Month: December 2020

The Best Audio Gear of 2020 4

The Best Audio Gear of 2020

There are countless companies delivering a slew of audio hardware every year. From smart speakers, to new audio interfaces, it is almost impossible to sort out the good quality devices, from the ones that need to go back to the drawing board.

As more companies dip their toes into the world of audio, it is harder than ever, and this is why we are here to help outline the best and brightest in audio hardware for 2020. From brands like Amazon, to longtime companies that seem to make the list every year, CGMagazine is here to ensure people only enjoy the best audio possible. As with any years selections, we only select based on hardware we have had real world hands on time with, so while there maybe some amazing audio tech released in 2020, if we have not tested it, it can not be considered for this year’s list.

Sonos Arc – 9.5/10

The Best Audio Gear of 2020 1
Sonos Arc

For the ultimate home theatre experience you’re going to need a soundbar and you shouldn’t look any farther than the Sonos Arc. With movie theatres closed for the foreseeable future what better time to turn your own living room into the theatre of your dreams.

I’ve been a huge fan of Sonos for years now, and would highly recommend WiFi over Bluetooth streaming any day of the week. Once you experience wifi speakers you’ll never go back. Sonos is easy to set up, sounds incredible and incredibly easy to use. The Arc features Dolby Atmos, HDMI Arc, HDMI eARC, and a 5.02. Surround System and will have free updates for years.

If you’re looking for complete surround sound, it’s recommended to install two Sonos Play:1’s behind your couch for an even more immersive experience. In small apartments you won’t even have to worry. The Arc will have no problem filling up an entire room. This is hands down the best soundbar on the market and one you won’t have to replace for years to come. Now sit down, get comfy and turn on Mad Max: Fury Road for the ultimate test of your new soundbar.

Amazon Echo (2020) – 9.5/10

The Best Audio Gear of 2020
Amazon Echo (2020)

There was a time when few people who love amazing audio would suggest an Echo speaker. While they could be loud and made listing to music easy, they were far from the best audio you could find for the money. Thankfully that is no longer the case, and the new 4th-Gen Amazon Echo sounds fantastic, making one of the best smart assistance, also one of the best smart audio devices you can buy in 2020.

The new 5-inch ball shaped Amazon Echo does away with much of the old styling while improving on all major features of the device in the process. With better acoustics thanks to the placement of the driver, and a larger cavity for the bass responsiveness, the new Echo sounds incredibly, and finally looks like something I would want to show off in my house.

This all leads to a small speaker that delivers better sound, and fills a larger space than the competition. With the 4th-Gen Amazon Echo sounding better than all comparably priced smart speakers, including the new Nest Audio, that already improved on past iterations in many regards. The fabric design and overall quality makes the 4th-Gen Amazon Echo fit into most living spaces, and will not be an eye-sore as you place it for the best audio possible. The new design ensures you don’t need it to be in the centre of a room to be heard, or to get the best experience, now working more than a standard speaker pushing audio out towards the room.

At a fantastic price point, and loaded with features, the Amazon Echo has never been a better value. Delivering phenomenal audio, and ushering a new design that feels modern and stylish, the 4th-Gen Amazon Echo is by far the best smart speaker you can buy for under $200. While it may not top the likes of Sonos or Apple, the 4th-Gen Amazon Echo is finally an easy to recommend speaker that happens to do countless other things should you want to dive into the  smart assistant potential.

Logitech Zone Wireless Headset – 9/10

Logitech Zone Wireless Headset Review 2
Logitech Zone Wireless Headset – Review Image Provided by CGMagazine

The first thing I found interesting about the Logitech Zone Wireless headset is that, despite my initial assumption, it’s not a gaming headset—a seemingly odd choice for a gaming magazine. Instead, the Zone Wireless is intended for more practical, workplace use; and in that vein it is a very well-designed headset.

The Zone Wireless is a sleek and functional headset, with a fairly minimalist design. Optimized for comfort, the unit weighs a mere 0.18 Kg; while the 70.7mm ear pads are cushioned with a soft, breathable leatherette so they sit atop your ears snugly while sealing off ambient noise. Mounted to the side of the right earpad—although it can be worn on either side— is the Zone Wireless’ mic, which is on a swivel that automatically mutes when up, and unmutes when brought down.

Adding to the practicality, the speakers offer a frequency response of 30~13 kHz @ -10dB while in “music mode,” which changes to 100~8 kHz while in “talk mode.” Coupled with an ANC which can be toggled on and off, the Zone Wireless provides an optimal experience for when you need to put on some lofi and get focused on your work, or when you need to take an important call.

Honestly, the only real complaint I have with the Zone Wireless headset comes from when you have both the dongle and Bluetooth connected, as any incoming notifications will pause whatever media you may have playing. It’s a minor inconvenience to be sure, but it is an inconvenience nonetheless.

Sound Blaster G3 – 8.5/10

Sound Blaster G3 Review 4
Sound Blaster G3 – Review Image by CGMagazine

Has this ever happened to you? You’re walking down the streets of life with a headset that you have had for a couple of years and you desperately want to upgrade. The issue is that you only have $79.99 CAD (plus tax) in your wallet and that simply won’t cut it for you, and your advanced tastes. Fear not! Because Sound Blaster has come up with a revolutionary device known as the Sound Blaster G3 that will elevate your gaming experience to the next level, and impress your childhood bully along the way. It’s Sound Blaster or nothing!

That’s what I thought that the ads for their Sound Blaster G3 would sound like, going into my hands-on time with it. The box promised a completely revolutionary audio experience full of customization, mobile apps and GameVoice Mix TM, and I was skeptical, yet intrigued by the USB/USB-C dongle that lay within. As it turns out, the Sound Blaster G3 is a useful peripheral that manages to improve most audio experiences and even managed to meet the fake hype that I had for it going in.

I was surprised at how well, and quickly the various wheels and buttons worked. My current headset of choice is a Logitech G Pro, which has a great mic and overall sound but only has volume and mute functions on the included dongle. Using it with the G3 allowed me to turn down my mic in the middle of a round of Valorant, as opposed to fussing around in Discord. There is no cutoff point for the wheels, so it’s hard to tell where your levels are at while using the dongle and there are no markers on the dongle to indicate levels. That being said, you can access them on your phone if you download the SB Command mobile app, which provides a customizable graph of your current sound levels.

The Sound Blaster G3 is a useful bridge device that turns cheaper headsets into more feature-rich ones. If you’re someone who is looking to add more customization to their favourite headset, someone who goes through many headsets, or just someone looking for a tailor console audio experience, then the Sound Blaster G3 is a great peripheral for the job.

Sennheiser GSP 370 – 8.5/10

Sennheiser GSP 370 Headset Review 3
Sennheiser GSP 370 Headset – Review Image Provided by Sennheiser

At first glance, the GSP 370 looks a lot like most gaming headsets that Sennheiser has put out in the past few years. There’s a slide down headset attachment on the left side, a volume control knob on the right, as well as padding on the top and on both ear flaps. Due to the mic attachment, the GSP 370 looks rather bulky, but it is actually quite lightweight, clocking in at 0.60 pounds. This lack of weight makes for a headset experience in which I often forgot that I was wearing a headset, which is a definite plus.

The mic works well enough for gaming and the ability to mute by sliding it up makes it easy to use on the fly. It is quite rigid and only slides up and down, which does limit the different angles you can position it at, but mics shouldn’t be much closer to your mouth anyway. That being said, if you’re looking for a headset that can double as a quality podcast recording tool then you’re better off looking elsewhere. Even the slightest raise in tone creates a  popping sensation that isn’t all that noticeable while gaming but is a significant distraction when you’re listening back to your audio. 

The power slider is located near the base of the left ear cup, and it requires you to slide it fully to turn it on. Unfortunately, it’s not a smooth slide and it often feels like it’s one bad slide away from snapping off.  There is a battery indicator strip located beside the power slider that lights up green when connected, and lights up red when the headset is in need of a charge. 

The other standout aspect of the GSP 370 is its audio capabilities. Its no secret that Sennheiser is one of the best audio makers in the industry, but it’s truly impressive that they were able to retain their quality in a Bluetooth headset. The bass is strong and one of the most prominent of any gaming headset that I have reviewed, and the overall sound profile blurs the line between headset and headphone. For more customization you can download the Sennheiser Gaming Suite Software, which is rather finicky but does offer some customization to your audio experience. With it you can toggle between 7.1 and 2.0 surround sound, as well as adjust your audio balance, but its only available for those with Windows 10. The GSP 370 works with PC, Mac and PlayStation 4 so this is not the headset for you if you’re an Xbox One gamer.

EPOS | SENNHEISER GSP 602 – 8.5/10

Sennheiser GSP 602 Hardware Review 2
EPOS | SENNHEISER GSP 602

Visually, the EPOS| Sennhiesier GSP 602 has a retro tint to it, largely because of its cider-colored ear flaps. It’s a very noticeable colour palette, but one that is also muted and strangely elegant. The main part of the headset features a sleek dark-blue finish that is similarly low-key but compliments the ear flaps aesthetic well. Compared to the 601 and 602 they’re easily the standout choice for me and are one of the most unique coloured headsets that I’ve reviewed. In a sea of mostly black and silver coloured headsets, the GSP 602 manages to stand out. The one visual blunder is that there is considerable space between the adjustable ends and your head that gives the GSP 602’s a sort of bulky, fish-bowl look to them, but at least it’s a fashionable looking fish-bowl.

