Month: August 2017

Blood Honey (2017) Review

Blood Honey (2017) Review

With no major Hollywood movie opening this long weekend, we instead take a peak at a little Canadian horror flick hitting screens in the hopes of catching audiences with little else to see. Blood Honey is the type of genre yarn that sneaks up on viewers. It initially appears to be one of those whiny Canadian dramas about a handful of characters visiting a house in the woods and letting their ugly feelings spill all over the place. Then the film slowly transitions into a thriller, psychological horror movie, and eventually a full on haunting tale. It’s a weird shift and one that co-writer/director Jeff Kopas doesn’t quite nail. Yet the journey is so odd and intriguing that it’s well worth taking.

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Krystal Hope Nausbaum (left) and Shenae Grimes-Beech (right) in Blood Honey (2017). Images via Lumanity Productions

Shenae Grimes-Beech stars as a young woman returning to her isolated family home for the first time in years to help out with her dying father. She’s been scared to go back because she watched her mother kill herself there as a child and obviously never got over it. Almost instantly the old awkward family dynamics kick in. The father (Gill Bellows) is prone to selfish rage, the brother (Kenneth Mitchell) is prone to taking it, the family friends (Don McKellar, Morgan Kelly) are prone to encouraging it, and the disabled sister (Krystal Hope Nausbaum) is sadly caught in the middle of it all. Then just as it starts to seem that the movie with be a dull and claustrophobic drama, daddy kills himself in front of Grimes-Beech by letting the bees from the family bee farm sting him death (aka the My Girl suicide method). It’s pretty gruesome and after that our heroine starts experiencing intense nightmares that bleed into her waking life. The family’s insistence on keeping the country home doesn’t help matters and soon things even get a little murderous.

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Don McKellar in Blood Honey (2017). Images via Lumanity Productions

So what we have here is a drama about grief and family traumas wrapped up inside a metaphor-laden horror film. It can be just as pretentious as it sounds, especially in the early going. However, once director Jeff Kopas pushes his film into full on genre territory, it works rather well. The nightmare visions and dreams are beautifully done, jagged shards of surreal and poignantly twisted imagery that stick in the mind. The way the filmmaker makes the audience question reality along with the protagonist works well and none of the actors give the game away. Blood Honey doesn’t come out swinging; it slowly slithers its way up your spine and catches you creeped out when you least suspect it.

Performances are surprisingly strong for this sort of thing, especially from Shenae Grimes-Beech whose slow degeneration into psychosis is painful to behold. Elsewhere McKellar and Kelly have fun subtly turning weirdos into creeps. Only Bellows and Mitchell stretch too far over the top playing the most overtly damaged and cruel characters with virtually no sense of subtlety. When Blood Honey is cooking, the mixture of character drama and psychological/supernatural horror can be fascinating. The trouble is that it takes a while to get there and Jeff Kopas spends too much time struggling to be profound in the set up when he should be getting straight to the good stuff. There are times when the movie feels like the exact type of irritating family drama that the genre elements subvert and many viewers will lose patience during the slow burn to transforming this flick into full on horror. Balancing insightful human drama and genre thrills is a difficult task and Jeff Kopas struggles at times despite his carefully constructed visuals and wonderful cast.

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Shenae Grimes-Beech in Blood Honey (2017). Images via Lumanity Productions

Still, the film is less than 90 minutes long. So it doesn’t take too long to get to the good stuff, even if it feels like it. Blood Honey might be a bit murky and overly serious, but it’s an effective little psychological shocker unafraid to get schlocky when the time comes. This is both the sort of genre flick that Canada should be making and the type of avel gazing drama the country’s film industry wastes too much time on. Oh well, at least the filmmakers finally settle on the right side of that awkward divide, even if it takes just a few stumbles to get there.

Logitech Announces Two New Peripherals

Logitech Announces Two New Peripherals

Logitech has announced a new keyboard and speaker system aimed at high-end professionals. The CRAFT Keyboard and the MX Sound are the latest peripherals from the company. Both peripherals are expected to be launched this October.

The CRAFT Advanced Keyboard is aimed directly at professionals who want to get the most out of their keyboard. Featuring a touch-sensitive aluminum dial on the top of the keyboard known as the Crown, the CRAFT Keyboard hopes to provide professionals with great two-handed interactions. Examples of what users can do with the Crown includes changing brush sizes in Adobe Photoshop, stroke width in Adobe Illustrator, or control fonts and format in Microsoft Word.

