when it falters, it’s hard to hate Ys VIII for long. The feel of fighting your way through a big, beautiful island of untamed wilderness to save a group of people brought together by circumstance while uncovering an ancient mystery is an absolute delight, and will compel you to keep exploring for hours on end. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the exploits of Adol Christin, you’ll find a lot to enjoy in the exotic world of Ys VIII.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 14 Sep 2017 14:36:00 -0700)

Tooth and Tail is a bizarre cocktail of a dozen great ideas. It's a minimalist RTS that tosses out complex tech trees in favor of action-packed but accessible play. It's set vaguely in Eastern Europe in the 1910s, with both the Russian Revolution and World War I in full swing. Playing up the grim tumult of the era, Tooth and Tail also casts itself with all manner of cute--though ragged and crestfallen--critters. With so many disparate items, it's a wonder that Tooth and Tail manages to work at all, but it excels with but a few minor blemishes.

Superficially, Tooth and Tail looks the part of a standard RTS, but familiarity with genre staples isn’t required. Yes, you still have resources and units, and a "base," of sorts, but the similarities end there. Instead of using a cursor to drag and select groups of units, for example, you play a sole critter twirling your team's battle standard. Tooth and Tail simplifies a notoriously complex genre into a few fundamental, direct rules.

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You need a gristmill to build farms. Farms are used to grow food. Food is spent on units, making more farms, and claiming more mills to make more farms. Before each match, you pick up to six units you want to be able to use from a pool of 20. You can only build near a gristmill. Finally, you marshal units to destroy your enemies' mills.

That simplicity is marvelous. Tooth and Tail distills strategy games to its essentials--building out armies, growing stronger, and the dynamic, puzzle-like nature of play--and gets rid of nearly everything else. That means ludicrous actions per minute no longer matter.Randomly-generated maps keep others from gaining an unfair advantage with terrain knowledge. The playing field is almost always as level as it can be, leaving commanders to compete on raw strategic/tactical prowess.

Instead of building out specialized scout units and sending them to collect telemetry on the map, your commander does it on their own. The cost, of course, is that if you're scouting, you can't build because you wouldn't be near the mill. You can't attack on your own, either. This keeps you from rushing or spawning tons of machine-gun-toting squirrels near your foes' farms and claiming victory. You can, however, burrow back at any time to queue up more soldiers before heading out again. This guides a core pace to the game--rush out and study before retreating to build. It's a simple pattern that's welcoming to new players.

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Strategy veterans may balk and think that this takes streamlining a step too far. After all, without unit upgrades and heavy micromanagement, it would seem that there's not much else you can do, leaving skilled folks idle and bored. That issue doesn't come up much in play, though. Because maps are random, and you never know which six units other players will bring, most start off with similar levels of knowledge. Advanced players will, of course, have a deeper understanding of which units can cover for what weaknesses, but they won't be able to use that to counter pick either the roster or the map. Instead, their play becomes much more reactive. They have to scout like anyone else, and they have to adapt to whichever assortment of woodland animals hit the map.

All this does not make expertise meaningless. When the only thing under your control are which parts of the map you can see, what you're building, and whether or not you're advancing or retreating, each of those choices carries much more weight. Food also isn't unlimited, and unless you were nabbing territory in the early game, you'll run dry (and starve) in short order. This keeps the pace brisk, and, when combined with the limitations inherent in controlling one commander vs. having a nigh-omniscient view of the map means that the action almost always hits at the edge of what feels manageable. Tooth and Tail supports up to four players, and when everyone's in, things get chaotic. With all four of you fielding armies of tiny, skittering squirrels and badgers or hawks and owls, things get messy fast. And, this is where Tooth and Tail begins to shine.

Short, mediocre campaign aside, there's little here to muck with the essential beauty of this streamlined RTS.

As mentioned, at any point there could be 20 different units on the field. Unlike your StarCrafts or your Sins of a Solar Empires, though, your arrangement of units are unique each round. You pick your commander--who will hail from one of four factions--and then you select your roster. Neither option has any impact on the other, but which critters you pick will have a huge impact on strategy.