Specs-wise, the EPOS|Sennhiesier GSP 602 has a high sound range, maxing out at 112 dB SPL @ 1 kHz, 1V RMS. The GSP 602 has a 3.5 mm jack input as well as a dual 3.5mm that is compatible with any device that supports them. The headphones feature a 10–30,000 Hz range and are a noticeable step up from most gaming headsets. They feature a rich sound and deep range on the treble and bass spectrums. Testing it with a variety of benchmarks, the GSP 602 performs well and manages to combine comfort with performance.

The most surprising aspect of the EPOS|Sennheiser GSP 602 is the microphone. In my experience, most gaming headset mics are sub-par and are more of an ancillary feature that they all need to have, instead of a key selling feature. The GSP 602’s mic boasts a 10–18,000 Hz range that manages to limit clipping even in the loudest and most yell-filled moments. I tested the 602’s while playing Among Us, which is a game that very quickly and often devolves into nonsensical shout matches. Listening back to the recording I found that there were little to no-instances of mic clipping and that the mic managed to capture my voice in a similar way to how my RODE mic does. That being said, it’s not as bass-heavy as the RODE mic and while the sound is clear, it’s functionality is nothing exceptional even though it’s a definite plus. 

The lack of meaningful noise-cancelling and other features that some of its price-range competitors offer makes the EPOS|Sennheiser GSP 602 less of an overall must-buy. That being said it is a premium feeling headset, with a standout aesthetic, solid mic, and hassle-free operations. If you’re in the market for a great, no-nonsense headset audio that looks stylish and performs well, then the GSP 602 warrants addition to your gaming collection.

Audeze LCD-1 Headphones – 9/10

Audeze LCD-1 Headphone Review 4
Audeze LCD-1

As someone who still has old 1970s classic hi-fi equipment sitting next to my consoles and TV, it is only expected to hear I love a good pair of open-backed headphones. I love the audio landscape they offer and enjoy how they sound as I dive into a complex piece of music, but it is not something you can easily find in home headphones despite the audio you get from that design. This is where the Audeze LCD-1 comes into play. These open-back portable headphones strike a refreshing balance between studio and home quality, and are an easy pair to recommend to anyone looking to up their audio listening game.

The fit is snug without being uncomfortable. The memory foam in and leatherette ear cups are comfortable for even long listening sessions, while offering enough air to breath and avoid discomfort. The memory foam on the band keeps them in place while on the go or at the desk and the overall lightweight 250g design makes them an easy choice for when you need to get work done and can’t afford to take a break due to discomfort or an overall bad design.

Inside, you will find Audeze’s 90mm Planar Magnetic drivers that, on paper, are said to deliver frequencies from 10Hz up to 50kHz with flawless clarity with patented Fluxor magnets and Uniforce voice coil that is reported to deliver distortion-free audio, and in testing these reports all true. These are some of the best sounding headphones I have used. While it does lack audio processing found in many more mainstream options, the LCD-1 sound far better than I was expecting and deliver some of the best sound I have ever heard south of $800.

There is a lot to like with the Audeze LCD-1. From audio soundscape to the build quality, these are some of the best sub $600 I have ever tested. With the balanced sound, quality audio comes to live as you dive into any genre of music, giving it new depth you may not have thought possible. Portable, and expertly crafted, if you are looking for some of the best headphone audio, and a finely tuned listening experience, the Audeze LCD-1 will not disappoint.

Razer Opus Headphones – 9/10

Razer Announce THX Certifed Wireless Opus Headphones 1
Razer Opus

It is hard to imagine when we all used to attend conferences and travel on plans, but this was a reality not long ago, and I wish I had the Razer Opus when I used to do these mythical activities. The newest in the THX audio accessories, the Razer Opus headphones, are built for people who love audio and love it while on the go. With active noise cancelation, amazing audio clarity and a stylish mobile design, it is hard to find fault with the new Bluetooth headphones.

The Razer Opus manages a wave a sound that delivers all of the nuance hidden in a game. From footsteps to the boom of gunfire, these are headphones that capture the full range games can deliver. I have tested them on the Nintendo Switch, along with PC and Mobile, moving between games like Mario, Zelda, Doom, and Fortnite and everything felt far more expansive than they have any right to offer, especially considering the size of the headphones.

Thanks to the active noise cancelling on offer, should you find yourself around people or noise, the Opus will make them feel like a world away. It is amazing how much they block until you realize what is going on around in the outside world. Pause your music or game and the headphones will let a slight bit of the noise in and it is staggering to hear the difference. While it is not dead silent, it does a good job of blocking some of the noise so you can enjoy your music or media and not be distracted. Another nice feature is the easy way music stops and starts simply by taking off the headphones. It is a minor touch, but one that was never a disappointment when it happened.

From a company known for gaming gear, it is odd to see a headphone that does everything but multiplayer gaming so well. These are some of the best headphones I have used for under $500, and they are truly a stunning piece of audio tech. With the help of THX, a great design, and an overall quality, Razer has crafted headphones that need to be heard to be believed. If you are looking to make a mobile audio upgrade, do yourself a favour and invest in some Razer Opus headphones.

EPOS | Sennheiser GSX 300 –  8.5/10

Sennheiser EPOS GSX 300 Gaming Series Review
EPOS | Sennheiser GSX 300

Sound is without a doubt one of the most important factors that makes a video game special. From the symphonic tones of the Final Fantasy series to the unsettling creaks found in Resident Evil, all the way to the high-pitched yahoo’s of Super Mario, sound often elevates games and helps them reach their true potential. But what if you’re playing games on a device with lacklustre audio capabilities, and are yearning for an improved experience? That’s precisely the reason that the EPOS GSX 300 I was created.

The EPOS GSX 300 is an external sound card and as mentioned, its purpose is to improve audio performance on PCs. Visually, it’s a pretty looking box with a light-up volume wheel and profile switching button on its front. The volume wheel has a satisfying tactile sensation to it and the profile button is small but responsive. Setup is simple and involves plugging in the EPOS GSX 300 into your PC’s USB slot and connecting your headphones or mic to the allotted slots on the backside of the device. Unfortunately, the EPOS GSX 300 doesn’t feature a USB port and only works with standard 3.5MM connectors. As a result, those with Bluetooth headset are unable to connect to the EPOS GSX 300 without an adapter, which is an unfortunate omission. Also, while the device itself is unobtrusive, when connecting to a headset the cord can be obtrusive.

Overall, the EPOS GSX 300 is a stellar external sound card at a moderate price. It boasts simple profile-swapping, a sleek aesthetic and satisfying volume control. While it does lack Bluetooth integration and isn’t necessary for those with good sound cards, its ease of access and on-the-fly profile-swapping make it an intriguing addition to any gaming setup. 

Razer BlackShark V2 – 9.5/10

Razer BlackShark V2 Hardware Review
Razer BlackShark V2

A good, reliable headset can make the world of a difference. Especially in the days of COVID-19, where staff meetings held from the often noisy comfort of your own home are a new necessity. Multi-purpose functionality is a major bonus with the Razer BlackShark V2, so whether you’re hunkered down for a Zoom meeting marathon, listening to music in your own personal bubble, or using it as intended (intensive gaming) this headset won’t let you down.

In terms of comfort, the Razer BlackShark V2 is built using ultra-soft breathable FlowKnit memory foam ear cushions, so you can game away for hours at a time without that fatigued feeling. While the material is indeed ultra-soft, it’s the breathability that gives it a bit of an edge over the Razer BlackShark V2 X (the V2’s lighter, more economical sibling). After hours of use in a warm room, I didn’t have to peel off a sticky headset. It’s generally quite comfortable to wear for extended periods of stressful gaming. 

The Razer BlackShark V2 also features THX spatial audio, offering lifelike immersion and true-to-life acoustics with positional accuracy. This feature works with the Synapse using the USB sound card included with the V2. With its emulated surround sound, you’re able to pinpoint your enemy’s location based on their gunfire and footsteps. It’s a great way to fully immerse yourself in the game and also feel vaguely creeped out by the in-game zombies you can hear trying to creep up behind you. So… win-win. 

With the Razer BlackShark V2, you get a lot of functionality and customization. Whether you’re gaming up a storm, getting lost in music, or just trying to have a video meeting without your cat yowling in the background (my own experience), it’s a well-rounded, clear sounding headset that offers great value for its very fair price ($99.99). It’s a great option if you’re looking for a solid headset that can also function well outside of the gaming world.

Steelseries Arctis 7X – 9.5/10

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Steelseries Arctis 7X

Steelseries’ Arctis 7X and 7P are, essentially, beefed up versions of their older Arctis 7 headset made specifically to go with the new consoles. They have some nice headset microphones, something I am always cautious about, sleek new designs, and a handy wireless dongle so that you can play your games independent of wires tethering you to your entertainment medium of choice, but that the greatest bit is that these fancy headgear is not solely compatible with the future of gaming technology. No, these guys have wide compatibility and have become my go-to headsets for gaming on my PC, all of my consoles (Including the Switch), and even for mobile gaming on my smartphone. If it’s got a USB-C or regular USB-A port then you can, most likely, pipe all the noises straight to your ears without any pesky wires.

