Month: September 2015

Star Wars: Shattered Empire 1 (Comic) Review 3

Star Wars: Shattered Empire 1 (Comic) Review

It’s a big year for the Star Wars franchise; the definitive series will see its long-awaited sequel trilogy release in December and now, the countdown is on. In partnership with Marvel, Lucasfilm is expanding their universe through comics and with this week’s release of Journey to The Force Awakens: Star Wars Shattered Empire, sci-fi fans can find out what happened in the wake of Return of the Jedi, leading into 2015’s most anticipated film. Written by Greg Rucka (Batman, Wolverine) and illustrated by Marco Checchetto (Avengers World, Punisher), Shattered Empire follows the success of Marvel’s other Star Wars titles in capturing the spirit of the original films.

 variant cover by Marco Checchetto
variant cover by Marco Checchetto

The opening of the comic throws the reader into the climax of Return of the Jedi and follows Shara Bey, a Rebellion pilot that flies under the call sign Green Four. Shara is a skilled pilot, and her aerial prowess is immediately apparent during the opening space battle. She is efficient and deadly in the cockpit of an A-wing. Rucka’s story follows Shara through the Battle of Endor and into the celebrations afterwards. She helps Luke escape the Death Star’s blast radius, crosses paths with Lando Calrissian and Han Solo, and reunites with her husband against the backdrop of Ewoks and fireworks. The entire issue is a setup for the final couple of pages where the series’ main conflict is introduced.

Rucka’s story successfully emulates the kinetic energy of Jedi and draws the reader back into the thrilling final scene of the movie. The action is caught in realistic glimpses as it follows Shara’s A-wing through the chaos of battle. Rucka’s characterization is as strong as his action as he captures the heart of fan favorites like Solo and gives Shara a voice of her own. It is easy to believe in her conviction as she works tirelessly for her cause. The shortfall of this volume is its pacing. The opening is compelling and energetic, but as it moves into its third act and introduces a larger conflict, the issue begins to feel rushed. The story becomes inorganic and feels as though big sections of it ended up on the cutting room floor. Even though the end of this issue takes an unfortunate turn, the beginning is compelling enough to engage the reader. Hopefully the rest of the series will follow the tone of the introduction.

Canceled Legacy variant cover by Adi Granov
Canceled Legacy variant cover by Adi Granov

Checchetto’s art is the perfect accompaniment to Rucka’s script. It perfectly captures the chaos of the battle and the joy of the celebration. Beyond that, he has captured the likenesses of the characters and made them his own, creating an energetic and realistic universe for the script to take place in. The early pages play with perspective, splashing larger-than-life heroes and A-wings against the exploding backdrop, creating a lot of visual interest. But like the story, the art loses momentum and the bold splash pages gradually transition into a systematic arrangement of panels. This lessens the thrill of the story and detracts from the action.

Overall, Shattered Empire has a lot of potential. It will fill in a crucial part of the cannon and introduce the newest film in the epic franchise. Drawing new characters into the already well-loved saga is an interesting way to fill the void between movies and tell a new part of the story, and Shattered Empire is likely to explore these characters, and they will likely become an important part of the cannon. This issue starts off with a bang, and although the thrill tapers off before the end, it sets the tone for the rest of the series. Star Wars fans looking for a blast of nostalgia or looking forward to The Force Awakens will definitely enjoy this book

Entourage Giveaway 1

Entourage Giveaway

CGM is giving away more movies!
entourage1CGM has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to giveaway some of the best movies in recent history.

This month we are giving away Entourage.

Vincent Chase, together with his boys, Eric, Turtle and Johnny, are back in business with agent Ari Gold. Their bond remains strong as they navigate the cutthroat world of Hollywood with hilarious antics.

Own the Blu-ray™ 9/29
On Digital HD Now

Connect with Entourage on Facebook or tweet about Entourage using #EntourageMovie

© 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC, Entourage
Holdings LLC, and Home Box Office, Inc.

Vincent Chase, together with his boys, Eric, Turtle and Johnny, are back in business with agent Ari Gold. Their bo… in CGMagazine on LockerDome
Sonos Play:5 (Hardware) Review 4

Sonos Steps up the Game With New Offerings

Sonos used to be a brand that although sounded amazing for the gamers, they offered very little. The only real way you could enjoy the speakers were by playing your favourite music or audio. There was no simple way to connect a console and have it work with the full system. That is no longer the case, with the introduction of the Sonos Playbar and Sub gamers can now connect their gaming experience to one of the most advanced home audio setups on the market. Now when new hardware/software hits the Sonos lineup, gamers who appreciate good audio can reap some benefits. This holiday, Sonos are trying to make things a little bit more exciting. Not only are they launching a new Play:5 system but they are implementing a new audio calibrator that will ensure you always get the best sound.

First it must be said that, if you already have the Sonos Play:5 system, they are not stopping support for this product. Yes, the Sonos Play:5 2015 is a new more advanced product, but the old offering will still work and will still get all major updates. That being said, if you are looking to buy a new system, wait for the new 2015 Play:5. The sound is a wonder to behold but, it won’t come cheap sadly, costing $499 USD or $549 CAD, a full $100 above the current model.