“Our new flagship Logitech CRAFT keyboard is for all creators who spend a lot of time designing and creating who want to work with greater precision and feel connected to their work,” said Art O’Gnimh, global head of keyboards at Logitech. “The creative input dial gives you instant access to the functions you need, the moment you need them, allowing you to increase your productivity by simply touching the dial. CRAFT puts you in your creative element every time you sit at the desk.”

The MX Sound is a Bluetooth speaker that promises a premium sound in a compact and stylish design. Featuring high-end drivers and a rear-facing port tubes, Logitech is trying to bring convenience and power in a portable and stylish form factor. The speakers promise to reproduce sound as the artist intended which is something that other speakers of this size cannot deliver.

“With MX Sound you now can have amazing audio in a product designed to complement even the most premium desktop environment,” said Philippe Depallens, Vice President and General Manager of Logitech Audio. “This exceptional speaker was designed from the ground up to provide an immersive experience whether you are streaming from your computer, smartphone or tablet.”

Both the CRAFT Keyboard and the MX Sound speakers are expected to be available this October. The Keyboard is expected to retail for $199.99 and the MX Sound is expected to be available for $99.99.

To learn more about the upcoming products, check out the website for the keyboard and the speakers.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm - Episode 1: Awake (PS4) Review: Hindsight 8

Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1: Awake (PS4) Review: Hindsight

The first episode of Life is Strange: Before the StormAwake, feels like a retroactive justification for the choice I made at the end of the original game. Chloe Price, the friend and potential lover of Max, the protagonist, found herself the subject of Life is Strange’s final decision: Travel back in time and let Chloe be killed, saving the town of Arcadia Bay from a storm caused by Max’s repeated use of her supernatural abilities, or let the twister claim the lives of everyone in their hometown all so Chloe could live.

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1: Awake (images via Square Enix)

Chloe is a polarizing character. She’s the angsty foil to the mild mannered Max, often unkind to those around her, and is so short-tempered and reckless she makes several situations worse. But this is all due to the tragic loss of her father, resentment for those she feels have abandoned her, and an overall distaste for her situation. In the original Life is Strange, playing as Max meant the game had to tell instead of show how Chloe became the girl she was by the time she and Max reunite. By putting me in the shoes of Chloe as she’s in the thick of all these changes in her life, I felt more validated in my seemingly selfish choice to save Chloe in the original game. Chloe’s story is all the more affecting when I didn’t have to infer it, and while so far Before the Storm seems to frame her as more of an angry, disrespectful teen—which can conflict with the tone of the episode overall—I hope it feels as redemptive for her to others as it felt to me.

Awake begins with Chloe at a rock concert meeting the two characters we know play a large role in what’s to come based on the the original Life is Strange: Rachel Amber and Frank Bowers. Rachel is a popular student at Chloe’s school and Frank is her weed dealer. Chloe, clearly out of her element at the concert despite what she attempts to convey, is saved from a pair of skeevy men by the two, and proceeds to dance the night away without a care. News of Chloe and Rachel’s newfound friendship begins to spread around Blackwell, and eventually the two meet up and decide to ditch class together in favour of something a little more interesting: A train ride where they can really get to know one another.

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1: Awake (images via Square Enix)

At the outset, Before the Storm manages to improve upon some of Life is Strange‘s known snafus. Character models, even those of characters who aren’t major players in the story, appear more lively and animated than the original, including the much maligned lipsyncing issues that became especially apparent as the episodes went on. There’s more attention paid to the cinematography of each scene and the more dynamic shots and animation make Before the Storm’s portrayal of Arcadia Bay and its citizens stand out against its predecessor.

This awareness of Life is Strange’s known faults also extends to the sound. While the soundtrack, both the licensed one and the indie folk band Daughter’s lovely score, is still wonderful and perfectly captures the ambient, emotional tone of the story, the script and voice acting feels more authentic. While original actress Ashly Burch’s absence as Chloe is jarring, across the board there’s a more lively sense to everyone’s performances, and the restraint used with potentially dated slang makes the dialogue listenable, and in a lot of cases fairly clever, which is great because so much of Before the Storm is driven by that dialogue.