While these headsets are pretty phenomenal, I do have a couple of small quibbles. For one thing, I would have liked to have seen it utilize a USB-C for charging. The battery in these was pretty strong and I didn’t run into any power issues, but, as all of my devices move on to newer, faster charging cords, I would like to be able to reduce the number of older ones I have all over the place. More concerning is that these headsets are clearly optimized for gaming rather than for music. Even when using the appropriate preset, I could not find the clear sound quality I was looking for when listening to all of my hot hot jams.

Those complaints aside, these headsets really do have a lot to offer in terms of quality and comfort. I have even come around on the stark white colour that I am still not too keen on for the Playstation 5. They certainly aren’t the end all be all of headsets, and fussy audiophiles will probably find some frustration when it comes to musical fidelity, but for the price these are well worth the investment. The Arctis 7X is going to be your best bet if you are looking for compatibility across all the devices you may potentially own, but barring Microsoft’s consoles, either would be a fantastic addition to your gaming setup.

Razer Kaira Pro – 9/10

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Razer Kaira Pro

With the Xbox Series X/S console working with past headsets, you may already have everything you need—but for anyone looking, the Razer Kaira Pro is a fantastic and easy-to-use offering. With the ability to pair at the press of a button, and matching the sleek black and green aesthetic of the Xbox Series X/S; the Razer Kaira Pro is that new headset you did not know you needed. The Razer Kaira Pro sounds fantastic: providing rich, clear sound in all types of makes and media.

The headset will last for 20 hours on a single charge, is comfortable to wear, even during long gaming sessions; and is Bluetooth-ready allowing for use with your PC or mobile phone with the flick of a switch. And for anyone only interested in audio, the microphone can be removed anytime it is not in use. For people who don’t need all the bells and whistles, the Razer also offers the Kaira that lacks the removable microphone and Bluetooth if you can live without these features, or want to save some money. 

The Best Smartphones of 2020 1

The Best Smartphones of 2020

Smartphones continue to improve year over year, and 2020 was no exception. With all major brands pushing the envelope on concepts and design, delivering some of the most exciting phones to date. While not everything was a hit with consumers, it was the year foldable phones made a major splash onto the scene, along with faster displays, and real advancements in camera tech. From major brands such as Apple, Google, LG and Samsung they have looked to try new things, and deliver the best possible smartphones to date.

With so many amazing options, CGMagazine selected the best and most exciting smartphones of 2020. From unique offerings, to amazing budget devices, the world of smartphones did not disappoint and there is something for every budget and type of user. We only included phones we had real world testing with, so ones we only previewed, or saw at a trade show sadly were not in the running.

Apple iPhone SE – 9/10

The Best Smartphones of 2020
Apple iPhone SE

Phones are always a hard thing to buy for people. It can be hard to know what is the best choice that will offer performance, while not breaking the bank and keeping the design and style they already love. This is where the iPhone SE fits into the picture. This new device brings all the features we have come to expect from the latest iPhones while offering a phone that keeps the classic style and size. Not everyone wants a massive smartphone or new ways of navigating the OS, and the fact the iPhone SE is around $400, is the icing on the cake.

The iPhone SE 2020 is potentially the best budget smartphone you can buy. It is premium-feeling throughout, offers amazing performance, a very good camera, and to put it simply, outclasses almost all the similarly priced Android phones by a mile, providing you don’t want 5G that is.

If you know someone who loves smaller phones and wants the best phone possible in a small package, the iPhone SE 2020 is the phone to buy. It looks great, feels snappy to use and all comes in a sleek, well-designed package. This is the phone that puts other budget phones to shame, and it is a great gift for anyone on your list.

LG V60 5G ThinQ Dual Screen – 8.5/10

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LG V60 5G ThinQ Dual Screen

The LG V60 ThinQ 5G features the Snapdragon 865 processor with 8GBs of RAM and 128GBs of built-in storage, placing the V60 firmly at the top with other flagship Android devices.  Those worried about running out of space (or those who may be accustomed to Apple products) can rest knowing that the V60 comes equipped with a micro-SD card slot, giving those who require extra room the option to upgrade.  With the LG V60’s beefy 64megapixel rear-facing camera, additional storage is a welcome bonus, especially when shooting 8K video.  Photos shot on the V60 look great, particularly when shot in bright settings or up close on subjects that have a lot of texture or fine detail.  

Photos shot in low-light settings still look fairly decent and thanks to the inclusion of a pixel-binning technique that grants brighter exposure, the V60 can more than make do even under poor settings. Like the G8X and some of LG’s previous flagships, the V60 also features an ultra-wide 13-megapixel camera that can be used to take sweeping shots that have a real sense of breadth and depth, not possible on a traditional lens. The inclusion of the second screen also allows users to prop the phone up or even use it as a means of getting more exciting and stable shots, something unique to LG’s dual-screen offerings. Overall, the V60 offers a robust set of photo and video capabilities, although nothing that particularly standouts, when compared to other flagship devices that feature similar specs. 

The LG V60 will not be a phone for everyone unless you happen to be someone who doesn’t own a whole lot of devices and just want one smart device to rule them all. The LG V60 offers both high specs, engaging and vivid displays and a powerful 5000mAh that can get you through your day without the need to charge, even when consuming large amounts of media.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE – 9/10

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Phone Review
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

On the surface the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE feels like a response to the phones of OnePlus and other Chinese manufacturers. With so many of them looking to trim the fat to hit price targets, it makes phones like the Galaxy S20 Ultra feel like luxury items we can only dream of. But Samsung, being the agile smartphone giant it is, used these lessons and, in record time, built a new iteration of the S20 that feels modern, powerful, and stylish; while cutting features that most fans do not need.

The S20 FE features a 1080 x 2400 pixel 120Hz Super AMOLED screen that is simply stunning to look at, especially for a phone at this price point. It feels responsive and smooth with animation and video looking sharp, clear and crisp. It is not as vibrant or clear as the panel seen on the S20 Ultra, but it comes close, making it easy to experience with it never feeling budget or like a massive step down for most people.

Under the hood, the Samsung S20 FE feels snappy, but does lack some of the performance you will find in the more “flagship” variants of the range. Samsung opted for a less powerful, more power efficient option in the Snapdragon 865 SoC with 6 GB RAM. With this you will be able to play most of the modern Android games, including Fortnite, PUBG or even Call of Duty Mobile without any issue with stuttering.

The Camera on the Samsung S20 FE fared well. It does not have the monster camera specs other phones in the lineup offer, but overall it offers a good balance of features and processing that should make the majority of people happy. Shots feel crisp, vibrant and clear, and while the “Samsung processing” feel is alive and well in the FE, it should not be overpowering for most people and offers good photos overall.

At the $949 price point, the Samsung S20 FE 5G is a great offering from the Korean tech giant. It delivers in all the areas we have come to expect from Samsung, while cutting the right corners to hit a price that is competitive and exciting. With the Pixel 5 launching soon at $799 and other devices clawing for that mid-range market, Samsung have knocked it out of the park, and found the perfect balance between flagship features and midrange appeal.

OnePlus 8 Pro – 9.5/10

OnePlus 8 Pro Review 5
OnePlus 8 Pro (Left), OnePlus 8 (Right) – Review Image Provided by CGMagazine

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the best thing. With one of, if not the best screens on the market, a very capable camera suite, and the fastest wireless charging on the block, the OnePlus brand has finally poised itself as a direct competitor to the big dogs in the game—which is damn good considering it is now priced similarly to its contemporaries.

The OnePlus 8 Pro comes with a 6.78” Fluid AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with a 120Hz refresh rate and 1440 x 3168 pixels (~513 ppi density) with HDR 10+ support. For you shutterbugs out there, we’ve got quite the setup on the back of the phone (and a nicely centred camera bump) with a 48 MP Main Camera featuring a Sony IMX689 sensor, an 8MP 3X Telephoto camera with 30X Digital Zoom, a 48 MP Ultra Wide Angle camera with a 120° FOV, and a 5MP “Color Filter Camera”. There is also the 16MP selfie camera for the social media crowd.

As for memory, storage, and processing power, the OnePlus 8 Pro comes in two models: 128GB storage with 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM—which OnePlus claims will boost memory speeds by 30 per cent while lowering power consumption by 20 per cent. Powering this monster is a Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 and an Adreno 665 GPU running the surprisingly light OygenOS Android system. The X55 5G modem ensures future-proof 5G connectivity with more bands than you can shake a stick at and super-fast download speeds along with the Wi-Fi 6 technology. And finally, keeping all this crazy technology running is a 4510 mAh battery with Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A) and Warp Charge 30 Wireless charging tech.

The OnePlus 8 Pro is, clearly, the best OnePlus phone you can buy, with all the bells and whistles of the competition and a few big advantages—namely the unbelievably fluid and gorgeous 120Hz QHD+ screen and the super-fast charging. The camera is better than anybody realistically needs from a phone, and while it is a bit gimmicky I am a huge fan of the Super Macro Mode. The hefty RAM and 5G/Wi-Fi 6 connectivity means no issues with watching Ultra-HD videos and I didn’t experience any noticeable slow-down when streaming that wasn’t due to my generally crappy home WiFi. Despite the slow price creep over the years, it’s still cheaper than the competition at the very top-level of the market, and I remain continually impressed with what OnePlus offers.

