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    Dark Souls II Review: Grossly Incandescent

    April 7th, 2014

    Dark Souls II Box Art 2IRB-Editors-Choice

     

     

     

     

     

    Game Reviewed: Dark Souls II
    Release Date: March 11th. 2014
    Developer: FromSoftware
    Publisher: Namco Banbai
    Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], PC, PlayStation 3
    Genre: JRPG, Action/Adventure
    Rated: T for Teen
     

     Dark Souls II Header Pic

    One playthrough, over one hundred hours in, and an estimated 180 deaths; this was my time spent in the land of Drangleic as I searched every crevice, joined every covenant, and slayed each boss. A game like Dark Souls II is a rare specimen that requires unyielding attention when soaking in all that it had to offer. The seemingly tantalizing, but richly rewarding victories after numerous grueling defeats only made the fact more obvious that this game is beyond ordinary and is far beyond anything I have ever played.

    The lore of Dark Souls is drenched in tales of lords and wars, but as it has always been, your tale centers around an all too familiar curse – the curse of the undead and its plight. Set into the far distant future, where the events of the original Dark Souls are now whispered as legends, players are conflicted with the soul –draining curse of the undead and have sought out (or been drawn into) the kingdom of Drangleic. Rumors have spread that the land is brimming with souls to soothe the undead of their affliction, but those who enter it will find out that only those endure the punishment of death can even hope to retain their very humanity.

    Dark-Souls-II-03-07-2014-17What is so brilliant about Dark Souls II’s opening sequence is that it teaches you nearly everything that you will need to know going forward. Looking carefully at your surroundings may reveal hidden paths to take or that any enemy, large or small, can easily take out reckless adventurers. Overconfidence and natural curiosity is the driving force that will teach players the most important lessons in the game – death is inevitable and to learn from it. Like a moth drawn towards a flame, your wings will burn over and over again, each death providing knowledge, but the curse of the undead means you will begin to “Hollow”. With each and every subsequent death your hollowing is represented by your total health dropping from 10% up to a total of 50% of you maximum HP. Using a Human Effigy is the main way to regain your humanity and reverse the hollowing process.

    After learning some harsh truths, you are given a chance to make a unique character and choose between 8 starting classes, all of which favor certain stats dark_souls_ii-2463244depending on how you would like to play the game. Every time you acquire enough souls by killing enemies, you can trade those souls for one point on any stat you wish. Each stat benefits you character in one way or another and once that time to level up does come it makes you take a moment to really think and consider which one should be upgraded. Certain stats raises physical defense while others can provide protection against magic, so knowing what stats you need to use a certain weapon or to protect yourself better is crucial. And later on more souls can be acquired so you are able to boost stats even further, allowing you carry heavier weapons or use magic when you previously couldn’t, so you can become a more well-rounded character that is well adept in every discipline.

    Every weapon and piece of armor requires your character to be at a certain stat level before you can use it effectively. If you have 20 STR (strength) and your weapon requires 30, you can still use it, but its damage output is greatly reduced unless you two-hand the weapon which basically doubles your STR stat, but leaves you vulnerable defense-wise. Equipment also includes stat scaling which determines how powerful your armor or weapon becomes when you upgrade a certain stat. The letter raking for scaling goes from E, D, C, B, A, and S (lowest to highest respectively); if your weapon has S rank scaling based on STR that means the higher your STR stat goes the more powerful your weapon becomes, and that includes armor and staves.

    As you reach Majula, the game’s main hub, you are free to roam to any destination as you see fit. There is a recommended path to take, but I didn’t figure that out until I was already fighting bosses that players normally face much later into the game and I paid for it with fights that punished and pushed my poor underdeveloped character to her limits. But again, that is the beauty of this game.Namco_Bandai_Dark_Souls_II_img3_lg

    Dark Souls II’s gameplay is highly influenced by that of old-school titles like Castlevania where you simply can’t rush into a situation and hope for the best – that just won’t fly here. Well over 100 enemies and bosses inhabit the world, all with their own strengths and weaknesses and you must take your time to learn your enemies moves and patters while figuring out how to deal the most damage

    Another aspect that has set Dark Souls II apart from any other game is its multiplayer. Players connected online will always be moments away from cooperative play or player vs. player set-ups. As you go on about your quest you will notice spectral form walking about and words written on the ground; these are other players that Dark-Souls-II-Screenshot-01are sharing your world in their dimension. Players can help others out by leaving helpful hints or offering aid in the form of a white phantom, which you can summon into your world. However, there are players that can hinder your progress by invading as red phantoms. When a player is invaded they must protect themselves as the only reason one is invaded is to be killed. Covenants are groups that players can align themselves with to offer more multiplayer options like duels or summoning players as grey phantoms if they “intrude” in designated location. But for those who don’t want any interruptions will have to disconnect before being able to play offline, thought there is no feeling quite like that rush of fighting for your life or joining in jolly cooperation!