Unit types range from defensive artillery to flamethrowers and run the gamut of classic military roles. Medics, transports, gun nests, heavies, engineers, etc. get their due. But big decisions hinge on being able to read the lay of a battle in an instant. You only have a couple of buttons with which to command your troops. One order will have them pressing forward, another will pull them back. The ability to understand, at a glance, which armies have what units and who has the advantage is essential. Lacking the simple visual cues of a uniting theme or aesthetic as in other strategy games, Tooth and Tail has to make each of these figures clear and recognizable in the heat of battle. And, thanks to stellar art and crisp animations, that's never an issue. Each unit has its own heft--or lack thereof--and they're all recognizable by silhouette with the possible exception of a handful of the smaller scrappers. All you need do, then, is worry about a small band of critical choices.

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Because of that purity, playing with a controller feels as tight if not better than a standard mouse and keyboard. The analogue stick is a touch more responsive than otherwise limiting WASD keys. This also makes it one of the few games to nail real-time strategy on the console. And, like with Pikmin, the relative straightforward approach to tactical challenges doesn't come with any costs.

Tooth and Tail picks the right premise, with the right pacing, and the right amount of streamlining to keep every second of a match feeling heated. Games run their course in 10 minutes or less, and that brevity feels revolutionary. Matches in most other RTS games run half-an-hour or longer, limiting who can pick up and play a round here and there. That doesn't need to be, though. Tooth and Tail shows that you can have a zippy, engaging strategy game that's satisfying, nuanced, and accessible.

My only real complaint is that, while the game is deep, you'll want to play with friends. A single-player campaign gives you a basic introduction to the world through a tongue-in-cheek presentation of different political factions. There's a civil war on, and the throngs of fluffy animals are all fighting to be the one who doesn't get chomped by the rest. Each loosely aligns to a real-world political philosophy, but they are all pushed so far into the realm of the ridiculous that none of them come as either mean-spirited or pointed critiques of anything tangible. These characters are fodder for the game's morose sense of humor, and it works. It is not, however, as groundbreaking as the bulk of play, and it doesn't amount to much beyond progressive, contextualized challenges.

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Campaign maps are procedural, which keeps things from getting stale but, given the more specific mission objectives for the campaign, it also isn't as balanced as its free-for-all multiplayer counterpart. You will, at some point, end up with a map that feels stacked against you. And, luck of the draw though it may have been, it still frustrates. Then again, all you need do is wait out the 5-8 minute match and you'll get a new map to try again.

Short, mediocre campaign aside, there's little here to muck with the essential beauty of this streamlined RTS. Nothing else in recent memory offers quite the same white-knuckle thrills. Scouting and modifying your unit composition with up-to-the-minute info on enemy forces, rallying them into battle, continuing to grab up new farmland to fuel your fluffy hordes, and switching between them every fifteen seconds is divine.

Rotating through the band of 20 fighters will offer plenty of depth on its own, too. There's plenty of room to fake out foes by overbuilding one type and feinting a foe into countering that so you can sweep them with your own reserves. If you don't have quite the squads you need to deal with enemies in the best way, you'll have to adapt -- and strong variety will give you the tools to come up with unique combinations and tactics on the fly.

When all of that comes together in a tight, four-player battle royale, it is a thing of beauty.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:23:00 -0700)
Here's ePHOTOzine's roundup of the best photography and camera reviews news and more this week.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Sat, 23 Sep 2017 00:00:02 GMT )
We go hands-on with a mock-up of the new Fujifilm Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 X-Mount lens, due to be released next year.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:06:40 GMT )
There are 8 fantastic prizes up for grabs in Dorrfoto's September 'Adventure' competition.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:00:06 GMT )
We go hands-on with the Fujifilm Fujinon GF 250mm f/4 R LM OIS WR telephoto prime lens for the medium format GFX 50s. It will be available with a 1.4x teleconverter.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:20:19 GMT )
Looking for a new camera but only have a limited budget? Here are the best ones for around £250.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:30:01 GMT )
Here are a few tips to help you capture outdoor shots on misty days.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - All Photography Articles (Sat, 23 Sep 2017 00:10:04 GMT )
Lomo's funky instant camera kicks some serious glass. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000)
Your e-reader has some secret superpowers. Here's how to unlock its full potential. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:00:00 +0000)
It's not quite an acquisition, but Google's agreement with HTC fast-tracks its efforts to take over the gadget world. Read More

