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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hemp-derived CBD is increasingly...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until now, Jeff Koons’ steel...

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

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

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

It has...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark O’Rowe,...

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

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

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

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

'Time Freak'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just when you think you understand...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only New York City surpasses...

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

UNDERRATED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Black Friday 2018 Game Deals


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

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

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

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

Black Friday 2018 Video Game Shopping Guides

Best Black Friday Gaming Deals By Console


Assassin's Creed Odyssey -- Xbox One, PS4


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

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

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


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


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

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

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


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


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

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

Xbox One

PlayStation 4

Nintendo Switch


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


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

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

PlayStation 4


Forza Horizon 4 -- Xbox One


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

Forza Horizon 4 is an Xbox One console exclusive.

Xbox One


God Of War -- PS4


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

God of War is a PS4 exclusive.

PlayStation 4


Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle -- Nintendo Switch


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

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

Nintendo Switch


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


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

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

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


Nier: Automata -- PS4


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

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

PlayStation 4


Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido -- Nintendo Switch


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

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

Nintendo Switch


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


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

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

Nintendo Switch


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 -- Nintendo Switch


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

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a Nintendo Switch exclusive.

Nintendo Switch


Xbox Game Pass -- Xbox One


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

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

Best Buy

12-Month Subscription -- $70

Microsoft Store

1-Month Subscription -- $1


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

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

Ben Bolch

USC at UCLA: UCLA 28-27

Michigan State at Nebraska: Michigan State...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lakers said that Rondo had a successful...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back in the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction, the future looked bigger, brighter and more ferocious than it ever would again.

This was from roughly the mid-’30s to the early ’50s, when lean, handsome star-warriors — such as those leading the charge in Jack Williamson’s “Legion of Space”...

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

Draymond Green isn't apologizing for his part in a dust-up with Kevin Durant that led to a one-game suspension by the Golden State Warriors.

Green says he and Durant have spoken and that they're “moving forward” after the heated exchange between the players during Monday night's overtime loss to...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 12:00:00 PST )

Writer-director Nijla Mu’min makes a strong feature debut with “Jinn,” a drama about shifting identities and shifting relationships in which a young woman comes to terms with her family and herself within the context of a new religion.

Zoe Renee, in her first feature film role, is luminous and...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 12:05:00 PST )

Few American independent filmmakers use wilderness as evocatively, or with as much respect for its mysteries, as Debra Granik. She made her feature debut in 2004 with “Down to the Bone” but came to prominence with 2010’s “Winter’s Bone,” a beautifully bleak Ozarks-set mystery-thriller that won...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 11:10:00 PST )

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee are gorgeous--albeit lean--reimaginings of one of the series' most beloved adventures. While some features fans have come to expect are missing--like abilities, breeding, and held items--Let's Go has an admirable amount of depth for a game aimed at a younger audience that has never played a Pokemon RPG. Both games may not have the same lasting appeal as previous entries, but revisiting Kanto and catching some of the series' most iconic creatures makes the journey worthwhile.

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee take you back to Kanto, the home of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. Not much has changed structurally, but the previously 8-bit region has been realized in vibrant detail. Revisiting some of the series' most memorable locations like Viridian Forest and Saffron City on a big screen is an absolute joy. Areas that were once composed of lines and simple shapes are now colorful forests and detailed cities. Pokemon both big and small roam the wilds, giving personality to the region--you can watch a tiny Horsea speed through the waves or a massive Onix slink through a dark cave. The catchy original soundtrack has also been remastered, and it sounds better than ever.

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Those familiar with the originals or their remakes, FireRed and LeafGreen, should have no trouble navigating the world. After you're introduced to your partner Pokemon (Pikachu or Eevee depending on the version you choose) you set out on an adventure to collect Gym badges, defeat the Elite Four, and put an end to Team Rocket. While there are a few surprises, the layout of the region and your progression through it is nearly identical to the originals. Fortunately, Let’s Go sheds some of Red, Blue, and Yellow's more archaic designs. For example, HMs--"hidden moves" that allowed you to get past certain obstacles--are replaced with "Secret Techniques" that fulfill the same purpose without taking up one of a Pokemon's move slots. As a result, you can focus on team composition and complementary move sets instead of figuring out how to divvy up HMs between your party Pokemon.

