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Gonna Have Me Some Fun – Blood Dragon

WARNING: Blood Dragon is built for speed, it’s got everything that Uncle John needs.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is basically a raging-hard-on-induced, love letter to Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, or 80s action movies in general. As Michael Allocca put it, “It’s like if Duke Nukem took an untested amount of mescaline and traveled back to 1982.” Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon gave me a boner so hard that my 6 year old self was able to touch it.

Most people were introduced to Blood Dragon via this trailer, which was originally thought to be a hoax.

And then, thankfully, we found out it wasn’t.

First off, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon really has absolutely nothing to do with Far Cry 3. It is its own entity completely and doesn’t even require the original game to play – a stand alone download available for $15. So why did they call it Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and not just Blood Dragon? Probably because they were hoping to bank on the success of Far Cry 3. Other than sharing the same game engine, they really have nothing to do with each other. This made me worry slightly about the quality of the game, but even more so, I was really anxious about them feeding too much into 80s sentimentality without any real substance. Fears were unrequited. Yes it is highly sentimental of the 80s, but the game is awesome. Anyone of any generation who’s a fan of FPS games will enjoy Blood Dragon. If you don’t, there something wrong with your brain. It’s not the game, it’s you.

You start with what is basically the opening scenes from Predator. If you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll recognize it immediately. And if you haven’t, dear God, please, do something about it. Now. Like, seriously. Stop reading this and go watch Predator. Crouching produces an icon clearly resembling the silhouette of the T-800 crouching upon his transportation back through time. Granted the references are numerous, it’s not just a parody on Schwarzenegger 80s pop culture, it’s a self-aware parody of the video game world itself. The ubiquitous gameplay tutorial is a hassle. More games are forgoing the packed in physical manual for the hand-holding, in-game tutorial – WHICH IS ALMOST NEVER SKIP-ABLE! True to form, it is impossible to skip the tutorial in Blood Dragon, however, in its heightened sense of self-awareness, they mitigate the aggravation by intentionally trying to aggravate you with its asinine-ness.  Thus, the snark-laden tutorial comes of being cleverly stupid by pointing out the ridiculousness of the trend and provokes a few chuckles rather than slinging expletives at your TV. For example, “Press A to indicate your ability to read,” and, “To look around, look around,” are two such commands given during the tutorial.

It’s not just all silly jokes and puns though. The gameplay is top notch and brings everything you would expect from a great FPS. You can chain stealth kills together, it’s got plenty of weapons, and plenty of action. To lend some genuine authenticity, they even got Michael Biehn, best known as Kyle Reese from Terminator and Cpl. Hicks of Aliens, to do the voice of Rex Power Colt. Soundtrack by Power Glove, who must have written the soundtrack to James Cameron’s dreams; picture Terminator meets Blade Runner and that’s pretty much what Power Glove sounds like.

Nothing has ever been more worth the download price. And remember, C400 is like C4, but with two zeroes.

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It’s Out Tday!!

Over a year ago, I did a small piece on the game here, and finally, after years of waiting, it’s out! Notice the release date on the banner? Yeah, been waiting a long time.

Now the sad part – I haven’t received my download code yet! I had this thing pre-ordered forever ago. I was supposed to get a steam code, but I haven’t gotten it yet! I’m so friggin anxious to play this game, I’m about to just pay for the damn thing again and download it right away.

Voltron on XBOX LIVE & PSN!!!!!!!

Why didn’t someone tell me about this sooner?!

I was checking the weekly updates and I saw this available as an arcade game. I thought to myself, “Oh, it’s probably just some garbage game based on that lame ass new version of Voltron on Cartoon Network. NO! It’s not! It’s the 80’s lion Voltron. The game started up with the actual full intro from the cartoon and I had a fanboygasm all over the place. The menus play the Voltron theme and there’s video from the show between stages and official voice overs during the game.

Even after all my initial gushing over the intro, I was still certain the game would be like any other game based on a TV show – AWFUL! But it’s actually not so bad. It’s got a story mode with local and online modes as well, where you pick from one of the 5 lions, each with their own stats. The game is broken down into 3 different play modes – Lion mode, which is kind of like a SMASH TV game (seems to be a popular trend these days), space mode where you’re playing whats basically a shoot em up style where crap is flying at you from all over the god damn place and then Voltron mode, which I have not gotten up to yet because I was far too excited and had to share this post first.