Samsung Note 20 Ultra – 9.5/10

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Samsung Note 20 Ultra – Review Image by CGMagazine

Samsung’s Note range has never been a slouch when it comes to design or features, and 2020’s Note 20 Ultra is no expectation. The matte metal and curved glass design give the Note 20 Ultra a feel of fine jewelry or a precision-crafted watch. Even at its large size, the materials used make it easy to hold, all while looking stylish as you check messages, play games, or snap a photo. And thanks to the IP68 water and dust resistance, you don’t need to worry about pulling it out in the rain to check that urgent email.

The Note 20 Ultra features a 6.9-inch AMOLED 120Hz display and has Gorilla Glass Victus ensuring you won’t see any major scratches in everyday use. With a resolution of up to 1440 x 3088 and HDR10+ support, the display is stunning to both look at and use. It manages a solid balance of speed and brilliance, making it one of the more pleasing smartphone screens of the year so far. 

Under the hood, the Samsung Note 10 Ultra is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus SoC with Adreno 650 graphics and 12GB RAM, 128GB of storage, with an option to add up to 1TB more via SD card. This is by far one of the most powerful Smartphones to hit the mainstream market in 2020, with the included SoC and 12GB RAM there are relatively few apps or workflows that could ever come close to bringing this smartphone to its knees or even cause any noticeable slowdown. And thanks to the most recent Qualcomm chipset and 5G support, should your carrier support it, you can take advantage of increased download speeds, but it will dramatically reduce your battery, so keep that in mind when purchasing.

The back of the phone features a 108MP  f/1.8, 26mm main shooter, a 12MP  f/3.0, 120mm periscope telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom, with the option for 50x hybrid zoom, and finally a 12MP f/2.2, 120˚, 13mm ultra-wide, with a 10MP f/2.2, 26mm front-facing camera that can be used for face-unlock if you are so inclined. 

Samsung has built the Ferrari of smartphones, delivering all the power and features most consumers could ever want, all in a stylish, refined package. While I liked most of what the S20 Ultra had on offer, the Note 20 Ultra surpasses it in almost every way. Samsung has managed to improve on what was already a great offering, making the Note 20 Ultra one of the best phones I have ever used. With a great camera, solid specs and an overall look and feel that is second to none, if you want the best creator phone on the market, look no further than the Samsung Note 20 Ultra.

Google Pixel 4a – 9/10

Pixel 4a Review 2
Pixel 4a – Review Photo by CGMagazine

First and foremost, the Pixel 4a is striking for how it is so unlike other Pixel devices. The 4a feels modern, taking design concepts from the best in the Android space, that, while feeling and looking less “premium” at first glance, feels great to use, and once you get over the changes, has a unique style all its own that sets it apart from the crowded midrange space.

Looking at the screen, you will find a 5.81-inch FHD+ (1080×2340) display with almost no bezel as you look around the phone. Unlocking other offerings, Google has opted for a hole-punch display giving the camera the top left of the screen. It is a clean and relatively unobtrusive solution and it gives the Pixel 4a a very minimal modern look.

Since this is a mid-range device, it is only fitting Google has powered it by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 SoC and 6GB RAM. While it will not be the most impressive in the Snapdragon range, the Pixel 4a has enough power to deal with most smartphone tasks. While I did see some minor stuttering moving between larger apps, or in more intensive games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty, most daily phone tasks were done with ease.

Jumping over to the camera, we will find a relatively modest 12.2 dual-pixel f/1.7 aperture, 77-degree FOV camera, with an 8-megapixel  f/2.0 selfie camera on the front of the phone. On paper, these cameras should not be able to perform compared to the likes of Samsung, or Apple, yet, thanks to the software at the core of Pixel phones, the camera managed despite the hardware on offer.

The Google Pixel 4a is a great offering and at the $479 CAD it is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a new phone, or wanting the latest and greatest android has to offer but doesn’t want to break the bank to do so. If you are new to Android, or just want to see what Google can offer at under $500, the Pixel 4a will not disappoint.

TCL 10 Pro – 8.5/10

TCL 10 Pro Review
TCL 10 Pro – Review Photo by CGMagazine

The TCL 10 Series of phones come in two flavours, the “flagship” 10 Pro and the lower end, TCL 10L. Both these phones are stylish offerings, delivering a bevy of features, a stunning screen and a range of cameras all for a sub $1000 price point. Even the flagship 10 Pro only costs $700 CAD in Canada, or $380 USD, making them very enticing for the budget-conscious phone buyers looking to make an upgrade. 

The front screen offers up a TCL made 6.47-inch AMOLED Full HD+ (2,340 x 1,080) with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and a 398 ppi. It is a stunning screen to look at with rich blacks and vibrant colours. Colour representation was good throughout my experience with the phone, and the overall impression is that the screen makes the TCL 10 Pro feel like a much more expensive offering than it actually is. Especially with the waterfall sides of the display and the crisp picture the 10 Pro offers.

Under the hood, the TCL 10 Pro features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 with Adreno 612 graphics and 6GB RAM. This is Qualcomm’s answer for performance and efficiency making it the ideal choice for the TCL 10 Pro. The phone powers through everyday tasks and the efficiency of the SoC means you won’t be screaming for the charger halfway through the day. Granted, it does not have the power behind it compared to the 800 Range of SoC’s but for most people, this is more than enough. It can play games, browse the web, and look at videos on the go with ease, with little lag or stuttering.

Beyond this fact, the 10 Pro managed to capture images without noise; overall clarity felt good, and for the price, the camera felt solid for most people’s needs. There are some amazing cameras now available at the mid-range and this is one area I would like to see TCL improve with either a software update or on future phone offerings.

The TCL 10 Pro is a stunning device that, in some ways, feels like a tremendous value and, in others, feels hampered by software choices. Visually the 10 Pro is a stunning device with a build quality that puts it up with some of the best phones out today, but clunky software and disappointing camera keep it from greatness.

Google Pixel 4a 5G – 8.5/10

Google Pixel 4a 5G Review 8
Google Pixel 4a 5G

You know it’s fall when phones start dropping faster than the leaves in the park. This month Google is launching their Pixel 4a 5G in Canada which is an incredibly cheap (relatively speaking) phone that is surprisingly good. If you’re looking for a phone that is easy on the wallet, has a headphone jack and a solid camera, look no farther than the Google Pixel 4a 5G.

I don’t know how google did it, but they managed to put a 6.2-inch OLED screen on this device and still keep the cost down. This is the largest Pixel that Google is releasing this year. The screen is only 1080p and doesn’t have a massive refresh rate but it’s still good. The colors are vibrant and I had no problem seeing the screen when walking around outside in the cold fall sun.

The camera is the same camera you will find in the Pixel 5. The main camera is a 12-megapixel sensor, and a new 16-megapixel ultrawide sensor. The selfie camera is 8 megapixels and is decent enough. This is a really great camera considering the price. It’s not the best in night mode but I was impressed with what it did pull off in Night Sight mode. Pictures in the daylight look fantastic and I’m more than happy with the results. The videos are ok, but they don’t hold a candle to my Huawei or iPhone devices.

Let’s be real with each other valued reader. Most flagship phones on the market are just not worth it. They are overpriced and have more buzz words than they do features. We don’t all need top line phones. Most of us would be perfectly fine with a phone such as this. This has everything you could ever need, a beautiful display, a fantastic camera and solid performance. For the price I’m blown away. It’s not sexy, but it does the job. Did I mention it also has a headphone jack?!

OnePlus 8T – 9/10

OnePlus 8T Review 1
OnePlus 8T

The OnePlus 8T is a brilliant entry in the OnePlus portfolio—with a premium feel, great features and enough improvements to make the investment worthwhile. While I would not recommend anyone who just purchased the OnePlus 8 or 8 Pro give this one a go, it is a great reason to invest should you not have upgraded when the 8 range first hit the scene.

The 120Hz FHD+ AMOLED screen is one of the best screens I have seen on a smartphone this year. It is vibrant, clear and snappy. Viewing angles are topnotch, making the screen on this phone great for anything from web browsing, productivity, and especially gaming. The 120Hz screen makes everything feel more fluid, especially in games that can utilize the refresh rate to its fullest. Blacks are deep and clear, with colours that feel vibrant, and pop even when viewed in sunlight. Even the auto brightness seems to work as expected, delivering an all-around fantastic screen-viewing experience.

The OnePlus 8T’s camera array utilizes a 48-megapixel sensor, 16-megapixel ultra-wide, 5-megapixel macro, and 2-megapixel monochrome sensor. I wholeheartedly love the selection of sensors on offer with the 8T, and while many would demand a telephoto camera on the device, even when I have the option, I will avoid using it, opting to move closer to the target when possible. While in theory a telephoto lens sounds like a great addition, the results from any of the offerings I have seen on competing smartphones make it more of a gimmick that goes unused past the first week with the device.

When it comes down to it, the OnePlus 8T is a fantastic smartphone, and had the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro not launched a mere six months ago, would be an easy recommendation to anyone wanting for the latest and greatest from OnePlus. As it stands, it is a stunning iteration, and a great step forward. 

Huawei Mate 30 Pro – 8.5/10

Huawei Mate 30 Pro (Smartphone) Review 3
Huawei Mate 30 Pro – Review Photo by CGMagazine

The Make 30 Pro is one of the most premium-feeling smartphones I have used in the last year, and yes this includes the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. The clean, lines and crisp waterfall display make it stunning to look at, and the built quality makes it feel fantastic in the hand. Even without turning the phone on, the attention to detail can’t be overlooked.