Let's Go also does a much better job at guiding you through the world and story. After you made your way through Rock Tunnel in the originals, you had little direction through Lavender, Celadon, Fuschia, and Saffron and could do certain Gym battles and events out of order. It was easy to miss key items and wind up fighting Pokemon much stronger than your own, which led to frustrating backtracking with little idea of what to do next. While you still can complete certain beats out of order, Let's Go ensures you don't miss anything crucial. For example, after you beat Erika in Celadon City, a character gives you a key item that will let you enter Saffron City. Previously, you had to buy a drink from an inconspicuous vending machine on the roof of the department store and give it to a city guard, and if you failed to do so, you wouldn't be able to fight the sixth Gym Leader.

One of Let's Go's most fundamental changes is how you catch Pokemon. Instead of the random encounters and wild Pokemon battles of previous mainline games, Let's Go adopts Pokemon Go's catching mechanics. Pokemon roam the wilds in real time, and you have to walk into one to initiate catching it. Then, rather than battling it to whittle down its health, you just have to throw a Poke Ball at it, and the timing and accuracy of your throw increases your chances of a successful catch.

The new catching mechanics are a welcome change to the formula that breaks up the pace of traditional trainer and Gym battles. Although catching wild Pokemon doesn’t require as much strategy as it did before, the act of catching is far more engaging. You don't need to worry about accidentally defeating and therefore failing to catch a rare or one-time Pokemon, and if there's a Pokemon you don't want to catch, you simply avoid it. The absence of random encounters also makes traversing caves a lot less tedious. Yes, that means you can even avoid Zubats.

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Let's Go encourages you to catch Pokemon more so than any other mainline Pokemon game, and it's better for it. Sure, catching every single species has always been the overarching goal, but I've never felt more inclined to complete my Pokedex. Catching Pokemon is the most efficient way to level up; with each successful catch your entire team is awarded a generous dose of experience. This alleviates the need to spend significant amounts of time grinding and makes it easier to experiment with different party compositions.

Let's Go also introduces Catch Combos, which occur when you catch the same species of Pokemon multiple times in a row. As you build your combo, your chances of running into rare and powerful Pokemon increase. You can even find Pokemon you typically wouldn't find in the wild. Catching repeat Pokemon is both useful and satisfying--it's great knowing that luck is not the only factor involved when trying to catch a rare Pokemon, and it's very hard to stop when you're deep into a combo, knowing something good could spawn.

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However, the new catching mechanics don't come without issues. The Joy-Con motion controls are inaccurate at best and unpredictable at worst. Over the course of my journey, I never found a reliable way to throw a Poke Ball to the right or left. In most cases, I would just wait for the wild Pokemon to return to the center of the screen before throwing a Poke Ball, and even then, the ball wouldn't always go where I wanted it to.

The Poke Ball Plus controller, an optional Poke Ball-shaped accessory, is a bit more precise, but because there are only two physical buttons on the controller, navigating menus and interacting with the world can be a pain. As novel as it is to see Kanto on a big screen, handheld mode is the best way to catch wild Pokemon. You can either use the Switch's gyroscope sensor or the left control stick to line up a throw. It's far more precise than the other methods, but you do have to consider the Pokemon's size and distance.

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Despite changes that make the Pokemon experience more accessible than ever, Let's Go is surprisingly deep. It does an excellent job at easing new players into some of the more complex mechanics without being bogged down by tutorials. Each Pokemon still has six base stats and one of 25 natures, and the game seamlessly presents all that information to you. For example, whenever you switch Pokemon during a battle, you are shown its stats. You can get through the entire game without paying attention to a Pokemon's stats, but it's helpful to see that information presented clearly and often. Early on, you even get the ability to "judge" a Pokemon, which lets you see its base stats (also called IVs). While this may not be super useful for beginners, it's presented in a way that's easy to understand and it gives veterans the opportunity to check for Pokemon with good stats early on.

Unfortunately, those invested in the competitive side won't have as much to sink their teeth into. The absence of abilities, held items, and breeding limits the potential for highly competitive play. You can farm for Pokemon with higher stats through the aforementioned catch combos, but even if you do manage to catch a Pokemon with the stats you want, you won't have much to do with it. The online features are limited, and there's no matchmaking or ranked battles where you can test your skill.

