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The Walking Dead (PS3)
The Walking Dead (PS3)

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally Charged, 15 May 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
The phenomenal success of Telltale's The Walking Dead has deservedly led to the release of a disc based version of the game. Being based on Robert Kirkman's graphic novels rather than the AMC TV series helps the games visual style. The cel-shaded look is a fine homage to the source material (Kirkman was actually involved in the production of this game). It also enables Telltale to present a character driven story without resorting to fan service. Some characters from the show make brief appearances, but it compliments the plot instead of hindering it.

The game was originally released episodically, and all 5 episodes are included here. Gameplay is from a third person perspective, in the style of old point and click adventures, or more recently, Quantic Dreams `Heavy Rain'. The lack of action may marginalise this game for some. The focus is clearly on decision making and the resulting consequences, rather than combat and gathering supplies. But even players that exist on a staple diet of shooters will not be able to deny the sheer emotional impact this game can elicit.
The plot focuses on convicted murderer Lee Everett, whose prison van is attacked during the initial outbreak. Escaping and taking refuge in a nearby house, Lee discovers 8 year old Clementine has been left all alone, and vows to take care of her. Throughout the game, they encounter other survivors, and the game follows their struggles and internal conflicts. The bond between Lee and Clementine runs through the entire game, it never feels forced, and develops beyond the usual benchmarks set by video games. The writing quality and voice acting are also of an exceptional standard.

The Walking Dead's trophy set is one of those rare instances where I actually wished it was harder. The Platinum is obtained for simply completing the game. Because of the significant choices presented, the trophy list could have encouraged the player to experience these branching paths and wildly different outcomes. However, those looking for an easy Platinum will find it doesn't get much simpler. Season 2 has been confirmed for release later in the year, along with the intriguing suggestion that your actions here could impact how the sequel plays out. So make sure you keep that save file. A strong contender for game of the year.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 1, 2013 4:30 PM BST


Dead Rising 2: Off The Record (PS3)
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record (PS3)
Offered by Gameline GmbH.
Price: £11.28

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in the game!, 14 May 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record marks the return of original protagonist Frank West in an expanded version of Dead Rising 2. The game serves as a `what if' scenario, where he covers the Fortune City outbreak instead of Chuck Greene. As such, this isn't considered canon in the Dead Rising timeline. However, its more substantial than a mere expansion, with new combo weapons, psychopaths, a brand new area called Uranus Zone and a free roam mode, which removes the restrictive timer of the main game. The story is also reworked significantly, changing characters and their motives in reaction to West's involvement. The plot sees Frank West become a celebrity after the Willamette outbreak. After squandering his fame and fortune, he hopes to regain his place in the spotlight by taking part in TK's controversial game show Terror is Reality. Travelling to Fortune City to take part in the event, West soon realises that larger events are in motion that will help him `get back in the game'.

Overall, this is much funnier due to West's sarcastic nature and amusing one-liners. In comparison, it highlights how dull Chuck Greene actually was. Whilst players of Dead Rising 2 will be immediately at home, weapon and magazine locations have been craftily moved. This is a smart decision which avoids complacency for veterans of the previous game. Technical improvements are obvious too. There are substantially less glitches and bugs, loading times are also greatly reduced. As a result it's much less of a chore to travel around the open world of Fortune City. Even small changes improve gameplay. For example, Frank has a hands-free device as opposed to Chuck's walkie-talkie, allowing the player to defend themselves whilst receiving a call.

Photography makes a triumphant comeback, and adds a further layer of variety to proceedings. Categories include horror, brutality, outtake, erotica and drama, with points earned from a photo adding to the player's total experience. As before, the player ranks up during play, which is capped at level 50. Upon levelling up, Frank will usually gain a new combo card, attack move, or attributes will improve. For example, movement speed may increase, or an additional inventory slot will be gained. This means the game is most difficult during the first few hours of play, where Frank is weaker and only a few items can be carried.

