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NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Takes Stunning Photo of Asteroid Bennu From Just 0.4 Miles Away

Google Science Feeds - 8 hours 48 min ago
NASA's asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which is currently in position around the tiny, near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu, has transmitted its closest shot of the asteroid's surface yet. NASA has already released photos of OSIRIS-REx taken with the ...

NASA To Welcome Tourists To ISS

Google Science Feeds - 10 hours 50 min ago
NASA is opening up its section of the International Space Station (ISS) for leasing to private astronauts and commercial companies. Starting as soon as next year, any American who can afford the expected multimillion-dollar price tag will be welcome to ...

NASA is going to fire an atomic clock into space so astronauts know where they're going

Google Science Feeds - 11 hours 7 min ago
As NASA and other organizations begin to lay the groundwork for crewed missions to places other than an orbiting space station or even the Moon, they're beginning to better understand the potential challenges such missions will pose. Keeping a crew alive ...

Strawberry Moon 2019: Best times to watch and a special viewing bonus

Google Science Feeds - 11 hours 46 min ago
NEW YORK (CNN) — It's time for another noteworthy celestial event. Be sure to cast your gaze toward the sky for 2019's Strawberry Moon. And for the keen-eyed, there's a heavenly bonus with a prominent appearance from one of our fellow planets. So you're ...

NASA –“Moon Yields Clues to Infant Sun & Origin of Life”

Google Science Feeds - 11 hours 55 min ago
We didn't know what the Sun looked like in its first billion years, and it's super important because it likely changed how Venus' atmosphere evolved and how quickly it lost water, said Prabal Saxena, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Atlantic Ocean 'running out of breath'

Google Science Feeds - 12 hours 15 min ago
A huge international research programme has been launched to assess the health of the Atlantic Ocean. The iAtlantic project is the biggest ever mounted in the planet's second largest ocean. It involves more than 30 partners, funded by the EU, and is being ...

Mordhau Review - Die By The Sword

Game Spot Reviews - 12 hours 21 min ago

The sun beats down on the battlefield as the war cries of my fellow soldiers ring out. Catapults pelt us from a distance and the giant boulders explode onto the ground around us with a great thud, thinning our numbers before we can reach the contested checkpoint. Those who make it through are greeted by a line of enemies hastily building a blockade, but we tear through them like a hot knife through butter and take the checkpoint in a flurry of steel and blood. As I stand over the decapitated body of a downed enemy, a spear flies out from behind a barrier and catches me unawares, putting me down on the spot with a sickening, meaty crash, before I respawn back at the camp I'd just come from.

This is the bloody brutality of Mordhau, a strategic, punishing and ultimately satisfying first-person multiplayer medieval combat game. You need patience and perseverance to overcome the steep learning curve of its melee mechanics. Far from being a simple hack-and-slasher, Mordhau focuses largely on learning and executing the finer points of melee combat, from footwork and positioning through to timing numerous attack and defensive maneuvers. It feels clunky at first, but once it clicks, it's brilliant. Timing a riposte--a parry followed up by a quick counter-attack--feels great, and even better if it causes heads to roll. But there are several hours of less-thrilling learning to do first, and despite its attempts at onboarding, the game could do more to help new players get up to speed.

A 15-minute tutorial will run you through the basics, asking you to prove you can perform a series of slashes, parries, and other moves. Helpful to a point, these lessons fail to provide the feedback needed to work towards more sophisticated techniques. Some, like chambering--a complex maneuver where you counter an attack with an attack of your own from the same angle, executed at the exact moment you're about to get hit--require pinpoint timing and are difficult to execute successfully. The lack of visual feedback makes learning when to strike a process of trial and error, which, in the relatively safe confines of the tutorial, means taking a few extra swings at your NPC trainer until you get it right. But during a match it's a slow, merciless grind of death after death, waiting to respawn then charging back to the action against the might of more experienced players.

Because of this, the first five or so hours online feel like a gauntlet in the worst way. You will be cut down time after time and not really understand why, and it's here that most players will bounce off Mordhau. Annoyingly, you also don't earn any progress when playing against AI offline, and they aren't effective training dummies either--they mostly follow each other in long lines and clash in groups, slashing and stabbing wildly. So you're essentially forced to head into the online meat grinder to progress.