Without the use of the original game’s time travel mechanics, Before the Storm’s decisions and dialogue come with a greater sense of weight than Life is Strange proper. I couldn’t just use Max’s abilities to see both outcomes of any one decision, so if I made a decision I had to mean it and live with it. While this does make the moment-to-moment of Before the Storm feel a little less remarkable, it does add a dramatic tension that was often lost in the original game. There may not be a lot at stake in these conversations—whereas things became life or death when I played as Max—but now it matters that I make Chloe say what I want rather than testing the waters of each outcome.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm - Episode 1: Awake (PS4) Review: Hindsight
Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1: Awake (images via Square Enix)

The relationship between Chloe and Rachel, one that I was free to nudge in either a platonic or romantic direction, is a good example of this. At first, I was hesitant to flirt with her, as our friendship was new and despite her seemingly flirtatious intentions, I still didn’t know her and didn’t want to jump ahead into anything too quickly. This all came to a head later in the episode when Awake laid out the question of what kind of relationship I thought Chloe and Rachel had. I finally took the leap and told Rachel outright I thought our relationship was something beyond platonic. While the ramifications of this aren’t yet known, and Before the Storm makes a pretty reasonable case to hold off on talking specifics of their relationship beyond the initial choice, Awake sold me on the idea that these two could be more than I felt Max and Chloe were in the original game, whose relationship I never personally bought into as romantic.

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1: Awake (images via Square Enix)

Beyond Rachel, Awake delves more into the Chloe’s relationship with her mother Joyce and her step dad-to-be David. Joyce is worried Chloe’s rebellious streak is going to lead her nowhere in life while David is more than happy to assert himself as a new father figure. Both Joyce and David feel in-line with how they were portrayed in the original game, but Before the Storm’s new “backtalk” mechanic recontextualizes Chloe’s portrayal in bite-sized ways I wasn’t exactly comfortable with.

Backtalk segments put me in argumentative conversations with various people throughout the episode, and the labeling of these sections as such doesn’t sit well with me. Two notable examples jump to mind: One with David and another with a bully at Chloe’s school.

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1: Awake (images via Square Enix)

With David, I seriously felt he was overstepping his boundaries by making claims about Chloe he had no right to—referencing her deceased father and claiming she needed him to come into her life to fill that role. The bully, who was humiliating another student and threatening to destroy his portfolio of art, was another example where “backtalk” felt like a strange way to refer to fighting against him. Sure, much of Chloe’s responses were insults, but there’s a strange implication to calling these interactions something that is typically used to delegitimize a child or teenager’s words. By letting me play as Chloe, Before the Storm does a good job at making me sympathetic to her cause, but calling her standing up for herself or others “backtalk” makes me wonder just how sympathetic Before the Storm is itself. Labeling these interactions as backtalk likely was just perceived internally as a cute way of differentiating these interactions from others, but I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at its implications, intentional or not.

Awake makes a solid case for revisiting Chloe’s past to contextualize her future. I spent a lot of time talking about the blue-haired punk when Life is Strange was rolling out in 2015, and so often found others weren’t taking to her the way I did, in spite of the points where she felt too standoffish and angry for me to be as close to her as I would’ve liked. However, Before the Storm feels like a second chance at winning people over. Chloe is angry, but she’s not a brat just looking to push away people who are trying to get close. While I always knew why this was the case before, I’m ready to see it now, and Before the Storm is doing a great job of giving me that extra peek behind the curtain.

Razer Announces New Partnership with Cyberpowerpc To Bring Cyberpowerpc p400

Razer Announces New Partnership with CyberPowerpc To Bring Cyberpowerpc p400

Razer has announced a new partnership with CyberPowerpc to build special Razer themed desktops.

Razer, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-end gaming PC peripherals has announced that they will be teaming up with CyberPowerpc to bring new Razer themed desktops to market. The new desktops will feature Razer’s renowned Chroma LED lighting system which promises to deliver the same cool looking aesthetic that is available in many of their other products.

The CyberPowerpc P400 will have a “designed by Razer” moniker which should help distinguish the forthcoming machine from CyberPowerpc’s other line of desktops. The case itself is being touted as an evolved form of the CyberPowerpc P400 ATX chassis, one of the companies’ most popular configurations.

The upcoming desktop will also feature the classic Razer three-headed snake emblem. The emblem will be backlit, giving the machine that familiar neon glow.

“Our partnership empowers gamers to build out their dream gaming battlestation,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “With CYBERPOWERPC and our ecosystem of hardware, software and services, users can get the most out of their gaming experience.”

