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    Stefano Sollima may be in talks to direct the long-awaited adaptation.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 14, 2018

    Variety is reporting that Stefano Sollima, director of Sicario 2: Solado, is in talks to direct the planned film adaptation of the Call of Duty franchise. 

    Multiple sources have reportedly informed Variety that Activision Blizzard Studios - the film and television division of Activision Blizzard - are currently negotiating with Sollima in the hopes that he will sign-on to the project. However, no representative from Activision Blizzard Studios will confirm that the studio is in negotiations with the director at this time. 

    Aside from Sicario 2 - which is expected to release on June 29th - Sollima has mostly worked as a television director on series like Gomorrah, Romanzo Criminale, and Crimes. His filmography includes the crime epic Suburra and the police story A.C.A.B. He's known as a capable noir and crime director who is perhaps trying to use the publicity of Sicario 2 to reach a wider audience. 

    Of course, that's nothing compared to the possible reach of a blockbuster adaptation of the Call of Duty franchise. The adaptation of that massively popular franchise has long been considered one of the most prized projects out there in terms of films based on video games. The world of Call of Duty is versatile enough to lend itself to a variety of possible film projects. 

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    What we do know about the Call of Duty adaptation is that Blizzard Activision presidents Stacey Sher and Nick van Dyk are producing the film alongside Activision Blizzard's Bobby Kotick. Snowden writer Kieran Fitzgerald has reportedly developed a script for the project that Sollima will develop if he agrees to direct. 

    Details regarding the film itself are unfortunately few and far between at the moment. Vague reports indicate that Activision Blizzard has an interest in potentially developing a film universe designed around the Call of Duty franchise. Much like how the Call of Duty franchise explores various eras of combat and occasionally uses familiar faces, it seems that some within the company hope that films based on the franchise can lead to a similar expanded universe.

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    This acquisition opens up a number of exciting possibilities.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 14, 2018

    THQ Nordic has acquired Koch Media and all video game properties and studios associated with the media company for €121 million (about $150 million). 

    That puts publishers like Deep Silver and developers like Volition and Dambuster Studios under the THQ Nordic corporate umbrella. That also means that THQ Nordic now has the rights to franchises such as Red Faction, Saint's Row, Metro, and Dead Island

    At present, THQ Nordic is not interested in restructuring their operations as part of this recent acquisition. That means that they currently do not intend to lay-off employees at any of the studios that they acquired or to consolidate the studios in any way. 

    "Koch Media has a long history of profitability despite losses incurred from some less successful game releases," said THQ Nordic CEO, Lars Wingefors. "THQ Nordic is convinced that the development studios of Deep Silver as part of THQ Nordic will successfully deliver at least four ongoing AAA game projects including Metro Exodus as well as the next Volition Studio AAA release and the next Dambuster Studio AAA release, together with a number of other game development and publishing titles.”

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    As for Koch Media, CEO Dr. Klemens Kundratitz has stated that "I strongly believe that THQ Nordic is a great strategic fit with Koch Media. In addition to having long experience within games development and publishing, THQ Nordic has the skills, willingness and capital to deliver growth in the future.”

    This acquisition is not only notable because it oddly seems to put THQ Nordic in a position of publishing power that THQ was seemingly at before they shut down, but because of the specific franchises involved. For instance, this acquisition means that original Red Faction developer Volition could potentially return to the franchise now that the studio and rights to that series are under the same umbrella once more. 

    It will certainly be interesting to see whether THQ Nordic pursues that possibility as well as what game franchises they prioritize as part of this acquisition. 

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    To celebrate the arrival of Ninja Turtles in Injustice 2, here's a look at the finest moments from the Injustice prequel comics so far.

    The ListsGavin Jasper
    Feb 15, 2018

    Page 1 of 2The 50 Best Moments From the Injustice Comic Series

    One of the more surprising successes from DC Comics’ repertoire in the past couple of years has been Injustice: Gods Among Us, the weekly digital comic that’s acted as a prequel to the Netherrealm Studios fighting game of the same name. Written by Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato and drawn by the likes of Bruno Redondo, Mike S. Miller, Tom Derenick, and others, Injustice was strong enough to continue on for years despite the game itself falling into obscurity in-between installments.

    The first five volumes take place in-between the game’s prologue and the beginning of the game, where the dystopian, Superman-ruled world is visited by heroes from the classic DC Universe. As shown in the game, this all happened because the Joker messed with Superman a little too hard and Superman killed him in a fit of rage. Most of the other heroes and even some villains were on his side in terms of ruling over the world with an iron fist and the only ones interested in taking him down were Batman, Lex Luthor (secretly), and Harley Quinn. With each volume of the comic explaining the events of a different year, we bridge the gap and see what it was that made Superman grow into a cold megalomaniac. How did Hal Jordan lose his way? How come none of the other heavy hitters were able to stop Superman?

    After finishing up all five years, the series then became Injustice: Ground Zero, where it retold the events of the video game's story mode from the point of view of Harley. Now we're in the middle of Injustice 2, a prequel comic showing what's happened in-between the two games.

    So let’s revisit 50 of the finer moments in this run where what could have been a forgettable tie-in that nobody would remember instead became one of DC’s better titles.


    The first four issues of Injusticearen’t all that good, mainly because it’s the Joker doing a mandated killing spree that Taylor had to write based on the in-game history. Having to write Lois Lane’s death never did sit right with Taylor and he’s tried to redeem himself for it in different ways through his various writings. It wasn’t until he was able to move away from the intro story that he could show some real personality and promise.

    Green Arrow apprehended Harley Quinn and chose to keep her in his Arrow Cave, since he didn’t like the possibility of Superman needlessly executing her too. What we got was a great dynamic where the snarkier member of the Justice League was silent and belligerent to an optimistic and excited criminal who admired him. It also introduced a couple of running gags, like Harley’s tendency to always carry a fake mustache with her at all times and the fact that Green Arrow really needs to rename his headquarters.


    Year One was mostly about the crumbling of the World’s Finest. The friendship between Superman and Batman fell to pieces over disagreements and backstabbing. Superman chose to confront Batman, mostly as an excuse to vent. He felt that Batman was judging him for killing the Joker and imposing peace on the world, but at the same time he ranted about how Batman allowed all of this to happen by not killing the Joker first when the Joker seriously deserved it. The two argued back and forth, leading to Superman insulting Batman’s role as a father and Batman punching Superman in the face.

    From there, things calmed down and in one moment, we were reminded that they were friends. Superman inspected Batman’s hand for injuries and Batman admitted the truth: if he were in Superman’s shoes, he probably would have done the same thing. The problem is, Superman is supposed to be better. Superman offered Batman to follow him down his path of making the world a better place, but Batman just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

    3. FLASH’S FANBOY (Y1: #13)

    In the game’s story mode, the Flash was able to realize that he was on the wrong side, albeit too late. This issue dealt with him second-guessing Superman’s actions for the first time. In Australia, a group of people protested Superman’s insistence to keep countries from going to war “or else.” Superman and Wonder Woman told them all to disperse, but a man calling himself Galaxon stepped forth and challenged them. He got Rock Bottom’d into the pavement in a second.