    Reaching the end of the game does not mean that your adventures end. Once the credits stop rolling you do have the option to return to your current playthrough to finish some unconcluded business. But if you’re feeling up for the challenge you can go into New Game+ where you will start the game from the very beginning of the game with all your gear. Excluding keeping all your stats, the main difference in New Game+ is that all the enemies receive a massive 150% damage output, higher HP, and you will only deal 50% of the normal damage, but you will discover new or more potent versions of some items to help you. On top of that, new enemies like powerful red phantoms will populate every location, meaning places you thought safe before will more than likely have a nasty secret waiting for you. The more you clear the game the more challenging your next playthrough will be.

    The moment you emerge out of the darkness for the first time you will stare out in awe at the gorgeous setting sun over an expansive ocean. From the quaint, sunbathed village of Majula to the horrifyingly tenebrous depths of The Gutter, every location is remarkably detailed and every creature you encounter is wonderfully designed to the point where you can literally tell how much of a threat they pose by simply looking at them; If they look like they will ruin your day, they can and will! A new mechanic has been implemented into Dark Souls II and it’s more intriguing than I thought: torches.  Obviously used as a light source, the torch also features FromSoftware’s new lighting engine that demonstrates impressive lighting and shadow effects. I found myself lighting up my torch whenever possible for practical and unpractical uses.

    Dark Souls II Pic

    For most of you adventure there is little to no music and you are left to ponder your predicament in quiet solace and that’s a good thing. The atmosphere is laid on thick and it really allows players to really focus and take in the environment. As you cautiously venture forth subtle noises can be picked up that alert you to traps being set off or enemies coming up from behind; music during these crucial moments would tarnish an otherwise Sometimes-Hard-Bosses-have-Easy-Solutions-even-in-Dark-Souls-2-News-G3AR-600x300magnificent game and I am glad that FromSoftware continues this trend. The only moments where you hear the game’s beautifully composed score is during boss battles and each boss is accompanied with chillingly haunting themes that help players truly realize what they are up against.

    This sequel needs to be taken seriously and that will intimidate people. Dark Souls II is not a casual game and demands its players to dedicate effort and time to overcome the many obstacles that stand before you. Every path you take will lead to your inevitable death, but death is only a tool used to help you; if you can persevere you will learn from your mistakes, and you will be rewarded with an ineffable sense of accomplishment. Dark Souls II isn’t just more of what made Dark Souls amazing, Dark Souls II is a true sequel that takes those same elements and improves them greatly while adding so much more.  It is so rare for a game to meld all of its components together to form a nearly flawless experience and Dark Souls II delivers on every level.

    Dark Souls II Pic 2

     

    Gameplay: 5/5

    Visuals: 5/5

    Controls: 5/5

    Audio: 5/5

    Replayability: 5/5

    Overall Rating: 5/5

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    Thief Review – The Master Thief Strikes Again

    March 10th, 2014

    Game Reviewed: ThiefThief Cover Art

    Date Released: February 25th, 2014

    Developer: Eidos Montreal

    Publisher: Square Enix

    Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

    Genre: Action

    Rated: M for Mature

    Thief Heading Pic

    Thief is one of those landmarks in gaming that reinvented an entire genre and paved the way for others to follow suit. Back in the day Thief was known for its dynamic stealth gameplay and how players interacted with light and shadows, using it to their advantage and using sound as indicators of enemy presence and noise level. Of course as the trend would have it, after a decade since its last game, this “first person sneaker” marks the return of Master Thief Garrett and his trademark five-finger discounts.

    This reboot follows the exploits of Master Thief Garrett who returns to his home town to once again rid it of excess riches and valuables. Accompanied by his partner in crime, Erin, they set to pull off a heist of the mysterious Primal Stone. Things take a turn for the worst when our duo stumbles across a ritual using the stone to unleash unnatural energies. In an accident Erin is swallowed by the stone and Garrett is knocked out in the process. Fast forward one year and our Master Thief wakes up to a city completely ravaged by disease and begins his search for answers of what transpired. But along the way he can’t help himself if he were to make some detours to a few shiny trinkets and artifacts to help fill his pockets with coin.maxresdefault

    As the title would suggest, the main focus of the game is about breaking and entering, locating, and bagging as many valuables as you can while remaining out of sight and keeping to the darkness to conceal your whereabouts. Stealth and discretion should be your first and last line of defense against the common light dwellers, while violence and straight confrontation is only relied on as a last resort.  I understand that this type of gameplay won’t suit many players expecting fast and intense looting action. The subtlety needed to progress smoothly has players taking their time to observe carefully before jumping into the unknown and to search of multiple means to solve one problem.

    But just because Garrett prefers the comfort of the shadows that doesn’t mean he’s defenseless. Armed with a versatile compound bow, Garrett can use a thief-1371748603wide assortment of arrows that serve different functions along with standard ones. Water and fire arrows are tipped with containers that will explode on impact, either dousing out flames or setting one yourself and rope arrows provide a way to climb up to certain location that is out of reach by normal means.

    Players are also armed with the Blackjack. which it meant to knockout rather than kill, which means if you get yourself cornered you won’t be dealing any heavy or lethal blows. With the very simplistic combat controls, some exchanges goes as followed: you and your opponents smack each other you attempt to dodge only for it to fail miserably and then you hit the guy so many times that you and up giving him a concussion and he passes out. But if you’re engaged by more than one person your best option is to run away.