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The trading features are also limited. The Global Trade System is nonexistent, and there is no Wonder Trading; you can trade and battle online and locally with friends, and that's about it. The barebones trading features may be disappointing at first, but given the smaller roster of Pokemon, I never felt that I needed the GTS or Wonder Trade to complete the Pokedex. This is also true for the Pokemon Go-compatible Go Park, which allows you to transfer any first-generation Pokemon you have in Go to Let's Go.It's a useful feature--especially if you are having trouble getting version-exclusive Pokemon--but you can easily complete the Pokedex without it.

Without the competitive mechanics fans are accustomed to and the limited Pokedex, it can be difficult to come back to Let's Go after the credits roll. While there certainly are reasons to revisit Kanto once you have finished the game, like completing the Pokedex and grinding for Pokemon with perfect stats, the pull isn't quite as strong. There aren't many surprises and what's there isn't all that enticing. The last thing I need to try is the Pokemon Go connectivity, which isn't available as of this writing.

Despite changes that make the Pokemon experience more accessible than ever, Let's Go is surprisingly deep.

Despite these concessions, Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee are delightful reimaginings of the series' origins and a deep RPG in their own right. It makes a lot of smart improvements on the original Red, Blue and Yellow while holding on to what made them so special in the first place. Fans of the series might be let down by the lack of features they've come to expect, but Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee take the Pokemon formula in some exciting new directions.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 09:34:00 -0800)
Grand opening of new Olive Avenue Bridge over the Golden State Freeway. Read More

Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Thu, 15 Nov 2018 01:00:00 PST )

Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo broke his right hand during a 126-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, the team announced after the game.

Lakers coach Luke Walton said Rondo would be out “for at least two weeks” and possibly longer once the team gives the backup point...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 14 Nov 2018 23:25:00 PST )

It didn’t even look like a blue wave on election night. Now it’s looking like a potential tsunami, at least in California.

As late votes poured in, largely from mailed ballots, the Democrats’ tally rose and swept away Republicans.

What happened in the final days of the election season to generate...

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

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee are gorgeous--albeit lean--reimaginings of one of the series' most beloved adventures. While some features fans have come to expect are missing--like abilities, breeding, and held items--Let's Go has an admirable amount of depth for a game aimed at a younger audience that has never played a Pokemon RPG. Both games may not have the same lasting appeal as previous entries, but revisiting Kanto and catching some of the series' most iconic creatures makes the journey worthwhile.

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee take you back to Kanto, the home of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. Not much has changed structurally, but the previously 8-bit region has been realized in vibrant detail. Revisiting some of the series' most memorable locations like Viridian Forest and Saffron City on a big screen is an absolute joy. Areas that were once composed of lines and simple shapes are now colorful forests and detailed cities. Pokemon both big and small roam the wilds, giving personality to the region--you can watch a tiny Horsea speed through the waves or a massive Onix slink through a dark cave. The catchy original soundtrack has also been remastered, and it sounds better than ever.

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Those familiar with the originals or their remakes, FireRed and LeafGreen, should have no trouble navigating the world. After you're introduced to your partner Pokemon (Pikachu or Eevee depending on the version you choose) you set out on an adventure to collect Gym badges, defeat the Elite Four, and put an end to Team Rocket. While there are a few surprises, the layout of the region and your progression through it is nearly identical to the originals. Fortunately, Let’s Go sheds some of Red, Blue, and Yellow's more archaic designs. For example, HMs--"hidden moves" that allowed you to get past certain obstacles--are replaced with "Secret Techniques" that fulfill the same purpose without taking up one of a Pokemon's move slots. As a result, you can focus on team composition and complementary move sets instead of figuring out how to divvy up HMs between your party Pokemon.

Let's Go also does a much better job at guiding you through the world and story. After you made your way through Rock Tunnel in the originals, you had little direction through Lavender, Celadon, Fuschia, and Saffron and could do certain Gym battles and events out of order. It was easy to miss key items and wind up fighting Pokemon much stronger than your own, which led to frustrating backtracking with little idea of what to do next. While you still can complete certain beats out of order, Let's Go ensures you don't miss anything crucial. For example, after you beat Erika in Celadon City, a character gives you a key item that will let you enter Saffron City. Previously, you had to buy a drink from an inconspicuous vending machine on the roof of the department store and give it to a city guard, and if you failed to do so, you wouldn't be able to fight the sixth Gym Leader.

