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Legend of Zelda photo
But will there be a red wedding?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a live-action The Legend of Zelda series is currently being developed by Netflix. According to mysterious sources quoted by the Journal, the series is still in its early stages of dev...

Review: Sons of Anarchy: The Prospect: Episode One

Feb 03 // Chris Carter
Sons of Anarchy: The Prospect: Episode One (iOS [reviewed], PC)Developer: Orpheus Interactive, Silverback GamesPublisher: Fox Digital EntertainmentReleased: January 29, 2015 (iOS) / TBA (PC)MSRP: $2.99 per episode ($14.99 Season Pass) Plain and simple, this is a Telltale-style affair complete with item-based seek-and-finds, player choice, and a ton of dialogue. In other words, there's little room for exploration as you hop from one tiny child-sized sandbox to another -- otherwise known as the new school adventure genre. As a grizzled veteran who has spent hours pixel hunting in Myst and King's Quest, I'm generally okay with the push towards more visual novel and less adventure. Some of you may not be. The Prospect kicks things off with a rather interesting flash forward, giving the player character a choice to execute someone else with a bag over their head. Who is this hooded person? Are you even in control of the "main" character, or are you in the hood, and are you deciding to pull the trigger on yourself? It's a neat method of storytelling and likely won't be explored until the finale. [embed]287005:57140:0[/embed]The core narrative however will be spent setting things up for the rest of the tale. You'll meet the main character, whose Dad is terminally ill and could go at any moment. His brother happens to be part of the notorious Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club (this time called SAMLIN, based in Oregon), and his father thinks that he's been saving up to send his favorite son to college -- only, you've been spending that cash to keep the lights on, and keep him alive. Methods to earn unscrupulous cash are literally knocking at the door. Over the course of the show we've seen many unlikely people become members of the club, and it's interesting to see it unfold from their eyes. Your landlord, the local police, your dad, and of course the Sons play a vital role in your character's future, and the hook actually isn't bad. There's also some loose ties to the show with fan-favorite character Tig Trager, also played by Kim Coates, who makes a decent impression and not just a cameo. Thematically the dialogue is also very similar to the show, which is fine by me, but may offend others. In other words, the dialogue is very male-driven, and you'll likely find plenty of sexist and racist lines in the first 15 minutes. But while the setup is great on paper, the actual follow-through isn't so exciting. Visually the game looks similar to something Telltale would create, but with less emphasis on character design and world building. It just feels off and uninspired at points, like development was straight-up rushed. The motorcycle portions are probably this biggest offender, all of which feature the same dark highway. Choices aren't that prevalent either, so the visual novel comparison couldn't be more apt. You basically get a few options to shoot people or not, and that's about it. There are "relationship" counters of sorts where if you say something mean an icon will pop up with a "minus" symbol, or a heart symbol for something favorable. There's no indication that these actually mean anything or will matter later on. This initial episode will run you $1.99, and the season pass costs $15, which will net you all 10 episodes. This is a rough prospect, because although I am supportive of the episodic format, I'm generally in for four or five -- ten is way too many, to the point where a mere hour is very difficult to really drive anything meaningful home. Even the show started running hour and a half episodes eventually. Maybe this will turn out great over time with the planned PC version as a bundle, but the jury is still out. Even with its faults, The Prospect really isn't as bad as it looks. The cheap fan service of Tig (one of my favorites) drew me in, and the idea of slowly working your way into the Sons of Anarchy is fun enough. Since there are going to be so many episodes, I'll likely do a check-in at the halfway point and again at the end. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Sons of Anarchy review photo
SAMCRO takes a backseat
I was skeptical of Sons of Anarchy at first, but once I realized it was Hamlet on wheels I was in. Its seven season run wasn't perfect (particularly the Belfast plotline), but it kept me thoroughly entertained throu...

