This year came at the world hard with plenty of highs and lows. This is especially true for the gaming, tech and entertainment industries. CGM was lucky enough to get up close and personal with some of the best movies, series’, games and technology this year. Between Game of the Year, Writer’s Choice Games, and the Best of 2021 series, January is chock-full of our favourite reviews. With delays pushing so much back into 2022, we have a lot to look forward to, but today, we want to take a look back, and celebrate some of the best moments of 2021—our perfect 10 scores.
Top Rated Movies 2021
Reviewer: Maxance Vincent
After directing a slew of oddball pictures—which include two Step Up sequels, two Justin Bieber documentaries, a G.I. Joe sequel and one of the worst reboots/adaptations of an intellectual property ever made in JEM and the Holograms— Jon M. Chu has had the redemption story of a lifetime with the terrific Crazy Rich Asians. His latest film, In The Heights, based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical, is not only Chu’s best work, but the best film of the year so far, giving theatre-hungry audiences pure movie magic that cannot be experienced anywhere else but on the biggest screen possible.
There is nothing this movie won’t do to remind audiences of the power of a big (big) screen and how it’s able to pull you in its story unlike any other; a privilege that few had access to over the past year. In the Heights is not only the best musical I’ve seen since La La Land, but the best film of the entire year and one to watch for this year’s awards season. Don’t miss it and see it on the biggest screen you can find (if done safely).
In The Heights reminds us what the big screen is made of, offering a visually vibrant musical to be experienced collectively on the biggest screen imaginable.
Reviewer: Clement Goh
Brilliantly, No Way Home is framed as a dysfunctional coming of age story. Things go bad at the worst time, just as Parker finishes up high school. As audiences saw Parker go through the teenage stages across the MCU, it comes full circle through newer experiences. Gone is the “grounded” approach from the previous two films. Here, audiences see Spidey tackle an Avengers-level threat. Just as No Way Home throws more than enough threats for one hero to handle.
Somehow, the studio celebrates Spider-Man’s best qualities without compromising. Watts and other producers pull out all the stops in creating an impactful entry into the series. This is the closest thing to a closure viewers will get from two cliffhanging iterations of the wall-crawler. In the process, Spider-Man: No Way Home burrows deep into nostalgia while changing the way any film is presented.
Spider-Man: No Way Home doesn’t hold back in shaking up the MCU with lasting impact, even if it reminds audiences about what makes the wall-crawler so iconic.
Reviewer: Dayna Eileen
Sandra Bullock takes the lead in The Unforgivable as Ruth Slater, a convict who has spent 20 years in prison for killing a cop. Of course, nothing is quite that simple, but we follow her on her journey back into society and all the trials and tribulations that follow suit. We follow her through work, friendships and parole, but most importantly, Ruth left behind her five-year-old sister, Katie, when she went away.
The Unforgivable is a devastating film in the most meaningful way. It explores loss, fear, love, protection and new beginnings in really raw ways. Flawlessly acted, and beautifully written and directed, this is a film I don’t think I can watch again, and that is one of the biggest compliments I can give. There are no words for The Unforgivable, only feelings.
The Unforgivable is sure to be seen this award season. The performances, script and direction are perfection, and it will leave you shaken and smiling at the same time.
Reviewer: Ridge Harripersad
What a grand finale to a thrilling show! Riot Games’ first animated show, Arcane, continues to feed me more lore about the League of Legends world and its characters, making me care about them with so many twists and turns. I would argue the magic or Hextech used in this series is very pivotal to the plot but does not overshadow the need to keep the characters as the focus of the story. What I mean by this is that the good guys do not win because they have access to fancy new weapons, technology, or some elaborate plan—rather, this animated tale displays a rational, humanistic approach to each character’s decisions. I believe this is what has captivated me in Act 3 and Arcane’s final three episodes of the season.
Arcane will probably be my personal favourite show for a while (or until a second season rolls out). Act 3 was a perfect end to a tragedy as it ties up everyone’s progression from the first act. It did leave on a cliff-hanger and showed glimpses of all the main characters (including Singed and Viktor) and where another season could see the return of them with more content, but for now…I am very content and thrilled at what Arcane provided me—lots of tears and nostalgia that made me feel things I did not know I could from an animated series since Avatar: The Last Airbender or the anime, My Hero Academia.
Arcane’s Act 3 melted my iron-clad heart, shattered my rock-solid expectations and I hope there are more seasons or spin-offs to come can provide this experience again in newer, ingenious ways that this show has magnificently achieved.
Top Rated Games 2021
Reviewer: Preston Dozsa
When I reviewed Tetris Effect when it originally launched in 2018, I called it a feast for the senses. Light, sound, and the simple pleasure that came from clearing line after line combined to create an experience that was ultimately my game of the year. Nearly three years later, Tetris Effect: Connected has arrived on the Nintendo Switch. It remains sublime, much as the original version on PS4 was.
Tetris Effect: Connected is the best version of Tetris available on the Switch right now. The portability does not come at the cost of sacrificing any visual or gameplay detail, and though there are not many new features for the Switch version itself, that is hardly something to critique when the game itself is as great as this. Tetris Effect was a truly great game; Tetris Effect: Connected only enhances that.