Weapons mastery aside, progress comes in the form of gold, which is used to purchase items, armor, and weapons, as well as XP, with which you can unlock new gear to then buy with gold. As the hours tick over, not only does your character level grow, but you slowly become better at the game, and suddenly what seemed at the start like an impossible hill to climb begins to feel a lot less intimidating. The subtle windup of enemy attacks begins to stand out more, making parries and ripostes far simpler. You start to carefully change the timing of attacks by leaning in or out of each swing, and it's once you start to grasp these more detailed nuances that Mordhau truly begins to shine and the real potential of its wonderfully intricate combat begins to show itself. Opening up an opponent after a successful parry, taking aim at their exposed points and landing the killing blow only takes a couple of seconds but requires the utmost control to execute, making every kill feel earned, and the open combat is more enjoyable and expressive than simple hacking and slashing.

There are three main game types to choose from--Frontlines, Battle Royale, and Horde--though you can also privately set up your own deathmatch or team deathmatch servers. Frontlines is the main mode, with two teams of 32 fighting to secure and hold each checkpoint until one either dominates the map and completes the objective or eliminates the opposition by clearing their respawn tickets. Battle Royale is a solo, winner-takes-all round where everyone starts with nothing and has to scavenge for weapons and armor in order to survive, while Horde lets up to six players run together in wave-based, PvE combat. As you clear each wave, you earn more gold that can be used to purchase items and weapons during the round at different points across the map.

Frontlines feels the best of these thanks to its objective-based gameplay, letting those less skilled with the weapons make an active contribution--though if the spectacle of battle does nothing for you, charging into the fray with your screaming teammates certainly will. It can be simultaneously chilling and empowering. As a single death ends the round in both Battle Royale and Horde, they're far less forgiving compared to Frontlines and feel more geared towards experienced players. Once you know how to wield your weapon they can be just as rewarding, though, if a little slower in terms of action.

You can choose several loadouts with varying styles of armor and weaponry from the outset of each match. With less armor, you're lighter and can move faster but are more susceptible to sword attacks, whereas heavily armored characters offer more protection against swords but are slower all around and can be more easily bested with blunt weapons. Each weapon type fits into varying play styles that all feel effective in their own right, but each has a more functional role depending on where you are on the map. Longer weapons will naturally have a longer reach but can't be swung side-to-side in tight spaces as they'll catch on the walls and obstacles, so they can only be thrust or swung overhead instead. Spears and other one-handed weapons can be thrown if need be, while larger weapons can use an alternative grip to better knock off opponents' armor. There are always options for whatever situation you find yourself in, adding to the already excellent fighting experience by offering solid alternatives, provided you've got the right loadout.

The maps themselves are large, ranging from a snowy mountain castle to a wide-open battlefield with fortress encampments at either end of a rolling valley, but the game could still do with a bit more variety. There are seven maps in all, though some are limited to certain game types. They're also a little static--you don't have to worry about weather or adverse conditions--but they still look the part, especially when bathed in the bloody aftermath of combat. Battles can look spectacular from afar, but never quite as good as they do up close, where the raw energy is palpable and intimidating. Ragdolled bodies are stretched across the ground and blood washes over the landscape as the battle rages, leaving a trail of brutality in its wake as the fight moves from checkpoint to checkpoint.

Mordhau is tough, violent, beautiful, and doesn't pull its punches. Despite an intense learning curve that could be better alleviated with more tutorials or better practice tools, its supreme swordplay and combat mechanics eventually outshine any initial frustration. The scale of battle is overwhelming and chaotic, but there's a definite sense to all the nonsense that, once you uncover it, gives you an incredible rush every time you go toe-to-toe with the enemy--even if you don't come out the other side intact.

On Assignment: Inside the English warehouse helping to discover life on Mars

Google Science Feeds - 12 hours 30 min ago
In a drab factory building north of London, one of the most important projects in history is in the final stages of preparation. A joint venture between the European Space Agency and Airbus, the ExoRover mission, to be launched next year, will aim to find the ...

Imperator: Rome Review - Rome If You Want To

Game Spot Reviews - 12 hours 41 min ago

The latest grand strategy game from the genre's current leading light, Paradox Interactive, puts you at the helm of one of the great powers of the late 4th century B.C. and asks you to conquer the world from western Europe to southern Asia. At the same time, it can also leave you in charge of one of the region's meekest tribes and ask you to accomplish little more than its survival. Regardless of your chosen nation, Imperator: Rome is a stubbornly single-minded strategy experience that borrows freely from its Paradox stablemates (Europa Univeralis, Hearts of Iron, and Crusader Kings), culls much of their personality and complexity, and marches into battle with a steely-eyed focus on military conquest.