Under the hood, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro packs a 4,500mAh battery, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a new Kirin 990 SoC chip, a 6.53-inch waterfall  1176 x 2400 OLED Gorilla Glass 6 screen with a pixel density of 409 PPI, all enclosed with premium feeling glass and metal. As with most modern smartphones, the Mate 30 Pro has it’s IP68 rating, and is relatively scratch resistant, at least from a usage testing standpoint. Beyond that, you will find a USB-C port on the bottom, along with a mono bottom-firing speaker, and a power button on the side.

Looking to the back of the Mate 30 Pro you will find the new round camera array. This striking new layout is reminiscent of a point and shoot camera, and makes for a great look should you be nostalgic for the days of the small digital cameras we all used to carry around. Beyond the camera area, the phone feels sleek, stylish and minimalistic. It offers enough new while still giving a familiar feel making it easy to pick up, use and get comfortable with.

If you were a fan of what the P30 Pro has to offer, you will be even more impressed with how the Mate 30 Pro tackles photography. Leaving behind the periscope zoom lens, the Mate 30 Pro now offers a 40MP wide-angle camera that stands as the default lens on the phone. While this does come at a cost of only having a 3X zoom, in this critic’s opinion, it is a fair and sensible tradeoff.

While Google and Android normally walk hand in hand, world events have forced Huawei’s hand, and the Mate 30 Pro in its present form is the result. The phone is one of the best Android smartphones currently available, and offers an uncompromising design and feel making it stunning to look at and use. While it is not for everyone, if you can live outside the Google ecosystem, the Mate 30 Pro is simply an excellent offering, that could only be made better.

DJI Pocket 2 Review 3

DJI Pocket 2 Review

The DJI Pocket 2 is currently my favorite tech device in my arsenal. This is a must have accessory for Vloggers, up and coming filmmakers and anyone who wants a camera on them at all times that isn’t their phone. Allow me to fanboy about my love of the DJI Pocket 2 because it really does live up to its potential and is remarkably affordable.

The DJI Pocket 2 is a second generation all-in-one camera with a built-in three-axis stabilizer. It features a large sensor, a fantastic autofocus system, multiple microphones and the ability to shoot both high-quality photos and videos.

DJI Pocket 2 Review
DJI Pocket 2

What I like most about the device is that it’s incredibly easy to use and great for people on the go who don’t want to be bogged down by excessive gear. All I need is the device and a mini-SD card to shoot something great. It also doesn’t help to carry on you a few optional accessories.

The Pocket 2 records stabilized 4k videos at 60fps, which do in fact look stabilized. Even with heavy winds I was able to capture some great smooth content. New additions to the Pocket 2 include the ability to 4x video / 8x video zoom which would be great for concerts or wide group shots post pandemic. The impressive camera specs have a 1/1.7-inch sensor size edges. All of this comes in at weighing just 117g. It’s incredibly light and easy to store in a pants pocket.

You don’t even need to really know what you’re doing to capture stabilized footage. The camera automatically pans and tilts its head and adjusts for shaky hands. It’s essentially like the camera being on  rails.

DJI Pocket 2 Review 1
DJI Pocket 2

For those looking to go all in on the device you can buy the creator’s kit edition that will come with a microphone and wider lens. Unfortunately, I was not able to play with the extra gear so I don’t know how it fairs, but I can see you certainly get some great stuff right outside the box. If you are looking to record lots of dialogue it wouldn’t help to get an external microphone. The various microphones on the device are great as long as you remain in a non-windy zone otherwise the audio can be a bit muffled.

The Pocket 2 is better at capturing smooth stabilized 4k video compared to most phones I’ve tested. It’s as smooth as butter and makes for a great companion if you like filming on your skateboard or biking through town. My dream is to fly to LA and use this camera zipping down the boardwalk in Venice on a rented bird. I feel like I’m watching back a Michael Bay film when I review the footage, that is if Michael Bay filmed without explosions and shot average looking people.

Another fun feature is the ability to record Motion time lapses. They work alongside normal time lapse and hyperlapse modes, and can be captured in RAW and use DJI’s ActiveTrack 3.0 tracking.

DJI Pocket 2 Review 2
DJI Pocket 2

The battery life is pretty good and in my testing lasts up to 140 minutes. There’s a USB-C port on the bottom of the device for easy charging on the go. You can technically attach an external battery too it so you never have to worry about missing a shot.

The biggest weakness here is how the Pocket 2 handle’s noise. There are four microphones on the body of the device, all strategically placed to not be covered by the users hand when recording. It also has directional audio to help where you’re pointing the camera but it’s not crystal clear and an external mic is advised for long bits of dialogue. Inside recording audio though really poised no problems and is certainly up to snuff for YouTube videos.

For those looking for the best-in-class portable camera the DJI Pocket 2 is 100% worth buying. I love it and it fits so nice and snug in the pocket of my jeans I can bring it with me everywhere I go. If you’re someone that enjoys filming their everyday life, then this is the camera for you. I seriously think it’s one of the best devices I’ve reviewed all year.

And that’s a wrap.

Animal Crossing and Pandemic Parenting

Animal Crossing and Pandemic Parenting

Animal Crossing: New Horizons may not have won top prize at this year’s Game Awards, but for many people it was a defining component of an extremely unusual, unsettling year. While a pandemic uprooted our daily routines, the newest installment of Nintendo’s life sim franchise offered a literal oasis of stability and sunny escapism. It’s a zen garden of a world for us to manage and shape, and a potential way to keep up with the people we can’t interact with personally.

Like many other Nintendo fans, I was already sold on New Horizons and eagerly awaiting its launch before the pandemic interrupted my own daily routine. I had put hundreds of hours into New Leaf and dabbled in all the other installments before it. When it released at the start of the pandemic, I was even more excited, thinking it would be a nice break from what I thought was a temporary circumstance.

Animal Crossing and Pandemic Parenting
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Nintendo

I was right about the quality of the game and wrong about the timing. But one application arose that I wasn’t expecting: it helped me as a parent.

We’ve all heard about, if not participated in, the “Animal Crossing birthday party” phenomenon, or other such events. In lieu of physical gatherings, many people would link up in-game instead and host parties. I did something similar by playing local “Party Mode” co-op with my five-year-old daughter. She became increasingly interested in watching me play, marvelling as I caught fish or bugs, or how I talked to the various cat villagers I had invited to my island.

Around June she asked to give it a try herself. Before this, she had never shown much interest in games. She lacks the coordination for the likes of Mario—it’s an experiment in itself, watching kids learn how to operate their hands and fingers independently to run and jump at the same time—but Animal Crossing‘s lighter pace helped her ease into manipulating the controller.

When her birthday came up, it dawned on me that the game was filling in for experiences I couldn’t safely provide in this year of self-isolation, lockdown, and restrictions. We had a safely distanced party, but it couldn’t rival the sort of thing she was used to. But when I told her a special surprise was waiting for her on our island, her eyes lit up.

Animal Crossing and Pandemic Parenting
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Nintendo

The birthday event is relatively simple: on your birthday, the villagers you’re friendliest with will grab you as soon as you load the game and escort you to a party at one of their houses, where you blow out the candles on a giant cake and whack a piñata. You get cupcakes to hand out to other villagers in exchange for special items, and the guests dance and sing until you leave their house. A nice gesture, but nothing earth-shattering.

And yet, she bounced on the spot when her villager friends revealed the surprise. As she went around the island distributing cupcakes, each generic message from a digital, anthropomorphized critter that I read aloud made her beam from ear to ear.

The events in Animal Crossing: New Horizons were like a missing puzzle piece to the parenting experience. We couldn’t see our family in person for birthdays or Christmas, but we could have another supplementary celebration in the funny animal town game. Our travels were limited, but to the mind of a kindergartener, there’s always something interesting to discover—bugs to catch, treasures to dredge up from the ocean floor, and random islands to explore. It even helped on rainy days when it was too miserable to go outside.

Animal Crossing and Pandemic Parenting
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Nintendo

And that same “zen garden” bit of relief that the game gave me also applied to her. She was cut off from her classmates and family, but Animal Crossing gave back a little agency, a place she could control more freely, where she gets to decorate her room with a mishmash of items or dress like a kooky old lady after a thrift shopping spree.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was, in many ways, the experience we needed this year. It may not fully substitute for real life, but it helped fill the absences in our daily lives, or our special events.

CGMagazine's 2020 Game of the Year: Hades

CGMagazine’s 2020 Game of the Year: Hades

Game of the Year is something of a coveted term during 2020, amid a worldwide pandemic which increased the impact of every release. It’s a miracle that studios continued to release a wide variety of games over the months, refreshing a backlog which has caught up to many gamers at home. As players connected (and re-connected) with their favourite characters. Many included Ellie/Joel, Jill Valentine, Doom Slayer, Tom Nook, Cloud Strife and Alyx Vance; each given a new life ahead of another generation of consoles. Of course, they’ve also become champions of our past times and a greeter for escapism. These characters were also crucial in pushing the boundaries of video games. Helping along the development of gameplay are the characters themselves. Through deeper narratives, game heroes are thrown into situations a tad too grounded in the real world. For players, these stories only do more to create an unforgettable campaign and in-game memories. Here comes the real trick; adopting what made classic games fun and still managing to throw players into the world of tomorrow. 2020’s games continued to deliver on such a lasting impact, becoming a Game of the Year in our own eyes.

