Month: January 2020

Seagate FireCuda 520 SSD Review 3

Seagate FireCuda 520 SSD Review

With the new batch of AMD Ryzen chips came the ability to push SSDs to new performance levels. Now, while many people will need to wait to take advantage of these new speeds, if you want to live in the future and have the needed CPU/GPU combo, the FireCuda 520 NVME PCIe 4.0 X 4 SSD could be just what the doctor ordered. A powerful little M.2 card that will give your new PC build the 5GB/s performance and storage you desire.

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Like a Boss (2020) Review

Like a Boss (2020) Review

Silly comedies that are destined for streaming services are my comfort food. It’s mainly the allure of watching something through a service and not paying for it directly that excites me, and cooking a plate of nachos to go with that watch session is a commonplace “bad comedy” go-to for me. I wish I had homemade nachos to console me during Like a Boss.

Like a Boss has a fun premise, but doesn’t follow through on it. Two friends own a floundering beauty business: one is fierce but careless (Tiffany Haddish), the other is…more careful (Rose Byrne). There isn’t a lot of characterization going on here, even from an absurdist standpoint, as both friends are ultimately good people who have been dealt bad hands. Like a Boss tries to show their growth, but they end up ostensibly the same in the end as they circumvent a slight hurdle.

Yep, the “conflict” stems from a big-time cosmetic queen (Salma Hayek) who says she’s going to rescue their business but obviously has ulterior motives. Here’s where everything falls apart. Hayek’s character’s big plan is to split the friends apart so she can take over the company: a grand idea that takes over an hour to really come into play. At that point, the film is nearly over.

Like a Boss review 1
Like a Boss – Review Photo Provided by Paramount Pictures

Even giving that a pass, a lot of the jokes (which pop due to the ensemble cast) are front and back-loaded while we warm up and slowly cool down with this duo. Byrne and Haddish consistently show up in pretty much everything they do, but they have nothing to work with here. There are drone jokes for crying out loud, with no punchline.

Part of the problem is that the script doesn’t really leave a whole lot of room for banger comedy. There’s so much exposition that somehow adds nothing to the narrative and so much backstory that doesn’t add anything of worth to the characters. The real stars are the supporting cast, as Karan Soni is naturally likable and Natasha Rothwell (who is one of their friends) arguably could have been one of the leads. A lack of interesting setpieces (it’s basically just the cosmetic store and the generic Ovieda conglomerate building) is another strike against it.

Like a Boss is the definition of an average “watch while you vacuum” comedy. It has some heart but never really capitalizes on it. There’s jokes and drama strewn about, but it never dishes it out consistently. It just meanders for over an hour until any conflict happens, then it fizzles out: nothing more.

The Turning (2020) Review 7

The Turning (2020) Review

What do serial killer Ed Gein and 1898’s horror novella, “The Turn of the Screw” have in common? Both have been named as
inspirations for a slew of loosely related horror movies. “The Turn of the Screw,” is the chosen inspiration for many haunted house tales, but The Turning is certainly one of the closer adaptations.

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Overwatch League launches new Jerseys

Overwatch League launches new Jerseys

With the Overwatch League’s third season set to kick off next month, fans can now pre-order the jerseys that players will be wearing come opening day.

The jerseys are the result of a collaboration between the Overwatch League and streetwear designer Jeff Staple and will be used by all of the teams during the league’s upcoming third season. According to Blizzard, Staple was called in to, “reimagine, design and create an authentic player kit for esports.” The new jerseys feature elevated fabrics, premium graphics applications, new side gussets for adjustable control, as well as a fit that is made to be extra wearable during gaming sessions.