    As Flash went off to go get an ambulance, Batman told him that he already called for one and instead gave him directions to a science research facility. It was the place where Galaxon was engineered. News of his incident hadn’t reached them yet, so a scientist gave Flash the tour, including Galaxon’s room. The walls were covered in inspirational images of superheroes, including a photo of him as a kid when he got to meet the Flash. Realizing that he just watched a man who idolized him get paralyzed for standing up for his people, Flash zipped away to run off this gut punch.

    In Year Five, Flash was told by Iris West that Galaxon committed suicide a year or so after the incident. That turned out not to be the case in the Injustice 2comic and Barry dedicated himself to helping Galaxon walk again.

    4. CYBORG’s VIRUS (Y1: #15)

    When you get down to it, the comic is like DC’s own little version of Civil War, only we know the ending and we know that Superman is ultimately going to be in the wrong. It would be totally easy to simply have Batman be the paragon of virtue by default to show off just how wrong Superman really is, but Taylor doesn’t do that. Batman is an asshole and does some really scummy stuff.

    For instance, there’s a part where Superman and his allies went to Arkham Asylum to steal away all of the inmates without saying where they were going. Cyborg would open the doors and Flash would run off with the prisoners. Batman warned Cyborg to stop and when that warning wasn’t heeded, he pressed a button that shorted Cyborg out. Once he finally came to his senses, he couldn’t understand it. He just updated his firewalls and there’s no way Batman could have infected him.

    Then Cyborg realized that Batman infected him with the virus on the first week they met. Just in case. In the background, Killer Croc noted, “That’s pretty evil.”

    Batman pulled crap like that a lot in the first year. While Superman was wrong for the right reasons, Batman was terrible at proving why he himself was in the right.

    5. BLACK ADAM’S TAKEN DOWN (Y1: #19)

    With the Justice League trying to stop all war around the world, that would naturally put them at odds with Teth Adam, ruler of Kahndaq. A man not known for listening to reason, he fought the heroes, who eventually overpowered him. In a moment of, “How did nobody else thing of this before?!” Wonder Woman proved that she is Black Adam’s kryptonite. All she had to do was get him in the lasso and ask him what his magic words are.

    Shazam tried to plead with him and asked him point blank if there was any way to stop him. Adam, compelled to tell the truth, angrily said that he would tear apart anyone who tried to hurt Kahndaq, so no. He couldn’t be swayed. In his last moments before being forced to depower himself, Adam desperately begged Shazam to keep his country safe. Then he transformed into a powerless old man and was taken off the table until Year Five.

    6. SUPERMAN VS. KALIBAK (Y1: #22-24)

    With word that Superman was bringing peace to Earth, Kalibak found the idea laughable and figured it made the planet easy pickings for invasion. With Darkseid’s blessing, he and an endless stream of Parademons attacked Earth during a press conference where Superman was trying to better explain his actions to the frightened public. Kalibak completely underestimated Superman’s mindset in this act and paid for it.

    Kalibak doubled down and mocked Superman for caring too much about the lives of his enemies than his people, all while piling on hundreds of Parademons and pointing out that Superman could hear all the people being terrorized from around the world. Vowing this wouldn’t happen again, Superman vaporized the lot of them, then beat Kalibak to death, even when Kalibak tried to surrender. After a brief discussion with Flash, Superman decided that for the greater good, he’d have to reduce every single Parademon on Earth to organic confetti.

    He saved the world, but at the same time, Flash was disturbed that he basically gave Superman permission to kill and Batman knew that Superman’s actions were going to get progressively worse.

    7. MORAL CHESS (Y1: #26)

    Again, Superman and Flash had a conversation about the morality of what they were doing, though this time at their own leisure and not during an intergalactic invasion. In a cute gimmick, Superman had Flash quickly learn the rules of chess so that they could play while talking. This worked out so that any time one of them made a point in their argument, they would suddenly reach checkmate. Superman started off with all the good points, but soon Flash was able to run circles around his conversation and his skills by dropping checkmate after checkmate after checkmate.

    8. SUPER TWITTER (Y1: #28)

    This bit’s something that’s so stupid that it wraps around and becomes fantastic. Superman had had enough of Batman’s interference, so he decided that he’d just blurt out his alter-ego info to the world. Batman interfered with the satellite’s signal, putting them in the dark and also causing it to spiral down to Earth. Presumably, by the time Superman would have saved everyone in the satellite, Batman would have put some kind of contingency plan that something? I don’t think Taylor thought that far ahead. Anyway, Robin was all, “No way, we’re doing this! Lex Luthor! Cyborg! Get Superman a Twitter account! Or at least an off-brand one that we can use in this comic!”

    And so, “Batman is Bruce Wayne” became the most retweeted line in this universe, ruining the Dark Knight’s core level of secrecy.

    While goofy, it did lead to a wonderful follow-up scene. Alfred came to Batman to tell him about the many, many news helicopters circling the manor and while he figured Batman had contingencies for his funds and various charities, Alfred had his own special list for just such an occasion. A short list of irreplaceable things to take with him in case Batman's identity was blown. His mother’s pearls, father’s stethoscope, etc. Batman thanked Alfred and suggested that perhaps he should remain at the mansion, but Alfred refused. After all, he was on the top of the list!

    9. GREEN ARROW’S DEATH (Y1: #33-34)

    It all led up to this moment. Superman didn’t simply lose his way overnight. Various incidents and interactions pushed him in various ways, but it all came to a head in the moment he lost control and killed Green Arrow. Superman and Luthor had created a special pill that would give someone the strength of a Kryptonian (to explain in-game why Harley Quinn and Nightwing could fight Superman and Doomsday) and Batman came up with a plan to create a diversion to get Superman out of the Fortress of Solitude so that they could sneak in and steal it.

    What Batman didn’t count on was that Superman was keeping his parents in the Fortress for their own safety and how volatile that would make him. The incident escalated and it seemed like everything was against Superman, including fate. His friends betrayed him. His government betrayed him. The current love of his life Wonder Woman was critically injured. He was almost killed by Captain Atom. Batman wouldn’t stop trying to undermine him. Then in an act of desperation, Green Arrow deflected an arrow off Superman and it stuck into Pa Kent’s shoulder. Superman snapped and beat Green Arrow to death, but not before Arrow was able to fire the super pill off into the distance and make his sacrifice mean something.

    Afterwards, the Kents and the computerized ghost of Jor-El tried to reason with Superman, but he wouldn’t hear it. After he flew off to find Batman, the three moped about their failures as parents. It was one of the sadder moments as the AI Jor-El tried to console the Kents while saying, “I’m sorry I unleashed this on your world.”

