Tag Archives: game news

FIFA Ultimate Team of the Week for Week 22

The latest Team of the Week has arrived for FIFA 19 with some of Europe’s biggest names headlining the team.

Unsurprisingly, this week’s squad has a couple of Manchester City players. Raheem Sterling is on the list after the team’s thorough, 6-0 dismantling of Chelsea over the weekend. Sterling had two goals — spread out by an impressive 76 minutes of match time — and managed to win a penalty for City.

Also on the starting 11 this week is Paul Pogba, who had himself and interesting week. In Manchester United’s match against Fulham over the weekend, Pogba managed two goals — one early on and a penalty in the 65th minute. However, during United’s Champions League match in the round of 16, he earned a late red card to close the game against Paris Saint-Germain. The good outweighs the bad here as EA has given him a spot on the Week 22 squad.

You can see a full breakdown of all the players from Week 22’s Team of the Week below.

FIFA 19 Team of the Week for Week 22
EA Sports

Team of the Week 22, Starting 11

Salvatore Sirigu, goal keeper – FC Turin

Thiago Silva, center back – Paris Saint-Germain

Aymeric Laporte, left back – Manchester City

Dante, center back – OGC Nizza

Casemiro, central defensive midfielder – Real Madrid

Paul Pogba, central midfieldeer – Manchester United

James Rodriguez, central midfielder – Bayern Munich

Pizzi, right midfielder – Benfica Lissabon

Raheem Sterling, left winger – Manchester City

Karim Bellarabi, right winger – Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Edin Dzeko, striker – Roma

Subs

Alban Lafont, goal keeper – Florenz

Martin Hinteregger, center back – Eintracht Frankfurt

Younes Belhanda, central midfielder – Galatasaray Istanbul

Robert Skov, right midfielder – FC Kopenhagen

Davie Selke, striker – Hertha BSC

Mata, striker – FC Getafe

Billy Sharp, striker – Sheffield United

Reserves

Artur Jedrzejczyk, center back – Legia Warschau

Mohammed Osman, central midfielder – Heracles Almelo

Youssef En-Nesyri, striker – CD Leganes

Che Adams, striker – Birmingham City

Jhon Cordoba, striker – FC Koln

Source: Polygon.com

Red Dead Redemption 2 goes on sale for $39.99

Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 dominated the sales charts when it was released in 2018, but patient fans are finally being rewarded for holding off: The game is now on sale for only $39.99 at both GameStop and Amazon.

The digital versions of the game are still being sold for $59.99, making this sale one of those strange times when you are rewarded for picking up a physical copy of the game. GameStop and Amazon may have simply ordered too many physical copies of the game, and this is their way of clearing out valuable warehouse space.

Here are the direct links for each version of the game at these retailers:

Red Dead Redemption 2 on PlayStation 4

Red Dead Redemption 2 on Xbox One

This is the lowest price we’ve seen on Red Dead Redemption 2 to date, however, making it a good time to dive in. And Red Dead Redemption 2 is certainly a conversation starter.

“The original Red Dead Redemption was about the future: how the colonizers of the West themselves couldn’t escape the encroachment of U.S. law, that the state would claim monopoly on violence,” Polygon’s Chris Plante wrote in our review of the game. “Red Dead Redemption 2 is about the past — how it was never what it seemed; how it can be weaponized against the present; that reality is nasty, knotted and often deliberately obscured by the oppressors.”

And heck, Red Dead Redemption 2 Online is just getting started.

Source: Polygon.com

Make Papa John’s Garlic Butter Sauce With No Garlic and No Butter

It’s hard to separate a problematic figure from his art.

In the case of “Papa” John Schnatter, that art comes in the form of a garlic-flavored, buttery dipping sauce.

So if you want to get your hands on this savory sauce without having to support PJ’s by purchasing their “pizza,” Claire Lower has devised a recipe to make your very own garlic sauce at home.

Using just a few ingredients, Claire replicates the sauce’s deliciously synthetic flavor. All you need is a microwave, a sauce pan, and some easily accessible pizza to dip into it.

