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back to article Sony promises PC-based PlayStation 4 for Christmas

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Sony PlayStation 4 - or, as we say in the trade, a PC. Yes, the PS4 will indeed be based on an octo-core x86-compatible processor, incorporate 8GB of GDDR 5 and will be equipped with a PC-centric GPU. It’ll have a hard drive too, plus the inevitable Blu-ray drive. It will incorporate 802. …

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jai
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Well we saw Killzone

And there was talk of Final Fantasy, which presumably is going to look mind-numbingly incredible.

I wonder if GTA 5 will still come out on the PS3 or if they will slip the release date a bit further to be part of the PS4 launch.

Is there going to be an Assassins Creed 4?

Surely they won't be able to resist putting out Uncharted 4 also.

and Gran Turismo, of course.... cept we probably won't see that until 2018.....

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Anonymous Coward

le sigh - ps4 wont play ps3 games - that's a dead duck then... though I havn't really done ps since ps2 and I have an emulator for that.

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jai
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Really? cos the only PS2 game i ever got around to playing on my PS3 was Shadows of the Colossus, and it looked really poor. And then they released the HD version for the PS3 which looked great so now there's zero need to fire up the old PS2 again.

With the PS4, you'll likely be able to stream PS3 games to play them, so you can sell all your old PS3 games via music magpie to raise the cash to buy access to the streaming version of the few PS3 games you'd actually want to play again.

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JDX
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Keep your PS3

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Coat

hmm

So I can dualboot the PS4 with Linux (I would say Windows but I'll get downvoted) and invalidate the warranty at the same time.

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Anonymous Coward

Social? .... Where's the SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay?!

Sony unveils social-focused PlayStation 4...

The constant over-trendy push for ONLINE SOCIAL GAMING & SHARING makes me want to hurl. I game online, but only when my mates aren't around. Online gaming with strangers using nicknames / anonymous gamer tags, means winning or losing doesn't have the same value or enjoyment to me.

I lament the loss of SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay, it kept me from buying the PS3. I'm a social gamer because I like to play split screen games with my mates at my mate's houses. Why has this been relegated to the dustbin of history? I loath the naff-ness of sharing gaming results online. Sorry, but IMHO sharing videos of my gameplay and similar things is narcissistic wank! Its a bloody video game not a trek to mars!

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FAIL

Re: Social? .... Where's the SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay?!

"narcissistic wank". Indeed there's no better way to describe all this hype surrounding social networking.

Maybe I'd be interested in the list of games my friends are playing, but watching replays of their games? please... I can't understand why would anyone think I want to know what they are they doing every second of the day. Hell, I'm sure nobody cares about what I am doing when I play. As with current social networks, this will be a case where everybody broadcast for their own pleasure, so they can feel important on the web; and nobody, NOBODY listens... a pathetic state of affairs, really

And I couldn't agree more with you about the split screen gameplay. I found a fair number of PS3 games that had that option, but usually it was buried in the menus or, in the case of RE5, plainly absent from the menu, so you had to follow a series of cryptic button presses in order to get it.

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JDX
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Re: Social? .... Where's the SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay?!

>>I lament the loss of SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay

I agree. With the average TV size so much bigger these days it makes SS a better experience. And there's that TV tech which lets two people on different sides of the room see totally different images too.

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MJI
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Re: Social? .... Where's the SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay?!

Errr

Recent SP

Killzone 3

Resistance 3

Portal 2

All the Motorstorms

Recent MP

Uncharted 3

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Re: Social? .... Where's the SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay?!

The recurrence of '3' in your titles suggests that developer's were a bit slow in appreciating the demand for split-screen games.

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MJI
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Re: Social? .... Where's the SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay?!

Actually I forgot Resistance Fall of Man, & Resistance 2

Also Gran Turismo

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Social? .... Where's the SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay?!

@MJI

Some notable titles in there, but there are still some big titles missing from your list...