    After the accident in the beginning of the game, Garrett has awoken with the supernatural abilities of Focus, a heightened sense of perception in his right eye that highlights enemies, searchable compartments, and loot. You can also upgrade this power to allow for even more benefits like seeing the footsteps of guards behind walls or slowing down time around you. If that all seems like a giant win button then you’ll be glad to know that there is an option to turn off Focus completely so you can rely on skill alone.

    Thief 1

    The missions themselves, whenever you get around to them, actually offer varied and daring heists. In one mission you find yourself stealing to your hearts content inside of a jewelry store and in another you will be navigating through smoke and fire in a collapsing building in search of a legendary vault. One mission in particular had you investigating a seemingly abandoned asylum filled with creaks and moans echoing throughout the halls, cementing this as one of my more terrifying moments in gaming.

    Contained within The City are many riches to steal that only the deft hands of a Master Thief can acquire. The more you take the more coin you pocket and in return you can use your ill-gotten funds to purchase upgrades, new equipment, and trinkets that grant passive abilities. While on the prowl, eavesdrop on people to see if they reveal any intel, what you may learn are the locations of items that will fetch you a pretty penny. To make even more cash on the side, Basso, Garrett’s only friend, can give out jobs to complete.

    Exploring The City is will be a love/hate situation for some. Searching every nook and cranny for valuables is not only fun, but it makes you feel like a real Thief; picking locks, finding secrets, and catching your breath as someone who got uncomfortably close walk away none the wiser is really exhilarating. But my main issue with the The City isn’t really the layout – it’s the map.

    Maps in games are handy nearly every time it’s in a game: it points towards your destination, the distance to get there, color coded sections, and sometimes indicates where you’ve been and where you have not. Thief does half of those things. Arrows pointing where to go is pretty standard, but when you have a multi-sectioned, multi-tiered city to explore and your map is as vague as an amnesiac’s recollection then you’ve got a bit of a problem. A bold X to mark places completely ransacked, different colors for doors, windows, and transition points; these would’ve gone along way of insuring a smoother experience, less backtracking, and fewer instances of finding yourself in an already cleared out home.Thief_The-_City

    Even if the The City is constantly shrouded by perpetual night, this is one of the better looking games for next-gen hardware. If you upgraded to an Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC, these will fully capture the beautiful aesthetics of this Victorian, steampunk inspired world. There are some texture pop-ups that occur on consoles right after a lengthy load screen or in the beginning of a cutscene and the framerate does tend to dip at times. PC on the other hand is definitely a beauty, running smoothly with a solid framerate and sharper textures.

    Garrett’s movement and agility translates superbly on screen with the games tight controls and fluid animation, making players feel like a master thief. Granted that most of your time will be crouching to avoid making any noise, Garrett does have his Swoop ability. Whenever Garrett needs to move quickly in and out of cover, or to make a hasty retreat after pickpocketing someone, he can quickly dash or “Swoop” in any direction without producing a sound, making this one of Garrett’s most used skill.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t as engaged with the story as I really wanted to be. Most of my time was focused on picking locks, snatching coin purses, and locating unique loot. Even on missions I was more concerned with stuffing my bag than solving some problem with a dying city or something of that regards. That doesn’t mean that the game isn’t filled with rewarding and intense (sometimes scary) moments. Edios Montreal did a great job reimagining the world of Thief while stepping over the line on what made the original game’s gameplay tiresome a little too often. I had succumbed to trial-and-error a few times and felt compelled to retry again because I wanted remain hidden throughout. But if you can look past the slower pacing then Thief will definitely satiate your twitchy stealing fingers.

     

    Gameplay: 4/5

    Visuals: 4.5/5

    Controls: 4.5/5

    Audio: 3.75/5

    Replayability: 3.25/5

    Overall Rating: 3.75/5

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    Strider Review – The Triumphant Return of Strider Hiryu

    February 28th, 2014

    Game Reviewed: StriderStrider Cover Art

    Date Released: February 18th, 2014

    Developer: Double Helix Games & Capcom Osaka Studio

    Publisher: Capcom

    Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

    Genre: Action

    Rated: 10+ for Ages 10 and Up

     Strider Main Picture

    Growing up in the 1990’s and having my interest in video games reach a crux in the early 2000’s I never heard of or knew Strider even existed until later on in my life. Looking back on the history of this awesome character I’m surprised that Capcom never made more games centering on Strider Hiryu! But now Strider has returned on modern consoles after a 14 year hiatus and I finally get to play for myself without no previous experience or expectations. To say the least, my time with Strider has turned me into a fan and will find new audiences with newcomers like me and enthusiast of the past entries alike.

    Strider is a retelling of the original arcade Strider game where the Grandmaster Meio, a vicious dictator, claims dominion over the world. Hiryu, he youngest and best Special-A Class member of an organization of high-tech ninja-like mercenaries known as “Striders”, is tasked with ending  Grandmaster Meio’s reign of tyranny and  is sent to the Russian metropolis of Kazakh City.