    10. SUPERMAN VS. ALFRED (Y1: #36)

    Batman put the super pill into the Batcomputer in order to get the data to synthesize it. That meant having to keep Superman busy long enough, which was kind of hard because, you know, he’s Superman. Superman caught him and decided that he wouldn’t kill Batman. Instead, he broke him over his knee, Bane-style. He noticed that the pill was gone and the information was uploaded elsewhere, but when he tried to press Batman (physically) to spill the beans, he just got the harsh truth that no matter how heroic he pretended to be, he was actually resorting to torture. Before Superman could process this, a hand touched his shoulder. It was Alfred.

    Then Alfred buried his forehead into Superman’s nose. It was the perfect payoff for a man who sat back and watched his own family get torn apart over these 36 issues. Alfred verbally ran down Superman while stomping him so hard that his own shoe exploded into leather pieces. Once done, he took a second to clean his hands like a good butler and carried Batman off to the teleporter, telling him that there was nothing else in the cave worth saving. Damn.

    The moment this issue came out, readers were clamoring for an Alfred Pennyworth DLC in the game.

    11. BEST TEAM-UP EVER (Y1 Annual)

    Injustice: Gods Among Us Annual is such a great little side-story taking place before Green Arrow’s death. It mainly dealt with Lobo, the downloadable character from the game who otherwise had nothing to do with the main storyline. Due to the whole Kalibak incident, Darkseid hired him to take out Superman. Seeing how screwed he was against a Superman with no moral problems throwing the Main Man into the sun, Lobo instead took a job for Superman to track down Harley Quinn. One thing led to another and soon Harley had ingested one of the super pills.

    Harley went to the Arrow Cave, since Green Arrow was nice to her that one time, leading to some hilarious dialogue and facial expressions between the two of them and Black Canary. Lobo eventually tracked them down, but their combined abilities (mostly Harley’s newfound ability to tear someone’s head clean off) helped prevent them from being another three notches on Lobo’s belt. Then Harley used her psychological assets to convince Lobo that she was beneath him and he moved on.


    As mentioned earlier, a lot of having to kill off Lois Lane chafed Taylor and it showed in his work. In one instance, he took the original “girls in refrigerators” moment and turned it on its head. Kyle Rayner was off doing space adventures and was on his way to go meet his girl. In this version of the story, Kyle was the one cornered and brutally killed for the sake of plot device.

    While the last several years of DC has painted Sinestro as more of an anti-hero, this one sequence solidified him as the true villain of Year Two. The horrifying way he and his Sinestro Corps took Kyle apart was genuinely sad and just a little scary.

    13. GORDON’S ALWAYS KNOWN (Y2: #6)

    As a way to stick it to Batman, Superman decided to have his foot soldiers take martial law on Gotham. This didn’t sit well for Commissioner Gordon. He walked over to one of Oracle’s secret hideouts and told her he knew everything. Once she let him in, she made a brief attempt to play dumb, but then he merely shouted her down. He knew about Batgirl. He knew about Oracle. He knew Batman was Bruce Wayne. He knew from the very beginning because he was a detective and he was damn good at his job.

    With Gordon cutting through the lies, he then told Barbara his own sad truth: he was dying of lung cancer. The last thing he wanted to do was save the world from Superman because it was only going to get worse.

    14. CH’P VS. SUPERMAN (Y2: #10)

    Superman’s megalomania eventually got the attention of the Green Lantern Corps. With Hal Jordan kept imprisoned, the Oans sent a bunch of Lanterns to Earth to pick a fight. Superman had a handful of his allies and a giant satellite laser on his side, but despite the many ring-slingers out to stop him, it was one of the tiniest who almost did the job. Ch’p the space squirrel was able to use his ring to manipulate the energy flowing through Superman’s skull, keeping his synapses from reaching his brain. Without Superman being able to even think right, the Man of Steel was there’s for the taking.

    Lucky for Superman, Sinestro was able to convince Lex Luthor that he was there to help and was allowed to enter the fray. Not noticed until it was too late, Sinestro sniped the poor, little squirrel and that was the end of their advantage.

    15. HARLEY’S DAUGHTER (Y2: #13)

    Black Canary found Harley squatting in the abandoned Arrow Cave and the two started fighting it out. Harley stopped once Canary started vomiting, realizing she was suffering morning sickness and was pregnant with Ollie’s child. She casually let it slip that she too was once pregnant and Dinah pressed the subject until Harley relented. Years ago, she was pregnant with the Joker’s kid. In a rare act of sense, Harley kept it a secret from Joker and left him for nearly a year to give birth to Lucy and hand her off to Harley's sister. Then when she returned to the Joker, Joker acted like he didn’t even notice Harley was gone in the first place, which Harley tearfully explained away as a hilarious joke.

    It’s rare to get a good scene that really gets the Joker/Harley relationship without feeling icky. Harley’s dependency on Joker’s abusive nature is shown perfectly here, but there’s none of the usual physical violence to back it up. It’s heartbreaking when Harley describes Lucy’s interests and the little girl comes off as an innocent version of Harley who will be spared the horrors of a clown crime lifestyle.

    16. SINESTRO VS. DESPERO (Y2: 15)

    Year One was about Superman succumbing to all sorts of different factors to the point of losing his way. Taylor made sure that it wasn’t just one thing making his turn to darkness a simple on-off switch. On the other hand, Sinestro spent Year Two stoking the flames of Superman’s psyche while turning Hal Jordan further to his side. The ease in which he was able to do this made it all the more hilarious because, really, Hal Jordan is a total meathead.

    Flying in from space, Despero crashed into a populated building in Chicago. Sinestro was on the scene first and made a heroic claim that Despero would not be terrorizing Earth, as that was under his protection. Despero wasn’t sure what the hell he was talking about and over the next few pages, it became pretty apparent that Sinestro had his Sinestro Corps rough up Despero, throw him to Earth, and let Sinestro take care of the rest. Sinestro used his ring to force Despero’s hands onto Sinestro’s throat and with Hal and John Stewart flying over as witnesses, Sinestro yelled, “Don’t make me do this!” before snapping Despero’s neck out of supposed self-defense.

    Hal believed every second of it.

    17. DAN DIDIO HATES THIS (Y2: 16)

    Remember a few years ago when the big thing was how the Batwoman comic was working its way towards a lesbian engagement and then DC shut it down? Then they went all, “No, we’re not anti-gay! We’re just anti-marriage in general!” when everyone made a stink about it? Fun times.