Source: WIRED - Product Reviews (Thu, 21 Sep 2017 03:07:17 +0000)
Top 5 at a Glance
1. THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, by Gary Chapman
2. WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING, by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
3. CRAZY LOVE, by Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski
4. THE LOVE DARE, by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough
5. RADICAL, by David Platt Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 01:34:57 GMT )
Top 5 at a Glance
1. SCAREDY-CAT, SPLAT!, written and illustrated by Rob Scotton
2. LLAMA LLAMA HOLIDAY DRAMA, written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney
3. FABULOUS FASHION BOUTIQUE, by Jane O’Connor
4. KNUFFLE BUNNY FREE, written and illustrated by Mo Willems
5. HEADS, written and illustrated by Matthew Van Fleet Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 16:16:30 GMT )
Top 5 at a Glance
1. SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE, by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis
2. Y: THE LAST MAN - DELUXE EDITION, BOOK 4, by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
3. THE WALKING DEAD, BOOK 6, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
4. THE EXILE: AN OUTLANDER GRAPHIC NOVEL, by Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Nguyen
5. THE ADVENTURES OF OOK AND GLUK, by George Beard and Harold Hutchins Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 01:18:07 GMT )
Rankings are based on October figures. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Sat, 06 Nov 2010 05:22:46 GMT )
Rankings are based on October figures. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers ( Sat, 06 Nov 2010 05:27:10 GMT )
Keith Richards’s autobiography, “Life,” hits the hardcover nonfiction list at No. 1, unsurprisingly. Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers ( Fri, 05 Nov 2010 15:46:40 GMT )
Top 5 at a Glance
1. THE CONFESSION, by John Grisham
2. WORTH DYING FOR, by Lee Child
3. AMERICAN ASSASSIN, by Vince Flynn
4. THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, by Stieg Larsson
5. SIDE JOBS, by Jim Butcher Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 01:20:56 GMT )
Top 5 at a Glance
1. LIFE, by Keith Richards with James Fox
2. BROKE, by Glenn Beck and Kevin Balfe
3. EARTH (THE BOOK), by Jon Stewart and others
4. THE LAST BOY, by Jane Leavy
5. AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, VOL. 1, by Mark Twain Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 01:24:49 GMT )
Top 5 at a Glance
1. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson
2. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson
3. THE FINKLER QUESTION, by Howard Jacobson
4. LITTLE BEE, by Chris Cleave
5. CUTTING FOR STONE, by Abraham Verghese Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 01:25:44 GMT )
Top 5 at a Glance
1. THE LOST SYMBOL, by Dan Brown
2. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson
3. THE RECKLESS BRIDE, by Stephanie Laurens
4. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson
5. 61 HOURS, by Lee Child Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 01:26:35 GMT )
Top 5 at a Glance
1. EAT, PRAY, LOVE, by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. INSIDE OF A DOG, by Alexandra Horowitz
3. STONES INTO SCHOOLS, by Greg Mortenson
4. THE GLASS CASTLE, by Jeannette Walls
5. THREE CUPS OF TEA, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 01:27:40 GMT )
Top 5 at a Glance
1. BAREFOOT CONTESSA: HOW EASY IS THAT?, by Ina Garten
2. DOUBLE DELICIOUS, by Jessica Seinfeld
3. THE TATTOO CHRONICLES, by Kat Von D with Sandra Bark
4. DELIVERING HAPPINESS, by Tony Hsieh
5. BOBBY FLAY'S THROWDOWN!, by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Miriam Garron Read More

Source: The New York Times - Best Sellers (Fri, 05 Nov 2010 16:14:42 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 )
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: 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 )
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 )
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 )

After a couple of dozen hours exploring the dinosaur survival simulation from developer Studio Wildcard, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what is both an impressive achievement and a deeply frustrating experience. One moment I was beaming over how I was able to slap together a hut on the beach and start a fire to keep warm during a long and spooky prehistoric night. The next I was swearing until I was out of breath after being killed yet again by a Dilophosaurus or a pack of Compys or a Titanoboa or whatever else decided to roar out of the jungle for a snack.

This is a pure, hardcore survival game where you’re dropped in your tighty whities on a beach by beings unknown (UFO-like monoliths float in the sky) with the sole goal of figuring out how to stay alive. Land and sea are populated with all sorts of dinosaurs and other assorted prehistoric creatures, ranging from the milquetoast Dodos and Moschops to aggressive predators like the Spinosaurus, the Megapiranha, the Troodon, the Raptor, and much, much more. So not only are you stuck essentially naked with nothing other than your wits to keep you breathing, just about everything stuck here with you has big pointy teeth and zero qualms about using them to rip you to pieces.