You can find the recipe written out here.

Source: Kotaku.com

Deadmau5 quits Twitch following ban for using homophobic slur

Joel “deadmau5” Zimmerman is suspended from Twitch following the use of a homophobic slur over the weekend during a livestream of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The actions of the Amazon-owned media company prompted the producer and DJ to launch a tirade on Reddit where he promised to discontinue broadcasting on the platform going forward.

Both the clip of the incident and Zimmerman’s public response to Twitch have since been deleted. Polygon has reached out to both parties for comment.

The incident began over the weekend during a heated game of PUBG, the popular battle royale first-person shooter, in which Zimmerman was coming under unusually heavy fire from a concealed position.

“Is that some fucking cock-sucking stream sniper,” Zimmerman said, before concluding his sentence with a homophobic slur.

The clip was isolated by at least one viewer and reported by several dedicated music news organizations, including EDM.com. Since then tabloids like TMZ and other outlets have also picked up the story.

In his public comments on Twitch, Zimmerman is largely unrepentant. While he says homophobic slurs are “toxic” and “not an ideology i hold closely to my moral standing,” his response is seasoned with personal attacks on a journalist and complaints about the internet in general.

From his Reddit post, which was archived on imgur:

yeah, sorry about that guys…. i knew it was a fun place to connect and fuck around… but im not going to stand for twitch’s double standard when it comes to censoring and suspending me for harmless shit. While we’ve had some fun partnerships here and there, and they were a great company to work with… im gunna have to cut this one short. I dont have the capacity to deal with that kind of shit.

whatever dude. the internet is just basically full of shit for the most part…. and while what i said was generally toxic as fuck, and not an ideology i hold closely to my moral standing bya fuckin longshot…. it was just some bottom feeding piece of shit from colorodo who decided to make it news

while it was intended to insult a fuckin asshat who was being a fucking asshat…. it wasn’t “directed at an entire group of people who have a sexual orientation that differs from my own” fuck off with that shit. i know who i am, and i dont have to fucking sit here and cry and defend my fuckingself with the obligatory “IM NOT THAT PERSON, I AM SORRY” reflex. If im sorry for antying, im sorry that we live in a world where bottom feeding pieces of shit can sit there starring at a monitor, watching me play videos games, and just waiting for someone to get tilted so he can get a few fucking clicks. thats what i’m sorry for.

The post concludes by saying that, “the sane people who knew what it was in the heat of the moment knew the purpose of the statement, and the people that think otherwise, Im better off not even fucking knowing and they can just keep way the fuck clear of me.”

Source: Polygon.com

The story behind Battle Angel’s short-lived existence as an anime

Alita: Battle Angel is not the first time that creative minds adapted Yukito Kishiro’s manga for another medium. James Cameron, who produced the 2019 version on a reported $200 million budget, became acquainted with that world over a decade ago, thanks to both the manga and single anime adaptation. The latter is somewhat infamous, having added new characters and brought Alita’s story to life, while being unceremoniously cut short before telling the entire story.

Shueisha’s Business Jump first published the Battle Angel Alita manga, or Gunnm as it’s called in Japan, in 1990. The company released the comic as a series of self-contained stories, which allowed businessmen riding the train to read it in spurts, but still come away with a complete chunk of narrative. The publication helped Business Jump skyrocket to nearly 700,000 copies a week, and anime studios were quick to capitalize. Animate, a Japanese production company, approached author Kishiro to adapt the first two volumes. The only problem: he had yet to complete the serialization.

“It might have been better to turn down the plan and wait for a better proposal to come up,” Kishiro later said in an interview. Nevertheless, he agreed. Like so many manga comics, Alita would become an anime.

Battle Angel OVA 1993 Animate Film

Just not an anime remembered like or on par with other beloved manga adaptations like My Hero Academia, the Dragon Ball series or Attack On Titan. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, anime series weren’t created as 13-episode arcs, but rather as OVAs (original video animation): Standalone releases, often an hour long, that could afford a bigger budget given their reduced runtime. With the rise of the VHS, OVAs were testbeds for new ideas, touting better production value, ample fan service, and adult content that pushed the boundaries of television broadcast standards.