QUESTION:

Do all of the games you list offer OFFLINE SPLIT-SCREEN? Or do they require an online account and constant connectivity i.e. online co-op...? My point was there is a push by SONY towards ONLINE SOCIAL GAMING as opposed to OFFLINE (LOCAL) SPLIT-SCREEN.... But LOCAL is also very SOCIAL too.... So I hope it doesn't fade away...

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MJI
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Re: Social? .... Where's the SPLIT-SCREEN gameplay?!

All the ones under SP have local coop

Anyway how about 4 player co op LBP?

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Anonymous Coward

"So ready ..... to run PS4 VM on my laptop."

Old consoles were all emulated, this one should be even easier.

Meanwhile:

- Need for Speed Most Wanted - PS2 - $159.99

- Need for Speed Most Wanted - PC - $ 59,99

Both ports are absolutely the same game, it was just ported to PC, a while ago, or vice-versa.

and again, going back further:

- Halo Combat Evolved - Xbox - $ 130,00

- Halo Combat Evolved - PC - $ 60,00

So, is there a reasoning here? I bought a PS3, but I vowed to buy only games that were not ported to PC, because they are SO MUCH CHEAPER.

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Re: "So ready ..... to run PS4 VM on my laptop."

What currency are your figures in? It doesn't look like $(USD)

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Re: "So ready ..... to run PS4 VM on my laptop."

No, the currency is not $USD, and neither it is important. The point was to show the ratio between PC and console games, that are 2 or 3 times more expensive around here.

FYI, it was Brazilian Reais (R$), back then, when 1 USD = 2 R$

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jai
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game.co.uk

Well it seems Game.co.uk are taking pre-orders already.

Or rather, they want a £20 deposit from you, and then i guess they'll charge the rest of the price on the release date.

Trouble is, not sure I trust the Game brand, weren't they teetering on the brink of oblivion recently along with HMV and the like?

Think I'll wait until Amazon have it up for pre-order instead.

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Re: game.co.uk

Yes, but I don't see this being a console that will be in such demand that a pre-order is required.

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Boffin

RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

Cross porting may not be as easy as all that.

At present, every PC game relies on high level API's to inter face with the underlying hardware - DirectX, OpenGL for 3D rendering. These calls are pretty damn inefficient at exposing the true power of the hardware. This is by necessity - the same API's have to abstract a huge range of physical GPU's from a variety of manufacturers, so this loss of optimisation is to be expected.

You've then got the operating system layer, which operates as a go-between from the code to the hardware, again abstracting to cope with a wide range of hardware varients.

If everyone wrote they're PC games in x86 Assembler, and their graphics code in the AMD or Nvidia equivalent, we'd see performance an order of magnitude better than we do now. Of course, that's not realistic as that code wouldn't be portable to the near infinite number of hardware configuration varients found in the PC world, and I doubt x86 assembly is much fun to work in these days...

Even if the PS4 (and next Xbox) use x86 based CPU's and a variant of the Radeon GPU, they're going to be a single fixed part for the lifetime of the console - Meaning Sony can provide bespoke API's that are much more closely coupled to the hardware, or even provide direct access to the hardware for particularly performance focussed developers to tinker and squeeze out the maximum performance with - Thus the "real world" performance of a game on the PS4 is going to be extremely good compared to its PC version running on basically the same hardware, which is having much of its performance sapped by unavoidable inefficiencies at the API, driver and OS layers.

TL;DR version:-

Speaking to the hardware in the PS4 is like two native English speakers having a chat - quick, simple and efficient.

Speaking to the hardware in a PC is like a guy who only speaks English wanting to speak to a guy who only speaks German - the problem being he has to use an English to French translator and then a French to Spanish translator, and then a Spanish to German translator to communicate every sentence.

Of course - early PS4 games will probably use some familiar, common API layers (OpenGL etc) until dev's get time to get to grips with calling the hardware natively, so don't expect miracles from the first generation of 3rd party software!

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Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

"If everyone wrote they're PC games in x86 Assembler, and their graphics code in the AMD or Nvidia equivalent, we'd see performance an order of magnitude better than we do now."

