Kazuo Hirai To Step Down As Sony CEO

Kazuo Hirai To Step Down As Sony CEO

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai is stepping down from his position after six years in the role, and will be replaced by CFO Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony announced Friday.

“As the company approaches a crucial juncture, when we will embark on a new mid-range plan, I consider this to be the ideal time to pass the baton of leadership to new management, for the future of Sony and also for myself to embark on a new chapter in my life,” Hirai said in a press release. “My successor, Kenichiro Yoshida, has supported me closely since returning to Sony in December 2013 , contributing extensively beyond his remit as CFO and acting as valuable confidant and business partner, as we took on the challenge of transforming Sony together.”

The transition will take effect on April 1, 2018, at which point Hirai will continue serve as chairman and sit on the board of directors. Hirai originally joined Sony in 1984, working in the company’s music division, before joining Sony Computer Entertainment America in 1995. Four years later, he was named president and COO of SCEA, before taking over Sony’s worldwide video game business in 2006.

Yoshida was promoted to the role of CFO in 2014. In a statement, Yoshida said he plans to build on the foundations established by Hirai to “enhance our competitiveness as a global enterprise, and enable us to realize long-term profit growth.”


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Shadow of the Colossus Remake (PlayStation 4) Review: The Eyes Have It

Shadow of the Colossus Remake (PlayStation 4) Review: The Eyes Have It

Remaking a game can be a dangerous affair. Upgrading the visuals can steal away part of the charm of the older work. Tweaking controls can alter some of the nuances of how the game played. It’s an extremely fine line, one the Shadow of the Colossus effortlessly dances along, knowing exactly what to fix and what to leave alone.

The stark, sun-drenched visuals of the original seemed like they might be a tipping point when word got out that Shadow of the Colossus was being remade. Would the developers want to add more detail to the world? Color? It seemed like the sort of thing that might get changed to look ‘prettier’ despite the thematic meaning behind the game’s visual style.

Shadow of the Colossus Remake (Switch) Review: The Eyes Have It 1
Shadow of the Colossus Remake (images for this review courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment).

Somehow, though it has been made prettier, the team managed to preserve that sense of being dried out, abandoned, and barren. Striking mountain ranges tower above the player, all while grasses sway beneath their feet or sand whirls up around Agro’s hooves. Players can see for miles, looking out onto broken bridges and remnants of lost civilizations tucked into hidden alcoves. All of these places existed in the original, but the finer details of the new visuals make the land seem to breathe new life into Shadow of the Colossus, even as it is dying.

Shadow of the Colossus’ colossi were given a similar treatment in this remake: their details enhanced to make their beauty all the sadder. The stone armour seems harder and more unforgiving in its new detail, the cracks and breaks in the plates hinting at ages of life. Their hair no longer looks coarse but seems fine and soft. It’s the sort of detail that might seem out of place given the age hinted at by the armour, but it indicates a gentleness in these giant creatures that they’re trying to protect. It was a nice touch and helped strengthen a powerful thematic element of the game.

Nowhere was this visual detail more powerful than in the colossi’s eyes. Shadow of the Colossus isn’t filled with giant monsters bent on killing the player, but colossal creatures that simply wish to continue existing. Most of them have no interest in the player’s presence, and will, at most, try to shoo them away. Many only turn violent when the player is stabbing them, and even then, the most many of them do is just try to shake him off. They’re docile creatures despite their size and power.

Shadow of the Colossus Remake (Switch) Review: The Eyes Have It
Shadow of the Colossus Remake (images for this review courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment).

This is made abundantly clear with a single look in their eyes. The creatures of Shadow of the Colossus possess that same empty, gentle look in those glassy orbs, at most curious or indifferent to the player. Even when some get angry, their eyes glowing red, it only lasts until the player stops bothering them. They simply wish to exist, possessing little malice in them, and certainly none worth killing them over. All of this is felt by watching any of these creatures focus their soft gaze on the player, and the effect is emotionally staggering. One look tells the player who the monster is.