For some, the idea of having a fresh start on an island was a perfect getaway. A familiar face would constantly heckle players for bells, but it didn’t stop them from creating a utopia with a daily grind. For the gamers at home, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a remedy with an unlikely importance. As reviewer and managing editor Jordan Biordi puts, “Animal Crossing felt like a world I could belong in. One where I was in control; one where I could have friends, write them letters and they would write back.” Players were given an unprecedented level of freedom to lead a perfect life in a game which washed the noise of reality away with soothing shores. The game was even self-sufficient enough to become a platform, giving the world ways to connect for change (and virtual dinner dates surrounded by peaches). Without reservations, CGM awarded it with a rare 10 out of 10 alongside Hades, Half-Life Alyx and Demon’s Souls.

2020 was also an unexpected time when one of gaming’s most-coveted series returned from the dead. Millions of cries for Half-Life 3 were suddenly heard, with Valve resurfacing to deliver a glimpse of it in VR. But the platform somehow did the impossible by surrounding players in a fully-realized nightmare. City 17 bloomed with more believable visuals in a modern age of games, combined with life-sized versions of headcrabs which are indescribably the scariest things in VR . But Half-Life: Alyx managed to win the hearts of skeptics and fans from its delivery. VR completed Valve’s original vision for a fun, scary and ever-engrossing world players were forced to survive in. For VR gamers at home, Half-Life: Alyx would give them the title they’ve waited for while scratching a vacation itch (if they can endure life-sized headcrabs on their face).

Fans of Ellie and Joel from The Last of Us were finally given a sequel this year. Though its narrative divided fans, an improved gameplay system would throw newcomers and veterans into an even deadlier wasteland. Nature overtook human civilization with a believable level of detail, giving exploration an even bigger depth than the original. Ironically, it was a relevant title which connected in scope, human dialogue and context to make Ellie’s story grounded. But The Last of Us: Part II would also take extreme narrative lengths, drawing a line between the believable and pure disappointment. Its level of conversation from fans, scrutiny and its equal acclaim became one of 2020’s biggest subjects in gaming as Cyberpunk 2077 loomed around the corner. Despite its fair judgment from players, Naughty Dog’s story-driven adventure would be a testament to the PlayStation 4’s knact of delivering unique narratives and gave console exclusive fans a resolve to pre-order the next big thing.

These factors stuck with our strongly held favourite games this year. The choice also came from a sharing of ideas over a year’s worth of discussion in op-eds, editorials, insightful interviews and hours of Pixels & Ink banter. We didn’t let Cyberpunk 2077‘s anticipation loom over the surprisingly wide slate of eligible games either. As hyped as the release of CD Projekt Red’s RPG was across eight years, we continued to hold the studio accountable for its turnout as a project anchored in crunch and miscommunication. Like every year, this didn’t stop CGM’s teams from experiencing the same games together and cement a GOTY with bigger satisfaction. In sharing and understanding each writer’s interests across a long year, CGM’s 2020 Game of the Year came without hesitation.

Of course, CGM’s decision comes from a collection of creative minds, all having experienced their own adventures from this year’s games. Every emotional roller coaster, sweaty controller moment and smile go into a vote. Writers, interns and fan favourite contributors are given the choice to pick a list of titles they identify the most as their Game of the Year. As much as this rings true for every game publication, CGM’s team has made a more personal pick this time around. Our decisions were also impacted by a bigger anticipation for certain titles which give us sentimental value (or disappointments) together. This makes every shared vote count towards a game which has withstood; addictive gameplay, technical quality at launch, passion from studios and narrative heft. Most importantly: a game which made our quality of life a bit better in the worst of times.

We thank CGM’s readers for continuing to support us through the good and bad, while sharing in our discussions for our long-awaited decision for Game of the Year 2020. Apart from the winner, CGM’s team also took the time to share the runner-ups and what made these 2020 releases so significant.

Game of the Year 2020: Hades

CGMagazine's 2020 Game of the Year: Hades 1
Hades

Hades is a game centred on failure. No other game, in both the rogue-lite genre and outside it, makes failure the means by which its story progresses. As Zagreus attempts to escape his father’s realm time and time again, each failure gives him and the cast of characters he meets on his quest the chance to grow. Tens of thousands of dialogue options that are rarely, if ever, repeated, ensure that every player experiences their own unique journey.

And what a journey it is. Supergiant Games has built a cracking action game that rewards players who experiment with the massive amount of combinations between their weapons and godly boons. They recontextualized Greek myths to create unique and inventive takes on its gods and heroes, bringing them to life with gorgeous art. And this combination of style, narrative, and gameplay results in an experience that is worth playing again and again until dozens of hours have passed you buy.

No game can ever be considered truly perfect, but Hades comes awfully close. It is easily CGM’s Game of the Year of 2020, and we hope that developers around the world take note of what Supergiant has accomplished in the years ahead.

Runner-up #1 – Final Fantasy VII Remake

CGMagazine's 2020 Game of the Year: Hades 2
Final Fantasy VII Remake

Despite how often we see remakes and reboots, they are surprisingly hard to pull off correctly. Square Enix was clearly aware of the pressure when they set about remaking (not remastering) their biggest success, and the end result shows the care and love that went into their labour.

Final Fantasy VII Remake takes the first segment of the PlayStation classic and turns it into its own fully developed world. The iconic setting of Midgar is recreated and expanded in sweeping yet natural ways—where the original told you about the world’s inequalities, the remake shows you in emotional detail. Characters are explored in greater depth, brought to life by compelling performances. Throughout, Nobuo Uematsu’s timeless soundtrack is not only revitalized but expanded with a dynamic soundtrack that responds to the action on-screen.

The gameplay seamlessly weaves modern action-RPG sensibilities with the traditional turn-based combat that inspired it. Each of the four playable characters has a completely distinct fighting style, and each boss battle is true spectacle in its own right. The Remake even turns some of the more outlandish, farfetched enemies into believable threats, like the bizarre Hell House, and incorporates some concepts from the last ten years of the franchise, such as the Stagger mechanic.

The result is the farthest thing from a new coat of paint designed to earn boatloads of money on nostalgia alone. Final Fantasy VII Remake is simultaneously a remake of a beloved game and a new game that stands on its own two feet. It offers something for old fans and newcomers, lays a sturdy foundation for further installments, and elevates the modern JRPG.

Runner-up #2 – Animal Crossing: New Horizons

CGMagazine's 2020 Game of the Year: Hades 3
Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Over the past decade of my experience following video games in a professional capacity, I have learned never to “get hyped” for any game. History has shown me that every hype-cycle ends with a disappointing product, sold on lies, and serves only to further sunder my trust in the video game industry.

I feel the need to state that up-front, because nowadays, I almost NEVER get excited about a video game. But I got excited about Animal Crossing New Horizons. When Nintendo showed that first official trailer during the E3 2019 Direct I felt a swell of excitement within my heart that I had not believed possible anymore. It has been the only game in several years that I have anxiously followed—excitedly counting down the days and following every piece of information I could about it.

Animal Crossing New Horizons was everything I could’ve hoped for, and more. Like I said in my review, it really is the perfect Animal Crossing game. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at, combining high definition graphics with vibrant colours and a copious attention to detail; it implements new features that feel so perfectly at home in the Animal Crossing gameplay that it’s a wonder they didn’t find their way in sooner; and it provides such a wide avenue for creativity that there is always a reason to come back to it.

But not only is Animal Crossing New Horizons an incredible game, but it was the exact game people needed during this horrorshow of a year. With a global pandemic confining many people to their homes, Animal Crossing New Horizons was a game that not only provided a necessary escape from reality, but it acted as a social tether for many people. I can say personally that this pandemic was made somewhat bearable by being able to hang out with my friends through Animal Crossing New Horizons, and I have to believe I wasn’t alone in this.

For these reasons, Animal Crossing New Horizons earns the highest accolades from me, and is truly the best game to come out in 2020.

Runner-up #3 – Doom Eternal

CGMagazine's 2020 Game of the Year: Hades 4
Doom Eternal

With a shift in favour towards online multiplayer shooters, it’s a small miracle that the follow up to Doom 2016, Doom Eternal has garnered high praise from both its player base and critiques alike.

Doom Eternal like its predecessor refined its campaign with larger levels, deadlier enemies and more carnage, not to mention an excellent introductory expansion that continued the trend that will hopefully lead to more things to come for the game in the new year. Doom Eternal may not be reinventing the wheel, but it has cemented itself as a game that lives up to its namesake while deserving mention in our list of Game of the Year candidates.

CGM Flashbacks Episode #5 - Yu-Gi-Oh

CGM Flashbacks Episode #5 – Yu-Gi-Oh

On the fifth episode of CGM Flashbacks, hosts Alex Handziuk and Cole Watson discuss the best card game ever made, Yu-Gi-Oh.

Then the two Flashback to their pasts, sharing stories of their experience with Yu-Gi-Oh including tales of stolen cards, broken friendships and the power of censorship! It’s time to Duel!