At heart, Imperator: Rome is a game about building armies and marching them into foreign lands. You recruit troops, secure the strategic resources necessary to recruit upgraded troops, assign generals, point them towards the target, and let them loose. There are technologies to research, civic matters to pursue, and religious concerns, but these are secondary factors, each just another gear in the military machine.

Combat is intuitive and uncomplicated. Armies are routed when their morale breaks, while strict supply costs in each territory work well to prevent amassing units in ludicrous "stacks of doom." Meanwhile, the need to lay siege to an enemy fort for up to several in-game months at a time helps to put the brakes on any notion of steamrolling. You can holler the occasional tactical instruction, but when it comes down to it, the winner in battle will be whoever has the greater numbers. And if your opponent has the terrain advantage then you're going to need an even greater numerical advantage to overcome it.

While I definitely prefer a strategic game that offers varied paths to victory, there is a simple pleasure in Imperator: Rome's rigid insistence that all you have to do is paint the map the same colour. You don't have to play as Rome, of course, but it does make things more straightforward. Your choice of nation is a de facto difficulty slider, with Rome (situated among compliant vassals and easily overrun neutral states) offering a gentle introduction and Phrygia (larger than Rome but riven with internal division and despised by its neighbors) tossing you right in at the deep end. There are hundreds of nations from which to select, spanning half the globe from Britain to North Africa to Scandinavia to Sri Lanka, and you can play as any of them. More than a difficulty setting, however, your choice of nation sets expectations.

Rome is well-known, though not as well-known as Macedon or Egypt, and so the effects of its actions will be felt further and wider, rippling out in diplomatic waves over the Mediterranean and drawing condemnation or perhaps congratulations from its rivals. As a major power, you've got weight to throw around, but other powers take notice and react, adding their own weight to the scale. The result is a world that feels dynamic and connected, at least to the extent that you can appreciate territories on the political map flipping back and forth between your own nation's color and those of your enemies.

When playing as a smaller nation, though, you have no weight at all. You control very little territory, you've got a tiny army, and your choices are extremely limited. The world most likely doesn't even realize you exist. If they do, it's probably because they just noticed you have something they want, or worse, you're merely a slight speedbump on the way to what they want. Played in this way, Imperator: Rome feels oddly timid, an unsatisfying waiting game momentarily brought to life through tentative forays into expansion while you hope no one important notices.

The asymmetry of the starting positions, and the resulting diplomatic relations maintained by each nation at the outset, lend variety to the early stages of each new game. Beyond that, though, the heavy focus on military conquest and lack of options in both empire management and international relations place severe limits on the breadth and depth of strategic tinkering available to the player.

A major problem is the implementation of Paradox's "mana" system, as it is colloquially known. These are the pools of resources--military power, research, oratory power, and religion--you accumulate over the course of the game and which fund many of the decisions you make. Mana increases as you play, based almost entirely on the randomly rolled stats of your leader and those you have appointed to your government. When you have saved enough, you can spend it on extra discipline for your troops, a small income boost, or any number of so-called technologies.

The pacing is all over the place, though. You can hit pause, buy up a bunch of diverse tech, and unpause--and in an instant, your empire is improving its diplomatic relations or collecting more tax. It feels backwards, like you're not planning toward something by investing in a particular resource to work toward a strategic objective, but rather slapping band-aids on immediate problems. It's not even that Imperator wants you to focus on short-term issues, it's more that the game is quite content to let you snap your fingers to magically make problems disappear.

Religious power is the most undernourished of the mana resources. Aside from a very minor buff you can apply every five in-game years, the chief use of religious power is to preserve the stability of your empire--itself a nebulous status that imparts positive or negative modifiers to your loyalty, popularity, and so on--by making a sacrifice to the gods. This dramatic-sounding gesture involves clicking a button to convert a variable amount of religious power into one stability point. That's it. And suddenly the empire is stable again.