Clueless Gamer photo
Clueless Gamer

Conan O'Brien plays Mortal Kombat X on a new episode of Clueless Gamer


'I'm a button masher fo' sho'
Jan 30
// Ben Davis
Conan O'Brien got to play an early copy of Mortal Kombat X with football stars Marshawn Lynch and Rob Gronkowski for the newest Clueless Gamer segment, and the results were hilarious. They have some of the best reactions eve...

Sling TV, which brings live TV to Xbox One, is looking great so far

Jan 28 // Chris Carter
Although it's not quite ready for launch just yet, I had a chance to test out Sling TV on both the iOS and Roku 3 platforms, as the Amazon and Xbox apps aren't currently available. The idea is to help facilitate cord-cutting from the antiquated cable model, where you're paying upwards of $100 or more for hundreds of channels you don't need. When coupled with a few extra services like Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime, the concept gets even sweeter. So what does it offer for your 20 bucks? ESPN, ESPN 2, TBS, TNT, HGTV, Food Network, the Travel Channel, CNN, the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and ABC Family are included in the base package, with a two extra add-on tiers (Kids and News) available on the side for $5 each. ESPN is likely going to be the crux of this campaign, particularly given that subscribers will gain access to the Watch ESPN app. With more sports options, this service will have a gigantic impact on the market. The prospect of ESPN alone is enticing for a lot of millennials and stalwart non-cable owners, but I can see many folks enjoying at least one or two of the other channels consistently. For instance, Regular Show or Adventure Time fans will be able to catch those shows on Cartoon Network -- which is a good thing given how terrible and limited the network's official app is. But without a heavy-hitting drama network like FX, HBO (set to launch its own service this year), or Showtime, it's going to be a hard sell for some -- TBS is no FX. There's another potential holdup for prospective buyers, which is the entire "live TV" aspect. The reason so many people have cut the cord is the immediacy of the Internet. Binge-watching entire seasons of Breaking Bad or House of Cards in one or two days is now the norm. A lot of you out there are not going to watch certain shows at certain times when on-demand is available elsewhere. Sling TV also comes with an option to watch on-demand films though, including some new releases. It's not as amazing as a standard cable setup or even Amazon's Instant Video section, but it has a good deal of new releases on-hand, with more to come after the full service rolls out. Once you rent something you have 30 days to watch it, and 24 hours to finish it once started. In other words, it's a standard on-demand service, which is a nice thing to have packed in the box. Dish has also announced that it has a partnership with the Maker network to provide a host of online videos, but that content isn't live yet. Performance-wise, Sling TV is near-flawless, and I was legitimately surprised at how well it worked out of the box, even in its preview state. It's the same quality as any 1080p cable box would provide, and even on LTE it's still crystal clear on my iPhone 6 (you can even adjust the picture performance to help ease the data-cap pain). Mobile support is a big differentiator from some of its competition, which don't even function without WiFi. All in all I only had a few drops with roughly 20 hours of TV watching, and those were mainly the fault of the Roku 3 itself. After booting the app again I was back to where I was in seconds. Sadly, only select stations have full "live TV" options at this time, like fast-forwarding and such, and there's no real way to DVR anything. So if you're a TV junkie and record 5-10 shows per day, you may not be ready to shed your service just yet. Sling TV is in its early phases with exclusive preview access, but is fully expected to launch in roughly two weeks, and over the next month or so Dish will roll out the apps for the Amazon Fire TV and Xbox One. At this point I can heartily recommend giving it a try if you don't already subscribe to a cable service, as $20 for the first month isn't a huge pill to swallow on top of a free trial week. Microsoft even has a deal with the company that allows Xbox One owners to get an entire month free. Maybe you'll end up cutting the cord, maybe you won't. Check back later for a look at the full launch and Xbox One impressions. [These impressions are based on a trial subscription of the service provided by Dish.]
Sling TV thoughts photo
Based on early-access impressions
Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Dish announced a rather interesting prospect called Sling TV. As one of the first companies to embrace Internet TV, its new subscription-based service will stream live telev...