But we are here to overcome, are we not?

Tackling the colossi is no less thrilling than it was before, with the colossi preserved exactly how they acted before. Players who know the original well can apply old tactics to take these creatures down, and new players will be struck by the thrill of climbing up a creature the size of a skyscraper. Looking at these giant bodies like puzzles to solve, then navigating them with limited grip strength is exciting and compelling, and the variety of creatures makes for endless fun. Well, depressing fun.

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Shadow of the Colossus Remake (images for this review courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment).

The music, carried over (but obviously re-recorded/cleaned up) from the original that accompanies these battles is stirring, carrying Shadow of the Colossus’ emotional resonance to incredible heights. Yes, killing these beasts is sad, but that’s forgotten in the thrill of the fight. The music rises along with the player as they climb a swinging arm, grasping for any handhold as the colossus bucks and whips at them. It swells as the player plunges their blade into a weak point of the giant beast they are riding through the skies.

And when the creature falls, and you remember the look of fear in its eyes as you swung a torch toward their face – the way it shivered as you approached – and the music falls to gentle, somber notes, you realize the gravity of what you’ve done.

The controls were the final point where a remake may have floundered. Shadow of the Colossus has a very particular control scheme that, at first, seems fussy. The camera angles tend to stick to a cinematic viewpoint that tends not to be helpful when things get rough in a fight, swirling around uncontrollably. The protagonist can be clumsy, his movements taking time to adjust no matter what the player is trying to make him do. Riding the horse, Agro, also feels closer to guiding rather than controlling, coaxing them to go when you need to move.

For some, these controls may turn the remake into an exercise in frustration. However, the game isn’t especially hard and often factors these limitations in, so most will be fine. They seem like something many developers should have fixed, but they’re part of the themes of Shadow of the Colossus. The player struggles along with the protagonist with the clumsy movements, and Agro is a companion, not a vehicle – someone to ask for help rather than control. Many companies might have tried to ‘clean up’ these controls, but, annoying as they can be, are a key part of the game’s emotional power.

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Shadow of the Colossus Remake (images for this review courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment).

The Shadow of the Colossus remake could have tried to make everything smooth and modern, but its developers knew what made the original game special and preserved it. In doing so, they’ve enhanced its themes, stirring up a crushing sadness in the player in their actions only moments after taking them to heights of excitement. It’s a master class in how to remake a true classic.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Joel Couture’s reviews such as Fight’N Rage, The Evil Within 2, and Outlast 2!

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Sony Xperia XZ1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great

Sony Xperia XZ1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great

Owning a phone is a necessity. Most of modern life is conducted through our phones and without them we would be lost. It goes without saying, that having a flagship phone is beneficial for a variety of reasons. When someone purchases a flagship phone, they expect the latest in technology and style. Sony released their latest flagship, the Sony Xperia XZ1. This phone is set to stand alongside the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Apple’s iPhone X, and LG’s G6. Surprisingly, this phone has the ability to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big boys.

Let’s talk about the biggest elephant in the room, the bezels. You cannot take one look at the Sony Xperia XZ1 without seeing the massive black spaces above and below the screen. With more and more manufacturers moving towards having edge-to-edge screens on their devices, Sony made the interesting decision to keep two fairly large parts of their screen.

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Sony Xperia XZ1 (image credit: CGM Staff)

The rounded edges on the top and bottom of the phone lend it an interesting look but overall the phone does have some issues with holding it. At times, I found navigating the screen with the phone in just one hand was not the easiest and the phone has a tendency to lean towards me, threatening to fall out of my grasp.

The back of the phone is minimalistic. Featuring a smooth black metal finish, a slight bump from the camera, and the Xperia logo in the middle.

An interesting inclusion in the Sony Xperia XZ1 is the addition of a dedicated shutter button. It’s been a while since I’ve used a phone with a shutter button and the inclusion of it is welcome. Above the shutter button is the indented power button. It sits just beneath the edge of the phone and I never found myself having an issue with it. The button is also the fingerprint scanner for the device. The scanner works wonderfully and I was able to calibrate every finger that I felt I might have needed to use to unlock the phone.

