CGMagazine http://www.cgmagonline.com Comics Gaming Magazine Fri, 20 Jan 2017 20:03:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.1 58109468 NPD Sales Round up Reveals Slow Holiday Season http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/20/npd-sales-round-reveals-slow-holiday-season/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/20/npd-sales-round-reveals-slow-holiday-season/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:17:35 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=94016

By Helena Shlapak

Despite many considering 2016 to be flat out terrible, it was a year of growth and prosperity for the video game industry. The U.S. alone earned 30.4-billion dollars in 2016, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). That’s up from 30.2-billion in 2015. The growth was thanks to a […]

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By Helena Shlapak

Despite many considering 2016 to be flat out terrible, it was a year of growth and prosperity for the video game industry. The U.S. alone earned 30.4-billion dollars in 2016, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). That’s up from 30.2-billion in 2015.

The growth was thanks to a string of fantastic titles releasing like Overwatch, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and Final Fantasy XV,  while VR hit more mainstream markets, and major upgrades to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles respectively. However, December sales for 2016 only generated 2.8-billion dollars (a 15-percent drop on all platforms) compared to December 2015, despite the growth earlier in the year.  Only some publishers share their sales data but NPD tracked and compiled sales from physical and some online retailers in the United States. The following figures are from Steam, the PlayStation Game Store and Xbox Game Store for December 2016 compared to December 2015.

Video game hardware saw a 20 per cent drop from 1.24-billion in December 2015 to 994.9-million in 2016. Console Software saw a 12 percent drop from 1.35-billion in December 2015 to 1.19-billion in 2016. PC Software saw a 13 percent drop from 52.9-million in December 2015 to 45.8-million in 2016. And Accessories saw a 15 percent drop from 640.7-million in December 2015 to 547.6-million in 2016.

NPD also released lists of top selling video games of 2016 overall and for December. The titles on the lists are U.S. sales on both physical and digital platforms. December’s list covers games sold from Nov. 27, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016. The 2016 overall list is from Jan. 31, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016. Titles marked with an asterisk don’t include digital sales.

Top 10 2016 

  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  2. Battlefield 1
  3. The Division
  4. NBA 2K17
  5. Madden NFL 17
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Overwatch (no Battle.net sales)
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  9. FIFA 17
  10. Final Fantasy XV 

Top 10 December 2016

  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  2. Final Fantasy XV
  3. Battlefield 1
  4. Madden NFL 17
  5. NBA 2K17
  6. Watch Dogs 2
  7. Grand Theft Auto V
  8. Pokémon: Sun (physical sales only)
  9. FIFA 17
  10. Pokémon: Moon (physical sales only)

“Final Fantasy XV was the second best-selling title for December 2016, and was the top-selling title on the PS4,” NPD analyst Sam Naji explained in a statement. “Final Fantasy XV experienced the best console launch month in the history of the franchise (since tracking began in 1995) selling 19 per cent more new physical units than Final Fantasy XIII in its launch month and 54 per cent more in total dollar revenue including digital full game sales.”

 

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Asus ZenFone 3 (Smartphone) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/asus-zenfone-3-smartphone-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/asus-zenfone-3-smartphone-review/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=91309

By Cole Watson

My review for the Asus ZenFone 3 couldn’t come at a more perfect time. After getting checked in the hip by an unaware shopper with a cart, my iPhone 6 is now cracked and I’m in the market for a replacement. Enter the Asus ZenFone 3; a phone that delivers everything a moderate user needs […]

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By Cole Watson

My review for the Asus ZenFone 3 couldn’t come at a more perfect time. After getting checked in the hip by an unaware shopper with a cart, my iPhone 6 is now cracked and I’m in the market for a replacement. Enter the Asus ZenFone 3; a phone that delivers everything a moderate user needs for a mid-range price.

Starting with specs, the ZenFone 3 won’t blow any enthusiast away. The phone’s foundation is built on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor clocked at 2GHz, coupled with 4GB of Ram and 64GB of internal storage on board. Memory can further be expanded with a microSD card up to 128GB. Lastly, the OS is a blend of Android’s 6.0 Marshmallow and Asus’s own ZenUI 3.0. While these specs are modest, due to their high power efficiency and an accompanied 3000mAh battery, the ZenFone 3 boasts 16 hours of battery life while under load. This is perfect for people who love to use their phone for gaming or applications during their regular transit commute but still want a single charge to last the entire day.

The ZenFone 3 features everything a modern smartphone needs to remain competitive. First, the sleek design of ZenFone’s metal frame and all-glass front/rear plating is really eye-catching compared to the boring all-metal approach offered by the majority of the market. It’s a fingerprint magnet for sure, but the brilliant glare always pops through when lit and looks great. While 145 grams may make this phone feel slightly obese, the ZenFone 3 felt comfortable to hold because of its 7.69mm profile and it didn’t slip around in my hands like I originally expected.  The 5.5-inch full HD screen is both vibrant and crisp. Due to the display’s high brightness level, users shouldn’t suffer from poor viewing angles or light visibility. However, my issue with this design is that the three main menu buttons are not back-lit, making them hard to locate in poor light.

Asus ZenFone 3 (Smartphone) Review 2

For the photography nuts out there, the ZenFone 3 features a protruding 16mp rear-facing camera and an 8mp front facing camera. Both are commonly found in the market today, but the extensive customization Asus has put forth in their PixelMaster3.0 software gives users some much-needed flexibility when lining up their next perfect shot. Colours consistently looked vibrant in any lighting situation and I only lost detail from noise when testing the phones options in select low-light environments. Include the ability for the phone to use both Optical Image Stabilization and Electronic Image Stabilization when setting up a shot and this creates a consistently crisp experience for the user, whether they’re taking a photo or shooting a video.

Performance wise, the ZenFone 3 can comfortably handle everything currently on the market due to its integrated Adreno 506 GPU. Even during the most intense games I could throw at it, the phone responded accurately and smoothly with no stuttering or lost frames. Compared to my experience with the iPhone 6, I couldn’t believe that the ZenFone 3 didn’t have any huge hot spots or flare ups while operating under a heavy load. This goes to show that Asus’s optimization software running in the background works beautifully and is keeping the phone working at tip-top condition at all times.

Now that we’ve touched on software it’s time to address the elephant in the ZenFone’s UI: all of the bloatware. While still not as extensive as what previous users expect out of Asus, the majority of these apps just feel useless and tacked on. A lot of effort has come for the user to truly make the phone feel comfortable to operate. Notifications come from left, right and centre upon the phones first boot-up and the madness only continues as users install new software. The two apps to keep for sure are ZenUI and Game Genie. Game Genie is located within ZenUI and gives users the ability to record their gameplay for YouTube or stream to Twitch, but it also boosts gaming performance by giving the phone a slight overclock. Lastly, ZenUI is the user’s core mobile manager, optimizing storage and managing the phones power and performance. The functionality of this software works great and presents the user the most important information about their device in easily understood ways.

Asus ZenFone 3 (Smartphone) Review 3

The ZenFone 3 is a great candidate for moderate smartphone users to consider when picking through the market’s extensive catalogue. While I can’t provide price-performance metrics like I usually do in my tech reviews, the ZenFone 3’s main competitors to consider are Motorola’s G4 line of smartphones, which lie comfortably within its price bracket and offer similar specs. This phone won’t satisfy the benchmark junkies or most enthusiasts, but as a moderate user, I couldn’t be happier with how the ZenFone 3 performed to my needs.

Score:8.5

Final Thoughts:The Asus ZenFone 3 is a great smartphone to consider in its price bracket if you’re a moderate user who enjoys gaming and photography.

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Shu (PS4) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/shu-ps4-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/shu-ps4-review/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93945

By Chris Carter

Shu contains one of the most adorable premises I've seen in some time. Darkness is taking over your land, has consumed your chieftain, and will soon destroy the entire world if you don't stop it with an ancient artifact. Wait; did I mention that the entire cast is basically bird people, or that they look […]

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By Chris Carter

Shu contains one of the most adorable premises I've seen in some time. Darkness is taking over your land, has consumed your chieftain, and will soon destroy the entire world if you don't stop it with an ancient artifact. Wait; did I mention that the entire cast is basically bird people, or that they look amazingly cute? No, I should have lead with that.

The game's flow is relatively straightforward, coupled with a level-based linear delivery system. You enter one of the five themed worlds, each of which contains several stages, and race from start to finish. Most of the environments are chilled out a bit and don't have a timer per se (just collectibles), and some are literal races for your life as the darkness constantly encroaches your screentime. While the titular protagonist has the ability to jump and glide, he'll need a little help from his friends for the rest. At set intervals, Shu will meet up with different members of his village and gain access to new abilities like double jumps and charge attacks, which trigger contextual actions within the confines of that stage.

Shu (PS4) Review

For example, one level might focus on the former mechanic, and another, the latter, but very rarely do they fall in tandem. This mostly works out in Shu's favor, as it allows each stage to play to its own strength and differentiate it from the pack. On the flipside, there's only one real instance where everything meshes well together, as the last stage allows you to really shine with everything you've picked up.

I'm hesitant to call each stage an extended tutorial as they're each their own complete experiences in their own right, but I do wish there was some sort of elongated endgame to last people who aren't into Donkey Kong 64-esque collectathons. Each stage has its own set of baby chickens to rescue, which is manageable enough, but there's also a secondary goal akin to coins in butterflies. Some levels have over 400 to collect, which can get overwhelming.

Still, you can get at least a few hours out of Shu and the pacing never really dips, which is more than I can say for a lot of other downloadables out there.

Score:8

Final Thoughts:A little platformer that offers new mechanics in a graduated, character-centric fashion.

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Most Anticipated AAA Games of 2017 http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/20/10-anticipated-aaa-games-2017/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/20/10-anticipated-aaa-games-2017/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:00:06 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93907

By Adam Nizam

Well it's 2017, which means it’s time for every outlet on the face of the planet to put together their “best of” lists for the year behind us. Whether it’s games, film, TV, music, interpretive dance or the snow under the tires of my car, everything must be ranked from best to worst in an […]

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By Adam Nizam

Well it's 2017, which means it’s time for every outlet on the face of the planet to put together their “best of” lists for the year behind us. Whether it’s games, film, TV, music, interpretive dance or the snow under the tires of my car, everything must be ranked from best to worst in an orderly fashion.

However, there’s also the matter of the year ahead. 2017 looks to be another great year to be a gamer, and while indie gaming is getting more and more exciting and the AAA gaming business is getting less and less appealing by the day, there will always be a level of spectacle to lavish multi-million dollar productions that keeps fans coming back. Here are CGM’s most anticipated AAA games of 2017:

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Developer: BioWare
Release Date: Spring 2017
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

While the degree to which it was satisfying is…debatable, the ending of Mass Effect 3 provided a definitive conclusion to the story of Commander Shepard, making any future entries a difficult task. However, the method that BioWare is using to continue the franchise is the only logical way to do so: Set it in a completely new galaxy with a completely new cast 600 years after the events of the original Mass Effect trilogy. Mass Effect: Andromeda follows Sara/Scott Ryder, an operative tasked with searching for new planets for humanity to colonize as they travel the Andromeda galaxy and meet various allies and enemies on their journey. It’s not just a story departure either; Andromeda will have an open-world setting, a first for the series, and allow the player to fully customize their character’s stats instead of choosing from pre-set character classes. Details on which aliens you can sleep with have not been revealed yet, but hopes are pretty high.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Developer: Rockstar Studios
Release Date: Fall 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

When the end of the decade rolls around in three years, there’s one game that will almost certainly be a part of the conversation on what the best games of the ‘10’s are, and that’s Red Dead Redemption. The open-world western is considered by many to be Rockstar’s magnum opus, and its mature, sweeping story of revenge and redemption left an impact with what is arguably one of the greatest endings in the history of video games. So when a map for another game in the Red Dead franchise leaked, fans naturally went berserk. The map, if it’s legitimate, seemed to imply a game set before the events of Red Dead Redemption. However, when the game was officially announced a few months ago, the title of Red Dead Redemption 2 was unveiled, implying a direct sequel. Currently, not much info on the game has been revealed other than that it exists and will be an open-world experience with both single-player and multiplayer elements—but at this point, Rockstar doesn’t need to reveal much to get people excited.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developer: Nintendo EPD
Release Date: Mar. 3, 2017
Platforms: Wii U, Nintendo Switch

The Zelda franchise has always been somewhat open-world, with a main hub that branches out into several dungeons. However, the newest installment of the franchise, Breath of the Wild, will be the first entry to go 100 per cent open-world by the modern definition of the term. This includes sidequests, multiple entrances and exits to dungeons, and a world approximately 12 times larger than that of Twilight Princess. The story also has a unique twist: it takes place centuries after Ganon has already won and destroyed Hyrule, and a newly-awakened and amnesiac Link must defeat the villain’s trapped form before it can be freed yet again. Not only that, but the game will most likely be the showcase title for Nintendo’s hotly anticipated new console, Switch, giving players a demonstration of what the next stage of Nintendo’s offerings is all about. Pokémon Go may have temporarily dragged the seminal gaming company out of the ditch, but it’s up to Zelda to get it back on its feet and then some.

Persona 5

Developer: Atlus
Release Date: April 4
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4

The tale of Persona 5’s release is a long and tortured one for fans of the franchise. It started with a vague image teaser in 2013 announcing a winter 2014 release, only for several delays to gradually wear on the fandom’s patience. When the game was finally released in Japan a few months ago, western fans still had to wait until February of next year to get their hands on it, or at least, they did until the localization was further delayed until April. Nevertheless, it seems that the long, grueling wait is finally coming to an end, and gamers around the world will finally be able to play Persona 5 next year. Following two of the most popular and widely beloved JRPGs in recent memory is no small task, but everything shown of the game so far seems to indicate an darker and more violent tone than the upbeat Persona 4 or even the somber Persona 3, and follows a group of teenagers calling themselves the Phantom Thieves getting revenge on the adults who have wronged them. The addition of stealth mechanics to the dungeon-crawling that is Persona’s bread and butter should be a novel addition, and following the events of 2016, the game’s theme of catharsis should be a timely one.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Developer: Capcom
Release Date: 2017
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

While Disney buying Marvel turned out to be a huge business success for both companies, it was a downer for fans of a certain legendary fighting game franchise. The tangled web of who owned the rights to which characters seemed far too complex for anyone to put the effort into untangling, and for several years it seemed like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would be the series’ last gasp. However, that suddenly changed a few weeks ago when it was leaked that Marvel vs. Capcom 4 would be announced at PlayStation Experience 2016, and sure enough, Capcom didn’t disappoint. Following the roof-raising announcement trailer, more details about the gameplay have since been revealed. While the character selection has been limited to two-on-two battles instead of previous entries’ three-on-three, and assist attacks have been removed, a new mechanic has been introduced to mesh Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite with Marvel’s blockbuster cinematic universe. Before each match, each player selects an Infinity Stone, with each stone granting different benefits. While the possible absence of the X-Men and other Fox-owned characters is a huge downer, the fact that this project is even happening at all speaks to Marvel and Capcom’s devotion to the franchise, and hopefully that devotion will translate into a great fighting game.

Shenmue III

Developers: Neilo, Ys Net
Release Date: December 2017
Platforms: PC, PS4

It’s been well over a year since PlayStation’s legendary E3 of dreams, where three highly anticipated projects thought to be in development hell for the rest of eternity were re-revealed or unveiled for the first time. Of those three, perhaps the most unexpected was Shenmue III. The original two Shenmue games are considered cult classics, but a combination of their commercial failure and the first Shenmue being the most expensive game ever made at the time seemingly killed the franchise forever. All of a sudden, the pleas of fans were answered when Shenmue III was announced to be going to Kickstarter last year. It reached its goal of $2 million in under eight hours and went on to raise over $6 million, making it the most successful video game Kickstarter in the platform’s history. The story of teenage martial artist Ryo Hazuki‘s journey to play pachinko and presumably find his father’s killer at some point will continue.

South Park: The Fractured but Whole

Developers: Ubisoft San Francisco, South Park Digital Studios
Release Date: Q1 2017
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Younger gamers may not remember it, but there was a time when licensed games were considered the most horrible blight on all of gaming. Lately, the flood of lazily put-together beat-em-ups has been blissfully empty, but the memory remains fresh in the minds of many. It’s for that reason that there was a healthy amount of skepticism going into South Park: The Stick of Truth, but a combination of simple turn-based combat and some of Trey and Matt’s most hilarious writing in years made it a surprise hit and a frequent guest in 2014’s year-end best of lists. A sequel seemed natural and was originally set for this December, but a delay as well as The Stick of Truth’s developers Obsidian getting replaced by one of Ubisoft’s in-house studios can be seen as a cause for worry. However, a revamped combat system more inspired by board games than RPGs and a story poking fun at the superhero film boom are putting at least some of those fears to rest.

Resident Evil 7

Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Jan. 24, 2017
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Let’s be honest: the Resident Evil franchise has been in a very, VERY sorry state for a while now. After Resident Evil 4 breathed new life into the franchise and defined third person action games for years to come, Resident Evil 5 is acknowledged as a disappointment, with Resident Evil 6 going past “disappointment” into downright awful action movie territory. It seemed that Resident Evil was drifting away from its survival horror roots towards the cheesy and horrible films, but a surprise announcement at E3 earlier this year shocked many fans in a very good way. Resident Evil 7 signified a return to the survival horror genre and, in a first for the franchise, a first-person perspective. The game’s protagonist, Ethan Winters, is a civilian with little-to-no combat skills who is forced to go up against unspeakable horror when the search for his missing wife leads him to a derelict mansion. Trailers so far have promised an emphasis on atmosphere and chills rather than bombastic action set pieces. 2017 looks to be a very good year for horror games thanks to Resident Evil 7, Outlast II and…

Prey

Developer: Arkane Studios
Release Date: 2017
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Despite the original game being mostly forgettable, Prey 2 immediately turned heads when it was shown off at E3 years ago for its Blade Runner-esque aesthetic and unique open world. Unfortunately, the project fell into development hell and was ultimately cancelled, yet it seemed Bethesda took notice of the hype surrounding it and decided to rebuild a new Prey game completely from scratch with the help of Dishonored developer Arkane Studios. The result was shown off at this year’s E3, and hinted towards a first-person psychological horror sent in a space station during an alien invasion. Subsequent gameplay footage strengthens comparisons to BioShock, with existential themes and a strong focus on narrative.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Developer: Guerrilla Games
Release Date: Feb. 28, 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4

Guerrilla first made a name for themselves with the Killzone franchise, but following the underwhelming PS4 launch title Killzone: Shadow Fall, they began work on something entirely new. When the fruits of their labour were shown off for the first time at PlayStation’s 2015 E3 conference, it wowed the audience so much that it managed to stick in their minds alongside The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue III. Gameplay footage showed an open-world in a future ruled by dinosaur-like robots, with tribes living in the wilderness and hunting them down for scrap. Initially slated for 2016, it was subsequently delayed but given a solid release date of February 2017. There are few times in history where a new IP from a developer with not the best amount of clout receives as much hype as Horizon based on the uniqueness of the idea, but hopefully this will be the first of many in the coming years.

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Tabletop Publisher White Wolf Partners with Focus Interactive http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/tabletop-publisher-white-wolf-partners-focus-interactive/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/tabletop-publisher-white-wolf-partners-focus-interactive/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:06:40 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93990

By Lane Martin

Publisher of table top roleplaying and live action games, White Wolf, has always had a fairly nebulous connection with video games. The few games that have actually released could be considered cult classics at the very best. Fans of this storied publishers are fervent, though used to disappointment by this point. However, there may be […]

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By Lane Martin

Publisher of table top roleplaying and live action games, White Wolf, has always had a fairly nebulous connection with video games. The few games that have actually released could be considered cult classics at the very best. Fans of this storied publishers are fervent, though used to disappointment by this point. However, there may be a bit of stability for White Wolf’s occasional digital pursuits as they partner with French games publisher Focus Home Interactive, publishers of the upcoming Vampyr,  for a licensed PC and Console game in their World of Darkness universe.

White Wolf has many properties in this wide universe, and this partnership is for the development of a game based on the Werewolf: The Apocalypse ruleset. Cyanide will be the development studio doing all the work for this title, and their past work definitely reminds me of some of White Wolf’s previous video game iterations.  It’s hard to look at Call of Cthulhu without being reminded of Troika’s 2004 attempt to adapt another White Wolf property, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, which was mostly good.

“We are pleased to partner with White Wolf to bring Werewolf: The Apocalypse to life in a video game for consoles and PC,” said Cédric  Lagarrigue, Focus Home Interactive’s President. “We are excited to work on the World of Darkness universe, as this is a formidable playground to tell the players a great story. We are also happy to partner with Cyanide Studios in this adventure – they are behind the original wish to adapt this universe, and we are faithful in their ability to create a game that will please both fans of World of Darkness and newcomers.”

It is easy to be swept up in excitement about this turn of events, but fans may wish to keep that in check. This will be the third attempt to create a game based of Werewolf, and the loss of the World of Darkness MMO is still a sore spot for many.

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xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (Movie) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/xxx-return-xander-cage-movie-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/xxx-return-xander-cage-movie-review/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:44:12 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93983

By Phil Brown

xXx was never a good movie. The 2003 feature length Ax Body spray commercial attempted to turn Vin Diesel into the James Bond of the X-games era. It didn’t work. Still, it made enough money off of people who needed something to watch with their Doritos to justify a sequel, but Diesel wanted too much […]

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By Phil Brown

xXx was never a good movie. The 2003 feature length Ax Body spray commercial attempted to turn Vin Diesel into the James Bond of the X-games era. It didn’t work. Still, it made enough money off of people who needed something to watch with their Doritos to justify a sequel, but Diesel wanted too much money so Ice Cube replaced him and the flick bombed. The franchise was dead for 12 years, and the world was happy about it. Then when Diesel got tired of resurrecting Riddick between Fast & Furious movies he decided to give the world the gift of xXx 3 as writer/producer. No one wanted the movie. Diesel essentially willed it into existence after his cars-go-boom-boom series inexplicably became one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood history. It should come as no surprise to hear that xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is a deeply stupid movie completely devoid of artistic merit. However, for those who love irony and the multimillion dollar fever dreams of actor/producer/Mr. Clean on 'roids Vin Diesel’s ego it’s pretty damn fun.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (Movie) Review 1

There is technically a plot to this movie, it’s just so convoluted that it’s nearly impossible to explain. Essentially Xander Cage faked his death between xXx movies, and was enjoying a quiet life hanging out in South America doing extreme things and having so much sex you wouldn’t possibly believe it. However, he must get called out of retirement when someone starts dropping satellites on the globe as an act of terrorism, even killing Cage’s old boss Samuel L. Jackson in the process. Cage initially has no interest in working for the government given that he hates ‘the man’ and everything that ‘the man’ represents (hence the tattoos and attitude/tattoos with attitude). However, he eventually agrees because he is a hero, our hero even. He won’t work by the rules that stuffy government agent Toni Colette demands though. Nope, not his style. He’ll only play by his own rules, and he’ll only work with his equally badass and tattooed buddies. So he assembles a team (it must have been so hard for Diesel to avoid describing the team as “family”, but the man knows to leave all of his thoughts on that theme to the Fast & Furious & Family franchise where it belongs) and then blows up a bunch a stuff for the sake of the world. Plus he says one-liners. Lots of them.

Yep, this big stupid blockbuster feels like it was made in 1996 by Jerry Bruckheimer. The only thing missing is Nicolas Cage (who is destined to appear in a Fast N’ Furious movie one day, mark my words). Colours are blindingly bright. The score is techno, because techno is cool not like your stuffy dad’s music with instruments. The action scenes are familiar, but bigger. The dialogue is exclusively comprised of one-liners. Everyone gets a booty shot and everyone gets to kill at least one other person. It takes the brain of an earthworm and the attention span of gnat to appreciate the “content” of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, and even then most worms and gnats might find it a bit dumb and fast. The good news is that the whole ludicrously expensive and ridiculously stupid affair is a hell of a lot of fun.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (Movie) Review 2

This threequel was designed to go well with Mountain Dew. It’s a collection of empty calories and even emptier ideas. However, it’s also absolutely hilarious, especially when it’s not trying to be funny. How self-aware Vin Diesel is as a performer remains a mystery, but there’s no doubt that the guy is currently responsible for the biggest, dumbest, and funniest blockbusters coming out of Hollywood. xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage is essentially Fast & Furious 7.5. It feels exactly like a FF flick, just with more tattoos and all of the speeches about family replaced with speeches about the man. The initial goal of the series may have been to create a James Bond for the energy drink generation, but it’s officially turned into a James Bond for the irony generation. Anyone who sincerely or ironically loves Fast 5 through Furious 7 should get the exact same brand of idiotic glee out of xXx 3: This Time It’s Dumber. Sure the action scenes aren’t quite as good as a FF joint and the dialogue and storytelling is somehow worse, but put this thing in front of any sincere or ironic stupid action movie lover and watch their eyes light up. Idiotic entertainment is rarely this good. Somehow we’ve all been blessed with two Fast And Furious movies in 2017, people. It’s a magical time to be alive.

Score:7

Final Thoughts:xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is an action flick so magnificently stupid, doctors should be handing out prescriptions for Doritos and Red Bull at the door.

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Valve's Kim Swift Headed to EA http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/valves-kim-swift-headed-ea/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/valves-kim-swift-headed-ea/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:44:52 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93976

By Ana Valens

One of Valve's strongest alumni is about to head over to EA. Portal and Left 4 Dead veteran Kim Swift will be joining EA's Motive Studios, according to an EA announcement. While Swift's work at the studio has yet to be announced, she comes with strong praise from higher-ups. "Kim comes with an impressive resume that extends beyond […]

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By Ana Valens

One of Valve's strongest alumni is about to head over to EA. Portal and Left 4 Dead veteran Kim Swift will be joining EA's Motive Studios, according to an EA announcement.

While Swift's work at the studio has yet to be announced, she comes with strong praise from higher-ups. "Kim comes with an impressive resume that extends beyond her work at Valve. She's been recognized in the Forbes’ "30 Under 30: Games & Apps" list, been named “one of the most recognized women in the industry” and been part of teams that brought home Game Developers Choice Awards for Best Game Design, Best Innovation, and Game of the Year," Group General Manager Jade Raymond wrote. "Despite all this success, it's clear from Kim’s passion and talent that her greatest achievements still lie ahead."

Based in Canada, Motive Studios was founded by Raymond, who previously worked as an executive at Ubisoft. At the moment, the studio is working on a Star Wars title with Visceral Games, as well as a "new IP" that has yet to be announced. Swift expressed excitement in working with the Frostbite engine and prototyping, suggesting that Motive Studios' work may involve the Frostbite engine on one or more projects. But it's hard to say for certain at the moment without more information from Raymond, EA or Motive Studios developers.

Swift's move also comes amidst speculation from Gabe Newell's Reddit AMA that Valve is working on a new single-player game, although little news was given from Newell beyond that. Team Fortress 2 is receiving another update, but Swift's work on the Portal and Left 4 Dead franchises have yet to see any further follow-ups since Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. Suffice to say, a change of pace is always welcome in gaming. Check back later as more news comes out about Motive Studios' work over the coming months ahead.

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New Infographic Reveals Online Gaming Industry Worth http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/new-infographic-reveals-online-gaming-industry-worth/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/new-infographic-reveals-online-gaming-industry-worth/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:59:30 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93966

By Ana Valens

Online gaming is a booming industry, and a brand new infographic explores the statistics behind the industry in a bit more detail. Called "How much is the online gaming industry worth?" and published on 100TB, the image clues the industry into the way online players engage with multiplayer: especially when it comes to eSports. "The […]

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By Ana Valens

Online gaming is a booming industry, and a brand new infographic explores the statistics behind the industry in a bit more detail. Called "How much is the online gaming industry worth?" and published on 100TB, the image clues the industry into the way online players engage with multiplayer: especially when it comes to eSports.

"The online gaming industry has many levels and layers to contend with when it comes to what is making money," 100TB states in the infographic. "Right now, the digital market is making an impact, allowing instant gratification for gamers who want to watch people play the latest games or gain access to them immediately without leaving the house."

According to the infographic, League of Legends, World of Warcraft and Pokémon Go are the three most popular online games based on digital revenue obtained. The infographic also lists Tencent Games as easily the most profitable company in the list, scoring $246.35 billion USD as their market cap. In comparison, Nintendo only boasts $42 billion. More info is included in the image below.


 How Much Is The Online Gaming Industry Worth?Provided by 100tb.com

The infographic pulls its sources from multiple locations, according to an email sent to CGMagazine. These include a Polygon article on 2016's Dota 2 International eSports tournament, a press release from HTC, and sponsor info from Cloud9, Evil Genius, Team Liquid and TeamSoloMid. Sadly, the infographic doesn't give any sources on the image itself, making some of the information hard to track down. But it's safe to say that the infographic does raise some important points about the online gaming and eSports industries, such as the audience gap between male and female viewers: Men outrank women by 37 per cent when it comes to watching eSports matches in the UK. And the infographic captures how brand sponsorship is becoming a major part of eSports tournaments events, with companies such as Coca Cola, Red Bull, Intel, Monster Energy and Logitech stepping in to sponsor teams or events.

Suffice to say, the eSports industry is definitely growing. 2017 looks to be the field's biggest year at this rate, if 100TB's chart provides any context for the upcoming months ahead.

Source: https://blog.100tb.com/how-much-is-the-online-gaming-industry-worth

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U.S. Video Game Industry Generates $30.4 Billion in Revenue for 2016 http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/u-s-video-game-industry-generates-30-4-billion-revenue-2016/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/u-s-video-game-industry-generates-30-4-billion-revenue-2016/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:39:19 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93957

By CGM Staff

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The U.S. computer and video game industry generated $30.4 billion in
revenue in 2016, according to new data released today by the
Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the NPD Group. This total
consumer spend figure includes revenues from all hardware, software,
peripherals, and in-game purchases. This is an increase in total
consumer spend from reported 2015 sales, which were at $30.2 billion.

“2016 was another enormous year for the interactive entertainment
industry,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA,
which represents the U.S. video game industry. “The industry’s
innovative genius and ability to engage and delight billions of gamers
worldwide delivered another record performance. Congratulations to the
developers, storytellers, creators, and investors who defined the
leaderboard for entertainment.”

Separately, ESA highlighted that video game software revenue grew 6
percent from the 2015 level. In 2016, video game software revenue, which
includes physical packaged goods, mobile games, downloadable content,
subscriptions, and other revenue streams, reached $24.5 billion—up from
23.2 billion in 2015.

In 2016, virtual reality systems like the Sony PlayStation VR, Vive, and
Oculus Rift reached the mass market to consumer interest. The release of
Pokémon Go became a cultural phenomenon on mobile, while the later
release of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon on portable gaming devices
achieved the highest launch month consumer spend in the history of the
franchise, according to NPD. Blockbusters like Battlefield 1, Call
of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Madden NFL 17, NBA 2K17 and Tom
Clancy’s The Division drove consumer spend on console platforms. Finally,
the PC platform was the most diverse and dynamic of all growth
platforms, with a record number of titles reaching PC gamers in 2016.

“Growth in entertainment software consumer spend was seen across the
mobile, PC, virtual reality, subscription, portable and digital console
segments,” said Mat Piscatella, industry analyst, The NPD Group.
“Consumers have more options to purchase and enjoy entertainment
software than ever before, while developers have more and easier ways of
delivering that content. No matter the delivery platform, entertainment
software has never been more engaging, diverse or accessible.”

The U.S. video game industry is one of the nation’s fastest growing
economic sectors, providing tens of thousands of high-paying jobs to
Americans and generating billions of dollars in revenue for communities
across the nation.

ESA offers a wide range of services to interactive entertainment
software publishers, including conducting business and consumer
research, providing legal and policy analysis and advocacy on First
Amendment, intellectual property, and technology/e-commerce issues,
managing a global content protection program, owning and operating E3 and
representing video game industry interests in federal and state
government relations. For more information, visit ESA’s
website or follow us on Twitter at @RichatESA
or @ESAGovAffairs.

Contacts
Entertainment Software AssociationDan HewittOffice:
202-223-2400Cell: 202-277-3972dhewitt@theESA.com

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By CGM Staff

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The U.S. computer and video game industry generated $30.4 billion in revenue in 2016, according to new data released today by the
Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the NPD Group. This total consumer spend figure includes revenues from all hardware, software, peripherals, and in-game purchases. This is an increase in total consumer spend from reported 2015 sales, which were at $30.2 billion.

“2016 was another enormous year for the interactive entertainment industry,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA, which represents the U.S. video game industry. “The industry’s innovative genius and ability to engage and delight billions of gamers worldwide delivered another record performance. Congratulations to the
developers, storytellers, creators, and investors who defined the leaderboard for entertainment.”

Separately, ESA highlighted that video game software revenue grew 6 percent from the 2015 level. In 2016, video game software revenue, which includes physical packaged goods, mobile games, downloadable content, subscriptions, and other revenue streams, reached $24.5 billion—up from 23.2 billion in 2015.

In 2016, virtual reality systems like the Sony PlayStation VR, Vive, and Oculus Rift reached the mass market to consumer interest. The release of Pokémon Go became a cultural phenomenon on mobile, while the later release of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon on portable gaming devices achieved the highest launch month consumer spend in the history of the franchise, according to NPD. Blockbusters like Battlefield 1, Call
of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Madden NFL 17, NBA 2K17 and Tom Clancy’s The Division drove consumer spend on console platforms. Finally, the PC platform was the most diverse and dynamic of all growth platforms, with a record number of titles reaching PC gamers in 2016.

“Growth in entertainment software consumer spend was seen across the mobile, PC, virtual reality, subscription, portable and digital console segments,” said Mat Piscatella, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Consumers have more options to purchase and enjoy entertainment software than ever before, while developers have more and easier ways of
delivering that content. No matter the delivery platform, entertainment software has never been more engaging, diverse or accessible.”

The U.S. video game industry is one of the nation’s fastest growing economic sectors, providing tens of thousands of high-paying jobs to Americans and generating billions of dollars in revenue for communities across the nation.

 

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Story Details and Characters Revealed for Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/story-details-and-characters-revealed-for-sniper-ghost-warrior-3/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/19/story-details-and-characters-revealed-for-sniper-ghost-warrior-3/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:00:15 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93908

By Michael Koczwara

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is just a few months away from its April release, but that hasn’t stopped CI Games from shedding some light on the story and locations you’ll encounter, along with some of the characters you’ll meet. The story follows Jon North, a Marine who sets out on both a professional and personal […]

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By Michael Koczwara

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is just a few months away from its April release, but that hasn’t stopped CI Games from shedding some light on the story and locations you’ll encounter, along with some of the characters you’ll meet.

The story follows Jon North, a Marine who sets out on both a professional and personal mission in the Republic of Georgia. Jon's brother Robert was captured and presumed dead about two years prior to the events of the game, but reports of his appearance in Georgia are what fuel Jon's personal objective.

Georgia is on the brink of civil war, and this is where Jon's professional assignment comes into play. His Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) mission finds him in the middle of a conflict zone where he and his team are tasked with neutralizing the Separatist Leaders who are thwarting any stability left in the country.

CI Games has also revealed a good amount of information detailing the characters you'll meet, both in and out of Jon's team.

Lydia Jorjadze is a mercenary who fought alongside Jon in Afghanistan. Described as an "expert marksman," Lydia has her own set of unanswered questions she is looking to get resolved, including what happened when Jon disappeared from Afghanistan nearly three years ago. Just like Lydia, Raquel Shein agrees to join Jon on his mission in Georgia. Raquel is a MOSSAD agent who has his own goal of finding a rogue scientist who performed illegal scientific experiments.

Despite his supposed death, Robert North is also a key player in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. While his brother Jon is described as a more by the books kind of marine, Robert tends to fall on the rebellious side of things.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is set to launch on Apr. 4, 2017 simultaneously on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. An open beta on Steam just opened up registrations and is scheduled to start on Feb. 3, 2017.

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Yakuza Zero (PS4) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/yakuza-zero-ps4-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/yakuza-zero-ps4-review/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:00:06 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93882

By Elias Blondeau

The Yakuza franchise is often called the Grand Theft Auto of Japan, but frankly, that’s a downright disingenuous statement and a total false equivalency. Sure, both games are about the criminal underworld, but the similarities end there. Just as Scarface is not The Godfather, Yakuza is not Grand Theft Auto. Which, incidentally, is why I’ve […]

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By Elias Blondeau

The Yakuza franchise is often called the Grand Theft Auto of Japan, but frankly, that’s a downright disingenuous statement and a total false equivalency. Sure, both games are about the criminal underworld, but the similarities end there. Just as Scarface is not The Godfather, Yakuza is not Grand Theft Auto. Which, incidentally, is why I’ve the franchise for close to a decade at this point—it’s a franchise that defies comparison with any other modern game, and something unlike anything on the market. Yakuza Zero, while not as much of a step forward as some may like, is an encapsulation of all the things that make the series so unique with a nice layer of polish added to it.

A prequel to the franchise, Yakuza Zero splits the narrative focus down the middle between Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. Kiryu’s narrative arc revolves around being framed for murder, a real estate conspiracy, and a personal journey to redeem the man who adopted him. Majima’s focuses on the flamboyant, unhinged mobster’s attempts at turning a hostess club around in order to get back in the Yakuza after being expelled. It’s a rousing, high-spirited tale of extraordinarily handsome men beating up not-as-handsome men, accompanied by a sprawling cast, dynamic setpieces, and some truly cinematic cutscenes. This narrative alone, if played straight through, will undoubtedly take most players several dozen hours to get through.

Yakuza Zero (PS4) Review 1

But playing the narrative straight through would lead to players overlook the game’s solid gold side content. Yakuza has always been a franchise concerned with the minutiae of society, and this shows through in its surprisingly rich sub-stories. Random passersby will stop you on the street, asking for help with their problems. Occasionally, it’ll be as simple as helping a little girl win a doll from a crane, or assisting a production crew with shooting a TV episode. But more often than not, it’s off-the-wall craziness; from helping a mother free her daughter from a cult to pretending you’re a random girl’s boyfriend to fool her father. Some side content even houses full story arcs, such as Kiryu’s pursuit of becoming a pro disco dancer and his rise through the ranks of competitive dancing.

What makes this side content feel like so much more than just ancillary to-dos however, is in its tender authenticity for its subjects. As an example, my favourite sidequest so far involves helping out a dominatrix to be more assertive in her behavior so she doesn’t lose customers. This concept is ripe for broad farce, and could be played entirely for cheap laughs. God knows people think BDSM is weird, funny, and something to mocked. Instead, the writers show compassion for the woman and what she’s going through, turning her struggle into something worth feeling for and something the player can care about. Oh, sure, there are laughs, but it’s never at the expense of its subject. The humour is that she’s terribly awkward about her job, and is maybe too nice for her line of work. It’s not degrading or mocking, and it’s a full narrative with tension, memorable characters, and great dialogue delivered in fifteen-ish minutes.

Most games can’t deliver that in 10 to 20 hours. Let that sink in for a second. I’ll go even further—most open-world games aren’t really true to life, and don’t actually feel like living, breathing places with real inhabitants. They’re pretty window dressing with things to kill and boxes to check. Yakuza Zero is the antithesis to that. Much like Sega’s earlier Shenmue, Yakuza Zero and the franchise as a whole feel like a tangible place that you’re visiting each time you fire up the game. It’s hard to describe, but easy to understand once experienced. Bonus content like karaoke, darts, pool, dancing, and even playing arcade games adds to this feeling of completion.

Yakuza Zero (PS4) Review 2

However, Yakuza Zero is not only a virtual microcosm of 80’s Japan. It’s also a stellar brawler, the likes of which we really don’t get much of anymore. Both playable characters have three separate fighting styles that control entirely differently from each other, and can be changed on a dime to suit any given situation. This is the first time that the feature has been present in the series, and while at first it seems kind of extraneous, you’ll sometimes find yourself in situations where one style will come in handy over another. For example, a style that focuses on weapon combat will be useful in a situation where several blunt objects are lying around, while a faster kickboxing style will give players an advantage over a slower opponent. While I would’ve liked to see a more clear-cut emphasis on style differences (you can basically win most fights with any style if you’re good enough) it’s a neat feature that I hope returns in Yakuza 6.

Another difference betweenYakuza Zero and the rest of the series is in the way leveling works. Experience points are now gone, and in their place is an interesting risk/reward character-building mechanic. The way Kiryu and Majima are strengthened is by pumping money into themselves, or as Kiryu cheekily puts it, “literally investing in himself.” Money flies out of enemies in a silly, comical sort of way, and players will quickly be walking around with millions upon millions of dollars in your pocket. In addition to buying items and doing side activities, this money is used to buy upgrades for your health, strength, and moveset (although additional moves are primarily learned through side-missions.) However, a roaming duo of thugs can rough players up and steal every yen on your character if you engage in a fight with them. On the other hand, they also carry a large sum of money, and if you can beat them, you’ll get a huge payday. This whole concept of EXP being a finite resource, like a more punishing version of Metro 2033’s bullet/currency dilemma, is a fun twist on the formula and adds a degree of caution that I appreciate.

From a technical standpoint, Yakuza Zero is sublime. The graphics are gorgeous; with character models having the most minute details filled in, and both maps are filled with rich details and vibrant colours. It also all runs at a smooth 60 FPS, which honestly is something that must be seen to be believed, considering the platform its on and how much detail went into the game. As usual, the score is also extraordinary, and the voice acting is top-notch stuff. Across the board, Zero is a technical and stylistic marvel.

Yakuza Zero (PS4) Review 3

So yes, Yakuza is much more than “Grand Theft Auto in Japan,” and Yakuza Zero stands as a testament to why that is. It’s a balance between serious drama and clever humour, gentle humanity and broad satire, tangible immersion and ludic violence. The world players experience isn’t just a sandbox—it’s a diverse, vibrant community with people who feel real and places that feel occupied. In other words, players aren’t at the center of this world. It’s not a power fantasy. Instead, they take the role of just another person on the street, involved in their own personal drama just as much as everyone around them. More than ever, Yakuza feels like Shenmue’s logical successor, and a standard that Western open-world games have, quite honestly, never reached.