The new area, ridiculously titled `Uranus Zone' is a theme park which fits naturally into the map. Its involvement in the main story is limited, but can be freely explored during `Sandbox', the free roam mode which lets the player ignore what time it is and do their own thing without fear of repercussions. 30 challenges are scattered around the map, and involve meeting kill/PP requirements or collecting/consuming items within a time limit. They are a nice addition, and can also be completed with another player online. Money, experience and key items carry over between game modes. So if a vehicle key is purchased and unlocked in Sandbox mode, it will then be available during Story mode. The only thing which does not transfer is the player's inventory. It's a nice touch which links the package together in a cohesive way.

In terms of trophies, Off The Record is easier than its predecessor, as they unlock naturally and there's much less grinding. Players who hated the 72,000 kills from Dead Rising 2 probably won't look forward to racking up 100,000 kills in this instalment. But with no time limit, this is a much easier challenge, and can be worked on gradually during Sandbox mode. Getting 8 survivors into a vehicle will require some form of strategy, as will not consuming any meat, dairy or alcohol during the main game. Terror is Reality; the competitive multiplayer from Dead Rising 2 has sadly been chopped. And it would have been nice to see Survival Mode return from the original game. But on the whole, this is the definitive version of Dead Rising to date.


Deadly Premonition - Director's Cut (PS3)
Deadly Premonition - Director's Cut (PS3)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £16.98

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic... so says Mr Stewart., 13 May 2013
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
After nearly 3 years in the wilderness, Deadly Premonition finally arrives on PS3 (outside of Japan) in this Directors Cut. Despite improvements in visuals and controls, it retains the unique style which has defined this as a cult classic.

A love letter to David Lynch & Mark Frosts `Twin Peaks', the surreal tone and eccentric cast draws obvious comparisons. The general plot, FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan's investigation into Anna Grahams murder is near identical to the `who killed Laura Palmer' storyline from that TV show. Perhaps an appreciation for this distracts from the games technical flaws and helps to understand lunatic plot devices, such as looking for clues in a morning cup of coffee, or the `red room' sections.
The game is split into episodes, which are divided into chapters. However the game is open world, and governed by a weather and time system that hides a surprising amount of depth. Side missions are only available during specific hours of the day, which encourages areas to be revisited. Collectibles can be discovered in the form of trading cards. Distractions are also available, which include racing, fishing and darts. These can be completely ignored, and in some cases may not even be discovered. Something will almost certainly be missed on that initial playthrough without using a guide. In addition to health and stamina, York's hunger and exhaustion levels must be managed by eating and sleeping at regular intervals. The player is also responsible for York's appearance, controlling when he takes a shave and launders his clothes.

Prior to the games release, new content was teased, like extra quests, and the ability to buy a house. Sadly these didn't make the final product, although a DLC menu implies they could arrive in the near future. Original cut scenes are included, which bookend each chapter, and adds an extra dimension to the story. The inclusion of stereoscopic 3D is hardly a selling point considering the games visuals, which are basic but not without charm. Likewise Move support felt clunky, and a tacked on afterthought.

Another new feature is the expanded mini map. Its presentation in Deadly Premonition takes some acclimatisation, as the map rotates depending on the direction faced. Markers cannot be set, which forces constant checks, but it can be expanded whilst driving, which does help matters. Deadly Premonitions driving sections have divided opinion, and whilst they can be erratic and awkward to control, options for windscreen wipers and indicators ensures the games unique charm carries over here. Vehicles also run out of fuel and can be cleaned. Dialogue is genuinely entertaining during long driving sections, with York and `Zach' discussing the case, Greenvale's residents and B movie classics, such as `Attack of the Killer Tomatoes', `Tremors' and `Jaws' (along with many obscurer titles).
Personally, `Zach' is a brilliant aspect of this game. What could be seen as a man with mental illness having conversations with his imaginary friend is actually a reference to the player. When York asks "what do you think Zach", the game is breaking the fourth wall and talking to the player directly. Whilst this theory is given a brain melting twist as the plot develops, the notion that you do not control the character on screen, but instead directly influence their actions is a novel and compelling one.

Deadly Premonition is certainly a niche game that won't appeal to many. But in the days of cookie cutter sequels and content aimed at the lowest common denominator, it is refreshing to see a title that remains so uncompromisingly true to its vision.