Underneath all this exterior is your standard flagship phone for 2017. The Sony Xperia XZ1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor which is the same chip as the one in the Galaxy S8 and the Pixel 2. Alongside the processor is 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. There is a MicroSD slot so that storage can be expanded up to 256GB.

Sony Xperia XZ1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great 5
Sony Xperia XZ1 (image credit: CGM Staff)

Apps were responsive and snappy with the only slowdown being when an app would load an external ad. Outside of that one moment, the phone was more than able to handle anything we threw at it. Apps like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp worked like a charm.

Included in the Sony Xperia XZ1 is the latest edition of the Android operating system, Oreo. Oreo works beautifully and is a welcome upgrade. The only issue is the amount of preinstalled apps that Sony includes. Many of these apps stand beside their Google cousins as though family members put them in a line. After removing or disabling a vast majority of the included apps, I felt right at home using this phone.

Sony Xperia XZ1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great 7
Sony Xperia XZ1 (image credit: CGM Staff)

The camera on the Sony Xperia XZ1 is probably the second most lacking area on the phone, right after the design. While the rear camera is 19 megapixels and has an f/2.0 aperture, the camera struggled at times. The autofocus on the camera had trouble focusing on subjects at times resulting in blurry edges or details. The largest issue is that low-light photos were practically useless. These photos were often very dark and grainy.

Powering all of this is a relatively small 2,700mAh battery. While other users found the phone to lack in the power department, it survived me a whole day. This included days of GPS navigation, music playing, and video watching. As long as the phone was charged when I went to sleep it survived. Moments where it needed a charge, such as when a late night turns into an early morning, the support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 meant that even a half hour would fill around 50% of the battery’s charge.

The price of the Sony Xperia XZ1 is also a large issue. Through only two select companies carry it here in Toronto, the phone is available unlocked for a $1000 CAD price tag. Outside of that, the best bet for purchasing this phone would be through Amazon for the price of $780 CAD. At that price, the phone has to compete with all the other major flagships. While it is still on the cheaper end, the phone doesn’t do anything that really separates it from all the other flagships.

Sony Xperia XZ1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great 1
Sony Xperia XZ1 (image credit: CGM Staff)

At the end of the day, Sony has made a good flagship phone. It performs on par with any other flagships of this year and users who choose it will not be left out. The main issues with the Sony Xperia XZ1 are the ageing design and the useless lowlight camera. If you can get over the design, and the camera issue doesn’t bother you, then I can wholeheartedly recommend this phone. For anyone else, the other flagships are worth a glance if you are planning to spend this much on a phone.

A retail version of this device reviewed was provided by the manufacturer. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Jesse Cabral’s review of Divinity Original Sin 2 and his review of the MSI Stealth Pro!

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CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Pixels & Ink – Episode 271: Too Many Teraflops!

Pixels & Ink - Episode 271: Too Many Teraflops!

After a bit of a delay, the Pixels & Ink Podcast team is back in action! This week, Phil Brown, Lisa Mior, and Brendan Frye tackle some big announcements from Paris Games Week and Razer. Naughty Dog stirred up quite a bit of press with the reveal of some in-game footage from the upcoming and highly anticipated The Last of Us 2. Razer introduced their newest member of the Cult of Razer gaming family, the Razer Phone.

In Hollywood news, countless studios are reeling from the fallout of sexual assault allegations against powerful moguls starting with Harvey Weinstein. Another blow was struck last week when Star Trek Discovery star, Anthony Rapp, came forward with allegations of assault and harassment against House of Cards star, Kevin Spacey.

In reviews, Phil discusses Thor: RagnarokThe Killing of a Sacred Dear, and Super Mario Odyssey. Lisa tries to get the team on board with an early look at Animal Crossing Pocket Edition. And Finally, Brendan Frye goes through the ins and outs of the 4K madness machine that is the Xbox One X.