One of Let's Go's most fundamental changes is how you catch Pokemon. Instead of the random encounters and wild Pokemon battles of previous mainline games, Let's Go adopts Pokemon Go's catching mechanics. Pokemon roam the wilds in real time, and you have to walk into one to initiate catching it. Then, rather than battling it to whittle down its health, you just have to throw a Poke Ball at it, and the timing and accuracy of your throw increases your chances of a successful catch.

The new catching mechanics are a welcome change to the formula that breaks up the pace of traditional trainer and Gym battles. Although catching wild Pokemon doesn’t require as much strategy as it did before, the act of catching is far more engaging. You don't need to worry about accidentally defeating and therefore failing to catch a rare or one-time Pokemon, and if there's a Pokemon you don't want to catch, you simply avoid it. The absence of random encounters also makes traversing caves a lot less tedious. Yes, that means you can even avoid Zubats.

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Let's Go encourages you to catch Pokemon more so than any other mainline Pokemon game, and it's better for it. Sure, catching every single species has always been the overarching goal, but I've never felt more inclined to complete my Pokedex. Catching Pokemon is the most efficient way to level up; with each successful catch your entire team is awarded a generous dose of experience. This alleviates the need to spend significant amounts of time grinding and makes it easier to experiment with different party compositions.

Let's Go also introduces Catch Combos, which occur when you catch the same species of Pokemon multiple times in a row. As you build your combo, your chances of running into rare and powerful Pokemon increase. You can even find Pokemon you typically wouldn't find in the wild. Catching repeat Pokemon is both useful and satisfying--it's great knowing that luck is not the only factor involved when trying to catch a rare Pokemon, and it's very hard to stop when you're deep into a combo, knowing something good could spawn.

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However, the new catching mechanics don't come without issues. The Joy-Con motion controls are inaccurate at best and unpredictable at worst. Over the course of my journey, I never found a reliable way to throw a Poke Ball to the right or left. In most cases, I would just wait for the wild Pokemon to return to the center of the screen before throwing a Poke Ball, and even then, the ball wouldn't always go where I wanted it to.

The Poke Ball Plus controller, an optional Poke Ball-shaped accessory, is a bit more precise, but because there are only two physical buttons on the controller, navigating menus and interacting with the world can be a pain. As novel as it is to see Kanto on a big screen, handheld mode is the best way to catch wild Pokemon. You can either use the Switch's gyroscope sensor or the left control stick to line up a throw. It's far more precise than the other methods, but you do have to consider the Pokemon's size and distance.

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Despite changes that make the Pokemon experience more accessible than ever, Let's Go is surprisingly deep. It does an excellent job at easing new players into some of the more complex mechanics without being bogged down by tutorials. Each Pokemon still has six base stats and one of 25 natures, and the game seamlessly presents all that information to you. For example, whenever you switch Pokemon during a battle, you are shown its stats. You can get through the entire game without paying attention to a Pokemon's stats, but it's helpful to see that information presented clearly and often. Early on, you even get the ability to "judge" a Pokemon, which lets you see its base stats (also called IVs). While this may not be super useful for beginners, it's presented in a way that's easy to understand and it gives veterans the opportunity to check for Pokemon with good stats early on.

Unfortunately, those invested in the competitive side won't have as much to sink their teeth into. The absence of abilities, held items, and breeding limits the potential for highly competitive play. You can farm for Pokemon with higher stats through the aforementioned catch combos, but even if you do manage to catch a Pokemon with the stats you want, you won't have much to do with it. The online features are limited, and there's no matchmaking or ranked battles where you can test your skill.

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The trading features are also limited. The Global Trade System is nonexistent, and there is no Wonder Trading; you can trade and battle online and locally with friends, and that's about it. The barebones trading features may be disappointing at first, but given the smaller roster of Pokemon, I never felt that I needed the GTS or Wonder Trade to complete the Pokedex. This is also true for the Pokemon Go-compatible Go Park, which allows you to transfer any first-generation Pokemon you have in Go to Let's Go.It's a useful feature--especially if you are having trouble getting version-exclusive Pokemon--but you can easily complete the Pokedex without it.

Without the competitive mechanics fans are accustomed to and the limited Pokedex, it can be difficult to come back to Let's Go after the credits roll. While there certainly are reasons to revisit Kanto once you have finished the game, like completing the Pokedex and grinding for Pokemon with perfect stats, the pull isn't quite as strong. There aren't many surprises and what's there isn't all that enticing. The last thing I need to try is the Pokemon Go connectivity, which isn't available as of this writing.

