PC

Unexpected Pleasures in Saint’s Row 3

4 Mar 2013 | Posted by | 5 Comments

Saints Row the Third

As many of you may know, I am the proud owner of a new gaming PC, so naturally I’ve been digging through my backlog of Steam games to put the new machine through its paces. Thanks to various sales, I have a pretty sizable collection of games despite not having a rig worthy of running them until now. One of the games I’ve been playing the most is Saints Row: The Third, which I bought as part of the THQ Humble Bundle. The funny thing, though, is that I didn’t buy the bundle thinking I’d end up playing much Saints Row; it was more that I’m a sucker for a sale price and thought some of the other games in the bundle might be worth checking out.

Part of the fun of my new machine is launching games and seeing how they run with all settings maxed out, so I spent most of one Saturday launching one game after another and playing with the settings. Much to my surprise, Saints Row is actually a gorgeous game, especially on the highest settings. Once that sank in, I realized that I was also having a hell of a lot of fun playing the opening set piece during a bank robbery gone wrong. Pretty soon after that, the game had its hooks in me, and I ended up playing it for a good six hour session the following weekend.

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The GamerSushi Show, Ep 63: Podcast with Butterfly Wings

3 Mar 2013 | Posted by | 5 Comments

the gamersushi show, ep 63

Welcome back to The GamerSushi Show! We’re releasing these at a fairly decent clip, aren’t we? You’d think with how dry the gaming industry has been news wise recently we’d have nothing to talk about every week, but here we are again, invading your media players.

It’s another three man team, but this time in the usual combination of Eddy, Jeff and Anthony. They may be lacking Nick and myself, but they still manage to have a rousing conversation anyways. They talk about some older games then launch into Ni no Kuni and next Tuesday’s Tomb Raider, then they talk news which includes the announcement of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and the fact that those scamps over at EA are continuing with microtransactions for the next gen.

Listen, rate and comment! Thanks for stopping by!

0:00 – 0:54 Intro
0:55 – 3:54 Nick Hates The Walking Dead
3:55 – 13:52 Jeff’s Steam Box and Saint’s Row 3
13:53 – 20:11 Far Cry 3
20:12 – 27:03 Ni no Kuni
27:04 – 34:51 Tomb Raider
34:52 – 37:51 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
37:52 – 50:38 EA microtransactions and Xbox successor deal
50:39 – 54:40 Next gen budgets
54:41 – 56:42 Outro

Ubisoft Hoists Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

28 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 5 Comments

assassins creed 4 black flag

Avast, landlubber! After a pre-order poster for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag leaked earlier this week, Ubisoft went ahead and confirmed that the game and its pirate setting are real and there will be an official reveal on Monday, March 4. The game has been announced for the PS3, Xbox 360, PC and WiiU, but you know this is coming to the PS4 and the Xbox successor as well.

There are no firm details about the game other than that it will be a pirate-themed game based on the open sea and will be set in a new time period as well as feature a different protagonist. Based on the box-art, which I used for the image, the time period won’t be radically different from the Revolutionary America setting from Assassin’s Creed 3.

The naval battles were my favorite part of the previous game, so I’m glad Ubisoft is running with the one new addition to the series that worked well. I’ve made my dislike of AC3 well known, but I can’t help but be a little excited for Black Flag. A pirate that follows the creed would make for an excellent protagonist indeed, and hopefully a departure from the more or less morally-upright main characters of games past.

What do you guys think about this announcement? Are you excited for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag? Would you rather this game sank to Davy Jones’ Locker? Will the game use the term “poop deck” with a straight face?

Source – IGN

Review: Aliens: Colonial Marines

28 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 2 Comments

aliens colonial marines review

Games with a twisted lineage seems to be Gearbox’s forte. After resurrecting the poorly received Duke Nukem Forever, the studio turned its sights back on Aliens: Colonial Marines, which had been continually delayed since its announcement six years ago.