That said, there isn’t much of a learning curve. Everything is based on a hunter-gatherer system where you collect resources by killing animals for their hides and meat and other goodies, and by chopping down trees, smashing up rocks, and scavenging in the jungle for wood, stone, flint, berries, fiber, and more. Leveling up--which happens fast and frequently throughout the game to keep things interesting--provides points used to purchase engrams that serve as plans for all of the survival gear that you can make. You start with caveman stuff like stone axes, thatch huts, ragged clothing, and campfires, but soon progress to compasses, spyglasses, bows and arrows, wood structures, gunpowder, and more. Stick with things long enough and you move into the modern era with rifles and radios.

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Another major component of Ark is the ability to train dinos. Carefully combining knocking out your prey with feeding them results in tame creatures that can be ridden around the landscape and even bred. It’s something of a tedious affair involving a fair bit of gathering different types of food and waiting around, but it's well worth it in the end as you can wind up with mounts far better at fighting other dinosaurs than you can with your puny fists and weapons. Toss in a wide range of crafting and that steadily increasing engram tech, and you’ve got an impressive sandbox in which to play.

All of this can be experienced either solo or together with other players on multiplayer servers that can be designated either PVE, where players cannot kill one another, and PVP, where they can, and there are basically no rules at all. Ark has been built around a tribal model, though, where playing cooperatively feels generally like the prescribed way to go.

Single-player does have its benefits, namely in that you avoid messy interactions with fellow human players. But going solo comes at the cost of cranking difficulty through the roof and forcing you to do everything for yourself. You have to become a one-man tribe to get anything done, and I found the process of chopping trees, hacking stone, and gathering assorted things in the brush to be a repetitive process. While you level up fairly quickly and add new engrams on a regular basis, it’s not exactly thrilling to spend all of your time mindlessly pushing buttons to accumulate one stockpile after another.

Of course, playing alone also means that you have to fight dinosaurs mano-a-mano. This means that you die. A lot. The game thankfully stocks the default areas where you spawn (generally coastal beach regions) with wussier, almost cattle-like creatures that can be farmed to get you started collecting meat and skins. But aggressive carnivores are never far away. The landscape is dotted with creatures that you have almost zero chance at killing or escaping, especially in the early hours.

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This outstanding sense of place and mood is offset by the sheer difficulty of everything that you have to do, the spectacular amounts of time necessary to experience even a tenth of what the game has to offer, and the randomness of death constantly destroying everything that you have built.

As a result, Ark does not make a great first impression. I was routinely slaughtered by Dilophosauruses on the beaches, gangs of Compys in the jungle, random Trodoons nearly everywhere, and even a positively brutal Spinosaurus that somehow managed to spawn in not far from where I began my game. Whenever I thought I was making progress, wham, along came a Raptor or something equally frightening to remind me of my place in the food chain. Even the water offered me no respite, as every little stream seemed to be well stocked with Megapiranhas and Sabertooth Salmon. These killer fish actually gave me my first wake-up call as to how brutal Ark was going to be. I finished my first thatch house and decided to start really exploring territory, starting with a quick swim across the bay. I didn’t get halfway across before I was eaten alive.

The only good thing being killed is that your stuff gets packed into a bag and left at the point of your demise, ready to be picked up by your respawned self. This is easier said than done, however, as the early-game's random respawns generally place you a long way from where you died. And you have a limited amount of time to grab everything before it vanishes forever. Even worse, whatever killed you often hangs around the pack, as if it’s guarding the treasure trove in the knowledge that somebody is coming back for it. Other times, your gear is simply inaccessible. I don’t think I ever reclaimed my gear after being killed in the water, as those packs always wound up in the midst of schools of fish with steak-knife teeth.

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In a perfect world, playing the multiplayer version of Ark would solve the above problems. It doesn’t. All of these issues remain present when playing on servers with other people, and other, potentially even more serious annoyances, are introduced. Playing on an established public server means that you’re the new guy, so it doesn’t seem entirely easy to join a tribe. On the PVP servers, you can be an easy target for the more experienced players who enjoy playing serial killer. PVE servers let you relax and work cooperatively, but I saw a lot of people there doing their own thing exactly as they would have in the solo game. So aside from the social aspect of trying to stay alive in dino-land with the help of fellow human beings, I didn’t really see the point.