If Yakuza Zero, a prequel meant to buy time for the next main entry to be completed, is this good, then Yakuza 6 will likely be nothing short of a bloody masterpiece.

Score:9

Final Thoughts:A novel twist on familiar gameplay elements, Yakuza Zero once again delivers a unique blend of real-world immersion, humanistic storytelling, and some of the best action gameplay on the market.

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LeEco LE Pro3 (Smartphone) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/leeco-le-pro3-smartphone-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/leeco-le-pro3-smartphone-review/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93823

By Cole Watson

When LeEco acquired Vizio in June 2016, tech outlets knew it was only a matter of time until the Chinese phone manufacturer offered its first smartphone to North American consumers. Retailing for only $399.99 USD, the LeEco LE Pro3 should, in theory, wow future users with a combination of powerful specs and extensive features. However, […]

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By Cole Watson

When LeEco acquired Vizio in June 2016, tech outlets knew it was only a matter of time until the Chinese phone manufacturer offered its first smartphone to North American consumers. Retailing for only $399.99 USD, the LeEco LE Pro3 should, in theory, wow future users with a combination of powerful specs and extensive features. However, after my experience with the device, I’m left feeling nothing but disappointment.

On paper the LeEco LE Pro3 should be one of the most powerful competitors on the market despite its rather bland appearance. Featuring a 5.5” Full HD display, 4GB of Ram, a 16MP camera and the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor, the LE Pro3 is the most powerful phone in the $400 price bracket by a clear margin. However, like all things that appear too good to be true, there are some serious issues with how this device operates.

LeEco LE Pro3 (Smartphone) Review 2

Let’s start with the lack of a headphone jack. I’m glad that an included 3mm adapter and USB-C compatible set of ear buds are included in the package to solve the issue of using my current set of drivers, but I just don’t understand the design choice. The LeEco LE Pro3 isn’t as thin as an iPhone 7 and the components shouldn’t be taking up nearly enough space that a jack couldn’t be included in the chassis design.

It’s not hard to set up a phone in today’s digital age. The user inserts their SIM card into their device and the phone connects to a network, but yet the LE Pro3 can’t even get this simple process right. Despite supporting every frequency band offered in North America, it took me and CGM’s Editor in Chief Brendan Frye 20 minutes of work inserting different SIM cards, factory resetting the phone and testing out multiple APN’s before we could get a network to actually register. When the LeEco LE Pro3 finally connected to my network it restricted my speeds, limiting me to only using 3G even though I pay for LTE.

Connectivity issues don’t just stop there however, because the LeEco Le Pro3 can’t maintain a stable Wi-Fi connection either. Even while standing two feet in front of my router I was astonished to see the connection frequently drop while loading YouTube videos or during attempts to access e-mails.

LeEco LE Pro3 (Smartphone) Review 3

Even though it is built on Android’s latest 6.0 Marshmallow OS, LeEco continues to disappoint by implementing a custom yet ineffective UI that rips away what users love from their current Android devices in exchange for a manufacturer built ecosystem. By purchasing the LeEco LE Pro3 users obtain a three-month free subscription to EcoPass, the key to all of LeEco’s streaming and cloud-based services. While this pass sounds like something fresh to offer to our market because it is a complete package of various streaming platforms for a monthly price, this service is flawed because a majority of the channels are foreign and won’t appeal to a North American audience. More common streaming services such as Netflix and Direct TV are located in the service, but only as an additional add-on for which users have to pay separately.

After dealing with so many frustrating issues it is hard to find anything redeeming about the LeEco LE Pro3. The phone has exceptional battery life because of its 4070mAh battery and power efficient components, but what’s the point when no application or service performs with any consistency due to terrible connectivity issues.  I can’t recommend LeEco’s latest smartphone to any user in North America. The struggle and hassle of operating this device just aren’t worth the trouble, no matter how powerful the components are for the price.

Score:5.5

Final Thoughts:Despite featuring powerful components and fantastic battery life at an affordable price, LeEco’s LE Pro3 is an annoying hassle that no user needs to deal with

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Fire Emblem Echoes for 3DS and Fire Emblem Heroes for Mobile Announced http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/18/fire-emblem-echoes-3ds-fire-emblem-heroes-mobile-announced/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/18/fire-emblem-echoes-3ds-fire-emblem-heroes-mobile-announced/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 23:07:35 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93936

By Michael Koczwara

Nintendo offered plenty of announcements in today's Fire Emblem Direct, including the reveal of several new games. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a brand new title headed to the Nintendo 3DS. The game is said to be inspired by Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second installment in the series that was released for the […]

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By Michael Koczwara

Nintendo offered plenty of announcements in today's Fire Emblem Direct, including the reveal of several new games.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a brand new title headed to the Nintendo 3DS. The game is said to be inspired by Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second installment in the series that was released for the Nintendo Famicon in 1992, exclusively in Japan. Dual-protagonists are back, this time following Alm and Celica as they fight through a war dividing the continent of Valentia. The game, along with two new amiibos featuring the two protagonists, will be released on May 19, 2017.

Two additional games were also touched on. While Fire Emblem Warriors was revealed during the Nintendo Switch presentation last week, Nintendo released a new trailer with gameplay footage, along with a release window of Fall of 2017. A brand new Fire Emblem game that is more in line with previous console iterations is set to be appear on the Nintendo Switch in 2018.

The long awaited Fire Emblem mobile game has finally been revealed as Fire Emblem Heroes. Nintendo describes the mobile game as "tactical role playing on bite-sized maps designed to fit nicely on a smartphone screen, even when playing in short bursts." Players will build armies by recruiting popular characters from different games in the series. Orbs can be used to summon new characters to your team, and these can be found either through gameplay or the in-game shop.

Fire Emblem Heroes features brand new hand-drawn art for all the characters in the game. Before the game launches next month, Nintendo has set up the Choose Your Legends event that allows fans to vote for their favorite characters in the series to appear in the upcoming title. The top-ranked characters will go on to appear in the game as event characters.

Fire Emblem Heroes will be available as a free download with the option of in-game purchases. The mobile game will be released on Google Play on Feb. 2, 2017, with iPhone and iPad simply set to release "soon."

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Ubisoft Purchases Freestyle Games from Activision http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/18/ubisoft-purchases-freestyle-games-activision/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/18/ubisoft-purchases-freestyle-games-activision/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 20:51:07 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93928

By Cody Orme

The Ubisoft family just got one studio bigger as the French publisher purchased Freestyle Games from Activision. Once known as the studio behind Guitar Hero Live and DJ Hero, Freestyle Games will now be known as Ubisoft Leamington, named after the studio’s location. The studio will work closely with Ubisoft Reflections, the team behind The […]

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By Cody Orme

The Ubisoft family just got one studio bigger as the French publisher purchased Freestyle Games from Activision.

Once known as the studio behind Guitar Hero Live and DJ Hero, Freestyle Games will now be known as Ubisoft Leamington, named after the studio’s location. The studio will work closely with Ubisoft Reflections, the team behind The Crew, and Tom Clancy’s The Division, who recently got a new studio lead in Richard Blenkinsop. Blenkinsop will also work as Managing Director for Ubisoft Leamington. Ubisoft plans to use the new studio to help with AAA game development.

“We’re thrilled to have their expertise within the group, and the team at Reflections are looking forward to creating great things together” says Blenkinsop in an Ubisoft news release.

Freestyle games doesn’t have a large portfolio, but they’ve been around since 2002. Originally founded by ex-codemasters and ex-Rare staff, the studio’s first title was B-Boy published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Following two more games, Freestyle Games was purchased in by Activision in 2008.

It’s advantageous for Ubisoft to bring this studio on board. Aside from the Hero games, Freestyle worked with Raven Studios on Call of Duty Online, a title that sought to bring the Call of Duty experience to China. As of now, many companies see China a huge market for gaming to move into, and with upcoming Ubisoft titles like Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, it would be advantageous to bring in a studio with experience breaking into the Chinese market. Hypothetical situations aside, Freestyle Games has quite a bit of experience in AAA Development, helping with the development of Call of Duty: Infinate Warfare.

Both Ubisoft (UBI 30,75 -0,04 -0,13%) and Activision (ATVI 38,91 +0,05 +0,13%) stock remain relatively unchanged since the acquisition, which could signify the sale did not move the needle for many investors.

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Warner Bros. Looking into Attack on Titan Film http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/18/warner-bros-looking-attack-titan-film/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/18/warner-bros-looking-attack-titan-film/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:15:35 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93900

By Cody Orme

Attack on Titan fans in the West might have something original to look forward to on the silver screen. According to Deadline, Warner Bros. is in the process of trying to acquire the film rights for the manga and anime. Not much is known about the details at this time, but Deadline said Warner Bros. […]

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By Cody Orme

Attack on Titan fans in the West might have something original to look forward to on the silver screen.

According to Deadline, Warner Bros. is in the process of trying to acquire the film rights for the manga and anime. Not much is known about the details at this time, but Deadline said Warner Bros. is looking to bring on Harry Potter franchise producer David Heyman on board.

This news comes eight days after the initial editor of Attack on Titan, Park Jung-Hyun, was arrested for the alleged murder of his wife in August 2016. He worked on the series back in 2009.

Despite the dark cloud looming over the franchise with Jung-Hyun’s arrest, Attack on Titan is one of the most popular manga franchises in the West with six of the series volumes slated as New York Time’s Best Sellers for Manga. That’s without mentioning the popularity of the anime, which if getting a second season in April after an almost four-year wait.

Still, this wouldn’t be the first time Attack on Titan hits movie screens. In Japan an Attack on Titan movie hit theatres in two parts, and was received with mixed reviews. Even without critical consensus, Attack on Titan: Part 1 earning $5.1 million USD on its opening weekend, making it the seventh highest grossing Japanese movie that year. Despite the success of the first movie, the sequel did not live up to expectations. Combined, both movies grossed around $46 million USD.

That should be a sign of hope for Warner Bros. who are reeling off the commercially successful, but critically bashed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad movies with more DCU films in the works. Comics aside, WB's Harry Potter spin off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (produced by Heyman) was a commercial success. CGM’s own Phil Brown reviewed the movie saying:

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is no masterpiece there’s no questioning that. It’s as convoluted of a movie as the title suggests. However, it is fun, imaginative, massive and goes well with popcorn.”

With Heyman’s name attached to the project, there is hope for a decent Attack on Titan Movie.

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SteelSeries Arctis 7 (Hardware) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/steelseries-arctis-7-hardware-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/steelseries-arctis-7-hardware-review/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93752

By Cole Watson

While SteelSeries didn’t blow me away with the Siberia 800 due to its extensive set- up options and high enthusiast price point, the techies in their lab have certainly learned how to pack more bang for buck in their latest line of headsets with the Arctis 7. Gone are the days of RGB lighting gimmicks that […]

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By Cole Watson

While SteelSeries didn’t blow me away with the Siberia 800 due to its extensive set- up options and high enthusiast price point, the techies in their lab have certainly learned how to pack more bang for buck in their latest line of headsets with the Arctis 7. Gone are the days of RGB lighting gimmicks that the user can’t even see, as well as the uncomfortable sharpness and pointy protrusions that make our heads look as if they were encapsulated inside alien technology. The Arctis family strips away these stereotypes of traditional gaming drivers for a more casual and comfortable design that any modern user can appreciate. 

Retailing for $150 USD, the Arctis 7 takes the mantle as the wireless representative of its family. I find it interesting how SteelSeries has approached this line of drivers, as each of the three members uses the same core design and feature set. It’s all up to the user how much they want to spend to gain access to the gimmicks they desire, such as RGB lighting or wireless functionality, or they can pay less for pure performance.

The Arctis 7’s are quite simply the most comfortable headset I’ve used to date. The ingenious use of ski goggle material for the headband and the softness of SteelSeries’ airweave cushions has successfully created a headset I can use for hours without my head feeling compressed or indented by the end of a gaming session. The S1 audio drivers deliver great sound quality for their price and feature 7.1-surround sound for a more impactful cinematic experience across all AAA titles. Every audio and chat-enhancing feature is handled on board via dials and switches, but they are smartly integrated into the back of the set so the appealing modern design of the Arctis 7 isn’t harmed. Lastly, the retractable ClearCast microphone is a nice inclusion, isolating the voice of the user and eliminating pesky background noise due to its bidirectional design.  This is the perfect audio device for users who don’t want to exclusively use their headsets for just gaming, but their daily commutes as well.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 (Hardware) Review 1

Wireless connectivity is always a mixed bag with gaming headsets due to latency issues, dropped connections or terrible battery life, but SteelSeries has managed to deliver the same wireless experience as the Siberia 800 in a more affordable package. The secret to how the Arctis 7’s perform so well is through the included low latency transmitter. Simply plug and pair the transmitter into a compatible USB device and the user obtains a solid 30 ftft. range of consistent audio performance for upwards of 13 hours off a single charge. The only catch I could find was with devices that were actually compatible. While the majority of gaming platforms are covered the only surprise I found absent was the Xbox One, which can only be handled through the 3.5mm analog jack in the controller. This problem persists with the USB connectivity of the Arctis 5 as well.

If you’re a user who prefers a wireless gaming experience then the Arctis 7 is a great candidate in its price bracket. The only headset line comparable in quality off the top of my head would be the Hyper X Cloud’s, which sound identical and feel almost as nice, but lack the depth of audio controls and wireless connectivity. However, users who have no interest in wireless, but love the design of SteelSeries’ Arctis family, can instead pick out a more performance oriented model and enjoy the same audio quality and comfort as I did for even cheaper.

Score:9

Final Thoughts:The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is the most comfortable gaming headset I’ve used to date and delivers the best bang for buck sound quality currently offered on the market.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/a-series-of-unfortunate-events-netflix-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/a-series-of-unfortunate-events-netflix-review/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 12:00:54 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93847

By Helena Shlapak

Lemony Snicket’s gothic-mystery children’s series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, has been a national bestseller since the series debut in 1999. For almost 20 years, fans followed the depressing plights of the three Baudelaire orphans as they attempt to solve the mystery of their parents’ death, uncover the secrets of the VFD and outsmart the […]

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By Helena Shlapak

Lemony Snicket’s gothic-mystery children’s series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, has been a national bestseller since the series debut in 1999. For almost 20 years, fans followed the depressing plights of the three Baudelaire orphans as they attempt to solve the mystery of their parents’ death, uncover the secrets of the VFD and outsmart the evil count Olaf from stealing their fortune.

Since the books were such a massive hit (and with the financial success of the Harry Potter film adaptations) it stood to reason that A Series of Unfortunate Events would receive a film adaptation as well. In 2004, Nickelodeon Movies released a film adaption starring Jim Carrey that combined the first three books of the A Series of Unfortunate Events franchise. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t as great as fans hoped and the film series was never completed. Thankfully, Netflix produced their own series which released Jan. 13, 2017 (on Friday the 13th as a nod to the final book’s release in 2006) but the question remained as to whether or not this new series would finally be the adaptation fans have been hoping for.

The thing to note in Netflix’s eight-episode first season is that it combines the first four books of A Series of Unfortunate Events in a way that the fans initially wanted; each book receiving its own movie (about an hour and a half each). The problem here is that while at least the series isn’t skimming over anything like the film did, I can understand why the film version tried to cram three books in. None of the books in the A Series of Unfortunate Events franchise are very long or detailed enough to each warrant a film adaptation and that’s what throws the pacing of the Netflix series off. There’s a lot of filler in the episodes, and sometimes it’s great because we finally get to know more about the VFD organization but most of the time, you can tell they’re just trying to fill up time and scenes drag on a little too long. This is especially apparent in part two of the “Reptile Room” when the adults are looking for the Incredible Deadly Viper and they just keep talking and talking without having much of a point.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix) Review 1Something everyone will notice is that the overall tone and cinematography may be a bit off-putting (a phrase meaning something unpleasant, disconcerting or repellent). As someone who’s read the books; the Netflix show gets it pretty close. The series has just the right amount of surrealism and charm with the on-purposely awkward CGI, timeless setting and practical effects. A Series of Unfortunate Events is shot like a play with constant sideways shots like an audience looking at a stage. Yet, it’s off-putting if you’ve never read the books before because everything can look award and cheap. You can tell the cast are on sets and nothing really appears real, even though that’s the point. My only real complaint about Netflix’s version is that the tone is a tad too bright with enhanced and warm colours. The tone of the film was much darker and more gothic which I think gets the overall setting of the books better since they’re supposed to be more depressing.

The cast, for the most part, is fantastic. I was a little sceptical at first of having Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket and Neil Patrick Harris as Olaf but as the first season went on, my fears subsided as these two relaxed into their roles. Warburton narrates every episode and interacts with the scenery while also having his own story. Lemony Snicket was constantly on the run from his enemies as he investigated the mysteries of the books and watching Warburton calmly escaping situations, narrate the story and give definitions with his dead-pan monotone voice is hilarious. Sometimes it can be a bit too much (especially in “The Bad Beginning”) but past the first episode they tone him down, and he becomes part of the background that you enjoy seeing. I didn’t really warm to NPH as quickly though, and that’s mostly because I have a soft spot for Carrey’s Olaf despite the fact that he was way too ridiculous and chewed the scenery to pieces. NPH definitely captures the book Olaf better with his demeanour and overall attitude, but he seems to be trying to do a hybrid of the book and Carrey which comes off a little awkward at times. There’s a scene in the “Miserable Mill” when he’s trying to convince the mill owner to give him the children (he’s dressed as a woman for this), and he’s going off on this “woe is me, I am a lonely spinster” bit and you can tell he’s not trying to over-act but while completely overacting. It comes across as awkward.

For the rest of the adults, it’s a hit and miss but not majorly so. K. Todd Freeman is a wonderfully infuriating Mr. Poe, but I found myself wanting to slap him constantly since they made this version of Poe come off as more of a jerk. Aasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty really blends into his role, and has a lot of fun being the genius adventurer. Alfre Woodard as Aunt Josephine wasn’t an awful choice, but it’s incredibly difficult to compare anyone to the glorious Meryl Streep since you could put that woman in anything and she’s amazing. Woodard comes off as way too strong of a woman to play an insane coward. Josephine is supposed to be a character that you couldn’t believe was fierce and formidable, but Woodard makes it believable. Joan Cusack plays a heartbreakingly wonderful and hilarious Justice Strauss, but I think the series would have worked better if Cusack and Woodward has switched roles since Cusack has more facially expressive range and Woodard could use her strong demeanour as a confident judge. Not to mention Olaf’s theatre troop are all sorts of fun, especially the two old ladies. I never grew bored seeing those characters on screen.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix) Review 4As for the Baudelaire siblings, the general consensus on message boards seem to be that the film versions were better but I highly disagree. The film versions seemed too bland and stoic, but Netflix’s Baudelaires are more than one dimensional. They still have their quirks and skills like Violet being a mini engineer, and Klaus a walking encyclopedia and Sunny being Sunny, but they actually seem like real kids this time. They smile once in a while and the chemistry is really strong, especially when Klaus gets hypnotised in the “Miserable Mill” and Violet is terrified for him. I can believe these are real siblings and that actually love and care for each other.

Despite some awkward acting moments and scenes that drag on, Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is the series fans have wanted and deserve. Netflix really seems to be making up for the movie’s sins. The TV show encompasses all the charm, wit, humour and creativity the books had and I can’t wait to see how season two follows the Baudelaires and their journey through their dystopian world of ignorant adults.

Score:8

Final Thoughts:Delighfully endearing, charming and surreal. It’s well worth the 13-year wait.

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Gabe Newell Not Finished with Half-life Universe http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/gabe-newell-not-finished-half-life-universe/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/gabe-newell-not-finished-half-life-universe/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 01:05:48 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93874

By Lane Martin

Reddit AMAs are seldom the font of hot news we want them to be, but they are at least a subtle look beyond the curtain. AMA's demystify people and organizations without really answering our burning questions. So, after Valve founder Gabe Newell's time in the Reddit hot seat, I am happy to repeat two real […]

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By Lane Martin

Reddit AMAs are seldom the font of hot news we want them to be, but they are at least a subtle look beyond the curtain. AMA's demystify people and organizations without really answering our burning questions. So, after Valve founder Gabe Newell's time in the Reddit hot seat, I am happy to repeat two real pieces of news. The J.J. Abrams Half-life and Portal films are still in the works and there will likely be a new IP set in that universe.

Apart from that, nothing that came out should really stop the presses. That isn't to say that it wasn't interesting. A major update for Team Fortress 2 is being worked on, that features a new campaign, a pack for the Pyro class, some matchmaking improvements and balancing changes. Newell enjoys Portal 2Dota 2, and medium rare steaks. Most talk centered around Valve's design philosophy and Steam itself.

"The big thing right now is broadening the range of options we have in creating experiences," said Newell when asked about the company's direction. "We think investing in hardware will give us those options. The knuckles controller is being designed at the same time as we're designing our own VR games. Much more narrowly, some of us are thinking about some of the AI work that is being hyped right now. Simplistically we have lots of data and compute capability that loos like the kinds of areas where machine learning should work well. Personally I'm looking at research in brain-computer interfaces."

As is often the case with Newell, he tends to flip between glib and sincere at the drop of a dime. One moment he decried the number 3, and espoused the validity of unidentified anonymous internet sources, in another he earnestly discusses why Valve often seems uncommunicative with the community surrounding it, the short answer being that that prefer to answer fans by enacting change and releasing things rather than promising players things they may not be able to deliver.

Half-life 3 remains unconfirmed, but the whole thing is an interesting read to say the very least.

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Nioh May Lead to More Ninja Gaiden http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/nioh-may-lead-ninja-gaiden/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/nioh-may-lead-ninja-gaiden/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:22:50 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93843

By Lane Martin

Team Ninja's upcoming action RPG Nioh has already drawn numerous comparisons to the Souls franchise (Both Dark and Demon), and this demon slaying adventure hasn't even release yet. You'd be forgiven if you had forgotten that Team Ninja dominated the insanely difficult niche market before anyone had kindled a bonfire when it revived the classic Ninja Gaiden franchise. Now, […]

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By Lane Martin

Team Ninja's upcoming action RPG Nioh has already drawn numerous comparisons to the Souls franchise (Both Dark and Demon), and this demon slaying adventure hasn't even release yet. You'd be forgiven if you had forgotten that Team Ninja dominated the insanely difficult niche market before anyone had kindled a bonfire when it revived the classic Ninja Gaiden franchise. Now, as Nioh goes gold and approaches its February release, it seems that Ryu Hayabusa is not quite as dead as we thought he was.

Team Ninja revived the classic Nintendo game back in 2004 with the stellar Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox, following it up with two enjoyable enhanced editions. Following releases showed a substantial drop in quality until finally reaching a series low point in 2014 with Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. It was believed that a string of sub par sequels finally did what what ninjas, demons, and frustratingly placed birds could not, finally kill this decades old franchise, but Team Ninja's Creative Director Tom Lee seems to be hopeful.

"Maybe I can say can say that Nioh is a gateway into the next chapter for Ninja Gaiden," said Lee in an interview with US Gamer. "[Ninja Gaiden] is a very important, if not the most important franchise, for us, but at this point I think this franchise needs to be in the shadows for a while until we bring it back. There will be a time, and when the time is right, we will bring it back."

While the uncertain time frame can be disheartening, the passion Lee showed for the franchise should be a relief for fans of the series. While Nioh takes its cues from the Souls series and Dynasty Warriors, its setting of a demon infested Japan at the beginning of the Edo period certainly brings to mind Ryu's sword swinging, shuriken tossing antics.

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2064: Read Only Memories (PS4) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/2064-read-memories-ps4-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/2064-read-memories-ps4-review/#comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:00:50 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93769

By Kenneth Shepard

In my time playing 2064: Read Only Memories, I encountered several interesting characters and memorable moments. However, one incident in particular stood out particularly clearly: the first time I met a woman named Jess, a human/animal “Hybrid” who, developed skin cancer, but had it go into remission after undergoing treatments involving the genes of animals. […]

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By Kenneth Shepard

In my time playing 2064: Read Only Memories, I encountered several interesting characters and memorable moments. However, one incident in particular stood out particularly clearly: the first time I met a woman named Jess, a human/animal “Hybrid” who, developed skin cancer, but had it go into remission after undergoing treatments involving the genes of animals. When I inquired about her cat-like appearance, she immediately grew defensive, and at the time it appeared that our soured relationship might hinder my progress. When I was eventually able to speak to her again, the game offered me dialogue options to ask her why she’d responded the way she had, but I didn’t need them. I didn’t have to ask why Jess was angry, because I’ve seen this response throughout my life when someone is a victim of prejudice. She was merely preemptively defending herself against an attack she’d been conditioned to think she’d receive because of the way she looked.

The emotional impact of this moment really drove home the idea that people in this world are judged and mistreated for their appearance, a truth that was only heightened as 2064: Read Only Memories took me through its science fiction world and explained how Hybrids as a group are treated like second class citizens, with a purist group called The Human Revolution looking to strip rights from those who underwent life-saving animal gene treatments, deeming them “not human.”

2064: Read Only Memories (PS4) Review

The real-world parallels to social ills that we face every day were obvious, but seeing 2064: Read Only Memories’ sci-fi take on issues such as equality and healthcare was a fascinating focus I hoped would be at the core of the game’s story. However, this conflict ended up being mostly just set dressing for a fairly standard plot involving artificial intelligence and questions of whether or not a machine is truly alive. 2064: Read Only Memories knows how to create a world full of interesting concepts and political commentary, but it ultimately ends up sidelining some of its best and most timely themes for a fairly by-the-numbers noir story.

The source of the more rote themes, and the driving force of the game is the lovable and beautifully written Turing, a “Relationship Organizational Manager” (ROM) who sought me out after their creator Hayden had gone missing, presumably as a victim of kidnapping. Thus began mine and Turing’s journey through a futuristic interpretation of San Francisco.

Much of the moment-to-moment of 2064: Read Only Memories had me meeting up with its wonderful cast members in search of clues on Hayden’s disappearance, with occasional puzzles to break up the long stretches of dialogue. The puzzles are generally serviceable, if mostly forgettable, though some fall into the sort of dreaded obtuse adventure game logic that requires you to use inventory items in some ridiculous ways. But when it’s focusing on the mystery, and the people who help you find your way through it, Read Only Memories is as entertaining as its eclectic cast members.

Even when 2064: Read Only Memories fails to capitalize on its best political analogies, it makes great strides to portray diverse characters from all walks of life, including members of the LGBT community and people of color. These wonderful people are the lifeblood that kept me playing 2064: Read Only Memories even when its more predictable sci-fi story beats failed to hold my interest.

2064: Read Only Memories (PS4) Review 2

In my first play through, I met several standouts beyond my memorable encounter with Jess near the beginning. These included the charming hacker TOMCAT, the juvenile delinquent couple with hearts of gold Chad and Oliver, and of course, Turing themself, who is interesting to see grow as they learn to deal with their sapience and the responsibility of being a citizen in this world. Each of these characters is well-acted thanks to the voice acting added as part of the 2064 update to the base game. This includes performances by well-known industry talent like The Walking Dead’s Melissa Hutchinson and games critic Jim Sterling. Thankfully, there are several characters I didn’t meet, which gives me another reason to replay 2064: Read Only Memories, besides just wanting to see the game’s other endings.

Despite falling into some well-worn sci-fi territory, 2064: Read Only Memories excels most when it focuses on characters and concepts that aren’t quite as far away from our current reality as its A-plot of robots, artificial intelligence, and questions of what makes humans different from a being made up of metal and programming. The political statements it makes through its characters and its background story prove that there is a braver, more interesting story unfolding in this world, just one that doesn’t take the foreground as often as it deserves.

Score:7.5

Final Thoughts:2064: Read Only Memories has a fascinating world full of potential for great stories, but spends a lot of time focusing on things that aren’t as novel as its best parts.

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Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Open Beta Announced http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/sniper-ghost-warrior-3-open-beta-coming/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/sniper-ghost-warrior-3-open-beta-coming/#comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 17:00:19 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93790

By Ana Valens

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is well on its way to its spring release. But fans will be able to get a sneak peek into the action very soon. As developer CI Games reports, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 will be in open beta on Steam, and registration begins Jan. 17, 2017. According to a press release from […]

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By Ana Valens

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is well on its way to its spring release. But fans will be able to get a sneak peek into the action very soon. As developer CI Games reports, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 will be in open beta on Steam, and registration begins Jan. 17, 2017.

According to a press release from CI Games and Evolve PR, players can register over at the official Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 website "to be given a chance to experience the beautiful open-world setting of the Republic of Georgia and get exclusive access to two single-player missions: Cut Off and Blockout." The beta itself begins Feb. 3, 2016 just a couple weeks away from the registration period.

Marek Tyminski, the CEO of CI Games, is certainly happy to give fans the opportunity to experience the game early. "We can’t wait for fans of the Sniper Ghost Warrior series to get an early taste of what’s to come when the game releases on Apr. 4, 2017," he said in the press statement. "Since this is a technical test, we encourage everyone to give us feedback of their experiences in the Steam forums. We hope they enjoy what they play!"

The two missions available are interesting enough. In Cut Off, the player infiltrates an enemy compound and repositions satellite dishes to intercept an enemy antenna signal. In Blockout, the player gets to target one of the protagonist's hits on his Most Wanted list, which is compiled of "the names of war criminals" that the player "can neutralize to bring justice to the people of Georgia." Blockout promises plenty of versatility, from storming the front to picking off targets with a sniper rifle.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 launches on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One simultaneously on Apr. 4, 2017. The open beta is currently relegated to Steam, which means only PC players can hop in. Check back as more news develops.

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New Publisher for Warface as Crytek Focuses on Developemnt http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/com-publish-warface-starting-feb-2017/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/com-publish-warface-starting-feb-2017/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:35:31 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93830

By Ana Valens

Crytek's online multiplayer FPS Warface is about to get a brand new publisher. Game publisher My.com, famous for publishing such games as Armored Warfare and Skyforge, will begin publishing and operations for Warface in North America and Europe starting in February. According to a Warface press release, My.com will begin publishing the shooter, whereas Crytek will […]

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By Ana Valens

Crytek's online multiplayer FPS Warface is about to get a brand new publisher. Game publisher My.com, famous for publishing such games as Armored Warfare and Skyforge, will begin publishing and operations for Warface in North America and Europe starting in February.

According to a Warface press release, My.com will begin publishing the shooter, whereas Crytek will instead focus on "the development aspect" of Warface, which largely consists of "bringing more content and updates to Warface" and therefore bringing "more opportunities for fans and players of the game alike." Crytek and My.com are planning for "events" and "cross regional cyber sport activities" for both Europe and North America, suggesting that Warface will venture into the realm of eSports over the coming year ahead.

As for players' account data, very little will change. "Characters will be saved, as well as all items, rewards, achivements and currency balance," the presser says. "Detailed instructions" will be sent over to Warface players "soon."

Faruk Yerli, Crytek's founder and managing director, was happy with the move and reiterated such in the press release. "My.com team knows the Warface game exceedingly well, thanks to the operation expertise of its parent company Mail.Ru, which is a close partner of Crytek and has been successfully operating Warface in CIS countries for 4 years and made the game one of the leading online shooter game in CIS with a total player base exceeding 40 million registered players," Yerli said.

However, the news certainly comes after dire times for Crytek. The studio recently closed down five of its branches, with alleged staffers claiming that they were working without salaried pay for months. The My.com move may not be a generous business partnership, but rather, a move by Crytek to release some of the financial burden the company is experiencing in order to rebuild their studios and increase their profits. 2017 will certainly tell whether Crytek will earn a strong restart or suffer from their supposed internal mismanagement.

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Gumi Inc. Entering Europe via EUVR Partnership http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/gumi-inc-entering-europe-via-euvr-partnership/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/gumi-inc-entering-europe-via-euvr-partnership/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:24:36 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93825

By Ana Valens

A brand new virtual reality company is expanding into Europe from Japan. According to a Jan. 17, 2017 press release published by gumi Inc. and EUVR, gumi is working with EUVR in order to "expand its European VR presence and strategic initiatives among local developers." Both gumi and EUVR hope that the upcoming partnership will "provide EUVR members […]

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By Ana Valens

A brand new virtual reality company is expanding into Europe from Japan. According to a Jan. 17, 2017 press release published by gumi Inc. and EUVR, gumi is working with EUVR in order to "expand its European VR presence and strategic initiatives among local developers." Both gumi and EUVR hope that the upcoming partnership will "provide EUVR members with access to potential investment, incubation and mentorship opportunities."

EUVR is a platform dedicated to connecting virtual reality developers, fans and community members across Europe. The organization is active in over 19 countries, and "provides the VR development community and enthusiasts with regular meet ups and resources to further the growth of the VR ecosystem," as the press release states. Suffice to say, both partners are very pleased with the partnership's announcement.

"This past year has been tremendously successful for gumi as we’ve broken new ground in the VR industry," gumi CEO Hironao Kunimitsu said. "Amongst many milestones, we launched our own incubators in Japan and Korea, called Tokyo VR Startups and Seoul VR Startups, respectively. Additionally, we invested in and became a joint member of the venture capital investment group ‘The VR Fund,’ based out of the US. Our partnership with EUVR is the next step toward our vision of being a global leader in virtual reality and working closely with innovative developers in the European region."

Meanwhile, EUVR's co-founder Juan Bossicard was similarly thrilled with the announcement. "The European VR community has grown to over 14,000 members to date, and gumi’s investment of time and resources is certainly a vote of confidence in EUVR’s commitment to the VR community," Bossicard noted in the press release. "We will continue working hard to provide best-in-class resources that are knowledgeable and well-connected to our members in order to further the global VR ecosystem."

It's clear that gumi is interested in taking their virtual reality technology outside of Japan, and the move into the European market is certainly one that will allow for growth within the industry. As 2017 looks to be a big year for VR releases, gumi and EUVR are partnering together at the perfect time. Check back as more news develops.

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Latest Titans Comic Brings New Adventures http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/latest-titans-comic-brings-new-adventures/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/latest-titans-comic-brings-new-adventures/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:19:39 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93780

By Ana Valens

Brand new backstory and lore is always needed when a comic universe is rebooted, and DC clearly recognizes that. With the DC Universe: Rebirth initiated, Titans #7 explores some rather interesting tales for Superman, the Flash, and Donna Troy. Spoilers follow. As CBR reports, Wally West and Clark Kent have a meeting in Titans #7, referencing […]

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By Ana Valens

Brand new backstory and lore is always needed when a comic universe is rebooted, and DC clearly recognizes that. With the DC Universe: Rebirth initiated, Titans #7 explores some rather interesting tales for Superman, the Flash, and Donna Troy. Spoilers follow.

As CBR reports, Wally West and Clark Kent have a meeting in Titans #7, referencing DC Rebirth while hearkening back to the classic Superman v. Flash storylines popular during mid-20th century. With the third Flash and Superman together, the key here is that Wally West meets with pre-Flashpoint Superman, having fallen into a new universe from a time stream. The two quickly recognize each other and remember one another. Expect a close relationship between Wally West and Clark Kent as the Justice League experiences friction between the League and Superman.

Meanwhile, Donna Troy appears in Titans #7, dropped into the world as well. Troy's story is complicated at the moment, and while writer Dan Abnett notes that Troy has the power of the Fates, it seems she's just as lost as Kid Flash in the brand new universe.

It seems Abnett is taking the opportunity to further flesh out Troy, too. According to Titans #7, Donna Troy was an orphan girl raised by the Amazons, which means there's a rich origin story behind her appearance within the world. How her storyline will intersect with West's and Kent's remains unclear. But with Titans Tower now moved to New York, too, there's plenty of opportunities for interesting conflicts and stories as the series continues.

Titans #7 is available now, listed at $2.99 USD. It can be bought on the official DC Comics website. In the meantime, check back as more news is announced for Titans #8, as well as other information about changes to the DC Universe over the coming year ahead. There's sure to be plenty of interesting changes for fans.

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Heroes and Generals Reaches 10 Million Registered Players http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/heroes-generals-reaches-10-million-registered-players/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/heroes-generals-reaches-10-million-registered-players/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:11:57 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93817

By Lane Martin

The free to play first person Shooter MMO, Heroes and Generals has seen its user base expand drastically since its release in late 2016, proudly announcing that they have now reached 10 million registered players. "Reaching 10 million players is an important milestone for all of us at Reto-Moto, and it is a great inspiration to us having […]

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By Lane Martin

The free to play first person Shooter MMO, Heroes and Generals has seen its user base expand drastically since its release in late 2016, proudly announcing that they have now reached 10 million registered players.

"Reaching 10 million players is an important milestone for all of us at Reto-Moto, and it is a great inspiration to us having such a large dedicated community," said Game Director at Reto-Moto, Jacob Anderson, in a press release. "Launching was only the beginning for us, and we have a lot of great content, features and improvements planned for Heroes and Generals in 2017 that I just can't wait for the fans to get their hands on."

Reto-Moto is setting off a special event to help them celebrate Heroes and Generals' 10 million players, offering contests and prizes totaling 10 million in game credits. The studio also promises to continue supporting the game heavily, with more frequent updates and new content to come through 2017. Despite its relative youth, Reto-Moto has already released two major updates to the game prior to this announcement.

10 million players is certainly something to celebrate, especially for a game that is still so newly released. A quick glance at Heroes and Generals' store page shows some impressive looking screenshots and an ambitious free-to-play title. The game is clearly trying to capitalize on the success of similar AAA franchises. A look at the user reviews, tells a wholly different story. It seems that the vast majority of customer experiences with the game have been pretty negatively, at least recently. Many complaints cite poor frame rate and frustrating leveling mechanics that favor established players strongly over new users. It's hard to say how much of this is valid rather than the knee-jerk reactions that are so common on the internet, but it likely explains why we are celebrating 10 million registered players rather than active ones.

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Study Gives Insight Into The Global Cost of Gaming http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/price-index-gives-insight-cost-gaming/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/17/price-index-gives-insight-cost-gaming/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:10:08 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93810

By Elias Blondeau

Gaming isn't a cheap hobby. Ask any regular player, and odds are, they'll lament choosing one game over another, or how bad the latest Steam Sale wrecked their wallets. But as a recent global study indicates, some places have it better than others, and vice versa. The 2017 Tech Price Index is a survey of […]

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By Elias Blondeau

Gaming isn't a cheap hobby. Ask any regular player, and odds are, they'll lament choosing one game over another, or how bad the latest Steam Sale wrecked their wallets. But as a recent global study indicates, some places have it better than others, and vice versa.

The 2017 Tech Price Index is a survey of 72 countries' technology markets, complete with sales data, market trends, and a stock of prices around the world. Rocket Internet Venture and Linio, the largest online retailer in Latin America, carried the study out. Results indicate that prices of gaming as a hobby vary wildly depending on the country.

To get their data, both companies analyzed the prices of consoles based on regional online retailers. Prices given by the largest retailers in the respective countries' five largest cities were also factored into the data.

As the data indicates, the most expensive country to own a gaming console, by a large margin, is Venezuela. A base PlayStation 4 will run consumers close to $57,000 USD, while an Xbox One costs around $37,000. The runner-ups are still pricey, but less absurd, with the most expensive places running between $600 to $800 USD.

On the opposite end of things, Hungary and Switzerland have some pretty competetive pricing for consoles. A PlayStation 4 in Hungary will run you around $250, while an Xbox One in Switzerland costs around $222.

By and large, the study shows, gaming consoles are cheapest in both Europe and Canada. Conversely, it's a more expensive hobby to pick up for those living in Asian and Latin American country. And, keeping in line with cost of consoles, Venezuela is the least affordable place to play games. This is due, in large part, to the hyperinflation which has done a serious number on the country's economy.

The full list can be seen on Linio's site, and it's well worth looking over just to put things in perspective. If you find yourself cutting costs to save up for the Nintendo Switch or another upcoming console, you can take solace in the fact that you won't have to take out a mortgage for it.

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Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star (PS4) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/fateextella-umbral-star-ps4-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/fateextella-umbral-star-ps4-review/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93801

By Elias Blondeau

The Fate franchise is a curious and complicated one. Originally a series of adult-oriented visual novels, the franchise ultimately found more popularity among general audiences, spawning numerous anime series, films, novels, manga, and of course, video games. A sort of “what if” narrative, 2011’s Fate/Extra shook things up, offering fans a far-future take on the […]

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By Elias Blondeau

The Fate franchise is a curious and complicated one. Originally a series of adult-oriented visual novels, the franchise ultimately found more popularity among general audiences, spawning numerous anime series, films, novels, manga, and of course, video games. A sort of “what if” narrative, 2011’s Fate/Extra shook things up, offering fans a far-future take on the hit tale of living weapons and the masters who wield them. Whole bits of lore were reimagined, characters were shaken up, and a new continuity was established. Well, kind of, sort of. A sequel, but not really, to this PSP title, Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star makes an attempt to take this sort-of sub-series and push it to its logical extremes.

Unfortunately, it falls flat at every possible turn­­ — but not from a lack of trying.  The narrative, which concerns a protagonist being split into separate physical entities and being pit against each other, carries on Kinoko Nasu’s flair for the enjoyably convoluted. Virtual dimensions that manifest themselves physically, a cast that lives on the literal moon, and a story split between three different perspectives, Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star pulls out all the stops to keep things engaging.

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star (PS4) Review 1

However, it ultimately comes across as a whole bunch of nonsense words attempting to tell a story that really isn’t all that complicated. The narrative in Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star, for all of its attempts at appearing deep, can be succinctly summed up in a few sentences. Fate’s stories usually work because of the deliberate pacing of the visual novels and the nature of serialized anime – the fantastic Fate/Zero stands as a testament to this. However, Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is a short game, one that can be easily cleared in a small handful of hours. There’s little room for genuine character growth or nuanced storytelling. Instead, the whole thing feels kind of rushed and hollow, with one-note characterization and alleged twists that players can see coming from a mile away. While a few separate campaigns are supplied, none of them ever provided enough engrossing content to merit more than a, “huh, neat,” from me.