Despite changes that make the Pokemon experience more accessible than ever, Let's Go is surprisingly deep.

Despite these concessions, Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee are delightful reimaginings of the series' origins and a deep RPG in their own right. It makes a lot of smart improvements on the original Red, Blue and Yellow while holding on to what made them so special in the first place. Fans of the series might be let down by the lack of features they've come to expect, but Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee take the Pokemon formula in some exciting new directions.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Wed, 14 Nov 2018 16:16:00 -0800)

If my nearly 10 years as a small-town mayor in Canada have taught me anything, it is that bringing in industrial growth is an extremely demanding task. So much production has moved offshore in recent decades that it has become tough to keep the industries that we still have, let alone add new ones. But this isn't quite the case in Industries, the new expansion for Cities: Skylines that adds character to your carefully crafted municipalities without much in the way of difficulty. While being able to concentrate on specific industries adds an involving and entertaining new dimension to city creation, the lack of challenge and reward when building these new districts makes the add-on less than essential.

With that said, this enhanced industrial focus has been seamlessly incorporated into the base Cities: Skylines game as if it had always been there. In addition to still being able to zone properties for random industrial use, there is a new option to paint part of your municipality as an industrial district specifically for forest, farming, ore, or oil. It is very easy to establish these zones. Mark them out, drop a main building to get started, and then lay down facilities to gather resources. You instantly start rolling in the logs, crops, rocks, and black gold. Levels are then gained based on the number of materials produced and employees hired, which unlocks new buildings. These industrial districts soon turn into into beehives of activity.

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Getting these industrial districts up and running is satisfying, as it is the one employment area in Cities: Skylines where you directly construct industries and create jobs. As such, building industrial districts is more hands-on, as opposed to the usual "zone it and let it go" approach in the game's standard industrial, commercial, and residential development. The process is still straightforward, though. While industrial districts require a certain amount of micro-management, creating and running them is relatively easy to handle, especially for Cities: Skylines veterans. Start with something like a main forestry building and a few tree plantations and you can soon expand into sawmills, storage yards, biomass wood pellet plants, planed wood production, pulp mills, and factories making finished goods like furniture and paper products at a printing press.

Industrial districts add character to cities, making them more products of their environment than the mostly generic burgs of the original Cities: Skylines. Everything looks and feels more natural. Have a city surrounded by trees? Industries based on wood products are the only sensible option. There is also a lot to be said for finally taking full advantage of the natural resources on city maps, as previously there was little way to commodify what was all around you. Now, for example, a forest map plays like a forest map should play, with industries based on what is right in the neighborhood.

Playing on a map with multiple resource types makes things even better, as you can set up numerous industrial districts that feed into specific unique factories. The toy factory, for instance, needs both the plastic that comes from oil and the paper that comes from wood, so you need both to make sure junior is happy on Christmas morning. Districts tie into each other, making the entire industrial process operate as something of a mini-game; resource gathering, production, and warehousing all form a chain with these factories at the end of the line.

Just two minor drawbacks cause issues. First up is the need to reserve a ton of room on the map for industrial districts, as you have to build a lot of resource-gathering facilities and storage yards/warehouses to keep production humming and raw materials on hand. Second is the way that managing industries can become so involved that you forget about the rest of your city. I had a number of occasions where I spent so much attention on an industrial district that I didn't notice garbage piling up elsewhere or corpses going unclaimed in homes because I neglected to keep pace with population growth. Still, spending time dealing solely with industries is a welcome break from the other aspects of the game. As great as Cities: Skylines is, it has also become pretty familiar for those of us who have been with it since the beginning. A little micro-management isn't a bad thing in this case.

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Industrial districts also never seem entirely necessary. While they are always enjoyable to plan out, and it is pretty easy to turn them into serious money-making machines, just about anyone who has played Cities: Skylines for a dozen hours or so likely has little trouble staying in the black with the original industrial zoning options. I really enjoyed turning forests into furniture and playing J.R. Ewing with oil, but I never needed the extra cash that these businesses generated. So as much as I appreciated the novelty, running these industries also seemed like extra work with questionable end benefit.