Ski-Doo Challenge (PS3)
Ski-Doo Challenge (PS3)
Offered by SupaStock
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The years Haven't Been Kind, 11 May 2012
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Ski Doo: Snowmobile Challenge has been available in some regions since 2009. It's comical that a game this mediocre has taken 3 years to get a general release.

Visuals are functional, but distinctly average and the same 5 songs are played endlessly throughout the game. Career mode forms the majority of the single player challenge, and requires a podium finish to unlock new tracks and stunt challenges. Obtaining first place unlocks new snowmobiles, which can affect a race significantly. Racing on ice tracks requires a sled with superior grip and steering (Summit sleds); whereas snow tracks require faster acceleration and speed (Renegade sleds). Parts can be purchased to upgrade the sleds abilities, although this feels arbitrary and makes little overall difference. Ski Doo's driving mechanics are very twitchy and the overzealous AI makes most of the races a nightmare. At times this can feel like `Road Rash' on ice, but without any combat options. Essentially, you need to have a perfect race every single time to come 1st, which can be very frustrating. Collisions always seem to favour the opposition, so getting ahead early and memorising the track layout is essential.

Stunts can be performed in mid-air by pressing L1 or R1 and rotating the analogue stick. Chaining together stunts builds a boost bar. However stunts can be difficult to land, and any crash resets the boost bar. During races its best to ignore this aspect altogether, and focus on simply winning. A handful of stunt parks are available, which focuses exclusively on building stunt points within the allocated time. Although this element feels at odds with the rest of the game, I found it enjoyable and a nice distraction from the sheer frustration of racing. Furthermore, the game has an online component, but the community is non-existent. One trophy absolutely requires a boosting partner, as getting 20,000 stunt points on a normal race is virtually impossible.

A belated release that no one wanted, and a title that's very hard to recommend.


Hasbro Family Game Night 4: The Game Show Edition (PS3)
Hasbro Family Game Night 4: The Game Show Edition (PS3)
Offered by 6 Hungry Weasels
Price: £12.63

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Family (of 2) Game Night 4, 27 April 2012
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Hasbro Family Game Night 4 is a desperate collection of games that feel hastily created to cash in on the franchises success. Gameplay is incredibly tedious, forcing you to watch the same cinematics endlessly, and the titles are little fun to play. As the name suggests, Game Night 4 is presented in a television show format, with players competing across all 5 game modes for supremacy.

The titles included are Bop It, a button matching game where players `kick it', `twist it' etc. by following the on-screen prompts. Connect 4 Basketball is a strange merging of the sport and the classic game. Similarly, Yahtzee Bowling is an unnecessary combination. Sorry! Sliders feels like a mixture of bowls and curling, with players aiming for the centre of the board for the highest points. The following player can attempt to knock their marker off the board, and the player with the highest points wins. Finally, Boggle Flash is a word creation game, which is arguably the best in the collection. Each game can be played individually, and a variation is available on the original format. For example, Boggle has an additional mode called `Five letter Flash', which resets the letters upon scoring a five letter word.

The final section (where points are tallied and the winner is announced) is excruciatingly slow. Instead of being able to skip this segment, players are forced to manually feed their winning tickets into a machine. It's almost like the game is punishing the better player by making them press the X button more. Working out the final score should never be this much work, and the thoughtless presentation of Family Game Night 4 is really exemplified here. Each game is a best of three scenario (except Boggle), which can drag out a `show' even more. Why this cannot be adjusted in the options reeks of laziness. For time purposes, players should be able to adjust the settings to have a one game match, or increase to best of five. Sadly no such luxury exists with Game Night 4. Even more criminally (especially for a game with `Family' in the title) it only caters for 2 players. This is product misrepresentation of the highest level, and it is utterly astounding that 4 players cannot be accommodated.

Family Game Night 4 proves that Hasbro has milked its catalogue dry, and there is absolutely no reason why Family Game Night 5 should ever be made. Incredibly, the game manages to alienate its target audience by severely limiting the amount of players. It would be easier, cheaper, and much more fun to simply dig these classics out of the attic. At least the whole family could have a go.