With rumors of multiple studios involved and pre-release demos that couldn’t possibly represent the real game, is Aliens: Colonial Marines the “true sequel” we were promised, or is it worse than Aliens vs Predator: Requiem?

Editor’s note: Images contained within this review do not accurately represent Aliens: Colonial Marine’s actual graphical style. Look to our forthcoming video review to see what A:CM looks like in action.

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Steam Box Build: The Twin Birds

26 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 14 Comments

Twin Birds

Before we start I wanted to note that all of the pictures in this article are linked to higher resolution versions.

Let’s Begin

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I set out on a journey. My journey wasn’t very different from that of Frodo and Samwise when they set out from the Shire to take The One Ring to Mordor, and cast it into the fires of Mount Doom. But, instead of Sam I had Jeff, and instead of throwing a ring into some lava, I was researching, pricing out and building new gaming PCs. This marks the first new PC I’ve built for myself since 2007 when I put together what we lovingly refer to as the “Leet World PC.” The itch to build a new machine began when Steam released Big Picture Mode, and I started to really love the idea of having a 10-foot experience for my PC games.

The goals I had for this build:

  1. Try to stay close to a $600 price point.
  2. Find a smaller, good looking-case and quiet components since it will be in the living room.
  3. Have playable frame rates in most games at 1080p with everything maxed.

Alright, on the important stuff…

Specs

PART DESCRIPTION PRICE
CPU Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz $119.99
Motherboard ASRock B75M-ITX Mini ITX $89.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 $40.98
Storage Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5″ 7200RPM $59.99
Video Card HIS IceQ Turbo Radeon HD 7850 2GB $189.99
Case BitFenix Prodigy Mini ITX Tower $79.99
Power Supply Antec NEO ECO 620C $49.99
TOTAL $630.92[1]

 

Choices

parts

Some of you might say, “Nick, you could’ve spent less money than that, and get basically the same performance if you had done ‘X’ thing.” And, you wouldn’t be wrong in that statement, but what you are forgetting is that I don’t care what you have to say. Yes, it’s true that if I would’ve gone with a different case (ATX/Mini ATX) I wouldn’t have been locked into paying more for a Mini ITX board, but the smooth lines and sexy curves of the BitFenix[2] case were too much to pass up. Another limiting factor with Mini ITX was the lack of AMD motherboards available, so I chose to go Intel.

mobo

Since the Prodigy case has two USB 3.0 ports on the side, I wanted to find a board that had USB 3.0 headers, and the ASRock B75M-ITX fit the bill. Not only that, but it has two more USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA port on the back, so you can connect all the things. After deciding on the board, I needed a CPU. Since this was meant to be just a gaming machine, I felt that I could skimp here, and didn’t go for the PC-builder’s darling, the Intel i5. Instead, I opted for the i5′s little brother, the i3-3220, and it’s a great little dual-core hyper-threaded chip that won’t bottleneck the GPU, which is the most important part. I originally was going to only get 4GB of RAM since most games can’t address more than that, but it was almost the same price to go for 8GB, so I thought I’d future-proof the box a little bit.

gpu

The crown jewel of this build is the GPU. Yes, it’s not the best graphics card ever, but for under $200, you can’t do much better. ATI’s Radeon HD 7850 is already a pretty fast card, but HIS has over-clocked their IceQ Turbo to 1.0GHz[3]. I also opted for 2GB of Video RAM, up from the standard 1GB, to help with anti-aliasing and texture detail at higher resolutions. Another nice thing about the HIS Ice Turbo is that it’s quiet… Really quiet. When I fired the machine up for the first time, I didn’t realize that it was on for a second. To go along with this beefy GPU, I picked up a 620 watt Antec PSU. Antec is one of the best names in power supplies, and this little guy delivers. It has more than enough connectors for HDD/GPU/fans, and is almost silent while running.