The CyberPowerpc P400 will also have full integration with Razer’s Chroma HDK, providing consumers with an ultra flexible LED array system that can change up the colour scheme of the user’s machine through the use of Razer’s Synapse 3 software.

“As the top gaming systems builder in North America, it is our goal to deliver well-crafted, high quality, performance gaming PCs,” says Eric Cheung, CYBERPOWERPC CEO. “With Razer’s support and our integration of Razer’s Chroma HDK, the Designed by Razer cases will bring gaming immersion and performance to all gamers.”

Those interested in the upcoming CyberPowerpc P400 will have to wait till October 2017 when they become available for purchase. The upcoming dekstop offering will be available at select retailers and online.

Frostpunk Gamescom 2017 Preview - Trapped Under Ice

Frostpunk Gamescom 2017 Preview – Trapped Under Ice

Whenever conversations are had about Poland’s game dev scene, they tend to revolve around CD Projekt Red, the developers of the acclaimed Witcher franchise and proprietors of the GOG digital distribution platform. However, when it comes to the indie scene, the current big name is 11 bit studios, the developers responsible for the 2014 indie darling This War of Mine. Similar to Spec Ops: The Line, the game was a reaction against the flippant way gaming treated war, only instead of focusing on a soldier, the player took control of a group of survivors with the goal of not winning or killing, but merely staying alive. With their next game, Frostpunk, 11 bit aim to continue to challenge the player to survive the harshest conditions imaginable. But while This War of Mine was mostly focused on the stories of individuals, Frostpunk sees the focus zoom out to an entire society.

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Frostpunk (gameplay images via 11 bit studios)

Frostpunk takes place in an alternate history where an ice age engulfed the earth at the end of the 19th century. Humanity came up with the idea to continue its survival by created steam-powered heat generators and building new societies around them. The temperature dropped before their plans could come to fruition, resulting in most of humanity getting wiped out. You play as the leader of a group of survivors from Victorian London who get separated from their expedition and find a generator. Your job is to not just build your city, but to feed, house and care for all the citizens under your control. If their discontent gets too high or their hope gets too low, as measured by two bars at the bottom of the screen, you get overthrown and it’s game over.

At its core, Frostpunk is a city builder, but unlike other city builders, 11 bit didn’t want to make the player feel like a god. Rather, they wanted to place them in the shoes of a leader who’s hanging by a thread and could die or get deposed at any moment. While playing the demo on the Gamescom show floor, I overheard that only four people managed to reach the end point during the entire convention. Even I, a veteran Civilization player who managed to get a decent way through, got overthrown by my unhappy constituents before reaching the demo’s end. 11 bit senior producer Błażej Żywiczyński told CGM the game’s difficulty, as well as its setting, were influenced by our current political and societal upheaval.

“The end of 19th century seemed a perfect parallel to our current times. With the societal differences, societies changing and different political concepts boiling, as well as the industrial revolution… It’s all like a prototype version of what’s on the news nowadays, just… simpler, in a way. And London was one of the biggest centres of this cultural era,” Żywiczyński says.

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Frostpunk (gameplay images via 11 bit studios)

In Frostpunk, your settlement is based around a heat generator, which only covers a very small area at the beginning of the game. You send your citizens out into the surrounding cold to work and gather supplies such as coal, steel and wood. However, as conditions are dire, the early parts of the game are spent scrambling to get enough food and shelter to keep your people alive. Despite being a city builder, Frostpunk is structured like an RPG, with main story objectives and sidequests. The ultimate goal is to finish the story objectives while completing sidequests that you take on by signing laws or answering your peoples’ demands and keeping their hope high and their discontent low enough to ensure that your society can continue. Żywiczyński estimates that it should take 40-60 in-game days for a competent player to finish the story mode, with my playtime of around 8 or 9 days taking about 60-90 minutes. However, the story mode is not all Frostpunk has to offer, with different scenarios, starting conditions, and additional lore also being available.

After This War of Mine, the expectation following the announcement of 11 bit’s next project would be that it would follow similar lines: resource management with a focus on individual survival. However, Frostpunk manages to be something completely different while still continuing the design philosophy that made This War of Mine so fresh and new. In a medium seemingly built around fulfilling the player’s power fantasies, Frostpunk aims to take as much of that power away as possible, providing a much more detailed look at what people would actually do in positions of power. In explaining Frostpunk’s focus on society over individuals, Żywiczyński stated, “This topic was on our minds for quite a while now and [is one that] we really wanted to tackle. 11 bit studios love doing new, exciting, experimental things and we feel there are many topics within the game medium that are severely underrepresented. We’d like to help fill those blanks somehow.”