There is something majestic about Ark's addictive and incredibly atmospheric design. I’ve never been so invested in the protagonist’s predicament, especially when huddling around a fire in the middle of the night or when facing off with a dinosaur that was stalking me, and the sense of being so utterly alone really sank in.

Still, this outstanding sense of place and mood is offset by the sheer difficulty of everything that you have to do, the spectacular amounts of time necessary to experience even a tenth of what the game has to offer, and the randomness of death constantly destroying everything that you have built. None of these things can exactly be considered flaws, as the designers surely intended the game to play like this, at least for the most part. But all of these factors also make Ark an acquired taste that requires a strong level of commitment that is not for everyone, probably myself included.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Wed, 13 Sep 2017 15:05:00 -0700)

After stumbling on current gen consoles starting with NHL 15, the NHL series is starting to hit its stride, with a wide variety of improvements and additions to the core game in recent iterations. In NHL 18, most of these improvements are aimed at new or casual players, but hardcore hockey heads haven't been forgotten. From its generous list of modes ranging from full-season to the exciting NHL Threes, to how the action on the ice feels smooth and deliberate, NHL 18 is a fun yet accessible sports game.

When you're out on the ice, NHL 18 feels fantastic. There's a feeling of weight to the players crashing into each other, making each check feel satisfying. Passing and controlling the puck is smooth and fast, and when you outsmart the defense and score a goal, it's a genuine fist-pumping moment. The new dekes open up fresh possibilities of outsmarting your defenders. Passing the puck around the ice, screening the goalie, and then putting a wrister into the goal always feels purposeful and satisfying. There's no button mashing here unless you want it, in which case you can set the game to NHL '94's ultra-simplified 2-button controls.

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The new modes like NHL Training Camp, NHL Threes, and Expansion Draft feature in Franchise mode bring new ways to play, but returning gamers will find the core NHL experience familiar. Gameplay is largely the same as it always has been. The commentary is basic, repetitive, and the delivery and excitement don't always match the on-screen action.The soundtrack, too, is limited. There are very few songs, so they repeat on the menu screens frequently. Songs like Kaleo's Hot Blood and The North Panic's Haven't You Heard? become annoying from repetition.

Of the new mode additions, NHL Threes feels the freshest, and controls exactly the same as the rest of the game while keeping an arcade feel, slacking on penalties and rules found in the simulation modes. I enjoyed slamming other players in situations where I'd normally be penalized, particularly the opposing team's goalie for stopping play.

Despite the familiarity returning players will feel with NHL 18, the number of possibilities are impressive and each serves as a hook to get into into another mode. If you just want to smash around the ice, foregoing things like off-sides and icing, NHL Threes is perfect. You can even earn team mascots as playable characters. If you're heavy into the simulation of a season, there's a full-season mode. Hockey Ultimate Team lets you build your own fantasy team using current and past players, and is complex and feature-rich enough to practically stand on its own.

But the beauty of all this variety, besides having something for everyone, is how one mode complements another. Playing NHL Threes is a great way to get a feel for the basics of the game--skating, shooting, and hitting--without worrying too much about the rules. It makes the on-ice time in something like season play that much more dynamically, because it allows you to get a better feel for the way NHL 18 moves and plays. The MyCareer mode lets you start off with your own custom player, and play your way from amateur to professional, building exactly the type of player you want to build. It gets your foot in the door for a full season mode, controlling each team, switching between players on the fly--which hones your hockey skills, helping you dominate NHL Threes. It's cyclical. Playing any single mode makes you better at any of the other modes. It's awesome.

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While Madden and NBA 2K have both taken the single-player experience and turned them into compelling story modes, NHL 18 makes no such effort. You set up your player, play in the junior leagues, and move up from there. It's generic. Building on the MyCareer mode would have made a great addition for returning players, but instead it's just more of the same we've seen in every previous sports game for years.

But NHL 18 is welcoming in every possible way to new users. One of the most difficult things about sports games is learning the vocabulary of each title. In the past, jumping back into a series, or starting for the first time, seemed overwhelming. The NHL Training Camp is great for returning users to learn some of the new moves, and invaluable for helping rookies get a feel for the game.

Visually, NHL 18 doesn't reach the same heights as other sports sims on the market right now. The crowds especially fare poorly, looking more like Sims characters than actual humans. When the camera pans the crowd, the animation looks canned and often suffers from framerate stutters. Actual gameplay is fluid, but transitional animations are non-existent. It doesn't look natural in up-close replays when a character goes from skating, to scoring, to celebrating.