OVAs were wildly successful at introducing fans to anime and filling the pockets of companies in Japan, with companies selling VHS copies directly to consumers. Publishers like AD Vision, AnimEigo, Central Park Media, and more eventually brought the OVAs to America, with films like Bubblegum Crisis, Megazone 23, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and Gunbuster taking root in the subculture that would embrace them.

The Battle Angel OVA saw multiple studios team up to bring the stories to life: Animate, which contributed to Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and CLAMP in Wonderland; Movic, a branch of the Animate company whose claim is the largest retailer of anime, manga, and video games in Japan; and KSS Inc., a company known more for subtitle and translation work, that had a hand in making Oh My Goddess!, Golden Boy, and Naruto. The studios hired Hiroshi Fukutomi, known for his direction of the anime TV series Cat’s Eye and Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf, to direct without fanfare — like most OVAs, Battle Angel was a quick project meant to make money on a bankable title. Despite Kishiro creating the manga, he had no involvement with the anime adaptation.

In the end, Battle Angel amounted to two separate, half-hour episodes, each adapting one of the manga volumes. Though the OVA found little success in the east, it was massive hit in America. John Ledford, president of Sentai Filmworks and former president of ADV, tells Polygon, “The title was one of ADV Films’ best titles. It sold somewhere in the low six figures (in videogram units) during its lifetime on home video. It was an evergreen title.”

The OVAs arrived in 1993, and were a product of the time. Riding off the excitement for cyberpunk stories like Akira, Battle Angel told the story of a young cyborg trying to survive in a harsh world. In “Rusty Angel,” Gally (as Alita is known in the English version of the anime) is found in a trash heap by cybernetics expert Dr. Ito. In the world of Battle Angel, there are the people who live in the floating city Zalem, and there is everyone else. The second episode, “Tears Sign,” shifts focus to a boy named Yugo, who assaults cyborgs and steals their priceless spinal cords for money in hopes of paying his way to Zalem. Yugo’s relationship with Gally takes him closer to Zalem than ever before. Even though the OVA was short, Battle Angel achieved a classic status in the West, leading many to discover the manga series when it hit American shores — and finally wrapped up the story.

The initial deal between the producers of the Battle Angel OVA and Kishiro only covered the first two volumes of the manga, and by the time production wrapped on the anime, Kishiro was still in the process of completing the manga. In a 2005 interview, Kishiro blamed the short length of the anime on his finances at the time. ”I couldn’t afford to review the plan coolly,” he said to MNS in 2005. “At that time, I was still serializing the work and was so busy that I wasn’t ambitious to make it into animation.”

There were other factors to Battle Angel’s short-lived existence as an anime. In conversation with Polygon, Amanda Winn Lee, the OVA’s ADR Director and the English voice of Alita/Gally, says that the reason Battle Angel’s additional manga volumes weren’t adapted was due to the anime’s poor sales in Japan.

Battle Angel arrived at the tail end of the OVA market boom, when Japan’s economic recession rattled the business. Then Neon Genesis Evangelion happened, and changed the anime landscape forever. Evangelion showed you could do adult sci-fi in a television setting and the audiences would show up in droves. That made it less likely that producers were going to pursue more OVA adaptations.

Lee also recalls hearing that audiences just didn’t find Alita “cute enough” and “they wanted more fan service.” After the failure of Battle Angel, Animate, Movic, and KSS produced Plastic Little, which was considered a direct response to the thoughtful science fiction story. “Lots of girls, lots of boobs. [Plastic Little] is what they invented the jiggle counter for,” Lee says.