Iron Fro Mice photo
Iron Fro Mice

Telltale's Game of Thrones will be six episodes, coming soon


Iron Fro Mice
Nov 10
// Steven Hansen
Six episodes? Six? What the hell is this?! We've known for a while that Telltale Games (The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us) was making a game based on the hit Lord of the Rings spin off Game of Thrones (pictur...
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! photo
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Watch Mike Tyson get punched out in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!


Spoilers
Oct 30
// Darren Nakamura
I would apologize for the spoiler in the headline, but come on. We all know what was going to happen. It takes tons of practice to work up to Mike Tyson in Punch-Out!!, so of course the real Mike Tyson is not going to stand ...
Sarkeesian photo
Sarkeesian

Here's Anita Sarkeesian speaking on the Colbert Report


'I'm well liked'
Oct 30
// Darren Nakamura
Objective videogame journalism time! Anita Sarkeesian was on The Colbert Report last night. Here are some videos of that. The one above shows Sarkeesian's interview with Colbert. The one below is Colbert's introduction segme...
Demo with Sam Lake photo
'Intense story-driven action game spectacle,' barf
Have we even seen this much Quantum Break gameplay? The half television show, half videogame from the developers of Max Payne and Alan Wake is coming to Xbox One next year. Everything about this is hokey and trite, a Marvel ...

Halo: Nightfall photo
Halo: Nightfall

Halo: Nightfall trailer takes the war to them


And the announcement of HaloFest
Oct 22
// Brett Makedonski
When players pick up Halo: The Master Chief Collection on November 11, they're going to get the entirety of the live-action Halo: Nightfall. Microsoft wants to make sure that they know what to expect, so it's released a...
Myst show photo
Myst show

They're making a Myst TV show


What's all Myst then?
Oct 07
// Steven Hansen
Myst, basically the only PC game I played until Portal, is continuing on. It's not just developer Cyan's recently Kickstarted adventure game Obduction. Legendary is working on a television adaptation of the game, according to...
Korra photo
Korra

Legend of Korra will have difficulty levels Platinum fans expect


And a final boss that will 'blow your mind'
Sep 29
// Steven Hansen
This first "behind the scenes" video for Platinum's Legend of Korra game isn't great, but fans of Platinum's intense action fare might be happy to hear that there will be a high difficulty level just for them. Could've ...
Sony TV photo
Sony TV

Sony launching Internet TV service later this year


Bask in your golden light, submerge in electric waves
Sep 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Sony plans to launch an Internet TV service in the US by year's end, Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House told The Wall Street Journal.  The report asserts Sony has agreed to terms with Viacom, the parent c...
Korra photo
Korra

See more of Platinum's Legend of Korra game


Is Pro-Bending a sport?
Aug 26
// Steven Hansen
We're in a great point in technology that 2D properties can be faithfully represented in 3D instead of looking weird and uncanny. Platinum's Legend of Korra game looks pretty neat, even to someone who hasn't watched the...
Platinum Games photo
Platinum Games

Platinum's The Legend of Korra releasing in October


Here's hoping this will be a treat for fans
Aug 25
// Jordan Devore
Months later, I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that action studio extraordinaire Platinum Games is behind an Activision-published videogame adaptation of The Legend of Korra. Potential -- real potential -- for a lic...
Ouya heads to China photo
Ouya heads to China

Ouya sets sights on China in hopes of success


Microconsole maker to partner with Xiaomi to bring its games eastward
Aug 22
// Kyle MacGregor
The Ouya hasn't been embraced in the West, so now the company behind the Android microconsole finds itself turning to China in search of an audience, Reuters reports. Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi is brokering a partn...
Resident Evil TV photo
Resident Evil TV

Resident Evil television show might be happening


Maybe... probably not
Aug 11
// Kyle MacGregor
A television show inspired by Capcom's Resident Evil series is in the early stages of development. "Arklay," named after the mountains near Raccoon City where the mansion incident took place, comes from creator Shawn Christop...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