And now back to the good part…

Pictures

prep

As any gamer knows, first, we gather our materials.

tools

A good builder needs their tools.

build

By the middle of the build I had taken over our entire dining room table.

power

Those boards don’t work on water! Unless you’ve got power!

removed

I had to remove both the secondary Hard Drive Cage and the DVD Drive Bay…

beast

…to fit this beast.

ass

Dat ass.

done

Aaaaaand we’re done!

black

Only to have to do it all again, in black.

Obligatory benchmark

bench

Alternates

If you are looking to build something similar, but maybe want to go a cheaper route, here are some options. First, you could build basically the same computer but with a cheaper case and motherboard. Also, if you are going to be running your games at 720p, something like a Radeon HD 7770 or NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 650 would suit your needs fine. One interesting solution, if you like the case or the ITX form factor, is to go AMD. Yes, earlier I said there was a lack of AMD boards for Mini ITX, but the one or two that there are, are FM2 socket. The FM2 socket is for AMD’s Trinity, formerly Vision, APUs which are a combo CPU/GPU on the same chip. I know what you are saying, “But Nick, integrated graphics suck,” and you used to be correct. The Trinity APU is the first solution that is actually a viable integrated graphics solution for gaming. I’ve seen playable frame rates from games like Sleeping Dogs at 720p using an AMD A10-5800K. This would obviously save you a lot, because you won’t have to buy a separate GPU, and if you want, in the future you can Crossfire it with a matching ATI GPU for more performance.

To Wrap it Up

After the blood[4], sweat and tears I ended up with a pretty sweet little machine. She is quieter than the XBox 360 it sits next to, prettier than the PS3 on the other side, and more powerful than either. I loaded up a couple Steam games, and they look gorgeous at 1080p on the 50″ plasma. But, as happy as I am with the little black box, the dream of being able to just fire up your PC and start playing is not quite there yet. Consoles are still hands down more user-friendly. I had issues with Big Picture not auto loading, stability in games and not being able to dismiss alerts without a keyboard and mouse. Overall, I’m incredibly happy with the purchase, and wouldn’t change a thing, but this whole experience has really showed that unfortunately, Big Picture is not ready for prime time quite yet.


 

1. These are the prices I paid at the time. The cost of parts can fluctuate wildly, so your mileage may vary.
2. The BitFenix name and logo inspired the names of the PCs: Jean-Grey (White) and Dark-Phoenix (Black).
3. ATI Radeon HD 7850s are factory clocked to 860MHz.
4. I have cut myself at some point during every build I’ve ever done, and this was no exception.

Pixel Count: How Do You Like Your Shooter Campaigns?

26 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 8 Comments

Welcome back to “Pixel Count Tuesday”!

Having just wrapped up Crysis 3, I’ve been thinking about the way shooters are leaning these days in terms of how their campaigns are structured. Very few games walk the line the that Crysis 3 does by having its levels be a blend of openness and linearity; most of the time, games are just corridor shooters like Call of Duty or open-world type affairs like Far Cry 3.

While it does have a lot to do with the mechanics (Call of Duty would never work as a semi-open shooter in its current form), it also boils down to personal taste. Some people can’t stand linear games, while other get turned off by games that are too broad. What about you guys? What kind of shooter floats your boat?

What kind of shooter campaign do you prefer?

View Results

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Crysis 3 Single-Player Kicks off the Year of the Bow

25 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 3 Comments

crysis 3 single-player

It’s “What We’re Playing Monday”! Maximum video games!

I already talked a little bit about Crysis 3′s multiplayer during the beta, and for the full release my impressions are pretty much the same. Crytek fixed the aim-down-sight issue, but I still just can’t manage to get a good round in.

The single-player of Crysis 3, on the other hand, I’ve been enjoying quite a bit. Set twenty years after the events of Crysis 2, you journey back to a ruined New York as the nano-suited entity known as “Prophet”. A lot is made of what has become of your humanity during the twenty years you’ve been in the nano-suit and whether or not you’re human anymore. Prophet himself isn’t sure, either, constantly stating that he’s sacrificed a lot to battle the alien Ceph.