Voltron is 800 MSP and is it worth the 10 bucks? Probably not, but I bought it anyway. Definitely worth $5 though, so if you aren’t a super nerd like me and you see a price drop, pick it up because it is a pretty good multiplayer game.

Extra-Life

http://www.Extra-Life.org is a fundraising organization that works with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. They will be holding 2 events during the month of October to help raise money for kids. October 1st will be G3: Gaming and Giving for Good, being sponsored by XBOX 360. Even if you don’t have Xbox Live, they are giving you a free weekend of gold membership to play games online in support of the fundraiser. The other, the Extra-Life 2011 Marathon, will be held on October 15. The idea is that it’s like a walkathon, but with video games. Play games for 24 hours on your favorite console, or PC. This is being supported by PS3, XBOX, Steam, and Rift. Below are links to each respective events sign-up page.

DONATE!

Everyone is welcome to participate whether you are an individual, team, want to donate, or even just pass the word along. $1 would be better than nothing, and if that’s too much for you, then at least take the time to let someone else know about this and forward this site to them.

I will be joining in on Extra-Life 2011 on Oct 15. Expect to catch me on XBOX Live most likely playing Space Marine all day. In case you haven’t already noticed, I have these huge banners on the sidebar so if you’d like to sponsor me and make a donation, click on them. My goal is to get $100. That doesn’t seem like much if everyone who came across this even gave pennies. Any little bit helps, so Make a Donation!

I get no money out of this. You’re not giving me money, you’re giving money to kids who need medical attention. Even giving next to nothing would still be SOMETHING. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your computer to donate. Just click on the large SPONSOR ME! picture and it will take you to a link where you can donate. They have preset denominations, but you can select other in put in whatever. You can use a credit card or even paypal! PENNIES! PENNIES WOULD BE AN ACCEPTABLE DONATION EVEN.

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

This review was written by request for Kimberly Amato of Pac-Man & the Hot One. That was fine with me because Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is just too good. And if you disagree, you’re just wrong.

The review is being hosted on her site. I definitely think you need to check this game out but if you want to see everything I had to say about it check out MY REVIEW OF EARTH DEFENSE FORCE: INSECT ARMAGEDDON

River City Ransom 2 FINALLY!!!

By Kali’s multi-armed bosom!

Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2 (River City Ransom 2 in US)

This game is finally coming out! Yes this information has been available for a few months now and yes, that was the only picture I could find for it.  If you never heard of River City Ransom 1, that’s because it was originally released on the NES in 1989, and then nothing for 15 years until a remake came out for the Game Boy Advance in 2004. I can’t possibly imagine the game didn’t do well. Or maybe I can, it was way ahead of it’s time. The world simply wasn’t ready for a game of this magnitude yet. It was a brawler that incorporated RPG elements. In 1989, brawlers had only just begun to take a serious foothold with games like Golden Axe and Final Fight and RPGs still weren’t widely accepted, so the combination of the two was nearly unheard of. The Scott Pilgrim game out now on XBLA and PSN is pretty much a spiritual copy, and owes its entire existence to River City Ransom. It took them over 20 years to even attempt to duplicate the magnum opus that is River City Ransom, but here, soon, 22 years later, we are finally getting a true sequel. And when I say we, I really mean Japan. The Wii Virtual Console will see this game some time this summer, with a PC release later on. However, the rest of the world might not see this game until 2012.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at a few points real quick on how River City Ransom revolutionized the brawler genre.

  • The stage by stage gameplay structure was exchanged for a more open world feel, which almost no game had in this era. Aside from the occasional boss fight, you were free to roam around the city at your leisure.
  • RPG style stats. You didn’t gain levels per se, but you could get stronger/faster/tougher/etc. from eating at any of River City’s fine dining establishments.
  • Inventory. Again a trait usually reserved exclusively for RPGs. You could carry food with you so you didn’t have to run to a store to replenish your health, you could purchase a variety of footwear, and you could carry books and scrolls with you which granted special techniques and power-ups.
  • Password save feature. Although the password save wasn’t a new idea, it had never been used in a brawler that I know of. Usually you either got all the way through the game with 3 lives and maybe a few continues, or you failed completely. There was no picking it up from where you left off.
  • Javelin Man. You’ll just have to play to figure out what that means. But it is to this day one of my favorite features in a game ever.