The Xbox One gets the STARZ channel app this week


'STARZ Play'
Aug 08
// Chris Carter
I'm just waiting for most of the video apps like HBO Go and Showtime Anytime to drop on current-gen consoles. For now though you can pick up STARZ Play on your Xbox One, as the service just dropped this week. Shows like Blac...
 photo

USA Now and Syfy Now coming to Xbox One


TV Everywhere apps
Jul 31
// Dale North
NBC Universal's TV Everywhere content delivery comes to the Xbox One in the form of two new apps: USA Now and Syfy Now. Television content will be accessible the day after airing along with other episodes from the network lib...
lol photo
lol

ESPN 'delighted' with Dota performance, expanding eSports coverage


Still not a sport
Jul 28
// Steven Hansen
ESPN 2 has aired competitive hot dog eating, log cutting, and a lot of boring poker. Still, it surprised me that ESPN 2 aired a brief bit on Dota 2's The International, and that the online-based ESPN 3 aired the entire compet...
Halo photo
Halo

Here's our debut look at Halo: Nightfall


Digital series streaming this November on Xbox Live
Jul 24
// Jordan Devore
Ridley Scott is executive producing Halo: Nightfall, a live-action digital series that will bridge the gap between Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. The latter game prominently features a new character, "legendary manhunter" Jam...
Sonic BOOM photo
Sonic BOOM

Sonic Boom also has characters not covered in tape


Like 'sexy purple Rosie the Riveter hedgehog' and 'old tails-less tails'
Jul 23
// Steven Hansen
SEGA released a little collection (with bios) of other characters in the Sonic Boom universe, whether they inhabit the 3DS version, Wii U version, or are in the television show. And there's so little tape there, unl...
Quantum Break photo
Quantum Break

Microsoft killing its original programming won't affect Quantum Break


The half TV show will be fine
Jul 18
// Steven Hansen
Remember the Quantum Break, the literal half videogame, half TV show from Remedy (Alan Wake, Max Payne). Details have been sparse since the showing two E3s ago that failed to sell me. Despite Microsoft abandoning its att...
Dota 2 photo
Dota 2

ESPN3 will carry Dota 2's The International


Wow, good for Valve
Jul 17
// Jordan Devore
You can watch the $10+ million Dota 2 tournament The International on Twitch, or in-game, or, huh, even on ESPN. Valve is collaborating with the sports network for coverage this weekend. Notably, ESPN2 will have an exclusive ...
Xbox shows photo
Xbox shows

Microsoft reportedly slimming down its original programming lineup for Xbox


Halo and the E.T. landfill documentary are thought to be safe
Jul 17
// Jordan Devore
[Update: In an internal memo posted by The Verge, head of Xbox Phil Spencer wrote that Microsoft expects to close Xbox Entertainment Studios "in the coming months," presumably once existing projects have wrapped up. The group...