Tetris Effect: Connected is a must play game, and should not be missed by anyone.
Reviewer: Hayes Madsen
It’s been sixteen years since the release of a new Age of Empires games, and the RTS genre has grown by leaps and bounds in that time. The lingering question with Age of Empires IV, was if a new title could sufficiently update the legendary franchise while still staying true to its roots. Relic Entertainment has answered that question with a resounding yes, creating one of the most fresh and engaging RTS titles in years, and an incredible experience no matter how you plan to play.
After spending over 30 hours with Age of Empires IV, I’m left blown away by the consistent quality across the board. Relic had a vision of what a new entry in this series could be, and I’m glad they ran full force with that vision instead of trying to play things close to the chest. I honestly can’t think of anything more I’d want from a new Age of Empires game, but I’m looking forward to whatever the developers plan to add on later.
Age of Empires IV is a bold and ambitious evolution of the series, and quite likely one of the best RTS games ever made.
Reviewer: Jordan Biordi
When I first saw Chicory: A Colorful Tale—back when it was under the working title: Drawdog—I only needed one detail about the game to know it was going to be something special: the game was being developed by Wandersong’s Greg Lobanov. You may remember that Wandersong, “made me believe in love again,” and this time around, it’s a similar feeling. Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a delightful game that I think everyone should experience.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is unlike anything you might experience this year, and you owe it to yourself to try it. It is a beautiful, whimsical game that comes to life the more you play it. It’s incredibly fun both on its own, and in the way it allows and encourages you to infuse your own creativity within it. It truly is a work of art!
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is an absolute delight—fun, engrossing, and bursting with creativity!
Top Rated Tech 2021
Reviewer: Joe Findlay
Rode has long been a go-to brand for microphones, and particularly microphones for field production. The exponential increase of content creators and those stepping up their equipment game from a cell phone or go pro have created a greater demand for portable, quality sound. The Rode VideoMic Pro+ is here to meet that demand.
When trying to find a flaw in the microphone, I came up short. It does exactly what it is designed to do exactly how it is designed to do it at an unmatched level of quality. To add to that, they put a number of features in place to protect your audio from variables that might wreck an entire shoot.
If you are a vlogger or if you produce any kind of video in the field, there are few options as good as the Rode VideoMic Pro+ and none of those options are nearly as affordable.
Reviewer: Lindsay Traves
Herman Miller is known for their chairs and there is a reason why. They have innovated well, and their Aeron chairs are lusted after by many. They have teamed up with Logitech, another great brand known for their tech accessories, to add some flare to their Embody chair and make it the choice for gaming.
This luxury model is in the top tier pricing, but it is justified if it’s within your range. It has been specially crafted to support the entire spine and paired with the thick, cooling foam, it is excellent for long hours at work or play. Its adjustability and customizability make it perfect for multiple body types and it will certainly be suitable for various female bodies. The flat seat and armrest design make it all the more suitable for wide hips and thighs and the height adjustment is conducive to varying heights.
This backrest is worth the hype. Instead of focusing on lumbar and a headrest, this chair envelops your entire spine in innovation.
Reviewer: Eric Papky
Occasionally, a product comes out that is so unique that you are not really sure what to make of it. The DJI Motion controller is just that. When it arrived, it was a unit that had been used by another reviewer and just came in an unmarked box. I really didn’t know what to make of it. It feels good in the hand, light enough to be comfortable yet it doesn’t feel cheap like a toy. It has several buttons and a trigger, and other than the somewhat cryptic label on the red button, everything seems straightforward and intuitive.
The drone flies much more like an airplane would while using this controller. Unlike a typical 2-joystick remote that we normally use, you can’t get the drone to fly backwards or sideways, but that’s not what it’s for. I think it’s an excellent addition to my FPV kit because now I can give anyone an opportunity to experience flying and hopefully bring more people into this great hobby. I honestly think that for what it is, I have absolutely no complaints. The term that everyone used after flying it was “intuitive” and I fully agree! If I want to get really picky, I would say that the record button is placed in a spot where it’s easy to accidentally press it but I doubt that it’s a big deal in the long run.
The DJI Motion Controller isn’t what I expected but I have to say it’s a great product if you want the quickest and easiest way to experience FPV flying!
Reviewer: Clement Goh
The Oculus Quest 2 might seem like a straightforward upgrade from the first. The original headset made a stellar debut as a true wireless VR device in 2018, pushing things deeper into sci-fi territory.
This foundation is what Facebook’s latest headset is built on, without needing to reinvent the wheel it helped create. Though there are a lack of extreme changes, the Quest 2 still packs a number of surprises to keep users inside VR longer (and keeping the fun going). The result is nothing short of a hardware which continues to push the boundaries of what users can do in a virtual realm. The Quest 2 also preserves its history for early adopters through the innovative Link for PCVR, backwards compatibility and seamless setup. For new users, it’s one of the best ways to dive into one of gaming’s bright futures without a hitch.
The Oculus Quest 2 takes VR at its best, adding thoughtful changes which give consumers what they’ve wanted for years: a hi-tech, affordable VR experience.