Although the Kunio-Kun series, to which River City Ransom is part of, is popular in Japan, we’ve had a very limited reception of their titles here in the States.  We did get somewhat recently, River City Soccer Hooligans on DS, which I recommend even if you don’t like soccer. No! Especially if you don’t like soccer. We never got the hockey one though, which makes no sense to me because America holds far more hockey fans than it does soccer fans. A couple years ago I found out they turned River City Ransom into an MMO, but much to my chagrin, it’s only available in Japan. I was FURIOUS when I couldn’t find a way to play it, and believe me, I tried for days. But basically you either need to live in japan to play or you’re S.O.L.

River City Ransom has some of my favorite music on the NES. The soundtrack stays in constant rotation on my playlist. Year200X, a video game tribute band, does an excellent metal version of the River City Ransom boss music.

What other games combine evil rival high school girlfriend kidnappers, Mao’s Chinese restaurant, Zeus’ wand, enemies that actually say “Barf” when you defeat them, Merv’s Burger Joint,  get free smiles, and get a sauna for just $3.50? The answer is none. So River City Ransom 2 better deliver.

There is no homepage that I can find for this game yet, which further worries me about its release schedule. Believe me though, I shall remain vigilant. Oh! Also, if anyone finds a way to play the MMO, TELL ME IMMEDIATELY!!!

Feel free to drop me a line, leave some comments, like this page. And don’t forget to share this link!

Honour is My Shield

Kill Team is not an indie game by any stretch of the term; it’s published by THQ and GamesWorkshop is the kingpin of war gaming. However it is no secret that I am a huge fan of 40k, (who else has a tattoo of an orc on their arm?) so I had to say a little something about it just out of sheer excitement.

Picking up from my short comments the other day, Kill Team controls like Smash TV, but plays more like the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. It’s a run and gun, frag fest where one stick controls movement and the other controls firing. And that would be enough, but to round out the game a bit, they threw in some light customization options. Not quite as many as MUA, but enough to keep it from getting bland. There’s also co-op, and a survival mode with online leaderboards.

There are 4 different characters to choose from and 2 basic styles of play. The Librarian and Vanguard Veteran focus on melee combat, while the Sternguard Veteran and Techmarine have more powerful ranged weaponry. Better weapons and perks for your marine can be unlocked through gameplay to further suit your character to your style. Enhanced melee damage, more health, longer power ups, to name a few. Also, each class has a specific special attack that will quickly dispatch a large chunk of the green horde. Librarians unleash a psychic shockwave, sending everything surrounding them flying. Vanguard Veterans tear ass around with their jump pack, finally landing and blasting away a cluster of greenskins. Techmarines quickly construct a twin-linked heavy bolter turret to help fend off foes from multiple directions. Finally, my favorite, the Sternguard Veteran has the focus fire ability which really amps up your rate of fire, allowing you a lay down a deadly hail of heavy bolter rounds, laying waste to all in your sights.

There are a few minor details that irk me. Being a 40k fan, I feel they could have made the weapon load outs more accurate.  I admit the only people that are really going to notice this are 40k fans,  and this may be nitpicking, but I don’t see anyone buying this game if they aren’t a 40k fan anyway. The Vanguard Veteran is ranked the highest for melee, but he is armed with a chainsword and plasma pistol. The Librarian has stronger ranged attacks, but weaker melee yet he is armed with a power sword and a bolt pistol.  It seems to me they should give the Vanguard the bolt pistol and the Librarian the plasma pistol as a more accurate representation of their stats. Their swords get upgraded anyway, so only their default weapons need retooling, maybe just start them both with chainswords. And as for the Techmarine, the servo arm should be way more powerful. This is no way affects my overall enjoyment of the game, it’s just a minor detail and I do not consider it a strike against them.