The campaigns also suffer from a problem that is arguably Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star’s biggest fault– repetition. Marvelous clearly played a great deal of Dynasty Warriors between Extra and this entry, because tit for tat, their latest is a shallow reskin of Omega Force’s hit franchise. A map of territories to conquer, allies to protect, hordes of enemies on the screen at one time, it’s all here, and none of it is nearly as interesting as the series it is trying to ape. Killing enemies has no sense of progression to it, and the gameplay feels sloppy – most fights can be won by spamming the same few buttons until one of three ultimate moves can be activated. Painfully linear maps, and a camera that actively tries to murder players don’t help much. The final product feels like something that hasn’t seen the great strides in progress Koei-Tecmo has made in these sorts of games since the mid-2000’s. By consequence, Extella comes across as both unoriginal and dated by the standards of the very thing it’s trying to copy.

Even the art direction, for its occasional interesting boss design (especially the final encounter of the first route,) can’t overcome a feeling of sameness. Everything about the visual design, from the menus to the color scheme to the music, feel a lot of other titles that came out in the wake of Persona 4. That is to say, the same general aesthetic that permeates Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, Devil Survivor, and Tokyo Mirage Sessions, to name a few, is on full display here. However, here, it doesn’t really fit the subject matter – especially not the silly moe idol villains and copious fan service. The Fate series has a grim, gothic-meets-modern aesthetic that works, and this take on it just feels cheap and pandering. I’m absolutely willing to admit that boils down to personal preference, but when a franchise has a unifying look that already works, spin-offs like this just don’t feel necessary.

Fate Extella: The Umbral Star is a game that I desperately wanted to like, speaking as a fan of the franchise. It certainly isn’t an awful title, sure, but even for its intended audience, it feels like weak tea compared to the rich blend of engrossing narrative and dense lore that fans love. Furthermore, it betrays what makes the series work, and ties it all together with gameplay that just isn’t fun to play. For fans, it’s a letdown, and for newcomers, there’s nothing here at all. While I might recommend it to franchise diehards at a steep discount, I’d recommend waiting for Apocrypha and passing on this resoundingly mediocre title.

Score:6

Final Thoughts:Not awful but far from good, Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is a title that lets down fans and keeps away newcomers with a pithy story, mediocre gameplay, and a generic art direction that betrays the franchise’s roots.

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Leaks Lead to Halo Mega Bloks Rumors http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/leaks-lead-halo-mega-bloks-rumors/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/leaks-lead-halo-mega-bloks-rumors/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:24:45 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93791

By Lane Martin

If there is one lesson that can be gleaned from the games industry, it's that success breeds imitation. For every Call of Duty, you'll find a Battlefield, for every Street Fighter, a Mortal Kombat, and for every Monkey Island, a King's Quest. Sometimes an imitation will improve on its predecessor, sometimes it falls short. Fans will argue for days […]

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By Lane Martin

If there is one lesson that can be gleaned from the games industry, it's that success breeds imitation. For every Call of Duty, you'll find a Battlefield, for every Street Fighter, a Mortal Kombat, and for every Monkey Island, a King's Quest. Sometimes an imitation will improve on its predecessor, sometimes it falls short. Fans will argue for days about which is better. However, few companies can match the stubborn emulation Mega Bloks displays for the wildly popular modular building block brand Lego. So much so, that it may be finally following the multicolored giant into the gaming arena with a Halo game.

You may have heard about this possibility before. YouTube channel PtoPOnline recently leaked some assets from a scrapped Halo themed Mega Bloks game, code named Project Haggar, as well as it's strange history, including its birth as a likely April Fool's prank from EGM. It seems that N-Space developed Project Haggar for the Xbox 360 until it finally got the ax in 2013. The assets look pretty tight, showing off a colourful Halo inspired title complete with shooting and construction. The internet reacted positively and currently Halo direct, 343 Industries seems to have heard them.

It looks like something "along these lines," might be in the future for Masterchief, thanks to the fan reaction to this leak. It's hardly a solid confirmation, but 343 founder Bonnie Ross seemed impressed by Project Haggar, and its inventiveness. Lego games tend to amass a great deal of praise for humor and light-hearted gameplay, especially with the more serious properties they have tackled in the past. One can only imagine that Mega Bloks would employ similar tactics in their own debut, if that name remains attached to this project. A lot is up in the air regarding the project right now, but one thing is clear. It will certainly give the fans something new to argue about.

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Samsung Acting Chief Embroiled in Scandal http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/samsung-acting-chief-embroiled-scandal/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/samsung-acting-chief-embroiled-scandal/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:47:14 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93772

By Lane Martin

Following the impeachment and subsequent investigations into South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, Samsung Group's acting chief, Lee Jae-yong has become enmeshed in this ever-growing vortex of scandal and corruption.  On  Jan 16, 2017, South Korean special prosecutors began seeking an arrest warrant for Lee citing a myriad of charges including bribery and embezzlement. After 22 hours […]

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By Lane Martin

Following the impeachment and subsequent investigations into South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, Samsung Group's acting chief, Lee Jae-yong has become enmeshed in this ever-growing vortex of scandal and corruption.  On  Jan 16, 2017, South Korean special prosecutors began seeking an arrest warrant for Lee citing a myriad of charges including bribery and embezzlement.

After 22 hours of questioning, special prosecutors believe Lee to be connected with over 36 million dollars in bribes paid to Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of the impeached President Park, for numerous business favours, one of which likely involves to 2015 meager of Samsung affiliates, an 8 billion dollar deal that was quite controversial at the time.

Lee has been acting as the head of Samsung Group since his father, Lee Kun-hee, was hospitalized in 2014 following a heart-attack. Prior to his health problems, the Samsung chief has also been accused of numerous embezzlement issues.

Though he has been leading the group since his father's illness, Lee retained the title of vice-chairman. It is believed that the 2015 merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was to increase Lee's stake in the company, leading to a smoother transition as he usurped his ailing father's position, at the cost of some employee's pensions. The National Pension Service (NPS) supported this move. Since then Moon Hyung-pyo, the chairman of the NPS has been arrested, and admitted that he ordered them to support the merger while he headed the Health Ministry, which oversees the NPS.

Samsung denies that Lee is in anyway connected with these alleged bribes. This is another in a string of corporate missteps for Samsung, following 2015's explosive release of the Galaxy Note 7 and the ensuing PR nightmare that came from it. This will probably be far less public but exceedingly more detrimental to the high end tech company.

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Nights of Azure 2 Delayed http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/nights-azure-2-delayed/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/nights-azure-2-delayed/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:42:12 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93759

By Elias Blondeau

Originally slated for February, Gust's sequel to Nights of Azure has been delayed until later into 2017. The PlayStation 4 and Vita title had originally been slated for Dec 22, 2016 but was pushed back into January due to quality concerns. That same issue is cited by developer Gust this time, too. Producer Keisuke Kikuchi spilled some […]

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By Elias Blondeau

Originally slated for February, Gust's sequel to Nights of Azure has been delayed until later into 2017.

The PlayStation 4 and Vita title had originally been slated for Dec 22, 2016 but was pushed back into January due to quality concerns. That same issue is cited by developer Gust this time, too.

Producer Keisuke Kikuchi spilled some details in a post to the developer's official blog (quote translated on Google Translate).

"We have adjusted and tested the balance of actions," wrote Kikuchi. "If you can spare a little more time to finish up to the quality, I think we can satisfy."

Kikuchi also promised to include the previously-announced new heroine Lily, "who fights alongside the protagonist" in the sequel. In addition to this, he also promises swimsuit costumes for both characters.

At any rate, Nights of Azure 2 isn't coming any time soon. A new release date hasn't been revealed, and as is the case with these sorts of things, likely won't be for a while. It is reassuring, though, that extra time is being taken to ensure the game is everything fans want it to be.

I quite enjoyed the first Nights of Azure when I reviewed it early last year, when I gave it a 9.

"It’s rare to see a title manage to juggle so many different things and succeed at almost all of them, but somehow, Nights of Azure does exactly that. It mashes together aspects of role-playing, action and raising sims into one stylish, original package, then ties it all together with a sprawling narrative that sucks you in and refuses to let go. Perhaps it lacks the technical polish of other games with bigger budgets, but with this much substantial content and stylistic flare, that’s easy to forgive."

Hopefully, Gust is able to deliver a sequel that delivers as much fun and memorable narrative bits as the first entry.

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Nippon Ichi CEO Teases Switch Development http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/nippon-ichi-ceo-teases-switch-development/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/nippon-ichi-ceo-teases-switch-development/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:23:15 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93754

By Elias Blondeau

Nintendo's latest home console has the industry buzzing, for better or worse. That said, developers certainly seem interested, as eighty games are confirmed to be in development for the Nintendo Switch. Add Nippon Ichi Software President Sohei Shinkawa to that list, if recent comments to Famitsu are any indication. "We can't just ignore the move to […]

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By Elias Blondeau

Nintendo's latest home console has the industry buzzing, for better or worse. That said, developers certainly seem interested, as eighty games are confirmed to be in development for the Nintendo Switch. Add Nippon Ichi Software President Sohei Shinkawa to that list, if recent comments to Famitsu are any indication.

"We can't just ignore the move to portable gaming consoles," Shinkawa told the publication. "Our games are well suited for portable gaming, so when you think about it, it is important for PS4 and Nintendo Switch to balance each other out and do well. With that in mind, from here on multiplatform development for PS4 and Nintendo Switch is very much a possibility."

That said, Shinkawa prefaced his comments with a full commitment to Sony's platform.

"We are a software company that has grown together with PlayStation," he stated, "and are well aware that a lot of our fans are on PlayStation platforms. So it is not as if we will stop developing games for PlayStation. Overseas, PlayStation 4 sales are incredibly strong and we will continue making games for the PlayStation 4 platform."

These comments shed some interesting light on the industry's perception of the Switch. Of course, Shinkawa doesn't speak for all developers, but his sentiment that the Switch is a compliment to the PlayStation 4 seems to be a common one. Furthermore, it's interesting that he counts Nintendo's platform as a handheld system, considering Reggie Fils-Aime's recent comments that it isn't intended as a replacement to the 3DS. 

It's also worth noting is that Shinkawa's comments aren't empty promises. NIS actually has a title coming to the platform: Disgaea 5 Complete, a new version of an installment in one of their tentpole franchises. If it does well on the platform, it's not an unreasonable expectation to see other NIS franchises follow suit, and perhaps even some original titles down the line.

With NIS, Atlus, and Square Enix rallying behind the platform, the Switch is already looking like a viable platform for JRPG fans.

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Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2017 http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/anticipated-indie-games-2017/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/16/anticipated-indie-games-2017/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93613

By Adam Nizam

It’s that time of year where every website, YouTuber, and person on the face of the planet with Internet access is compiling their best of 2016 lists, and CGM is no different.We’ve already done our looking back, so now we’ll take a look ahead to some of the biggest releases of the next year, including […]

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By Adam Nizam

It’s that time of year where every website, YouTuber, and person on the face of the planet with Internet access is compiling their best of 2016 lists, and CGM is no different.We’ve already done our looking back, so now we’ll take a look ahead to some of the biggest releases of the next year, including new additions to massive franchises and lavish AAA experiences. However, it’s also important to look outside the big blockbuster gaming sphere at what’s going on in the independent gaming scene in 2017. Indie games are as exciting as they’ve ever been, and although a large number of indie successes over the past few years have been complete surprises, there are a few slated for next year that are pretty safe bets. Here are CGM’s 10 most anticipated indie games of 2017 in no particular order.

Outlast II

Most Anticipated Games of 2017

Developer:Red Barrels
Release Date: Q1 2017
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

The horror indie game market is plagued with low quality asset flips and Five Nights at Freddy’s rip-offs, so it takes something truly special to stand out above the crowd of Let’s Play-bait. In 2013, Red Barrels’ Outlast did just that. A combination of haunting environments, threatening enemies and constant tension made for one of the most intense gaming experiences in recent memory, and it looks like it’s happening again. Taking a page from American Horror Story, Outlast II is set in the same universe as the first game but with a completely different setting and cast. The story follows Blake Langermann, a journalist who gets stranded in the Arizona desert and must make his way through a village inhabited by a murderous cult to find his wife. Demos so far have been promising, showing tense chases through wooden shacks and cornfields, and a more open environment—in contrast to Outlast’s claustrophobic insane asylum—is an intriguing change of pace. The game was initially slated for release in Fall 2016 but has been subsequently delayed to early 2017, so the Red Barrels team have had enough time to give us even more nightmares than the previous entry.

Yooka-Laylee

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 1

Developer: Playtonic Games
Release Date: April 11
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One

Although they’ve since gotten back on the game developer saddle with the upcoming Sea of Thieves, Rare has been in a sorry state for the past several years. Talent has come and gone, leaving Microsoft completely clueless about what to do with the studio’s classic franchises. In response, that talent came together in 2015 to launch a Kickstarter for the spiritual sequel to Banjo-Kazooie, perhaps Rare’s most beloved franchise, which aims to give the fans what they have been sorely missing for a very long time. The Kickstarter was a resounding success, and subsequent looks at the adventures of the adorable chameleon Yooka and his bat friend Laylee have promised a return to the 3D platforming adventures of the Nintendo 64 era updated for the modern age. While the bitter disappointment of Mighty No. 9 has left a sour taste for nostalgic Kickstarter indie game projects in the mouths of many gamers, Yooka-Laylee has a very good chance of restoring the faith.

Tacoma

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 2

Developer: Fullbright
Release Date: Q1/Q2 2017
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One

Is Gone Home a game or is it a walking simulator? More importantly: who cares? The narrative-focused adventure made a huge splash back in 2013 for its unique approach to environmental storytelling, leaving many anxious to see what developer Fullbright would be doing next. Their questions were answered at the 2014 Game Awards, where Tacoma was shown off for the first time. Since then, the indie game has gone through overhauls in response to playtester feedback and seems ready to go in the first half of 2017. Details of the story have been kept under wrap, with the setting of a space station 200,000 miles from Earth being the only confirmed fact, but if it’s anything like Gone Home, the less we know going in, the better.

Cuphead

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 3

Developer: Studio MDHR
Release Date: Mid-2017
Platforms: PC, Xbox One

From the second Cuphead was shown during Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference, the gaming community took notice. The indie game has an eye-popping artstyle that perfectly replicates 1930’s cartoons in the format of a Contra-style run-and-gun, creating a huge amount of buzz for a new studio’s first game. As a result of the newfound hype, the Studio MDHR team has been working meticulously to expand the game, leading to numerous delays. The latest one, which bumped the release from sometime in 2016 to the middle of 2017, should hopefully be the last, and the work the developers put in has shown with added platforming in recent demos. Although it feels like we’ve been waiting since the cartoons Cuphead takes inspiration from first aired for the game to come out, it’ll most likely be worth the wait.

Divinity: Original Sin II

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 4

Developer: Larian Studios
Release Date: 2017
Platforms: PC

Released during a slow period in the saddest gaming year in recent memory, Divinity: Original Sin was a surprise hit for many. The modernized approach to classic RPG gameplay was a breath of fresh air to both old-school players and newcomers alike, leading to developer Larian Studios becoming another prominent figure in the resurrection of top-down RPGs alongside Wasteland 2 and Pillars of Eternity. A sequel came to Kickstarter in mid-2015 and smashed its goal in less than 12 hours, and although it has been delayed from December 2016 to sometime next year, Divinity: Original Sin II has been in early access since September to overwhelmingly positive feedback, and the full game has promised exciting new additions to the original formula. With the Kickstarter funds combined with the first game’s success, Divinity: Original Sin II looks to be everything a sequel should be: adding to the original while keeping what made it great.

Frostpunk

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 5

Developer: 11 bit studios
Release Date: 2017
Platforms: PC

Indie gaming is built on pleasant surprises, and few games took the world by storm with as little pre-release hype as 2014’s This War of Mine. The 2D survival game had immersive management systems and tense stealth gameplay, but what really impressed critics was its approach towards the subject of war. In a gaming landscape where the most tragic thing to happen in wartime is the bro of your beefy hero heroically sacrificing himself to defeat approaching evil, This War of Mine put the player in the shoes of those truly affected by armed conflict and forced them to scavenge for food, shelter and basic supplies, striking a chord with gamers that had not been touched since Spec Ops: The Line. Their next game, Frostpunk, is not too big of a stretch on the surface level—an emotion-driving game with tough moral choices and strategic, management-focused gameplay. However, there’s one big difference: instead of taking place in a modern-day war-torn nation, Frostpunk is set in a dangerous frozen world where steam-powered technology has been developed to fend off the inescapable cold. Details so far are scarce, but going by 11 bit’s track record, expect to feel absolutely horrible while playing it.

Pyre

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 6

Developer: Supergiant Games
Release Date: 2017
Platforms: PC, PS4

Few indie developers have the clout that Supergiant has, but it’s definitely well-deserved. The team burst onto the indie gaming scene with 2011’s Bastion, considered by many to be one of the best games of the decade thus far, and their 2014 follow-up Transistor only boosted their reputation. For their third game, Supergiant will enter the world of high fantasy RPGs with a unique gameplay twist. Combat in Pyre has been described as a mix of DOTA, Rocket League and Transistor, and focuses on two teams of three launching a glowing orb into their opponent’s pyre to cause damage. Progression seems to be taking its cues from The Banner Saga, focusing on a day-night cycle and managing your party. As is to be expected from Supergiant at this point, the art style is gorgeous with a heavy focus on 2D animation, and what has been released from the soundtrack composed by the man behind Supergiant’s previous two all-time-best soundtracks has been more than up to par. Add in multiplayer, a first for the company, and you have the recipe for an engrossing single player experience as well as a potential big eSports contender.

 

Friday the 13th: The Game

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 7

Developers: Illfonic, Gun Media
Release Date: Early 2017
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

When the words, “Friday the 13th video game” are mentioned, gamers either draw a blank slate or shiver at remembering the bizarre NES game. However, the developers of Friday the 13th: The Game are looking to change that. The creation of theindie game is an interesting story, one that involves a title known as Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp and the original director and creator of the Friday the 13th franchise, Sean Cunningham, reaching out to the team behind it and offering to give them the license to make an official Friday the 13th game. However, even disregarding how it came to be, the gameplay looks to be doing its horror roots proud. An asymmetrical 1v7 multiplayer experience, Friday the 13th: The Game follows several camp counselors attempting to either evade Jason Voorhees until the sun rises or defeat him using teamwork and strategy, while the player in Jason’s shoes must kill all the counselors before time runs out. It’s a unique approach to multiplayer horror that would be more than enough as a selling point on its own, but add in a recently announced single player campaign and you have a bloody, disfigured gem on your hands.

Strafe

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 8

Developer: Pixel Titans
Release Date: Q1 2017
Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4

“The best shooter of 1996” is a title that would be impressive for a game released in 1996, but to apply it to a game releasing in 2017 is novel, to say the least. Yet, when looking at the graphics, gameplay and brilliant marketing of Strafe, it’s a title that definitely fits. Strafe is a first person shooter heavily inspired by the 90’s heyday of id Software, with an aesthetic that prominently features blocky graphics and gratuitous amounts of viscera. The resemblance isn’t just skin-deep either: the game promises fast-paced FPS action with procedurally-generated levels and a huge variety of weapons to choose from. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Strafe was picked up by indie weirdness connoisseurs Devolver Digital, who clearly see promise in the project. Let’s hope that promise gets fulfilled in the form of a point-blank shotgun blast to the face of everyone who plays it.

Vampyr

Most Anticipated Games of 2017 9

Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Release Date: 2017
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

French developers DONTNOD didn’t make the grandest of entrances back in 2013, with their first game Remember Me receiving a mediocre response critically and commercially. However, that changed in 2015 with the episodic smash hit Life is Strange, a unique adventure about a teenage girl suddenly getting the power to rewind time and using it to solve the mysteries surrounding the quiet town she grew up in. The series’ success prompted a change in how Dontnod was viewed, with publishers now soliciting them for games instead of the other way around, but for their next game the team has instead partnered with indie publisher Focus Home for a third-person action RPG set in early 20th century London. Vampyr follows vampire doctor Jonathan Reid as he hunts for blood, but in a unique twist for the action genre it is apparently possible to finish the game without killing a single person. While the shadow of Remember Me may hang heavier over this project than Life is Strange, Dontnod’s talent for storytelling is already established, and their now refined skills should be put to a new test.

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NZXT Hue+ (Hardware) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/nzxt-hue-hardware-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/nzxt-hue-hardware-review/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2017 05:00:16 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=91327

By Cole Watson

PC users put a lot of thought and effort into building their personal rigs. The process no longer consists of simply picking the most powerful components, but coordinating how the system will look once it’s locked into a stylish case. Many builders show pride in their work by picking out a case with a windowed […]

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By Cole Watson

PC users put a lot of thought and effort into building their personal rigs. The process no longer consists of simply picking the most powerful components, but coordinating how the system will look once it’s locked into a stylish case. Many builders show pride in their work by picking out a case with a windowed panel, which showcases the system inside without the fear of foreign debris or dirt affecting its performance. For these users I present the NZXT Hue+, the best way to add an advanced RGB lighting system into any of their current builds.

Opening up the Hue+ kit reveals the SSD sized power brick, four 30 cm LED strips and multiple connectors to extend the lighting strips throughout the PC. Another necessary wire included in this kit is the 4-pin Molex connector, which is meant to provide power to the system from the power supply. This is a strange design choice by NZXT because the SATA ports on the motherboard usually power most accessories and hardware of this size. To make sure there are no issues heading into installation, users should check their power supplies beforehand to make sure they have a Molex cable; otherwise they will require an adapter to power the NZXT Hue+.

NZXT Hue+ (Hardware) Review 3

Installation is quick and simple. Due to the SSD sized control brick, the device can be mounted with ease on nearly every modern case, but I preferred mounting it to the top of my power supply so I wouldn’t need to mess around with my current cable management. Once mounted, users can plug the 4-pin LED strips into any of the two input channels on the brick and plan out where the lights will go inside the case to provide the best coverage.  The strips are magnetic, so users can take them on and off with ease, but once they’ve found a permanent home for the strips the adhesive backing can be removed to make them even more secure. Lastly, install NZXT’s CAM software onto the machine to get the lightshow started.

Before I continue with the Hue+ I’d like to recommend NZXT’s CAM software to any current PC user. Instead of just acting as the control hub for NZXT products, its primary function is to make users aware of how their system is performing at any given moment. I sometimes forget which program is handling my CPU core temps and my GPU voltages, but now all that information is gathered in one place instead of in four different windows. The software is free to download and doesn’t require purchasing an NZXT product to test it out.

The NZXT Hue+ can perform every trick and effect that users have come to expect of an RGB lighting system. Breaths, waves, spectrums and pulses can be customized and programed with just a few simple clicks. The LEDs on the strips react exactly to the users specifications and have a powerful brightness to them. Previous iterations of the Hue included only three strips and a heftier control block, but this version provides the perfect amount of lighting for any user to add a more personal touch to their machine.

NZXT Hue+ (Hardware) Review 4

What makes the Hue+ an advanced RGB lighting system is how the user can program it to visually represent how the system is performing. If the user likes to be aware of how hot the GPU is running they can set up lighting alerts to queue up whenever the hardware reaches a certain temperature. If the user loves to listen to music, their machine can react to the changing levels of sound. These are just a few examples of what makes the NZXT Hue+ so much more intelligent than any RGB system I’ve used before.

It’s easy to recommend the NZXT Hue+ to any PC user looking to add more flair to their personal machine. Retailing for $59.99, I feel that anyone looking to purchase this product gets exactly what they pay for. Sure, anyone can stick some LED strips in their case with a crappy battery solution, but then they lose the numerous unique effects only available from a programmable lighting system. The Hue+ features the best RGB technology I’ve ever experienced and deserves some recognition.

Score:9.5

Final Thoughts:The NZXT Hue+ is the best RGB lighting System I’ve used to date.

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A Brief History of the Art of Rotoscoping http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/15/history-art-rotoscoping/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/15/history-art-rotoscoping/#respond Sun, 15 Jan 2017 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93583

By Helena Shlapak

If you watch a lot of hand-drawn films, you’ll notice that some of them look much more fluid than others. Some even feature actors straight up animated over like A Scanner Darkly and American Pop. This animation technique is called Rotoscoping, and what most people don’t realize is that it has been used in a […]

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By Helena Shlapak

If you watch a lot of hand-drawn films, you’ll notice that some of them look much more fluid than others. Some even feature actors straight up animated over like A Scanner Darkly and American Pop. This animation technique is called Rotoscoping, and what most people don’t realize is that it has been used in a surprisingly high amount of animated films and in almost every single live-action film in the 21st century.

The term Rotoscoping is derived from projection equipment called the Rotoscope. Rotoscoping itself is an animation technique done by tracing over a live action sequence frame by frame to give the cartoon realistic and fluid movement. The technique was originally produced by using photographs of live-action films projected onto glass. It’s a technique that spans over a hundred years and laid the groundwork for computer animation and the modern VFX we use today.

Rotoscoping began in 1915 thanks to an animator named Max Fleischer. At that time, animation wasn’t nearly as stunning and had crude and jerky movements. Determined to change the world of animation for the better, Fleischer created a character named Koko the Clown, using his brother Dave (who was a clown at Coney Island) as reference. After producing three shorts that became massive hits, Fleischer would go on to create a whole series of shorts called Out of the Inkwell. He would even go on to make his own animation company called Fleischer Studios, which would in turn give the world characters like Betty Boop and Popeye.

A History of the Art of Rotoscoping
Betty Boop in Out of the Inkwell (1938)

Walt Disney eventually adopted Fleischer’s Rotoscoping technique for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (and other films thereafter) after the exclusivity patent expired in 1934. Disney would even have the cast act out the scenes required by the animators so they could be used for reference instead of using their own facial expressions or movements.

"The artists looking at themselves in a mirror sometimes were not so successful, because they were bad actors and would do things in a stiff way," Disney wrote.

Despite Rotoscoping making animation much easier, Disney’s animators were not fond of the new style and referred to it as a crutch. When they did have to use the technique, Disney’s crew would often only use it as a minor basis for their work and often exaggerated proportions and heavily elaborated expressions to go beyond the scope. What the animators couldn’t argue however, was that Rotoscoping (especially for Snow White) allowed them to have consistency with the animation that would have been impossible otherwise, thanks to the live-action stand-ins.

But Rotoscoping didn’t only have a place in the animated world. From the 1940s and onwards, Rotoscoping was used to create complex backgrounds and scenes that people only dreamed of. Films like Star Wars would use Rotoscoping to remove wires and other unnecessary objects and was even used to create the iconic lightsabers by tracing over the sword and creating a black matte then adding in a coloured glow. These mattes were even used to composite shots together, like characters running from explosions or robots and creatures attacking. Even earlier films like Mary Poppins and The Birds used composite scenes well before blue and green screens appeared, thanks to sodium vapour screens combined with Rotoscope.

A History of the Art of Rotoscoping 1

Rotoscoping would switch over to digital in the early 1990s thanks to animator and computer scientist, Bob Sabiston. Sabiston created a process known as “interpolated rotoscoping” which allowed animators to use the technique with a computer. Sabiston then created a program specifically for this technique called Rotoshop, which made it so one Rotoscope animator could do the work of eight. The program essentially copies one traced figure and applies the same basic shape to the other movements so the animator doesn’t have to start from scratch over and over.  Today, there are many Rotoscoping programs available in the animation and VFX industry but all of them use the same basic principles. Now known as “Roto Artists”, these wizards are part of every VFX team, providing the multitude of services Rotoscoping caters to.

Without these people, we wouldn’t have motion capture. There would be no Golem or Groot and the video games we love and praise today (like The Last of Us) wouldn’t be nearly as visually breathtaking or immersive. People often underestimate the difficulty of this craft but Rotoscoping takes highly talented and disciplined artists to pull off well. So many mistakes can be made by a simple misstep and hours of hard could go down the drain, even with computers making the job easier.

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The Episodic Network Television Model Failed Westworld http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/14/network-television-failed-westworld/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/14/network-television-failed-westworld/#comments Sat, 14 Jan 2017 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93558

By Aleksander Gilyadov

The way people watch television has changed drastically over the past few years. It’s no longer the norm to sit through wave after wave of commercials while watching primetime network TV. If a person is interested in a show like Designated Survivor or The Walking Dead, more often than not they will just wait until […]

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By Aleksander Gilyadov

The way people watch television has changed drastically over the past few years. It’s no longer the norm to sit through wave after wave of commercials while watching primetime network TV. If a person is interested in a show like Designated Survivor or The Walking Dead, more often than not they will just wait until it’s available to rent on Amazon or iTunes the very next day. That way they won’t have to watch any ads at all and can consume the episode at their own pace. With the emergence of services like Netflix and Hulu, the power is in the hands of the consumer. This puts weekly eposodic shows like HBO's Westworld at a disadvantage.

When new seasons of Stranger Things and House of Cards debut, people often binge watch every episode over a single weekend. This removes the risk of spoilers, and watching new seasons in this way allows fans to feel part of the conversation about a certain show for a short period of time. However, cable channels like HBO and Showtime are still churning out new episodes of their hit shows on a weekly schedule, and this has had a negative impact on one of 2016’s biggest series.

Network Television Failed Westworld 1

Westworld is a captivating, original, and often brilliant sci-fi show that’s based on a 1973 film. It tells the story of a high-profile company that offers its consumers the chance to visit an amusement park of sorts called Westworld, where they are allowed to kill or have sex with any life-like robot they please. It asks the classic question of what it means to be human. In its first few episodes, Westworld introduces quite a lot of characters and intriguing plot points, most of which are begging to be answered. This, of course, led to the Internet dissecting every little scene and character moment in those first episodes, leading to plenty of fan theories and conspiracies.

As it turned out, without spoiling too much, some of those theories were correct. Fans actually predicted some of the biggest reveals in the show and this ruined some surprises down the line. There are three particular plot twists that Westworld throws at the viewer in its last three episodes. But due to the excessive amount of theories and research done by countless fans, instead of people being genuinely shocked, viewers saw these twists coming a mile away. It’s been the show’s number one problem: it was never given the chance to tell its story at its own pace.

Now, some would argue that the actual reveals weren’t all that great, and Westworld’s writing and overall plot are too bloated and convoluted. However, there’s no denying just how much the Internet took every single episode apart scene by scene. By the time the finale rolled around, not even someone like Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, could have shocked the viewer.

The main reason this happened is because the manner in which Westworld was rolled out by HBO. This is a show that needed to be on Netflix or Amazon because people would have consumed the entire first season in a short amount of time. That way, all of the theories and discussion about Westworld would have likely came after everyone had already finished the finale. Thus, all of the big plot twists would have actually been, well, surprising.

Network Television Failed Westworld 2

Westworld is the first high profile show that fell victim to the new way people consume content. It’s in this digital age where viewers demand to be given entire seasons all in one go. While a series like Game of Thrones still benefits from having new episodes debut on a weekly basis, it doesn’t rely on major twists to engage the viewer. The love for Game of Thrones stems from its grandiose tale about powerful people killing each other, as well as the show’s strong cast of characters.

Westworld, on the other hand, hooked its viewers by introducing plenty of puzzles and a promise to solve all of them in a clever way. It most definitely would've done a better job at this if HBO just released the entire season over one weekend.

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Pixels & Ink #231 - Trucks and Vampires http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/pixels-ink-231-trucks-vampires/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/pixels-ink-231-trucks-vampires/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 21:22:33 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93730

By Cody Orme

On this week’s episode of the Pixels and Ink Podcast brought to you by CGMagazine, Cody, Brendan and Phil talk about Final Fantasy VII’s delay. Cody and Brendan talk Hi-Rez Expo and Phil reviews Underworld Blood War and Monster Truck.

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By Cody Orme

On this week’s episode of the Pixels and Ink Podcast brought to you by CGMagazine, Cody, Brendan and Phil talk about Final Fantasy VII’s delay. Cody and Brendan talk Hi-Rez Expo and Phil reviews Underworld Blood War and Monster Truck.

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DONTNOD ELEVEN's Space Pirate Shooter to Enter Closed Beta http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/dontnod-elevens-space-pirate-shooter-enter-closed-beta/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/dontnod-elevens-space-pirate-shooter-enter-closed-beta/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 20:39:12 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93710

By Lane Martin

Fans of mostly flat online competitive shooters with far out characters and cartoonish graphics have cause to celebrate as DONTNOD ELEVEN invites players to take part in the closed beta for their upcoming title BATTLECREW Space Pirates. DONTNOD ELEVEN has been hard at work on BATTLECREW Space Pirates since it began development in July of 2016, partnering […]

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By Lane Martin

Fans of mostly flat online competitive shooters with far out characters and cartoonish graphics have cause to celebrate as DONTNOD ELEVEN invites players to take part in the closed beta for their upcoming title BATTLECREW Space Pirates.

DONTNOD ELEVEN has been hard at work on BATTLECREW Space Pirates since it began development in July of 2016, partnering with DONTNOD, the developer behind 2015's Life is Strange, and the upcoming Vampyr.

BATTLECREW Space Pirates promises to be an interesting game, to say the least, and DONTNOD ELEVEN appears to be genuinely eager for player feedback looking to work to implement changes based on beta tester feedback before the game launches into playable Early Access. During the beta, players will be able to see five different maps and 2 competitive multiplayer modes, the team-base "4 vs 4 Gold Rush" mode and the more standard "2 vs 2 Team Deathmatch".

It seems that the "2 vs 2 Team Deathmatch" will not be available to players upon the Early Access release, likely so the developers can balance the mode based on beta testing, and will be added as part of a free update later down the line.

Overuse of betas always makes me a little concerned. While I love the chance to play games early, the prospect of beta testing before release makes me wonder how much work is left on project before release and whether the findings of these tests will even make a difference to the developers in the end. DONTNOD ELEVEN seems to be eager for the feedback, with the beta beginning Jan 19, 2017, and running until the following Sunday (Jan 22, 2017), and hoping to enter Early Access at the end of January. That's a pretty tight turn around, so expect a load of patches and updates after launch.

Players who want to get their hands on this colourful cast of characters and start shooting each other can sign up here.

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Nintendo Stock Dips After Switch Presentation http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/what-nintendo-stock-price-drop-means-for-the-switch/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/what-nintendo-stock-price-drop-means-for-the-switch/#comments Fri, 13 Jan 2017 19:36:29 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93701

By Andrew Ko

Nintendo stock—to be bullish or to be bearish, that is the question. With last night’s Nintendo Switch press conference, the stock value has dropped yet again. The share price closed yesterday, down 5.75 per cent. But Nintendo showed their true colours last night—the Switch delivered a cohesive home and mobile hybrid experience that players asked […]

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By Andrew Ko

Nintendo stock—to be bullish or to be bearish, that is the question. With last night’s Nintendo Switch press conference, the stock value has dropped yet again. The share price closed yesterday, down 5.75 per cent.

But Nintendo showed their true colours last night—the Switch delivered a cohesive home and mobile hybrid experience that players asked for and expected. The Twitter feed blew up with excitement from vocal Nintendo fans, but it seems to be a discrepancy between core Nintendo fans and onlookers waiting for something new. For those already excited for the Switch, the presentation was just one more heap onto the hypetrain. But last night’s announcements didn’t really add more to the pot of tricks, but rather expanded on what was already covered. So you can imagine how some people were let down. They perceived the launch line-up to be lackluster, with only a trio of heavy hitters to be released throughout the year—Zelda, Splatoon 2, and Mario Odyssey in spring, summer, and fall, respectively, meaning people will have to wait for their favourite titles. It left many fans questioning  if there would be dry spell.  Of the 16 games that are currently confirmed for release, Disgaea 5, Steep, Just Dance 2017, I am Setsuna, Puyo Puyo Tetris, Rayman Legends, and Skylanders Imaginators all have been previously released elsewhere in the last couple of years.

The price point is also worth looking at. Expectations from price leaks seemed to gauge the release at around $250. Not a far cry from the current $300 USD ($399.99 Canadian), but people like Dave Thier from Forbes took it as a disappointment nonetheless. Investors might also be extra bearish after the Wii U.

Looking at it historically, the movement of a stock price doesn't normally act as predictor for the long term success of a console. Perhaps the Switch will not be a fad and have a longer tail and lifespan. If you’re a long-term investor, you know NTDOY has appreciated 195.25 per cent since its initial public offering in late 1996.

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Puyo Puyo Tetris Confirmed for Western Release http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/puyo-puyo-tetris-confirmed-for-western-release/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/puyo-puyo-tetris-confirmed-for-western-release/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:04:49 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93692

By Andrew Ko

Sega, the mind behind of Puyo Puyo, and Tetris have joined forces to bring Puyo Puyo Tetris to the West for its international release on the PlayStation 4 and port to the Nintendo Switch, with a release window for spring 2017. The puzzle gaming mash-up, Puyo Puyo Tetris, is a puzzle fighter that brings together […]

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By Andrew Ko

Sega, the mind behind of Puyo Puyo, and Tetris have joined forces to bring Puyo Puyo Tetris to the West for its international release on the PlayStation 4 and port to the Nintendo Switch, with a release window for spring 2017.

The puzzle gaming mash-up, Puyo Puyo Tetris, is a puzzle fighter that brings together the characters and chibi charm of Puyo Puyo, along with the precision of Tetris. Described as a contentious local and online multiplayer fight for puzzle superiority, players are graced with tons of gameplay styles, including single-player “Adventure” and “Challenge” modes and multiple “Arcade” modes allowing for up to four players. An in-game Shop enables players to unlock new characters and skins for Puyos and Tetriminos.

The single-player “Adventure” mode offers ten story-driven unique acts, segmented themselves into ten stages featuring characters from the Puyo Puyo and Tetris universes.The Multiplayer “Arcade” mode will include six variants: “Versus”, “Swap”, where boards switch between Puyo Puyo and Tetris at set intervals, “Fusion”, a hybrid game where players compete with Puyos and Tetriminos on the same board, “Big Bang”, a time sensitive race to win, and “Party”, which throws items into the mix. An “Online” mode will include “Puzzle League”, a competitive ranked variant, “Free Play”, a more casual experience with customizable match settings, and ”Replays” to show off matches to friends. And finally, the “Solo Arcade” mode includes a bot-variant called “Battle”, a horde-variant called “Endurance”, and a quirky “Challenge” variant with unique tests of skills.

Puyo Puyo Tetris will only release in physical format on the PlayStation 4 at a retail price of $29.99 USD. On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch version will be available both digitally and physically for $29.99 USD, and in a special retail edition for $39.99 USD, which includes two Puyo Puyo- and Tetris-themed keychains in limited supply for pre-orders and first-run printings. The Puyo Puyo keychain features a green Puyo, while the Tetris one features a T Tetrimino.

 

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Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Gets New Amiibo, and Bundles http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/legend-zelda-breath-wild-gets-new-amiibo-bundles/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/legend-zelda-breath-wild-gets-new-amiibo-bundles/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:50:34 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93676

By Michael Koczwara

Plenty of games were announced during the Nintendo Switch presentation today, but that didn't stop Nintendo from giving us a hefty update on the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo announced that Breath of the Wild will be a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, set for release on Mar 3, 2017. The […]

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By Michael Koczwara

Plenty of games were announced during the Nintendo Switch presentation today, but that didn't stop Nintendo from giving us a hefty update on the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Nintendo announced that Breath of the Wild will be a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, set for release on Mar 3, 2017. The Wii U version of the game will also be released on the same day.

A lengthy three minute trailer capped off the presentation, giving us our most detailed look at the game yet. The character of Zelda was prominently featured for the first time, along with a wide variety of different characters like the return of the Gorons and Zoras. The trailer also shed some more light on the story, hinting at a world that has a lot more in common with previous Zelda titles.

Several bundles were also announced to launch alongside the standalone version. The Standard Edition features a map of Hyrule poster, a Shiekah Slate Carrying Case, a Shiekah Coin, a 24-Song Soundtrack CD, and of course, the Switch version of Breath of the Wild, all for a sweet $99 USD ($130 CAD). The Master Edition includes all the Special Edition features but also comes with a Master Sword of Resurrection figure, coming to a total of $129 USD ($170 CAD).

The amiibo craze continues with an exclusive line of amiibo for Breath of the Wild. In addition to the Link (Rider), Link (Archer), and Guardian amiibo that were announced back at E3 2016 this past June, two new additions are set to release alongside the game.

A digital copy of Breath of the Wild will eat up 13GB for the Wii U version and 13.4GB for the Switch version. Considering the Switch will only have 32GB of internal storage, you may want to consider picking up a MicroSD Card or a physical copy of the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, along with its two bundles and five amiibo, will all release on Mar 3, 2017 on both the Switch and Wii U.

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Ladykiller in A Bind (PC) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/ladykiller-bind-pc-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/ladykiller-bind-pc-review/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:00:06 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93600

By Elias Blondeau

Writer’s Note: Ladykiller in a Bind is a NSFW game that includes depictions of content intended squarely for an adult audience. One such depiction is singled out for criticism in this review. Ladykiller in a Bind was marketed and discussed primarily as one thing – a pornographic game. A lot was made of the frank […]

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By Elias Blondeau

Writer’s Note: Ladykiller in a Bind is a NSFW game that includes depictions of content intended squarely for an adult audience. One such depiction is singled out for criticism in this review.

Ladykiller in a Bind was marketed and discussed primarily as one thing – a pornographic game. A lot was made of the frank depictions of sexuality, and much of the buzz around Ladykiller in a Bind pitched it squarely as a game based around that.
However, consider that some classic Christine Love misdirection blown up to memetic proportions. The auteur behind Analogue: A Hate Story is known for her twisty subversions of the expected, and Ladykiller in a Bind is no exception to that trend. That’s because while her latest definitely contains explicit adult content, it’s far from the centerpiece, and is just one piece of the narrative puzzle that makes up the game’s larger picture.