The voice actress also has her own regrets over the movie; Lee says she recorded her Gally lines with a 102-degree fever, and while recording the “battle foley” screams that accompany bigger action scenes, apparently passed out in the booth. “Sometimes I wish I could have gone back. I don’t know how different it would have been, but that movie will always have a very, very special place in my heart,” she says.”

gunnm anime ova 1993 Animate Film

Since 1994, the original Battle Angel Alita OVA remains the only anime adaptation of Kishiro’s manga. In an age of revivals and reboots, that’s still a strange legacy — but there’s a trickier answer. During a recent fan screening of Alita: Battle Angel, Cameron revealed that after The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro introduced him to the manga in the late ‘90s, Cameron flew to Tokyo to convince Kishiro to sell him rights to the series. The director read Alita’s story as one about adolescence and finding out how one fits into the world, material that his daughter could relate to. He and knew immediately that the book needed to be a film — which doomed any new anime prospects.

Yukito Kishiro sold the rights for Battle Angel to James Cameron in 1998, right after the success of Titanic. The deal included rights to all adaptations — including anime. You only have to imagine the director of the biggest movie of all time coming to your door, begging you to make a movie out of your work, to understand why Kishiro took the deal. (Cameron’s deal allows him to lift from the anime, too: Chiren, played by Jennifer Connelly in the film, and Grewcica, converted into Jackie Earle Haley’s screen character Grewishka, only exist in the OVA.)

Any regrets over the anime likely made the decision to hand the rights to Cameron easier for Kishiro. For his part, the manga author would love to make a TV anime of the series. “Yep. I’ve always wanted to,” he said in conversation with Anime News Network. That decision lays ultimately in the hands of Cameron.


Max Covill is freelance journalist for Film School Rejects, Playboy, SyFy, and many others, and and the host of @itsthepicpod. You can find him on Twitter @mhcovill discussing all things video games, movies, and anime.

Source: Polygon.com

An Exclusive Look at the Amazing New Zord Toys Coming With Power Rangers: Beast Morphers

It’s time for some Zord power!
Image: Hasbro
Toys and CollectiblesAction figures, statues, exclusives, and other merchandise. Beware: if you look here, you’re probably going to spend some money afterwards.  

You know the drill, ranger fans: a new show, a new team of rangers, and a new bunch of zords to combine and transform into the Megazord. With Beast Morphers on the way, that’s happening all over again—but there’s a bit of a twist on the toy front this time, thanks to the arrival of Hasbro’s era of Power Rangers.

[Full disclosure: the Power Rangers franchise was created, and previously owned, by Haim Saban, who has ownership interest in Univision Communications, which itself currently owns Gizmodo Media Group, the network of websites io9 is part of.]

Beast Morphers marks the first Power Rangers series released under the franchise’s new owners, Hasbro—which doesn’t just affect the show itself, it affects the toys, which are now also under Hasbro’s auspices.

Ahead of New York Toy Fair, the company has been revealing its plans for the Rangerverse of toys in bits and parts, from roleplay accessories to action figures, but io9 can now exclusively reveal what is sure to be one of the highlights of the first waves of Beast Morphers merchandise: the transforming Zords you’ll be able to collect to form the mightiest weapon in the Beast Morpher team’s arsenal: the Beast-X Megazord and Beast-X Ultrazord.

Arriving in Fall 2019, the new Zords fit into two categories: three of them are dual converting Zords that can transform between vehicle and animal modes, while two are triple changing Zords with vehicle, animal, and individual Robotic modes of their own.

Let’s kick off with the three dual-changing Zords, which will retail for $25 apiece. The Blue Ranger’s Beast Wheeler Zord can turn into both a mechanized Gorilla and a “wheeler” truck form, while the Yellow Ranger’s Beast Chopper transforms between a Jackrabbit and, you guessed it, an attack helicopter. They’re joined by the mysterious Beast Jet Zord, which can switch between Scarab and Jet modes.

The two triple changing Zords will set you back $30 each—the Red Ranger’s Beast Racer can transform from bike mode to a Cheetah form and its very own Robot mode, forming the base for the Beast-X Megazord. Meanwhile, the Gold Ranger’s Beast Wrecker can transform between Robot, mantis, and a construction “wrecker.”

While each separate Zord has its own play functions, the real morphinominal magic happens when you merge them all together: combining the Zords of the Red, Blue, and Yellow Rangers will form the Beast X-Megazord, which you can check out below, while adding the Beast Wrecker and the Beast Jet Zord into the mix will allow kids to form the ultimate Beast-X Ultrazord.