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Frostpunk (gameplay images via 11 bit studios)

Frostpunk still does not have a solid release date, but 11 bit would really like to release it this year. With the release of the thematically grotesque Ghost Recon: Wildlands a few months ago and the upcoming Call of Duty: WWII, now is as good a time as any for 11 bit to fill in the blanks when it comes to player agency.

Game of Thrones: Conquest Pre-registration Announced

Game of Thrones: Conquest Pre-registration Announced

Fans clamouring for more Game of Thrones following the explosive Season 7 finale need look no further, as pre-registration for Game of thrones: Conquest has been announced.

Warner Bros. Interactive and HBO Global Licensing have announced the pre-registration phase for an upcoming mobile game based on the renowned Game of Thrones series.

Developed by Turbine, the upcoming title will be a MMO strategy game that puts players at the head of their own powerful House—with the ultimate goal of navigating the often dangerous political landscape of Westeros and claiming the iconic Iron Throne.

It wouldn’t be a Game of Thrones experience without the likes of familiar faces. Thankfully, Game of Thrones: Conquest will feature popular characters such as Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and the King in the North himself, Jon Snow.

Those who pre-register for Game of Thrones: Conquest will receive the Prepare for War Bundle. The additional pack will give players access to an exclusive Night’s Watch training gear set, additionally players will get gold and other resources to aid them in conquering the Iron Throne.

The official description for the game has been attached below, which should give players a better glimpse in what to expect from the forthcoming title:

Whether it’s through sheer might or deception, Game of Thrones: Conquest lets players rule their House as they choose. Powerful armies will be raised to march against rivals, while players command their own small councils to sabotage their enemies from within. Westeros won’t be simple to conquer. Players must defend their Houses from each other in player versus player battles or form a strategic allegiance as they fight for control of the Seven Kingdoms.

Those looking to sign up for the pre-registration for Game of Thrones: Conquest can do so by visiting the official website for the upcoming title. The game will be available on both iOS and Android.


Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Switch) Review: Engrossing Tactics & Gross-Out Humor 1

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Switch) Review: Engrossing Tactics & Gross-Out Humor

Despite the fact that your foes are the homicidal, toilet humour-loving Rabbids, don’t think of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle as an easy strategy game. While your foes may seem like they’re a little off, they will surprise you with their cunning, ruthlessness, and versatility. It’s an upbeat, silly, and fun adventure, pushing players to come up with crafty battle plans.

The Rabbids have a time travelling washing machine. They get some weird tech that makes a huge mess of the Mushroom Kingdom. A few of them become Rabbid versions of Mario and his pals. It’s not a fancy story, but it’s enough to keep the game’s great turn-based tactical battles rolling, and it also knows enough to pop in with a few sight gags and jokes, but otherwise stay out of the way.

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Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle gameplay images via Ubisoft

Players will control three units in Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, drawing from Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, and Rabbid versions of these characters, each with their own movesets that players can put to use in grid-based, turn based tactical combat. Players will be able to manoeuvre their units around a map filled with cover, terrain of various heights, and warping pipes, positioning their characters to take a shot at their goofy Rabbid foes.

This being a Mario title, though, moving around is more involved—and entertaining—than just altering position. Players can move their unit over top of an enemy unit, which will do a tripping slide that gives players free damage while walking around. Should players move on top of a friendly unit, they activate a free jump that will allow them to cover extra distance, reach higher terrain, or help Mario come crashing down on an enemy’s head.

All of these add a little flavour to movement, as players can squeeze a few extra hits, or cover huge distances by manipulating where everyone is positioned. It’s a snap to have Mario and his allies bouncing on each other’s heads to cross the map in a hurry, or reach positions in ways strategy veterans might not expect.

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Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle gameplay images via Ubisoft

Each character in Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle does have their own ranged abilities, allowing them  to blast foes from a good distance. Cover comes into play here, but it’s a fairly simple system. You can have 0%, 50%, or 100% cover based on what you stand behind or beside, and your relative position to enemies. If you miss, you hit the cover, but a few shots into cover will break it down, eventually leaving the character defenseless. Also, with the distance you can cover with team jumps, cover is rarely a certain thing.