    Strider-2014-4Diving right into the fray, players will quickly familiarize themselves with the tight controls and fast-paced action of the game. Encounters with a few grunts ease the player in as they can mess with jumping, climbing, and using Hiryu’s main weapon, his Cypher “Falchion”, a tonfa-like blade weapon that generates high-voltage plasma that can slice through nearly anything. With this weapon Hiryu can cleave straight though enemies almost effortlessly; the more you get into the groove of things the easier it becomes to navigate, avoid, and evade enemy attacks.

    Players will feel empowered taking out platoons of enemies without a scratch by using your own skills and not having to rely on button prompts. When you do something as awesome as rushing towards a crowd of foes, sliding into them as you slice them in half, avoid the last guy’s gunfire, and jump over him as strider-2014you tear him in half is nothing short of satisfying. As you advance though the game you will notice an excellent stride the game possesses with its pacing. Every new ability or upgrade that you add to your repertoire is obtained evenly enough to get that steady balance of avatar strength and enemy difficulty. But some players may find normal difficulty a bit too easy and may want to start with hard instead.

    As you progress through the game you will traverse a Metroid-like map that is actually broken up into smaller yet still large sections. Each area is filled with hidden collectables, alternate costumes, upgrades, and blocked pathways that require you to return until you obtain the right skill needed to open them. Included is a mini-map that shows your current location; exploring a new location will unveil the room layout on you map the more you advance through. This can in turn help zero out possible hidden locations to upgrades, and collectibles. What can be tedious is if you want all of the collectibles then you will do a fair bit of back tracking to do so.

    Along with traversing on foot there are plenty of areas that need players to scale up walls and ceilings to reach higher platforms. Certain segments will have player avoiding hazards to keep even the platforming challenging. Later on, the game throws some curveballs with gravity-based challenges where you’ll need to hop from one gravity sphere to the next, making sure that you jump into the next ones gravity field.

    Just by looking at Strider Hiryu you know he’s a bona-fide badass. Everything he does is just awesome: from running to flipping over enemies and off walls, he just screams badass. Even when he just stands still with his arms crossed and his plasma scarf flowing with the wind is too much cool to handle! The locations you visit range from the inside of the heavily oppressed walls of Kazakh to abandoned train stations beneath the city to underground caverns filled.

    New-Strider-Game-Coming-in-2014-for-PC-PS3-Xbox-360-PS4-Xbox-One-10

    All of that, including the impressive backgrounds, are beautifully detailed. I will note that if you have the option, get Strider for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC. The last gen versions are identical in every way, except for slightly lower visual fidelity, but regardless, you shouldn’t let something so trivial keep you from this game.

    I’ve talked about how a lot of games have tight controls and whatnot, but not this game – it controls like butter. Every action you do has an uncanny elegance to it that it can only be fully comprehended if you can imagine a dazzling figure skater performing a flawless routine while swinging blades that seems to slice the very air around her.

    You’ll have you standard jump and attack which is simple enough, and even when you gain more and more abilities it is never a hassle to remember Strider_Announce_city_gate_004_tga_jpgcopy-1024x576simple button combos or switching between different plasma types for your Cypher. Lastly, the most notable aspect of the controls is the basic attack; depending on how fast you press that attack button Strider can strike as fast or as slow as you want. I highly commend the developers for this because I can’t tell you how useful this really is, especially during boss fights where we were neck-in-neck health-wise, and I’m pressing the button so fast that Hiryu became a tornado of death and insured my victory.

    I simply had no clue what I was getting into when I first started up Strider. When I finally put down my controller after completing the 8 hour campaign, I wanted to play it all over again and proclaimed myself a Strider fan. Besides some minute nitpicks like the backtracking and the basic story, none of those aspects spoil the quintessential joy you will experience with the smooth gameplay, ideal pacing, fun boss fights, and excellent level design. Strider is a must-own for anyone that enjoys the series or fantastic action games.

     

    Gameplay: 5/5

    Visuals: 4.75/5

    Controls: 5/5

    Audio: 4/5

    Replayability 4.5/5

    Overall Rating: 4.75/5

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    The Evil Within Release Date Announced

    February 27th, 2014

    The Evil Within

    Legendary director Shinji Mikami and the folks at Tango Gameworks are proud to announce that The Evil Within will be available in North America on August 26th, 2014 and throughout Europe on August 29th, 2014.

    The Evil Within is in development for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC.

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    Hasbro Reveals Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark

    February 24th, 2014

    Transformers - Rise of the Dark Spark

    A complement to the upcoming Paramount Picture’s film coming this June, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is a third-person action adventure title that unites the Michael Bay films with the Cybertron universe. Following up to both the live-action films and Activision’s two Transformers titles, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark focuses on the hunt for an ancient relic of immense power that rivals even that of the Matrix of Leadership – the Dark Spark.

    Jump worlds and factions as players will be able to switch between the Autobots or Decepticons throughout the single-player campaign and engage in fast-paced running-and-gunning combat similar to the highly regarded Cybertron series. Players will see the return of the fan-favorite Escalation mode, a waved-based survival multiplayer mode allowing up to four player online cooperative play. Additionally, an exciting new leveling system combines single and multiplayer into one unified, persistent development path. Any experience earn in any aspect of the game goes toward unlocking rewards – including new characters, stronger weapons, special abilities, and consumables for use throughout the entire game.

    Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is slated for release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, 3DS, and PC sometime this summer.

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    Assassin’s Creed IV’s Freedom Cry DLC Announced As Standalone Title

    February 18th, 2014

    freedom-cry-2

    Originally released as an add-on, Freedom Cry had been announced as a stand-alone game – not requiring Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag to play. Freedom Cry will be available for exclusive for download on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles on February 19th and on PC February 25th.

    Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry centers on the story of Adewale, a man born into slavery. Once a pirate and now a trained Assassin, Adewale ends up shipwrecked in 18th-century Haiti, infamously known to house the most brutal slavery in the West Indies. The more Adewale fights to get back to sea and to freedom, the more he’s drawn into the slave community. As Adewale forms a crew of his own and using his skills as an Assassin, he sets to liberate and deliver merciless justice in plantations and cities alike.

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    Fable Anniversary Review – A Fable Worth Retelling

    February 18th, 2014

    Game Reviewed: Fable AnniversaryFable Anniversary Cover Art

    Date Released: February 4th, 2014

    Developer: Lionhead Studios

    Publisher: Microsoft Studios

    Platform: Xbox 360

    Genre: Action/Adventure, RPG

    Rated: M for Mature

    Fable-Anniversary-04

    There have been a lot of HD remakes lately flooding store shelves and I always believed this to be a good thing; being able to relive nostalgic gaming moments in a higher fidelity has a certain magic to it that is undeniable. Fable Anniversary on the other hand doesn’t just up the texture resolution; it is completely remade using the powerful Unreal Engine 3 to make Fable look more gorgeous than ever before, and like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary before it, the difference from the source material is monumental. But after a decade being away from you all, do Fable’s core elements still hold up today?

    A young boy, born in the southern seaside village of Oakvale, dreams of one day becoming a Hero and that his deeds of heroism or villainy will be recognized all throughout Albion. But one fateful day a band of ferocious bandits descended on the poor hapless village and covered the streets in bodies and blood, slaying everyone in sight. The boy managed to hide from his attackers until a Hero named Maze found him and took him to the Hero’s Guild. The young boy will train for the remainder of his youth, and seek those who took his village and family way from him, unbeknownst to his role in the grander scheme to come.

    As a Hero you are free to make your mark in Albion in whatever way you wish, but a Hero is nothing without Renown. Once you leave the sanctuary of the Guild you can take on many quests to build a reputation of your own through your good or evil actions. These choices will be reflected by the people’s reaction to your presence and even your physical appearance will transform as you lean more towards righteousness or wickedness by way of a lovely halo or a pair of horns.

    fable_anniversary_3_0Combat is sorted into three different categories: melee, ranged, and Will (magic). As you cleave your way through all types of creatures you will gain general experience inside Experience Orbs dropped by killing it; giving your target a good lightning bolt in the face will gain you separate experience for Will and so on. Once players accumulate enough experience they can head back to the Guild to spend it to purchase new skills, spells or to increase your health or Will bars. After each subsequent upgrade your Hero’s abilities will further increase in effectiveness.

    The appeal that Fable always had was the fact that you can play the game however you saw fit. If you want to play as a heroic warrior that protects the innocent and appreciates his adoring fans, and will find love one day or an evil  hulking brute that doesn’t care much for friends, loved ones or the affection of Albion’s inhabitants. You can mix and match any combination of combat like being a Spellsword, using magic to improve your melee prowess, or maybe a Ranger, picking off foes from afar and finishing them with swift sword strikes. Join all three skills together and become the most fearsome Hero to ever walk the earth.Fable Anniversary also includes The Lost Chapters expansion that adds plenty of extra side quests, new activities to partake in and a new island in the Northern Wastes that expands upon the original game’s ending.image_37552_thumb_wide620

    Lionhead didn’t simply just slap high-res textures on the game; they gave Fable a complete overhaul. Using the Unreal 3 engine Fable beautifully transitions onto the 360 and rivals that of the last two Fable titles. Not only that, the character models have also gone through a redesign; the models are a huge improvement over the original, except for your own Hero’s. His large head and abnormally chiseled chin is quite disturbing when you begin your adventure, that is until you become larger in stature, then it suits him just fine. Even the UI got some well-deserved attention; everything from the menu setting to equipping items have been specifically designed to make navigating these screens easier than ever before, eliminating the cumbersome UI of the original.

    fable-anniversary-01-590x723

    There were several instances of bugs and glitches that were not there before however. I have encountered residences of South Bowerstone walking in 30° angles numerous times that thankfully resolves itself. I also got married to Lady Grey (for the dowry… I’m not evil like that, just materialistic), but I saved inside her bed chambers with her inside, turned off my console, reloaded the save, and like that she no longer existed! I tried loading the save again, checking North Bowerstone during the day and checking the bed chamber multiple times, but apparently the constellations were aligned just right to make my bride vanish from the face of the world.