Tune and don’t miss a minute of the fun!   


Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Want to read more about the topics we talked about today? Get the full scoop on Netflix’s response to the Kevin Spacey allegations, our coverage of Paris Games Week including details about the Last of Us 2, and information about the new Razer phone! Check out Phil Brown’s reviews of Thor Ragnarok, The Killing of a Sacred Dear, and Mario Odyssey! While you’re at it, get all the specs and facts from Brendan Frye about the Xbox One X!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

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Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out past episodes of the Pixels & Ink Podcast, as well as first looks at the latest games!

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) Review – Cold Steel to Warm your Heart

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) Review - Cold Steel to Warm your Heart

The end of the year is a special time in gaming. The holidays are crammed head to toe with highly anticipated AAA releases, and everyone seems eager to tell you their personal picks for the game of the year. It’s extremely easy to forget about all the high quality games that came out earlier in the year, like Resident Evil 7 and Nioh. I had completely forgotten Horizon Zero Dawn came out this year, and it took Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds for me to remember how much I liked it.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) Review - Cold Steel to Warm your Heart 5
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) – gameplay image via Sony and Guerilla Games

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is the first expansion made available to 2017’s premiere game for robot dinosaur hunting and Bluetooth earpieces. This expansion increases the map side to include the frostbitten lands to the far north and their strange, sometimes alien vistas. Players will be able to access the new content as soon they’re loosed on the open world beyond Mother’s Heart, however, new players should put a little hitch in their get-a-long before they attempt those icy peaks. The Frozen Wilds are recommended for characters around level 30. While that isn’t a hard and fast number, I can tell you from experience that a level 11 Aloy is going to need to be on her A-game if she wants to punch a robo-polar bear.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) Review - Cold Steel to Warm your Heart 2
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) – gameplay image via Sony and Guerilla Games

Beyond the tentacle looking architecture of the Grave-Hoard lies The Cut, a wild, frozen expanse inhabited by hardy Banuk hunters and dotted with steaming hot springs. It turns out there’s some weird “daemon” about and it’s been infecting the local machine with its funky mojo. Mind you, this is completely different funky mojo than the corruption getting into the southern regions, a decidedly more angry and shadowy. Additionally, this daemon seems to be silencing the spirit, a mysterious voice that the local shaman has taken to praying to. All of this madness seems tied up with the grumpy looking mountain spewing black smoke in the distance, but the local tribes don’t seem to be terribly keen to check it out any further.

Through the course of this expansion, players will not only explore these savage lands and their frigid bounty, but also challenge a local tribal leader, explore a deserted dam, and track some not so great hunters trying to skip out of a bill. The Frozen Wilds offers what may be the best thing an expansion to Horizon Zero Dawn could offer; more to do in an already excellent game with stunning graphics, top-notch voice acting, and fun gameplay, and thankfully it’s not all just more of the same. The Frozen Wilds offers some significant quality of life additions that affect the base game experience as well. Mostly, a new skill tree is available from the start that allows for the deconstruction of resources and materials for cash, more options for mounts, and ways to repair overridden machines. Additionally, it is now possible to add modifications to Aloy’s trusty spear, and even a new weapon type to be found out there.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) Review - Cold Steel to Warm your Heart
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) – gameplay image via Sony and Guerilla Games

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is a great expansion to an already stellar game, but it is certainly not without its faults. While the side quests are a bit more diverse than the base game, the fun side activities, hunting grounds, set collections, get lumped into the main quest line. Now, I would have probably done this anyway, but these sorts of activities are best served at the players own discretion, rather than having them forced upon them.

If you enjoyed the initial release of Horizon Zero Dawn then you have nothing to lose going into this downloadable content. It’s a fairly significant time investment and, while it doesn’t do anything new with the patented Horizon formula, The Frozen Wilds is jam-packed with side quests, ravenous machines to hunt, and an interesting story. The new enemies are interesting to fight and the new region is a joy to explore.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) Review - Cold Steel to Warm your Heart 4
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) – gameplay image via Sony and Guerilla Games

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Lane Martin’s reviews, such as The Lion’s Song and Sexy Brutale!