Your shots involve more than just exchanging fire, often causing useful status ailments. Weapons can stick enemies in place with honey, send them flying with a bounce, or stop them from doing anything with stone. Many guns feature an additional chance to cause these effects, giving players an extra edge in combat and allowing them to play around with what they feel works best in a fight.

Just expect your enemies to use those same powers with alarming frequency, and deadly effectiveness, after the first chapter. Our E3 preview mentioned that things started easy and became more challenging, and that is spot on. While Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle’s Rabbid foes may seem like unassuming morons, they are brutal fighters. The game offers a few easy battles for players to learn the mechanics, but then players will find the Rabbids using clever tactics and traps with a dogged determination to hunt down and take out the weakest characters. You cannot count on them doing anything stupid or wasting a round.

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Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle gameplay images via Ubisoft

If a character is weakened, they will dog them until they’re dead. If you’re doing an escort mission, they will set up traps using an ability that gives them a free hit on moving characters. They will lock down multiple characters with sticky status ailments, or detonate traps hidden in cover to take players out. Those are just the basic units, as more powerful creatures and bosses are introduced regularly, each adding some new challenge for players to think through. The Rabbids may look stupid, but they are clever tacticians. Not to the point of many highly complicated strategy games, but they do fight smart, giving players some involving battles that are really fun to work through.

Fighting them is combined with some stirring music from Grant Kirkhope as well. The soundtrack is a powerful one, using a sweeping orchestral score that matches the serious challenge of combat, although it seems almost too serious for the game’s absurd enemies. Which is almost sillier, as hearing these soaring musical heights alongside dopey Rabbid laughter is enough to crack you up.

Battle isn’t all this game has going for it, though. A distorted Mushroom Kingdom awaits exploration, with players able to wander around, discover secret treasures like weapons and artwork, or solve puzzles, which gives it that Mario-like sense of exploration. That the world is vibrant and ridiculous, filled with nods to the Rabbids’ characteristic humour, only makes wandering it more entertaining.

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Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle gameplay images via Ubisoft

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is not without a few flaws. It is fairly easy to commit to an action with no way of backing out of it, resulting in some botched moves while players might just be considering options. The various characters can also be levelled up various skill trees, but much of these bear similarities to other characters, offering few unique builds between them. Moving around on the map is also just slightly clunky, which is fine until you try to do a puzzle that requires precise positioning, which can get irritating.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a gorgeous adventure and an engrossing tactical romp that offers a solid challenge and some unique combat quirks that will please tactical fans. Add in the ridiculous antics from the Rabbids and some wonderful creativity in the environments in the music and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a strategy game players dare not miss.

AMD Introduces Budget Ranged Threadripper CPU

AMD Introduces Budget Ranged Threadripper CPU

AMD’s line of Threadripper processors are being touted as the company’s top of the line processors. However, with great performance comes an even greater price tag, and this is why AMD has recently introduced a more affordable option.

The AMD Threadripper 1900x is notably weaker than some of AMD’s other Threadripper offerings, with the 1900x sporting a slightly meagre 8 cores/16 thread architecture. Priced at a reasonable $549, the lower specs are more than acceptable for performance per dollar.

Comparatively, AMD’s other Threadripper offerings are priced upwards of $999 with the Threadripper 1950x offering enthusiasts 12 cores/24 threads of computational power.

Additionally, when compared to AMD’s top Ryzen 7 model CPU, the $499 Ryzen 1800X, the 1900x just edges it out thanks to its added performance.

The AMD 1900x exists in order to fill a void for those who were turned off by AMD’s high asking price for their flagship 16 core offerings from earlier this year. In other words, those looking for high-end performance for half the asking price should seriously consider the 1900x Threadripper.

Taking a closer look a the 1900x specs, the new Threadripper branded CPU offers users eight cores clocked at 3.8Ghz, with an additional turbo feature that cranks up each core to a blistering 4.0Ghz.

Those curious about performance, especially when it comes to gaming, should be aware that the 1900x in some instances is actually weaker in pure gaming performance when compared to the cheaper Ryzen 7 1800x CPU. For a better analysis of the performance, readers are encouraged to visit Techradar’s look at the 1900x.

Ultimately AMD’s 1900x CPU is a good middle ground for those want the best bang for their buck. It may not be the best processor for gaming, but overall the 1900x offers users a great overall experience, especially when it comes to multi-tasking and other intensive workloads.