    In this issue, everyone was getting ready for the big fight against Superman, the Justice League, and the Sinestro Corps. Batman took to the radio to give a big speech about sacrifice and heroism and all that. He’d bring up family and we’d see Barbara and James Gordon saying their goodbyes. He’d bring up friends and we’d see Harvey Bullock getting drunk by himself. But most notably, it explicitly showed that in the Injustice: Gods Among Us universe, Batwoman and Renee Montoya were married. That rules.

    It was never referenced again.


    An argument between Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner escalated once Sinestro and Ganthet arrived. Guy tried to reason with him, but Hal was firmly on Superman’s side. Then as Guy saved Carol Ferris from some burning debris, Hal made the bonehead decision to smash Guy in the face and let Carol fall so he could save her. Ganthet chose that moment to strip Hal of his green ring, which was called for, but also really bad timing because, you know, Carol was falling to her death. Desperate, Hal begged Sinestro to save Carol, but Sinestro refused.

    “We need you in this war. Save her yourself.”

    With a yellow ring offered, Hal joined Sinestro’s brand and rescued Carol. A few issues later, Sinestro killed John Stewart and told Hal that Guy was accidentally responsible. Feeling that this big space battle between the Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro Corps was Guy’s fault, Hal attacked him and tore his arm off, watching as the powerless Guy fell to Earth.

    Sinestro took out three of the Earth Lanterns in one year while turning the other to his side. Not bad.

    19. JIM GORDON’S LAST STAND (Y2: 20)

    The less cosmic members of Batman’s resistance took to overtaking the Hall of Justice, all hopped up on super pills. They successfully took out Flash, Robin, and Luthor, but Luthor spoke to Commissioner Gordon and told him that he was really a mole and that Barbara was in great danger. Cyborg was tracing Oracle’s signal and was going to figure out her location in moments. Using Luthor as a hostage, Gordon beamed up to the satellite and fired a warning shot into the metal side of Cyborg’s head.

    Even though Gordon was dying, he was still able to overpower Cyborg and knock him out by tearing off his metal face. As he and Luthor discussed, taking the super pill didn’t aid Gordon’s health. It only made the cancer stronger. He enjoyed the peaceful view from above Earth and spoke to Barbara and Batman through his communicator. He said his goodbyes, ending with the joke, “Batman. I guess...I guess I disappear on you for once,” before collapsing.

    20. SUPERMAN VS. BLACK CANARY (Y2: #21-23)

    This is a fight that had been building since the first issue of Year Two. Hell, since the moment Superman snapped and killed Ollie. Superman saw the Batwing flying towards him and figured it was Batman. He lasered it up into oblivion, only for Black Canary to fly out with a bat-jetpack on her back and a super pill in her system. With her sonic scream, she was able to paralyze Superman while spiking him into the ground. When they got up, she shot him in the chest with a kryptonite bullet. Yep, all was looking peachy as she kicked the crap out of him.

    What everyone forgot to pick up on was that there were a whole lot of Sinestro Corps soldiers dying around them and Superman was becoming an expert at instilling fear around the world. One of the empty rings flew to him and helped him remove the kryptonite bullet from his chest. He critically wounded Canary with his heat vision and showed off his badass new Sinestro Corps threads.

    Still, Canary had the last laugh. She had special contact lenses that allowed her to record the entire fight. No longer would Superman be able to use media smoke and mirrors to play off his actions as heroic. The world knew what he really was. Superman didn’t take it well and we got a dead Mogo and Ganthet out of the deal a few minutes later.

    21. BLACK CANARY’S NEW LIFE (Y2: #24)

    The problem with Year Two was that it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Black Canary was never going to stop Superman. Guy Gardner was never going to stop Sinestro. James Gordon wasn’t going to survive. It’s a prequel comic and that means bad stuff has to happen to set up the beginning of the game. That meant that the moment Dinah Lance targeted Superman, she was doomed. It was unfair.

    In the final issue, after Sinestro remarked that they saved the world in contrast to the pile of dead Lantern bodies on the ground, it showed Black Canary’s body where Superman left her. Dr. Fate, who had only made a couple minor appearances prior, decided that he couldn’t let this stand.

    Dinah woke up in another world. Fate helped heal her and took her and her baby to an Earth where Oliver Queen was still alive, but lost his Dinah five years earlier. Perhaps they could connect. Perhaps not. But they and baby Connor had a chance to be happy and be safe from Superman’s wrath.

    We'll see more of those guys later.


    Year Three is all about covering the magic side of the DC Universe during this mess. Early on, John Constantine hooked up with Batman and Detective Chimp. Driven around by Constantine’s buddy Chas, the group made their way to where Raven was being held captive. During the ride, Constantine whispered to Chas to have a peak at the backseat, where Batman and Detective Chimp were just sitting there, silently grimacing.

    That was just enough for them to lose their minds laughing. Batman yelled at them, but Detective Chimp told him to calm down. “Oh, come on. I’m a talking chimpanzee and you’re a grown man in a bat suit. Let them have this.”

    23. ONE PUNCH REDUX (Y3: #4)

    The main reason the magic guys never got a good shot at taking down Superman was because Superman had the Spectre on his side. He went after the hideout where Batman and his allies were stationed, held back momentarily by Zatanna’s waning magic. Batman figured they could just, I don’t know, hide in a cellar or under a pile of coats or something, and Constantine called him out on it. He ranted about how Batman could barely walk and was completely useless in this situation.

    Batman proceeded to punch him in the face. Not just any punch, but homage to the time Batman punched out Guy Gardner in the '80s (notice the text in the bottom right corner). Now a little ruffled, Batman chose a more courageous plan of walking out into the streets and talking to the Spectre himself, giving everyone ample time to escape. When Constantine got up and saw what Batman was doing, he smirked. “Jesus. Bollocks the size of coconuts. Brilliant.” Riling him up was his plan all along.

    24. WHERE IS CORRIGAN?! (Y3: #9)

    Spectre has always been kind of a nut, but at Superman’s side, he had gone too far. He already killed Harvey Bullock, Jason Blood, and Ragman, while Detective Chimp just barely survived his wrath. Deadman decided to speak to Spectre himself, hoping to get through to the Jim Corrigan side of the spirit. He found nothing. Spectre’s host was NOT Corrigan. But who? Spectre gave a devious smile and then killed Deadman.

    Coincidentally, Madam Xanadu read some fortunes earlier that included mention that "the Joker" would return in some form. How does the Spectre get a human host? Through finding one who had been murdered.

    The Spectre turned out not to be the Joker after all (he was Mr. Mxyzptlk), but it was a damn good red herring.

    25. SUPERMAN VS. ETRIGAN (Y3: #12)

    Constantine came up with a plan to stop Superman, but it involved a bit of sacrifice. As Superman, Sinestro, and Hal hung out in the Hall of Justice while the Spectre was preoccupied, the Demon Etrigan suddenly appeared and attacked the trio. He injured Sinestro, causing Hal to escape with his partner. That left Superman and Etrigan to battle it out. With Superman in close quarters, Etrigan then transformed into his new host form: BATMAN.