I'm not convinced - these aren't additional "layers" that have to be got through at runtime, because things are compiled. So the question is whether compilers are better than humans at creating assembler/machine code. A lot of the time, the performance is restricted by choice of algorithm or bottlenecks in a particular area, not the choice of machine code instruction. And compilers - written by people who know CPUs very well, and developed over years - may well know better than an individual developer about what is more efficient.

Assembly language made more sense in the 80s and early 90s, but since then, compilers have got better, the processing power available to compilers has improved, whilst CPUs have got vastly more complex - and human brains have remained the same. Plus there is still the option of hand optimising some performance critical areas if there is a compiler deficiency. The idea of writing 100% assembly - and that this could give a 10x speed up - does not seem realistic at all.

I don't really see your language analogy is fair. I'm not sure I'd call assembly a "native" language for anyone. The question is whether the translation is done by the programmer, or the compiler.

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Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

You are wrong.

To achieve the best performance hand written assembly language is always used.

The fact is that writing assembly is time consuming and only a few programmers can really do it.

There are less than 300,000 programmers in the world, any higher numbers is people doing basic programming. Out of those only a tiny 5% or less is able to do proper optimization in assembly on one or more platforms.

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Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

But to use hand-written assembler over the entire length of a huge project is usually too demanding unless it's a requirement. So as the other writer has said, compiled code is made as a base and then parts of the object code hand-tuned or replaced with hand-written assembler where performance is demanded.

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Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

It seems unlikely that the PS4 will have a custom graphics API when you remember that the PS3 used OpenGL ES.

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Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

I'm not saying that it isn't possible to outdo a compiler in some cases, and hand-optimising some performance critical components may be useful, as I say - though even there, if only 5% of programmers can outdo a compiler, that is part of the point I'm making about the difficulty.

I was questioning the idea that it's always better, especially when claims such as an order of magnitude are thrown around. How does a GPU-bound game run 10x faster with assembly rather than C?

How does shader code compare to fixed function - is assembly shader 10x faster than fixed function? Or is shader code written in Cg/HLSL/GLSL 10x slower than fixed function?

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Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

In Joerg's defense, hand-tuning is a lot easier when the specifications are more concrete. In the general PC environment, coders have to consider whether their end product will be running a machine with lower levels of shader support which can restrict the level of graphical detail you can put in your product. Consider the game BioShock. It was made right around the time DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4 came out. However, since most video cards on the market could not support them, the amount of DirectX 10 code they could put in the game was quite limited. Pushing the envelope in PC technologies is risky because you risk alienating audiences (Crysis was an exception to the rule--but it scored BECAUSE of its audacity--trying to repeat the feat would be difficult).

OTOH, on something like a console, you know exactly what type and how much hardware you'll be working with. This is the kind of information that lends itself well to hand-tuning. If you know just how much and what kind of RAM you're working with, you can micromanage to get the last byte of performance out of it and do it with the tighest timing you can. Similarly, knowing that every PS4 will fully support OpenGL 4.2, you know just what functions you can and can't use and don't have to worry about fallback functions.

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Ho ho

A Steambox and an Ouya appeals to me the most. After a PC of course, which I can use for many many wonderful things other than gaming. Must be difficult being squeezed by competition, while trying to lock your potential customers into your platform, and also ensuring they can't use second-hand games. Does it run Linux for 6 months or so, before it's removed by the way?

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Holmes

Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

My numbers comparison is just a casual abstraction to illustrate the problem Mark, as is the example of hand coding in cpu assembler I don't think anyone expects to dive in and hand code Uncharted 5 in Assembler from start to finish (other than some specific subroutines that genuinely require maximum performance tweaking, computer compiled is generally adequate and quicker) ;)

Perhaps a more accurate comparison would be to say that the compilers available for a stable hardware platform can be far more focussed and better optimised on a console than is achievable on a general purpose PC. Additionally, game engines can be written to take full advantage of the highpoints and avoid the pitfalls of the hardware.

Right now, PC based programming is based on lowest common denominator optimisation routines (as software has to work with a wide variety of present and future hardware, and the easiest way to achieve that is to use computationally expensive abstraction layers) - fixed hardware platforms don't have this constraint, so code can be made to be far more efficient in less time than would be required to get it working half as well on an acceptable range of PC hardware to cover the market.