The Beast-X Megazord, made when you combine the Beast Wheeler, Beast Chopper, and Beast Racer.
Image: Hasbro

Got a younger kid (or are a kid at heart yourself) and want to introduce them to the wild world of Power Rangers Zords? Well, it’s not Beast Morphers, but we can also exclusively reveal the next Zord in Playskool’s line of Power Rangers Heroes Zords for young fans: the legendary Dragon Thunderzord from later seasons of the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Clocking in at a whopping 14 inches tall, the Playskool Dragon Thunderzord includes lights, sounds and moving arms and wings, all activated by pressing down on the Zord’s tail. If you place the included 3-inch tall version of the Red Ranger (complete with famous Dragon Shield) on the Zord, he’ll activate a secret pop-up projectile launcher to barrage any unfortunate foes with!

The Playskool Dragon Thunderzord will also release in fall alongside the other Beast Morphers Zords, and set you back $30. Looks like later this year is gonna be a hell of a time to be a Power Rangers fan!


For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.

Source: Kotaku.com

Metro Exodus: The good, the bad, and the buggy

Metro Exodus, the third title in the cult classic franchise from Ukraine’s 4A Games, arrives this Friday, Feb. 15. After tooling around with my comrades in post-apocalyptic Russia for a few days now, I have good news to report. And I have a bit of bad news, too.

After about 10 hours with the game, I feel like I’ve just barely scratched the surface. I’m not nearly finished, but already there’s so much to talk about. So let’s start with what works well.

The good

Exodus takes players out of the Moscow subway system and onto the surface. It’s amazing to be playing a Metro game and be able to move around in such large outdoor environments. Combined with clever AI and a relentless approach to environmental storytelling, this might just be the best spiritual successor to the STALKER franchise that I’ve ever played.

The human AI in this game is simply extraordinary. Firefights are a tense combination of stealth, misdirection, and suppressing fire. In the same gun battle, inside the same warehouse, I suppressed a man silently with a throwing knife, punched his friend out from behind, and then surgically took down three or four additional combatants at close range. In the last moments, I switched weapons and unloaded a punishing salvo against the final, heavily armored opponent. The exchange left me breathless, almost completely out of ammo, and cheering out loud.

Human enemies protect a tugboat along the Volga river in Metro Exodus.
Human enemies aren’t all that alert before you’ve raised the alarm. But they’re all capable. Once you start firing, improvisation is key to coming out alive.
4A Games/Deep Silver

What makes Exodus’ combat so exceptional is how it allows me to plan and execute these kinds of engagements in a variety of ways. That means it has more in common with the Dishonored series than the average first-person shooter. Enemies constantly give feedback, showing and telling their intentions, explaining how my clever attack or fearless defense is making them react. When I get it just right, the last few remaining survivors simply throw their weapons to the ground and give themselves up.

On top of the excellent combat, Exodus has gorgeous art direction. Everything that I’ve encountered so far in the game’s first environment feels handmade. From each of its dimly lit tunnels down to the NPCs, every location feels unique. But it’s not just the shape of its corridors or the textures on the wall. Common elements in the landscape vary in subtle ways across the same level.

Take the Volga River, which is a major obstacle early on. At one end the Volga is cool, blue, and nearly translucent with small clots of ice from the spring thaw bobbing up and down. Paddling along in my canoe, I notice an oily sheen over the top of the water that breaks and shimmers each time my paddle passes through the surface. By the time I reach the other side of the map, that same river, just a bit further downstream, is covered in a thick layer of algae and mud, its bottom barely visible. In many games water is water is water, but Exodus gives you four of five different interpretations of that same element in a relatively small area.

It’s a small thing that reflects a much larger design philosophy: Everything in this world comes in gradients. How the world looks. How players behave. Who is good. Who is bad. It’s a fascinating place to inhabit.

The bad

Of course, I mentioned bad news. There’s plenty of that as well.