Madagascar: Kartz (PS3)
Madagascar: Kartz (PS3)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Super Madagascar Kart 64, 26 April 2012
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
I would love to call Madagascar: Kartz something other than a lazy cash in, or a Mario Kart knock off. But there are too many similarities, and not enough originality to justify labelling it as anything else. Players can race as various characters from the Madagascar franchise (in addition to Shrek and B.O.B from Monsters vs. Aliens) across a paltry 9 tracks. Sadly no track designs are memorable, and they all take less than 3 minutes to complete. There are four difficulty modes which unlock upon completion of the last. Just like Mario Kart, these are 50cc, 100cc, 150cc and 200cc, which acts as a mirror mode. Aside from a single race, there's a Championship, and Time Trial mode, which forms the majority of the single player challenge.

Unfortunately races lack any sense of speed, and power ups feel like a jumbled mess that haven't been play tested or balanced in the slightest. For example, one weapon turns the racer into a wooden box! Whilst this functions as a shield, it isn't particularly empowering, or fun to use. Power ups like banana skins, spiders, and the `Horn of Maurice' cause a loss of control for a ridiculously long time, and the player is utterly helpless whilst they repeatedly veer into a wall, or over a ledge. What really exasperates this is the fact the computer AI cheats, particularly at 150/200cc difficulties. It's infuriating to have a perfect race, only to be ruthlessly blasted with power ups on the final straight, losing out on a podium finish. Like most games that overuse `rubber banding', success feels a matter of luck than actual skill. Considering this is primarily a kid's game, this is unforgivable.

Racers can build a boost bar by performing stunts with the D-pad, but this feels like a tacked on afterthought, and will only be used to obtain the relevant trophies. Additionally, boost can be gained by power sliding (L2), which is essential to master if completing the time trials. Initially the gold medal times seem impossible, but this is because you are required to practically boost around the entire track. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of Madagascar Kartz, and the only suggestion I can offer is to use Melman (the giraffe), whose boost bar fills twice as quickly as anyone else.

Two other modes are available. A checkpoint race gives the player a set amount of time, which increases by collecting hourglasses scattered throughout the track. `Move It Move It' is all about first place. Obtaining the lead gives the player a shiny disco ball above their heads, which converts to points by driving through checkpoints. The first player to 50 points wins the game. These modes are infinitely more fun in multiplayer, and thankfully Madagascar Kartz supports split screen play. On a final note, there is no battle mode, which is very disappointing. If Sidhe Interactive are going to rip off a classic, at least transfer the best elements.

Overall, Madagascar: Kartz is throwaway fun, which would make an enjoyable rental. But at full price, this is insulting stuff, with less than 10 hours of gameplay in total.


My Sims - Skyheroes (PS3)
My Sims - Skyheroes (PS3)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively Challenging, 20 April 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
My Sims: Skyheroes is a flying game with very loose connections to `The Sims' franchise. The green diamond logo is shared, characters talk in incomprehensible gibberish, and many elements can be customised. Despite its appearance, it's a deceptively challenging game. The storyline concerns an evil corporation named Morcubus, who are threatening to take over the world; but as the plot is quickly reduced to skippable text boxes, it soon becomes irrelevant. The script can be humorous at times, if you can actually be bothered to read the seemingly endless dialogue.

Game types are split into Dogfights and Races, along with a handful of objective based missions. Combat can take some acclimatisation, but thankfully the controls make 360 degree combat easier. The weapon set is well varied, including Shotguns, Multi Missiles, Mines and some devastating power weapons. Unleashing a `Supernova' or the humorously titled `F Beam' creates utter carnage. Split screen multiplayer has been criminally ignored by many games recently, instead replacing it with strictly online play. Despite a focus on 10 player online battles, Skyheroes also caters for local multiplayer games, which is always nice to see.