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home 19

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home

Let’s be honest, most of the truly notable horror films to come out in the past few years have not been big box-office-breaking blockbusters. Audiences are drawn more to the indie horror film festival favourites — those movies that take risks to really mess up their audiences. We love to feel scared, and the new, somewhat quieter voices of genre cinema have proven time and time again to be the real talents to watch out for. While reboots, sequels, and franchises are still being pumped out, we’re turning our eyes to the real prize.

But in order to even make sure these subversive, creative, shocking titles can be seen, a film’s distribution is paramount to its success. One of the reasons that film festivals are so vital to the industry is that they give the exposure needed to get independent horror films in front of the eyeballs of not just reviewers and audiences, but distributors as well. This puts these lesser-known films in theaters, on streaming services, and into homes via physical media. 

Horror is a constantly shifting, growing beast that has really come into its own. To meet the demand for bigger, bolder horror, a few different production and distribution companies have popped up that either specialize in or have a heartfelt dedication to the horror genre. Names that — once you see them attached to a title — you immediately know what kind of quality you can expect.

Blumhouse

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Get Out

Blumhouse is the rockstar of horror producers/distributors. Headed by producer Jason Blum — who has become a celebrity in his own right — Blumhouse is responsible for some horror household names. Get Out, Halloween, The Purge, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Split, to name a few. Blum has figured out the model for horror success; great minds with big ideas, and a lot of flexibility with a modest budget. The formula seems to work and has been yielding huge returns. While Blumhouse has broached other genres with films like Whiplash and BlacKkKlansman, horror is a first and foremost focus.

SpectreVision

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Color Out of Space

Founded by actor Elijah Wood and directors Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller, SpectreVision is on the cutting edge of the horror genre. With titles like Mandy, Daniel Isn’t Real, Color Out of Space, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and Cooties, SpectreVision gives a microphone to unique voices in genre cinema. Any time you see a SpectreVision card in a film’s opening credits, you know you’re in for something special.

A24

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Hereditary

While not exclusively serving genre fare, A24 has been at the forefront of horror’s new wave, providing distribution for some of the top titles on everyone’s tongue. Hereditary, The Witch, Green Room, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Hole in the Ground, and Under the Skin are just a few films they’ve shared with the world. A24 has helped to pull the genre in a direction that’s more accessible to hardened film critics and cinephiles, sneaking scares in through the back door. It’s paid off, with genre films bigger than ever and more widely known outside of the horror hound’s household. 

DREAD

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Terrifier

DREAD is the horror label that Epic Pictures releases under, providing American distribution for Uncle Peckerhead, Harpoon, The Lodgers, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw, The Golem, and Terrifier. Dread Central Media was acquired by Epic Pictures in 2017, who then announced that they would be developing an independent label to distribute and produce horror films. In 2019, this label was renamed DREAD, and the rest is genre-embracing history.

Ghost House Pictures

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Evil Dead

Ghost House Pictures — founded by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert in 2002 — has produced the American version of The Grudge franchise (including its most recent iteration) along with 30 Days of Night, Drag Me to Hell, Boogeyman, and Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead and Don’t Breathe. Their reach may not be as broad, but they’ve built their brand with titles that hold weight.

IFC Midnight

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
The Devil’s Candy

Branching off from parent company IFC, IFC Midnight has become quite the powerhouse of genre cinema. The company provides distribution for modern cult hits like A Dark Song, The Devil’s Candy, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Clovehitch Killer, Dead Snow, Maniac, and The Human Centipede. Their commitment to bringing hidden gems to wider audiences has been invaluable for fans of horror cinema. 

Dark Sky Films

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
The House of the Devil

Dark Sky Films probably isn’t a name you’ll immediately recognize, but they’ve been bringing some quality indie horror content. House of the Devil, the Hatchet sequels, Stake Land, Starry Eyes, We Are Still Here, Deathgasm, Bliss, and 1BR are just a few of the titles they’ve got tucked under their belt, and they’re not stopping any time soon. They’re the little distribution company that could, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.

Terror Films

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Hell House LLC

Terror Films are also on the smaller scale, but with films like Hell House LLC and The Taking of Deborah Logan on their roster, they’ve got a dedication to indie horror titles. Their team is comprised of a seasoned group of executives with backgrounds in Finance, Distribution, Production and Post Production, so they’re keenly aware of how to lead a film to success. 

Troma Entertainment

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
The Toxic Avenger

Ask any die-hard horror fan about Troma Entertainment and they’ll probably have a favourite film to mention. Founded by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Hertz in 1974, Troma is responsible for films like The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo and Juliet, Cannibal! The Musical, and Surf Nazis Must Die. They both produce and distribute a bevvy of low-budget indie horror fried gold, often with some element of comedy, parody, and gore. Their acquired films have featured early roles from stars like Billy Bob Thornton (Chopper Chicks in Zombietown), Samuel L. Jackson (Def by Temptation), and Kevin Costner (Sizzle Beach, U.S.A). They’re basically the definition of “cult classic”.

Full Moon Features

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Puppet Master

Speaking of retro indie horror goodness, we can’t forget Full Moon Features. Headed by b-movie veteran Charles Band, Full Moon is home to the Puppet Master series, Trancers, Castle Freak, and The Gingerdead Man series (yes, series). The production/distribution company even runs its own streaming service, allowing subscribers to watch any one of their massive list of distributed titles. 

Shudder

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Revenge

As far as streaming services go, Shudder is undeniably the best for genre-loving audiences. Picking films up from the festival circuit, they’ve provided a wide-reaching home to titles like Revenge, The Mortuary Collection, Anything for Jackson, Host, Nightmare Cinema, Satanic Panic, One Cut of the Dead, and Satan’s Slaves. They’ve also been committed to continuing our genre education with documentaries like Horror Noire, Cursed Films, Eli Roth’s History of Horror, and Scream, Queen!. And that’s not even counting the countless horror movies and series they’ve brought to our homes, adding new collections on a regular basis.

Raven Banner Entertainment

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
For the Sake of Vicious

Canadian company Raven Banner Entertainment handles physical media distribution for a lot of indie content, such as For the Sake of Vicious, The Battery, Trench 11, Lifechanger, Yummy, and Tigers Are Not Afraid, among many other lesser-known titles. If you’ve ever been to a Canadian horror convention, chances are you’ve bought something from these guys. 

Black Fawn Distribution

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
The Ranger

Speaking of folks you’ll see at Canadian horror conventions, Black Fawn Distribution manages physical distribution for a roster of indie horror, like Harpoon and The Ranger, usually offering some pretty impressive “Blacklist” package sets for die-hard collectors. But they also wisely manage distribution for the films they make and produce themselves (such as The Oak Room, Bite, The Heretics, and I’ll Take Your Dead), meaning they’ve essentially got a one-stop shop for rad Canadian horror.  

Arrow Video

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Limited Edition Tremors Release

And then there’s Arrow Video, who have done an impeccable job of putting together physical releases with stunning cover art for both new releases and cult classics. Seriously, their artwork is incredible. They’re arguably the best in the physical media business, with releases for indie gems like Lake Michigan Monster as well as fan favourites like Tremors, Audition, and Hellraiser.

Scream Factory

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
In the Mouth of Madness

And speaking of physical media, Scream Factory (a subset of Shout Factory) offers a wide selection of both cult classics (such as They Live and In the Mouth of Madness) and newer fare (like Baskin, The Babadook, and Raw). Conveniently, they signed a deal to manage the physical releases for IFC Midnight’s features, which is an excellent bit of teamwork if you ask me. 

Vinegar Syndrome

The Genre-Focused Distributors That Bring Indie Horror Home
Tammy and the T-Rex

Additionally, Vinegar Syndrome is one of the best when it comes to restoring and releasing cult horror. They specialize in “protecting and preserving genre films”, aiming to distribute lost or otherwise unavailable films to the genre-loving masses. There’s also Severin Films, who are dedicated to retro and re-releases of cult horror films. With an impressive roster of titles, they have a lot of bizarre bases covered. 

Now, by no means is this a comprehensive list — these are just a few of the producers and distributors that bring quality horror home. The genre has made its mark on the entertainment industry, and it’s proven to be quite lucrative. These distributors know that horror is here to stay, and they’re committed to keeping it that way.

Katamari Damacy REROLL (PS4) Review

Katamari Damacy REROLL (PS4) Review

I’ll admit that when I first experienced Katamari, I didn’t get it. My highschool girlfriend was in love with We Love Katamari, and when she tried to show it to me—back when I was a pretentious, “edgy,” teenage gamer—I thought it was absurd. I couldn’t wrap my head around the game’s control scheme, and I didn’t connect with the central mechanic.

However, in 2018 when I played Katamari Damacy REROLL on the Switch—now as an adult with a greater understanding and appreciation for more artistic, and unconventional video games—I too completely fell in love with it. Playing it again, now on the PS4 and little has changed; much as the katamari grows larger, so too does player access to this wonderful game.

Katamari Damacy REROLL (PS4) Review
Katamari Damacy REROLL

I won’t get too deep into the ins-and-outs of Katamari Damacy REROLL since it’s essentially the exact same game as it was in 2018, and CGM’s Joel Couture already did a pretty extensive review of it. So instead, I’m going to use this opportunity to talk about what I think is the brilliance of Katamari Damacy.