That larger picture, though, is composed of other fragments of narrative beats, social commentary and thematic elements. To pigeonhole Ladykiller in a Bind as a porn game simply because of its sexual context is to label films like Antichrist or Mullholland Dr. as smut because they utilize sexual content to convey a broader message. Many eroge have tried something similar, but ultimately fallen short due to being pitched squarely at an otaku audience hungry for sex and not much else. But this game hits it out of the park, using sexuality to expose details about the involved parties – showcasing the vulnerability or lack thereof of characters who present themselves in a totally different light outside of the bedroom.

Ladykiller in A Bind (PC) Review 5

But as I said, sex isn’t the only piece of fabric that makes up Ladykiller in a Bind rich tapestry. The role of memetic information in our daily lives plays a huge part as well – in particular, the prevalence of social media as it pertains to our shared knowledge of each other and the world we inhabit. The pause screen is, in fact, literally a social media network that is pitting each character against each other in an elaborate, cutthroat popularity contest.

Which is the central conceit of the game, by the way. A gaggle of rich kids are thrown on a cruise ship, then told to collect a nebulous, imaginary currency collected by popularity votes by other passengers (The Stalker, who I affectionately named “Stalkie,” humourously parallels it to Bitcoin early on.) To say anything more about where this premise goes would give it away, though, and this is one game worth avoiding spoilers for. It eventually goes down some downright bonkers paths, especially on subsequent playthroughs, and reveals itself to be sly social commentary about gender performativity, social function, the faults of two major economic systems, and other hefty topics.

That isn’t to say it’s all head-scratching and philosophical queries, though. Ladykiller in a Bind still knows how to cut loose and have fun, as proven by some sillier moments and a general atmosphere of wry wit that permeates the whole game. In between the questioning of manipulation in a broader social context and an ongoing emphasis on the nuances of BDSM culture, the cast somehow finds time to play Seven Minutes in Heaven and make about umpteen thousand anime references. Much like DanganRonpa, Ladykiller in a Bind has a real knack for blending the fun with the grim, the frivolous with the philosophical, which pays off in the long run by being an experience that doesn’t tread too heavily in one direction or the other.

Ladykiller in A Bind (PC) Review 2

All of this being said, however, Ladykiller in a Bind is held back by some narrative cruxes, character inconsistencies, and some pretty unsavory moral quandaries that give me some major reservations about recommending it to just anyone.

As far as narrative cruxes are concerned, it bears stating that some character routes feel very rehearsed and forced. In particular, a route concerning a hot-and-cold prudish type has no real narrative payoff other than some small laughs, and another concerning a deceptive photographer sort of spins out into an illogical, literally sputtering conclusion that stands at odds with later interactions with that character.

Which, to delve into the idea of character inconsistencies, is kind of a problem across the board. Each character is an intentional archetype, from athletes to nerds to pretentious yuppies. Yet, across the board, there seems to be a weird fascination with sliding in pop culture references that feel Gearbox levels of forced at times. I’ll admit that some of these made me laugh, certainly, like a mysterious bartender waxing philosophical about Final Fantasy’s Limit Break system, or a very hilarious usage of the “just like my Japanese animes” line of Metal Gear infamy. But more often than not, I was painfully aware that Ladykiller in a Bind was made by people preoccupied with “nerd culture,” and the shoehorning in of memes (Crying Jordan and Roundabout get referenced in a period of two sentences, for example,) often undercut the writing instead of enhancing it.

But perhaps my biggest concern with the narrative is an endgame decision that, while I won’t spoil, treads into some truly gross territory which betrayed a lot of goodwill I had built towards the game. To put things in simple terms – the gay woman players control throughout the entire game is eventually given a binary sexual dilemma between two male characters. While a choice has been patched to circumvent both scenes entirely after early negative feedback, the following scene still implies that intercourse did occur. Having played both scenes, the first of the two left a particularly awful feeling in the pit of my stomach, even with the provisions in that patch. Again, with no spoilers, the scene gives credence to the idea of corrective sexual assault – the idea that a gay person can “be straight” in the right circumstance. Yes, it’s a choice players can make, but I do think a line should be drawn somewhere, especially if the game has collected so many props for being “progressive.” For just a moment, because of this scene, Ladykiller in a Bind delves into tawdry, regressive territory that feels out of character with the rest of the game. The fact that the game itself tells you six ways to Sunday that you can skip the scene doesn’t magically make it go away.

Ladykiller in A Bind (PC) Review 6

Yet despite my moral objection to this scene, along with some less stronger writing, Ladykiller in a Bind is very much worth experiencing. Because the fact that I do have moral objections, and the fact that Love dared to bring this topic along with everything else in the game to the table, shows a definite commitment to making divisive, risky art. Bad memes notwithstanding, the writing is compelling throughout, and I do think the rest of the game goes into territory that challenges societal norms of gender, sexual liberation, and even the very construct of monogamy itself.

Without the iffy characterization, immersion-breaking dialogue, and problematic content present in the climax, Ladykiller in a Bind would’ve won a lot more favor with me. All the same, I think it’s one more the more interesting, nuanced narratives out there, and a pretty solid argument for gaming as art with a capital “A.” If you’re of age and looking for something beyond the pale of conventional visual novel narratives, this is a title worth picking up

Score:8

Final Thoughts:Ladykiller in a Bind hits some unfortunate narrative snags and suffers from mixed characterization, but is ultimately a worthwhile, interesting game that takes the medium in interesting new directions.

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Kill Or Be Killed #1-4 (Comic) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/kill-killed-1-4-comic-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/kill-killed-1-4-comic-review/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93351

By Phil Brown

Writer Ed Brubaker and illustrator Sean Phillips have been one hell of a comic book duo since they found each other in the 90s. They started with a bizarre Batman book, found their crime comic style in Scene Of The Crime, and then began an ongoing collaboration on the award-winning graphic novel series Criminal and […]

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By Phil Brown

Writer Ed Brubaker and illustrator Sean Phillips have been one hell of a comic book duo since they found each other in the 90s. They started with a bizarre Batman book, found their crime comic style in Scene Of The Crime, and then began an ongoing collaboration on the award-winning graphic novel series Criminal and never looked back. Following the success of their Lovcraftian mystery Fatale, the duo signed an extraordinary deal with Image Comics that essentially granted them unlimited freedom to tell any story they wanted. Their first big release was the best-selling and brilliant Hollywood noir The Fade Out, and now their second comic, Kill Or Be Killed, has just finished its first four-issue story arc.

Kill Or Be Killed #1-4 (Comic) Review 4

Their new book isn’t nearly as classy or elegant as the almost James Ellroy-esque The Fade Out. Instead they went for something a little more visceral and vicious. Kill Or Be Killed is the Brubaker/Phillips take on the vigilante genre, filled with all of the harsh violence and questionable morality that suggests. It is an attempt for the duo to deliver something a bit more on the potboiler side of their usual crime yarns, a nasty n’ violent tale filled with shocks n’ cliffhangers, the sort of thing that should be read with sweaty palms in the dark, with each issue designed to create a hunger for the next once the guilt of the last read subsides. Of course, Brubaker is too talented a writer and Phillips too painterly of an artist to make a pure sleaze comic. So they’ve made something of an art house exploitation film in comic book form, and thus far the lurid thrills have been glorious.

The tale told in Kill or Be Killed is about Dylan, a depressed college student who is something of a millennial Travis Bickle minus the PTSD. He lives a lonely life in New York attending college. His only real friend is a roommate who is dating Kira, the girl that Dylan secretly loves, which complicates things. Dylan reaches the end of his rope one night and decides to commit suicide. He leaps from a building, but changes his mind mid-fall and is saved by some clotheslines, except for a broken arm. Thank god. Everything will be alright, huh? Well, not so much. Dylan soon has a vision of a demon in his bathroom mirror who tells him that he owes the horned bastard his life and will have to kill someone for every additional month he walks the earth. Dylan shakes it off until he starts feeling incredibly ill, recovering only when he kills a mugger in self-defense.

Kill Or Be Killed #1-4 (Comic) Review 5

Whew! Kill or Be Killed has a morbid set up, right? It gets more twisted. In order to satiate the demands of the new demon in his life, Dylan decides to become a vigilante and kill those who deserve it. It starts with a child abuser from the young man’s past, then extends out to the lowlifes he finds on the streets of New York. The increased confidence Dylan gets from all that righteous killing also leads to an unexpected and long awaited romance with Kira, though obviously that’s a bad idea for a variety of reasons. For now, Brubaker is very much in setup mode. Each issue has pushed the narrative inches forward and complicated the increasingly horrible situation a little further. It’s only by the end of the final issue of this run that Dylan finally gets the red ski mask that been plastered all the cover of the first issue as his vigilante uniform. It’s clear this nasty little tale has only just gotten started, and things can only get worse from here.

As usual, Brukbaker writes in the tersely naturalistic style of great crime novelists like Jim Thompson and Elmore Leonard. There’s rarely a word wasted, yet, vengeful demons aside, every character feels profoundly human. It’s a world of broken people who highlight the broken morality of Dylan’s vigilante journey. Aside from a few of the murder victims who only appear through Dylan’s cracked point of view, everyone in Kill or Be Killed has some damage and no one behaves perfectly. Dylan remains empathetic because his world and situation are so dire. His murderin’ ways might be graphic and shocking, but always come from some sort of perverted noble perspective. It makes for a disturbing read, with horror influences clearly slipping into the typical hardboiled crime world that Brubaker does so well.

Kill Or Be Killed #1-4 (Comic) Review 6

Sean Phillps’ art follows suit, creating the Kill or Be Killed world draped in shadows even during daylight. His characters are realistic, but shrouded in darkness. The world feels dirty and worn down,the faces battered and wrinkled. Visually, the illustrator pulls readers into Dylan’s warped mind and broken morality, while Elizabeth Breitweiser’s elegant inks bathe the drawings in milky blacks and grays with splashes of muddy color. There’s a heavy Taxi Driver influence to the writing and art that doesn’t pale in comparison to that cinematic masterpiece of depression, murder, and madness. This is clearly an artistically driven story bound in blood, and wherever the team is going, they are sliding into areas deeper than cheap thrills. There’s something more here, and whether that will ultimately prove to be supernatural or psychological in nature, it’s clear Brubaker is building to some sort of cynical statement that will sting.

As always with the Brubaker/Phillips books, every issue comes with an essay outlining some sort of cinematic or literary influence to add to the experience. The first three  essays are by the now unfortunately controversial Devin Faraci, writing about nasty revenge movies like Death Wish, Old Boy, and I Spit On Your Grave and the ways in which those pulp rides hint at deeper human truths in a manner that certainly feels true of Kill Or Be Killed itself. The third , by Jess Nevins, details the history of deals with the devil in literature and is either a hint of where the story is going or a sneaky misdirect. Either way, the movie nerd in me adores that Brubaker includes these essays in his comics, and they both enrich the experience and point comic readers in the direction of films they may never have touched otherwise (the art by Phillips inspired by the movies certainly don’t hurt either). The essays not only make the issues worth picking up individually (they are never published in the trade paperbacks), but speak to the artistry and care Brubaker takes in curating his crime comics. The guy clearly cares about delivering a satisfying, enthralling, intelligent, and nasty comic with each and every issue. He never disappoints.

It’s too early to tell how highly Kill Or Be Kill will rank alongside all of the excellent work Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have delivered over the years, but it’s clear this will be one disturbing ride that won’t be easy to shake off. Their books feel like they could easily be adapted into other media without changing a beat and would be critically heralded. The Fade Out is a prestige HBO series just waiting to get awards and ratings. Kill Or Be Killed feels like the angry vigilante movie that’s been missing from screens in recent years, and in increasingly dire and cynical times, it just might be the comic on the stands we need more than any other, a sick punch to the gut by major comics talents who know how to get there through your head.

 

Score:9

Final Thoughts:It’s too early to tell how highly Kill Or Be Kill will rank alongside all of the excellent work Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have delivered over the years, but it’s clear this will be one disturbing ride that won’t be easy to shake off.

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The Best and Worst of The Friday The 13th Franchise http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/best-worst-friday-13th-franchise/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/best-worst-friday-13th-franchise/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:00:06 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93656

By Phil Brown

Happy Friday The 13th everyone! You know, that semi-holiday that we all kind of acknowledge. A day dedicated to bad luck that hits the calendar entirely by chance once or twice a year. Why do we care? Aside from the overly superstitious, who the hell knows?! However, there is one reason to celebrate this weird […]

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By Phil Brown

Happy Friday The 13th everyone! You know, that semi-holiday that we all kind of acknowledge. A day dedicated to bad luck that hits the calendar entirely by chance once or twice a year. Why do we care? Aside from the overly superstitious, who the hell knows?! However, there is one reason to celebrate this weird holiday: it shares a name with arguably the most iconic slasher movie series of the 1980s (aka the decade when masked cinematic serial killers ruled the screens). It’s never entirely been clear why the film franchise has this title. Well, at least not narratively.  After Halloween was a massive hit, producer, writer, director and charlatan Sean Cunningham (Last House On The Left) knew that there was money to be made in ripping it off with a slasher movie named after that other creepy holiday. He made a poster before writing a script, quickly gathered the money, and then neither he nor anyone else involved in the franchise bothered to justify the title.

Hey, that’s just the ramshackle charm of Friday The 13th. There isn’t a single title in this twelve movie series that could be described as a masterpiece. They are all trash (some better or more knowing than others, but all trash nonetheless). That’s why we love them and why they endure. Sure other slasher franchises like Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, or Scream have more brains or historical importance. Yet, that’s not why people loved slasher movies in the VHS era. They wanted trashy fun. Gore, boobs, and laughs (the latter quality rarely intended by the filmmakers) and that’s exactly what they got out of the Friday The 13th flicks, for better or worse.

The Best and Worst of The Friday The 13th Franchise

So, now that this special unlucky day has popped up on our calendars once more, we here at CGM have decided to do a ranking of the entire franchise. For the sake of simplicity, we’re sticking to the movies. So don’t expect video games, comics, or the barely-related TV series to pop up. However, all the sequels, remakes, n’ spin-offs appear from worst to best. Before you get pissy about your favourite flick ranking too low, just remember that terms like “best” and “worst” are relative here. Even the lowest ranking flick on this list has its cornball beer-watching/heckling charms and the highest-ranking one doesn’t exactly qualify as art. The convoluted tale of Jason Voorhees is one written in gore and cheese. We love ‘em all in their own crappy ways. So before a new Jason game and the 13th film in the series (god-willing let it be Black Friday The 13th, a tale of Jason cutting loose on a mall full of overzealous holiday shoppers) hit shelves in the coming year, let’s take a look back at the wonderfully cornball legacy of a boy, his mother, a machete, and a hockey mask.

12) Jason X (2001)

Yep, the one where Jason goes to space. He wasn’t the only slasher to get there. The Leprechaun and Pinhead also made their own journeys into space. But Jason’s trip was a weird one. It was the first Friday The 13th movie made in almost a decade decade and a disappointment to fans from the jump since they had actually been awaiting a Freddy Vs. Jason flick that was still to come. The dumb dumb idea was rushed into production and never quite clicks. Sure, there are some good moments: two great kills, one great joke, and an inexplicable David Cronenberg cameo. Yet, for the most part it’s a misfire, especially when Mr. Voorhees turns into a metallic space Jason that no one asked for. It is undeniably the weakest slasher flick in the franchise, yet at the same time is every bit as laughable and ironically entertaining as you’d hope a Jason Goes To Space movie might be. So it could be worse.

11) Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

After years away from his most famous creation, producer Sean Cunningham finally regained control over Jason, but not the title Friday The 13th in the early 90s. His big idea? Kill off Jason. So that’s what he did. In the first scene (admittedly, it’s a hell of an opening). After that, Jason Goes To Hell turns into an oddball demonic body horror slasher as the spirit of lil’ Jason posses various folks via a worm-like parasite that emerges from his undead heart. Yep, it doesn’t make a lick of sense and barely even feels like a Friday The 13th movie. But, it does have that fantastic Jason death scene and some of the most disgusting gore in the series (provided that you get your eyeballs on the unrated version that’s yet to make it to Blu-ray).  So, it could be worse. Plus there’s that MCU-esque end credits tease where Freddy Krueger’s glove grabs Jason’s mask to set up a crossover battle that took ten years to hit screens.

10) Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Take a look at that trailer. Isn’t it absolutely friggin’ fantastic? Doesn’t it make you excited from a movie with Jason marching around New York chopping up the locals? Well, unfortunately this ain’t that movie. Budgetary limitations meant that it’s mostly Jason Takes Out A Bunch Of Teens On A Boat With A Little Trip To Manhattan At The End. That’s false advertising that broke my heart as a kid and I’ve never quite been able to get over my disappointment. Still, the final act in New York is pretty damn great, featuring one of the best deaths in the series (why the decapitation uppercut, of course!). It’s also filled with some delightful accidental humour and Kane Hodder in his prime marching around as Jason. So, it could be worse.  At least it’s better than the previous two gimmicky sequels on this list.

9) Friday The 13th (2009)

That’s right, the Platinum Dunes remake. The typical opinion is that this remake was garbage and deservingly bombed, but that’s not entirely the case. Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake director Marcus Nispel and his writers clearly loved this franchise more than those responsible for many of the sequels and had a whole bunch o’ fun bringing Jason back. The opening that remakes the first two movies before the title card is a blast of gorey fun and the teens-to-the-slaughter plot that follows is at least executed with a few tongues in cheeks. Sure, the humanization of Jason was deeply unnecessary and the gore n’ nudity should have been a bit more gratuitous in the Saw era, but this flick holds up far better than it should. It’s still a good thing that the remake didn’t spawn a series of increasingly unnecessary sequels, but at least it’s far better than it had any right to be.

8) Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

More often than not Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning is considered the absolute worst film in the franchise. It undid the grand Jason-killing finale of the inaccurately named The Final Chapter and Jason technically wasn’t even it. The complaints are correct and A New Beginning is a horrible movie. However, it’s also absolute insane in a “so-bad-its-good” kinda way. If you’re looking for a Friday The 13th flick to giggle at excessively over beers, this is the one. It has the highest body count and is hilariously inept in every conceivable way. Writer/Director Danny Steinmann had only made softcore porn before getting the job after absolutely every other conceivable option turned down the project and he never worked again despite A New Beginning being a hit. There’s a reason. This is an absolute mess of a movie, but a glorious mess. You won’t believe your eyes or ears and you’ll never stop laughing. And really, isn’t that a huge part of the appeal of this ridiculous franchise?

7) Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Unfortunately The New Blood was completely demolished by the MPAA who wanted to make a point about this franchise being too violent. That’s a shame because it’s got some great kills even though they are cut up to shreds. However, the flick also features the finest Jason, Kane Hodder, in the best rotting corpse Jason costume. So that’s pretty great. Plus it’s essentially Carrie Vs. Jason, forcing the hulking killer to fight a troubled teen with psychic powers. The production values are high(ish), the effects are strong, the pacing is relentless, and it’s just as stupid and silly as you’d hope the seventh movie in this absurd series would be. God-willing there will one day be a director’s cut of this flick with all the gore in tact. If that happens, it could rank even higher on this list. Until then, this is still the best Kane Hodder Jason flick and that still qualifies as one worth shoving into your eyeholes.

6) Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

After a decade of endlessly waiting, fans finally got a chance to see Freddy Krueger and Jason fight in the summer of 2003. The resulting film was a crowd-pleaser and remains the biggest money-maker in either franchise, yet somehow remains curiously underrated. People seem to speak of Freddy Vs. Jason as a disappointment now and I just don’t get it. Sure, every character other than the iconic slashers are pretty dull and perfunctory, but honestly what else could possibly have happened? The good news is that Hong Kong director Ronny Yu knew exactly how to handle Jason and Freddy, especially in the final 20 minute battle royal that is the stuff that horror movie nerd dreams are made of. This flick is pure dumb fun and probably the best movie that ever could have been made with the title Freddy Vs. Jason. It was never going to be high art people, but at least it was entertaining.

5) Friday The 13th Part 3 (1982)

When it comes to things like writing, acting, and pacing, Friday The 13th is one of the weakest entries in this franchise. Thankfully, those aren’t exactly the qualities that folks come to a Jason flick for. Director Steve Miner delivered a collection of hilariously elaborate and gory death scenes in cinemascope here that are bloody fantastic. Even better, then were all shot in gloriously gimmicky 3D with eyeballs, pointy objects, and yo-yos flying towards the camera in hilarious ways. In 3D, it’s a treat. In 2D, it’s like an SCTV sketch brought to life. Plus this is the movie that introduced the iconic hockey mask. That’s important. And this was the film that finally moved E.T. off the number 1 slot in the box office after both The Thing and Blade Runner failed in that task in the summer of 82. Yep, people sure are stupid.

4) Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

In many ways, Friday The 13th Part 2 is actually better than the original. Baghead Jason is pretty frightening. Steve Miner did a far better job mounting suspense and kill scenes that Sean Cunningham. The atmosphere is strong. The acting actually isn’t horrible. And best of all, the last 20 minutes are genuinely thrilling in a dumb-dumb horror movie way. It’s just not as iconic and lacks Kevin Bacon. So the sequel ranks slightly lower than the original. But honestly, this is one of the best movies in the whole series, which is probably why Paramount decided to keep cranking out sequels for the rest of the 80s. This is the movie that proved the franchise had legs, for better or worse.

3) Friday The 13th (1980)

Normally these franchise-ranking articles always have the original movie at the top of the heap. Generally speaking, it’s a pop culture masterpiece that spawns a never ending series of sequels. Not Friday The 13th. Sure, the original movie is incredibly important as it cemented all the slasher movie tropes, was the first indie slasher to get picked up by a Hollywood studio, established one of the best horror score themes of all time, showcased some ground-breaking gore effects by Tom Savini, and featured a final jump scare that was one of the finest in genre history. However, beyond that, it’s a remarkably average slasher flick that worked primarily because of all the tricks Sean Cunningham stole from Halloween and Meatballs. Friday The 13th is still pretty damn fun, it just shouldn’t be the first movie in the series that you reach for. Betsy Palmer is great but she’s no Jason, ya know?

2) Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Now we’re talking. When people picture a Friday The 13th movie in their heads, they picture The Final Chapter. Executed with an impressive budget by trash master Joseph Zito (the man behind the Chuck Norris masterpiece Invasion U.S.A.), this Jason sequel is a goddamn blast. All of the franchise tropes were in place, Zito just cranked them to 11 and established Jason as the massive unstoppable force that made him a horror icon. Toss in the welcome return of Tom Savini crafting the gore, Corey Feldman as the kid who killed Jason (well, for a while) ,and Crispin Glover awkwardly dancing his way into pop culture infamy and you’ve got a beloved cult movie that still plays like gangbusters over 30 years later. This flick is pure guilty pleasure fun that will inspire all sorts of ironic giggles in between big ol’ scare scenes that actually work. Buckle up and enjoy.

1) Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Finally we come to easily the best Friday The 13th movie ever made. Writer/director Tom McLoughlin wasn’t particularly a fan of the franchise when he accepted the gig to make Jason Lives. He didn’t really like slasher flicks, he was more of a monster movie guy. So McLoughlin slyly transformed Jason into the walking zombie corpse that we all know and love. Even better, McLoughlin recognized that cornball appeal of the series that had audiences giggling through the five previous dumbo movies and decided to play into those campy laughs. Jason Lives is a straight up horror/comedy that mocks slasher movie conventions a decade before Scream made that trendy. Toss in some genuinely effective suspense sequences and you’ve got the platonic ideal of a Friday The 13th movie. This flick is a relentlessly entertaining slice of 80s horror cheese that is completely self-aware about all the dumb tricks that it pulls on audiences. McLoughlin’s movie likely would have been a critical success were it not for the fact that it was the sixth movie in a series that most critics wrote off long before it was released. Even now, the flick doesn’t get the respect it deserves because those who would appreciate it the most likely gave up on the franchise a few sequels earlier. The movie deserves rediscovery and appreciation though. If you only ever watch one Friday The 13th movie, make it Jason Lives. By the time it’s over, you might even think that this is a secretly clever franchise. You’d be wrong, but at least that’s true of one Friday The 13th movie, even if it took six tries to get there.

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Nintendo's New Games Will Make You Want To Switch http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/nintendos-new-games-will-make-you-want-to-switch/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/nintendos-new-games-will-make-you-want-to-switch/#comments Fri, 13 Jan 2017 07:08:06 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93646

By Jordan Biordi

The Nintendo Switch Presentation was a bit of a mixed bag. While fans were left wanting in the way of proper details, there was a lot of information on features for the console. However, raw power isn't everything, and where Nintendo really shined was in what matters most: the games. In case you missed it, […]

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By Jordan Biordi

The Nintendo Switch Presentation was a bit of a mixed bag. While fans were left wanting in the way of proper details, there was a lot of information on features for the console. However, raw power isn't everything, and where Nintendo really shined was in what matters most: the games. In case you missed it, we've compiled a comprehensive list of all the Switch games Nintendo announced, and some you may have missed.

1,2 Switch

Nintendo's New Games Will Make You Want To Switch 2

For the past two console generations, Nintendo has been very good at providing tech demos as playable party games. 1,2 Switch looks to be the Switch's version of that: a party game where the focus is to look into your opponents eyes, as opposed to the TV screen. Games such as Wild West style showdowns or copying your opponents dance moves, 1,2 Switch will ultimately show off the functionality of the Switch, as well as potentially liven up a party.

ARMS

Nintendo's New Games Will Make You Want To Switch 3

A second entry in the Switch's tech-demo party games, ARMS looks to combine boxing and shooting games as players launch extendable arms at each other using a combination of movement controls with the Joy-Cons, as well as buttons for jumping and dodging. It almost looks like Nintendo's attempt at a "hero shooter" with a unique art-style, distinct characters and a focus on multiplayer only arena battles. While no official release date has been given, Arms is currently set for a Spring release.

Splatoon 2

Nintendo's New Games Will Make You Want To Switch 1

Initially shown off in the Switch's reveal trailer, Splatoon 2 looks to take the fun, fast-paced gameplay of it's predecessor and deliver more adding new stages, weapons and weapons. The game also looks to be adding new features like dodge-rolling and leaping melee attacks, as well as refining current functions to better suit it to the Switch. Unlike it's predecessor which had a paired down 1v1 multiplayer, Splatoon 2 will feature proper local between Switch consoles and voice chat through a smart device app (a potentially bold move). No release date has been given, but Splatoonis set for a summer launch.

Super Mario Odyssey

Nintendo's New Games Will Make You Want To Switch

Another game briefly shown in the Switch's reveal trailer, Mario is back in his first open sandbox-style game since Mario Sunshine. Leaping out of the Mushroom Kingdom into strange lands (and some familiar looking ones) Super Mario Odyseey looks to be Mario's biggest adventure yet. The newest feature seems to be Mario's hat, which is apparently sentient and which Mario can throw for attacks or to get boosted jumps. No release date was given for Super Mario Odyssey, however it's listed for a holiday 2017 release.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Nintendo's New Games Will Make You Want To Switch 4When Mario Kart was shown in the Switch's reveal trailer, I had guessed Nintendo was working on a new one, since subtle details like King Boo and two item slots seemed to differentiate it from a remake of Mario Kart 8. While this is not the case, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is set to be the "definitive version" of the game for Switch owners, not only including all the DLC, but also adding new characters like the Inkling boy and girl, the aforementioned King Boo, Dry Bones and Bowser Jr; new items like the item stealing Boo and Feather; and a revamped battle mode including proper stadium-style courses. No official release date has been given, although Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is set for April.

Xenoblade 2

Nintendo's New Games Will Make You Want To Switch 5Nintendo also debuted the newest entry in the Xenoblade franchise, simply titled Xenoblade 2. While not much was shown in the way of gameplay, Xenoblade 2 looks to be taking a simpler, anime-style character aesthetic and returning to a setting more grounded in fantasy than sci-fi. The immense scope of the previous entries seems to remain in-tact with massive, sprawling worlds populated with gargantuan xenoforms. Xenoblade 2 currently has no release date.

Project Octopath Traveller

Very little was shown of this strange and beautiful RPG from Square EnixProject Octopath Traveller (which I'm guessing is a working title) looks to be a 16-bit turn-based RPG, but also a side-scroller, but also gorgeously designed with detailed environments and atmospheric enhancements. With no other details, and no release date we will have to anxiously await this strange new title.

However not all the reveals had much in the way of proper details. A trailer for a new Shin Megami Tensei game boasted a Unity 4 engine and simply showed a collection of demons standing around. Suda 51 took to the stage to announce an unnamed No More Heroes project in development for the Switch; Koei Tecmo released a small trailer for their upcoming Fire Emblem Warriors game that was nothing more than a collection of notable weapons from the series, and Square also announced that Dragon Quest X and XI would be releasing on the Switch, as well as Dragon Quest Warriors 1 and 2.

Nintendo's New Games Will Make You Want To Switch 6
Disgaea 5 for the Nintendo Switch

But the list of games currently in development for the Switch is inspiring with Yoshiaki Koizumi boasting over 80 games in the works. A closing trailer for the Switch showed titles like Minecraft, Minecraft Story Mode, Skylanders: Imaginators, Lego City Undercover, Rayman Legends, Dragonball Z: Xenoverse 2, (what looked like) Farming Simulator, what looks like Disgaea, I am Setsuna, Ultra Street Fighter 2, Super Bomberman R, Puyo Puyo x Tetris, Steep, Fast Racing Neo, and Just Dance 2017.

With developers like From Software confirming Dark Souls 3 for Switch and Ubisoft's supposed Mario/Rabbids RPG crossover, the Switch may not only be a competitive system on it's price and usability, but based on what we've seen today, it could boast an incredibly impressive library to match.

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Joy-Con Controllers for Nintendo Switch Detailed http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/joy-con-controllers-for-nintendo-switch-detailed/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/joy-con-controllers-for-nintendo-switch-detailed/#comments Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:59:25 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93641

By Michael Koczwara

Details on the detachable Joy-Con controllers for the Nintendo Switch were revealed today during the Switch presentation in Japan. Each Switch tablet comes with two detachable Joy-Con controllers on both the right and left side. Despite their small size, the Joy-Con controllers can be used as two separate controllers for multiplayer, but they can also be attached to the Joy-Con Grip, […]

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By Michael Koczwara

Details on the detachable Joy-Con controllers for the Nintendo Switch were revealed today during the Switch presentation in Japan.

Each Switch tablet comes with two detachable Joy-Con controllers on both the right and left side. Despite their small size, the Joy-Con controllers can be used as two separate controllers for multiplayer, but they can also be attached to the Joy-Con Grip, a separate device that can be used for a more traditional controller without the screen.

Motion controls are back as both as both Joy-Con controllers have built-in gyro sensors and an accelerometer. An attachable wrist strap will also be made available, similar to those found on last generation's Wii Remote.

Each Joy-Con controller will feature an SL and SR Button on the side that was once attached to the main tablet, allowing players to use the controllers sideways. The left Joy-Con controller will feature a button that allows you to snap photos and capture videos as you play, allowing you to share screenshots on social media.

Nintendo also announced that the Joy-Con controllers will feature "HD Rumble," using advanced haptic feedback that will allow you to precisely feel rumbles that simulate feelings like dropping ice cubes into a glass or the feeling of water filling a cup.

The right Joy-Con controller has a few more features than its counterpart. An IR motion camera can be found on the right controller that can be used as pointer to indicate hand motions and distance. The same controller will also feature an NFC reader can scan in all those amiibos you collected in the last two years.

Two additional colours in the form of Neon Blue and Neon Red are also set to be released. On launch date, the Switch will feature one version with the standard grey controllers, while a second version will feature a combo package of both the Neon Blue and Neon Red colours.

The Nintendo Switch is set to release worldwide on Mar 3, 2017 for a suggested retail price of $299 USD.

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Nintendo Reveals Switch Price and Details http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/nintendo-reveals-switch-price-details/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/13/nintendo-reveals-switch-price-details/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:14:42 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93644

By Andrew Ko

The Nintendo Switch Presentation finally aired and we have a release date for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo’s next generation console will be released worldwide on Mar 3, 2017 with a sale price of $299.99 USD ($399.99 CAD). The console is evidently next gen, for it will not be region locked and will feature 2.5 to […]

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By Andrew Ko

The Nintendo Switch Presentation finally aired and we have a release date for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo’s next generation console will be released worldwide on Mar 3, 2017 with a sale price of $299.99 USD ($399.99 CAD). The console is evidently next gen, for it will not be region locked and will feature 2.5 to 6.5 hours of mobile playtime on a full charge.

The Nintendo Switch was designed as a coming together of all of Nintendo’s previous console generations’ advancements. The original NES brought the console home to the family. The SNES introduced the X & Y buttons to enhance control and player experience. The gameboy colour allowed you to bring the console outside. With the Wii’s motion capabilities and Wii U’s Amiibos, the logical conclusion is the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch is a promise of an ultimate all-in-one console with all of the above.

With a new close look at the console, we can see they pulled through. The console boasts a double-dose of nostalgic game controllers called the Joy-cons, with the classic A-B-X-Y configuration, and an analog stick mirrored on each side. When put together in the “Joy-con Grip,” the default configuration, L+R buttons can be used on the shoulders. Detached, each Joy-con can be used as a fully functioning individual controller. They will include a home button, an NFC reader for your Amiibos, and an advanced accelerometer and gyro sensor for advanced rumble capabilities, aptly termed “HD Rumble.” To take things even further and in status quo with other current gen consoles, they’ve added a share button for video recording. Up to eight consoles can be connected at the same time for local wireless play as well. The console launches with two boxed versions, one will include standard black controllers, and the other, with red and blue controllers. The Pro controller will be sold separately.

All in all, the Switch is clearly an everything-in-one kind of console. Want to play your games with your NES style controllers? Play them detached. Want a next gen experience? Use the Pro controller. Or keep things simple with the default Joy-con Grip setting. The console is like some suitcase built by Inspector Gadget with all your favourite features for an absolutely free and customizable gaming experience.

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Live by Night (Movie) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/live-night-movie-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/live-night-movie-review/#respond Thu, 12 Jan 2017 22:18:44 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93625

By Phil Brown

It’s been weird watching Ben Affleck become a director. It shouldn’t have been too surprising, I suppose. After all, the guy did win an Oscar for writing Good Will Hunting nearly 20 years ago. Clearly he has had aspirations of working behind the camera all along, and through a pair of crime movies (Gone Baby […]

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By Phil Brown

It’s been weird watching Ben Affleck become a director. It shouldn’t have been too surprising, I suppose. After all, the guy did win an Oscar for writing Good Will Hunting nearly 20 years ago. Clearly he has had aspirations of working behind the camera all along, and through a pair of crime movies (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) he proved that he knew what he was doing. Then he won an Oscar for Argo (yeah, whatever). Now we also know that he will be the next filmmaker to direct a Batman flick with himself in the lead role. That’s not a hugely exciting proposition and feels even more worrying after his latest (and weakest) directorial outing to date, Live By Night, A period gangster epic made for Warner Brothers, there are ways in which the flick feels like an audition piece for his Batman picture—and it isn’t exactly the most satisfying one.

The film is based on a novel, which should be clear by the time you’re done the movie whether you knew that going in or not—it’s an episodic tale that never ends. There’s very little sense of structure. Chapters pile up and are barely delved into before the next section of Live by Night's story begins. It all plays out rather wonky and in an unsatisfying manner, but at least it looks pretty! Affleck stars as a career criminal who is secretly a good guy with a strong moral code. He got that from his father (Brendan Gleeson), an honest copper in Prohibition Boston who didn’t take too kindly to his son getting involved in hoodlum stuff. The first half hour of the movie suggests it’s about Affleck’s awkward relationship with his father and the even more awkward relationship between the woman he loves (Sienna Miller) and her Irish mob boss boyfriend (Robert Glenister). Then, just as that’s getting interesting it wraps up and Affleck winds up in prison.

Live By Night (Movie

When he gets out, Affleck is determined to get revenge, partnering up with Glenister’s old enemy and heading down to Tampa Bay to start a rum-running operation. Affleck buddies up with the local police captain (Chris Cooper), who admires his honesty, and also falls in love with Zoe Saldana, whose Cuban family is an important connection. He builds an empire and then begins warring with the local chapter of the KKK. Believe it or not, Live by Night's story is still just getting started at that point. There’s still a troubling chapter involving Cooper’s daughter (Elle Fanning) who gets hooked on heroin and then turns into a preacher. Then the plot from the first third of the movie still has to be wrapped up. There are messages to impart and themes about family, honour, betrayal, love, sacrifice, and morality to explore. It’s endless, tedious, and sadly unsatisfying.

Affleck is clearly going full Godfather with this picture. He’s aiming for a grand, sweeping gangster epic about life, family, and America. The trouble is that the two-hour running time barely contains his ambitions. The stop n’ start nature of the narrative makes it hard to get too invested in any particular plot thread. The film is quite well cast (well, except for the lead,Affleck bit off more than he could chew in his attempt to prove his ability to be a triple threat here), but none of the talented actors get enough screen time to dig into their characters. Worst off all, it builds to a syrupy feel-good finale that is absolutely nauseating. As a piece of storytelling, Live By Night is filled with problems. However, on a technical level Affleck nails it. The guy might not have a particular voice or style as a director, but he knows how to mount a glossy production. The action scenes are grand and violent. The cinematography is a collection of deliberately underlit beauty shots. The sets are massive; the costumes are gorgeous (if a little too clean and polished to be credible at times). It has all of the stylistic earmarks of a grand ol’ gangster epic. The trouble is that the storytelling is almost always sloppy and flawed.

Live By Night (Movie) Review 1

All of which brings us back to Affleck’s upcoming Batman, which is hard not to think about during this crime epic littered with symbolism and metaphor (which, let’s face it, kind of describes most of the great Batman stories). Clearly Affleck has grown enough as a director to be able to mount a massive Batman blockbuster. Live By Night proves that. The trouble is that there has been so many Batman stories told in every conceivable form of media that merely getting the look and feel right on the big screen isn’t enough anymore (see Batman V. Superman,or better yet, don’t). What will make a Batman movie memorable now isn’t merely pretty production design or sweeping action. Even the crappy Joel Schumacher movies provided that. If you want to make people go batty for Batman these days, you’ve got to nail all that and find a story about the caped crusader worth telling. Christopher Nolan infamously struggled to do that in his final Bat-flick and if Live By Night is any indication, Affleck might not be the man for the job. If he can make a gangster epic this dull and unsatisfying, our beloved Batman might be in trouble once Batfleck starts putting his fingerprints over every aspect of the production. Sigh.

Score:5.5

Final Thoughts:If he can make a gangster epic this dull and unsatisfying, our beloved Batman might be in trouble once Batfleck starts putting his fingerprints over every aspect of the production.

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Aftershock Announces New Comic Series From Preacher Co-Creator http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/12/aftershock-announces-new-comic-series-preacher-co-creator/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/12/aftershock-announces-new-comic-series-preacher-co-creator/#respond Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:17:56 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93615

By Helena Shlapak

AfterShock Comics (the publisher behind 16 titles including; Animosity, Alters and Rough Riders) announced a new title to their family; Jimmy’s Bastards by award-winning creator, Garth Ennis (Preacher, Hellblazer). Jimmy’s Bastard’s follows the story of Jimmy Regent, Britain’s number one super-spy. He’s devilishly handsome and deadly, sails effortlessly from mission to mission, always gets the […]

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By Helena Shlapak

AfterShock Comics (the publisher behind 16 titles including; Animosity, Alters and Rough Riders) announced a new title to their family; Jimmy’s Bastards by award-winning creator, Garth Ennis (Preacher, Hellblazer).

Jimmy’s Bastard’s follows the story of Jimmy Regent, Britain’s number one super-spy. He’s devilishly handsome and deadly, sails effortlessly from mission to mission, always gets the girl and always saves the day. However, Jimmy met his match in the form of a new dangerous secret organization and their never-ending determination to take him out. There’s just one odd thing about the ultimately trained 200 men and women of this organization; they all bear a striking resemblance to Jimmy. They are all untied by one thing; take down Daddy.

Jimmy’s Bastards will be the second AfterShock title from Ennis since last-year’s Dreaming Eagles and will debut in early summer of 2017. Ennis said in a press release that working with the publisher for Dreaming Eagles was a great experience and that, “I can’t think of a better home for Jimmy’s Bastards. I’m sure Jimmy would agree – as indeed would his bastards.”

Launched in April 2015, AfterShock Comics is an independent publisher with the experiences and strengths of major powerhouses such as Marvel and DC. The young publishing house received several award nominations in 2016, as well as debuting projects from industry heavy-weights such as Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, Batman, Superman), Jimmy Palmiotti (Venom: Sinner Takes All, Jonah Hex, Batwing), Amanda Conner (Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Spiderman) Mark Waid (Batman, Superman, 52) and more.

“During our first year as a publisher, AfterShock worked with over 100 talented creators to help bring to life incredible stories from some of the best in the business,” says AfterShock’s Editor-in-Chief, Mike Marts. “Thanks to overwhelmingly positive support from fans and retailers, AfterShock will continue to expand its content in 2017 through partnerships with both industry favorites and up and comers.”

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Azteq VS. The Prowler (Comic) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/azteq-vs-prowler-comic-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/azteq-vs-prowler-comic-review/#respond Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93376

By Helena Shlapak

Lucha Comics is an independent publisher whose mission is to showcase unique and awesome stories from all around the world so readers have a chance at getting something different. I commend them on this because taking in new stories is always a risk, since they’re putting all that money into something that may not give […]

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By Helena Shlapak

Lucha Comics is an independent publisher whose mission is to showcase unique and awesome stories from all around the world so readers have a chance at getting something different. I commend them on this because taking in new stories is always a risk, since they’re putting all that money into something that may not give them a return. One of their titles, Azteq vs. The Prowler, written by Roberto Mercado and illustrated by Kundo Krunch, seemed like such a silly and awesome idea that I lapped it up. A luchador teams up with a detective to save his ex-girlfriend from a psycho? Hold my phone, I’m diving in! I simply couldn’t say no—but oh boy, did I dive into the shallow end this time.