    Batman sprayed Superman with something that appeared to be sprinkles of a Black Mercy plant laced with magic. Whatever it was, it knocked Superman into a coma. Before going under, Superman panicked at the idea that Batman would side with Hell itself in order to stop him. Rather than realizing how far gone he had gone, Superman turned it around and claimed that Batman was the one who had fallen.

    Page 1 of 2The 50 Best Moments From the Injustice Comic Series

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    Nintendo has reportedly given Bandai Namco the keys to one of its most prized ships: Metroid Prime 4.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 9, 2018

    After years of Nintendo dancing around fans' pleas for a new Metroid game, the studio finally decided to drop a humble reveal for one of the most anticipated games of the last ten years right in the middle of their E3 2017 showcase. What a truly Nintendo way to make such an announcement.  

    Since the announcement of this project, Nintendo has confirmed that Retro Studios will not be handling the development of this new Metroid title. Instead, they have stated that the development is being handled by a "talented new development team.”

    According to Eurogamer, that studio is none other than Bandai Namco Studios Singapore, which is collaborating with Nintendo on the new game. However, Metroid producer Kensuke Tanabe will be overseeing the development of this new title.

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Metroid Prime 4 Trailer

    On the list of games that could possibly show up at E3 2017, Metroid Prime4 ranked somewhere alongside Half-Life 3. Nevertheless, here is the first preview for Metroid Prime 4.

    Unfortunately, the reveal of Metroid Prime 4 doesn't actually tell us anything about the game itself aside from the fact that it is being worked on. However, given that most people had already given up hope that a new Metroid game would ever be released for the Nintendo Switch, we're going to go ahead and name this one of the best announcements of E3 2017. 

    Metroid Prime 4 Release Date

    There is currently no release date for Metroid Prime 4. The game is coming exclusively to the Nintendo Switch.

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    Nintendo's classic arcade racing series is coming to mobile, as the firm announces Mario Kart Tour...

    News Ryan Lambie
    Feb 9, 2018

    Nintendo may be closing the shutters on its first ever mobile experiment, Miitomo, but that doesn't mean its plans for the smartphone arena are going to change any time soon. 

    The company has announced via Twitter that another of its recognizable properties is going mobile. "The checkered flag has been raised and the finish line is near," the firm wrote. "A new mobile application is now in development: Mario Kart Tour!"

    Beyond the title, Nintendo hasn't given us much else - the app isn't due to launch until "the fiscal year ending in March 2019," which could mean it's over 12 months away. Nintendo is currently handling the development of the game while DeNA will manage the server, online infrastructure, and backend issues.

    In a recent interview, DeNA exec Isao Moriyasu revealed that the game will be "free to start," which pretty much means that it'll be free to play like most of Nintendo's other mobile offerings thus far. 

    Mario Kart Tour continues Nintendo's theme of releasing some of its best-known properties on mobile - albeit in modified form. Mario emerged as the paid-for infinite runner, Super Mario Run, while Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp offer free-to-play experiences for touch-enabled devices.

    It'll be fascinating to see how Nintendo can offer a satisfying racing experience on a smartphone without cannibalizing sales on one of its most successful console titles.

    More as we get it.

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    Here's a list of 25 Twitch streamers you should keep an eye on in 2018!

    The Lists Jason M. Gallagher
    Feb 15, 2018

    Later this year, Twitch will launch its take on a reality show with its Stream On competition, a program designed to help up and coming streamers make playing video games their full-time job. But if you're currently searching for the next big broadcaster on Twitch, you don't have to wait for a reality contest to start hitting that follow button. 

    Your friends at Den of Geek have collected a list of 25 of our favorite up and coming streamers that we feel are worth a watch. From outrageous personalities to expert gamers, we've picked a variety of excellent streamers for your viewing pleasure.

    Every streamer on this list is currently under 100,000 followers, the majority are under 50,000, and there are even a few who are just starting out.

    So the next time you're clicking through different streams complaining that you can't find anyone to watch, take a look at this list and see if any of these rising stars are online. And don't forget to follow Den of Geek's own Twitch channel!

    Here are the 25 Twitch streamers to watch in 2018:


    When people talk about what qualities make for a good streamer, "high energy" is often near the top of the list. TigerWriter is the perfect example of this adage, as the man just never lets up. It's not uncommon to tune in and find him headbanging or dancing along to whatever crazy loud song he's playing while a variety of crazy-looking videos and memes flash across the screen. Tiger is a variety streamer, and he's decent enough at most games he tries, but it's his larger than life personality that keeps earning him new followers.


    New streamers are always trying to find a way to separate themselves from the rest of the pack but Bennyfits has taken things to a whole different level by giving life to a puppet on each and every stream. That's right, there are no human beings here, just Bennyfits, a puppet that can and will absolutely destroy you in Overwatchand a variety of other games. He's basically Cookie Monster, but instead of cookies, he loves headshotting noobs.


    Paladins doesn't have quite the same following as Overwatch, but if you're looking to get into a different team-based shooter, Ozon3Tv can help show you the way. He's actually a former Grandmaster at Overwatch who jumped ship for the Hi-Rez Studios-led game, and his skill clearly made the transfer successfully. Ozon has grown his following by staying very active with his chat while also throwing in the occasional giveaway.


    Takarita is most comfortable running through World of Warcraft with her hunter, but she sometimes jumps around to a variety of different games on her "strum." She brings in viewers with her ultra-friendly personality and seems to take a lot of pride in showing off her cooking skills as well.


    Bloodyfaster is a self-described singer, computer engineer, and the "World's Okayest Gamer." When she's not singing on stream or running through the latest horror game, she also finds time to generate some good karma by using her stream to raise money for good causes.


    If you're looking for a new fighting game pro to follow, we recommend Daigothebeastv, who can really bring the pain in Street Fighter V. If you love Japanese culture, Daigo's stream will bring it to you in spades as the Tokyo-based streamer's channel is often filled with fans from his home country.


    Darbian has been speed running on Twitch for years, but he exploded into the mainstream last fall, when he broke his own world record for one of the most beloved video games of all-time, the original Super Mario Bros. Since then, Darbian has kept at it, steadily growing his stream with each new speedrun. Darbian also holds world records in other games, including Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels.


    There are no shortage of popular Hearthstone streamers on Twitch today, but if you're looking for quality play from someone who is still somewhat under the radar, Johnnystonehs might fit the bill. Johnny loves talking strategy with his stream and will frequently explain his card choices to viewers, making it the ideal stream for someone learning to play like a pro. He even offers a paid coaching service for both Hearthstone and poker to those looking to get serious about their card games.