As the machine remains in the market longer, developers (of both game software and the API's, compilers and engines used to build them) can focus their time on optimisation rather than rebuilding every time a new GPU generating is released, and wasting time on ensuring backward compatibility and scalable performance options to remain inclusive of users with older hardware. The old argument about how good games released at the end of a consoles lifecycle look and perform in comparison to release day titles illustrates this nicely?

My point is that those who assume that any developer is going to take the time to squeeze half the practical performance out of an equivalently specced Windows (or Linux) based White box PC isn't taking into consideration the commercial challenges this would entail. Consoles have a 6-7 year shelf life nowadays, and it is a testament to the unique benefits of closed platform optimisations that the Xbox360 and PS3 can come reasonably close to delivering the gaming experience achievable on a modern PC costing 10 times the price 7 years after they launched!

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All I need to say is

I'll be buying one. No question.

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Thumb Down

Re: All I need to say is

So you buy whatever fraud Sony and Microsoft managers can come up with no question asked, uh?

You must be rich and enjoy being ripped off.

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Stop

Re: All I need to say is

Fraud?

Bit strong, don't you think? There may be an argument that the next gen consoles represent poor value for money, but I guess we'll need to wait to see how they're priced before passing that judgement.

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Anonymous Coward

This title has been carefully crafted to get you to read the post

Xbox, PS and PC will all be able to knock our socks off with stunning graphics. Great.

I guess the choice now is down to the importance to each individual of:

- price (including ongoing costs)

- flexibility (what else can it do besides play games?)

- exclusive titles (Halo, Resistance, Arma III)

- user mods (Black Mesa, Skyrim content, etc...)

- indie titles

- ability to buy second hand games

My take: there is no "best" device, only an individual's preferred device.

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Anonymous Coward

really?

Ironic that PCs originally became like consoles in the 90s with the availability of not only custom graphic cards, but custom sound cards.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: really?

Yeah, PCs were primarily business machines to which you had to add your own joystick ports, sound hardware, and later graphics hardware. You had to make sure that a game supported your choice of sound card, or else have it emulate a Soundblaster or Ad Lib. Lots of fun juggling different Autoexec.bat and Config.sys files, and making sure stuff didn't trip over itself.

How that was like consoles (as easy to use a toaster) I'm not sure.

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Anonymous Coward

"The PS4 also automatically copies the screen buffer to the hard drive"

Umm what? If it's not wasting CPU cycles encoding all of that on the fly, as someone who's used fraps daily to limit my FPS to prevent graphics card overheats, I can tell you those hard disks aren't going to live long.

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Does anyone remember "other" operating system?

I can remember when Sony gave the possibility of running Linux on a Play Station, sold many devices with this promised feature, then simply revoved the feature with a software upgrade. Fortunately I hadn't bought one and wasn't directly affected. However I was so disgusted with this action by Sony, equivalent to getting your car back from a service with all the optional extras removed, that I have since avoided buying Sony products. I used to trust this brand and have owned many Sony products in the past: Trinitron TV, VCR, Original Walkman, Recording Walkman , Mobile Phone, and portable Radio. Since this action I have sucessfully avoided the following Sony products: Flat screen TV (LG), Mobile Phones (4 x Samsung), PC Screen (Samsung), High range Headphones (Panasonic), Cameras (2 x Canon, 1 x Fuji), MP3 Player (Samsung), external HDD (Trekstor), external DVD Burner (LG), Car Audio system (Pioneer) and possibly a few more that I've forgot.

Does anyone else remember this despicable Sony action, and how are they reacting as a consequence?

Remember:

It is a trick, it's a Sony!

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Meh

Backwards

I too would be interested in hearing how directly compatible it will be with earlier versions, having been burnt by the "upgrade" to PS3 and being unable to use the PS1/PS2 game disks (although will be unlikely to purchase as the PS3 in house has been demoted to a blue-ray player).