However, I do have 2 small complaints that ARE somewhat bothersome. It is too easy to get all the unlockables and they are not character specific as you get them. Allow me to explain. Playing through as the Sternguard let’s say, I can can get every unlock for every character. I  should only be unlocking upgrades to ranged weaponry. Not only is this less of a challenge, but subsequent playthroughs with other characters will feel less rewarding because now I have nothing new to achieve. My other big complaint is the self inflicted death rate is too high. These types of games always have copious amounts of exploding barrels littered about, which I should have expected, and within 5 minutes of my first game session, I was KIA; death by barrel blast. Whatever. That was my own stupidity, but with the unending rain of gunfire, it just means you need to more careful about stray rounds. The other method of self inflicted death is far more insidious and aggravating. It is too easy to fall. This isn’t a platforming game and I never have to jump. I shouldn’t even have the option to fall off any ledges. Maybe some of you will never come across this issue, but I am an insane completionist and I must find every little secret. Fall to death ratio – about 50%.  Getting cut down from a rampaging mob of Orks is to be expected. Not searching behind a large pipe only to fall of the world.

Despite the fact that I’m very good at singling out things that bother me, I’ve had much fun with Kill Team so far. I assure you, those are the only negative aspects I’ve come across and they really are quite minor.  It’s really easy to pick up and play without getting bogged down by endless menus, but customizable enough to where is doesn’t feel too simple.  With each stage coming in at around 20-45 minutes play time, you don’t have to devote an entire day to it either. And the survival mode is good for a quick fix if you have even less time than that. Regardless of how much time you have, it’s total nonstop action the whole way through alone or with a friend.  All said and done, definitely worth the 10 bucks you’ll spend on either the PSN or XBLA and it only makes me more anxious for Space Marine to come out in September.

Don’t forget, like me on Facebook! Follow me on Twitter! And take care, spi….. wait wait. No, someone else says all that.

Yeah uh… Thanks for reading!

For the Emperor!

Just finished downloading and playing Warhammer 40k: Kill Team.  It was only 800 microsoft points on XBLA. Simple, straightforward, fun gameplay. Smash TV style controls with some RPG elements thrown in such as added power-ups and perks.

I’ve been waiting for this since I played it briefly at E3. It will tide me over until Space Marine comes out in September. Added incentive to download, they give you a power sword in Space Marine for playing Kill Team.

Mike, this is for you more than anyone else. Download this immediately!

Analysis so far: AWESOME

More to come!

Thankyou Couch Co-op

I’ve seen the Dungeon Siege III commercial a few times now and it’s got me thinking. Actually I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and the commercial was more of a catalyst. What’s happened to couch co-op? Sitting around your room with a bunch of friends, a few bags of chips, and a lot of foul-mouthed tomfoolery. It seems so many games focus on online multiplayer that playing a game with a person in the same room is becoming a thing of the past. I understand that often times human interaction can be down right (forward, HADOKEN!) detestable, but video games are meant to bring people together! Too many games are either completely single player (which there’s nothing wrong with. Mass Effect is the best game ever) or are designed to get people online and into a team deathmatch as quickly as possible. I blame Call of Duty.  The predecessors to Call of Duty: World at War didn’t have a campaign co-op, so when World at War finally released I was quivering with excitement to get home and play with my roommates right away. It was a great night. I simply don’t understand why the follow ups took that feature away. More recently Brink, and we won’t even mention any other problems with this one, is strictly multiplayer even in the single player campaign! Why not throw in some split screen action?

I have nothing against online gaming. I’ve been playing MMOs (specifically not World of Warcraft), RTSs, and FPSers for years on the PC and nothing is more devoid of direct social interaction than an MMO. But what if my wife and I want to play a game together? For the most part we would both need to own a copy of the game, have separate systems set up on separate TVs in separate rooms*, that or be relegated to playing some garbage carnival game on the Wii or pretending to rock out with fake instruments.

NO!

I’m sure it all comes back to money. My previous line of thinking pretty much answers my question.  If you have a sibling or two and you want to play online with them,  a sale of 1 game is nice, but make it so that you can only do 1 person online per console, well now you have 2 TVs, 2 consoles, 2 games, 2 headsets, and 2 accounts sold.