Azteq VS. The Prowler (Comic) Review

We open to a classic horror movie trope: a couple making out in a car. A cloaked man in a goofy, buck-toothed, clown mask? (I still haven’t figured it out) smashes through the window and slits the boyfriend’s throat. The girlfriend tries to run but gets caught. Meanwhile, a luchador by the name of Azteq wins his latest match, only to be chewed out by his girlfriend, Livie, for being late for their date. He leaves the arena to head to the restaurant but his girlfriend is nowehere to be found, and has left a note saying that they’re through. A couple of days later, Azteq is approached by a detective named Chris Longley. The detective informs Azteq that Livie is missing and is the latest in a series of kidnappings and murders, but he believes Live is alive. Azteq and Longley team up to solve the case and get the girl back.

Reading all that, it’s easy to think “how exactly can that be bad?” well, before we get down the heart of the problem with this graphic novel, let’s talk about the art. Illustrator, Kundo Krunch has a…let’s say, “unique” art style. What I do love about Krunch’s work is the use of dark and heavy shadows. Since Azteq vs. The Prowler is entirely black and white, the shady style should be highly effective like Sin City, but unlike Sin City, it’s not nearly as detailed or consistent and appears bland and flat (like a Canadian flash cartoon) because light positioning is way off. Pages 8-11 during Azteq’s match shows the ref all in black in the background but then show the audience (also in the background) in white despite the light being entirely on Azteq. Even when the crowd is the main focus, there’s absolutely no shading.

Azteq VS. The Prowler (Comic) Review 2

Most of the storyboards are a jumbled mess; there are boxes overlaying other boxes at awkward angles and speech bubbles cutting into other spaces, making most of the comic a gigantic pain to read. It’s especially bad during the first pages when The Prowler is offing his target’s boyfriend. Some panels block the action scenes and I couldn’t see what was going on until I had read it a couple times.

Those problems could have been disregarded if the character designs weren’t so…cheap. I get that Krunch is going for an odd tone and style but looking at his characters makes me think of a dollar store version of Cybersix. The key difference being that Cybersix had a weird art style that was heavily detailed, awesome to look at and used heavy shadow properly. It wouldn’t surprise me if that comic inspired Krunch since it’s Argentinian and he’s from Argentina. At least the facial expressions on Krunch’s characters are hilarious and exaggerated, almost reminiscent of fifties horror comics like Tales from the Crypt.

Azteq VS. The Prowler (Comic) Review 3

Here’s the thing; I can completely forgive any medium’s artwork as long as the story is great. Roberto Mercado’s story is perfectly fine. So…what’s the problem? Well, you know that synopsis I wrote? Yeah, that’s literally the whole thing minus the ending. That right there is the main problem with Azteq vs. The Prowler and I really wish I was exaggerating. If there’s absolutely one thing I can’t stand in any medium, it’s when a great idea doesn’t get executed to its full potential.

Azteq vs. The Prowler is about 66 pages long, which is not nearly enough to flesh everything out properly. The pacing is like watching a movie on fast-forward; something would happen and then the book would move on to the next thing too quickly. I didn’t care about any of the characters—who were one dimensional and uninteresting—because I never got a chance to know them. Azteq seems like a nice, cool guy. He’s a hero in the ring and in the streets—but why? What’s his motivation? How did he become a luchador? I never got to find any of that out. Why was The Prowler the way he was? Who was he exactly? Why was he kidnapping women? I never felt any sense of fear when he appeared since I knew there was no sense of danger, nor did I care.

Azteq VS. The Prowler (Comic) Review 4

The sad thing here was that Mercado had a silly but decent idea that easily could have been a Criminal Minds episode if only he made it bigger. Stretching out the graphic novel into three volumes would have been more than enough. We could have seen The Prowler take out more victims in brutally disgusting ways. We could have seen more on how he operates and his motivation for taking women. We could have had some buddy time with Azteq and Longley; they could have gone through a list of suspects and had that last minute realization of, “this dude’s the killer!” It would have been a bit cliché but it would’ve at least had a story arc.

Azteq vs. The Prowler is just a cheap and gigantic lie. Mercado promised a graphic novel that reflected his love of slasher films but didn’t deliver. The gore was laughable and practically non-existent, the story moved way too fast and the characters needed major expansion. Aside from the bare bones of the plot, I just didn’t care about Azteq vs. The Prowler. I don’t see how this graphic novel went so wrong or how Mercado thought to himself, “This is fine.”

Score:4.5

Final Thoughts:Azteq vs. The Prowler is like a procrastinator handing in an assignment; cheap, lazy and rushed.

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Mel Gibson And Violence In Comic Book Films http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/12/mel-gibson-and-violence-in-comic-book-films/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/12/mel-gibson-and-violence-in-comic-book-films/#comments Thu, 12 Jan 2017 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93365

By Aleksander Gilyadov

Do modern action movies have violence without a conscience? Are the latest Marvel flicks more violent and gruesome than a three-hour film depicting the horrors of The Second World War? Mel Gibson certainly thinks so. The long-time actor and director of such grim movies as Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, and, most recently, Hacksaw […]

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By Aleksander Gilyadov

Do modern action movies have violence without a conscience? Are the latest Marvel flicks more violent and gruesome than a three-hour film depicting the horrors of The Second World War? Mel Gibson certainly thinks so.

The long-time actor and director of such grim movies as Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, and, most recently, Hacksaw Ridge was quoted as saying he believes comic book movies are more violent than any of his films. Now, at first glance, Gibson’s remarks might seem ridiculous. After all, how can a film about Captain America and Iron Man punching each other in the face be more dire than watching Jesus being crucified? Marvel films, and arguably every other superhero movie, are meant to be enjoyable for the whole family. They’re the types of films you take your friends to see on opening weekend, expecting to thoroughly enjoy yourself watching Rocket Racoon crack jokes and beat up some baddies. But, on closer inspection, Gibson does have a point.

Mel Gibson And Violence In Comic Book Films 2Throughout the promotion of Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson and the film’s cast were constantly questioned about some of the movie’s most violent scenes. A few critics even believe that, in its explicit violence, Hacksaw Ridge goes against the pacifism its main character stands for. The film follows the true story of a pacifist and medic named Desmond T. Doss, portrayed by Andrew Garfield, who refused to fire a single weapon during the Battle of Okinawa. Doss was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for saving 75 lives.

Now, considering Doss’ achievements and his brave decision to renounce violence during one of the bloodiest battles in The Second World War, it does seem a little odd that Hacksaw Ridge goes out of its way to display some truly ghastly action sequences. The movie contains everything from decapitated limbs to men being set on fire. In defence of the movie’s embrace of gore, though, Gibson claims that the violence present in Hacksaw Ridge is meaningful. There is no action and violence just for the sake of it; instead, every scene is supposed to mean something. Gibson wants to display the true horrors of war without holding back, while also focusing on an individual who decided to live his life differently and peacefully, even amid such horrors.

In most comic book movies, in contrast, the bombastic action sequences and overall spectacle lack meaning. They’re mostly there to create a visually stunning and entertaining film, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The New York City attack in Avengers is a fun romp replete with incredible scenes of Hulk smashing aliens and the entire Avengers team working together. But, save for Iron Man’s mental breakdown in future films (which was poorly portrayed), this violence is there solely to titillate the audience.

Mel Gibson And Violence In Comic Book Films 4

Think about how many enemies superheroes, from Spider-Man, to Superman, to Captain America, have destroyed. Now, ask yourself when any of these comic book flicks take time to reflect on the actions of either the heroes and villains? The generic thugs the heroes face never evolve from being nameless baddies that are there for someone like Superman to kill in the most visually stunning ways. And the head villains are usually implacably evil, rather than complex individuals with legitimate grievances that could be addressed non-violently.

Criticizing Mel Gibson for the violence of his work while mostly ignoring the lack of conscience in most superhero movies is interesting to say the least. What is wrong with Hacksaw Ridge containing scenes of both American and Japanese soldiers hacking each other limb from limb? Was The Second World War and the Battle of Okinawa vicious and unforgiving? Did it really happen this way? If yes, why should Gibson hold back? By contrasting the violence of men and war, and Doss’ refusal to be another cog in the war machine, the film expertly showcases just how brave and remarkable Doss’ actions were.

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Elon Musk Talks Video Games that Help him De-Stress http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/11/video-games-elon-musk-plays-de-stress/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/11/video-games-elon-musk-plays-de-stress/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 22:40:29 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93593

By CGM Staff

In a recent Elon Musk interview by Sam Altman for Y Combinator, the conversation somehow found its way to the world of video games. In a short clip, taken from the longer interview, Altman asks “I’m looking for a new video game to play, can you give me a recommendation?” He replies, without pause, “Overwatch.” […]

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By CGM Staff

In a recent Elon Musk interview by Sam Altman for Y Combinator, the conversation somehow found its way to the world of video games. In a short clip, taken from the longer interview, Altman asks “I’m looking for a new video game to play, can you give me a recommendation?” He replies, without pause, “Overwatch.

Musk has been vocal about his love for Overwatch, back in the summer he tweeted about the game with high praise, saying, “Highly recommend @PlayOverwatch by the good people of @Blizzard_Ent if you like ultra fast team FPS action.” He’s even known to drop video game references during his trade shows. Showing off Tesla Motors’ designs for a self-servicing A.I. charger, Musk describes that it would move on its own, “articulating like a snake, like Metal Gear Solid or something.”

 

You can tell Musk sees the potential for video games to craft meaningful stories and experiences. Later in the Y Combinator interview, Musk pines about how the newer attention to graphics and technology might have interrupted the importance of storytelling.

“Some of the oldest games, the graphics and sounds were terrible, so they had to rely on storytelling,” says Musk in the Y Combinator interview. “Honestly, I think that’s really neglected.”

Talking specifically about the Deux Ex franchise, a franchise known for its storytelling--and one you can tell has a place in Musk’s heart--he regrets, “that’s the criticism I heard of the latest Deus Ex, is the storytelling is kind of lame. Whereas prior Deus Ex, and the original--the original Deus Ex the storytelling was amazing.” But optimism hits, and when people around the room echo Altman’s recommendation of The Last of Us, Musk perks up at the promise of a new storytelling experience. As we all know, he’s in for quite the treat.

In any case, it is relieving to hear that the forward-thinking innovator of our generation has an appreciation of our forward-thinking medium. Yes, count on Elon Musk to “de-stress” with the Hegelian dialectics of Fallout: New Vegas.

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Discrepancies Between Japanese Game Sales Analysts http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/11/discrepancies-japanese-game-sales-analysts/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/11/discrepancies-japanese-game-sales-analysts/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 17:01:33 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93556

By Ana Valens

Media Create and Famitsu's post-holiday Japanese game sales charts were published for the gaming community, but they feature some statistical discrepancies. According to the latest statistics shared on NeoGAF, Media Create and Famitsu are reporting significantly different sell through software and hardware data amidst the start of the new year. Accordingly, Media Create notes that Super […]

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By Ana Valens

Media Create and Famitsu's post-holiday Japanese game sales charts were published for the gaming community, but they feature some statistical discrepancies. According to the latest statistics shared on NeoGAF, Media Create and Famitsu are reporting significantly different sell through software and hardware data amidst the start of the new year.

Accordingly, Media Create notes that Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS ranked at first place for software sales with 100,308 units, up by 37 per cent from last week for a total of 890,838 lifetime units sold. Meanwhile, Famitsu reports Super Mario Maker moved 127,085 units for 984,331 lifetime sales. For the Japanese games journalism publication, that's only a 12 per cent increase.

Hardware statistics fare similar concerns. For Media Create's hardware report on the 3DS, 88,878 units were sold, up from 70,522 at the end of 2016, and a significant increase from the 60,479 units sold in the 3DS family during the opening week of 2016. Meanwhile, Famitsu notes that the 3DS sold 121,419 units, up from the previous week's 119,848 units, and a significant increase from the 51,144 sales that Famitsu reported from 3DS sales for 2016's corresponding week.

Other discrepancies abound: PlayStation 4 Pro sales are listed at 8,242 units at Media Create, whereas Famitsu states that only 4,484 hardware sales were made for the PlayStation 4 Pro. Media Create also reports that the 2DS sold 26,214 units, whereas Famitsu lists their sales at 42,212. While differences in sales can fall into a margin of error, major concerns arise when trying to draw an accurate image of hardware sales for such influential and contested platforms as the 3DS or PlayStation 4 Pro.

It's hard to say which outlet is the most accurate between the two, especially since many of the discrepancies are close. Still, the differences are clear, with many fans left speculating which outlet to trust: and where the problem truly lies.

Hopefully, those vastly different game sales charts will begin to reflect one another as the year goes on. Until then, check back for more sales reports from Japan.

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Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 (Comic) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/red-hood-and-the-outlaws-rebirth-1-comic-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/red-hood-and-the-outlaws-rebirth-1-comic-review/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 17:00:13 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93508

By Boyd Reynolds

Jason Todd has a fascinating history with DC Comics. He started out as Batman’s boy wonder, the second Robin after Dick Grayson broke up the band to become the solo crime fighter Nightwing. Todd filled Grayson’s role, but he was darker, edgier—willing to cross the lines that the retired Robin wouldn’t. Then came 1989. The […]

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By Boyd Reynolds

Jason Todd has a fascinating history with DC Comics. He started out as Batman’s boy wonder, the second Robin after Dick Grayson broke up the band to become the solo crime fighter Nightwing. Todd filled Grayson’s role, but he was darker, edgier—willing to cross the lines that the retired Robin wouldn’t. Then came 1989. The four-issue story arc titled Death in the Family blazed onto the stands and became an instant classic. By the end, the Joker had killed Robin and left Batman to pick up the pieces—literally. For all intents and purposes, Jason Todd was gone. But comic books are like soap operas—dead is never really dead. Todd returned as the Red Hood, finding life after death in the Lazarus pit. And now he has his own storyline in DC’s Rebirth title Red Hood and the Outlaws.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 (Comic) Review 3

Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 begins with a flashback: the moment Todd met the Batman. He was stealing one of the Batmobile’s tires when the Dark Knight confronted this young kid on the streets. During their short altercation, Batman saw something in Todd, something that would lead him to opening up his world to a new Boy Wonder. The comic then flashes forward to present day where Todd is now the Red Hood, wreaking havoc through Gotham. And the one standing in his way is his former teacher.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 does a good job introducing and reacquainting readers to this off-beat character. Writer Scott Lobdell elicits both the past and the Bat to tell an intriguing first issue. There is plenty of nostalgia littered throughout the comic. Unfortunately, this is one of the issue’s drawbacks—it retreads a number of old storylines. This is likely done as a brief origin story, so future issues don’t have to tell readers who the Red Hood is and where he comes from. But for a Rebirth title, it doesn’t start the series off with a bang.

However, pulling Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 out of the fire is the artistry. Illustrator Dexter Soy does a terrific job bringing life to the re-enactment of events like Todd in his initial tussles with Two-Face as Robin and his demise at the hands of the Joker. Soy’s image of the Joker holding a crowbar over Todd is chilling, followed by a terrific splash page of that iconic after shot—Batman carrying a vanquished Robin.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 (Comic) Review 2

While the title mentions the Outlaws, this issue focusses solely on the Red Hood. His Outlaws come later in the ongoing series, hinted in the comic’s cover. A close up on Red Hood unloading his rounds reveals two characters in his gun’s scope - Bizarro and Artemis. It should be interesting times for Red Hood and his Teen + rated ongoing series with these two.

In all, Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 in an enjoyable read. It had a little too much back story and not enough here and now, but as a series starter, this is nothing egregious. If anything, it sets up a Gotham City for Red Hood to do his dirty work in.

And as Gotham goes, there are surely enough villains to go around for Batman not to get jealous.

Score:7

Final Thoughts:Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 is a solid series starter, offering a mixture of past and present for readers to mull over.

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Remembering the Late Star Wars Icon Carrie Fisher http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/11/remembering-late-star-wars-icon-carrie-fisher/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/11/remembering-late-star-wars-icon-carrie-fisher/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93493

By Andrea Fort

I discovered Star Wars around the age of 10, when I noticed a significant difference between myself and other girls my age. While they wanted to play house and had binders covered with flowers, I was quite literally the only girl who not only studied ballet on weekends but carried a superhero pencil case. I […]

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By Andrea Fort

I discovered Star Wars around the age of 10, when I noticed a significant difference between myself and other girls my age. While they wanted to play house and had binders covered with flowers, I was quite literally the only girl who not only studied ballet on weekends but carried a superhero pencil case. I spent much of my time trying to fit in until I saw Princess Leia played by Carrie Fisher; beautiful, tough, and handy with a blaster, she instantly became my new role model.

As a nerdy kid, I was teased and bullied, but Leia was a bright light who reminded me that it was okay to be feminine and strong at the same time—she reminded me that it was all right to be one of the boys. Fisher was many things; best known for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, she was so much more than the fiery love interest in one of the best-loved science-fiction franchises of all time. Fisher was a writer, performer, and advocate. Most importantly, she took her status as an icon and became a role model. When Fisher passed away on Dec 27, 2016, the Internet mourned—posting tributes to her in a wave of lightsabers and sketches showcasing the iconic hairstyle. For me, she will always be so much more than a princess. In my eyes, Fisher represents the woman I always wanted to be, the woman I strive to be. She was a woman who was unapologetically herself despite the consequences.

Carrie Fisher: In Memoriam 1

Fisher knew the meaning of celebrity at a young age, born in 1956 to the incomparable Debbie Reynolds (who sadly passed away the day after her daughter at the age of 84) and singer Eddie Fisher. After her stage debut alongside her mother in the Broadway revival of Irene at age 15, Carrie Fisher began to focus on performing. In 1977, she made her mark by playing Leia and helping to put Star Wars on the map. This performance made Fisher a household name at the young age of 19, and while she is fondly remembered for her breakout role, she also made so many other contributions that are far too often overlooked. Fisher had an acerbic wit and was not shy about sharing it. Amongst her other performances, she also worked as a script doctor and a writer. She made alterations to a number of well-known movies, like Hook and Sister Act as well as Star Wars. In fact, she was largely instrumental in creating Leia’s quippy and no-nonsense voice, but these contributions went unmentioned.  She also wrote five novels, three memoirs, and a handful of stage and screenplays. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Fisher’s life was a struggle. She was very vocal about her bouts of addiction as well as her struggle with her mental health. When she publicly declared that she was battling bipolar disorder, she instantly became an advocate for anyone who had ever faced a mental health concern.  Fisher was a renaissance woman.

As I got older, Fisher took a different role in my life. She spoke openly of her struggles with bipolar disorder and her drug addiction, and her advocacy for mental health and her refusal conform to the expected standards was my battle cry. She appeared on television and in films just as she was—entirely unapologetic and courageous. She mesmerized me. She was the picture of strength and bravery that I so desperately wanted to be. She allowed me to embrace myself and walk into the world with all my quirks and foibles and never be ashamed.

Carrie Fisher: In Memoriam 2
Carrie Fisher's last book The Princess Diarist released Nov 22, 2016

I, like so many others, will never have the opportunity to thank her for the ways in which she has contributed to our lives. In her performances, in her writing, and in how she conducted herself, she was a constant source of inspiration. As I sat down to reflect on the impact that Carrie Fisher had on me, I found it strange to be eulogizing someone I had never met. I was also deeply saddened by my inability to ever give Fisher anything in return for all she has done for me.

Carrie Fisher blazed the way—relentlessly defying convention—and made room for those following her example. She wanted us to be real. She wanted us to be unapologetic. She wanted us to embrace be courageous, even when we were terrified. So let’s do that. I am putting out a call to anyone who has ever found inspiration in something Carrie Fisher has done, let’s be courageous and unapologetic together. I know that she would be proud.

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New Humble Bundle Features Top Picks http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/new-humble-bundle-features-top-picks/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/new-humble-bundle-features-top-picks/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 20:55:00 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93532

By Ana Valens

A new Humble Bundle dawns, and this time, it features some of the top picks around on Steam. Humble Overwhelmingly Positive Bundle features $91 USD worth in critically and commercially acclaimed games for only $10. The bundle, which has already sold over 4,000 copies as of this article's publication, includes a variety of top picks, some […]

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By Ana Valens

A new Humble Bundle dawns, and this time, it features some of the top picks around on Steam. Humble Overwhelmingly Positive Bundle features $91 USD worth in critically and commercially acclaimed games for only $10.

The bundle, which has already sold over 4,000 copies as of this article's publication, includes a variety of top picks, some of which never seen on Humble Bundle before. Under the entry level tier, there's Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, Epic Battle Fantasy 4 and Pony Island: rated at 97 per cent, 98 per cent and 96 per cent, respectively.

Over at the "beat the average" tier, Day of the Tentacle Remastered clocks in with a 98 per cent rating, whereas DEADBOLT ranks with a 95 per cent. More games are on the way for next week. In the meantime, paying $10 USD or more unlocks VA-11 Hall-A and N++, ranked at 98 per cent and 97 per cent, respectively. There's also a 10 per cent off for Humble Monthly for all purchases, valid until March 3.

"The power of positive bundling," the official Humble Bundle page begins. "Humble though we are, we're positive that fans will like these games. Why? Because every single one is rated 'Overwhelmingly Positive' on Steam! Plus, proceeds support Direct Relief, which has an overwhelmingly positive rating of 100% on Charity Navigator. We're guessing it doesn't get much better than that (if we did our math right, that is)!"

Direct Relief is a nonprofit charity that "works with healthcare professionals and organizations on the ground, establishing partnerships with local organizations that provide health services to people who would otherwise not receive them." It's easily one of the highest rated charities in the United States, matching with the theme.

As always, the Humble Overwhelmingly Positive Bundle won't last forever. The savings included in the bundle will only be available until Jan. 24, so for interested parties, it's better to act now than later.

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Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake Delayed http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/kingdom-hearts-iii-final-fantasy-vii-remake-delayed/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/kingdom-hearts-iii-final-fantasy-vii-remake-delayed/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 18:57:37 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93525

By Helena Shlapak

Looks like fans of Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy series will have to wait even longer for both Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake. Both games respectfully have been delayed once again according to their director, Tesuya Nomura. During an interview with the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, the director spoke about […]

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By Helena Shlapak

Looks like fans of Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy series will have to wait even longer for both Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake. Both games respectfully have been delayed once again according to their director, Tesuya Nomura.

During an interview with the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, the director spoke about the status of both games (translated by Gameatsu).

“While I can’t make a sweeping statement because the development process is different from what we’ve done so far, there are still worlds untouched. Production is progressing on unannounced worlds, in a state that we cannot show them off. In terms of the state of development, there is still some way to go.” Nomura said, regarding Kingdom Hearts III.

As for Final Fantasy VII Remake, “We’re steadily progressing on production. While we are making them, I apologize that the wait will be a bit longer for Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake. I am very sorry, but to that degree I will make a game that will meet your expectations.”

Nomura concluded by saying, “Last year, I didn’t put out much information on either title, but this year I want to show our progress at an event somewhere. The release of the titles themselves have still have a way to go. But there are many titles releasing this year, if you can wait for any ‘surprises.'”

Hopefully fans won’t have to wait too much longer, since Kingdom Hearts III was originally announced during 2013’s E3 event while Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced at E3 in 2015. Both franchises are also celebrating their anniversaries this year; Kingdom Hearts is now 15, Final Fantasy VII is 20 and the Final Fantasy Franchise is now 30.

Both titles are scheduled for release for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. No release dates have been announced.

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Ben Affleck to Direct New Batman http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/ben-affleck-direct-new-batman/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/ben-affleck-direct-new-batman/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 18:22:15 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93515

By Ana Valens

A new DC film is headed to theaters in 2018, and Ben Affleck plans to direct. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice star Ben Affleck is returning to the Batman franchise as director for the upcoming film The Batman, IGN reports. The news comes after some confusion about Ben Affleck's role in the film earlier this month. […]

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By Ana Valens

A new DC film is headed to theaters in 2018, and Ben Affleck plans to direct. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice star Ben Affleck is returning to the Batman franchise as director for the upcoming film The Batman, IGN reports.

The news comes after some confusion about Ben Affleck's role in the film earlier this month. Originally, Affleck said The Batman was not "a set thing," according to an interview with The Guardian. He was interested in directing a solo Batman film, but he warned that if the film didn't "come together in a way I think is really great" then he would not direct the movie. But after speculation over Affleck's role, the Batman actor affirmed that he will be directing The Batman on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and the studio is currently "working on it."

Yet, The Batman isn't a net win for the star. Affleck is disappointed that his other projects are being eclipsed by The Batman: especially his latest release, crime film Live by Night "It's one of those things that's really frustrating because, like, Live by Night took me a year-and-a-half to write it and get it ready, and I worked really hard." Affleck said. "But with Batman I keep on getting, 'Where's The f--king Batman?!' And I'm like, 'Whoa, I'm working, give me a second!'"

IGN reports that The Batman will begin shooting over spring 2017, with release arriving later in 2018. No word has been given yet as to the movie's premise or its release window, but the film's 2018 arrival comes hot off Affleck's critically acclaimed Batman role in Superman v Batman. It's safe to say that DC wants to capitalize on Batman's popularity while ignoring the parts of Superman v Batman that led to negative feedback from fans and critics alike. Check back as more news develops on The Batman.

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Stardew Valley (Xbox One) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/stardew-valley-xbox-one-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/stardew-valley-xbox-one-review/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 17:00:08 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93480

By Chris Carter

Stuck in your dead-end job, you open a letter from your grandfather that happens to include a deed to a gigantic plot of land in the country, sparking a spiritual pilgrimage under the guise of an old-school farming simulator. This is Stardew Valley; the indie darling that PC fans have been enjoying for roughly a […]

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By Chris Carter

Stuck in your dead-end job, you open a letter from your grandfather that happens to include a deed to a gigantic plot of land in the country, sparking a spiritual pilgrimage under the guise of an old-school farming simulator. This is Stardew Valley; the indie darling that PC fans have been enjoying for roughly a year, which has only recently graced consoles.

And it was worth the wait. I typically play the PC edition with a controller anyway, as most of it doesn't require precise movement or cursor manipulation, so everything from using items, and accessing menus to moving your pointer around with the right analog stick is as smooth as butter. There are slight pathing issues when it comes to giving NPCs items (it's easier to just click on them directly), but since just about every action comes with a confirmation prompt, it's not gamebreaking.

Stardew Valley (Xbox One) Review 1

Nothing is gamebreaking about this console port, actually. It's pretty much the same game, minus some of the amazing quality of life and conversion mods on PC, like "make Marnie go to work" or the famous Pokémon pixel swap. If you absolutely cannot live without mods the PC platform might be the way to go, but you're getting more than a complete game for the price, As an in-game year (just the beginning, really) can take you upwards of 15 to 20 hours if you stop and smell the roses that you just planted in your front yard.

Stardew Valley does an admirable job at making each activity (foraging, farming, fishing, and combat) viable, but some can be gamed or exploited more than others. In that sense, while I do feel like the world is organic and charming, patterns start to develop and the cracks start to appear more often once you start repeating seasons. It's perfectly reasonable since one person basically developed it, but it's something to be aware of as those small issues start to pile up.

I might not be as hypnotized with Stardew Valley as a lot of other folks, but it's pretty much the Harvest Moon follow-up I've been waiting for since the SNES and Nintendo 64 days. It doesn't have all of the baggage and complications of recent iterations or farming simulators—it simply does one job, and goes completely out of its way to do it well.

Score:8.5

Final Thoughts:I might not be as hypnotized with Stardew Valley as a lot of other folks, but it's pretty much the Harvest Moon follow-up I've been waiting for since the SNES and Nintendo 64 days.

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Pokémon Go Could Be a No-Go in China http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/pokemon-go-could-be-no-go-china/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/pokemon-go-could-be-no-go-china/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 16:35:56 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93494

By Ana Valens

Pokémon Go may be one of the most popular mobile games of 2016 and 2017, thanks in part to its enormous hype during the summer of 2016. But one major superpower is moving towards avoiding the Pokémon craze altogether. Pokémon Go, along with other augmented reality mobile titles, may not come to China due to major "potential security […]

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By Ana Valens

Pokémon Go may be one of the most popular mobile games of 2016 and 2017, thanks in part to its enormous hype during the summer of 2016. But one major superpower is moving towards avoiding the Pokémon craze altogether. Pokémon Go, along with other augmented reality mobile titles, may not come to China due to major "potential security risks" that AR games grant, as Reuters reports.

China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio Film and Television, the state's censor body, is "coordinating with other government departments to evaluate the game's risks," as Chinese officials felt a "high level of responsibility to national security and the safety of people's lives and property" to evaluate the game's risks upon reviewing the mobile title's gameplay.

The games panel of the censor-governed China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association argued that Pokémon Go presents a "threat to geographical information security and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers," according to a post from the association. In short, China is worried about players hurting themselves or divulging Chinese governmental and military secrets. Although the game hasn't been officially barred from Chinese markets, the government requires time to seek out and evaluate national security risks before choosing to (or not to) license the game.

Pokémon Go's developer, Niantic, would face a huge blow if their game failed to land in Chinese markets. China is easily the biggest mobile gaming market on the planet, with online gaming and handheld play traditionally drawing in consumers. If the company is able to sell microtransactions in China, the game would bring in an enormous amount of revenue. Likewise, China's decision will also dictate whether augmented reality titles will be supported (or denied) in Chinese markets. Suffice to say, the state censor's decision could impact virtual and augmented reality development for years to come.

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Attack on Titan Editor Arrested for Murder http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/attack-titan-editor-arrested-murder/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/attack-titan-editor-arrested-murder/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:32:19 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93482

By Ana Valens

The Attack on Titan manga series' initial editor has been arrested for murder. According to CBR, Park Jung-Hyun was brought into custody for allegedly murdering his wife in August 2016, the publication reports. On Aug. 9 2016, Jung-Hyun's wife "collapsed" at Jung-Hyun's apartment, as he told to Tokyo's emergency services. Emergency respondents found his wife "lying […]

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By Ana Valens

The Attack on Titan manga series' initial editor has been arrested for murder. According to CBR, Park Jung-Hyun was brought into custody for allegedly murdering his wife in August 2016, the publication reports.

On Aug. 9 2016, Jung-Hyun's wife "collapsed" at Jung-Hyun's apartment, as he told to Tokyo's emergency services. Emergency respondents found his wife "lying face-up at the base of the stairwell in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest," CBR states. She was later pronounced dead after arriving at a local hospital.

Jung-Hyun told police that his wife had taken a fall down the stairs, but an official autopsy found that she died from suffocation applied to pressure around her throat. There were also "light gashes" on her forehead. Both pieces of evidence suggest that a physical altercation took place via domestic violence. While Jung-Hyun attempted to claim she committed suicide by hanging, the police later arrested Jung-Hyun.

Jung-Hyun originally edited Attack on Titan for Bessatsu Shonen Magazine in 2009. Before his arrest, he was working on Weekly Morning, a seinen manga magazine from editor-in-chief Eijiro Shimada. Bessatsu Shonen Magazine and Weekly Morning are both published by Kodansha, Attack on Titan's publisher. The company also publishes Princess Jellyfish, Chi's Sweet Home and Love Hina.

During its early years, the Attack on Titan series was one of the most popular manga and anime franchises published worldwide. Six of its North American volumes charted on the New York Times' Manga Best Seller list, and the series has seen huge success across Japan as both a manga and an anime. Suffice to say, Park Jung-Hyun's arrest will not damage the Attack on Titan series' reputation in the manga and anime community. But no word remains from Kodansha whether the original series' editor will remain with the company if charges are cleared. This news comes just days after season two of the  Attack on Titan TV show was announced.

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Gravity Rush 2 (PS4) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/gravity-rush-2-ps4-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/gravity-rush-2-ps4-review/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 08:01:01 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93448

By Elias Blondeau

Gravity Rush, one of the marquee PS Vita titles, was the very definition of “potential” as far as games go. There was a lot to love in the 2012 release—a memorable heroine, winning art direction, and a central gameplay hook unlike anything on the market (Inversion notwithstanding.) That was enough for most, myself included, to […]

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By Elias Blondeau

Gravity Rush, one of the marquee PS Vita titles, was the very definition of “potential” as far as games go. There was a lot to love in the 2012 release—a memorable heroine, winning art direction, and a central gameplay hook unlike anything on the market (Inversion notwithstanding.) That was enough for most, myself included, to overlook critical design flaws and an overall lack of polish. However, the release platform seemed to doom this potential franchise to a single entry—whatever potential was there would never be fully capitalized on. Imagine my surprise, then, that Sony is putting out Gravity Rush 2 as their first major release of 2017, and on their flagship system no less.

Also imagine my surprise that Keiichiro Toyama, the visionary who created Silent Hill, didn’t really see fit to fix any of the problems of the original title. One would think that with a bigger budget, a more robust platform, and more development time, Gravity Rush 2 would have been an extraordinary leap in technical polish and mechanical execution. Instead, what players are treated to is, essentially, more Gravity Rush on a larger scale.

Gravity Rush 2 (PS4) Review 4

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing particularly bad about more Gravity Rush, especially considering it had a snowball’s chance in hell of happening. But for Gravity Rush 2 to fail at fixing any of the key problems with its predecessor, and be satisfied with transposing the exact same mechanics to a new setting, is a bit risky. It’s risky because this was a chance to branch the franchise out to a wider audience, and instead, it’s a game made for people who liked the original and literally nobody else.

Luckily, I did like the original, and found myself pretty engrossed in this one as well. The much-improved narrative helps. I couldn’t tell you jack about what happened in the first Gravity Rush, for the most part, but Gravity Rush 2 does a fantastic job of establishing a cast of compelling characters and investing players in a surprisingly nuanced struggle. What could have just been whimsical silliness and anime tropes evolves into a high-flying tale about the dangers of gentrification, the role of the middle class in a capitalistic power structure, and other meaty topics.

No, I’m dead serious—Gravity Rush 2 has one of the more mature narratives I’ve seen in a big game recently. Oh, sure, there are silly bits where Kat finds herself in giant succulent gardens and swirling voids of rocks and mollusks, giant set pieces intended to look pretty and not do much else. But the core struggle, the message that Toyama is trying to impart on players is pretty great stuff, top to bottom, and delivered in a stylish fashion at a brisk pace. And yes, everything is told in that neat hybrid of French and Japanese made specifically for these games, which is charming in its own right.

If only the gameplay itself was as consistently charming. Yes, the core gravity shifting mechanics are basically sound—making Kat float, fly, and cling onto things basically works how it basically should. But the first game’s navigation issues—from a camera that wildly swings out of focus to odd collision detection throughout—remain intact. Getting Kat to land where you want her to, especially in the heat of the moment, is still an occasional chore, and even looking where you want to becomes a problem in some sections. Combat against larger enemies still feels like a floaty crapshoot, too, with aiming for glowing weak spots and kicking them becoming a guessing game of, “well, this should hit, let’s hope it does.” The good news is that combat against smaller enemies is fast, intuitive, and fun. Flinging monsters and enemy soldiers through the air is endlessly satisfying, echoing the good bits of The Force Unleashed.

Gravity Rush 2 (PS4) Review 5

Players also get access to new versions of Kat’s powers with the Lunar Style shifting. Lunar Style makes it look like Kat is walking on the moon, with the conceit being that her personal field of gravity is weakened. She clumsily strides 10 to 20 feet at a time, and can send herself rocketing into the air with reckless abandon. While they look kind of janky and broken, these new abilities are quite fun, and allow players to navigate the open worlds in a fun and unintentionally hilarious manner. At the very least, they’re a hell of a lot better than those As Seen On TV “Moon Boots” we all got suckered into as kids.

Gravity Rush 2 also does a good job of giving players more to do than “walk around and then fight stuff, then engage with a big ol’ setpiece.” There’s a lot of variety here, with main missions consisting of arena mini-games, timed target practice, and large challenge dungeons. Not every gameplay type is a winner, of course; a particularly awful stealth segment and a tedious “protect the villagers” bit left me more irritated than engaged. But for the most part, I appreciated the variety on display here, and liked that some effort was made to give players more to do with the core mechanics.

Yet that’s the operative phrase here: “with the core mechanics.” A bigger open world, beautiful graphics, and some new challenges don’t change the fact that Gravity Rush 2 doesn’t feel like much of a significant overhaul of its predecessor. The air-based combat still feels weird, the platforming still acts up, and that camera is still a thorn in player’s sides at time. Everything that didn’t work about the original doesn’t work here.

On the same token, though, everything that made the original so charming, so memorable, so beloved by a certain subsect of players is still here. That gorgeous art direction, these winning characters, and those astonishing musical pieces—it’s all still here, and with a much better narrative to boot.

So, is Gravity Rush 2 a perfect game, and the improvement upon the formula that I wanted? No, not really. But it is a pretty good one, and bound to be great to diehard fans of the original. In spite of some pretty major flaws that will throw off a wider audience, I’m grateful that this game exists, and I can only hope that the eventual sequel will be a bigger, bolder evolution of the original.

Score:7.5

Final Thoughts:Despite a majority of the original’s flaws carrying over, Gravity Rush 2 is nevertheless a good game with a winning narrative and a beautiful art direction.

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The Accountant Blu-ray Giveaway http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/accountant-blu-ray-giveaway/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/10/accountant-blu-ray-giveaway/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:00:30 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93387

By CGM Staff

CGM is giving away more movies! CGM has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to give away some of the best movies in recent history. This month we are giving away The Accountant. A forensic accountant un-cooks the books for illicit clients. Own the Blu-ray™ 01/10 Digital HD Available Now © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. […]

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By CGM Staff

CGM is giving away more movies!

CGM has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to give away some of the best movies in recent history.

This month we are giving away The Accountant.

The Accountant Blu-ray Giveaway

A forensic accountant un-cooks the books for illicit clients.

Own the Blu-ray™ 01/10
Digital HD Available Now

© 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 


The Accountant Blu-ray Give Away

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Twin Peaks revival premieres May 21st on Showtime http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/09/twin-peaks-revivial-premiere-date/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/09/twin-peaks-revivial-premiere-date/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 00:12:26 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93472

By Mike Cosimano

2017 is looking up, now that Showtime president and CEO David Nevins has officially set a date for the premium channel's Twin Peaks revival. The double-length premiere event is currently set for May 21st at 9 PM, followed by episodes three and four going live on Showtime On Demand. That should give younger fans of the show […]

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By Mike Cosimano

2017 is looking up, now that Showtime president and CEO David Nevins has officially set a date for the premium channel's Twin Peaks revival. The double-length premiere event is currently set for May 21st at 9 PM, followed by episodes three and four going live on Showtime On Demand. That should give younger fans of the show plenty of time to figure out if their parents have Showtime, and if they know what their cable password is.

(My stepdad unironically likes Ray Donovan and my mom used to watch Homeland before that show got even weirder, so you know I'm all set for when May 21st rolls around)

Series creator David Lynch is back for the 18-episode revival (despite some initial uncertainty), directing from scripts written by Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost, featuring many of the original cast members. Although early reports suggested Twin Peaks might have a shelf life beyond the current 18-episode order, Nevins shot the concept down during Showtime's TCA tour. "[Twin Peaks] is designed to be a one-time, closed-ended event," Nevins said. According to Variety, Nevins didn't rule out the concept of a renewal entirely, but of course he wouldn't -- if the show does gangbusters, Showtime is absolutely going to make more. If it doesn't bring in the numbers they were hoping for, then "18 episodes was always the plan."

The first two seasons of Twin Peaks are currently streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the show's new home, Showtime. Unfortunately, Fire Walk With Me is currently unavailable to stream -- your best option is to rent it digitally on iTunes or Amazon. For returning fans who have already re-watched the show in anticipation of the revival there's always Dual Spires, the Twin Peaks homage episode of Psych (also currently unavailable for streaming). If you like your weird Pacific Northwest towns a little more interactive, there's also cult classic video game Deadly Premonition (available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, although the quality of the PC version is up for debate)

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Report: Platinum Games' Scalebound in Danger of Cancellation http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/09/report-platinum-games-scalebound-danger-cancellation/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/09/report-platinum-games-scalebound-danger-cancellation/#respond Mon, 09 Jan 2017 19:27:08 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93464

By Kenneth Shepard

Platinum Games’ upcoming PC and Xbox One action game Scalebound is apparently in danger of being cancelled, according to a report from Kotaku. Both Platinum and Microsoft have been mostly silent on the game since its delay into 2017 last January, but Kotaku reports that the game has been deemed in “development hell,” and may […]

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By Kenneth Shepard

Platinum Games’ upcoming PC and Xbox One action game Scalebound is apparently in danger of being cancelled, according to a report from Kotaku.

Both Platinum and Microsoft have been mostly silent on the game since its delay into 2017 last January, but Kotaku reports that the game has been deemed in “development hell,” and may not see the light of day at all. When asked for a comment on the rumors, a Microsoft representative stated that the company would “have more to share on ‘Scalebound’ soon.”

Kotaku’s report doesn’t have much in the way of specifics as to why a cancellation is possible, but Scalebound has been conspicuously absent from much of Microsoft’s recent marketing since its delay.

Scalebound was originally announced as an Xbox One exclusive during Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference, and then later shown in motion the following year at Gamescom 2015. In 2016 it was confirmed a Windows 10 version of the game was also in development, but news on it has been scarce since.

Outside of Scalebound, Platinum Games is also well-known for games like the Bayonetta series, The Wonderful 101, and the upcoming Nier: Automata, which will come to PC and PlayStation 4 in March. In recent years, Platinum has taken on several licensed games, including The Legend of Korra, Transformers: Devastation, and most recently Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan. The studio has also been candid about its appreciation for Nintendo, leading to several partnerships with the company like Bayonetta 2's Wii U exclusivity, and developing last year's Star Fox Zero.

Should Platinum and Microsoft make the decision to cease development of Scalebound, Xbox One and Windows 10 players will still have some exclusives left to look forward to in 2017, with Crackdown 3, Halo Wars 2, and Sea of Thieves all slated to launch in the next calendar year. For more on those, check out CGM’s previews of Halo Wars 2 and Sea of Thieves.