Another fair comparison: 1001 Spikes is better than Game of Thrones

Jul 05 // Jonathan Holmes
Death with a purpose Game of Thrones and 1001 Spikes are known for their surprise deaths. In Game of Thrones, these deaths usually manifest by witnessing one or more characters who were once pivotal to the larger narrative being maimed or murdered in a graphic and disturbing fashion. In 1001 Spikes, death usually pops up in the the form of a sharp object suddenly piercing into your flesh, resulting in an adorable and gruesome spray of blood-red pixels.  Both types of deaths work to send the message that no one is ever safe. That's all well and good, but that message in and of itself doesn't say anything particularly novel. The world is a hostile place filled with lethal problems. We're all going to die. No one is safe. Water is wet. Hamburgers are not actually made of ham. These are all truths, but telling the truth is not in itself very compelling. There needs to be a message beyond the gimmick, an idea behind the violence for it to hold any lasting emotional resonance.  Sadly, Game of Thrones doesn't manage to pull that off. Like so many other aspects of the show, its deaths are dressed up to appear sophisticated and meaningful but are really just softcore porn, in this case, of the gore-porn variety. After the shock and awe has passed, the drama continues, with no lessons learned or philosophies shared.  In 1001 Spikes, every death is a lesson. Every surprise stabbing is an opportunity for growth. Those who start the game with a feeling of dread and hopelessness may learn, through many hardships, that they are smarter, stronger, and more capable of survival than they would have ever thought possible. Game of Thrones is a largely nihilistic one-note tune, where even the survivors end up emotionally/ethically dead on the inside in no time flat. 1001 Spikes is a celebration of the negative space that death offers to our mortal experience, and how it shapes every moment of brilliance, inspiration, and virtual athleticism that brings life to its fullest.   Escape from the victim/victimizer/protector triangle You know what's hot in entertainment right now? Trauma and victimization. The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, 24, and of course Game of Thrones all chronicle the experiences of those in a constant state of fight-or-flight response. Our society is currently fascinated with witnessing what lies beneath society's veneer of civility and compassion. Why are we so obsessed with turning over the rocks of the human soul and seeing how gross the bugs are underneath? I'm guessing it's because we're living in the least safe time in human history. Everyone is spying on everyone. We can't go a month without hearing about another young man violently attacking a group of strangers. Drones are in our air space. Terrorists are in our news feed. Hackers are stealing our credit card information. Everyone is at everyone on Twitter/Facebook/Tinder and we're all thinking about how stupid, fat, and ugly everyone else is. When people are under threat, their minds naturally shift towards grouping everything around them into one of three categories: the victims, the victimizers, and the protectors. You see this all the time online. People take on victim posture in order to drum up sympathy and entitlement to attention and care, or abuse and threaten each other to give themselves the illusion of power and safety, or lash out at others that they deem to be victimizers, granting themselves entitlement to be as destructive and hostile as they want "for the greater good." This is exactly what we see happening in shows like Game of Thrones. Every character is moving around within this triangle, taking on victim, victimizer, or protector posture depending on what works best for them at the moment.  The question is, where does it get anyone? Either dead, angry, alone, or evil. Those are the only options for an endgame in the victim/victimizer/protector structure. There is no room for empathy in that triangle. There's no room for enlightenment. There's only room for conflict.  There is another way, though. There is a road out of the triangle's trap. There is the path of the victor. This is the path that 1001 Spikes presents us with. In 1001 Spikes, the environment is the victimizer, and Aban is the victim. In time, he learns to be the protector, actively fighting back against the forces working to render him powerless. That's not the end though. As any 1001 Spikes expert knows, truly mastering one of the game's levels doesn't feel like a fight. It feels like a conversation. The developer is communicating through their level design, and the player communicate back through their actions, and the back and forth gradually transforms from an angry screaming match to a beautiful duet. To get to know and love the developer through surviving, and eventually then thriving, the world of challenges that they created with you feels a lot like love. When you're able to elude every trap, make every jump, hit every note with pitch-perfect accuracy, you join with the developer in a way that the Spice Girls once sang about. That's not just surviving. That's living. That's living life right. A hunger that leads to improved nutrition Most of the aspects of Game of Thrones and 1001 Spikes affect us on an deep, guttural level. Human beings are suckers for the guttural. We spend so much time being self conscious, or worried about our futures, or obsessing about mistakes we made in the past that when something can help us turn off our brains for a while and grab us by the balls (or nipples, or whatever), it's intoxicating.  Game of Thrones grabs our balls in multiple ways. Sex, violence, taboos, mythologies, drama -- all things that capture our attention on primitive level. But what do they offer us for emotional/psychological sustenance? Sadly, not much. If you're lucky, the story may help you to conceptualize and gain insight into your own relationship problems. Through witnessing the ugliness on display in Game of Thrones, you may become more aware of the ugliness in your own life.  How is that fun? It's not, and it's also not why most people watch Game of Thrones. It's because it hooks them in a world of constant negative stimulus, constant emptiness and pain, and dangles a carrot in their faces promising that things might get better, that they might gain some emotional sustenance if they watch just one more episode. Stories like Game of Thrones (and certain videogames) are designed like sour candy. They start off sweet, with fun stuff like sex, intrigue, and power fantasy, but leave you hurting, with the sour taste of trauma and sorrow in your mouth. That sour leaves you hungry for an antidote to cancel out the sour, something like the sweet sex/power/intrigue that got you watching the show in the first place. So the cycle of sweetness, sourness continues, leaving the audience continually hungry and never truly fed. 1001 Spikes grabs you by these instincts as well, but it's all in the service of feeding you something real. 1001 Spikes and Game of Thrones both inspire a similar morbid curiosity for how bad things can possibly get next, but where Game of Thrones leaves you feeling like the world and everyone in it are horrible, 1001 Spikes inspires you to believe that you (and every one else) are capable of anything. Game of Thrones is a syrupy, acidic, sweet and sour soup made from anger, hopelessness, and nihilism. 1001 Spikes is a bitter but hearty broth that inspires patience, problem solving, and the knowledge that as long as you believe in yourself, anything is possible.  So if you've got some internalized victim/victimizer/protector issues that you'd like to work out externally, stay away from Game of Thrones. It will only work to reinforce that maladaptive power dynamic and leave you hollow inside. Instead, try 1001 Spikes. While it's not as easy to digest as a show that invites you to sit back and passively watch as the atrocities unfold before you, it's well worth the effort if you're at all interested in becoming a more psychologically well-aligned and resilient person. 
Game of Thrones photo
Ukampa > Westeros
Believe it or not, there once was a time when many, many people thought that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was better than Advance Wars. Thankfully, those days are over now. According to my numbers, 89.6% of those who o...