Indeed, there's a lot that can simply be flipped on a dime. On the surface, the diplomatic game looks sophisticated. You can send gifts and insults to other empires, form alliances or undermine a rival's current regime by supporting rebels, and more. Managing diplomatic ties across dozens of relations should require balancing a host of competing interests, and at times the systems here do allow for such finesse. But at other times you can flip a switch, spend some oratory power, and now Armenia doesn't mind that you've fabricated a claim on Albania. It's all very "Friendship ended with Scythia, now Carthage is my best friend!"

Elsewhere, lots of small choices add up to very little. When establishing that trade route, do you want to secure access to fish and the 0.02% population growth bonus? Or would you prefer to import precious metals and gain 0.01 loyalty in your provinces? It's difficult to look at such numbers and understand how a particular choice might benefit your overall strategy. So you pick one, cross your fingers, and, in all likelihood, forget about it for the rest of the game. Rulers ought to feel the weight of their decisions, and few such choices here hit heavily.

Imperator: Rome feels undercooked. As it stands, it's a strange mish-mash of several of Paradox's existing (and, let's be honest, superior) games without much to distinguish or recommend it. Paradox recently outlined a "One Year Plan" for the title in an effort to reassure players that they are aware of its shortcomings and intend to address them. That roadmap appears insubstantial to my eyes, but we'll see when we get there. For now, Imperator: Rome remains a decidedly modest strategy game.

The gay men breaking blood donation rules

Health News BBC - 12 hours 59 min ago
The men believe who they have sex with should not prevent them from giving blood.

Lives 'destroyed by NHS eating disorder failures'

Health News BBC - 13 hours 41 min ago
As more than a million people struggle with illnesses such as anorexia, two reports say more must be done.

Danniella Westbrook: Drug-free EastEnders star 'to train as therapist'

Health News BBC - 13 hours 48 min ago
Danniella Westbrook says she is drug and alcohol-free for the first time in years.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year shortlist revealed - including photo of BIRD-shaped aurora

Google Science Feeds - 14 hours 11 min ago
The incredible photos include the Milky Way over the picturesque Bavarian mountain, Herzogstand, as well as the Flame Nebula - a vast cloud of as and dust where new stars are being born. Share. Comments. By. Shivali Best. 00:01, 18 JUN 2019. Science.

The incredible 'Atlas of Space' that maps the orbits of every known object in our solar system

Google Science Feeds - 14 hours 11 min ago
A stunning map created by a data-driven illustrator shows all the orbits of over 18,000 asteroids in the Solar System. It includes 10,000 asteroids that are over 6 miles (10km) in diameter, and about 8,000 objects of unknown size. Eleanor Lutz, a PhD student in ...

Your circle of friends is more predictive of your health, study finds

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:54
Date: June 17, 2019; Source: University of Notre Dame; Summary: To get a better reading on your overall health and wellness, you'd be better off looking at the strength and structure of your circle of friends, according to a new study. Share: FULL STORY ...

Watch Scientists Melt a Satellite Part to See How Stuff Burns Up During Reentry

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:54
European researchers melted a dense satellite part in a special space fire created in a lab in hopes of better protecting people on Earth from falling debris as satellites re-enter our atmosphere. A new video shows a 2-inch by 4-inch (5-centimeter by ...

Meteor 'Smoke' May Spawn Cotton Candy Clouds on Mars

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:43
Cotton candy clouds in the middle atmosphere of Mars may owe their life to dying meteors. New research suggests that the atmospheric destruction of meteors creates tiny particles of dust that can seed the thin clouds. The discovery may help solve the ...

Meet Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:42
HOUSTON - Michael Collins was a Command Module Pilot in Apollo 11. Here is what you need to know about Collins and his journey in Apollo 11, according to NASA.gov. Personal Data: Born in Rome, Italy, on October 31, 1930. Married to the former Patricia ...

Possible targets to help tackle Crohn's disease

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:15
Date: June 17, 2019; Source: University of Plymouth; Summary: There is no precise cure for digestive condition Crohn's disease, and causes are believed to vary. But one indicator of the condition -- an abnormal reaction of the immune system to certain ...

Plankton species uses bioluminescence to scare off predators

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:01
June 17 (UPI) -- At least one species of dinoflagellate plankton uses its bioluminescence for defensive purposes. Researchers determined the species Lingulodinium polyedra uses its glow-in-the-dark abilities to scare off copepod grazers, the species' primary ...

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