Other features added to Cities: Skylines are fairly minor. Snail mail has finally come to residents. Postal services operate much like other regional city facilities such as police stations, bus stops, and so on. Set up a post office or postal sorting station and watch happy faces sprout up all over a neighborhood. Toll booths can now be installed on city roads, letting you earn extra revenue from vehicular traffic at the small price of slowing everybody down a bit.

Industries somehow feels like both a worthwhile and an unnecessary addition to the Cities: Skylines family. Requiring direct management of industrial development definitely adds dimension to budding metropolises. Paying attention to nothing but smokestacks and jobs for a while also represents a needed change of pace from what has become a familiar city-building experience. Still, there are no significant new gameplay challenges to overcome here or enough unique rewards that make it an absolute must to create industries like an oil patch or ore mines. While this expansion provides a better, more involved experience when it comes to industry, virtual mayors can give this one a pass if they're satisfied with the factories of the original game.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 06 Nov 2018 12:21:00 -0800)

As an anthology of games from SNK's simpler days, the 40th Anniversary Collection offers a variety of classics that are more fun than you might expect given their age. The simple-looking Vanguard (1981) may not give off a rousing first impression, for example, but play it a bit and you begin to discover that its dynamic scrolling system and proclivity for handing out invincibility power-ups make it more than a predictable space shooter. This and many other entries show a glimpse of a company developing its prowess for making arcade games, and it's fascinating to take it all in. This is in large part thanks to the great attention to detail and comprehensive research that went into cataloging and smartly presenting an unsung but important part of gaming history. What's more impressive, and less obvious, is the work that was required to make every game in the collection playable at all.

The full extent of developer Digital Eclipse's efforts is difficult to know from the sidelines, but it's recognized among gaming historians that the team holds itself to a very high standard and often succeeds at meeting it. Beyond programming emulators, it also helps track down relics--original arcade motherboards--when the source code has been confirmed lost by SNK, in addition to scanning and restoring marketing materials that tell the story around the games at the time. Regular maintenance can keep old arcade boards alive, but with dwindling numbers of working units in the hands of private collectors, there's a feeling of "now or never" when it comes to preservation. The SNK 40th Collection is a treasure trove of classics that heeds the call.

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At launch, there are 14 games to play: Alpha Mission, Athena, Crystalis, Guerilla War, Ikari Warriors, Ikari Warriors 2: Victory Road, Ikari III: The Rescue, Iron Tank: Invasion of Normandy, P.O.W., Prehistoric Isle, Psycho Soldier, Street Smart, TNK III, and Vanguard. For some of these games where there was an NES home port of the arcade original, you get both versions to compare and contrast. It's a great lens with which to examine the mindset of the day, where everyone wanted to bring the arcade experience home and people were willing to accept compromised graphics and gameplay to get there.

A perfect example of this is Ikari Warriors, one of a few proto-twin-stick shooters in the collection. As evident by the included console port, when the game made the transition to the NES, you could only shoot in the direction you were moving, rather than independently, as you would in the arcade game. Now that the collection is on Switch with two analog sticks to handle the controls, we are that much closer to having the true Ikari Warriors arcade experience at home. The game actually used a single arcade stick that had an added rotation function, but short of releasing a new peripheral to exactly replicate the stick, Digital Eclipse has gone as far as possible to achieve what consumers wanted when Ikari Warriors was on everyone's radar.

While there are a lot of solid games on hand, there are no doubt going to be games that are more interesting in theory than in practice. Given this, it's nice to see that each game--minus some NES ports--has an autoplay option. This will not only make it easy for you to examine a game with ease but also gives you the chance to tag in when a game gets good. Disengaging autopilot and taking the wheel isn't the smartest way to learn how to play any game, but if you find yourself up against a difficult section, you can also trigger the rewind button to fix mistakes and undo accidental deaths.

The 40th Anniversary Collection gives you a lot to play and many ways to tailor the experience to your whims, including settings that come in handy while playing vertically oriented games. From a technical and experiential standpoint, it's an all-around great collection. And if everything goes according to plan, Digital Eclipse has 11 more games scheduled to arrive before the end of the year via free patches and DLC.

In the meantime, if you exhaust interest in playing what's around, there are a lot of special features to explore. Scans include assorted marketing sheets and advertisements but even go so far as to include independent fan zines from the '80s and arcade game guides. For a more in-depth peek into the past, every game released by SNK between 1978 and 1990 gets a neatly animated history lesson, complete with screenshots and interesting anecdotes that help tell the overall story of SNK's formative years. And if you want to just zone out to some nostalgic music, there are soundtracks for 12 of the games in the collection ready from the start.