    Fable Anniversary allows for two control schemes. The original is for those that can’t help the muscle memory of kicking chickens for far too long. The Fable 2/3 inspired option is exactly that; if you started your inaugural introduction to the series with the second and third Fable games then this option will map each type of attack to an assigned button. This control scheme is makes combat flow much more smoothly without the need to actually unsheathe your weapons first. The main deciding factor for some players is how Will spells are mapped. As aforementioned, the Fable 2/3 inspired scheme streamlines combat, but only one spell can be used at one time. You can assign more than one spell to use, it’s just that you have to select it first which really interrupts that sweet flow. The original on the other hand allows players to assign three spells at a time where you can combine any as many as you want.

    The changes with the audio is more subtle, but definitely noticeable if you have played the original release. The score for Fable has been redone in 5.1 surround mix; the music is much more booming and lively. The dialog receives the same treatment with a cleaner sound with exceptions of some instances where it seems that some audio comes out distorted.

    When you try to remember something it’s through the shades of nostalgia. Fable Anniversary is just how you’d imagine all the things that you loved about the original while recreating the magic of playing the title for the first time. Sure there are some queer bugs that tend to turn up a little too often; luckily there wasn’t anything game-breaking. If you’re new to the series, missed out on the first game, or just want to relive a classic, Fable Anniversary is the best way to go.

     

    Gameplay: 4.25/5

    Visuals: 4.5/5

    Controls: 4/5

    Audio: 4.25/5

    Replayability: 3.75/5

    Overall Rating: 4.25/5

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    Jagex Rolls Outs New Transformers Universe Trailer

    February 18th, 2014

    transformers-universe-screen-8

    Setting to launch this summer, Transformers Universe is a Massively Online Tactical Action game that offers fast-paced, battle-centric, tactical action with game modes for core gamers, casual gamers and Transformers fan alike. As Commander of a new squad of bots, you will #testyourmetal as you recruit, maintain and battle others with a unique collection of Transformers warriors created by Hasbro.

    You can sign-up for the beta now at www.transformersuniverse.com

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught DLC Coming to PC and PS3 Late February

    February 18th, 2014

    call-of-duty-ghosts-onslaught-dlc-impressions

    Xbox owners have been sitting pretty on DLC exclusivity with Infinity Wards latest Call of Duty title, but come February 27th PC and PlayStation players will have access to the first DLC pack – Onslaught. Included in Onslaught are four unique and classically designed Call of Duty multiplayer maps, the dual-purpose “Maverick” Assault Rifle/Sniper Rifle, and the first part of Extinction’s four-part episodic narrative, “Episode 1: Nightfall.”

    Onslaught and other individual Map Packs will retail for $14.99 each. If you have purchased the Call of Duty: Ghosts’ Season Pass do not repurchase any of the standalone DLC Map Packs, you will be charged for them.

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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    IRBGamer’s Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2014

    January 31st, 2014

    IRBGs MAG of 2014

    We at IRBGamer play a lot of games, and 2013 gave us some of the most memorable games of the past console cycle like The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite. But as we begin a new year, we do so with a new console generation, with promises of grander tales and new worlds to explore, the likes of which we could never have imagined before. Trying to mention all the games we’re excited for in 2014 is beyond staggering, so to narrow it down we decided to list our top 10 games that we are looking forward to!

    We needed a few rules in place to help us pick our top titles:

    • Requires an actual release date, or a solid release window (e.g. Summer 2014) at the time of our decisions
    • Information regarding the game must be enough to give us a good generalization of the game
    • How excited we are for the title
    • Games we believe will be a cut above the rest

     

    Castlevania - Lords of Shadow 210. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 | February 25th | PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

    The classic vampire-slaying series received the 3D entry it deserved when Mercury Steam released Castlevania: Lords of Shadow in 2010.  Meeting critical and player praise, its visually stunning environments, fluid combat, and story of vengeance that ends with an unexpected twist left players completely dumbfounded.  Lords of Shadow concludes the tale of Dracula with a final showdown with Satan that will determine the fate of the world. Bigger world, stylish combat, and the final battle of evil vs. evil-ish will be one we are looking forward to.

    Alien - Isolation

    9. Alien: Isolation | Q4 2014 | PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

    We’ve had plenty of Aliens games that involved hunting marines and blasting Xenomorphs with pulse rifles, but we don’t recall an Alien game that focused on pure survival. Amanda Ripley, whom some may remember being mentioned in Aliens, will search for clues regarding her mother’s whereabouts aboard the Nostromo in this harrowing sequel to the original film. Since the announcement of Alien: Isolation there are decent amounts of gameplay videos that highlight impressive lighting, audio, and atmosphere that builds up unnerving  and terrifying tension inside. Unlike most horror survival games found on consoles this one is all in first person; with no HUD, Isolation forces you to use your wits and senses to survive this cat and mouse chase. Creative Assembly painstaking recreated the Nostromo in all of its glorious “70’s vision of the future” and uses the original film’s soundtrack to give us the most authentic and terrifying Alien game ever.