Packed in a small rectangular box, the sound from a single speaker will fill the room. To combine two of them in a stereo pair, it would beat many larger systems with little to no trouble. Not only does the system bring power to the sound, but even the subtle nuances of the music or sound can be heard. From the loudest dance music to the softest vocals, it all came though crystal clear, yet with the power you would expect from the cost.

Sonos5-2

The overall design is simple yet stunning. A stark rectangle with a single logo in the center. These speakers have been optimized to allow for a vertical and horizontal orientation, with the speakers smartly orienting the buttons based on the way it is set up. They also have chosen a clean button layout. Going the way of the Xbox One or the PS3, the capacitive button allows for light presses as you change audio on the fly or swap between songs. All in all, the design works well and makes for a beautiful overall package.

The next innovation on show is Trueplay, an application built into the new Sonos software that allows the user to tune their audio experience. Similar to the ability seen on many high-end receivers, this application will equalize the speakers, so they sound fantastic no matter where in the room they are placed.

A quick setup guides users through the process and in the quick test done on site, it all worked well. It was easy to setup and ran into very few issues. One point of note is that at launch, Trueplay will only be for iOS devices. It would have been nice to see some Android offering, but that may come later. Beyond that gripe, it seems the technology works well. It was easy to setup and in just over 2 minutes total, your music will be playing and sound will be coming out as intended. At launch the Trueplay will work on the Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5, sadly the Playbar will need to wait for Trueplay support.

With all these new offerings, Sonos is becoming more and more the brand to look out for. If you have space and the ability, a 5.1 setup with two Play:5’s will make any game sound fantastic. Look for the new Play:5 later this fall, we will attempt to give it a full review upon release.

NBA Live 16 (PS4) Review 5

NBA Live 16 (PS4) Review

I’ve never been a big sports guy. I know that’s probably assumed from a guy who’s trying to make a living writing video game reviews, but they just never really hooked me. Which seems weird considering the extensive amount of time and effort people put into them, knowing players stats, coaches’ behaviors, plays, and strategies. Given the time and effort I’d put into something like an RPG, it’s sort of strange that I never got into sports, since they’re basically the same.

The last basketball game I actively remember playing was NBA Jam on the Super Nintendo, so I was very interested to see how far we’ve come in the simulation of men throwing balls into baskets. And I tell you, what a difference! Gone is the simplistic form of two on two, action-packed and frantic for a more methodical, “realistic” approach to the sport.

NBALive16insert1Honestly, I found the whole affair pretty confusing. The lack of a tutorial (well to be fair there is one, but it’s pointless) made it very confusing and overwhelming when jumping right into a game. What’s more, once I did learn the controls by digging around in the pause menu, I never really felt like I had any control of what was going on. Now, that’s not to sound like I’m bashing the game because I wasn’t dominating the court, but very basic things like blocking, stealing, or guarding never felt like they had any weight, and my attempts to try and keep guys from shooting were always fruitless. Moreover, because I don’t know what constitutes a foul in basketball, it became frustrating when what I thought were basic things like trying to get the ball of someone resulted in a foul for whatever reason. Even something like switching between characters is strange, as sometimes players have specific buttons above their head, which I assumed would be like Madden in the way you press a button to switch to that character, but every time I tried to switch it was random as I learned changing players is mapped to one button.

I didn’t spend a lot of time in the free play mode, but I did try my hand at the career mode, and to be honest, I had an even worse time. While I did like the shift in focus as you only control one player, develop their skills, and grow them into a pro, I hated how it seemed like my team was doing absolutely nothing, maybe due to the fact that we were a rookie team, and I quickly got frustrated as it seemed like I had to do 90% of the work. I’m not joking, there were times where my team each took a man, but seemed to only do that and players would just run down the centre and dunk on me. I don’t know if it was bad AI or maybe I was just sportsing wrong, but it became an act of attrition as it felt like I was commanding offence and defense while never feeling in control.

NBA Live 16 (PS4) Review 3
NBA Live 16 (PS4) Review 2

Also, I didn’t really get the game’s “performance record” which grows or sinks during a game depending on how you play. Often I would get penalized for attempting three-point shots, being told I shouldn’t be taking shots out of my range, and I thought, “Isn’t part of sports taking risks and trying for those ‘hail mary’ plays?” It’s an interesting feature and I did like how it adapts to player performance, simulating scouter or public perceptions of players.

Despite my own frustrations with the game, I can see how people who are into basketball would like this. Visually, it looks really good, but personally, I’ve thought these games have looked good for the past nine years, even if the main menu is a bit distracting, structured a lot like the XboxOne menus with big square icons and too much going on. The attention to detail however, is superb and the create-a-player face capture feature actually works pretty well. The in-game commentating is solid, as both commentators react dynamically to what’s happening in-game (although it was kind of frustrating how they were basically criticizing me for not being good at the game).

NBALive16insert4Overall, NBA Live 2016 is another sports game. I did have fun while I was playing it; however, it seemed like there was a serious barrier between my understanding of basketball and how much fun I could have. Serious basketball fans will no doubt enjoy it, but if you’re not a serious basketball fan, while it might make a decent game for when you have friends over, I think Mario Party would do the exact same thing;  And at least no one needs to understand Mario Party to enjoy it.



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