Exodus is not as open as I expected it to be. The game is achingly linear, to the point that finding quest-related items before NPCs ask for them creates irritating inconsistencies in the narrative. That wouldn’t be so bad, if not for the fact that Exodus struggles at telling me where to go and how to get there safely.

At one point I’m standing on an overlook while a man in a thick Russian accent points out all of the landmarks on the horizon. I’ll be damned if I can tell which of the gray buildings he’s pointing at. I can’t even tell them apart. A bunch of anonymous check marks appear on my map, but I have no idea what they represent. All I know is that when I move toward the next big, white X on the map, something happens and the story moves forward.

Worst of all is the fact that Exodus has a number of glaring technical issues.

This is the first game that I’ve played this console generation that seems to be pushing the limits of what these devices can do. That’s not a compliment. While the frame rate is high enough on my HDTV, the load times on my original PlayStation 4 can run a full minute or more. For a game that involves so much trial and error, that’s infuriating.

Artyom kicking a dog/bear/rat creature down a sewer access tunnel in Metro Exodus. 4A Games/Deep Silver

Beyond that, I’ve also run into a few bizarre clipping issues with friendly NPCs. I keep getting stuck to the people in my party, who then carry me through the scene with them.

At one point, my ally physically pushes me out of cover and into the middle of a crossfire. The collision somehow causes a brand-new enemy — or maybe the clone of a previously dead one? — to spawn behind me. The soldier proceeds to leap out in front of us both, startling me enough to throw off my aim. I’m so confused that I capture a video of it, then watch it half a dozen times just to figure out what went wrong.

The ugly

These sorts of bugs lead me into situations where I’m not always sure if Exodus is being subtle and sophisticated, or just plain dumb.

The biggest culprits are the many enemy mutants in the game. Occaisionally they just stare at me, unresponsive. Sometimes they appear to get stuck in the geometry and just flail around, shrieking. Other times they leap from the corners of my vision and maul me. In one instance, while coming around a corner, I find myself face to face with two huge doglike creatures in the rain. The pair is huddled inside an overturned train car, so I crouch in front of them frozen in place. Maybe they don’t see me. Maybe they’re going to go to sleep or wander off. Eventually, they just sort of snap to attention and pounce on me. Why? Who knows!

In another instance I catch sight of my camp when a massive gargoyle swoops down, attacking it from the air. By the time I arrive, however, it’s gone. I guess it got bored and flew off. Whatever the case, the locals immediately stop firing at their tormentor and turn to greet me as though they weren’t just fighting for their lives.

Fans have always been tolerant of the issues that come along with any Metro game because the team at 4A punches well above its weight. For many, encountering some jank is just part of the allure. But this is the third game in the trilogy, one that was recently delayed roughly six months to give the developers more time to get it right.

I expected more polish this time around and, so far at least, I feel a little let down. The game looks salvageable, and I expect it to perk up after a few patches. But, because of the bugs, even die-hard fans may want to wait for a while before they commit the time to get stuck in.

We will publish a full review in the coming days, along with some additional thoughts on this beautiful, fun and maddeningly buggy game.

Source: Polygon.com

Why I’m still thinking about Final Fantasy 8, 20 years later

When I first played Final Fantasy 8, I reveled in what it would like to be a cool teen — steeped in existential dread while wearing cool outfits and befriending moody-looking boys.

“I’d like to get Rinoa’s haircut,” I remember thinking, “and train a dog to launch off my arm like a crossbow bolt.” I was 11 years old at the time, and I was very impressionable.

Squaresoft’s 1999 PlayStation 1 game trades in series staples like castles and princesses for military academies and mercenaries, striking a strange balance between magic spells and sci-fi tech. It retains enough of the Final Fantasy franchise’s recognizable features, but deviates enough from its predecessors to earn its unofficial status as the “black sheep” of the Final Fantasy family. FF8 is a walking contradiction in so many ways, but the combination of technical achievement, memorable characters, and out-of-this-world plot twists left an impression on me. 20 years later, I’m still thinking about them all.