    Thief

    8. Thief | February 25th | PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

    It’s been nearly a decade since Master Thief Garrett has emerged from the shadows in his last adventure, Deadly Shadows. After being away from his hometown Garrett returns to The City, a once prosperous industrial metropolis that has now found itself decimated by a crippling plague and under the rule of the tyrannical Baron. But Garrett isn’t a hero looking to save his city; he’s a thief that will use the chaos to claim treasures off of the unsuspecting elite class. Thief is a game full of choices and how you want to go about getting info on the locations of valuables, if you want to get by with brute force, stealth, a hybrid of both, and which tools you want to use. The fourth entry in the series serves as a reboot and reimagining as developer Eidos Montreal has fine-tuned the first-person stealth gameplay to a science, giving players a true sense of being in the boots of a master thief.

    Dying Light

    7. Dying Light | August 26th | PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

    From the developer that brought us Dead Island, Techland looks to once again put a new spin to the zombie genre. Dying Light has similar elements to its brethren, however, two major differences sets Dying Light apart from its predecessors: the freedom to go anywhere with parkour, and nighttime gameplay that dramatically changes your play style. With your skills as a runner nothing is an obstacle and anything can be used to gain vantage, even the undead. Customizable weapons make a triumphant return, helping players keep zombies at bay. However, zombies this time around are deadlier, smarter, and more tenacious than previously seen in Dead Island – that is, until darkness falls. The advantages you had in the daylight vanish as the zombie’s numbers grows and they gain the ability to run and climb just as well as you can. To make matters worse, a new threat emerges only at night and is more powerful than a single man can handle. Dying Light offers an open-world experience that mixes Mirror’s Edge with Dead Island and produces a fast-paced Action-Survival title where using mobility to your advantage can be the difference between life and death. Just don’t get caught out after dark.

    Watch Dogs

    6. Watch Dogs | June 30th | PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U

    Ubisoft Montreal unveiled Watch Dogs at E3 2012 and left quite the impression on audiences and critics, walking away with such awards as “Biggest Surprise” and “Best New Franchise”. Since then we have learned more about Aiden Pearce, a skilled hacker and former thug, who uses his exceptional hacking abilities to track down criminals after his past led to a violent family tragedy. With Chicago being controlled by a super computer, Aiden can easily access personal information on virtually anyone, hack security cameras, change traffic signals, set up road blocks, and even cause a blackout using nothing more than his phone. The entire city of Chicago is your weapon and everything is under your control in this open-world sandbox game. Aiden is sort of like Batman: a crime resulting in the death of loved ones has led them to vigilantism – except Aiden doesn’t have any convictions against killing, or whether it’s delivered at the end of a barrel of a gun or the broad side of a baton.

    The Elder Scrolls Online

    5. The Elder Scrolls Online | April 4th (Mac & PC), June 30th (PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

    Fans of The Elder Scrolls (us included) have always wondered what an Elder Scrolls game would be like if they included multiplayer, and ZeniMax Online Studios took that idea a step further. The Elder Scrolls Online is a MMO featuring the majority of Tamriel to explore (with some regions locked for expansion content), three factions to join, the wide customization options players have come to expect from the series, an Elder Scrolls twist to the traditional MMO combat system, and a streamlined UI that makes accepting and completing quests all the more enjoyable. The Elder Scrolls Online will have familiar MMO elements such as raids and the like, but what really sets ESO apart from the rest is the open-world, faction-versus-faction endgame PvP focusing around central Cyrodiil and players fighting for the chance to be crowned Emperor of Tamriel. The PlayStation 4 version of The Elder Scrolls Online is confirmed that it does not require PlayStation Plus to play, hopefully the Xbox One will follow suit.

    Battlefield-4-Paracel-Storm-4

    4. Dark Souls II | March 11th | PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

    FromSoftware delivered onto us the two most insanely difficult, yet satisfyingly rewarding games of the past generation: Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. Games today like to hold your hand; if you don’t know where to go then there’s a nice arrow pointing the way. Don’t know how to do something? A convenient hint box pops up. Not with these gems [Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls]. Dark Souls II continues this formula of unyielding difficulty, met with a great sense of accomplishment when you’ve overcome a daunting obstacle that impedes your progress. The universe itself is full of interesting character, gruesome creatures, bosses, and a deep rooted philosophy that is heavily prevalent throughout your travels: “Prepare to Die”. With a world full of things and traps waiting to kill you, that philosophy holds especially true in Dark Souls II.

    Dark Souls II is very brooding, and for good reasons; there are no happy stories to be told and even your own goals may not result in a happy ending. But it is this type of storytelling that is sorely missing in games today, one that masterfully blends narrative, gameplay, and atmosphere into one whole and not just into separate elements. Why would people put themselves through such an emotionally draining game? Being masochists may be one answer, or it’s more than likely that this series is unlike any other. It grants us empowerment in succeeding, insight in deeper meanings, and beautifully shows that death is just another obstacle to conquer.