Digital Eclipse proves once again that it's the right team for the job of both preserving and resurrecting classic video games. For SNK and its fans, the team has elevated some of the company's most important milestones. It's responsible for more than just Neo Geo games, and though not every game that came before is worth replaying on its own today, the addition of supplemental materials and revitalizing modern gaming conveniences make them feel more interesting than they have in years, and in some cases, decades.

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Source: GameSpot - Reviews (Tue, 06 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800)

In the spring of 1987, U.S. Senator and leading Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart issued a casual challenge that turned out to be one of the most fateful in American political history.

“If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead,” he told a New York Times reporter who’d inquired about...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Movie Reviews (Mon, 5 Nov 2018 16:05:00 PST )

Jemele Hill, who covers sports, race and politics for the Atlantic, wanted to take advantage of Florida’s two-week early voting period. Only when she got to her Orange County polling location, she found that she had been taken off the voter rolls, which seemed odd since she’d checked her registration...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Mi, 14 Nov 2018 11:20:00 PST )

Episode 7 of “Arrive Early, Stay Late” features a look at two of the more colorful characters in the world of sports.

Lakers writer Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) interviews starting center JaVale McGee. Topics include McGee’s passions when he’s not playing, his life growing up, who “Pierre” is,...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 14 Nov 2018 06:45:00 PST )

For the Pistol Annies, sometimes a song arrives whether or not all three members of this country-music supergroup are ready for it.

One example? “Best Years of My Life,” a casually devastating account of adult-onset disappointment that begins with Ashley Monroe delivering this instant classic of...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 14 Nov 2018 05:00:00 PST )

California’s wildfires have become a political tinderbox. Experts say it’s time to focus on reality.

TOP STORIES

Wildfire and Fury

President Trump has blamed bad forest management for California’s deadly wildfires. Gov. Jerry Brown has pointed to climate change. But many experts say the reality...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 14 Nov 2018 05:00:00 PST )

A rock ’n’ roll musician, Ernie Foss had lived in San Francisco all his life until being priced out of the city a decade ago.

He’d become a father at a young age, said daughter Angela Loo, and gave up his band lifestyle to raise three children on his own.

Eventually, Foss moved to Paradise, Calif....

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 14 Nov 2018 05:00:00 PST )

Warner Bros. is counting on the imagination of J.K. Rowling to hold its spell over moviegoers as her ever-expanding wizarding franchise returns to the big screen this weekend.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the latest in the Burbank studio’s series of “Harry Potter” prequels, is...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Wed, 14 Nov 2018 05:00:00 PST )
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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (星期二, 13 十一月 2018 18:59:00 PST )

As he watched the Lakers from afar, Tyson Chandler couldn’t help but be impressed with how well JaVale McGee was playing.

When they became teammates, he wanted McGee to know that.

“It’s not about me and him,” Chandler said. “I am not here to take anybody’s job. I am here to try to make the team...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (星期二, 13 十一月 2018 19:00:00 PST )

After clinging for a week to a slim lead in her run for reelection, Republican Rep. Mimi Walters fell 261 votes behind her Democratic challenger, Katie Porter, as Orange County’s latest ballot count Tuesday underscored the increasingly bleak fortune of the California GOP.

Democrats have already...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Tue, 13 Nov 2018 17:35:00 PST )

The Thousand Oaks City Council voted to declare a state of emergency Tuesday because of fires that burned hillsides and homes in the city last week.

Shortly after the Hill and Woolsey fires broke out Thursday, the city manager announced a state of emergency, which allows the city to seek state...

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Source: Los Angeles Times - Restaurant Reviews (Tue, 13 Nov 2018 17:55:00 PST )

Best Black Friday 2018 Game Deals


Even though the holiday is still a few days out, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and several other stores have already announced Black Friday 2018 deals. This gallery compiles the list of the best discounts for Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch games.

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

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

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

Black Friday 2018 Video Game Shopping Guides

Best Black Friday Gaming Deals By Console


Assassin's Creed Odyssey -- Xbox One, PS4


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

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

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


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


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

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

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


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


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

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

Xbox One

PlayStation 4

Nintendo Switch


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


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

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

PlayStation 4


Forza Horizon 4 -- Xbox One


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

Forza Horizon 4 is an Xbox One console exclusive.