Shortly after the opening segments in which returning character Psycho busts you out of a CELL containment unit, you’re given Crysis 3′s new weapon, the one that all the pre-release materials made a big deal of: the Predator bow. While being able to stay cloaked even after shooting off an arrow is pretty cool, the bow unfortunately unbalances Crysis 3 a little too much in favor of the player.

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Team Fortress 2 Tonight!

23 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 8 Comments

Team Fortress 2

Last week, we posted about our GamerSushi Community Night in Team Fortress 2. After getting some feedback, we decided to host the game tonight, at 10 PM CST! Give us a roll call in the comments, and let us know if you’ll be there or not. And if you’re late, no worries, you can drop by whenever.

So, who’s joining? And feel free to leave suggestions on what we should play for our next community night! Go!

Update: Server is: 173.62.11.99:27015, we’re playing now!

Review: Dead Space 3

21 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 2 Comments

Dead Space 3 Review

When Dead Space 3 was first announced at E3 last year, it was met with a chorus of skepticism. With the addition of co-op and a revamped combat system, this formerly slow-paced horror game looked more like a Gears of War knock-off. Although Visceral games has said repeatedly that Dead Space 3 will still adhere to the series’ roots, developers are known to embellish a little.

The final act of a trilogy carries a lot of expectations, especially when the people making them add a bunch of new features and try to rework tried and true conventions. How does Dead Space 3 fare under the microscope?

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It’s Game Over, Man, For Aliens: Colonial Marines

18 Feb 2013 | Posted by | One Comment

aliens colonial marines

It’s “What We’re Playing Monday!” By now you’ve probably read all about the absolute cluster-eff that is Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gearbox’s six-years in the making supposed love letter to the Aliens franchise. What it is when its at home is actually a bland, buggy mess, more akin a budget shooter from earlier in the generation with xenomorphs tossed in.

Picking up sometime after the events of Aliens, Colonial Marines scatters any notion of canon to the wind, with several characters literally hand-waving away plot points in an attempt to get you back to killing xenos without much thought. Characters who are dead come back for no reason, and the mere presence of the Sulaco above LV-426 is enough to get even the most casual Aliens fan’s blood boiling.

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The GamerSushi Show, Ep 61: Love Cast

17 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 4 Comments

the gamersushi show

Welcome back to The GamerSushi Show, where a three-man team consisting of Eddy, Anthony and Jeff lull you in with their sultry voices as they talk various bits of gaming news and other sexy stuff.

Since this cast was recorded on Valentine’s Day, there’s kind of a running joke throughout. I’ll leave it up to you to find out what it is, though. In terms of actual topics, the trio talked 9GN, some gaming news including the new Batman game and Destiny, what would happen if Telltale tackled the Aliens franchise, the PS4 controller, and polished it off with a nice discussion about what they love about gaming. I wish I had been able to get in on that last topic, because it’s a really good one.

Alright all you gamers out there, you know how this goes. Listen and rate, and let us know what you love about gaming!

0:00 – 3:50 Intro
3:51 – 8:15 Anthony’s 9GN article
8:16 – 9:40 Site updates and streaming
9:41 – 17:45 Gaming news round up
17:36 – 20:59 Could Telltale tackle Aliens
21:00 – 26:44 PS4 touchscreen controller
26:45 – 56:09 Things We Love About Gaming
56:10 – 1:01:15 Outro

GamerSushi Community Night: Team Fortress 2

16 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 9 Comments

Team Fortress 2

Last month, our Counter-Strike: Global Offensive game night was a rousing success. There were around 20 GamerSushi folks in and out of the server over the course of the night, and at one point we had a pretty healthy (although maybe a bit one-sided) 9 versus 8 match going.

Getting the crew together was so fun, we thought we’d try to start doing it twice per month, especially now that KillKill’s server is up and running. For our next game night, we’re eying Team Fortress 2. We expect mayhem.

Here’s how to sign up: if you haven’t joined the GamerSushi Steam Group, you should do that. Then in the comments, tell us what days/times would be best for you next weekend. We’ll do our best to set up a game time that works for as many of you guys as possible.