Left to right: Seifer Almasy, Rinoa Heartilly, Squall Leonhart
Left to right: Seifer Almasy, Rinoa Heartilly, Squall Leonhart
Square Enix

Despite the sweeping romance featured in its official logo, FF8 is ultimately a coming-of-age story. It follows a ragtag group of student mercenaries in their efforts to save the world from an evil sorceress obsessed with time compression. The game’s genre mashup paves the way for memorable sequences like, “There’s a monster who bankrolled our school and he lives in the basement,” and, “Your girlfriend is possessed by a sorceress from the future in a space station, what do you do?” The original PlayStation version spans four discs, and each one brings a new set of incredulous obstacles and plot devices. Infiltrating a presidential train car sounds fine, but what if your party passed out in the middle of a heist and had a shared dream? Also, what if that dream wasn’t actually a dream, but was something else entirely?

I accepted all of this without question or hesitation, as I did with many games when I was young, and now look back on these moments with a strange mix of fondness and disbelief. When main protagonist Squall Leonhart and his party succumb to mysterious fainting spells, they describe what happens next as shared dreams that take place nearly a decade prior in the Sorceress War. Squall assumes the role of Laguna Loire, a goofy but well-meaning soldier and ex-journalist. Everything about Laguna is wildly endearing — there’s a lengthy scene dedicated to mustering up the courage to talk to a beautiful lounge singer, cut short by a nasty leg cramp and a limp of shame back to his seat.

Laguna freaking out over the lounge singer, Julia Heartilly, approaching him while Squall’s thoughts are in dark grey text
Square Enix

In so many ways, he’s the complete opposite of Squall. While Laguna is a romantic at heart, Squall is aloof and often skeptical of everyone’s intentions. During the dream sequences, players are able to see Squall’s commentary on the events unfolding in Laguna’s timeline. And it’s pretty clear: Squall thinks this guy is a complete moron. What’s even funnier is that this moron is Squall’s father, and neither of them even know it.

I’m still astounded that one of FF8’s biggest revelations is never made explicit. There are clues, like Squall’s time in the orphanage and his childhood friendship with a girl named Ellone, but we never get the satisfaction, that one juicy moment, where Squall and Laguna come face-to-face with this realization. The two of them eventually cross paths towards the end of the game — still unaware of their familial ties — and Squall snidely wonders how this man even became president of Esthar. It’s hilarious, to be sure, but not without a tinge of sadness. During the ending, Laguna visits his wife’s grave and has a flashback of the night he proposed to her. Her tombstone reads “Raine Loire,” a change from her maiden name, Leonhart, but that’s never mentioned in-game.

Rinoa Heartilly and Squall Leonhart
Square Enix

Squall himself comes across as a massive departure from previous Final Fantasy heroes. When we first meet him, he’s a 17-year-old loner at a military academy (referred to in-game as a “Garden”) who responds to pretty much everything with “… Whatever.” On the surface, he appears similar to Final Fantasy 7’s Cloud Strife, another terse and sullen JRPG boy who doesn’t like to rely on others. But unlike in FF7, we have access to Squall’s every inner thought and insecurity in real time. Even in the face of praise from his comrades and superiors, he questions his validity and shoots down every compliment he gets. Key childhood flashbacks and glimpses into scenes of abandonment, bullying, and loneliness resonated strongly with me. Not only were those things I could relate to, they were also some of the first times I saw a character in a video game tackle these kinds of issues. It may be easy to write Squall off as a mopey teen, but looking back, I always felt an affinity toward him. He’s a huge departure from Cloud, who never quite articulated his emotional struggles, even in the most dire situations.

This kind of storytelling drives home just how different this title was from its predecessors. FF8 emerged during a time of great experimentation for Squaresoft; it launched a year after Parasite Eve, a game based on a sci-fi horror novel. Along with writing the story’s dramatic shifts, the studio took big visual and mechanical risks with FF8. Most notably, the game introduced CG cutscenes to the series for the first time, as shown in its dramatic, operatic opening sequence. In-game characters grew to full-scale from FF7’s squat, blocky figures and the mini-pixelated sprites of the SNES days. A new (albeit divisive) battle system even emerged. And all those risks paid off: FF8 still holds its position today as the second best-selling title in the franchise, with 8.8 million copies sold worldwide.