Update 1: Microsoft has confirmed to Kotaku that Scalbound has been canceled:

"After careful deliberation, Microsoft Studios has come to the decision to end production for Scalebound. We’re working hard to deliver an amazing lineup of games to our fans this year, including Halo Wars 2, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves and other great experiences."

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Hi-Rez Conquers Atlanta: HRX 2017 http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/09/hi-rez-conquers-atlanta-hrx-2017/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/09/hi-rez-conquers-atlanta-hrx-2017/#respond Mon, 09 Jan 2017 17:00:19 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93432

By Cody Orme

Hi-Rez Expo 2017 (or HRX 2017) in Atlanta has come and gone, and as one of the bigger expos in North-eastern USA, it brought fans and developers together in an energetic celebration of all things Hi-Rez Studios. At this point the crown jewel of Hi-Rez studios is the third-person MOBA Smite. Since its launch in […]

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By Cody Orme

Hi-Rez Expo 2017 (or HRX 2017) in Atlanta has come and gone, and as one of the bigger expos in North-eastern USA, it brought fans and developers together in an energetic celebration of all things Hi-Rez Studios.

At this point the crown jewel of Hi-Rez studios is the third-person MOBA Smite. Since its launch in 2012, Smite has quickly become the studio’s most popular IP, and is also one of the most played MOBAs on the market. Hi-Rez Studio president Stew Chisam stated on twitter in May that 20 million people have played the free-to-play MOBA. Those numbers fluctuate, but there’s no doubt Smite has a consistent and passionate community.

That’s why, to kick off HRX 2017, Hi-Rez studios announced a new spinoff title for mobile and PC­—a collectable card arena game titled Smite Rivals. Along with that came news that another Smite spinoff, Smite Tactics, is entering closed beta with a founder’s pack that allows early users to get special in-game content. The final bit of Smite news came with the announcement of Season Four changes, which ranged from new character “The Morrigan” (the first playable character from the Celtic pantheon) to an in game Celtic event, a new Egyptian map, and the ability to queue multiple game modes at once.

Smite: Rivals Preview- Tower of Cards 2
Smite Rivals Pre-Alpha footage

But Smite isn’t the only Hi-Rez game, and the studio decided to rebrand the expo formerly titled Smite World Championships to HRX 2017 in an effort to showcase their other titles, most notably Paladins. The team-based objective shooter Paladins got some love with a Season One, where Hi-Rez announced a new castle map and new skins for Ying and Viktor.

“Last year we really started to use that ‘Hi-Rez Expo’ terminology and this year we are really starting to embrace it,” says Chisam, adding that before this year they only really had one eSport title. “You see how it’s grown, you go to running multiple tournaments simultaneously, having it span not just to the eSports arena, but into the ball room [of the Cobb Energy Center for the Performing Arts].”

The growth of the expo didn’t just expand on the games Hi-Rez makes; it also brought a larger audience, with Chisam saying they even had to turn down many people who wanted to buy tickets. While he did admit that perhaps HRX 2017 might be too big for their location, he didn’t say if that would prompt a move to a bigger venue next year. Location aside, there was a big turn out of both Smite and Paladins fans, and with two new games on the way, it was a way for the developers to get some face-to-face feedback on their upcoming titles. While the studio is known for being active on Twitter with their users, HRX 2017 provided a more intimate experience for developers and fans alike.

“I’ve been sending myself emails [this weekend] whenever I get a really good request [from a fan] or when someone will point out a bug or an unintended design result” says Smite game designer AJ Walker, who also mentioned that he sent about 15 emails to himself. “The best thing is, a lot of the stuff they suggest is already in the pipeline.”

Both Smite and Paladins were on full display in their respective tournaments. The Paladins tournament was a rematch of the Dreamhack Founders Tournament in June 2016 semi-final match that saw District 69 sweep Burrito eSports. This time around Burrito found redemption by taking out D69 in game seven and winning the Paladins tournament.

Hi-Rez Conquers Atlanta: HRX 2017
Team D69 competing in the HRX Paladins tournament.

The Smite PC tournament saw second-seeded Obey Alliance take on first seed NRG eSports. Going into this tournament Obey had a reputation of struggling against top tier teams, but they seemed to have a shake at Dreamhack. However, that stigma might stick with them after they lost to NRG in a convincing fashion, with NRG winning three matches to one.

With a high octane finish, HRX 2017 changed its branding from a Smite centred tournament to a celebration of Hi-Rez Studios and their fans. As a studio that’s already pretty close with its community, having more direct access for fans seems like a popular decision.

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Razer CEO Reveals Prototypes Stolen at CES http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/09/razer-ceo-reveals-prototypes-stolen-ces/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/09/razer-ceo-reveals-prototypes-stolen-ces/#respond Mon, 09 Jan 2017 15:54:20 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93442

By Ana Valens

Razer has faced a dramatic end to CES 2017, and the company is looking at its competitors as potential suspects. According to a post by CEO Min-Liang Tan, two Razer prototypes were stolen from the company's booth at CES. The Facebook post, which was shared at 2:09am ET on Jan. 9, reveals that Razer is serious about bringing […]

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By Ana Valens

Razer has faced a dramatic end to CES 2017, and the company is looking at its competitors as potential suspects. According to a post by CEO Min-Liang Tan, two Razer prototypes were stolen from the company's booth at CES.

The Facebook post, which was shared at 2:09am ET on Jan. 9, reveals that Razer is serious about bringing the culprits to justice amidst a stressful end to Sunday's events. Tan isn't ruling out the concept of "industrial espionage," either, as made evident by his post.

"At Razer, we play hard and we play fair. Our teams worked months on end to conceptualize and develop these units and we pride ourselves in pushing the envelope to deliver the latest and greatest," Tan said. "We treat theft/larceny, and if relevant to this case, industrial espionage, very seriously – it is cheating, and cheating doesn’t sit well with us. Penalties for such crimes are grievous and anyone who would do this clearly isn’t very smart."

Tan also confirmed that Razer is cooperating with show management and law enforcement to address the issue. The company is asking anyone who can "provide us any information" to reach out to Razer's legal department, noting that "all information provided will be kept int he strictest of confidence."

As of yet, it's hard to say for certain what prototypes were stolen from Razer at CES. Engadget noted that Razer's new Chroma projector and three-screened laptop, entitled Project Ariana and Project Valerie, respectively, were two of the biggest parts of Razer's presence, but Razer has not yet disclosed if these projects were part of the theft. The site also points out that Razer previously saw two experimental Blade prototypes stolen from Razer's R&D lab in 2011, suggesting that theft of one form or another is not uncommon for Razer to experience. Check back as more information develops over the coming weeks ahead.

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Bushido: The Soul of the Samurai (Graphic Novel) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/bushido-soul-samurai-graphic-novel-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/bushido-soul-samurai-graphic-novel-review/#respond Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93283

By Cole Watson

The moment I read Rurouni Kenshin in 8th grade, I became obsessed with samurai in fictional works. Whether it be Vagabond, Samurai Champloo, or Lone Wolf and Cub, I was drawn to these stories not only for their beautiful visuals and intense battles, but also for their engrossing narratives. Despite reading all these works, though, […]

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By Cole Watson

The moment I read Rurouni Kenshin in 8th grade, I became obsessed with samurai in fictional works. Whether it be Vagabond, Samurai Champloo, or Lone Wolf and Cub, I was drawn to these stories not only for their beautiful visuals and intense battles, but also for their engrossing narratives. Despite reading all these works, though, I feel I only know a portion of what truly makes up the soul of a traditional samurai. Sean Michael Wilson’s graphic novel adaptation of Inazo Nitobe’s 1905 novel, Bushido, became a perfect way to further my knowledge the values behind what makes the honorable samurai of Japan such an addictive subject for western readers to learn about.

Bushido: The Soul of the Samurai (Graphic Novel) Review 10

In the works I recommended above, all of the main protagonists are ronin or vagabonds, warriors who ditched the values and ethics of the bushido code. Samurai didn’t wander the country sides of Japan challenging dojos or working as mercenaries. It was a title given to the most talented knights of a political clan. You may know them better as the poorly trained grunts that we see cut down in anime.

Wilson’s adaptation of Bushido first goes over the philosophy behind Bushido and explores its values further by explaining the characteristics of honor, justice, and loyalty. These characteristics didn’t just impact the samurai caste. It also affected the way Japan raised its people from childhood, becoming ingrained in their cultural identity. It’s great to read how they were applied in unique teaching methods.

The most enjoyable chapters were the ones centered around seppuku and how swordsmiths forged katanas. Seppuku puzzled me because it’s considered an honourable death despite being a live viewing of a suicidal act. While the procedure of disemboweling yourself sounds like a very grotesque affair, in reality seppuku is actually a spiritual sacrifice to keep the soul pure from the evil acts the person committed. It’s still a live execution at the end of the day, but there’s something enthralling in reading about the precise details behind the act, showing that there’s no sloppiness in the way the person is treated upon or after death.

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There’s a lot of great content of this graphic novel adaptation as far as the writing goes, but I can’t help but feel sour towards Akiko Shimojima’s art. There’s no distinct tone or style throughout the read, creating a disjointed reading experience. It feels like she was going for a Scott McCloud approach in the vein of Understanding Comics, but it just doesn’t work to the same effect. At first, violent acts appear to be styled like seinen manga, more realistic in style with a lot of detail, but as the book progresses this changes. During the seppuku chapter, I expected a return of this artwork because of the nature of the ritual, but instead I looked at the generic shounen style that was incorporated in the everyday life sections. There’s just no consistency to be found, especially when historical figures appear multiple times in different art styles.

Bushido is a great read if you’re interested in discovering more details surrounding the samurai ethics embedded in Japanese culture. It’s written with Western readers in mind, and introduces the material in an easily explained way. While the “graphic” portion of the graphic novel isn’t the most consistent, there are some genuine moments where the two work great together, with the fifth chapter being a particular highlight.

No matter how you choose to consume the content, Inazo Nitobe’s Bushido is the first piece of educational literature that captivated me from the very first page until the end of the read. I believe it will have a similar effect on many readers who choose to pick up the title.

Score:7

Final Thoughts:While the art doesn’t enhance the read as much as I hoped, Bushido is a great novel to read if you’re interested in discovering more details about the samurai ethics and values embedded in Japanese culture.

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Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone (PS4) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/hatsune-miku-project-diva-future-tone-ps4-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/hatsune-miku-project-diva-future-tone-ps4-review/#respond Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93402

By Derek Heemsbergen

Like many foreign fans of Japanese culture, my teenage infatuation with anime was an early indicator that I'd be voluntarily and enthusiastically shackled to Eastern media for much of my life. My interest in the medium has waxed and waned over the years, mostly due to the proliferation of shallow fan service that continues to […]

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By Derek Heemsbergen

Like many foreign fans of Japanese culture, my teenage infatuation with anime was an early indicator that I'd be voluntarily and enthusiastically shackled to Eastern media for much of my life. My interest in the medium has waxed and waned over the years, mostly due to the proliferation of shallow fan service that continues to plague the anime industry. These days, I'm a little pickier about the media I consume. Enter the bubbly Hatsune Miku whose shrill voice, coupled with her frequent depiction in outfits designed to attract the straight male gaze, make her a character I should be predisposed to dislike (or at least ignore). She isn't for me, and that's okay. Not every piece of media should cater to everyone. So why, then, have I spent over a hundred hours playing her goofy video games, especially Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone? Because they're really fun, dammit.

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone (PS4) Review 2Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is the latest in a long line of rhythm games centered on the green-haired vocaloid. The cool thing about Miku's immense popularity is that almost everything within the Project DIVA series is fan-created, from the songs and music videos at the core of each game to the artwork and outfits (oh good god, the outfits) on display throughout. Future Tone brings the Japanese arcade version of the game to PlayStation 4, and features more honest-to-goodness content than any other game in the series. We're talking over two hundred songs—a drastic increase over the scant thirty tracks featured in Project DIVA X—plus hundreds of costumes and accessories to unlock. In terms of sheer value, it can't be beaten.

The core rhythm gameplay of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is similar to previous Project DIVA games; though it swaps "flick" notes for "slides" and introduces challenging new double-, triple-, and quadruple-holds. It can get incredibly complex on higher difficulties, making this a game that's easy to pick up but tough to truly master. It also looks absolutely fantastic, running at a silky-smooth 60 frames per second in crisp 1080p. Between Future Tone's enormous track list and gorgeous presentation, I can't see myself ever going back to older Project DIVA titles—it really is that much better.

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone (PS4) Review

What I like best about Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is its no-nonsense presentation. There's no superfluous story to muddle through, no convoluted gift-giving mechanics, and no obtuse unlock system. It's about jamming to all sorts of hyper-Japanese music and loving every minute of it. The interface is totally streamlined, minimizing the number of button presses required to select a song, and features handy sorting options to make thumbing through its massive track list as simple as possible. Character customization, while a focal point of the experience, serves a cosmetic purpose only and is completely optional. Want to dress Miku up in a Valkyria Chronicles costume while she sings about vegetable juice? Sure, go ahead. How about having her don a Sonic the Hedgehog hoodie while she dances to the OutRun theme song? That's what Project DIVA is all about, my friend.

At this point, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is the pinnacle of the Project DIVA experience. It's unabashedly otaku-oriented, borne of a love for the idol whose virtual visage is alluring to many and repugnant to others. I was resistant at first, but over time, I found myself inexplicably drawn to her brand of exuberant weirdness. I guess I'm just a sucker for good rhythm games.

Score:8.5

Final Thoughts:As the most content-rich Project DIVA game yet, Future Tone has a bizarre charm that should appeal even to the most vocaloid-averse rhythm game fans.

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Diablo III: Book of Tyrael (Book) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/diablo-iii-book-tyrael-book-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/diablo-iii-book-tyrael-book-review/#respond Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93324

By Helena Shlapak

Anyone who has ever played Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo franchise knows that the world of Sanctuary is detailed, creative and unique. They also know that the series is so deeply plot heavy and rich in backstory and legends that at times, the plot can get convoluted and confusing. The physical games do go into a lot […]

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By Helena Shlapak

Anyone who has ever played Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo franchise knows that the world of Sanctuary is detailed, creative and unique. They also know that the series is so deeply plot heavy and rich in backstory and legends that at times, the plot can get convoluted and confusing. The physical games do go into a lot of these stories but since you can’t cram everything in, Blizzard Entertainment has released series of books to cover all their bases, starting with The Sin War trilogy in 2006. In 2011, Blizzard released Diablo III: Book of Cain based on beloved character Deckard Cain’s notes. The tome also featured new stories and secrets as the scholar researched the End of Days. Now, five years later, fans are getting a sequel tome to Cain’s stories from Tyrael’s point of view in Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.

Former Archangel Tyrael knows that the battle between good and evil isn’t over yet. Using notes from Leah and excerpts from Cain, Tyrael writes his own tome as a call to arms for humanity and as an instruction guide for the dark days ahead.

Diablo III: Book of Tyrael (Book) Review 2

It’s clear that Diablo III: Book of Tyrael had a lot of thought put into it. Like Diablo III: Book of Cain, it features letters from the character’s point of view, gorgeous illustrations and interesting backstories that will suck even a non-fan in. The writing reads like it’s from the past and comes off mysterious and mystical. That’s not to say that the book doesn’t have a couple of problems however.

It’s the book of Tyrael but it jumps mostly between Leah’s letters and Cain’s journals, so the title is a bit misleading. The other problem is that I sometimes forgot who was who when reading. Now, each character’s writing is in a different format so that wasn’t the issue, the issue was that the characters voices weren’t unique. I could tell it was written by the authors of the book rather than by three different characters. The language and style were too similar. The other problem was that some of the stories were a struggle to follow because they were rushing from one thing to the next or simply becoming a massive plot dump.

If you’re a fan of Diablo, can easily jump into the lore and want to add anything Diablo related to your shelf, Diablo III: Book of Tyrael is perfect for you. If you’re just starting to get into Diablo, I’d recommend playing the games first and working your way up to this one.

Score:7

Final Thoughts:A bit tough to read but expands on the world of Sanctuary in a creative way.

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Smite Rivals Preview- Tower of Cards http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/08/smite-rivals-preview-tower-cards/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/08/smite-rivals-preview-tower-cards/#respond Sun, 08 Jan 2017 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93415

By Cody Orme

At this point, MOBAs have dethroned MMOs as the go-to online gaming experiences, with titles like League of Legends and Dota dominating the online gaming community and the world of eSports. As far as this genre goes, you’d be hard pressed to find a community more involved than the Smite scene. Developed by Hi-Rez Studios […]

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By Cody Orme

At this point, MOBAs have dethroned MMOs as the go-to online gaming experiences, with titles like League of Legends and Dota dominating the online gaming community and the world of eSports. As far as this genre goes, you’d be hard pressed to find a community more involved than the Smite scene. Developed by Hi-Rez Studios in 2014, Smite has grown exponentially to the point that its tournament is the highlight of HRX, the developer’s own expo. Much like any studio’s flagship title, there are bound to be spin offs, which is why it only makes sense that at HRX 2017, Hi-Rez Studios showed off Smite Rivals; a collectable card arena game in the vein of Castle Crashers.

Don’t take that description as a knock on Smite Rivals though. While Hi-Rez Studios doesn’t have a firm release date for it yet, there was enough of a build for curious players to try out at HRX 2017, and it’s crazy addictive. Building on the lore Smite has already created, Smite Rivals takes players into a completely different play style. The goal is to build a deck to utilize in an attack and defend gameplay style with PVP elements.

Smite Rivals Preview- Tower of Cards 2

Players can choose a god, just like Smite, but then things change. There are three lanes to flood. At the end of each lane is a “tower” that can withstand damage. While the gameplay is as simple as dragging and dropping a card in a lane, doing this involves a hint of strategy mixed with a bit of luck. Both tactical manoeuvring and chance fall on your deck. Now, the build I played at HRX only featured a selection of gods— I played as Hades and Neith— and the decks were random, but players can build their own decks, and even transfer them from mobile to PC. That cross platform sharing actually extends to gameplay as well. Players using PC would face off against someone playing on a mobile device and vice versa. In the primary game mode, players pick eight cards; of those eight, one is to be a god. The other cards are a mix of minions, structures, and spells.

“We’ve always wanted to figure out how to bring that to mobile,” says Brian Grayson, Project Lead for Smite Rivals. “We knew we didn’t want to make a MOBA… and we finally fell on this tug of war kind of gameplay.”

Regardless of what platform users choose, they’ll feel the sense of urgency when playing Smite Rivals. Every game I played against CGM’s Editor in Chief Brendan Frye went to overtime, and it got pretty heated. In order to come out on top, players need to keep an eye on their rival’s habits and openings. The other thing players will have to keep an eye on is their mana. There’s no card spamming in Smite Rivals. Instead, different cards take up different amounts of mana. Managing that aspect of the game can be the difference between a well-timed placement and waiting on a hero to save your tower.

One difference (aside from gameplay) fans of Smite will notice with Smite Rivals is the art style. While the MOBA features more detailed character modes, Smite Rivals is home to more light-hearted, cute, and almost chibi characters. They’re all still the same gods you know and love from the MOBA and comics, but they’re presented in a completely different way.

“The models in Smite are awesome but they’re really detailed; they’re too detailed for mobile,” says Grayson, adding that they decided to take a poll throughout the studio to decide on an art style. “Surprisingly, people decided on chibi.”

This art style is an alternative to the more realistic character models of the original Smite, but it also works better on mobile devices. The proportions of the characters lend themselves better the top down visual style of Smite Rivals while still allowing players to see some of the details that go into each model. While these new takes on old characters won’t be as realistic as Smite, they definitely suit the aesthetic used in Rivals.

It goes without saying Smite Rivals is a step into uncharted territory for Hi-Rez Studios. Taking a beloved franchise and transforming it into a completely new genre is taking a risk. But for what it is, Smite Rivals is really fun, and cross-platform connectivity makes for interesting match ups. For those afraid of dropping into a series with deep-rooted lore, it’s simple enough to pop into, and for long time fans, it’s a treat. This could be the next “must play” free-to-play mobile title.

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The Complicated History of Revolutions in Video Games http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/07/complicated-history-revolutions-video-games/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/07/complicated-history-revolutions-video-games/#respond Sat, 07 Jan 2017 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93314

By Alex Avard

To read a book or watch a movie about a revolution is to be an onlooker, whereby involvement is limited to viewing the events unfold before you as a spectator, rather than alongside you as a participant. Video games featuring revolutions, on the other hand, are able to directly task players with an active role in […]

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By Alex Avard

To read a book or watch a movie about a revolution is to be an onlooker, whereby involvement is limited to viewing the events unfold before you as a spectator, rather than alongside you as a participant. Video games featuring revolutions, on the other hand, are able to directly task players with an active role in the uprising, representing a well-realized creative expression of the idea that revolutions, at least in theory, are inherently inclusive to anybody who believes in their cause. Plenty of easily identifiable titles have offered such an opportunity in the past, but only to a limited extent. These games tend to focus on elevating the player’s sense of importance above their comrades in the virtual rebellions, subsequently undermining the “strength in numbers” mentality that so often fuels the spirit of revolution.

The Complicated History of Revolutions in Video Games 2

The definition over what exactly constitutes a revolution has been the source of much debate and discussion for centuries, but for the sake of this article we’ll begin with that ever reliable source of concision and accessibility; the English Oxford Dictionary. That resource defines revolution as “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system.”

We can likely all agree that video games have certainly not held back on depicting the “forcible” aspect of revolutions that definition refers to, though few can truly claim to offer anything beyond this dimension of revolutionary activity. That said, many interactive experiences have instead managed to effectively capture the zeitgeist of revolutionary fever, even as they fail to meaningfully tackle the subject matter itself.

This power of evocation is largely wrought by the medium’s ability to achieve what no other form of entertainment can accomplish in terms of player agency. In almost every game featuring a revolution, be it Just Cause, Dishonored, or Far Cry, the player is positioned as the primary agent of change. More than that, they are often heralded as the only one with the power and responsibility to transform the fictional society in which the protagonist so happens to find themselves. Your actions in the game directly determine the extent and nature of revolutionary change in the land. This experience is intentionally empowering as a form of immersion, and it certainly holds the effect of making players feel as though they are a meaningful part of these fictional revolutions.

Yet, as instinctively affecting as this “feeling” can be, it’s typically left somewhat undermined by the nuances of the story. To return to the semantics of what a revolution actually is, some (see Marx) would suggest that a revolution can only be qualified as such if it was brought about by the working class of society. With this conceptualization, then, change must come from the bottom up rather than top down.

The Complicated History of Revolutions in Video Games 3Video games about revolution, on the other hand, tend to position players as the unitary hero of the story, often in possession of extraordinary skills and abilities, who can thus hardly be considered a common member of the populace. Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor is a master assassin of an ancient order; Dishonored’s Corvo Attano is endowed with mysterious and supernatural powers, and the playable character in Skyrim (should they side with the Stormcloaks) is the last of the dragonborn—not exactly an everyday citizen of the realm, then.

To take this criticism even further, certain games might very well provide the moment-to-moment experience of acting like a revolutionary, but the minutiae of the fiction reveals quite the opposite.

In Dishonored, you are a bodyguard to an unelected ruler, until she is murdered and overthrown by appointed members of her own government. Despite all the talk of restoring order to the Isles, the circle of conspirators who you then work with to reclaim the Kaldwin throne also happens to be made up of some of the most elite members of society. It’s a tale of internal conflict among the ruling class of Dunwall; in which the common people are treated as nothing more than pieces on a chessboard. Even Dishonored 2’s tagline boldly encourages players to “take back what’s yours” as Emily Kaldwin or Corvo, but it’s worth remembering “what’s yours” is a Kaldwin dynasty that was never mandated through popular consent.

In the Just Cause games, you play as Rico Rodriguez, a one-man revolution with little regard for abiding to the laws of political theory. With the exception of Just Cause 3, where Rodriguez returns to liberate his homeland, the character is not so much part of a “bottom up” rebellion as he is a tool of foreign intervention; dismantling regimes that are no longer aligned with US interests. For many, this isn’t meaningful revolution but instead a form of neo-colonialism, yet it certainly feels like the former as you bring liberation to the locals via Rico’s professional knack for destruction.

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Perhaps the only game that can credibly claim to simulate the life of an insurgent is the aptly titled Homefront: The Revolution. Despite Dambuster Studio’s sequel being a real mess in almost every other regard, the experience at least put players in the shoes of a resistance soldier who, and this is the important part, is just one member of a sprawling coalition of rebels. Of course, the player is still positioned as the primary agent of change in America’s ongoing war against a foreign occupation, but the game makes an effort to show your allies constantly fighting both among and with you. You are part of something bigger than yourself, an idea that is perhaps the concept of revolution boiled down to its most normative essence.

As hopefully demonstrated, developers have already proven they can successfully emulate the power fantasy of taking part in revolution in video games, but these often fall short of crafting a story which does justice to the realities of the phenomena. The gratification of fighting tyranny and liberating the land is in no short supply in video games, but how about more titles that take some time out from worshipping their protagonist to instead demonstrate the importance and power of collective action in revolutions? It’s a tall order, but one that it is nonetheless possible for a medium which has yet to discover the extent of its potential.

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Even the Ocean (PC) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/even-the-ocean-pc-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/even-the-ocean-pc-review/#respond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93270

By Adam Nizam

Released in 2013, Anodyne was the story of Young; a white-haired young man on a journey to save someone named the Briar from the mysterious Darkness. That’s the surface level description, anyway. In actuality, Anodyne was a psychological journey through distinctly abstract areas, each with its own theme and look, tied together by a large, […]

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By Adam Nizam

Released in 2013, Anodyne was the story of Young; a white-haired young man on a journey to save someone named the Briar from the mysterious Darkness. That’s the surface level description, anyway. In actuality, Anodyne was a psychological journey through distinctly abstract areas, each with its own theme and look, tied together by a large, Zelda-like hub world. Three years later, Anodyne’s developers, Joni Kittaka and Sean Hogan, have returned with a new game that, while the story is more tangible on an external level, has just as much—if not—more going in internally than their previous game.

Even the Ocean (PC) Review 3 Even the Ocean is the story of Aliph, a power plant worker living in a sci-fi/fantasy setting known as Whiteforge City. In Whiteforge, there are two types of energy, light and dark. Whiteforge harnesses light energy from the planet to power the city, but if a person were to absorb too much light or dark energy, they would die. After a routine maintenance trip gone awry, Aliph manages to impress the mayor of Whiteforge, who gives her the task of investigating a rash of power plant outages throughout the continent. What begins as a simple assignment turns out to be much grander than that, and may very well involve the fate of mankind.

Even the Ocean (PC) Review 4

Even the Ocean’s story and atmosphere are very similar to Anodyne’s in that there’s a constant dreamlike quality to the game’s events, only the former feels much more rooted in some form of reality. While Anodyne felt less like a concrete narrative and more like a vehicle for developers Kittaka and Hogan to talk about their personal philosophies through the world and environment’s underlying implications, with Even the Ocean there is a marked shift towards presenting a story with characters that are clearly defined. However, this is not a transition that is made entirely smoothly. At times, conversations between characters can feel less like real people talking and more like they’re outright stating philosophy to the player, and the effect is jarring. During these moments, the fact that there’s a writer behind the story’s characters can be painfully felt, which makes it difficult to connect with them as individuals. By the end of the game, though, the story’s underlying message (which won’t be spoiled here) is delivered in a way that feels sincere and meaningful. The lack of any clear villain, unlike many stories that have a similar message, means that it doesn’t come across as moralizing or overly simplistic, delivering a much more complex take than what we’re used to when it comes to stories like these.

Even the Ocean (PC) Review

Gameplay-wise, Even the Ocean is a puzzle-platformer primarily based around one mechanic: there is no traditional health bar or way to take damage. Instead, there is a bar that starts out half light and half dark, with various objects boosting the light or dark side depending on their colour. If the bar is filled solely with one colour, you die. The addition of this unique mechanic means that whether something is an obstacle or a health boost depends entirely on the context, so traditional philosophies that form the very bedrock of platformer design such as “these are the bad things and you should never hit them” are thrown entirely out the window. You are given a shield, but even that is used as a way to solve puzzles and not solely to avoid danger. The level design manages to play with this mechanic in interesting ways, adding more to it as the game progresses so that it doesn’t feel like it’s hinging on this one idea. Much like 2016’s Superhot, Even the Ocean’s core twist to a well-worn genre’s formula is so unique that the game practically creates itself, yet the developers went above and beyond with this twist to make something that feels like a truly complete game.

These elements work well on their own, but it’s when they are put together that Even the Ocean’s true value shines. The debate between story and gameplay is fairly overdone at this point, but Even the Ocean feels in some ways like a response. By tying the story and gameplay together so that neither feels fully complete without the other, Kittaka and Hogan have created a game that feels completely cohesive in a way that many other games struggle with. The fact that two people managed to do something that many AAA studios have difficulty doing is nothing short of amazing, but when looking at what the core of Even the Ocean is, it shouldn’t be surprising. Balance is something that most people don’t particularly treat as a guiding principle in life, yet when playing Even the Ocean, it’s clear that Kittaka and Hogan both view it with reverence. If there’s one thing that should be taken from it, it’s that perhaps more of us should.

Score:8

Final Thoughts:By tying the story’s underlying themes to its gameplay, Even the Ocean feels cohesive in a way that few games do.

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Underworld: Blood Wars (Movie) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/underworld-blood-wars-movie-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/underworld-blood-wars-movie-review/#respond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93337

By Phil Brown

The Underworld movies are kind of like Nickelback. You’d be hard pressed to find a single person who admits to liking them, yet they continue to be massive successes. Underworld: Blood Wars is somehow the fifth flick in this never-ending cycle of pretty people wearing leather caught in a war between vampires and werewolves. The […]

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By Phil Brown

The Underworld movies are kind of like Nickelback. You’d be hard pressed to find a single person who admits to liking them, yet they continue to be massive successes. Underworld: Blood Wars is somehow the fifth flick in this never-ending cycle of pretty people wearing leather caught in a war between vampires and werewolves. The concept sounds like a can’t miss geek fix. It’s got guns and blood and sexiness and mythology and monsters and all sorts of other things that typically make for ADD entertainment. Yet from the very first entry, the Underworld movies have been a boring and convoluted mess. It feels like posturing, the product of folks who understand the commercial appeal of genre entertainment but not why the stories are worth telling. Yet the movies keep making money, so sequels keep getting produced. Here comes the next one and it’s about as good as the last one, which is to say, “not very.”

The easiest way to explain what any Underworld movie is about is to sum it up with a single word: nothing. Unfortunately, that’s not how reviews work, I’ll try for a bit more. So Kate Beckinsale’s “Death Dealer” vampire warrior is back. This time that daughter of hers with mixed monster magic blood (don’t ask) has been sent away for safety to avoid the overall messy narrative of Underworld from advancing significantly. Instead, Beckinsale is approached by the vampire counsel (including an underused Charles Dance) to help fight off a new army of werewolves, but the truth is more complicated.

Underworld: Blood Wars (Movie) Review 3

Well, not really. It just means that Beckinsale is caught in the middle again with the vampires and werewolves all wanting to kill her and track down her daughter. There are some vampire politics involved and the threat of war. You know, the same old crap that didn’t make much sense in the last four movies and doesn’t make any more sense here.

As always, Underworld: Blood Wars treats everything deathly seriously to the movie’s detriment. This franchise has played out almost side-by-side with the equally inexplicably unstoppable Resident Evil series, but sadly never embraced its inherent silliness with tongue-in-cheek camp like those endless zombie flicks. There’s no irony here. No humor. No heart. It’s just a bunch of exhausted actors spitting out words that they don’t understand written by writers who didn’t care. None of it adds up to much of anything. It’s all pretty simple, backed by just enough needlessly convoluted backstory to give off the illusion of being complicated. The movie is confusing, but mostly because it’s so damn difficult to pay attention or get invested. The desperation in the Underworld franchise kicked in somewhere before the end of the first movie. None of the sequels have clarified or simplified things. The soap opera just keeps marching on with no functioning brains in charge of the messy madness.

On the plus side, veteran TV director Anna Forester does at least have some fun staging action scenes. It’s all glossy and clear and big and expensive and violent. If you’re desperate to see vampires fighting werewolves in heavily choreographed 90s-esque action sequences, you’ll get plenty here. Plus, it’s all shot in that blue n’ black colour scheme that gives off the illusion of darkness. Kate Beckinsale is once again better than the series deserves, lending gravity that shouldn’t be possible to a series that doesn’t deserve it. You can’t help but feel bad that she didn’t land in an actually decent action franchise rather than this, given that she’s so good at pulp gravitas and jump kicking in skintight slacks. She would have made a great Wonder Woman, but that didn’t happen. At least she has a franchise. Too bad it’s horrible.

Underworld: Blood Wars (Movie) Review 4

More than anything else, the most frustrating part of watching Underworld: Blood Wars is seeing how little this series has grown over the years. Even when this franchise kicked off in 2003 it already felt dated, combining bits of Blade and The Matrix and The Lord Of The Rings with fuzzy werewolf effects, because why not? Now it’s a relic of an outdated age, something to fulfill the nostalgia of the easily entertained and even more easily aroused. This isn’t even a failed vampire/werewolf action movie that’s worth a few campy laughs. It’s just a bunch of boring talky bits and action scenes that might have seemed cool a decade ago. Underworld: Blood Wars should be avoided at all costs. But then, that was true of the last four movies as well and somehow enough people showed up to keep this lame duck waddling. It’ll probably happen again. There will be another Underworld.

God help us all.

Score:1

Final Thoughts:More than anything else, the most frustrating part of watching Underworld: Blood Wars is seeing how little this series has grown over the years.

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Best of 2016: TV (4-1) http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/06/best-2016-tv-4-1/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/06/best-2016-tv-4-1/#respond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93298

By Mike Cosimano

In the year 2016, the gods of Content sought fit to bless the planet with a torrent of media, in the hopes of distracting us from the relentless deluge of misery that was 2016. There were more TV shows than we knew what to do with, as prestige television came at the viewing public from […]

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By Mike Cosimano

In the year 2016, the gods of Content sought fit to bless the planet with a torrent of media, in the hopes of distracting us from the relentless deluge of misery that was 2016. There were more TV shows than we knew what to do with, as prestige television came at the viewing public from literally every angle. Of course, some of those shows didn’t quite stick the landing, but it’s the holiday season; everyone knows it’s the thought that counts! For every Westworld, there was a Vice Principals, and for every Search Party, there was an Angie Tribeca.

I did not watch everything this year (and will address that in a later article), but these are my 10 favourite TV shows that I watched to (some form of) completion in 2016. So, like I promised, here are numbers four to one!

4) Outcast

The 10 Best TV Shows of 2016 (Part 2)

The best Robert Kirkman-inspired horror TV show right now is not The Walking Dead although, to be fair, The Walking Dead isn’t the best anything. Rather, fans of Kirkman’s work should check out Cinemax’s Outcast instead, a show about a guy who exorcises demons by punching them. Doesn’t that sound awful; another horror-comedy in the vein of Ash vs Evil Dead or Stan Against Evil, except with even less self-awareness?

Outcast is a lot smarter than that. In Outcast, violence is a curse, the result of untreated childhood abuse coming home to roost. Kyle Barnes is a broken, deeply sad man, serving as the strongest argument for trigger warnings I’ve ever seen in television. He was only able to escape the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother by literally fighting back, so when he sees the same pattern appear later in his life, he responds the only way he knows how. As the season progresses, as Kyle begins to process his anger, he starts addressing his demons without violence. He gets smarter. Patrick Fugit’s Kyle may be one of my favorite TV performances of the year, a man who has long since written off suicide as an option but doesn’t really know how else to move forward.

There’s also the matter of Kyle’s partner in crime, the Reverend John Anderson. As the demonic infestation continues to spread across their small West Virginia town, Anderson believes he is being tested by God— and, in a manner of speaking, he fails. Philip Glenister plays Anderson with a wild-eyed fervor, a man who believes he is the last best hope for Christianity in the face of real demons. That intensity only increases when he starts to believe the invaders might not be demons after all. It may not be the most layered performance of the year, but it makes up for that with raw honesty.

The show would be higher on the list were it not for a subplot about Kyle’s adopted sister that goes on for too long and feels a little overwritten, but Outcast is still a clever horror show with a hell of a hook for Season Two. Don’t sleep on this.

You would like Outcast if: you like atmospheric horror, if you’re interested in stories about religion in a small community, if you like The Exorcist.

Best Episode: This Little Light

Network: Cinemax

3) SmackDown Live!/ Talking Smack

The 10 Best TV Shows of 2016 (Part 2) 4

Look. Okay. Look. If you’re at all interested in high-emotion, character-driven, longform storytelling with an instantaneous feedback loop between audience and actor, you should check out WWE. More specifically, if you want all that but well-executed, you should be watching SmackDown Live! and its post-show promo-fest Talking Smack. Especially if you like some live stunts. Because there are plenty of those. I didn’t fall in love with pro wrestling this year just on its admittedly slim merits, I dove headfirst into this world because I had just graduated college and was thoroughly unemployed. I had a lot of time on my hands, and I am personally thankful that wrestling turned out to be legitimately good.

I had a conversation with Absolver developer Pierre at PlayStation Experience this year, where he classified pro wrestling as “I fuckin’ hate you and I’m gonna beat you up!” Look, he’s not wrong on a surface level, especially whenever the terminally dull Brock Lesnar is involved, but there can be a lot more to wrestling— something SmackDown Live! realized fairly quickly. Look at my beloved boy Heath Slater, a man completely forgotten during the WWE draft, who desperately needed to win the tag team championship so he could provide for his family. Or Carmella and Nikki Bella, where a hot new starlet coming up from NXT was overshadowed by the returning Superstar.

Or look at The Miz and Daniel Bryan. The Miz was Daniel Bryan’s “mentor” during Bryan’s NXT (WWE's developmental reality show, now turned network exclusive third brand) days, and their relationship quickly turned sour, leading to Bryan’s first championship win coming at The Miz’s expense. Flash forward years later, and Bryan is retired due to injury and the General Manager of SmackDown Live!, where The Miz is a major player. Their rivalry intensified during a killer Talking Smack segment, and Bryan has been a thorn in Miz’s side ever since. In response, Miz has stolen Bryan’s signature moves, taunting the GM with his signature Yes! kicks, almost thumbing his nose at the fact that Bryan can’t wrestle any more. Plus, the addition of Bryan’s high-flying moves have made The Miz’s matches even more exciting, making the business of plot resolution that much better.

It’s a simple story executed well, thanks to almost seven years of character work, told both through microphone segments and in-ring work. SmackDown Live!’s quality storytelling may not be unique to wrestling fans, but it’s absolutely worth seeing if you’ve had any cursory interest in WWE. SmackDown Live! is some of the most fun I’ve ever had in front of a TV.

You would like SmackDown Live! if: you like having fun, if you think long-form storytelling is the best thing ever, if you want to feel a surprising amount of emotional investment in a referee counting to three.

Best Episode: October 5, 2016

Network: Smackdown Live!, USA/ Talking Smack, WWE Network

2) The Path

The 10 Best TV Shows of 2016 (Part 2) 5

Oh boy I love stories about cults. I love them so much. Every time The Path gave viewers a glimpse into the Meyerist religion, especially though a kid’s book (if you want to make me love something, have a creepy kid’s book that also doubles as world-building), I drooled all over my couch. I had to buy like five new couches over the course of my time with The Path. This show has everything I need to be happy.

Thankfully, as a bonus, The Path is also one of the most compelling dramas on TV right now, which I am allowed to say because I haven’t actually seen The Americans. Each character on the show has a distinct motivation informed by their backstory, all of which define their reactions to an event that will change what they fundamentally believe. Any fictional show about religion will eventually throw a curveball into the mix, forcing characters to re-evaluate the core belief system that defines their entire lives. The Path forgoes the “eventually” part, instead starting with the curveball even before the religion has been properly established. New information is indirectly tied to raised stakes in a brilliant subversion of mystery show structure, which means that even background information and exposition feels important. It’s the kind of structural change you would only notice if you watch a lot of TV, but it’s a great move nonetheless.

The Path is a show about heightened emotion, belief, and doubt, handling each theme with the sort of aplomb we expect from the highest levels of prestige television, thanks to the capable hands of its three central cast members— Aaron Paul as Eddie Lane, Michelle Monaghan as Sarah, Eddie’s wife, and Hugh Dancy as Cal Roberts. Each has their own intimate reasons for joining Meyerism, and each reacts to the truth of their existence in their own time, with their respective talents on full display. If nothing else, the myth that Aaron Paul’s role in Breaking Bad was just a fluke should be well and truly shattered.

You would like The Path if: you find cults interesting, if you miss Aaron Paul or Hugh Dancy, if you’ve ever struggled with your relationship to family.

Best Episode: The Future

Network: Hulu

1) You’re the Worst

The 10 Best TV Shows of 2016 (Part 2) 6

If any TV show deserves to be lauded for exceeding expectations, it would be You’re the Worst, a show marketed as “terrible people telling it like it is!!!”, hiding a deeply personal and often melancholic reality. You’re the Worst is the funniest show on television, partially because of its dedication to visual humor, but it’s often the realest show on television as well— and not because of any cracks about Los Angeles traffic or “the sweater people.” The show never shies away from how deeply, inescapably sad its protagonists really are, proving time and time again that central couple Jimmy and Gretchen would sabotage themselves rather than accept happiness. Because then, at least, they can believe they ended it on their terms, before they got in too deep.

You’re the Worst regularly comes back to that well, and each time it feels honest, since each time it comes hand-in-hand with a relationship milestone. In the show’s third season, the milestone in question is the most insidious one of all— complacency. Jimmy and Gretchen are a couple now, and when Jimmy’s hated father finally passes away, Gretchen has to help him as he begins to crumple under the weight of all his unsaid words, all while going through her own problems.