Difficulty issues lie with the games `rubber banding' system, that prevents anyone from getting too far ahead, or too far behind. It completely removes any element of skill, and particularly during 4 lap races or 5 minute dogfights, it's immensely frustrating to be cheated out of victory in the dying seconds by overzealous AI. As a result, getting gold on some missions can feel like random luck.

During story mode, new plane types, parts and Sims are unlocked, allowing for an impressive level of customisation. The games hangar can store up to 10 creations, which is perfectly adequate. There are 3 `levels' of plane, and in the beginning only the weakest types are available. Until level 3 craft are unlocked, it's almost impossible to obtain gold on dogfights, so a large proportion of missions have to be revisited. Considering this is primarily a kid's game, this is never explained to the player. Additionally, perks can be selected to compliment your play style. For example, if you favour a Shotgun, selecting the relevant perks increase that weapons damage. Again, this isn't even given a rudimentary explanation, and could be completely overlooked by younger players.

Overall, My Sims: Skyheroes is comparable to something like Diddy Kong Racing, rather than any particular Sims game. Despite cheating AI, the game still entertains, and the multiplayer is fairly unique (certainly for this generation) and lots of fun. At a budget price, this is definitely worth playing.


Trivial Pursuit (PS3)
Trivial Pursuit (PS3)
Offered by 6 Hungry Weasels
Price: £15.05

3.0 out of 5 stars Tedious Play, 17 April 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Trivial Pursuit (PS3) (Video Game)
Trivial Pursuit struggles to justify itself as a full price release; especially with so many great value PSN titles. The addition of new game modes offers something different, but Trivial Pursuit is littered with design flaws that can make gameplay a chore.

Clear the Board is a single player challenge, most similar to a speed run option. Once a question has been answered, it's permanently removed from the board. Stringing together correct answers increases the score multiplier, which determines the players overall score. Classic mode is fairly self-explanatory. 2-4 players can compete against each other, battling to win wedges in the usual categories. Facts & Friends mode is very similar, but allows bets to be placed on whether the current player knows the answer. It adds a new layer of competition, because wedges can also be won this way. Multiplayer can be handled with just one controller; players simply pass the pad after their turn.

The trophy set is interesting, split across all 3 game modes. Awards are given for answering category questions correctly, or getting consecutive answers right or wrong. There is a free to download `movie pack' from the store, which adds some longevity to the overall experience, although the premium content is way overpriced. Furthermore, irritating design choices can impact on the games enjoyment, particularly after a few hours. Questions that require an answer to be selected from a map do not list the options available. So not only are you required to know the answer, but where it is geographically. The games announcer is bi-polar to say the least, with no consistency to his relentlessly enthusiastic observations. He'll praise your abilities and call you a loser, usually within seconds of each other. Inevitably, he will force you to mute the television. During multiplayer games it can be difficult to see which person is next. Despite picking a specific puck colour for each player, I've noticed Facts & Friends mode has one colour which is shared. The current player box is slightly larger than the rest to indicate their turn, but the difference is negligible and doesn't always help.

Trivial Pursuit is a fun multiplayer title, but very expensive for what it is. There are much better party games available for the system, and for a fraction of the price.


inFAMOUS 2 (PS3)
inFAMOUS 2 (PS3)
Offered by Gamesbuyer
Price: £22.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If it aint broke...., 9 April 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: inFAMOUS 2 (PS3) (Video Game)
Thankfully Sucker Punch responded to the overwhelming criticism of their lead redesign. Cole is now immediately recognisable, instead of the ghastly Nathan Drake clone that featured in early trailers. However, they couldn't resist the urge to tinker; Cole's voice actor has been changed, and brings absolutely nothing new.

InFamous 2 makes no allowances for those who havent played the first game. Actually the story may be lost on those who haven't played it recently. Whilst this could be labelled as a criticism, it's actually refreshing to find a game that caters to its fanbase, and not the lowest common denominator. The Beast was introduced and its arrival was prophesised towards the end of the first game, and infamous 2 focuses on this fascinating enemy. It ravages Empire City, and despite Cole's best efforts, he proves no match for the city destroying behemoth. Fleeing to New Marais with old buddy Zeke and FBI Agent Kuo, Cole must find a way to unlock his potential and protect the world from its newest threat. New Marais makes for a great open world, and is nicely modelled on New Orleans. However, the storyline struggles to match the frantic pace of the original, instead relying on past events as much as any new developments.