The more loose-fitting style is a significant departure from the jerseys worn in the first two seasons of the Overwatch League, which closely resembled soccer jerseys. In addition, the 2019 Overwatch League jerseys that were available to fans were of a lesser quality than the ones that the pros wore on-stage, whereas the 2020 versions are identical to the ones that players will wear this season. As a result of the higher quality, distributor Fanatics says that they will require, “additional ramp up time,” and that the jerseys will not ship right away. Seeing as the Overwatch League’s third season kicks off in just over a week, it’s highly unlikely that orders will be fulfilled until at least a few weeks after, and it’s unclear if they will be sold live at the matches. Fanatics is offering a $20 FanCash voucher on all North American jersey orders that can be used as a discount on their next purchase from the store.

While short sleeve jerseys are the only item currently available for pre-order, there are a number of different outfits that will release at a later date. These include compression sleeves, New Era 39THIRTY caps, and New Era beanies. There will also be Long-sleeve jerseys and jackets available to purchase at matches, although the availability will differ on a team-by-team basis.

As for the Overwatch League, Season 3 kicks off at 1:00 PM PST on February 8th, with a matchup between the Toronto Defiant and Paris Eternal. The league recently announced that all games will be broadcasted on YouTube in addition to Call of Duty and Hearthstone esports events.

Voicing Heartman

Voicing Heartman

With 2020 just starting, it is hard to not look back onto 2019 and see Death Stranding as one of the biggest games of the year. It brought Hideo Kojima back into the spotlight with a game shrouded in mystery and speculation. Hitting at the end of the decade — and filled with hype — Death Stranding was a game that took the industry by storm.

With a star-studded cast and a story that felt more like a movie than a game, Death Stranding is a landmark title and a major step for Hideo Kojima. Whether you liked it or hated it, it was a game that helped define the end of the decade, and it will be talked about for a long time moving forward.

Part of what made Death Standing so iconic and hypnotic to play was the cast. Filled with actors like Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tommie Earl Jenkins, it is hard to deny the star power behind the game. One such actor, Darren Jacobs, took on the voice work for the character of Heartman. A voice actor veteran, he has done work on many games — such as Smite and Dragon Age: Inquisition — and recently had a role in 2019’s Ford v Ferrari. 

Jacobs took the time to speak with CGMagazine about his voice work, how he got into acting, and what is next for this talented actor. 

Voicing Heartman 1
Heartman | Death Stranding – Kojima Productions

CGMagazine: You were recently in Death Stranding as the voice of Heartman. How did you get involved in the project, and what was it like working with Kojima for one of the most important games of this generation?

Darren Jacobs: Well, I auditioned for it. Basically, in LA, most voiceover work you have to audition for. I went through the process. It’s actually funny, I thought it was just a regular voiceover audition, and I did my audition and then was just about to send it off, when I realized that it was a self-tape that they wanted. Which means I had to go on camera and learn the lines. I did such a good voiceover audition, I was so pleased with it. Then I was in such a rush, I was running around trying to memorize the words and it was so much technobabble. It was a really difficult audition, but then I sent it off and a week later they got back in touch with me with a different character name, and some notes from the unknown director, because it was all coded. 

But by this point, I’d really been looking into it because I was really intrigued by this project. And then I got an inkling that it was Hideo Kojima’s new game. So I really went into fine detail with my second audition. And they actually told me that [the character] had narcolepsy. So I was doing all this stuff and improvising and I sent it off. And then about two days after that, I got the job. And it was amazing. Working with Hideo Kojima was phenomenal. To know that this guy has this brain that is on the next level, and even when he tells you what the plot is, or what your character is, you go out, you nod your head, “yes, yes, yes”, but you have no idea. For me, I love working with directors and on projects that affect people, which is next level cerebral. Every time I went in there it blew my mind, the things that he would tell me; the concept for Heartman itself was so unique. This guy who dies every 21 minutes and then comes back to life on the 24th minute because he’s searching for his family. It’s so tragic, and what a great character to do! I loved it.

Voicing Heartman 2
Heartman | Death Stranding – Kojima Productions

CGMagazine: How was it seeing Nicolas Winding Refn with your voice for the character of Heartman?