That’s just one arc— the show also focuses on three other couples, all with their own unique problems and vices. In particular, Edgar, the army vet living with Jimmy & the emotional heart of the show, finally gets a romantic arc that feels worthy of his character, also taking the wheel during a series-best episode with almost no jokes but plenty of emotional release. In its third season, You’re the Worst regularly gives time to its extended cast, giving them lives outside of Jimmy and Gretchen’s orbit, and the show is all the better for it. If you didn’t crack up during the bit with Vernon’s podcast, then we must run in very different circles.

Even with the increased emphasis on the full cast, this truly was Chris Greere’s year, much as last year belonged to Aya Cash’s spectacular turn as a clinically depressed Gretchen. Greere’s Jimmy has always been just dweeby enough to offset his biting cynicism, but Season 3 let Greere cut loose into the insecurities powering Jimmy’s wit, best seen during Jimmy’s father’s wake, a scene that has to be the funniest and saddest television funeral I’ve seen since Nathan For You buried a fruit fly. As a writer with a shitty dad and sisters whom I despise, I can absolutely relate.

Much like the two previous seasons, You’re the Worst’s season finale provides closure for the character’s arcs, to the point where I could see it working as a full-on series finale— such is the nature of this show’s incredibly tight character work. But we won’t have to go long without You’re the Worst, as the TV show will be back for another year of complaining about Los Angeles. If this past season has been any indication, this show has a very bright future. Also, could somebody please check on Killian?

You would like You’re the Worst if: you want to watch the best show of 2016, if you like romantic comedies that actually portray an honest relationship & are actually funny, if you live in Los Angeles, if you like Spaced.

Best Episode: (3-Way Tie) The Last Sunday Funday / The Only Thing that Helps / No Longer Just Us.

Network: FX

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Mighty Cast Unleashes Exclusive Ingress Mod Band http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/mighty-cast-unleashes-exclusive-ingress-mod-band/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/mighty-cast-unleashes-exclusive-ingress-mod-band/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 17:00:54 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93257

By Brendan Frye

Pokemon Go set the mobile world on fire when Niantic Labs launched the title last year. It used all the abilities of a user's phone to take part in a much larger global game that mixed reality and fantasy. Yet, Ingress, the game that originally launched in 2012 when Niantic was still working with Google, […]

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By Brendan Frye

Pokemon Go set the mobile world on fire when Niantic Labs launched the title last year. It used all the abilities of a user's phone to take part in a much larger global game that mixed reality and fantasy. Yet, Ingress, the game that originally launched in 2012 when Niantic was still working with Google, is still going strong, and offers players a much larger, more in depth gaming experience. Now, at CES, Mighty Cast announced their new Nex Band that will integrate with Ingress, and will offer players new and exciting ways to experience the game.

The Nex band, is a new type of wearable. It allows for the same basic functionality that other wearables offer, but allow users to “hack” five select mods or actions  with the band. These actions can range from twitter and email alerts, ways to control music, to integrations with a selection of games. The small band will run for around 3 days with normal use on a charge, will be water resistant, and as most people want, can be used to track calories and fitness with the help of a 3-axis accelerometer.

The thing that is really exciting for anyone that is excited to dive back into Ingress is the special Ingress Edition of the band. This version will include a series of mods that will be exclusive to this version of the band. With these mods players can: Trigger Ingress sound effects, pin drop locations and share with teammates, reveal unique hints and videos, along with the ability to set it up to receive specific team based notifications.

With this move, Nex are offering a device that goes well above the Pokemon Go Plus, and move into a device that not only acts as part of an exciting global game, but a device users can make use of in their day-to-day activity.

The Nex band launches for both Android and the iOS platforms later this year.

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Hi-Rez Announces SMITE Rivals http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/hi-rez-announces-smite-rivals/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/hi-rez-announces-smite-rivals/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 16:05:31 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93204

By Elias Blondeau

It seems everyone wants in on the virtual card game trend, thanks to Hearthstone. From Elder Scrolls to even The Witcher, it's a craze that doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Wisely, Hi-Rez is deciding to capitalize on that craze using their popular SMITE brand with SMITE Rivals. But Rivals looks to have a little more to it than slapping cards on […]

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By Elias Blondeau

It seems everyone wants in on the virtual card game trend, thanks to Hearthstone. From Elder Scrolls to even The Witcher, it's a craze that doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Wisely, Hi-Rez is deciding to capitalize on that craze using their popular SMITE brand with SMITE Rivals.

But Rivals looks to have a little more to it than slapping cards on a table. Each one-on-one battle is represented by a three-lane map, rendered in pixel art. Every time a player throws down a card, they do so in one of the three lanes. The end goal is the same as it is in a game of SMITE - crush the enemy's defenses and destroy their tower. However, this concept is being done using card combat and a more traditional, turn-based tower defense affair. It's a pretty interesting hybrid of different genres, which makes it stand out to me.

Rivals will be released simultaneously on PC and mobile, from my understanding, and will have cross-platform saving capabilities.

"Not only will players collect and command an army of their favorite characters in a new and fun art style," says Rivals Executive Producer Brian Grayson, "but we're excited to share that in-game progression will be continuous across all platforms. If you play on PC, you can pick up wherever you left off on your mobile device, and vice versa."

I don't particularly have an investment in SMITE, to be honest - I've never actually played it. However, Rivals honestly looks like something that I might have to give a whirl. It looks like an interesting twist on the collectible card game formula, and has a pretty neat presentation that I dig. It's something I'll definitely give a shot later this year, considering it's free to play across all platforms, like Hi-Rez's other products.

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PlayStation 4 Sold Over Six Million Units During 2016 Holidays http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/playstation-4-sold-six-million-units-2016-holidays/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/playstation-4-sold-six-million-units-2016-holidays/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 16:00:56 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93240

By Ana Valens

2016 was billed as a promising year for Sony, and the holiday season seems to confirm that original expectation. According to a press release from Sony Interactive Entertainment, the PlayStation 4 hardware family sold over six million units across the worldwide holiday season. The press report notes that the PlayStation 4 sold through over 6.2 million units […]

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By Ana Valens

2016 was billed as a promising year for Sony, and the holiday season seems to confirm that original expectation. According to a press release from Sony Interactive Entertainment, the PlayStation 4 hardware family sold over six million units across the worldwide holiday season.

The press report notes that the PlayStation 4 sold through over 6.2 million units throughout the holiday season worldwide, from the Americas to Japan. Globally, the PlayStation 4 family has sold through 53.4 million units as of Jan 1. Software sales also reveal that more than 50.4 million copies of PS4 software were sold via retail and digital sales over the holidays, with Uncharted 4: A Thief's End selling through over 8.7 million copies as of Dec 21.

"We are truly grateful for the tremendous support from our fans and partners, which has helped to make this holiday season one of the best in our history," Andrew House, President and CEO of SIE said. "We will aim to continue the momentum this year by broadening the PS4 title portfolio, further enriching the revolutionary gaming experiences on PlayStation VR and high quality gaming experience on PlayStation4 Pro, while also expanding network services. We will remain steadfast in making the PS4 the best place to play."

Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad also provided some insight into the press release. He believes the report's brief announcement is due to the fact that Sony missed their overall sell through target goal for 2016. However, he pointed out that the PlayStation 4 performed well compared to 2015, building on the prior year's success.

Ahmad's data certainly shows that the PlayStation 4 is one of the best performing consoles within a 50 month cycle in recent history. Performing with a similar trajectory to the Nintendo Wii at first, and then competing with its own predecessor, the PlayStation 2, the PS4 certainly seems to have a promising year ahead. Check back as more information on PS4 sell through statistics are published.

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SMITE Reveals The Morrigan http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/smite-reveals-morrigan/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/smite-reveals-morrigan/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 16:00:53 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93194

By Elias Blondeau

Hi-Rez's SMITE has become a major name since its launch. In a MOBA space primarily dominated by DotA 2 and League of Legends, the stalwart free-to-play game has earned a devoted following thanks to accessible gameplay and a winning art direction. Now, that following will a new playable character to sink their teeth into - The Morrigan. The Morrigan is […]

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By Elias Blondeau

Hi-Rez's SMITE has become a major name since its launch. In a MOBA space primarily dominated by DotA 2 and League of Legends, the stalwart free-to-play game has earned a devoted following thanks to accessible gameplay and a winning art direction. Now, that following will a new playable character to sink their teeth into - The Morrigan.

The Morrigan is a Celtic war goddess, comprised of three sisters, who presides over a warrior's fate. According to Hi-Rez (and Norse mythology, of course,) The Morrigan directly controls fate itself, able to accurately foretell death and doom as it pertains to war. Sounds pretty game-breaking, if you ask me.

Luckily, The Morrigan's actual in-game abilities look to be anything but. She primarily seems to be a stealth-based DPS character, with an emphasis on trickery and status ailments. In addition to a three-pronged spear attack and a projectile strike, The Morrigan will be able to place curses on opposing teams. These curses will gradually do damage over time, which gives the character a bit of a support angle to her as well.

Perhaps the most notable ability is her transformations. At the beginning of matches, players are encouraged to look at what gods are on the map and start planning around that. When releasing The Morrigan's ult, players will get a chance to temporarily change into a character that is in play, and use any of their abilities for the time being. This is a potential game-changer, as a well-timed ult could buff your team, wreck the opposing team, or some combination of the two.

On top of it all, The Morrigan just looks really cool, clearly influenced by classic fantasy art in the vein of Frank Frazetta.

The Morrigan will roll into SMITE in the 3.25 update, or The Phantom Queen Patch. It'll hit the game later this year, and honestly, looks interesting enough for me give the game a go.

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Superman Rebirth Annual #1 (Comic) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/superman-rebirth-annual-1-comic-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/superman-rebirth-annual-1-comic-review/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93219

By Boyd Reynolds

Swamp Thing is one of the best lesser known characters in the DC Universe.His origins stem back to 1971 and a little known comic titled House of Secrets. In issue #92, the seeds of Swamp Thing were born. Later that year, he was given his own ongoing series. But it wasn’t until famed comic writer […]

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By Boyd Reynolds

Swamp Thing is one of the best lesser known characters in the DC Universe.His origins stem back to 1971 and a little known comic titled House of Secrets. In issue #92, the seeds of Swamp Thing were born. Later that year, he was given his own ongoing series. But it wasn’t until famed comic writer Alan Moore took over in the mid 1980s that the fledgling character was lifted to cult status. Other exceptional writers have picked up the mantle over the years, including Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Brian K. Vaughn, and Scott Snyder—all offering their own take on Swamp Thing while continuing his mythos. In Superman Rebirth Annual #1, the Man of Steel has a jumbo-sized comic adventure with Swamp Thing.

Superman Rebirth Annual #1 (Comic) Review 2The story begins with Superman investigating an apparent drought in Hamilton County, 300 miles north of Metropolis. Although there has been plenty of rain, the soil is barren. With some further prodding, he comes face to face with Swamp Thing, who brings ominous tidings. This new Superman has disrupted the green by drawing solar energy from the Sun in a different manner than the last Superman. To learn more, the Man of Tomorrow reaches out and touches Swamp Thing, causing a reaction of biblical proportions. Swamp Thing has changed—enormous, powerful, angry, speaking fluent Kryptonia—and he must be stopped. This is a job for Superman.

Superman Rebirth Annual #1 is a terrific single issue. Writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason weave a story that is action-packed, momentous with every turn of the page, yet it still feels like an intimate struggle between these two titans. What also helps is the choice of Superman’s adversary. As mentioned above, Swamp Thing is one of DC Comics best kept secrets. Pitting him against one of the company’s most bankable commodities is not only a terrific showcase for Swamp Thing, but also places these two differing heroes against one another in a surprising and entertaining struggle.

Superman Rebirth Annual #1 (Comic) Review 3Artist Jorge Jimenez takes Superman Rebirth Annual #1 to stratospheric heights with his illustrations, especially the combat scenes. As the comic moves onwards in the action, every splash page (of which there are plenty) and every panel (especially the creative alterations) is a mesmerizing piece of art sprinkled through Superman Rebirth Annual #1.

While the comic’s pace is blistering and the action red-hot, it’s the underlying message that moves this issue from good to great. Compelled by the green, Swamp Thing needs to find the truth inside this new Superman (new to the post New 52 world that is) and force the Man of Steel to choose which direction he’s going to keep his attention on—the past or the future. A good question for all of us to wrestle with.

Superman Rebirth Annual #1 is definitely worth reading. In fact, it is one of the most enjoyable single issues I’ve read in a long time. There could be slight bias here because I have an adoration for both Superman and Swamp Thing, but after reading, one can’t deny it’s not only spellbinding to read, it’s also memorable both in its story and visuals. In short, Superman Rebirth Annual #1 is a triumph.

Score:9

Final Thoughts:Superman Rebirth Annual #1 is a must read. Superman vs Swamp Thing. While an unlikely clash, it quickly becomes a titanic battle for the ages.

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How We Soar (PSVR) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/soar-psvr-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/soar-psvr-review/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93223

By Elias Blondeau

VR developers are in love with the idea of throwing players into the sky and telling them to take off. Who can blame them? After all, it’s not like we can necessarily sprout wings or don a jetpack, then rocket off to the clouds. With flying being a common use of the medium, then, a […]

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By Elias Blondeau

VR developers are in love with the idea of throwing players into the sky and telling them to take off. Who can blame them? After all, it’s not like we can necessarily sprout wings or don a jetpack, then rocket off to the clouds. With flying being a common use of the medium, then, a game built around it necessitates some degree of freshness to separate it from the pack. Unfortunately, How We Soar lacks that freshness, and as a result, winds up being a resoundingly forgettable experience.
How We Soar (PSVR) ReviewWhich sort of hurts to say, considering how promising the story is. Mounted atop the back of a giant bird, players fly through sky-dwelling dreamscapes built entirely out of paper. These pieces of paper are in fact pages of a book, and as you soar through the world, they morph into all sorts of imagery. This imagery is a blend of the unreal and the mundane, which is by design—it’s about an author who is blurring his reality with the fiction he writes. Players will glide past a dragon perched atop a castle, then a few maps later, coast through outer space and muse on the protagonist’s child growing up. Players are put in a position similar to The Great Gatsby’s Nick, in the sense that they’re just an observer to it all, and don’t have any major input in the events of the narrative.

Yet despite how interesting this story is, the medium it’s delivered through becomes gratingly tedious after the first few go-rounds. Controlling the papercraft bird through the sky is a neat gimmick, but it’s painfully slow, and steering often feels like flying through a downpour of molasses. It doesn’t help that the core mechanic of the game simply consists of flying through rings, collecting glowing orbs, and taking them to a swirling mass of paper. That’s it—no significant variation on that core idea rears its head through the short playtime. I generally hate to use the term “walking simulator” in a pejorative sense, as I feel it’s a bit reductive, yet that’s what How We Soar feels like…except with clunky flying in place of walking.

For a few bucks, I might recommend How We Soar, but for $20, it feels like a whole lot of squandered potential and a botched delivery of what could’ve been a compelling story. But even at a lower price point, I’m hesitant about recommending something repetitious and uninspired in the gameplay department. There are a handful of solid games at fair price points on the PSVR at this point, and I can’t really think of a great reason to pick this one up unless you’ve exhausted the library.

Unless you’re willing to put up with bouts of genuine boredom to get to a moderately engaging story about the slippage between fiction and reality that writers can fall into (something that I can definitely relate to) How We Soar falls flat early on and never really recovers.

Score:6

Final Thoughts:How We Soar has a lot of potential, but it’s left unrealized in what ultimately amounts to a very unfulfilling game.

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Best of 2016: TV (10-5) http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/best-2016-tv-10-5/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/best-2016-tv-10-5/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 12:00:02 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93192

By Mike Cosimano

In the year 2016, the gods of Content sought fit to bless the planet with a torrent of media, in the hopes of distracting us from the relentless deluge of misery that was 2016. There were more TV shows than we knew what to do with, as prestige television came at the viewing public from […]

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By Mike Cosimano

In the year 2016, the gods of Content sought fit to bless the planet with a torrent of media, in the hopes of distracting us from the relentless deluge of misery that was 2016. There were more TV shows than we knew what to do with, as prestige television came at the viewing public from literally every angle. Of course, some of those shows didn’t quite stick the landing, but it’s the holiday season; everyone knows it’s the thought that counts! For every Westworld, there was a Vice Principals, and for every Search Party, there was an Angie Tribeca.

I did not watch everything this year (and will address that in a later article), but these are my 10 favourite TV shows that I watched to (some form of) completion in 2016. Keep in mind these are numbers 10 to five, four to one comes tomorrow.

10) The Grinder

Boy, I can’t wait for The Grinder to appear on everyone’s “TV shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled” lists in a few years, once people actually start watching it. For me, it was destined to be on my radar, since it ticks a major personal preference box—television about television. That it also manages to have a tremendously strong comedy ensemble, anchored by Rob Lowe as a delusional actor and Fred Savage as his put-upon lawyer brother, feels like a bonus.

Although it may have started as your average odd couple comedy, The Grinder quickly found its niche by tying much of the show’s conflict to the titular show-within-a-show and stringing episodes together with several recurring arcs, culminating in a series finale that feels all the more emotionally satisfying for all the time viewers have already invested in the show. Timothy Olyphant is a recurring character, playing an exaggerated version of himself, and he’s fantastic. For as much as The Grinder is about family, it’s also about how network TV is kinda terrible but also the most important thing in the world.

In hindsight, there’s no way The Grinder would’ve lasted beyond a season. It requires a level of active watching nobody expects from your average basic cable viewer— the sort of assumption that made CBS “America’s Most-Watched Network,” after all. Nobody ever lost money betting on the stupidity of the general public, et al. If I sound bitter about this, good. I’m getting ahead of the curve.

You would like The Grinder if: you like television about television, if you like any of the principal cast members, if you like Community.

Best Episode: Grinder v. Grinder

Network: Fox

9) 11.22.63 

I’ve stopped trying to evaluate James Franco as an “artist” and have instead been looking at his work on a case-by-case basis. This has been a winning strategy, as it helps me avoid films like Why Him? or True Story (which I only sort of avoided, now that I think about it) and instead focus on gems like the TV show 11.22.63. There was a lot working against 11.22.63— it’s a Hulu original series, which has rarely been a barometer of quality before this year; it’s a show featuring modern-day James Franco; it’s a story about the conspiracy behind the JFK assassination; it’s a miniseries based on a Stephen King book— but, curiously, the whole managed to escape the respective curses associated with its parts.

11.22.63 is a harbinger of quality for Hulu (spoilers: Hulu shows are re going to appear on this list again), delivering a thrilling spy adventure that actually managed to convince me of the truth behind JFK’s killing. Franco manages to blend a sort of wide-eyed innocence with the perfect level of intensity—his Jake Epping is blown away by the enormity of his mission at first, but as the stakes crystalize and the tension ratchets up, his performance shifts in a way that feels almost innate. He doesn’t freak out to the point where his character loses momentum, even doing things most of us would find hard to swallow.

King’s tremendous prose is represented well; in the rich cinematography, in the layered performances, and in the clever opening sequence. All of the cast members embody their roles perfectly, including Daniel Webber as a surprisingly rich Lee Harvey Oswald. It’s a moody show without being melancholy and it’s absolutely worth a look for that alone— even if the phrase “Hulu Original Miniseries” makes you balk.

You would like 11.22.63 if: you like Stephen King’s good stuff, if you like character-driven sci-fi, if you’re down for a story with a definitive ending, if you like the Russell T. Davies era of Doctor Who.

Best Episode: The Day in Question

Network: Hulu

8) Angie Tribeca

TBS— the artist formerly known as the place where my family would get their Everybody Loves Raymond fix— really went for the gold this year, with their Broad City riff Search Party taking off with some critics and their own timely late-night talk show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, being hailed as The Daily Show’s true successor, even more so than the show that continues to bear that name. Their curious approach to binge-watching reads like a company desperately trying to figure out how to survive once streaming cuts the cord once and for all. In that respect, TBS is well ahead of the curve, publishing internet-friendly TV shows, and making them easily available to us fickle millennials.

I say “fickle” because I didn’t see a single person talking about Angie Tribeca on Twitter this year, which honestly surprised me. You don’t see many TV shows these days attempting to follow in Police Squad!’s gold-plated footsteps, constantly spoofing the ubiquitous police procedural while delivering solid absurdist humour practically every 10 seconds. Not every joke is a gut-buster, but the Goof Frequency (GF) is so high that you’re almost guaranteed to laugh at something. Every member of the cast delivers a killer performance, especially Rashida Jones as the eponymous hardass. Jones’ work on shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation showcased her gift for comic timing and her killer deadpan, but it’s great to see her as part of the joke, rather than just being the straight man.

You would like Angie Tribeca if: you have ever watched a single episode of a modern-day police procedural, if you like jokes, if you miss Police Squad!.

Best Episode: Pilot

Network: TBS

7) Vice Principals

Vice Principals is the best TV show on HBO as of press time. It’s better than Westworld, it’s better than Game of Thrones, and it’s certainly better than Vinyl. It’s nine episodes of pitch-black comedic bliss in the vein of the similarly fantastic Eastbound and Down, starring the criminally funny Danny McBride as Neil Gamby and Walton Goggins as Lee Russell, two co-vice principals seeking to usurp Principal Belinda Brown, the outsider who came in and stole the jobs they believed were rightfully theirs.

Yes, the show has the darkly comic sentiment that fans of Eastbound and Down have come to expect, but with the added bonus of a curiously incisive look at white male privilege. Gamby and Russell are horrible people who would absolutely ruin North Jackson High if given the chance. What little we see of Brown tells the audience that she makes a far superior principal—to the point where Gamby and Russell could very well be considered villain protagonists.

Maybe the show falls apart when binged as a whole, but week-to-week, watching the titular Vice Principals drag themselves towards character development made for appointment television. In Vice Principals, a character getting in touch with his feelings is represented by a brass knuckles-powered shot across the jaw— as clear a mission statement as I’ve ever heard. Take the show for what it is— as a ridiculously funny examination of “men” without letting the men in question off the hook— meet it on its own level, and you’ll really enjoy Vice Principals.

You would like Vice Principals if: you like Danny McBride or Walton Goggins, you’re ready for what looks like a wild season two, you’re okay with something problematic, you like Eastbound and Down.

Best Episode: Circles

Network: HBO

6) BoJack Horseman

That’s too much, man!

You would like BoJack Horseman if: you like shows that make you feel a wide range of emotions; predominantly sadness, if you want to watch a show that is much much much better than it looks, if you can get over the art style.

Best Episode: Best Thing That Ever Happened

Network: Netflix

5) Atlanta

You could think Atlanta is a TV show about up-and-coming rappers in the titular southern city, and you would only be half-right. Yes, that’s is ostensibly the plot of Atlanta, but rarely has a TV show been so dominated by tone and atmosphere. Series creator Donald Glover has described the show as “Twin Peaks for rappers,” and rarely have I seen a self-assessment this succinct and accurate. It’s a weird show, but it never loses sight of its characters in all the Scooby Doo-esque fake walls or slavery-themed Juneteenth cocktails.

Donald Glover is a ridiculously talented writer/rapper/comedian/actor. We know this from his extensive body of work, but Atlanta solidifies it, acting as a sort of talent manifesto. The world Glover has created is rich and full-bodied, instantly recognizable but just “off” enough to be actively intriguing. The show’s needle drops are expertly timed, and the Justin Bieber parody is note-perfect. I think “the racism book” might be my favourite punchline of 2016. And Glover as Earn is a deeply sympathetic character, even as he acts like a child, driven by a need to prove himself to a family that has long since written him off.

Atlanta also boasts one of the best ensemble casts in modern television. Brian Tyree Henry as Earn’s cousin Alfred Miles, AKA “Paper Boi” is my personal favourite, with a world-weariness you would expect from a man who has somewhat resigned himself to his station in life— with the added bonus of a preternatural gift for comedic timing. I suspect Keith Stanfield as Darius will be a long-term favourite, but Zazie Beetz as Van is Atlanta’s secret weapon. A lesser show would have Earn’s girlfriend be a killjoy, a character who exists just to give the freewheeling men a foil to play off. Van certainly doesn’t approve of Earn’s new career move, but she’s got a daughter to feed and every reason to keep food on the table. Often, Van exists in opposition to Earn, but in a recognizable way— Van is a trope evolved, doing her best to balance Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs against her affection for Earn. She’s arguably the protagonist of a parallel show, and I hope Beetz has a long, successful career ahead of her.

You would like Atlanta if: you’re an Outkast person, if you like Donald Glover, if you want to be the coolest person at the dinner table whenever you visit family.

Best Episode: The Club

Network: FX

This is just 10 to five of the Best of 2016: TV list. Next we'll look at the final four!

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NVIDIA Unveils SHIELD TV http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/nvidia-unveils-shield-tv/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/05/nvidia-unveils-shield-tv/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 05:31:32 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93226

By Elias Blondeau

NVIDIA's been pretty aggressive about taking on the console space. Not only have they cooked up a heaping helping of portable products at varying price points, but they've managed to get their Tegra in Nintendo's upcoming Switch. Today, they doubled down on this competition with the Shield TV, a product pitched squarely at the console […]

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By Elias Blondeau

NVIDIA's been pretty aggressive about taking on the console space. Not only have they cooked up a heaping helping of portable products at varying price points, but they've managed to get their Tegra in Nintendo's upcoming Switch. Today, they doubled down on this competition with the Shield TV, a product pitched squarely at the console set.

The Shield TV is a device built around NVIDIA's proprietary GeForce Now game-streaming service and a Pascal GPU architecture. New updates to the service will bring Ubisoft games to the platform, with Watch Dogs 2The Division, and the upcoming For Honor already confirmed. While it's a bit silly that players will have to link their UPlay accounts in order to play, it's still a pretty big win for the company.

Other improvements, however, definitely make the system an interesting alternative to consoles. NVIDIA's GameStream service will now allow for 4K streaming at up to 60 FPS. On top of that, the Steam app is now supported, and gives players direct access to Steam Big Picture. This means that you'll be able to access supported games in your library and stream them to your living room with pretty solid framerates, on top of playing them at higher resolutions via upscaling.

All of this can be had for $199 USD, which easily edges out the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in terms of pricing.

The intent behind all of this seems pretty clear. NVIDIA is going all-in on being a household name through releasing their own take on the traditional mid-tier home console. The only hurdle it faces is not having the brand recognition of something like a PlayStation or an Xbox, as well as many consumers still associating physical discs with gaming purchases.

Still, NVIDIA's new product is nothing to sneeze at. As somebody whose PC runs on a GeForce GTX 1080, I can firmly say that the company is no stranger to quality products. If it can uphold its promise of being three times faster than other streaming platforms, the successful GPU manufacturer may have a serious contender on its hands.

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Dark Souls: Winter's Spite Issue 1 (Comic) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/dark-souls-winters-spite-issue-1-comic-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/dark-souls-winters-spite-issue-1-comic-review/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 02:00:37 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93020

By Chris Carter

I'm glad Dark Souls has become the phenomenon it has. Just this week I was chatting with someone who had recently become a fan, inundated with cries of "you have to play this!" for years on end before he finally caved with Dark Souls II. Before he knew it he had bought the sequel and […]

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By Chris Carter

I'm glad Dark Souls has become the phenomenon it has.
Just this week I was chatting with someone who had recently become a fan, inundated with cries of "you have to play this!" for years on end before he finally caved with Dark Souls II. Before he knew it he had bought the sequel and was looking into trying out Bloodborne. I was watching his excitement grow before my eyes, and remembered all of my first experiences with each game fondly in that moment. It's magical. So when I heard that the world was going to be expanded through multiple forms of media, I jumped on the opportunity to give them a go. Now I see just how perfect the series is when its confined to a videogame. In Dark Souls: Winter's Spite, readers get the chance to get in on the ground floor without any preconceived notions or complex lore tying them up.

Dark Souls: Winter's Spite Issue 1 (Comic) Review 3This is the story of Andred of Ithvale, a knight that wants revenge after someone "stole his birthright"—a sufficiently vague Souls-like setup, naturally. The narrative is told in media res, explaining how Andred got into the gladiatorial predicament he's in and how he tracked his nemesis across lands both familiar and unfamiliar to those who have played the games. It's a tantalizing tease, all told, as most of these glimpses are fleeting moments.

This style allows the hero narrate the tale, providing exposition of his journey and context for his travels (like where he's been and where he's going) as well as a general overview of the action. It's partially effective, because while the device itself is sound, the way it's done feels a little heavy-handed at times.  Imagine the movie trailer voice, but instead of providing a compelling voiceover for an interesting looking movie, it's a living parody of that "epic" concept—then you'll get an idea of how it sounds every ten pages or so in Dark Souls: Winter's Spite.

Dark Souls: Winter's Spite Issue 1 (Comic) Review 4There's some attempt to transcend the "kill stuff" theme of the game here too, but it's a little murky just one issue in. Andred has pity for one of the creatures he kills, but it kind of just stops there, and before you know it, the issue is over and promising more cryptic antics. That's part of why the volume-centric "cliffhanger" format doesn't really work for something like the Souls series. When playing one of the games you can seek out everything in one long session spanning an entire day if you want. It's the type of creative medium that indulges the insatiable masses, but with a comic, you're going to have to deal with the "same Bat Channel" shtick just while things were getting interesting.

Alan Quah's art is a little more nuanced. I especially like how skilled he is at creating snowcapped landscapes, and there are several shots of old creatures from previous games that are perhaps more detailed than their rendered models or bits of concept drawings found in artbooks. He's equally talented at creating compelling architecture, and manages to cram in more story without saying a word.

I still left Dark Souls: Winter's Spite feeling a big hollow. I'm not invested in Andred at all, and any breadcrumbs given (including his compassion) have failed to hook me. But the art, including that of the four other guest artists who handled the alternate covers, is true to the source. Unless you're a diehard, stick with the games.

Score:6

Final Thoughts:• It's weird to see the Souls series come so far after just one humble PS3 release, but I'll take anything I can get, flawed or not.

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Deadpool, Punisher Face Off in New Marvel Series http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/deadpool-punisher-face-off-in-new-marvel-series/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/deadpool-punisher-face-off-in-new-marvel-series/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 19:20:39 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93178

By Ana Valens

Two of Marvel's most popular characters are about to fight each other. As ComicBook reports, writer Fred Van Lente and artist Pepe Perez are teaming up to create Deadpool vs. The Punisher, a new versus comic series hitting store shelves in April. According to Van Lente, the series follows the intense rivalry between Deadpool and the Punisher, which […]

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By Ana Valens

Two of Marvel's most popular characters are about to fight each other. As ComicBook reports, writer Fred Van Lente and artist Pepe Perez are teaming up to create Deadpool vs. The Punisher, a new versus comic series hitting store shelves in April.

According to Van Lente, the series follows the intense rivalry between Deadpool and the Punisher, which began with their inclusion in the Thunderbolts team. The Punisher plans to go after The Bank, a character who is "one of Wade Wilson's best friends," leaving Frank Castle to target Wilson along the way. While the two have never gotten along, the antagonism only plans to increase within this series, with the Punisher and Deadpool directly at odds with one another.

Calling the story a "classic ultraviolent super-crime tragi-comedy," Van Lente is excited to see the superhero dynamic play out between the two rivals. "To me you know Punisher is best as a killing machine," he said. "I wouldn't call him a 'humorless' one, though, because when Garth Ennis was writing him there was certainly quite a bit of deadpan black humor to him, and that's definitely my take. Likewise, whenever I've done Deadpool I love writing his quips and burns as much as the next person, but what makes him a compelling character is that element of tragedy to him."

2017 looks to be a big year for the Punisher. After the string of success that the Marvel Netflix series have experienced, the Punisher will be getting his own series on the online distributor, titled The Punisher. Filming takes place in New York City, with Jon Bernthal taking on his role from the original Daredevil series. The upcoming Netflix TV show is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the same as the films and the Marvel television series. While intended as a spin-off to Daredevil, it follows the Punisher through his own storyline.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda Headed March 21 http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/mass-effect-andromeda-headed-march-21/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/mass-effect-andromeda-headed-march-21/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 19:03:37 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93180

By Ana Valens

Bioware's latest installment into the Mass Effect series just landed a release date. According to an official blog post shared on the Mass Effect website, Mass Effect: Andromeda will launch in North America on Tuesday, March 21. European audiences will see the game on Thursday, March 23."Mass Effect: Andromeda is our most ambitious Mass Effect game […]

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By Ana Valens

Bioware's latest installment into the Mass Effect series just landed a release date. According to an official blog post shared on the Mass Effect website, Mass Effect: Andromeda will launch in North America on Tuesday, March 21. European audiences will see the game on Thursday, March 23."Mass Effect: Andromeda is our most ambitious Mass Effect game to date," BioWare General Manager Aaryn Flynn states in the post. "We’re telling completely new stories, creating new characters, new planets, new species, and introducing new gameplay systems. And for the first time, we’re bringing Mass Effect to the Frostbite game engine, an incredible engine that’s delivering a tremendous graphical jump from the trilogy to Mass Effect: Andromeda. To deliver on this, we’re taking all the time we can to make sure you’re getting the best possible experience."

Flynn reports that BioWare developers took a build home with them called the "holiday build," playing through the game and providing feedback and endorsements from team members. Suffice to say, the game should go gold relatively shortly with the release date close at hand.

Mass Effect: Andromeda's release date announcement comes in a rather sudden timeframe. Andromeda's gameplay was left a mystery for a long time, with in-game footage only shown during the PlayStation 4 Pro's reveal back in September. Suffice to say, Bioware seems to be keeping in-game reveals limited, allowing fans to explore the world and learn first-hand about all the mysteries and lore to discover during play.

GameSpot also reported that Bioware will not be bringing Andromeda over to Nintendo Switch, meaning the game will only be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. However, Producer Mike Gamble did not want to "close doors like that," and is waiting to see if "everyone's just yammering for Mass Effect" before making a final decision as to whether the game will see a Nintendo Switch release. Check back for more news.

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Funimation SimulDub Winter Line-Up Revealed http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/funimation-simuldub-winter-line-up-revealed/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/funimation-simuldub-winter-line-up-revealed/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 15:55:21 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93169

By Ana Valens

Funimation's new SimulDub schedule has been announced. Working closely with Crunchyroll to provide dubs and subs to anime fans around the world, shows such as Akiba's Trip and Masamune-kun's Revenge will be viewable as part of the program in 2017, Crunchyroll reveals. As Crunchyroll's Scott Green reports, Funimation and Crunchyroll are working together to bring […]

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By Ana Valens

Funimation's new SimulDub schedule has been announced. Working closely with Crunchyroll to provide dubs and subs to anime fans around the world, shows such as Akiba's Trip and Masamune-kun's Revenge will be viewable as part of the program in 2017, Crunchyroll reveals.

As Crunchyroll's Scott Green reports, Funimation and Crunchyroll are working together to bring "season simulcasts of shows with English subtitles that will be up on Crunchyroll, and Funimation will be creating SimulDubs," or English dubs, that can be watched on Funimation Now "just 2-4 weeks (or even minutes) after each episode airs in Japan."

SimulDub releases could land particularly quickly on FunimationNow in the near future. At least, that's the case with Akiba's Trip, which is headlining the SimulDub plans. FunimationNow plans to land the first episode of Akiba's Trip "30 minutes after the Japanese broadcast," which would be approximately 9 am ET.

"We plan to continue working closely with our partners in Japan so that new SimulDub episodes for Akiba’s Trip will launch as close to the broadcast time in Japan as possible," Funimation explained. "Right now, our goal is 30 minutes after Japanese broadcast time — the fastest launch of any SimulDub show this season! However, this is a new process for everyone so there likely could be some delays in the future, and we ask for your patience as we do our best to bring you episodes as early as possible. That being said, we’re excited to try something new this season and will keep fans in the loop as we continue this journey together!"

A variety of other shows will be joining Akiba's Trip for the SimulDub schedule, including Hand Shakers, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Saga of Tanya the Evil and the continuation of Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On.

Last year, Funimation and Crunchyroll announced their partnership to provide dubs and subs to anime fans by providing dubs for Crunchyroll animes and subs for Funimation series, respectively. 2017 looks to be an exciting year for the partnership, so expect more news in the coming months ahead.

CGMagazine reached out to Funimation for comment, but did not receive a response as if this article's publication.

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Konami, Nintendo Top Japan's Game Stocks for 2016 http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/konami-nintendo-top-japans-game-stocks-2016/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/konami-nintendo-top-japans-game-stocks-2016/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 14:34:00 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93161

By Helena Shlapak

It’s been an interesting year for Japanese gaming companies as we’ve seen massive rises and falls in their stocks. Despite these stocks fluctuating every day, looking at these stocks can prove useful at predicting trends and announcements as to these companies’ futures and the future of the franchises we love. Let’s start off with Konami. […]

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By Helena Shlapak

It’s been an interesting year for Japanese gaming companies as we’ve seen massive rises and falls in their stocks. Despite these stocks fluctuating every day, looking at these stocks can prove useful at predicting trends and announcements as to these companies’ futures and the future of the franchises we love.

Let’s start off with Konami. Konami started 2016 with a low of around 2800 but saw a slow rise in their stocks over the course of the year. It looks switching their focus to mobile gaming and pachinko machines have been paying off, especially with Japan legalizing gambling soon. By the end of 2016, Konami’s stock almost doubled, finishing the year at around 4700 when the markets closed on Dec. 30, 2016. The company is up by 45 and saw a 0.96% increase since their last market closure.

Capcom finished the year at 2750. Despite dropping by 37 and 1.33%, the company saw a nice rise in their stocks since they plunged on Feb. 12, 2016 to just under 2000. Capcom’s stocks rose and fell as normal, but never reached their early year high of almost 3000 again. Capcom’s stock plunged again in August to just under 2000 but has since not gone through another plunge. With Resident Evil 7 coming out soon, maybe Capcom will see another jump in their stock,

Square Enix has seen a slow decline in stocks despite the release of its Final Fantasy XV. The start of 2016 started out ok for Square Enix at almost 3000 before dropping to around 2500 towards the end of January. Square Enix recovered in June, jumping to over 3500 but dipped slightly to around 300 in September. Square Enix saw steady slopes of up and down but unfortunately ended the year with another drop to 3000. The company closed at -15 and by 0.50%.

Nintendo of course saw a great scale this year, starting 2016 at over 16 thousand. Nintendo held the market steadily but saw a massive jump on July 19 to over 30 thousand. Despite dropping to around 20 thousand towards the end of 2016, Nintendo spiked again in mid December and closed the market for this year at 25 thousand. Nintendo is up by 135 by 0.55%.

Despite starting with the year poorly at under just over 1000, Sega has steadily risen over the course of 2016, reaching its highest of almost 2000 in mid-December and finishing at around 1700 by the end of 2016. Sega is down by four and 0.23%.

Koei Techmo started the year off not too bad at around 1700 but dropped in late January to their lowest at just under 1500. Koei Techmo saw some major fluctuations in spring and summer reaching their highest of 2016 at just over 2000. Towards the end of the year, Koei Techmo rose again and dipped slightly by December 30, closing at just over 2000 once again.  Koei Techmo is down by four and 0.19%

Despite some bad dips in some of these companies’ stocks, it seems this will be a great year for Nintendo and Konami based on their average fluctuations.

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World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook (Book) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/world-of-warcraft-official-cookbook-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/world-of-warcraft-official-cookbook-review/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=92994

By Helena Shlapak

Have you ever read a fantasy novel and drooled over the descriptions of food? Have you ever played an RPG and struggled to level up your cooking skills? Do you love cooking and just want to find interesting and delicious recipes? Well, best-selling author Chelsea Monroe-Cassel has just the book for you: World of Warcraft: […]

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By Helena Shlapak

Have you ever read a fantasy novel and drooled over the descriptions of food? Have you ever played an RPG and struggled to level up your cooking skills? Do you love cooking and just want to find interesting and delicious recipes? Well, best-selling author Chelsea Monroe-Cassel has just the book for you: World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook.

World of Warcraft Official Cookbook (Book) Review 4
Dragonbreath Chili is great for those long, cold Winterspring nights.

If you’re still skeptical as to how someone can bring these fantasy delights to life, Cassel has previously written the Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Cookbook and the woman knows her stuff. World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook recreates famous Azerothian dishes—including tons of Asian-inspired recipes, which makes for for great variety. The book stays true to the heart of Blizzard’s franchise while keeping everything simple for the novice nerd using ingredients from our realm.

Aesthetically, the book itself is gorgeous. It’s hard-covered and sturdy with thick waxy pages to stand up to fumbling in the kitchen. Artwork from the franchise is found throughout every page but doesn’t take up so much space that it’s too busy or distracting from the actual instructions. The top right corners of every recipe feature a skill level of the dish, ranging from Apprentice to Master, and the instructions are just what the introduction advertised—simple. Cassel even improved on her last cookbook by adding pictures of every recipe rather than only the main ones and these photos are mouth-watering and feature an array of fantasy backgrounds on medieval platters.

World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook (Book) Review
To compliment the food, World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook also features some interesting artwork.

I couldn’t make everything in the book in such a short amount of time but I did have a chance to cook the Expert Level Herb-Baked Eggs recipe. The dish was simple—baked eggs with herbs and cheese with cream and butter—but it was fantastic. The flavour was light and earthy (thanks to the fresh herbs) and the parmesan cheese helped offset the richness of the cream and butter. Served with a slice of toasted rye bread, it made for a hearty breakfast without being too heavy.

The best thing about World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook is that it’s clear a great deal of love and care was put into it. It takes dedication and skill to translate fantasy recipes into reality but Cassel pulled it off. If I were to find myself in the world of Azeroth, I feel this would be a book I could find in any kitchen. If you have an aspiring nerdy-chef in your life or anyone who wants a neat cookbook, this is the book for you.