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CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra (Smartphone) Review – Far From the Best Experience

Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra (Smartphone) Review – Far From the Best Experience

This year, Sony threw their hat into the ring of camera-focused smartphones with the Sony Xperia XA1 and the XA1 Ultra. After spending time with both phones, I can’t say that either one is all that great, even if the camera does live up to its expectations.

The Sony Xperia XA1 has a design that just doesn’t sit well with me. The rigid edges and its basic white model doesn’t help much. Compared to a lot of other phones on the market, the Sony Xperia XA1’s five-inch 720p feels small. Anyone who really cares about colour sharpness will likely be disappointed with this phone.

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Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra (Smartphone) – image via CGMagazine

The Xperia XA1 Ultra fares slightly better, offering a similar design except with a larger 6-inch screen. Along with the larger screen, the Xperia XA1 Ultra also has a boosted resolution quality at 1080p. The unfortunate drawback of this enlarged screen is that the device becomes unwieldly unless you’re using both hands.

Both of the phones are incredibly thin and light, the XA1 weighing in at only 5.04 oz. while the XA1 Ultra weighs 6.63 oz.  Fragility does become a potential threat however, especially when dealing with the plastic backing used for both phones. Because the back is non-removable, slots for the SIM card and an optional microSD card of up to 256 GB can be found on the left side of the phone. I never ran into this issue myself but it’s worth noting that I have read about users experiencing chipping off the paint located around the SIM slot. On the right side of the devices are volume rockers along with the round power button, similar to other Xperia brand devices. One design choice that I really did like was the placement of a button on the lower right side of both phones, operating purely as a camera button. This helped to make the devices feel more like actual cameras when taking pictures in landscape mode.

Title: Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra (Smartphone) Review – Far From the Best Experience 5
Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra (Smartphone) – image via CGMagazine

Neither the Xperia XA1 nor the XA1 Ultra come out looking great when it comes to performance. While both phones run on Android 7.0 operating system, the XA1 runs on an Mediatek MT6757 Helio P20 chipset with only 3 GB worth of RAM. The XA1 Ultra makes use of the same chipset, using 4 GB RAM instead. The two phones sometimes struggle to run even the most basic of apps, lagging while browsing the Google Play Store and even worse, occasionally crashing. The sound qualities of both the XA1 and XA1 Ultra are also average at best. There’s only one speaker found at the base of each device and while you do get a clear enough sound, they aren’t very loud even at max volume.

As expected, the XA1 and XA1 Ultra’s main attractions are their 23 megapixel cameras. In addition to their great camera sensors for lighting and autofocus, both offer a manual setting which lets users customize their camera settings to meet their needs. The XA1 Ultra does have a better front facing camera, offering 16 megapixels as opposed to the XA1’s 8 megapixels as well as LED flash. Although taking pictures is a specialty of the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra, neither device offers much in the way of videos past being able to record at 1080p at 30 fps.

The topic of battery life is another area where the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra perform decently. The XA1’s 2300mAH battery is able to last a full day with average use. The XA1 Ultra’s 2700mAH battery runs out of juice just a bit faster, likely due to the higher resolution screen. Charging these devices doesn’t take too long either, fully charging in about an hour and a half.

With such great cameras, it’s a shame that the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra don’t even come close to that level of quality in other departments. Despite releasing in 2017, the phones already feel dated in today’s market, even going as far as lacking fingerprint scanners. With the only real quality of these devices being their camera specs, you’re likely better off just buying a new camera. Even among other budget smartphones, there are options that perform much better with cameras within the same range of quality as the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Find out why Remington thinks the Escapists 2 makes breaking out of prison fun, or why Sonic Mania earns its spot next to the titles released during Sonic’s golden era!

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CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!