Darren Jacobs: Now, to be honest, that was a little bit weird at first because I actually know Nicholas. Not in person, but I know of his work. And I like his work, I like his kind of stuff. So it was weird at first and it was difficult in the way that they’d already done most of the mo-cap for it. So basically all the bodywork they’ve done, and that was set — that was anchored — and then I came in to do the P-cap, which is the performance capture, which is the face and the voice acting and the actual movement of the face. So I have the big helmet with the camera on and all the dots over my face and they capture my facial acting. But the mocap was set in place. So I would have to do specific lines and say a certain word at a certain time.

So I couldn’t say, like, if I had to say, go on the word — on the six-second — I still had to do that. So I had to fill the time, which was great because when we were acting I was talking to Hideo and his team, and they said that because Heartman is away on his beach for such a long time, he’s not used to being around people. He’s lonely, he’s awkward, his social skills are terrible. One of the first times you meet him, he says so many different things that people won’t speak about. He forgets how to be around people. So I made the choice of a stutter for the character [Jacobs says with a stutter], and can be a bit like that, and say awkward things which would help me fill that void and make it more natural. And it allowed me to make him my own character. But it was weird at first, seeing Nicholas, but then you get used to it because I’m in other video games; you see another face that’s not yours necessarily, it is only recently that you actually get the facial capture, so it’s only recently that it looks more like the actual voice actor. But seeing somebody that you already knew was kind of weird.

CGMagazine: Have you guys met since the game came out?

Darren Jacobs: I have not, no. I think I would fanboy out if I actually did meet him because I love his style. I love the old David Lynch kind of thing, that slow burn sort of movie. It’s interesting because I get why Hideo likes him so much. His work is very Japanese. His work has a quality very akin to Japanese movies, where you’ll have a long wide frame where the actor walks out of the frame for ages, and the silence and nothing happens, and then he comes back in it. So I get why that they do get along so well. But I haven’t met him. I would love to!

Voicing Heartman 3
Heartman | Death Stranding – Kojima Productions

CGMagazine: How is how did you get into the role of doing voice work for video games? And do you enjoy it as a career?

Darren Jacobs: I got into voiceover by accident actually, because in the UK you’re not really taught about voiceover. We get three years of training in theatre and that’s what you do. Most schools — acting schools — don’t give you TV experience. So for me, I never even thought of voiceover. I could always do accents because of my first TV job in the UK; I was about 13 or 14 and I booked a role doing a Scottish accent. I beat the Scotts to get it, actually. So I always had an ear for accents and doing voices uses that skill. But it wasn’t until I was later in my career and I’d done some more things. But I had to learn a German accent — West German accent — and all these Russian accents and things like that. And I thought I wanted to expand on it, so I got a scholarship to study in New York, doing the voiceover and commercial work, on-screen acting, all the things that I wanted to research and improve on.

So I went there, and they were the ones that actually said to me, “You should seriously look into getting a voiceover agent.” And I kind of laughed it off and was like, “yeah, yeah.” But then they introduced me to a big American agent who wanted to take me, but I lived in the UK. But then when I came over to America, I got a voiceover agent, and then just started booking, but it takes a while. Voiceover does take a while to get into because you have to do sustained auditions; you have to do good quality auditions that casting directors are going to see again and again and again before they book you. Because basically what they’re doing is they’re putting you in a room with up to 15 people in the room next to you, directing you, redirecting you, and they need to know that you can do it, or else they’re going to look bad and you’re going to waste a session. So they are very reticent to actually book you at first, commercially. They will do video games and animation. You literally won’t book for a couple of years; you’ll audition and audition and audition, but you won’t work for them. Maybe there are a couple of people who are lucky enough to do that. But most people, no! But I love it. I absolutely love it. For me, It’s an extension of my theatre training since it’s using your imagination and your physicalizing something in a different way. You can do all the stuff that you would never do on camera. You can be as big and as crazy and zany and caricature as you want to be. And people love it. And it’s fun. I love it.

Voicing Heartman 4
John de Lancie, Darren Jacobs – When The Train Stops

CGMagazine: Beyond video games, you’ve done a lot of genre film and tv, is there a reason? Do you like being a part of genre cinema?