Here’s a typical situation: You’re in a store looking for a game to bring home to play with your friends but all too often the back cover reads, “Players 1. Online multiplayer 2-16.” I’m always talking about how perfect the XBLA and PSN are for finding awesome games and this is another prime example. The best co-op games aren’t found in a store for $59.99, but are available for immediate download usually at around only 15 bucks!

So here’s a list of games I thank for having multiplayer, split screen, campaign co-op, and whatever other ways they make it so we can game together without our only form of connection being our headsets.

  • Halo – The most recognizable. This game has sold systems for years and from day 1 had split screen co-op
  • Borderlands
  • Portal 2
  • Hunted – Even though it’s mediocre
  • Dungeon Siege III
  • EDF – Don’t laugh. You have no idea how awesome this game is
  • Castle Crashers
  • Scott Pilgrim – This one’s so old school there isn’t even an online feature. You might have to make some friends to get all 4 players

And I was ever so excited when these 3 gems appeared on the XBLA

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  The Arcade Game
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
  • X-Men

Yeah I know I left out some games. I’m sure you have other co-op games on your own list that I didn’t mention. So what? Wanna fight about it?

Drop me a line, leave a comment. Most importantly, share this post!

* note that my wife and I do have separate systems set up on separate TVs in separate rooms

My First E3!!!

This is what dreams are made of

This is what dreams are made of

Issue #0

Being that this is my first official posting, allow me to explain what the intended purpose of this blog is going to be.

At the very least, a weekly (hopefully) posting of indie games from wherever I can find them, though they will primarily come from XBLA (xbox live arcade).

Sure most of you that are gamers on the 360 have at least checked out a few games from XBLA, but have you ever checked out the indie games tab? I find most of my friends, or just anyone I’ve talked to about it for that matter, don’t bother, and since they’re indie, there really isn’t any advertising for them. Aside from word of mouth, knowledge of these games really doesn’t get out there. And maybe this is going to be a redundant blog, and I’m sure other people could probably do it better, but I haven’t seen more than a handful of blogs out there honoring these works of passion. Probably because there’s no money to be had in it.  And sure indie means that there’s really not much of a budget to speak of, but lack of budget doesn’t mean lack of quality. Yeah, a lot of them are complete stinkpiles, but there quite a few gems out there. So that’s my plan, get some groundswell going for these unknown and potentially rockin’ indie games. Oh yeah, best of all, most of the indie games you find are less than 5 bucks!

Also you may have noticed I started with issue #0. And if not, then you did now. So yeah, that’s how I’m gonna do this. I like comics and I’m going to number my blogs as if they were comic book issues. Games and comics seem to go well together.  The nerd communities generally intermingle and are often one in the same anyway, usually some Magic the Gathering thrown in there as well, but we’ll be leaving that out of these posts as much as possible. (evil, deadly, addition….) I have no intention of actually reviewing an indie game in this inaugural post. It’s really just more of a prequel and info-packet if you will.  So that’s mostly why I decided to label is issue #0, kind of like how comics get an issue #0 just to showcase some art or some such.

And now for the showcase! So I just got back from E3. One of my lifelong goals has finally been achieved. You can’t imagine how many points I feel I’ve just unlocked. This industry only event has been just out of my reach for years and I’ve always wanted to go ever since I first remember reading about it in the early days of Game Informer. It was more amazing than my fondest memories of Disney World as a child, though waiting in the lines seems about the same. Everyone’s been asking me how it was and what I thought of all the upcoming splendor we shall see this holiday season and early next year. Well here are my thoughts as organized as I can get them, but in no particular order.

Wii U

Holy dicks. Nintendo… WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Look, we all love Nintendo, and I’m sure they will continue to produce absolutely amazing 1st party content, but Nintendo, you are making it really, really difficult to appreciate your direction. Nintendo is pretty much shitting all over my fondest childhood memories. Ok, so maybe this is a little hyperbolic, but there are a million better ideas that were probably floating around the Nintendo offices and this was the best they could come up with?! First off, the name. Wii U? Out of what I’m sure were a plethora of other splendid console names gathered during extensive brainstorming sessions, someone at corporate Nintendo actually decided that Wii U was the best choice. What happened to the Nintendo HD? That was a fine title. It’s straight to the point and lets us know EXACTLY what they intend out of the system.  Even the revolution (the codename the Wii had before it’s release) would have been a better choice. Hell, even the Dolphin! Didn’t anyone else heart break when they heard Nintendo announce their new system? From a strictly retail point, customers had a hard enough time asking for and pronouncing the Wii accurately for the first few years it was out. I wonder what kind of verbal abortions will be imagined this turn around.