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: “More Than a Feeling” (PS4) 3

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: “More Than a Feeling” (PS4)

Having played and reviewed Telltale games for so many years now, I’ve come to expect a certain baseline of clarity from the studio’s writing and decisions, and after three episodes in a row Guardians of the Galaxy has made me feel like I can’t even count on that.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: More Than a Feeling (gameplay images via Telltale Games)

At the beginning of several of Telltale’s series, the studio makes it clear that in the midst of its dialogue options “silence is a valid option”. Yet, in Guardians’ third episode, More Than a Feeling, I found that if I was opting for silence, the game would put words in my mouth—or a fist into my enemy’s face. The first scene from More Than a Feeling was a flashback to Peter Quill’s childhood, one where a bully mentioned in a previous episode popped back into his life to try and intimidate him and insult his mother for her illness. Earlier, during a conversation with Peter’s mother I promised that if I ended up an adversarial situation again, I wouldn’t get into a physical altercation. So I did what Telltale told me I could do and remained silent. I knew if I didn’t let him antagonize me an adult would come back into the room and I could keep my promise to Peter’s mom. However, by choosing silence when the decision to hit the bully was on my screen, the game took over and Peter threw the first punch. I was stunned, and immediately quit the episode to start over.

As I mentioned in my reviews for previous episodes Under Pressure and Tangled Up in Blue, Guardians of the Galaxy has repeatedly shown a disconnect between its dialogue choices and the consequences that follow. These seemingly small instances are irksome on their own, but when it seems to be a pattern for each episode it goes from grievances to a running theme. Beyond Peter’s flashback, another, less significant fallout happened with Drax, who I apparently made angry by allowing Mantis, the empath capable of reading and altering people’s emotions, to use her abilities on him without any sort of hint that this was a problem. I’m finding it’s getting more and more difficult to manage all the relationships in Guardians of the Galaxy when there seems to be a constant lack of transparency about how these people feel about my decisions until after the fact, and the established dynamics seem fluid in order to manufacture isolated episodic drama.

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: “More Than a Feeling” (PS4) 4
Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: More Than a Feeling (gameplay images via Telltale Games)

For what it’s worth, More Than a Feeling is probably the best written individual episode of the series so far. Like Rocket in Under Pressure Gamora and Nebula see the spotlight put on them in this episode. The circumstances around the their falling out, primarily orchestrated by their father Thanos, made for some of the more coherent storytelling the series has seen so far, and can be resolved in different ways depending on choices. I opted to urge the two to reconcile, and it felt like some of the tiresome in-fighting between the group reached an end befitting of the strong characters these Telltale versions are based on.

Mantis’ presence seems to be helping to do away with the trite fighting between the group, as her sensitivity to emotions means she urges the Guardians to actively search for solutions instead of brooding and fighting. Her arrival does bring the primary conflict—using the Eternity Forge to revive their loved ones—to a head at the end of an otherwise slow-moving episode, but her role among the group does seem to be a positive one, even if her being a mediator seems to be coming far too late to salvage some dynamics.

On the action front, Guardians of the Galaxy still feels hindered by stiff animations and the game’s generic art style—as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews. It was especially noticeable during Gamora and Nebula’s flashback scenes, where the action felt comical in some places and both under and over expressed. Later scenes against main antagonist Halla and her Kree soldiers felt messy and hard to keep track of, as group-wide fight sequences had me controlling several members of the Guardians at once. Even in the action it still feels like Telltale is struggling to handle this group of characters in a way that feels cohesive and well-defined.

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: “More Than a Feeling” (PS4) 6
Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: More Than a Feeling (gameplay images via Telltale Games)

With each passing episode, I’m getting more and more conflicted about how I feel about Telltale’s take on Guardians of the Galaxy. In terms of humour and character dynamics More Than a Feeling” is the best episode thus far, but it’s still falling into the same traps that the previous two episodes did. The visual style remains indistinct, the action is handicapped by off animations, and there’s still an inconsistency to the writing and choices that often makes the game’s dialogue frustrating to play through from a strictly mechanical sense. Telltale games are supposed to adapt to the way you play and the story is supposed to be shaped by what you do in it, but we’re three episodes in and I keep feeling like I’m fighting the story the game wants to tell instead of it letting me nudge it any given direction.

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