New players won't feel lost, as NHL goes out of its way to make sure you get up to speed with training, tutorials, and on-screen hints.

There's still a lot to love about NHL 18, even if the core on-ice experience has only seen minor tweaks. The new modes bring variety to the gameplay, with NHL Threes standing out as a fast-paced, fun way to play hockey. No matter what the mode, gameplay is fast, responsive, and rewarding. And those fresh to the franchise won't feel lost, as NHL goes out of its way to make sure you get up to speed with training, tutorials, and on-screen hints. New players are sure to feel welcome, but for any series veterans, NHL 18 still has some room to improve.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:06:00 -0700)

In the Age of the Internet, where we demand everything faster and our attention spans shrink to that of a goldfish, it's interesting that both PES and FIFA are slowing down. It's a trend aimed at making soccer games more realistic, but upto and including FIFA 17, it had caused EA's series to suffer, with every title since FIFA 15 feeling less responsive than its predecessor. Finally, with FIFA 18, the franchise has managed to arrest its decline, and while the series' latest entry still feels slow, it at least feels a little more responsive, and less frustrating as a result. Combined with outstanding presentation and more ways to play than ever, FIFA 18's on-pitch improvements represent the beginnings of a recovery for the series.

FIFA 17's problem, I realized after far too many sleepless nights, was that it slowed players' turning speeds to Titanic levels but left much of the rest of the game at a higher velocity. That meant you could sprint pretty quickly, but would take an age to accelerate or change direction. This is still a problem in FIFA 18, where players' continued slow turning circles and lengthy animations can feel like there's a split-second of input lag--but their slower sprinting does mean the game's speed as a whole feels more consistent.

This results in a more thoughtful game that's less concerned with beating defenders using trickery or pace and more about--as your youth coach probably told you every week--letting the ball do the work. AI teammates now make more frequent and intelligent runs to give you greater options when you're on the ball, and players' first touches keep the ball closer to their body, finally making driven passes a viable option in the attacking third. Unfortunately, however, non-driven passes remain as limp as before: long passes and chipped through balls still slowly float towards their target before inevitably getting cut out, and ground passes are similarly weak, rarely possessing enough zip to carve a defense open.

Many attacks end in your wingers or full backs crossing the ball into the area or an attacking midfielder having a pop from the edge of the box. It's a good job, then, that these are the areas that have seen most improvement. Shots carry a little more weight than before and are responsible for the game's most satisfying moments--seeing a volley fly into the top corner is a great feeling, and it happens far more frequently in FIFA 18 than last year. Crosses, meanwhile, have been reworked, dropping the old low cross in favor of a new three height system: holding R1 / RB while crossing produces a driven, ground cross; L1 / LB creates a floaty ball similar to FIFA 17's efforts; and just the standard X / Square input whips the ball behind the defenders with pace. Crucially, unlike last year, it is now actually possible to score by crossing it into a target man or poacher, and doing so feels better than it has in any FIFA to date.

Players' continued slow turning circles and lengthy animations can feel like there's a split-second of input lag

That doesn't translate to set pieces, however, which are still useless--even if penalties are slightly less complicated than FIFA 17's approach, which felt like trying to solve a Rubik's cube with your hands tied. They're still unnecessarily obtuse, requiring you to be mindful of shot power, direction, and height, as well as your run-up, all at the same time, but at least you now have time to think about your approach, rather than the run-up being mapped to the same stick as shot direction.

Elsewhere, EA has finally got the balance of individuals' pace just right--slow players feel slow and fast players feel fast, and utilizing the latter no longer feels over- or under-powered. However, despite the numerous small-but-important enhancements, there a number of lingering flaws holding FIFA back. Different players still don't feel unique enough: other than Ronaldo and a handful more of the world's elite, every footballer in the game feels roughly the same, the vast majority of them displaying the same animations and only feeling different in their heights and speed stats. This year's gimmick, quick subs--which allow you to press R2 / RT during stoppages in play to substitute a player without having to pause the game--are a nice touch that is limited by the fact you can only apply it to three pre-planned changes organized before the match or go with the game's suggestion. That suggestion is rarely a good fit for the situation at hand, and mapping it to the same button as sprint meant I was constantly activating it by mistake.