The controller: I don’t know entirely how I feel about this.  I’m torn at the moment. My limited engagement with the device left me intrigued, yet highly concerned. For starters, this could easily be another gimmick and there have already been far too many gimmicky games for the Wii. I do like the idea of a touch screen on my controller, but I don’t like the idea of a tablet-like device.  It’s about the size of an iPad and I think the iPad and iTouch, and all that other apple crap is terrible for gaming. Yes there are tons of games you can get from iTunes and tons of people play them, but they’re mostly garbage. People that play games on an iPad aren’t gamers. The iPad makes a poor gaming device and would be an even worse gaming controller. The first game I ran to when I got my chance to play the new Wii U after my nearly 3 hour wait in line, was Ghost Recon Online. I was more excited about the controller than anything considering it’s the only part of the system that I would really consider new hardware.  The size itself isn’t a problem; I was a fan of the original Xbox controllers after all. The problem is that it’s not contour friendly to hands and it’s analog sticks are terrible.  It’s nice and lightweight and there is a ledge (for lack of a better word) on the back that rests on your fingers so you don’t feel like you’re holding it up, but it’s a square. They may have worked 25 years ago with the original NES, but the controller then was a fraction of the size. Some contoured grips on the side would have been nice. As far as the analog sticks, they feel like the analog sticks on the PSP or 3Ds. They don’t move as smoothly as as a PS3, 360, or even an N64 controller. If they were going for the flat look, then they got it, but if they were going for dual analog sticks that felt natural, then they fell flat on their asses and failed. There are many things I like about this controller, but the crappy analog sticks make it worthless for real gaming. Lastly, turning to retail again; how much is this thing gonna cost? Seriously, a Wii remote/nunchuck combo it 70 bucks. I can’t see this thing costing under 100. And how’s that gonna fly with parents? And obviously kids are gonna break this thing. I can see an irate parents face already when they have to replace one of these because of a cracked screen.

I think they revealed the Wii U too soon. I don’t think they had enough to show and they shot their wad before it was time. On display were 2 separate tech demos, one of which had an exciting looking Link vs. a giant spider fight scene. But that’s all it was for: looking. The best piece of eye candy they had and all you could do was move the camera around.  They had this absolute rubbish game called Measure Up, which could have easily been on the DS since all it was was drawing lines and shapes more accurately than your opponent. The best things they had to show were another Mario Bros. game, Battle Mii, and Chase Mii. The Mario game would have been great, but it’s really nothing different so far. I’m not even sure if it was any different than the one from Wii, but maybe with some new features. I dunno, I really didn’t pay attention to that one.  Battle Mii and Chase Mii were the best they had to show, but they were both mini games! It’s a slap in the face. If Nintendo really wanted to excite people about their new system, after much of the gaming community has already completely turned their backs to the Wii, they shouldn’t have shown up with a couple of mini games! Granted they were really fun, but when Nintendo posed the question to themselves, “What would we like for people to take away with them after playing the Wii U?” The answer shouldn’t have been a couple of mini games! In Chase Mii one person plays are Mario using the tablet where the screen displays the location of all the players on the map and the other 4 players use the regular remotes to find and chase him down; basically it’s a glorified version of hide and seek.  Battle Mii had a little bit more merit. One person pilots Samus’ ship while the others are on the ground and from then on its pretty much a standard death match. No new concepts really except the cross-style gameplay, yet still not enough to showcase a new console. Bottom line Nintendo, with a release date and pricepoint both still TBA and no discernible line-up yet, the announcement of this console should have waited.

All right, the Wii U has got me a little agitated right now. I’ve got more to say about E3 and I’m sure maybe 3 or 4 of you are interested, but you’ll have to wait. More to come tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

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