Darren Jacobs: Well basically, when I came to the USA, I started again. I literally came with two suitcases and a pipe dream; I didn’t know anybody. So I started booking some jobs. And it’s through people who recommended me to other people, I would get phone calls from producers and an email saying, “Hey, can you come and read the script because somebody said that you have classical training, and we can’t find anybody?” That’s how I ended up doing a lot of genre work. I did a lot of science fiction, which I love because I really love computer games, I love reading, and I grew up doing D&D. I love it. So for me, it’s been amazing like this. I did a pilot with actors that I’ve watched growing up. Every day I come on set and I’d have this new person from this huge hit TV show that I watched, never thinking that I’d work with them, and I’m on the other side — on the camera with them — I’m like, this is insane.

I really had to hold my geeking out. Imagine working with the people who made you want to be an actor. It was fantastic! So yeah, I have no regrets about doing all the genre work. I love it!

CGMagazine: I just want to quickly touch on what is next. What type of movie would you like to do next? What type of game would you like to next? What is next for your career in general?

Darren Jacobs: Game-wise, you know what? It’s really difficult topping Death Stranding because, yeah, it’s the first big game that I did. We were up for game of the year, we were up for eight awards. We’ve gone global, and getting people from around the world reaching out to me… It’s insane.

To read the full interview with Darren Jacobs please pick up the next issue of CGMagazine, avalable in print and online

198X (Nintendo Switch) Review 4

198X (Nintendo Switch) Review

I’d like to take a moment to express how important gaming is to me. Video Games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember—I think I was three-years-old when I first experienced Super Mario Bros on the NES; and by age four, I was tackling games like Super Mario 3, Double Dragon 2, and Batman. Gaming has been for me, an escape and an exploration of art; and in many ways, gaming has shaped my identity.

This is what initially intrigued me when I started playing 198X, since it begins as a pretty sincere love letter to gaming, and the bygone era of the arcade. However, as the game progressed, I became pretty conflicted with it, and now I’m not really sure how I feel.

198X (Nintendo Switch) Review
198X – Next Level Games

At first, while playing it, I thought it was a prime example of “video games as art,” but I soon realized it didn’t really fall into that category. I realized there is a distinction between “Video Games as Art” and “Art as Video Games.” What I mean by that is, when I think of video games as art, I think of games like Undertale, Bioshock Infinite, or The Last of Us—games that not function as enjoyable games, but are so excellently designed, well written and well told, and visually and audibly stunning that they elevate the medium above low-effort cash-ins like the Call of Duties and Assassin’s Creeds.

When I think of Art as Videogames, I think of games like Journey, Bound, or Wandersong. Games that are by no means bad, however, they’re designed more to be interactive experiences than proper video games. Now of course, there’s nothing wrong with that—and don’t get me wrong, I ADORE Journey and Wandersong—but I can’t help but feel that games like these aren’t necessarily engaging as games; rather, they engage you on an emotional level, as all art tends to do.

I think 198X falls into the latter category, and is a bit weaker for it, given the potential its premise provides to make a really great game. 198X tells the story of “The Kid,” a teenager experiencing a loss of identity, and a yearning for something bigger than life in the suburbs; using five mini-games themed around classic arcade games to accentuate moments in the story. Beginning with “Beating Heart,” a Streets of Rage style Beat ‘em Up; then moving to “Out of the Void,” a R-Type Space Shooter; then “The Runaway” an Outrun style driving game, to “Shadowplay,” a sort-of Shinobi style runner game; and finally “Kill Screen,” a classic turn-based dungeon crawler.

198X (Nintendo Switch) Review 1
198X – Next Level Games

While none of the games are particularly bad, they weren’t particularly engaging either—with the exception of “The Runaway,” but I’ll get into that in a moment. While they’re clearly very lovingly drawn from the classics of the medium, they’re all very short and are no more complex than a single button which ends up feeling very basic. This is an example of the aforementioned “Art as Video Games,” because the games themselves don’t really tell the story, they simply punctuate the story that’s being told; as if to simply facilitate the interactivity.