On the surface, Katamari Damacy REROLL can seem like a silly arcade game about rolling up things within a given time limit—when I started playing it, that’s all I thought there was to it. And while that’s certainly all it needs to be, I quickly came to understand how much was going on in a very simple package. Initially, I didn’t realize that Katamari Damacy REROLL was classified as a “puzzle” game, and the more I played, the more I was unknowingly seeing the game’s puzzle influence.

Katamari Damacy REROLL doesn’t simply task you to roll everything up as quickly as possible, but it challenges you to understand both your surroundings, and the objects around you; navigating their size, and strategizing to roll up items as efficiently as possible. As your katamari grows, so too does your understanding of each stage; and with every attempt, your ability to create a bigger and better star gets better.

Katamari Damacy REROLL (PS4) Review
Katamari Damacy REROLL

But it’s not just the intriguing puzzle-based design that made me fall in love with it. There’s a genuine, meditative to the game to Katamari Damacy REROLL; and while it’s a bit more fast-paced than a game like Stardew Valley, or even something like No Man’s Sky, it’s easy to find yourself zoning out and getting into the zen of the roll.

It can be pretty soothing to repeatedly roll around an area, slowly picking up more and more objects with each turn, and this is compounded by the way your katamari slowly gets bigger, not only reflecting the fruits of your labor, but allowing you to grab more and more objects. It may seem silly, what with all the wacky sound effects, music, and frantic movement on the screen, but if you can disconnect yourself from that, it really is a calming kind of game.

Although, special mention should be made to the music in Katamari Damacy REROLL. Much like Joel mentioned in his review, Katamari Damacy REROLL is an extremely quirky game, and one that is absolutely bursting with personality. The music really adds a lot to the game’s identity and is probably the second-most identifiable thing about it. Much like the game it inhabits, it’s an eclectic selection of styles, genres, and tempos that make it feel wholly unique to this truly unique game.

Katamari Damacy REROLL (PS4) Review
Katamari Damacy REROLL

Katamari Damacy REROLL is a delightful game that I highly recommend. It’s quirky, charming, extremely fun, and much deeper than it initially appears. I know it may sound cliché, but there really isn’t anything else like it and with it’s wide availability on modern consoles, it’s a game that you should definitely play if you haven’t experienced it yet.

Super Meat Boy Forever Review 5

Super Meat Boy Forever Review

Super Meat Boy is back baby! It’s been ten years since we first met Super Meat Boy and collectively fell in love with his meat juices. Super Meat Boy was all the talk in the indie community in it’s heyday and it lived up to the hype. It was an extremely hard platformer with a ton of guts and one I played for hours on end stoned in my room. Sorry mom.

Now Super Meat Boy is back again in Super Meat Boy Forever and this time he’s brought the family. That’s not the only big change however, because this time the levels have been procedurally-generated and Meat boy is set to auto-run for some reason. There’s now plenty of replayability but it’s a shame that you’ll never see the same level twice. That’s not to say the game isn’t fun (or really hard) it’s just a strange choice to make when the original worked so well.

Super Meat Boy Forever Review 2
Super Meat Boy Forever

There’s plenty more story this time around for those looking for more meat in their video games. There’s around an hour’s worth of beautiful cartoon cutscenes to help flesh out the story. Meat Boy, Bandage Girl, and their new baby, Nugget get entangled once again with Dr Fetus, leading these proud parents to punch and jump their way through seventy levels of  intense platforming goodness.

Expect to die a lot. Where the first Super Meat Boy took a while to up the difficulty Super Meat Boy Forever wastes no time. I was dying right out the gate. Over the course of the 6 hour playthrough I barely managed to scrape by most levels. I was having my meat beat good. There’s no way in bloody hell I’m going to ever be able to ace any of these levels and collect all the goods, especially since they are never the same. It’s just too hard for a simp like me.


Controls have been overhauled here, again another change I’m not sure was necessary. You now just have two buttons to use. One for Jump/Punch and one for Slide/Dive. You’ll use your powers to overcome all kinds of nasty weapons like spikes, sawblades, knives, lasers and more. Each of these weapons will be sure to cut your meaty flesh at least once. You also don’t control your character, he controls you.

Super Meat Boy Forever Review 3
Super Meat Boy Forever

Two buttons should be easy enough to master but they aren’t. I found myself fumbling with the controls trying to make my way through each level. This game is really hard. Meatboy was made to be murdered over and over again. I’m honestly surprised my switch survived me playing this game, as not having a directional pad in handheld mode did not help make this game any easier.

Another new addition to the game is a series of incredibly hard boss battles. While very fun, they will leave you fuming. At the end of each world you must fight a boss that will push your patience to the limit. I’m embarrassed to say how many times I died in the hands of bosses. The difficulty is insane, and adrenaline junkies will get their fill of a good time here.

I really liked most aspects of the game, but I really don’t like the procedurally-generated nature of proceedings. I found because of this some sections of the game were way harder than they should be and a simple reset of the level fixed my problem. I would have much rather had levels I could get to know and come back to, especially when it came to ace them. This way I could never really get better as things were always changing.

Super Meat Boy Forever Review
Super Meat Boy Forever

Super Meat Boy Forever does one other thing that bothers me and that is it implements auto-run. How I wish I could switch to controlling my character myself. It can be incredibly frustrating at times and doesn’t help for exploration. It also aided in my death many of times, but thankfully the checkpoints are solid and load times are near instantaneous.

Those are my biggest complaints. Otherwise, Super Meat Boy Forever is quite good and it runs pretty well. There’re tons of characters to unlock and MEAT, which is cool and there’s plenty of secrets to find. Fans of the original and of absolutely brutal platformers will find lots to love here. It’s a great game that for me did a few to many changes for the worse. I really miss perfecting each level with the grace of a gold medal Olympian.

On a side note, I will give Super Meat Boy Forever an extra point for including a parody to Super Mario RPG. Enjoy that one!

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Review 6

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Review

I still can’t believe that Warner Bros is continuing along with the DC Extended Universe. It’s had its ups and downs (quality-wise and financially), but Wonder Woman was the lightning rod for fans to flock to for both parameters. It did well, and was generally well received. What could go wrong? Well, too much creative freedom, it turns out.

Director and lead Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot reunite once again for the sequel, which is set in 1984. Continuing the story of Diana Price (Wonder Woman), a mysterious artifact (which grants wishes, with a price) is set to wreak havoc on the world. Enter two antagonists, oh, and a magical return of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine): her companion from the original film. Confused yet?

What ensues over the next two and a half hours can only be described as a confused, but somewhat spirited trek across DC and various parts of the world. There isn’t a lot of action (what is present is a strange amalgamation of CGI), which is going to turn off some people immediately. Motivations and decisions aren’t very clearly portrayed; as several characters are wrestling with their own inner demons. But I couldn’t look away!

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Review
Wonder Woman 1984

Gadot has been hit with some criticism over her portrayal of Wonder Woman, but she’s been consistently fantastic at nailing the role. Her stoicism fits her acting style just fine, and I actually like her reserved take on the character: it makes sense that Diana Prince would want to maintain a relatively low profile in alter-ego form (despite some of the outlandish absurdity in this movie that isn’t directly her fault). Although the excuse to bring him back is tenuous at best, seeing Chris Pine again is fun, and Pedro Pascal knocks it out of the park as the egomaniac Maxwell Lord.

Now onto the gripes: here’s a minor one. Why did this need to be set in the ‘80s at all? There are very few scenes that actually justify the time period, and outside of one very funny moment with Chris Pine’s character (in which he manages to make a fanny pack look cool), there’s almost no reason why this tale could be set in any other time period. Although (I’m being vague here) nuclear weapons vaguely play a role, any sort of “big weapon” or threat of nuclear war would have worked during many decades.

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Review
Wonder Woman 1984

It’s also mind-boggling, as the trailer had that great orchestral mix of Blue Monday. Where was the new wave?  Instead, we got an extremely bland and serviceable/safe soundtrack from Hans Zimmer that could fit in any superhero movie. I promise, it’s still a minor gripe! We’re moving to the major ones now. Tonally the film is very strange, too, as Pascal does his best to maintain a very campy, but ultimately captivating villain; which Gal Gadot, at times, feels like she’s acting in a different, more grimdark movie altogether. Jenkins occasionally embraces the cheese, but then pivots right back to utter seriousness on a moment’s notice. It’s jarring, even if both tones do work on occasion.

Whatever you may think of the various character motivations, twists, or turns, the script remains one of the biggest mysteries. It’s bloated, not-all-there, and doesn’t bother to answer a few lingering questions. By the time the credits rolled, I found myself wondering how the world managed to “sort itself out,” as every loose end is neatly tied up far too swiftly.

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Review
Wonder Woman 1984

Funneling right back into that same issue, the runtime of this film is over two and a half hours and it absolutely has no right to be. There was plenty of time to edit it; which begs the question, was there even any editing? What could they possibly have even cut, as well? While we’ve seen plenty of cases of studio meddling with Warner Bros and the DC extended universe, this feels like an instance of no one telling Patty Jenkins and company “no.” It’s interesting that Jenkins co-wrote the script this time around with two others: juxtaposed to the more pinpoint single screenwriting credit from 2017’s Wonder Woman production. “Too many cooks,” as they say.

Wonder Woman 1984 is a strange case of WB still not understanding how to capture the essence of the myriad classic characters that they have the rights to. While Gal Gadot is still Wonder Woman to me, this wasn’t a very good vessel to continue her story.



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