Cole has some fantastic new abilities. Personally my favourite is the Ionic Vortex, where a black hole can be summoned to decimate enemies. The ability to pick up and hurl cars never gets boring. And a Spiderman-like ability is incredibly fun. Powers can be purchased when the relevant stunt criteria has been met. The sequel integrates the stunt list with abilities, creating an incentive to explore and test out Coles varied move set. Like the original, blast shards can be collected to increase Coles total electricity storage, and dead drops are again located around the world, but instead of finding satellite dishes, Cole must find and disable carrier birds with messages strapped to them. The karma mechanic has received an injection of personality in the form of Kuo and Nix, which makes the impact of Cole's decisions more personal and immediate.

A new feature is user generated content (UGC) which allows gamers to create missions or set pieces that can be shared, and played by others. However, the majority of user created levels are overwhelmingly poor and lazy. LittleBigPlanet this is not. Hopefully the quality will improve over time, but this addition feels impossible to recommend. Luckily the option can be turned off within the mission filters if you can't face another turkey shoot or poorly designed checkpoint race.

Overall, infamous 2 is a solid sequel. It very much follows the `if it aint broke, don't fix it' mentality, but continues to be one of PS3's greatest, and most enjoyable franchises.


Alpha Protocol (PS3)
Alpha Protocol (PS3)
Offered by Game Dealz
Price: £5.17

3.0 out of 5 stars Bargain @ £4, 23 Mar 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Alpha Protocol (PS3) (Video Game)
Obsidians `Espionage RPG' received a critical savaging upon its release in 2010 and sales were so poor that publisher Sega canned the franchise, along with any possibility of a sequel.

Whilst Alpha Protocol is distinctly unpolished, it feels like the result of a cruel budget and punishing development cycle. Despite this fact, the concept of the game is actually quite fun. Taking inspiration from classic spy characters, protagonist Mike Thornton can manipulate situations and people based upon their interactions. The main choices are inspired by Jason Bourne (professional), James Bond (suave) or Jack Bauer (aggressive). If a character likes Thornton, they may provide him with additional intel; similarly annoying someone may lead to information being divulged that would not otherwise. Building relationships and judging this balance is one of Alpha Protocols best features, and can lead to some wildly different outcomes and storyline branches. The dialogue system is arguably the best of its kind; Perks are awarded at a generous pace, and across the multiple playthroughs required for Platinum, I continued to discover new ones. For example, responding to 10 emails, or using a variety of dialogue responses during a conversation. In this regard, Alpha Protocol does a fine job of rewarding your actions, no matter how small. Amusingly, a selection of women can be seduced, with a trophy for bedding them all in one playthrough.

The storyline is another strong feature, involving shadowy organisations, double agents and global cover ups. The writing is of an unusually high standard for videogames, and the voice acting lends some real credibility to the characters. In true spy fashion, the adventure spans the globe, featuring visits to Rome, Moscow and Saudi Arabia. Level design is similar throughout, but a regular change of scenery helps to maintain interest. Unsurprisingly for a RPG, experience points (or AP) can be used to upgrade Thornton's skills and abilities. Gunplay is initially terrible in Alpha Protocol, so it's essential to level up the relevant weapon skills if stealth is not your preference. Idiotically, the cover system is also managed by the sprint button, which can lead to unintentionally awkward moments. Moral choices are nicely balanced. Should Mike kill the Middle Eastern Arms dealer to stabilise the region, or accept a large bribe to look the other way? Minigames are well designed, but are punishingly difficult on Hard, particularly hacking and lock picking. Boss battles however, are shoddily programmed and poorly implemented, completely at odds with the freeform approach used throughout the game.

For a budget price, Alpha Protocol is worth playing. Yes, the game is riddled with glitches, but they are never game breaking. An action approach is not recommended, as this really highlights the games shortcomings. But for a well written and involving title, 'The Espionage RPG' delivers.


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