    If you're looking for a late-night stream to relax to, Okaydrian might have what you need. He's a variety streamer who made a name for himself by trying to give his viewers a little education about different terms and concepts found within the games he plays. For example, if he's playing a sci-fi game that mentions a particular scientific concept, Okaydrian will actually pause the game, look up the concept, and give his viewers a full rundown of what it really means. He's also gotten in good with Twitch, thanks to his hosting skills at various conventions across the country.


    Zeenigami has grown his channel to 30,000+ followers primarily through finding a mobile game that no one else was really streaming called One Piece Treasure Cruise. He now streams other games, like League of Legends and Diablo 3, but his initial success with One Piece is a great lesson for new streamers. It might take a new streamer a while to find a niche worth pursuing, but if you can find a way to bring value to your channel that can't be found anywhere else, you'll soon be on your way towards building a new career for yourself.


    The IRL section of Twitch has really taken off over the last year, and there are now Twitch streamers who only broadcast in IRL for the most part. EXBC fits this description, as they are a married couple who happily stream their adventures in South Korea to an audience around the globe. Heosu and Esco stream everything from their latest bite to eat to their entire trip to a local amusement park. Viewers seem to get a kick out of this up close and personal view of the couple's world that lets fans feel like they're almost right there with them.


    Zilea (aka Fabian) is a former pro at World of Warcraft PvP who took home an arena title at BlizzCon 2009. He's since moved on from WoW and dedicates his stream entirely to Hearthstone. His stream has grown in popularity thanks to his frequent Skype calls with friends and viewers, although the fact that he is so open and accessible has caught the attention of the occasional troll… but that's just part of the fun.


    FrostPrime_ plays a lot of League of Legends, but he's been able to grow his stream to 20,000 strong by jumping around to many smaller niche games, bringing his sense of humor and sarcastic wit along with him. Frost has also managed to grow a significantly larger fanbase on YouTube, where he makes fun videos inspired by League.


    Jake has built a small fan base for himself mostly through Destiny 2 and Fortnite. But no matter which game he plays, he never stops talking. Talking to the chat, talking to the in-game NPCs, or just talking to himself. His ability to always have something to say keeps viewers interested and is must-watch material for anyone looking to learn how to build a successful stream from scratch. It's also why a stream with only a few thousand followers was recently featured on the front page of Twitch.


    Thorlar has been streaming daily for just over a year and has built a large and still growing following due to this consistency. Thorlar's overall presentation is something new streamers should pay attention to, as he uses a variety of graphics to spruce up his surroundings. Thorlar is a proud variety streamer and that includes plenty of games from generations gone by.


    Sowz got his start with DayZ but now jumps around to multiple other games within the survival genre, stating that he "loves the random interactions" that come with the territory. Sowz places a priority on interacting with his chat, often encouraging conversation and debate. Sowz still maintains a full-time job out in the real world, but has a countdown timer on his page so that his fans know exactly when he will log on next.


    If you followed World of Warcraft's hardcore raiding scene some years ago, you probably already recognize Affinity. The streamer was once part of the super hardcore Blood Legion guild, regularly pushing for World Firsts with every new content patch. Today, things are a bit more casual for Affinity in Azeroth. He plays other games too, like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. This former raider just recently decided to go full-time on Twitch and seems to be making the most of it, putting in 8 hours or more each day like clockwork.


    You'll realize just how clever "Mackenseize" is as a nickname once you read the paragraph about epilepsy in her bio. The streamer was diagnosed with a seizure disorder as a teenager but has managed to make a full-time career out of Twitch, calling it the "opportunity of a lifetime." While the rare on-camera seizure can be scary for her fans, Mackenseize has always managed to push through, streaming a wide variety of games to her passionate community while also working with the Epilepsy Foundation to raise awareness of this "invisible disability."


    TheMexicanRunner is a hardcore speedrunner with an affinity for classic games. He's currently working through "NESMania," a quest he created to defeat every single officially licensed game from original Nintendo Entertainment System. When he's not getting his retro on or making an appearance at Awesome Games Done Quick, you can see him playing more modern titles like Cuphead.


    SimCopter1's Twitch story is a case of just being in the right place at the right time. He says he got started in 2014 after an internship ended and suddenly found himself a Twitch Partner within just a few weeks after his initial streams managed to luck into some crazy viewership numbers. He's since grown his follower count to north of 50,000 while playing a wide range of PC games like FTL and Stardew Valley.


    Kat is one the many streamers who have been riding the PUBG train in recent months and her positive attitude is often a breath of fresh air within a community that is sometimes known for its toxicity. She often teams up with other female streamers before heading into battle. Her "Girl Squad Friday" stream is a popular recurring event.


    If you're looking for a new Nintendo streamer to add to your list, you should start by taking a look at Aurateur's amazing skills at Super Mario Maker. He also regularly streams Mario Kart 8 and other Nintendo titles, such as Zelda and Pokemon. It's not all Nintendo all the time though, as Aurateur is also known to kick back and have some fun with his viewers with a game of Jackbox from time to time.


    If you're a big fan of Persona 5 or trying to learn more about Kingdom Come: Deliverance before jumping in, CohhCarnage has been our favorite streamer in both respects. With more than 77 million total views, what entices gamers to tune in is the down-to-Earth nature of his streams. Here's someone who just enjoys playing games.


    As the username implies, you're likely to get a large dose of Link and Zelda in Linkus7's channel. This young streamer prefers to speed run most of his adventures in Hyrule, and he's not shy about jumping around to multiple different games throughout the franchise's storied history. When he's not off defeating Ganon, you can also find him trying to be the fastest gamer alive in a variety of Mario games.


    Adam first made a name for himself in the gaming industry as the co-designer of Dungeon World, and his streams often feature a heavy dose of Dungeons & Dragons chat. He'll sometimes just log on to play the latest big release though, always interacting with his chat while maintaining a chill vibe.

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    The game has prematurely celebrated the end of nuclear warfare.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 8, 2018

    A secret cutscene hidden within Metal Gear Solid V that was supposed to take a superhuman effort to unlock has just been unlocked for no discernable reason. 

    See, Metal Gear Solid V dataminers uncovered files related to a hidden "nuclear disarmament" cutscene not long after the game launched. Along with uploading the actual cutscene, they also stated that unlocking the video within the actual game requires all players on a specific platform to dismantle all nuclear weapons within the game. Yes, that means that every single player on a given platform would need to work together to meet this objective. 

    Naturally, most MGS V fans considered the task to be impossible. However, that nuclear disarmament cutscene was recently triggered within the PC version of the game. Given that recent readings via Steam suggest that over 10,000 nukes remained armed via that platform, fans have many questions regarding how this cutscene was unlocked. 

    It turns out that Konami isn't quite sure how to answer those questions. In a statement on Twitter, the company confirmed that the cutscene had been triggered without the necessary requirements being met. Because of that, they issued an apology for the "inconvenience," and wish to "reassure you that we will investigate the matter as well as take the necessary action to avoid this in the future."