Also, you should wish Anthony a happy birthday today. Go!

2/23 Update: We’re playing this tonight at 10pm CST. Who’s in?

Review: The Walking Dead

14 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 3 Comments

Walking Dead

You probably know all about Telltale’s adventurous take on The Walking Dead, which released in 5 episodic installments over the course of 2012. Taking a comic book series and a TV show known for its zombie scenarios and making it anything other than a first person shooter might have seemed like an odd move to some, but Telltale clearly saw past the horror and straight to the humanity of Walking Dead’s world — and that sometimes, humans are the scariest creatures of all.

In a departure from our normal reviews, all four of the GamerSushi writers have contributed to this piece. As you may know, Walking Dead was our number one game of 2012, so we wanted the review to reflect that high place that we’ve given it. To review the game, each of us have written about the one aspect that makes this game stand apart, and why we personally chose it as our game of the year. Enjoy!

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News Round Up: New Batman, Aliens Reviews and Bungie’s Destiny

14 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 2 Comments

batman arkham city sequel 2013

It’s Stop the Presses Thursday here on GamerSushi. This last week was a bit light on news, so I thought I’d wrap up a few items in one convenient post for you.

First up is the word that a successor to Batman: Arkham City is in the works and will be coming out this year! Warners Bros. Interactive announced it quietly during an earnings call with the actual reveal coming in a few months. Rumors are abound about what the next Arkham game will be about, with Rocksteady either going back to the Silver Age of comics for inspiration or not being involved with the project at all. Arkham City and Arkham Asylum scribe Paul Dini will definitely not be returning, however.

After six years in development, Aliens: Colonial Marines has finally hit and boy is it a stinker. Just months after releasing their high-quality hit Borderlands 2, Gearbox has released another game on a level with the ill-received Duke Nukem Forever. According to an anonymous post on Reddit, Aliens: Colonial Marines has had a trouble history, coming together in the past six months after Gearbox took issue with the single-player campaign they contracted out to TimeGate. I played the game a bit last night and I can tell you, it’s as bad as they say.

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Cliff Bleszinski on the Evolution of Franchises

13 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 4 Comments

Cliff Bleszinski

Like many franchises before it, Dead Space 3 has been coming under fire for its sudden shift in tone. Where the first two games were heavily geared toward survival horror, Dead Space 3′s added co-op partner and upgraded arsenal supposedly give players more ways to take down armies of necromorphs than ever before. Even though our very own Mitch insists that the game still has its own share of scary, there are others who disagree.

Naturally, there are pockets of gamers that are extremely upset over this change in mechanics to a game that they love dearly. To some, it’s “selling out.” But Gears of War honcho and former Epic Design Director Cliff Bleszinski has some different ideas about what’s happened to the Dead Space franchise. In a recent Dead Space 3 blog post, Bleszinski calls the game an evolution of the franchise, and uses that term endearingly. And according to him, “You can either fight it or embrace it.”

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Sleeping Dogs: When to Let a Game Lie

11 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 2 Comments

Sleeping Dogs

As I talked about last week, I’ve been doing a remarkable job when it comes to my gaming backlog. The most recent casualty on my seemingly ever-growing list (seriously: I just added Ni No Kuni to it this weekend) is Sleeping Dogs, Square Enix’s Hong Kong crime drama.

I’m generally down on open-world GTA style games, but Sleeping Dogs was a welcome treat, providing fun hand-to-hand combat, some nice diversions, exhilarating driving and a well-told story to boot. But one of the things I loved most about Sleeping Dogs? It knew when to call the game quits.

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Dead Space 3 Does Co-op Well

11 Feb 2013 | Posted by | Comments Off

dead space 3 coop

A common concern with horror games is that adding another person into the mix will negate the scares, kind of like watching a scary movie with a friend and making fun of it to lessen the tension. While Dead Space 3 might seem like more of an action game with two players tearing up necromorphs together, there are a couple neat tricks that developers Visceral Games pulls to make the experience a little more frightening.