Xbox One


God Of War -- PS4


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

God of War is a PS4 exclusive.

PlayStation 4


Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle -- Nintendo Switch


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

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

Nintendo Switch


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


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

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

Xbox One

PlayStation 4


Nier: Automata -- PS4


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

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

PlayStation 4


Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido -- Nintendo Switch


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

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

Nintendo Switch


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


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

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

Nintendo Switch


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 -- Nintendo Switch


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

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a Nintendo Switch exclusive.

Nintendo Switch


Xbox Game Pass -- Xbox One


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

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

Best Buy

12-Month Subscription -- $70

Microsoft Store

1-Month Subscription -- $1


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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Tue, 13 Nov 2018 17:20:00 -0800)

HBO has finally confirmed that the eighth and final season of its acclaimed fantasy drama Game of Thrones will premiere in April 2019. Now, director David Nutter, who is directing the first episode of the final season and others, has shared some intriguing new details.

In a Reddit AMA, Nutter answered numerous questions about Game of Thrones, but we should say right at the top that he really only offered high-level details. HBO is going to great lengths to ensure spoilers don't leak, and Nutter did his part to keep things largely under wraps.

Starting off, Nutter talked about the challenge--and opportunity--of directing the first episode in the final season. He's directed a number of Game of Thrones episodes in the past, including the one with the infamous Red Wedding scene, but this is his first time directing the first episode of a new Game of Thrones season.

"I think it's really important to make a splash," he said. "You have to reset the table, put everyone back in their place, you have to take them to their next position. But you have to entertain that's what's most important."

Asked to describe Season 8 in three words, Nutter said, "Spectacular, Inspiring, and Satisfying." On the subject of satisfying, Nutter said he thinks people will generally be happy with the way the events wrap up once all is said and done.

"I'm completely satisfied with how Season 8 ends. I think that [creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss] did a tremendous job, and they took into consideration what the fans want, as well as what is right as far as storytelling is concerned," he said. "I guarantee there's going to be lots of surprises and shocking moments, but it’s really very compelling stuff."

As mentioned, Nutter directed the shocking Red Wedding episode from Season 3. Nutter said in the AMA that he was blown away by how the community reacted to the episode, in particular how people filmed YouTube reaction videos. But will there be a Red Wedding-esque moment in Season 8? "As far as season 8 compared to the Red Wedding I just have to tell you: hang onto your seat cause it's going to be special," he said.

Also in the AMA, Nutter talked about the length of episodes in Season 8. It was previously rumoured that while there are only six episodes, each might be as long as movie. Nutter confirmed that each installment will be 60-plus minutes, so they're longer than in the past, but probably not movie-length. "Season 8 episodes will all I think be longer than 60 minutes. They'll be dancing around the bigger numbers, I know that for sure," he said.

As you'd expect, Nutter said he feels a sense of responsibility to end Game of Thrones in a way that feels satisfying and right for the franchise. Such a task sounds like a very tall order, but Nutter is at least saying all the right things about how he wants to end it all.

"The biggest challenge directing the final season of Game of Thrones is just the importance of getting it right," he explained. "There was not a second chance to get all of these sequences right, and a lot of sequences had many actors in them and some wonderfully intimate scenes as well. So really it was about taking these characters from point A to B to C to D to E in the various episodes that I did, and making sure that it all balances out properly. We had a lot of rehearsal time and that was really the thing that saved me more than anything else. I'm very happy with the chance to get in there and rehearse with the actors, and I think they were too, and I think it turned out quite well."

Nutter also pretty much confirmed the theory that fake scenes were shot so that leaks that may eventually emerge prove incorrect. Asked if he himself knew if he was filming a fake scene, Nutter said, "Well, you have to ask me that at the end of Season 8 because I can't answer that question now."

You can read the full AMA here on Reddit. Nutter is one of four directors for the eighth season; the others are Miguel Sapochnik, along with Benioff and Weiss.

While Game of Thrones is ending, HBO is producing a spinoff that begins production in 2019. Naomi Watts is set to play one of the leads, while more casting details have also come to light.

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Source: GameSpot Gaming Reviews (Tue, 13 Nov 2018 17:23:00 -0800)


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