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    While that investigation is still ongoing, fans have already begun speculating that Konami themselves are responsible for triggering the cutscene either by accident or via some malicious purpose related to their falling out with Kojima. Of course, there is no evidence available at this time which suggests that is the case. 

    Still, it's incredibly odd that this seemingly impossible cutscene just happened to be achieved even though the condition required to unlock it was nowhere near completed. It seems likely that there was an error in the code somewhere or that good old-fashioned human tampering is to blame for this mistake. 

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    Everything you need to know about Vampyr, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Feb 8, 2018

    Life Is Strange developer Dontnod's latest project is an RPG called Vampyr. The game stars a vampire named Jonathan, who stalks the streets of a flu-infested London, fighting off monster hunters and feeding on the living in order to survive.

    According to Dontnod, Vampyr will include brawling, shooting, crafting, and a range of missions doled out by non-player characters. The twist, however, is that you'll have to find mortal victims to slake your thirst for blood.

    "Don’t forget: sooner or later, you will have to feed, and make a difficult choice... who will be your prey?" Dontnod's press release reads. "Absolutely all characters in the game are potential victims of your vampiric lust. Carefully study the habits of your next victim, his or her relationships with other characters, and set up your strategy to feed, unnoticed: seduce them, change their daily habits, or make sure they end up alone in a dark street..."

    It sounds like a solid concept and a clever use of its early 20th-century setting. If Dontnod can couple the world building of Remember Me with a more compelling combat system, we could be in for a claret-spattered treat.

    Here's everything else you need to know about the game:

    Vampyr Release Date

    Vampyr arrives on June 5. It is coming to XBO, PS4, and PC. 

    Vampyr Trailers

    A new dev diary from DontNod fleshes out Jonathan Reid, Vampyr's protagonist, and what the deal is with monster-infested London. Check it out below:

    The E3 2017 trailer gives us a look at the highly cinematic - and very dark - London setting that those who choose to take a chance on the game will inhabit. 

    This next gameplay trailer promises vampiric combat, RPG elements, and, most interestingly, the ability to choose who Jonathan feeds on. Jonathan's ability to take control of a victim, escort them to a dark place, and drink their blood is by far Vampyr's most intriguing gameplay element thus far. 

    Check out the gameplay trailer below:

    You can see the first teaser trailer below:

    Vampyr DLC

    Cédric Lagarrigue, president of publisher Focus Home Interactive, told MCVUK that Vampyr will not feature any DLC. 

    "This is a purely solo experience; we did not plan DLC. We would prefer, if the reception of the game justifies it, to think about a sequel," Lagarrigue said. "We and Dontnod already have some ideas, as there are so many incredible things to offer in such a universe." 

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    Share the love.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 8, 2018

    Epic Games has revealed more information about their upcoming Valentine's Day event for Fortnite and Battle Royale

    While Epic hasn't revealed every piece of content included in this new event, they have showcased a few of the new items it will include. The most prized of these new possessions may end up being the new Valentine's Day skins. So far, those include a winged statue that we believe is supposed to resemble a combination of St. Valentine and Cupid. There's also a humanoid pink teddy bear that is much creepier than possibly intended. There's no word on whether or not other skins will be included with the final event release. 

    However, we do know that the upcoming Valentine event will add a crossbow to the game. Specifically, it's a gold and pink crossbow that will apparently allow you to "hunt your prey the old-fashioned way." This crossbow is available as a rare and epic and fires arrows that can be found on the ground and in treasure chests. 

    Battle Royalemode isn't the only mode getting some love as part of this update. Fortnite's Save the World mode will also receive a new questline which is described as a love story "told the Fortnite way." At this time, there's been no confirmation regarding the details of this mode or whether or not any additional content will be added to Fortnite when this update goes live on February 14th. 

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    Following the release of the Valentine's Day event, Fortnite will receive an Update 3.00 patch on February 21st that will add a new quest line to the game, new items to the store, and a new rendition of the game's music (referred to as the "Orchestra Edition"). On February 28th, a 3.1.0 update will tweak player movement in the game, improve the quest map, and also add some as of yet unidentified features. 

    It's no surprise that Epic is investing so many resources into the growth of Fortnite. The game has become one of the most played titles on PC ever since its free-to-play Battle Royale variant was introduced. It continues to grow and has inspired Epic to devote more attention to it moving forward while removing resources from other, failing projects. 

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    Get your Doctor Booms ready to go...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 8, 2018

    The next Hearthstone event will heavily emphasize the game's sometimes overlooked Wild mode. 

    From February 19th to March 11th, HearthstoneArena players will find that Wild cards have been added back into popular mode. Wild cards are any cards that are currently not playable in the game's main competitive mode. That rotation is determined by a yearly update which sends cards from previously released expansions into the game's Wild mode in order to freshen up the game's competitive meta. Wild cards are kept out of Arena mode - an in-game mode in which players compete with custom drafted decks - for a similar reason. 

    Sometime before April - the likely release window for the next Hearthstone expansion and yearly rotation - there will be two special Tavern Brawl events designed around Wild cards. The first will simply allow players to play custom-made Wild decks and compete against each other. That Brawl is expected to debut first at an unspecified date. 

    The second Brawl, though, is much more interesting. Called "The Wild Brawliseum," this new event will allow players to construct custom decks using Wild and standard cards and compete in an Arena-like setting. That means that you'll try to achieve 12 wins before losing three games. The more wins you earn in this mode, the better rewards you receive at the end of it. The set-up is similar to the previously utilized "Heroic Brawl," but this mode will allow you to use cards from Wild. The prizes this Brawl offers are not known at this time, but it has been revealed that your first run through this Brawl will be free. After that, you'll have to pay an entry fee with cash or in-game gold. 

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    It's certainly nice to see Blizzard give Wild mode a little love. While the studio stated early on that Wild mode is supposed to live up to its namesake, some of those who prefer playing in the mode have stated that it's become a bit too untamed. Because the mode allows you to use any Hearthstone card that has ever been released, it's possible to build some truly outlandish decks that can absolutely overwhelm most opponents. 

    Still, it's nice to revisit Hearthstone's past and play with some of the great cards gone by. 

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    The DayZ development team also wants to bring the game to PS4 sometime in the future.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 8, 2018

    Revolutionary apocalyptic survival horror game DayZ is finally exiting Early Access and will soon be available to Xbox One owners. 

    The DayZ development team has recently reiterated that they intend to bring the game to Xbox One sometime in 2018. Furthermore, they have stated on Twitter that they also want to bring the game to PlayStation 4, but have no idea when they might actually be able to do so at this time. 