A member of a resistance group agrees to hide in a bathroom because of his stomach problems
Square Enix

Despite the impressive sales numbers, we probably won’t see a remaster of it any time soon (There’s speculation that the source code is lost forever.) But I continue to hope for one. For years, I thought I was the only one defending this strange game; sometimes I even felt ashamed to mention that it’s my favorite Final Fantasy. But now, in the week of its 20th anniversary, I’m delighted to discover how many people share my love for this ridiculous game. The more I’ve talked about it, the more people I’ve seen reply with their favorite memories and screenshots. And there’s something special about that — we may personally not know each other, but we have an instant kinship. We’ve lived it, and survived all four discs of it.

Final Fantasy 8’s small but fierce, enduring fanbase prove that its contradictions, high drama, and outrageously beautiful world-building can still stand the test of time. Its dramatic escalations combined with an earnest heart make it a game that shines among the rest of its medieval peers.

Source: Polygon.com

The first Frozen 2 trailer turns Elsa into a superhero

Our first look at Frozen 2 is here — and yes, it’s an actual first look, not the Rick Roll at the end of Ralph Breaks the Internet.

The smashing success of Frozen paved the way for two short films, a Broadway musical and a chorus of little children belting “Let it Go” for an uninterrupted five years. Naturally, that a sequel was in order.

This actual first look returns to Arendelle, though everything looks a little grimmer. We see Elsa practicing her ice powers on a stony beach. Anna walks out to the balcony to witness some weird ice diamond magic. Kristoff rides into battle. There’s magic galore and even a little sword-fighting. If the first movie was about two sisters figuring out their lives and coming to terms with their individuality, Frozen 2 looks to pit the family against a greater adversary. Plus Olaf is there.

Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell return as Elsa and Anna, with Jonathan Groff as Kristoff and Josh Gad as Olaf the snowman. Joining the cast are Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown in a a pair of undisclosed roles (but if the trailer’s missing anything, it’s villains for Elsa and the gang to take on).

Songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez return to pen the songs — though word’s out on whether there will be an earworm at the level of “Let it Go.” Although they may need to retune it for a minor key, the way things in this teaser are going.

Frozen 2 arrives to theaters on Nov. 22, 2019.

Source: Polygon.com

Rockstar Games Loses 20-Year Veteran Who Worked On Almost Every Game The Studio Made

Rockstar Games is said to be working on next-generation projects, and the company will do so without veteran Jeronimo Barrera, who worked on almost every game the studio put out over the past 20 years. Barrera left Rockstar in mid-December, and he gave an exit interview of sorts to Variety. He said he left Rockstar after the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 because it felt like a “natural progression” to step away after the western came out.

“I looked at what I would be doing for the next few years if I stayed on and where I was in life with my family, my kids, my desire to make cool s**t. I felt like it was hitting all of the right points,” he explained.

In his role as vice president of product development at Rockstar, Barrera said he was in charge of “steering the ship in the right direction.” He also contributed to the effort that saw Rockstar’s studio around the world come together to work together on single games instead of their own projects.

“I thought it was the best decision ever to get everybody on board to centralize the technology and the pipelines,” he explained. “It was a natural move and we were making sure that we had all of our best efforts making the best game possible. Not needing to reinvent the wheel every time.”

As for what he’ll do next, Barrera wouldn’t say, but he spoke about how the video game industry is in the midst of a “new game” where technology is advancing at a rapid clip.

“If I had stayed at Rockstar it would have been more GTAs, more RDRs and less of this other stuff going on out there right now,” he said.

You can read the full interview here at Variety.

Barrera leaves Rockstar on a high note. Red Dead Redemption 2, which is Rockstar’s most recently release, was a critical darling and it’s shipped an astonishing 23 million copies so far.

Rockstar doesn’t have any future games announced, but the company is hiring for next-generation projects. Additionally, the company also has some ideas for GTA 6, but no announcements have been made yet.

Source: GameSpot.com