Throughout the game, the co-op partner playing as second banana John Carver will experience hallucinations that the person playing Isaac Clarke won’t see. It’s up to Clarke to protect Carver as he works through these visions. This is a pretty cool way to make co-op a bit more difficult as during these moments players can’t help each other defeat the enemies they are fighting, meaning that Isaac needs to hold off the hordes by himself while Carver does the same.

Communication is key during these parts, and this is one of the many ways that co-op feels integral to Dead Space 3. While there are the standard puzzles like holding a piece of equipment down while one player climbs up or re-routing computer programs simultaneously, going through Carver’s co-op exclusive missions make the co-op campaign of Dead Space 3 that much more enticing.

Has anyone played Dead Space 3? Are you doing it co-op, or are planning to do so?

The GamerSushi Show, Ep 60: The One After 59

10 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 6 Comments

dead space 3

We’re back with another one of our block-rockin’ casts, bringing you all that hot gaming discussion we know you love. Nick even makes a cameo appearance on the cast, so fans of his bearded tones get a little treat this week.

This is one of our longer casts as we get into discussions about the newly announced Assassin’s Creed 4, Dead Space 3 and microtransactions, Ni No Kuni, racism and Borderlands 2, the next generation and the possibility of the Wii U being DOA. So yeah, there’s a lot of gabbing going on here.

Listen, rate, comment; we’re all old hands at this, but I like reminding you anyways. Enjoy!

Hotline Miami trailer

0:00 – 7:37 Intro
7:38 – 13:18 Assassin’s Creed 4
13:19 – 19:08 Games getting better or worse with time
19:09 – 30:48 Dead Space 3
30:50 – 43:33 Ni No Kuni and JRPGs
43:34 – 55:59 Tiny Tina, Borderlands 2 and racism
56:00 – 1:07:14 PlayStation 4 and the Next Xbox
1:07:15 – 1:10:25 Rayman Legends goes multiplatform
1:10:26 – 1:18:26 Outro

GamerSushi Asks: Saying Goodbye?

8 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 13 Comments

Uncharted 2

For today’s GamerSushi Asks Friday, we’re going to take a look at the long, hard farewell. I feel like there’s a “that’s what she said” in there somewhere.

After finishing Far Cry 3 recently, something happened to me that I’ve really only experienced a few times in gaming. After the main game was completed, the pirates were vanquished from the island, outposts liberated, animals hunted and huge portions of secret items located, I realized there was nothing left for me to do in the game. Because of said pirate vanquishment, I couldn’t even run around and kill a few bad guys. I was done with the game, almost completely.

And when it came time to sign off, I found myself coming up with excuses to hop around the world a little longer. I was kind of sad to say goodbye. This has happened before, and will hopefully happen again.

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The GamerSushi Power Rankings: February 2013

7 Feb 2013 | Posted by | 4 Comments

Torchlight 2 cut scene

I hope you’re all happy to know that we’re bringing the Power Rankings back this year, but in a slightly different format. Last year, the Power Rankings updated at a few key points to bring you our running list of the best 10 games of the year so far. In 2013, the Power Rankings will focus more on our hottest 10 games of the moment, despite what year it was released. Think of it as a “what’s trending” list amongst the GamerSushi staff. These are the games we just can’t get out of our heads, or out of our disc trays (or hard drives, as it were).

Every year, it’s interesting to note the games that stick with you from the end of the previous year’s crazy gaming season. For me, the biggest surprises to come out of the Fall were games like Hotline Miami, but most especially Far Cry 3. While I had no interest in Far Cry 3 for the entire year, I couldn’t put the game down for the entire two weeks that I blazed through it, completing nearly all of the sidequests as well. If you had told me that Far Cry 3 would still be on my mind in 2013 a year ago, I would have snorted and called you a crazy person. Heck, I still might call you one today.

Here are GamerSushi’s top 10 most played games right now. Feel free to tell us we’re the crazy ones, and tell us what would be on your list.

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