    The Witcher 3 - Wild Hunt

    3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt | September 2014 | PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    Geralt of Rivia is a superhuman monster slayer known as a witcher. CD Projekt RED has told the witcher’s story of loss, redemption, and secret conspiracies; now at the end of all things they are ready to send him off with a bang in one of the most anticipated RPGs of 2014. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a technical marvel as it boasts the new REDengine 3. Made specifically to deliver a vast open-world game that threads together a complex, multi-thread story, the REDengine 3 does all this without sacrificing visual fidelity and eliminates the need for loading screens.

    The Northern Kingdoms is a vibrant land ripe for exploration, filled with colorful character, monstrous beasts, and the fact that you can experience all of this with no loading screens is absolutely amazing. Even with a war being waged between Nilfgaard and The Northern Kingdoms, a more menacing threat will descend upon them: the spectral horsemen known as the Wild Hunt, harbingers misfortune and death. These ghostly riders have been haunting/ hunting Geralt since the beginning, but Geralt does not fear them and seeks to eliminate the Wild Hunt once and for all. With the dynamic and intuitive combat system, stunning visuals, and a game world 30 times larger than previous Witcher titles, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a true next-gen RPG.

    Titanfall

    2. Titanfall | March 11th | PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One

    After a terrible falling out between Activision and Infinity Ward, several people left and decided to form a new development studio. From that day forward history was made. Vince Zampella and Jason West founded the new Respawn Entertainment studio and with much of the creative team that made the first two Modern Warfare games, a new IP emerged, Titanfall. When it was unveiled at E3 2013 the reception for the game was simply astronomical. Titanfall received over 60 awards, including a record-breaking six E3 Critics Awards: Best in Show, Best Original Game, Best Console Game, Best PC Game, Best Action Game, and Best Multiplayer Game. Unlike the generic military shooters that have conquered the genre in recent years, Titanfall is a 6v6 online multiplayer game set on a war-torn planet that, as Vince Zampella describes, brings “scale, verticality, and story” to FPS multiplayer gaming.

    Even after E3, the buzz about Titanfall has not waned; all who’ve gotten to play the game first-hand have sung only of its praises. When someone is legitimately excited about something, that excitement becomes contagious, and you end up wanting to learn more about what makes that particular something so awesome that it’s causing this person to gush non-stop. That’s exactly what is happening with Titanfall. Everyone who has had the chance to play it speaks so highly of it that their excitement is fueling and being added to our own until the day when we can finally get a copy for ourselves. Titanfall can’t come soon enough.

    Destiny

    1.  Destiny | September 9th | PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

    In 2010 Bungie completed their final Halo title, Halo: Reach, and has passed the torch to 343 Industries to oversee the franchise. Bungie ended its partnership with Microsoft and headed toward a new path with a new publisher. For a time people were unsure what ventures they would take or if they could succeed outside of Halo. Bungie kept their newest project on lockdown for awhile, only dropping trickles of cryptic hints, messages, and the working title. All throughout 2013, a plethora of information started streaming from the studio and at E3 2013 audiences got to set their gazes on the living, breathing universe of Destiny: an ambitious MMO/Shooter hybrid that mixes the social interactions of massively multiplayer games, with RPG leveling, in first person perspective, and the combat of a shooter. The universe of Destiny takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has been pushed close to the brink of destruction. Only one city on Earth survived the devastation caused by “the Collapse”. A massive spherical celestial construct of unknown origins shielded this last remnant of humanity and has granted a select few to become “Guardians of the City” – champions and defenders of the human-race, tasked with reclaiming our lost lands from the alien species that seek our annihilation.

    You cannot easily describe Destiny; it is a culmination of completely different components from completely different genres that create this truly unique experience. Bungie approached Destiny with the intention of “building a universe” that would “take on a life of its own”, so much so that events may happen in-game that were not necessarily controlled or planned by Bungie. On top of all this is the freedom to travel around the solar system in your own ship and land on locations like the moon or Mars with a small group of friends, or solo if you wish. Bungie has identified underlying elements  to make the game appeal to as many people as possible: available on nearly all major platforms, accessibility to all kinds of gamers whether you’re a casual, hardcore, or novice gamer, and literally gave us an entire solar system to liberate from menacing foes. The sheer possibilities this game presents is staggering, and to play who you want, how you want, where you want, with whom you want is like giving a kid a weekend long slumber party with all his friends, inside of an amusement park, with all the junk food and soda they could handle. It’s hard to describe what Destiny is, but what we do know for certain is this – Destiny is our most anticipated game of 2014.

     

    There’s a lot of games coming out that we excluded, but we want to know your top 10 games in the comment section below!

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    GordonFroman117

    Born and raised in Texas, Bryan has developed a never-ending passion for gaming throughout his entire life. Some say he was born with a controller in his hands! In 2001 Halo had shattered his little 8 year old mind and gave him the inspiration to work for Bungie and pledge eternal fanboyism for the Sci-Fi shooter they're famed for. In high school he took his first step toward his dream as he signed up for four years of 3D Amination. Appropriately, he also works for his local GameStop where he gushes enthusiastically over upcoming titles. Bryan has a steadily growing collection of games and consoles ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to current-gen as he is ever vigilant of acquiring remarkable titles over decades of gaming. Look for Spartan 482 on Xbox LIVE. He'll never back down 'cause "Spartans never quit!"

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