Guardians of Ga'Hoole photo
Guardians of Ga'Hoole

Agent Locke is Master Chief's Spartan foil in Halo 5: Guardians


Ha-owl-o 5: Guardians of Ga'Hoole
Jun 17
// Steven Hansen
While Chief boasts top-billing in Halo 5: Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Agent Locke (pictured above) will have a "key role" in the proceedings, 343 studio boss Bonnie Ross told Eurogamer. Apparently Ridley Scott's digital serie...
Project Morpheus photo
Project Morpheus

Jimmy Fallon and Channing Tatum played with Project Morpheus on the Tonight Show


The Verge's Joshua Topolsky demonstrates
Jun 09
// Darren Nakamura
Jimmy Fallon always did videogame related content around E3 on Late Night, and it looks like he is continuing the tradition in his first year on the Tonight Show. Last week, he invited Joshua Topolsky on to demo Sony's Proje...
Xbox Live photo
Xbox Live

Rumor: Microsoft to waive Xbox Live Gold requirement for Netflix, Hulu


It's staggering this hasn't been done already
May 12
// Jordan Devore
[Update: Microsoft has confirmed that entertainment apps are being set free.] As much as I've gotten used to the idea that Xbox Live Gold is a requirement for certain entertainment apps, that's not to say Microsoft shouldn't ...
 photo

Microsoft in talks to partner with Showtime for Halo TV series


It's...!!!
May 05
// Dale North
That upcoming Halo TV show? Variety says that it looks like Microsoft and Showtime are going to team up for its distribution. If this goes down, the live-action show will show up first on cable, and then become available on c...
Xbox Originals photo
Xbox Originals

Xbox Originals will hit Windows 8 products, revenue model still being worked on


Plus a preview of some of the original programming
Apr 28
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Xbox Originals is going to produce shows based on Microsoft IPs such as State of Decay, Halo, and more, along with producing all sorts of other original content. I have some very early impressions on a lot of the content in d...

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