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Re: Backwards

Likely, with the PS3, almost zip, because the PC x86 architecture is a lot different from the relatively unique PS3's Cell CPU. Architectural differences make emulation difficult and usually require a performance edge of some ten fold at least, which isn't happening this time (CPU tech hasn't been progressing as quickly as in previous generations). And timing concerns mean you can't throw multiple cores to make up the performance deficit for emulating a single core.

The PS1 has been possible to emulate on the PC for years now, and PS2 emulation on PC hardware is achievable under the right circumstances.

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SmartGlass

"Rather than go down the Wii U route and turn the controller into a second screen, Sony is looking to Android phones and tablets - Apple iDevices too - to take on that role, as well as the PS Vita."

Sounds familiar... ah, SmartGlass.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

Ok, nice pointing out that programming for PCs is much more complex, at least when compiling for a wide range of platforms is involved - at first glimpse. However....

It still won't justify why PCs games are so much cheaper. I listed actual pricing ratios in another comment, being PS2 and Xbox games 2x or 3x more expensive than the same game in PC platform. They should have their price ranges exactly opposite, by this reasoning.

So I belive it is all the way around..., I bet most games are DEVELOPED in PCs, and are just specially compiled for this or that console or processor (ARM, Cell, powerPC, whatever, just changing the compiler), where the resolution settings, for instance, are hidden, and I believe development is much easier that way.

If it will run on your PC, they let you the job to find it out, provided they tested on a known minimal spec that is published along with the PC game. There is no promise it will run on your machine, since, as pointed, your setup is not known to them. I've seen games that run on a spec below the suggested minimum, with one or other component stronger than the minimum to compensate, being the GPU a classic burden carrier on low-spec CPUs.

And remember, the compilers don't need to know the hardware, they need to know the API and expected family of processors. So, if you want your game to run on PCs, compile it for DirectX 9 or 11 and x86, and it will play on machines that support DX and x86... Most games have no OpenGL support, and won't run in Linux because of that. Compile it for OpenGL, and it may even run in Linux with minimal intervention.

The scalability of compiling that allows the same game to run in PS2, PS3 (god of war is one re-compiled in HD for PS3) or any platform. I happen to have a collection of Genesis games (Mega Drive) that was designed to run in PS3. The games were not even touched, they have the same quirks and bugs and 320px resolution of the originals. The genesis chips were entirely emulated in code, but I digress.

So unlike a lot of people think, console games are developed in and for PCs, and "TONED DOWN" to each platform capabilities, be that PS4, PS3 or whatever. They are *recompiled*, but now the developer knows exactly which processor and GPU is being used, and can optimize the code straight in assembler for better performance. So, it would explain why a game would look and run *better* on PS4, when its specs on the PC world would seem 'crap'.

Since the PS4 is entirely based in x86, there is no reason in HELL their games can't be released for PC, except to extortionate the potential buyer.

I won't buy a game that costs $400 in PS4, if there is the same game in PC for $90. They know that, and I know that, because it happened BEFORE.

In fact, I believe that the ONLY reason you couldn't buy a PS4 game and run it on PC, would be the lack of DIRECTX support, since the PS4 probably won't need to support it, it is not expecting compatibility to anyone; all the way around, the game designers will have the PS4 x86 opcodes in hand, and go straight to assembly code.

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Silver badge

Re: RE: comparison with a PC and PC performance

The prices, however, also include market factors that are not related to the hardware or development costs. If a game is popular on one platform but not the other, or if one port came out later than the other, that will affect the price comparison. Take Halo. The PC version came out long after the original XBox version, for which it was a launch title and a console headliner.

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Hello friends of gaming.

There are too many comments in this one to bother with but we all just want to make them don't we anyway, this is mine. I don't like patent exploitation but this is another crazy WTF, they'll block the nub on a case of a smartphone with litigation but two stereoscopic cameras that do the same job in the same type of application don't seem to bring cause to raise an eyebrow. I'm just seriously thinking WTF when it comes to law. Where are those Anonymous heroes to stop this class domination because that's all it can be, there are some special deals going on behind the curtain here, either that or people go to university to become insane.

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