Score:8.5

Final Thoughts:If I were to find myself in the world of Azeroth, I feel this would be a book I could find in any kitchen

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Best of 2016: Genre Films http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/best-of-2016-genre-films/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/04/best-of-2016-genre-films/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=92952

By Phil Brown

Oh hey look at that, 2016 is over—another year in the books, and it was a rough one. If something could go wrong, it did go wrong, and that happened over and over right up until the ball was about to drop and bring this year mercifully to a close. Thankfully, there were at least […]

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By Phil Brown

Oh hey look at that, 2016 is over—another year in the books, and it was a rough one. If something could go wrong, it did go wrong, and that happened over and over right up until the ball was about to drop and bring this year mercifully to a close. Thankfully, there were at least some good movies in this big stinky butthole of a year. Was it the greatest year in film history? Well, no, but I also had a hard time whittling this “best of” list down to ten entries, so it wasn’t that bad at all. Not great, but still (in the words of Larry David) pretty, preettty, preeetttty good. Since this is CGMagazne, we like to keep our cinematic focus geared in on genre. Sure, there were emotionally complex and satisfying dramas like Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea that were very much worth exploring for those who like to get all serious with their cinema. However, we like movies where stuff blows up, characters have superpowers, some sort of monster makes an appearance, or at the very least it’s all animated. So without further ado, here’s our list of the Top Ten Genre Movies Of 2016. If you somehow managed to miss any of these, do yourself a favour and watch them all immediately. You won’t regret it, and if you somehow do, it’s probably because there’s something wrong with you. It’s okay. You’ll be fine. Just watch these ten movies and call us in the morning.

Before we get into the list however, here are some honourable mentions: 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Brothers Grimsby, De Palma, Elle, Finding Dory, The Handmaiden, Hell Or High Water, High-Rise, The Jungle Book, Kubo And The Two Strings, Moana, Mr. Right, The Neon Demon, The Nice Guys, Pete’s Dragon, The Purge: Election Year, Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, The Shallows, Silence, Swiss Army Man, Star Trek: Beyond, Train To Busan, The Wailing. 

10) Deadpool

There was never a greater sign that we live in an age of 90’s nostalgia than when Deadpool rose though the ranks of the most popular Marvel cosplay characters. The merc with a mouth couldn’t have been a more 90’s creation: ironic, self-conscious, hyper-violent, and designed in a Todd MacFarlane style. It took Ryan Reynolds a decade to finally get his dream Deadpool movie made and thank god that was the case because there’s no way this sucker would have been nearly as popular even a few years ago. This R-rated bit of slapstick gore spectacle that winks at comic book clichés (along with a sneakily effective love story) was an unexpectedly massive hit last Valentine’s Day and may well have shifted the entire focus of Marvel comics properties over at Fox. Undoubtedly these movies will run their course of popularity just like Deadpool did back in the ancient days of the 1990s. But for now, this was a filthy blast of fresh air that added a little extra jolt of life to the superhero genre for those who felt one was necessary.

9) Blair Witch

Speaking of 90’s nostalgia, the Blair Witch came back this year and despite some pretty brilliant marketing that allowed for a sneak attack on audiences, no one showed up or cared. That’s a shame, because for my money Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s take on that reality warping witch was the most purely entertaining horror flick of 2016. Sure, it didn’t go for anything other than the gut. The whip smart filmmakers behind the self conscious You’re Next and The Guest played it straight (for once) and delivered a rollercoaster ride of nearly every type of visceral scare imaginable and all in the name of reviving the most iconic movie monster of the 90s. Sadly the would-be franchise reboot made less money than the loathed (but actually quite underrated) Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, and that’s a shame because this is a brilliantly made scare factory and fantastic follow up to the original classic. I’m sure over time a cult will form. The flick deserves it. For now, hopefully Wingard and Barrett will go back to creating their own cult classics rather than taking on the mantle of a beloved genre milestone that likely wouldn’t even be popular itself if it was released today because people be stupid.

8) Doctor Strange

Just when the Marvel movie formula was starting to get a little stale, along came Doctor Strange. Oh sure, it was another origin story about a snarky sarcasm machine learning to become a hero. The difference was the material dripping with mysticism and director Scott Derrickson’s (Sinister) knack for brining Steve Ditko’s old trippy 60’s visuals to stunning, mind-bending life. The film was a visual wonder in a way that wouldn’t have even been possible five years ago and a dip even deeper into the brand of comic book fantasy that even the most devoted of comics nerds never dared imagine might make it to the movies decades ago. The flick serves as a heady teaser of things to come in the Marvel movie universe that suggests Kevin Feige does indeed have a few more tricks up his sleeve. Bring it on. This sucker was far more fun than anyone could have predicted.

7) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

After the fanboys and fangirls of the world were allowed an international sigh of relief when The Force Awakens somehow didn’t suck, curiosity rose around Rogue One. After all, this first Star Wars spin off picture offered a glimpse into a side of the world’s most famous movie universe never viewed before. A tiny tale of sacrifice and rebellion hinted at in the first Star Wars flick and expanded out to feature length without any of the duelling lightsaber battles that we’re used to defining these movies. Gareth Edwards delivered a slow burn tale of military rebellion that peaked with a goddamn amazing heist and a spaceship battle for the ages. Rogue One is dripping with fan service and references, yet is also completely its own thing. Sure, it ain’t perfect, but it is easily the finest Star Wars prequel ever made and that’s pretty special.

6) Ouija: Origin Of Evil

Ouija was easily one of the worst studio horror movies of the last decade and yet Ouija 2 (renamed Ouija: Origin Of Evil to avoid comparison) was easily one of the best. Why? Writer and director Mike Flanagan. The man is easily one of the most distinct and creative voices to emerge from the genre in the 2010s after Absentia, Oculus, and Hush. He took on a thankless studio sequel and made probably the best possible movie about a family haunted by a Ouija board. Shot like an old fashioned 70’s scare picture (cigarette burns et all) and packing in more genuine creep outs and jumps than any movie originally titled Ouija 2 should, this was a special cinematic treat to hit cinemas on Halloween. If Flanagan can do this much from such a lame point of origin, then hopefully Universal will let him cut loose with his own studio horror flick soon. The guy deserves it and clearly knows what he’s doing.

5) Captain America: Civil War

I mean, you saw that airport superhero battle royal right? The splash panels brought to life? The geek dreams made real? What’s not to love about Captain America: Civil War? Nothing, that’s what. Some of the best Marvel movie mayhem ever that’ll be tough to top once Infinity Wars kicks off.

4) Midnight Special

This summer everyone went nuts about a throwback 80’s horror/sci-fi mash up, but unfortunately they got excited about the wrong one. Don’t get me wrong, Stranger Things was great, but Midnight Special is even better. Jeff Nichols’ tale of cults and aliens and a child with special powers and Michael Shannon getting over protective was easily one of the best Hollywood movies to hit screens last summer, even though nobody saw it. If you want to know why studios don’t make more smart, challenging, and exciting movies for grownups during blockbuster season, it’s because you stayed home to watch Stranger Things instead of supporting this brilliant genre yarn. Check it out now and hopefully we can get some cult appreciation going. Midnight Special deserves it.

3) Arrival

After successfully finding a middle ground between his personal vision and the demands of mainstream movie making last year with Sicario, Montreal filmmaker Denis Villenueve went a step further with Arrival. An intimate sci-fi epic that is as much about communication as it is big ol’ space ships threatening the world, Arrival is a damn special movie. Hinged on beautiful visuals, a cleverly cinematic twist, and a fantastic lead performance from Amy Adams, Arrival was a perfect balance of cinematic art and popcorn spectacle. Clearly Warner Brothers found the right man to make the Blade Runner sequel. Now lets hope that he has the creative freedom necessary to do the job right.

2) The Witch

The Witch is one of those rare horror movies that are so good that even people who don’t normally watch horror movies loved it. It’s strong enough to work as a drama—and it is a beautiful, challenging, moving, unforgettable drama at that. Robert Eggers delivered one of the most exciting, creative, distinct and memorable directorial debuts in recent memory with The Witch. It’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t love and appreciate what he created, and more so than any horror movie released last year or in the last decade for that matter. The Witch is a special movie, genre or otherwise. It’ll be tough for Eggars to top. But then again, it was nearly impossible for him to make a horror flick this accomplished without ever having stepped behind the camera before. So if he can do that, creating a memorable follow up should be easy.

1) Sausage Party

Yep. That’s right. My personal favourite film of 2016 was a giant dick joke. The secret? That dick joke was actually about everything from racial politics to belief, faith, life, and death (plus farts). Yep, Sausage Party really is that ambitious. It’s also profoundly vulgar, offensive and stupid. It’s high and low art all at once. Most importantly, the movie is pants-wettingly hilarious in a manner no other movie last year came close to delivering. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg spent years struggling to get this movie made, eventually requiring that brilliant billionaire heiress Megan Ellison flip the bill like she had for the most recent films by Spike Jonze (Her), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), David O. Russell (American Hustle) and others. She specializes in making the passion projects of filmmakers come true and what the big ol’ moneymakers Rogen and Goldberg had planned for Sausage Party needed Ellison’s support because it’s just that incendiary, controversial, and filthy. And yes, this is the CGI comedy about sentient food in a grocery store. The ambitions of Rogen and Goldberg are strange, but dammit they done good with this one. This movie is practically South Park-ian in comedic ambition and I don’t say that lightly. See it, laugh like an idiot, and then appreciate every insane idea that those stoner Canadians somehow smuggled onto screens worldwide.

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Linksys Is About To Take Wi-Fi To The Next Level At CES http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/linksys-take-wi-fi-next-level/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/linksys-take-wi-fi-next-level/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 00:00:23 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=92991

By Jordan Biordi

With the Consumer Electronic's Show kicking off in only a few days, many companies will be gearing up to showcase new and innovative technologies. Among these creators is Linksys who seem to be taking Wi-Fi technology to the next level. Announced via press release, though they will be present on the CES showfloor, Linksys announced […]

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By Jordan Biordi

With the Consumer Electronic's Show kicking off in only a few days, many companies will be gearing up to showcase new and innovative technologies. Among these creators is Linksys who seem to be taking Wi-Fi technology to the next level.

Announced via press release, though they will be present on the CES showfloor, Linksys announced three new products in their strong line of Wi-Fi routers. The first is the "Velop," a modular mesh Wi-Fi system which Linksys calls "the first true whole home Wi-Fi." The Velop is the first Tri-Band modular Wi-Fi system that can be installed in various mesh configurations providing fast and reliable Wi-Fi to the edge of a home network. Each node is a powerful Tri-Band AC2200 that can serve as a router, range extender, access point and bridge.

Founder and CEO of Belkin International, Chet Pipkin is incredibly confident in the Velop saying, "This is why I purchased Linksys in 2013. I had a vision of solving a huge problem in almost everyone’s life- slow and unreliable Wi-Fi. Linksys has always been pioneers in home networking and I knew this was the team that could innovate and deliver the ultimate Wi-Fi experience," adding, "Linksys has set the bar for true mesh networking systems."

Linksys Is About To Take Wi-Fi To The Next Level At CES 1The Velop uses a highly integrated System on a Chip from Qualcomm, the first of its kind that incorporates a 716 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor, three Wi-Fi radios (one 2.4 GHz and two 5.0 GHz) and two auto sensing LAN/WAN Gigabit ports. This is complemented by 4 GB of flash memory, 512MB DDR3 memory and a Bluetooth 4.0/LE radio.

The next offering from Linksys is the Killer Prioritization Engine in the new Linksys WRT32X Wi-Fi Gaming Router. Through a partnership with Rivet Networks, makers of the Killer Networking products, The WRT32X Wi-Fi Gaming Router will allow gaming PCs to have fast and smooth gaming experiences, even when there is network contention on the home network, as the devices in the home compete for bandwidth.

Internet traffic from the Killer PC is managed to ensure game play is top priority with audio and video from the Killer PC as second and third priority while bulk download, such as large game patches are set to a lower priority so they don’t negatively impact other devices in the home.

According to Linksys WRT Series Product Manager Vince La Duca, "We looked at the router options available to gamers in the market and realized that 'gaming' routers were just standard routers with flashy industrial design or packaging provided as 'gamer bait', but offered no real technical substance or innovation. We knew we already had the best and top of the line hardware for gaming on the market with the WRT series; we just needed the right solution to give gamers the competitive advantage in regards to network optimization,  That’s when we started talking with Rivet Networks, makers of Killer networking products.”

The WRT32X will feature a 1.8GHz Dual-Core ARM CPU, Dual-Band 3x3 with Tri-Stream 160 technology that delivers a 2.6Gbps 5GHz band. It also features 256 MB Flash and 512 MB of DDR3 Memory, eSATA, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, and MU-MIMO technology for airtime efficiency, and the QoS engine powered by Killer Networking.

Linksys Is About To Take Wi-Fi To The Next Level At CES 2

Lastly, Linksys announced two new Tri-Band MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Routers to join its Max Stream product line: the Linksys EA8300 and the Linksys EA9300. Senior Director of Product Management at Linksys, Justin Doucette said, "The introduction of two additional Tri-Band MU-MIMO routers and an adapter to our Max Stream line- up signifies our commitment to the latest 802.11ac specification. With the rise of bandwidth intensive activities, such as 4K streaming and movie downloads, the importance of an efficient and optimized Wi-Fi network is more critical than ever. Tri-Band and MU-MIMO enables multiple devices to communicate with the router and/or range extender simultaneously, so the result is a faster and more reliable Wi-Fi."

The Linksys EA8300 is an AC2200 Tri-Band MU-MIMO router and the Linksys EA9300 is an AC4000 Tri-Band MU-MIMO router giving users even faster speeds for downloading, streaming, gaming and surfing. Planned for availability in the spring, both routers will offer working MU-MIMO, and Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wave 2 technology which helps improve overall performance and efficiency of a Wi-Fi network while providing dedicated bandwidth to MU-MIMO capable client devices as if they have their own dedicated router.

Those of you familiar with my work know I have a soft spot for Linksys, spawned by a torrid love affair with their WRT 1900 ACS router. As someone who is almost always connected to the internet at all times, I am beyond excited to see what Linksys has to offer next.

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Linksys Velop (Hardware) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/linksys-velop-hardware-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/linksys-velop-hardware-review/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 00:00:22 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=93140

By Brendan Frye

2016 was the year the world learned about mesh networks. With companies such as eero and Luma a new way to wire your home up with Wi-Fi was unleashed, and things would never be the same. For anyone uninitiated in the concept of mesh networks, they allow multiple routers to talk to each other, and […]

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By Brendan Frye

2016 was the year the world learned about mesh networks. With companies such as eero and Luma a new way to wire your home up with Wi-Fi was unleashed, and things would never be the same. For anyone uninitiated in the concept of mesh networks, they allow multiple routers to talk to each other, and since they are on the same wireless channel they avoid the bandwidth problem that range extenders suffer from. But with any new sector of a market, it is only a matter of time before the big players jump into the space. With CES 2017 now here, Linksys lifted the curtain on their offering titled Velop.

Linksys Velop (Hardware) Review 1Much like other mesh network products, it can act like a standard router. A single unit will set you back 249.99 CAD, but depending on the size of your house or work space, you can invest in multipacks ranging from $499.99 for two, and $649.99 CAD for three. The more units you add to your network, the larger the area you can blanket with a Wi-Fi signal. Velop goes for a simple approach, dropping many of the extra bells and whistles for something more streamlined, and despite some minor gripes, it is one of the more promising network products I have tested aimed at a consumer market.

Before I get underway, I must outline that while the Velop is a fantastic product for the console or mobile gamer, if you are a hardcore PC player, this may not be the product for you. It will cover most homes with signal, but if you are serious streamer or online player you will want to consider one of the higher end routers, one with a series of gigabit ports. With the simple design and limited customization, the Velop is targeted at the casual player, and would give a less than ideal setup.

With that out of the way, let's take a look at the Velop and what makes it so interesting. The Velop units stand tall at 7.2 inches with an all-white tower design. It would sit well next to a Sonos, or Amazon Alexa on an end table or mantel in a living room or study. Unlike other routers covered in lights and outlets, the Velop limits its ports, with each base station having only two Ethernet jacks, one of which is reserved for the router or other device that will supply your internet. In terms of lights, there is a small one on the top of the unit that lets users know the status of the Velop, with little other signs of life.

Linksys Velop (Hardware) ReviewWhere the Velop really shines in its set up. Everything is done in the app. Once you plug the unit in, you start up the app and get things underway. While the app is not as fast as some applications I have used in the past, it got the full process done within 10 minutes. From getting up a network name, assigning a password, and setting up internet. It was all complete and working flawlessly in less time than I normally spend just plugging in a router and finding the URL. Setting up additional base stations was just as easy, and I managed to have my whole house covered in Wi-Fi in about 20 minutes, that includes plugging in and moving power adapters. It was a painless installation.

With this simplification, comes some sacrifices. The Velop does not have the plethora of options people would find on routers of a similar price range. As stated above, there are only two outlets for Ethernet, and Linksys also left out the USB port that many people use for a network drive. There are also issues with advanced setup. Personally, I love diving into how a network works, setting up the bands for each type of signal (2.4 GHz and 5.0 Ghz) but the Velop does not allow this level of advanced setup. It should also be noted if you play with your DNS settings for VPN’s, the Velop does not currently have a way to mess with these settings. It is built for one thing in mind, ease of use. While it executes on this job without question, the limited customization may not be for everyone.

Linksys Velop (Hardware) Review 4Despite the small customization gripes, when it comes to performance Linksys blows expectations away. Across the house, even in a room with thick concrete walls, the signal was better than expected. Testing on devices such as a PS4 Pro, Surface book, Apple TV, Xbox One, and Roku. No matter where I set them up in the house, the two base stations managed to connect and provide 1080P video with little to no stuttering or buffering. Game downloads from Steam, PSN, and the Xbox Marketplace where fast, and unlike other routers and extender combos I saw no dropped connections or signal issues. For the 1,200 Sqf space, the third router offered only marginal improvement of the already fantastic coverage.

The Velop manages to act on all the promise of a mesh network product, and does so in a very streamlined manner. While it may not be built for the hardcore PC gamer, streamer or tech enthusiast, it is a device that delivers unparalleled performance with minimal effort. If you want a device that will ensure all rooms of your house can watch Netflix or play the latest games on your console, you can’t go wrong with a Velop. It is a device Linksys clearly put effort into building, and I am excited to see how they improve on the product over time. It is a great entry in the devices that offer mesh network solutions, and a fantastic entry in the Linksys product family.

Score:8.5

Final Thoughts:While it may not be built for the hardcore PC gamer, streamer or tech enthusiast, it is a device that delivers unparalleled performance with minimal effort.

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Rhianna Pratchett Leaves the Tomb Raider Franchise http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/rhianna-pratchett-leaves-tomb-raider-franchise/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/rhianna-pratchett-leaves-tomb-raider-franchise/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2017 21:17:42 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93125

By Adam Nizam

Crystal Dynamics, the developer of the Tomb Raider games, announced Rhianna Pratchett is leaving the franchise. Pratchett, the writer behind games such as Heavenly Sword and Mirror’s Edge prior to joining Tomb Raider, was the writer of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot as well as its 2015 sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. The reason […]

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By Adam Nizam

Crystal Dynamics, the developer of the Tomb Raider games, announced Rhianna Pratchett is leaving the franchise. Pratchett, the writer behind games such as Heavenly Sword and Mirror’s Edge prior to joining Tomb Raider, was the writer of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot as well as its 2015 sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider.

The reason for the departure was so that Pratchett could pursue new projects. In a joint statement made via Twitter, Crystal Dynamics stated that “The entire team thanks Rhianna for her dedication and tireless efforts on the games. Please join us in wishing Rhianna the absolute best in her next adventure.” On her personal Twitter account, Pratchett thanked the Crystal Dynamics team, and the Tomb Raider fan community, saying “I like to think we did some good things. Maybe shifted the gaming landscape a wee bit. And that feels damn good.”

In Oct, 2016, the title of the next Tomb Raider game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, was leaked by a presentation being viewed on a laptop in a Montreal subway. Previously, in Aug, 2015, Square Enix America CEO Phil Rogers accidentally let slip in an interview with GameSpot that the story of the Tomb Raider reboot would be told across a trilogy. Despite all these leaks, a third game in the series is still not officially confirmed by Crystal Dynamics or publisher Square Enix. Currently, there is no word if Pratchett has any involvement with the third game. Her next project is unknown as well.

Pratchett’s writing has been credited with boosting the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise’s success. The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot was received well by critics, and despite what Square Enix viewed as lackluster sales, Rise of the Tomb Raider was developed and released as a timed Xbox One exclusive. At the moment, Crystal Dynamics has not publically stated who will replace Pratchett as lead writer.

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CGM Best of 2016 - Elias Blondeau http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/cgm-best-2016-elias-blondeau/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/cgm-best-2016-elias-blondeau/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2017 19:01:01 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93097

By Elias Blondeau

Elias Blondeau selects his personal best games of 2016 for CGMagazine.

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By Elias Blondeau

Elias Blondeau selects his personal best games of 2016 for CGMagazine.

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CGM Best of 2016 - Lisa Mior http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/cgm-best-of-2016-lisa-mior/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/cgm-best-of-2016-lisa-mior/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2017 18:43:45 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=93041

By Lisa Mior

Lisa Mior of CGMagazine selects her personal top 5 games of 2016.

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By Lisa Mior

Lisa Mior of CGMagazine selects her personal top 5 games of 2016.

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The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episodes One and Two (PC) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/walking-dead-new-frontier-episodes-one-two-pc-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/walking-dead-new-frontier-episodes-one-two-pc-review/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2017 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=92441

By Alex Avard

Telltale certainly had a lot on their plate going into The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier. Not only was the studio tasked with somehow accommodating the half a dozen different endings that could be achieved in Season Two, but The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier also needed to represent something that […]

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By Alex Avard

Telltale certainly had a lot on their plate going into The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier. Not only was the studio tasked with somehow accommodating the half a dozen different endings that could be achieved in Season Two, but The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier also needed to represent something that could appeal to both new players and those who might have thrown out their old save files with their last-gen console.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episodes One and Two (PC) Review 2Though not all of these check boxes were evenly ticked (some of the seemingly big decisions you might have made in Season Two, for instance, are referred to with nothing more than a throwaway line), Telltale has just about managed to pull off a story that works as a respectful continuation of the franchise, while also holding its own as an isolated piece of interactive fiction.

If you’re new to the series or simply can’t find your saved decisions from previous seasons of The Walking Dead, don’t worry; A New Frontier begins with an optional Mass Effect-style prelude which allows you to make a couple of key decisions from the first and second seasons. Alternatively, if you’d rather go in blind with a completely randomized backstory, the game provides the option for that too. It still isn’t quite clear how all of these previous decisions are meaningfully acknowledged in The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier by Episode Two, but some can result in players experiencing completely different scenes, as is also the case for several of the choices made during the new episodes themselves. This is the first time Telltale created a third season for one of their franchises, but these premiering episodes suggests that the studio is more than capable of juggling with the diverging consequences of player’s choices made up till now.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episodes One and Two (PC) Review 3In perhaps another decision guided by the need to welcome the uninitiated, players are now thrown into the shoes of new character Javier Garcia; who finds himself looking after what’s left of his family, before running into a certain frizzy haired teenager. As the latest protagonist to follow in the footsteps of Lee and Clementine, Javier has yet to prove himself to be quite as memorable or endearing as either of those two, but his youthful affability works nicely as a foil to the more world-weary Clementine, who completed her transition from innocent youngster into a full-fledged bad-ass. Props must be given to Melissa Hutchison who perfectly captures Clementine’s evolution into maturity with a performance that retains the character’s signature voice, while simultaneously embellishing it with a palpable sense of grit and stoicism.

The surrounding cast of characters are also portrayed with impressive depth, as almost every survivor you meet manages to subvert your initial expectations of them as events progress throughout the episodes. The one exception to this is with regards to Javier’s hot headed teenage nephew, who manages to storm off in a mood on no less than three different occasions within three hours. Additionally, while the writing remains solid for the most part, The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier sometimes falls into the same trap as Fallout 4 when it come to the presentation of its dialogue trees. There were a couple of frustrating instances where the words that came out of Javier’s mouth were completely different to what had been suggested by the on-screen text.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episodes One and Two (PC) Review 4As with previous seasons, A New Frontier touches on themes of family, sacrifice, and what it means to care for the vulnerable in the apocalypse. As such, these first two episodes are packed with sobering moments of tragedy, agonizingly difficult choices, and a few well executed twists that I genuinely did not see coming. I can’t name many Telltale cliffhangers that have left me truly jaw-dropped, but, once Episode Two of A New Frontier faded to black, I was already counting down the days until I could find out what happens next. It’s a great close to a story that sets itself up for some really interesting conflicts going forward, and here’s hoping that Telltale can sustain this tension for the rest of the season.

Perhaps the greatest improvement to A New Frontier compared to Telltale’s previous work is with regards to the production quality. Character models are given a new lease of life through enhanced visual artistry, and the studio’s first foray into using motion capture has gone a long way in making character animations appear much less puppet-like than previous titles. Even the camera work, which takes on a life of its own during the more intense sequences, contributes to endowing the entire production with the stylistic hue of a big budget TV show, and it works wonders in absorbing you further into the drama.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episodes One and Two (PC) Review 5Unfortunately, while the production quality has been raised, it appears as though the same can’t be said for quality assurance. Though the build I played through was around a week before launch, I would be lying if I didn’t report that my experience was marred with frequent bouts of stuttering, audio synchronization problems, and a number of moments where the game completely paused itself for several seconds. When everything else looks and sounds so great, these immersion breaking technical hiccups tend to stick out like a sore thumb. It’s probable that these bugs will be addressed in a patch, hopefully within a few days of launch, but it’s something to bear in mind for the time being.

Bugs and shortcomings aside, the last time I found myself this absorbed and invested in a Telltale game was with Tales from the Borderlands. If A New Frontier continues to build upon its characters and story arc with the same momentum of these first two episodes, this season could well turn out to be some of Telltale’s best work yet.

Score:8

Final Thoughts:Two episodes in, and A New Frontier has already established itself as an important new story that expands and enriches Telltale’s interpretation of The Walking Dead universe.

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Roku Ultra (Hardware) Review http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/roku-ultra-hardware-review/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/roku-ultra-hardware-review/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2017 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?post_type=reviews&p=92940

By Jesse Lyle

The holiday shopping season is always a stressful time for me. Like many others, I assume, the most difficult part of choosing a gift is, well, choosing a gift. It’s tough to decide on what to get a person when they refuse to tell you what they want or give you a ham-fisted “I don’t […]

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By Jesse Lyle

The holiday shopping season is always a stressful time for me. Like many others, I assume, the most difficult part of choosing a gift is, well, choosing a gift. It’s tough to decide on what to get a person when they refuse to tell you what they want or give you a ham-fisted “I don’t want anything” response. I encounter this vicious cycle every year, and I’ve come to realize that technology is usually the answer. Specifically, a streaming device, and the Roku Ultra is this season’s answer to the question of picking an interesting gift.

Roku Ultra (Hardware) Review 2Streaming devices have really taken off in the past couple years; with more and more households opting to cut the cord of traditional television. Sitting atop that throne is Roku. The last device I got to try out from them was the Streaming Stick, and I was blown away by how much it could do. The actual boxes, like the Ultra, are even more impressive. The all-too-familiar Roku design of the Ultra has the power to stream content in 4K and comes equipped with handy features that the other devices in the family lack. Unfortunately, this is another case of trying to justify the price point.

From a design standpoint, the Roku Ultra is extremely convenient and quite eloquent. Measuring in at just less than 5”rounded square and 0.85” tall, it is nearly identical to the Roku Premiere and Premiere+ in terms of size. Returning is the all black colour scheme with the signature purple tag hanging on the side. Simplicity is the name of the game here, proving you don’t need a light show to bring in users. Where the Ultra differs from the rest of the family however, is in the inputs provided. It features an HDMI port, Ethernet port, power connector and MicroSD card slot—same as the others. But it also brings something else to the table: an optical audio output (if you have an audio system you want to hook the device up to) and a USB slot. Some people might just gloss over these two details, but they are great features to have on a device.

Roku Ultra (Hardware) Review 4The remote for the Roku Ultra is probably the best one I’ve used. Private listening input allowing headphones to be plugged into the remote, a built-in microphone, and A/B buttons for gaming are notable features on the device, along with the standard menu and volume buttons, and dedicated service buttons for channels such as Netflix. Speaking of gaming, it was a pretty lacklustre experience on the Ultra. I’d recommend not even bothering with it.

On the performance side of things, the Roku Ultra is nothing short of a monster streaming device. A quad-core processor gives life to the beast, allowing menu interactions to be near instantaneous. Video stabilization into 4K took me roughly around 15 to 20 seconds, with Full HD being almost instant. This will verify based on Internet connections. Surprisingly, noise isn’t an issue with this machine, despite the power housed inside it. It’s definitely the quietest streaming device I’ve used, and Roku definitely made improvements in that direction since the Roku 4, which was pretty noisy. Since I’m on the topic of audio, the Ultra pumps out the sounds in HDR and Dolby. I did mention above the private listening option, but there’s also a Night Listening mode. This will turn up the dialogue, but lower the noise of things like explosions, allowing for midnight marathons of Michael Bay movies.

Roku Ultra (Hardware) Review 3As far as content available, I said it before in the streaming stick review and I’ll say it again: Roku offers the best and widest variety in terms of channels offered. No one else can touch them on this front. With well over 3,500 channels available, it’s hard not to find something to waste time on. Since the Ultra is a 4K device, it also has a 4K Spotlight app, which will highlight UHD content on the store to offer the best experience possible. That price tag has to be justified somehow.

The Roku Ultra is currently the top dog for the Roku family, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best money can buy. If options such as an audio optical drive and 4K resolution aren’t selling points, than the Premiere and Premiere+ are much better options for frugal buyers. The Ultra does the 4K thing well though, and if were flat-out $100, it would definitely be the best Roku has to offer.

Score:9

Final Thoughts:One of the best 4K streaming devices on the market, but it may be too pricey for some.

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Wii U Games You Need in Your Library http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/wii-u-games-need-library/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/03/wii-u-games-need-library/#comments Tue, 03 Jan 2017 12:00:54 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=92841

By Cody Orme

Ever since the late Satoru Iwata announced the NX’s development way back in 2015, it was clear that we were in the twilight period of the Wii U.  Yet, even before that statement, Nintendo’s dual-screened home console struggled to gain any real footing with casual or hardcore gamers, leaving it without any real demographic. Still, […]

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By Cody Orme

Ever since the late Satoru Iwata announced the NX’s development way back in 2015, it was clear that we were in the twilight period of the Wii U.  Yet, even before that statement, Nintendo’s dual-screened home console struggled to gain any real footing with casual or hardcore gamers, leaving it without any real demographic. Still, sales aside, the Wii U managed to be an exclusive home for some truly fun titles. Don’t let the release date of a new console make you trigger shy, because the Wii U acquired quite the exclusive line up in its five year life cycle, and here are just a few—in no particular order.

Xenoblade Chronicles X

Wii U Games You Need in Your Library 10

Set in the distant future, the last beacon of hope for humanity sits on a ship floating aimlessly through space. Unfortunately, it’s shot down by an alien race, crashing on an unknown planet. Now, humans fight to survive on an increasingly hostile planet they’re trying to explore. Making matters worse, the native creatures—along with other aliens the humans run into—are out to kill them. Players take control of a nameless soldier found inside a pod with no real recollection of who they are. Still, their character appears to be pretty good with a gun, and quickly moves up through the military ranks in a division of their choosing, each of which focuses on different aspects of the game and offers different upgrades.

This is the biggest title on the Wii U in terms of size, and it’s a great RPG in its own right. As a sequel to the highly rated Wii title that fans fought tooth and nail to bring to North American shores, it does everything and more to live up to the legacy of its predecessor. While it can feel a little too open ended, and even overwhelming at times, RPG fans should not miss out on the best title in the genre on the Wii U.

Mario Maker

Wii U Games You Need in Your Library 7

Mario’s showings on the Wii U are mixed at best. While people tend to enjoy New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D Land, they won’t go down as some of the greatest Mario games for a variety of reasons. Mario Maker on the other hand, changed the game—literally.

By playing into the do it yourself culture the videogame world has been moving into for the past generation and a half, Mario Maker lets players build and share their own levels.  They choose an aesthetic ranging from the original game to Super Mario World  (excluding number two), which actually determines the abilities Mario has. Aside from that, builders can choose the location and even extras like character skins Mario can wear. The creativity is community driven, and their presence is still going strong even a year after its release, meaning it’s still a good time to hop on board the Mario Maker Train.

Splatoon

Wii U Games You Need in Your Library

This is easily the online powerhouse for the Wii U. Obviously this console has weak support from franchises like Call of Duty, meaning if gamers crave a traditional online shooter experience, then the Wii U isn’t their console. Still, Nintendo put their own spin on the genre with this, colourful, vibrant, personality filled shooter where the main goal isn’t to kill the opponent, but ink as much of the map as possible within the time limit.

It’s addictive, and receives consistent support from Nintendo in terms of updates, special events, and Amiibos, which makes Splatoon one of the most played titles on the Wii U.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U

Wii U Games You Need in Your Library 6

This wouldn’t be a top Nintendo list if Smash Bros. wasn’t included. In many ways, this cross over king of the hill style fighter isn’t just a celebration of Nintendo and its rich history; it’s a celebration of gaming as a whole with characters from companies that have roots in gaming just as deep as the Big N. This time around, fans were treated to Pac-Man, Ryu from Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog, Bayonetta, and even the blue bomber himself, Mega Man.

In many game circles the term “settle it in Smash” is used as a way to determine a winner of any given argument, and that tradition lives on the Wii U. With some of the best couch multiplayer on any console, a pretty lively online population, and even a dedicated eSports scene, this is a title that both casual and hardcore gamers young and old will enjoy.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Okay, this one isn’t fair, but since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild doesn’t release until after the holiday season, I’m calling this one a draw. Trying to choose between Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD is like trying to choose which grandparent you’d rather die first. Yeah, you probably know deep down inside, but you’d never say it out loud.  They’re also so different that it makes choosing one over the other nearly impossible.

On one hand, you have Wind Waker. To many this is the Zelda title of their childhood. With bright colours, a cute art style, and a flooded Hyrule, this game captures the childlike wonder of the world around you. It also has pirates and players can stab Ganon in the face, so that’s pretty cool as well. With some of the most memorable moments in the series, and a strong focus on exploration, Wind Waker is considered by many to be the best in the series.

Then we have Twilight Princess, Windwaker’s angry little brother who listens to Marilyn Manson and watches Tim Burton movies like they’re religious experiences. This title stands in direct contrast to its predecessor, tapping into a darker side Nintendo tried to escape from post-Majora’s Mask. While its plot is very simple, and it is the definition of “the Zelda formula”, its realistic art direction mixed with a wolf Link make for an experience unlike anything seen in The Legend of Zelda franchise.  It also features some of the most frightening, unnerving scenes ever seen in the series, making this a must have for those looking for a more grown up Legend of Zelda.

Bayonetta 2

Wii U Games You Need in Your Library 1

The fact that we got a sequel to the cult classic developed by Platinum Games still feels surreal even two years later. With the original title—published by Sega—meeting lackluster sales despite high praise from critics and players alike, it seemed like this Devil May Cry inspired brawler wouldn’t see the light of day ever again.  Enter Nintendo.  Somehow, Nintendo managed to get the exclusive rights to the franchise and here we go.

With smooth, fast paced combat, an empowered female lead, and a whole lot of angel fighting, Bayonetta 2 is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Wii U library. Not only that, it was originally packaged with the first title that released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2011, so you can experience the entire Bayonetta story on the Wii U.

Obviously, there are more titles than just what is listed here, but if players get their hands on these, they have a pretty good start to their Wii U collection. This won’t be a console that goes down in history as Nintendo’s strongest, but it is still a fun device, with a unique control scheme that was home to some very fun games. And at the end of its life, that is good enough.

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Why Don Bluth is Perfect for Silverwing http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/02/why-don-bluth-is-perfect-for-silverwing/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/02/why-don-bluth-is-perfect-for-silverwing/#respond Mon, 02 Jan 2017 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=92914

By Helena Shlapak

Not all of Don Bluth’s films have been a critical or commercial success, but the man is still a legend in the animation industry. While it’s easy to say that even his best work is polarizing, Bluth offered a competitive alternative to Disney with films like An American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven and […]

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By Helena Shlapak

Not all of Don Bluth’s films have been a critical or commercial success, but the man is still a legend in the animation industry. While it’s easy to say that even his best work is polarizing, Bluth offered a competitive alternative to Disney with films like An American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven and The Secret of NIMH. Bluth raised the bar for animation and pushed the envelope (as far as he could with children’s animation) with his dark, mature and incredibly strange stories and themes, forcing the world to see that animation can be taken seriously. He was way ahead of his time in his philosophy that kids could accept anything as long as there is a happy ending, and thanks to his struggles he paved the way for all the amazing animated shows we have today like Adventure Time, Legend of Korra and Steven Universe. While his work inspired many beloved franchises, his hand could be perfect for an adaptation of Kenneth Oppel's bat epic Silverwing.

Why Don Bluth Should Adapt the Silverwing Series
The only work Bluth's name is attached to is a movie adaptation of Dragon's Lair.

Bluth has left his mark on the world but much like the Avatar, when the world needed him most, he vanished for 15 years. The only project he’s currently working on is a full film adaptation of his arcade game, Dragon’s Lair, should it get backing from a major studio. The problem here is that while I’m sure this project has been on Bluth’s mind for some time, the man needs something even bigger for his comeback and The Silverwing series lends itself really well to his strengths.

The first three of four books follow the adventures of a young bat named Shade, while the last one is a prequel book about the very first bat named Dusk. Despite the novels being aimed at elementary and middle school children, the books get very dark and featured a lot of death and gruesome imagery, yet also provide a sense of wonder and adventure. And that’s why Don Bluth adapt the Silverwing books, he’s already done films exactly like these before.

Why Don Bluth Should Adapt the Silverwing Series 2
Silverwing protagonist Shade is separated from his family much like Fievel from An American Tale.

The first book, Silverwing, is very American Tail-esque, with Shade (a runt) getting separated from his colony during a storm and having to make the migration journey alone, much like how Fievel gets lost. The book also coincides with another of Bluth’s films, The Land Before Time. Shade runs into another bat, Marina (who is also alone) and the two help each other survive and make the journey together while attempting to outrun two evil cannibal bats named Goth and Throbb, much like how Little Foot and his friends are all alone and have to make it to their promised land while escaping Sharp Tooth. All three focus on the struggles and determination of children, their hopes and their fears and the power of love and friendship.

Bluth is excellent at showcasing these themes because he isn’t afraid to show how kids really are. Kids aren’t always smart (not out of stupidity, but of ignorance) and often act impulsively. They follow their emotions, sometimes acting like little jerks and being downright cruel, yet they have this innocence and kindness that’s made them lovable. Bluth also showed that it’s okay to be vulnerable and flawed because that’s reality, especially when the hero is a child. Shade (while written a tad more mature) is exactly like Bluth’s child characters. He’s constantly afraid and questioning himself due to his low self-esteem from being born a runt. He’s always looking to Marina (who’s older) for guidance while being capable of coming up with a plan if need be. And he throws himself into the fire to protect those he loves because it’s what he feels is right.

Secondly, the Silverwing novels are filled with a complex imaginative lore and imagery combined with a hint of magic and technology, much like Secret of NIMH. There’s a dark and grand history to why bats can’t be in the sun. There’s religion with the bat god Nocturna and a belief that humans will help them. There’s even a way for bats to use their echolocation to a far greater potential by disguising themselves with projections and even using those projections to sing maps. In the sequel book, Sunwing, Shade and his friends are even experimented on by human scientists for their own personal gain, altering them and causing a great deal of death and destruction, similar to how the rats of NIMH were changed.

Why Don Bluth Should Adapt the Silverwing Series 1
The Silverwing novels also feature a lot of magic and technology, much like Secret of NIMH.

Bluth could easily bring all that imagery to life with his painting-like art style. All his films had incredible animation that knew how to set a tone with shadows and grey skies and dusty filth as well as colourful flowers and golden water brought on by the bright sun. The details of the echo chamber from the Silverwing colony and how Shade sees these stories in his mind would be breathtaking.

Lastly (and possibly the best reason), the books get surprisingly dark and gory. Despite being a children’s book, many of the animals die in gruesome ways or go through harsh and brutal trials, especially in Sunwing. Bats are hit by lightning and turned to dust, animals are eaten alive, burned, wings and flesh torn, manipulated into being suicide bombers, sacrificed with their hearts ripped out etc. The last book of Shade’s adventures, Firewing, even has main characters throwing themselves into bat Hell and attempting to escape to cheat death, much like All Dogs go to Heaven. It’s so strange and horrifying it has Bluth written all over it and since animation is allowed to break boundaries now, Bluth could do whatever he wants and go crazy.

Why Don Bluth Should Adapt the Silverwing Series 3
Canadian cartoon channel Teletoon ran 13 episodes of a Silverwing cartoon in 2003.

Now, the Silverwing series did in fact receive an adaptation, it was popular enough in Canada to be animated as a television series thanks to Bardel Entertainment. However, the series consisted of only 13 episodes and was based off the first book with elements from the second. While the voice acting for the show was fantastic, everything else was…not so much. The animation was blocky and cheap with numerous horrendous animation errors. The show also omitted most of the dark and brutal elements from the novels and deferred greatly from the source material.

Don Bluth and Silverwing have both been burned and forgotten, but working together could be both parties’ salvation. It’s almost too perfect to be true—and most likely will never happen—but Mr. Bluth, if you’re reading this, please pick up the books and read them. Please make those books your magnum opus and come back with a bang. Both you and the series deserve so much more love.

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Exploring Spotify Gaming Playlists http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/02/exploring-spotify-gaming-playlists/ http://www.cgmagonline.com/2017/01/02/exploring-spotify-gaming-playlists/#respond Mon, 02 Jan 2017 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.cgmagonline.com/?p=92904

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What are the first few things that come to mind when you think of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End? Breath-taking vistas? Thrilling action? The Passenger by Iggy Pop? No? How about David Bowie’s Space Oddity? You may be missing a beat, as both of these tracks, alongside many other pop-rock classics, feature on the Spotify […]

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