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If FIFA 18's on-the-pitch showing is inconsistent, its presentation--the area in which the series has progressed most over the past few seasons--continues to set the standard for sports games as a whole. While it may sound like a boring, granular change, the prettier and more versatile lighting really helps make each match feel unique. It's aided by more realistic and enthusiastic crowd reactions, and different kinds of atmosphere depending on where in the world you're playing. Spanish matches are scored with the distant beat of drums and constant, partisan noise, whereas English crowds are more likely to taunt the away team over their lack of support. Club-specific chants are common for the bigger sides, though Liverpool fans may tire after Anfield's 200th rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone.

In addition there's official league-specific branding and graphics, lineups being read out by stadium announcers (even in the lower leagues with less well-known players), and largely excellent commentators discussing real-life transfers and results. Together they make a game that replicates the experience of watching football and interprets the culture around the sport--the media, the fan adoration and anguish, and the obsession with following your team--more immaculately than ever.

FIFA 18 replicates the experience of watching football and interprets the culture around the sport more immaculately than ever

As FIFA continues to almost become a sports channel in itself, it also expands its repertoire of game modes every year. This year sees the narrative-driven Journey mode return for a second season, with Alex Hunter now a world-famous prodigy. The Journey sees few improvements over Season 1 beyond some greater customisation options (you can now change Hunter’s apparel and hairstyle, among other minor tweaks), and its cast produces the same mixed performances as last year. It remains a unique mode, but think of FIFA 18's Journey more similar to the second run of a middling TV show than anything else: it's the same, just more of it.

Elsewhere, Pro Clubs remains largely untouched--save for a Journey-style skill tree in which you need to acquire certain traits before others are unlocked--and Ultimate Team's winning formula has also been left mostly alone. The few new additions include Squad Battles, where you play a number of matches against other Ultimate Team clubs controlled by AI, before being ranked against other real-world players for the amount of wins you manage. They're a perfect alternative to the online FUT Champions for those who don't want to brave the wastelands of online multiplayer, or for those who don't have the time to commit to the latter's grueling schedule of qualification rounds and weekend tournaments. Meanwhile Daily Objectives, in which you're rewarded with coins or packs for, say, winning by over two goals or for scoring with a Serie A player (among other challenges) offer welcome new bonuses, particularly for Seasons players who have traditionally been subject to meagre rewards.

Finally, The Journey's influence has spread beyond Pro Clubs and into Career Mode, whose transfer negotiations have been overhauled--aesthetically at least. Instead of submitting your offer as an email, transfer talks are now conducted in real-time through interactive cutscenes. It's a largely superficial change since the only actual new feature is the ability to add release clauses and sell-on percentages to signings' contracts--the rest of the process is exactly the same, except with a human face rather than an inbox in front of you--but it's at least more exciting than seeing the same offer letter template written down for the hundredth time. Otherwise Career Mode is the same as ever, with the player conversation system feeling most stale--the emails players send to you are identical to the ones they've been sending for years now, and there's still no way to reply. It would've been nice to be able to speak with your team in a similar vein to the transfer negotiation cutscenes, though maybe that's a feature for next year.

Career Mode, Pro Clubs, and Ultimate Team's new features are undoubtedly incremental, but that's largely because what was already there was excellent. They each offer an entirely different way to play, with Career Mode offering the chance to control your favorite team, Pro Clubs being a great way to play with friends, and FUT being by far the most addictive and fun--especially for those who collected football cards as a kid.

It's off the pitch that EA excels. From the variety of game modes on offer and how everything's presented, to the constant updates in FUT's Team of the Week, Daily Objectives, and discussion of real-world happenings in commentary, FIFA 18 captures the world of football and confidently translates it into a video game. On the pitch, however, EA's soccer series is still lagging far behind PES 2018's more fluid, satisfying football. This year's improvements are welcome, but more needs to be done in the coming years if FIFA is to be a world-beater once again.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:38:00 -0700)
Photography For Little People is looking for photographers to join their growing business.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Photography News (Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:02:23 GMT )
Here, we round up the best third party lenses available in Nikon fit which can be used for capturing landscapes, portraits, macro shots and more.
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Equipment Reviews (Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:00:02 GMT )

The Photographer's Guide To Scotland is the newest edition to Ellen Bowness' successful series, helping people to find the best photos in the UK's most photographed places.

Previous off...
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Source: ePHOTOzine - Book Reviews (Tue, 12 Apr 2016 15:53:53 GMT )


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