Furthermore, the story itself isn’t very straightforward, and is more The Kid telling us HOW they feel, and only ever hinting at but never getting into the WHY. It alludes to things like The Kid’s seemingly strained relationship with their mother, and an absent father, but nothing is ever made clear. Whether this was done purposefully to be interpretive, or in the hopes that the player would project similar feelings onto the narrative, I cannot say, but it ends up coming off as a bit pretentious and feels very “tell, don’t show.”

Except in “The Runaway,” which beautifully combines the classic arcade gameplay with the narrative in a way that is thematically engaging. You begin driving in a vast desert, chasing some car that seemingly represents some cool girl that was mentioned in the preceding cutscene. As you race along the roads to the bumping Genesis soundtrack, you reach a long stretch of tunnel, your time almost running out.

198X (Nintendo Switch) Review 2
198X – Next Level Games

Just before it does, the music fades; you hear the sound of an 8-track being inserted into the cassette player, and as the synth music starts up, you’re on a highway, driving towards the city The Kid desperately wishes to escape suburbia too. The Kid narrates and the music swells around it, as you continue to drive as the timer slowly ticks down, counting down the inevitable reality that this is just a game, and eventually The Kid has to return to their life. Had the entire game been like this, it would’ve been something really special.

It really upsets me that I didn’t like 198X as much as I should have because I really love the idea of what it’s trying to do. I love that it tries to convey just how meaningful video games can be to people like me; how they can be more than just a way of escaping reality. I like The Kid’s androgynous visual design, allowing any person to feel connected to their story. Not to mention, the game’s gorgeous 16-bit aesthetic and a killer soundtrack, which features the famed Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshiro.

But there’s just so little to it—and I mean that literally, you can clear this game in under an hour and it has the audacity to end on a cliffhanger—and once you’ve finished it, there’s really no reason to play it again.

NBA star Kobe Bryant dead at 41 - Communities from 2K and EA Sports share condolences online.

NBA star Kobe Bryant dead at 41 – Communities from 2K and EA Sports share condolences online.

Retired Los Angeles Lakers player and NBA five-time champion Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident in Calabasas early Sunday. 

A report by TMZ Sports confirmed Bryant and his daughter Gianna were flying to the Mamba Academy when the vehicle’s engines reportedly sputtered and crashed.

Officials stated there were no survivors among the pilot and eight others on board the helicopter.

Fans around the world posted their grievances online, including the video game community and NBA 2K who thanked Bryant for his impact “on and off the court.”

Bryant has appeared in every NBA 2K installment since its debut in the first 1999 game for the Sega Dreamcast.

Players were able to control him through his 20-year tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers and has been a part of the series’ custom team management options.

In 2009, Bryant was voted-in by fans to be the game’s cover athlete for NBA 2K10. He made another appearance on the Legend Edition for NBA 2K17, which recognized his contributions in the NBA during and after his career.

He continued to have a larger presence for players in later games and lent his voice as a guest commentator for players during their games in NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19.

EA Sports stated they were “deeply saddened” by Bryant’s death in a tweet.

Notable 2K game community members including Ronnie Singh told fans to live life to its fullest.

He also expressed a shared influence Bryant had on players who grew up loving basketball.
@ronnie2k: ” Totally heartbroken. He’s a big reason why I and many 2K fans grew to love basketball. His drive for getting the most out of life is to be aspired especially in the light of this absolutely tragedy. Life is short, we all need to live it to it’s fullest like he did.‬ ‪#RIPKobe “

According to Forbes, recent players accessing 2K20 were greeted with a message in tribute to Bryant.×0.jpg?fit=scale
NBA 2K20 – 2K

Players in the game’s online Neighborhood hub also donned Lakers jerseys and paid their respects to Bryant.

Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant, and daughters Natalia, Bianca and Capri.

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