    "As soon as the PC BETA is headed in a way we like, we're still committed to bringing DayZ to Xbox, where we have a large community of gamers patiently (very patiently!) waiting for a truly hardcore online survival game," said developer Bohemia Interactive in a post on the DayZ blog designed to keep DayZ's fans in the loop regarding what's coming next. "All of that will (and must) happen next year - meaning we're just about to start what could possibly be the most exciting year for DayZ so far. In short: DayZwill be out of Early Access next year, and we'll also finally deliver it to console players in 2018."

    For perspective's sake, consider that the original DayZ mod was released in 2012. That same year, DayZ creator Dean Hall announced that DayZ was being developed as a standalone game. At that time, DayZ was hailed as a revolution in game design. The mod used the ultra-realistic military series Arma as the framework for a post-zombie apocalypse multiplayer simulator. DayZ required players to scavenge for supplies and survive a world populated with humans and zombies. The mod is the undisputed inspiration for titles like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

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    In the years since DayZ's release, it has fallen on some hard times. Development of the game has been painfully slow. Indeed, DayZ has become something of a poster child for the entire Early Access concept. Its flaws have sometimes been written-off by mentions of the notion that it is not a completed project. 

    That's what makes this announcement such a big deal. If the DayZ team is serious about bringing the game out of Early Access, they'll need to be able to fix several lingering technical and design issues. In that same blog post, the development team already alludes to the implementation of new features such as more zombies, improved combat, and new animations. Other ideas, such as base building, are being put on the long-term backburner. 

    As for the game's console release, it will supposedly come sometime in 2018 near or after the time of the game's exit from Early Access. 

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    Exodus will bring some sweeping changes to the Metro formula.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 8, 2018

    4A Games returns with Metro Exodus! Much like the previous Metro games, this one appears to contain a mix of subterranean and overworld exploration gameplay spiced up a bit by the inclusion of challenging combat. As for the timeline, this appears to be a sequel to the previous titles, but that is largely based on the degenerative nature of the universe rather than any specific plot points. 

    Otherwise, this title appears to share many of the gameplay and environmental aspects that make the Metro franchise so unique. If anything, there may be a slightly stronger emphasis on creature combat over human encounters (if the footage shown is any indication, at least) but we'll wait until more of the game is revealed before making too many assumptions. 

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Metro Exodus News

    The latest issue of Game Informer reveals some new information about Metro Exodus

    It seems that Exodus will start in the fabled Metro but will quickly allow players to explore a much larger outdoor setting. However, Exodus is not an open-world game. It's a series of large, objective-based levels that can be freely explored but are tied together by a narrative. The catch is that you can't return to an area after you've completed the main objectives in a given level. That means you'll want to take care of any sidequests first.

    The series' combat and stealth mechanics will receive an overhaul as part of this new emphasis on exploration. There's no word on exactly how they will be changed, but it seems the studio is aiming for general improvements. Furthermore, the traditional hub area from previous Metro games will return in the form of a train called the Aurora that will follow you between most levels. Players will also be able to access several smaller vehicles. 

    Finally, it seems that Exodus' story will take place across the course of an entire year. Previous Metro games occurred over just a few days.  

    All and all, it sounds like Exodus will make some pretty bold changes to the series' formula. We just hope it maintains some of the distinctive design elements that make the Metro franchise a special - if overlooked - gaming experience. 

    Metro Exodus Release Date

    Metro Exodus arrives in Fall 2018. It is XBO, PS4, and PC.

    Metro Exodus Trailer

    A new trailer premiered at The Game Awards 2017. Check it out below:

    And here's the reveal trailer for Metro Exodus

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    Thirty years old this year, the Nintendo Entertainment System’s Superman is one of the weirdest licensed games ever...

    FeatureRyan Lambie
    Feb 9, 2018

    There are certain characters and stories that are so ingrained in our popular consciousness that it’s difficult to imagine not knowing anything about them. For much of the planet, the sights and sounds of the Star Wars franchise are immediately recognizable. Just about everyone could look at a silhouette of Batman, say, or Bart Simpson, and tell you who that character is.

    Imagine for a second, though, that you’ve just met a visitor from the distant past, or an explorer from another planet. They’ve never heard of Superman; they’ve never read the comics, or seen the movies, or heard John Williams’ triumphant score. They’re blissfully unaware of what Kryptonite is, why a godlike superhero would disguise themselves as a bespectacled journalist, or why they should care about Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane.

    Now let’s take the thought experiment on an abrupt left turn. Rather than show our clueless visitor some comics, or the classic movies, or even one of Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel efforts, we’ll subject them to the half-forgotten Superman videogame released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988 - quite possibly one of the weirdest licensed games ever created.

    Given that this is their first exposure to the Son of Jor-El, would exactly would they learn? First, here’s a brief introduction.

    A brief introduction

    Programmed by a relatively obscure Japanese firm called Kemco, Superman is a free-roaming platformer - it’s what we might now term a Metroidvania, although the quality of its production is so far from Metroid and Castlevania that it might as well be from a different decade entirely. Indeed, it’s remarkable to think, just from playing Superman for a few seconds, that this game actually came out after those classics of the 8-bit era; with its shaky collision detection and counter-intuitive controls, it feels a good deal older.

    The object of the game is to take control of Superman (and, initially, his alter-ego Clark Kent) and save Metropolis from a series of villainous threats, ranging from Lex Luthor to General Zod to, bizarrely, a Chinese gang that’s somehow gaming the stock market. To do this, Superman jumps, hops and flies from location to location, punching bad guys, using his super powers and generally saving the day.

    For a licensed game, Supermans scale is at least semi-ambitious. Pressing start pulls up a map which shows Metropolis’ various locations, which range from parklands to sewers to the interiors of skyscrapers. Completing the game requires a Metroid-like criss-crossing of these locations, with each boss triggered by fulfilling certain objectives. The execution of almost every element in Superman is, however, slapdash almost to the point of comedy.

    Superman SD

    On firing up Superman, the most striking thing is its graphic design. Where Taito’s arcade machine released the same year, successfully created a muscular Superman straight out of the comics, the graphics in the Nintendo Entertainment System version look more like something out of Samurai Pizza Cats; it’s an example of what’s known in Japan as Super Deformed, or SD - a visual style marked out by tiny bodies, large heads and expressive, childlike eyes.

    It’s quite a cute look, in its own way, but an odd choice for a property about strength, daring and heroism; in the opening scene, Clark Kent stands in the spartan offices of the Daily Planet (or Daily Planets, as the game’s iffy translation calls it), where Jimmy Olsen looks like some kind of long-nosed ghoul and Lois Lane just stands in a corner, staring blankly. Talk to her, and she’ll mutter something about strange things going on in the park. Weirdly, nobody explains why there aren’t any desks, or typewriters, or anything a reporter might need to do their jobs - all you’ll find are a bank of telephones the size of family cars. (Incredibly, the original Japanese version of the game featured an even more kawaii version of Kent and Superman; the American version actually made the character sprites' heads much smaller, as you can see at the Cutting Room Floor.)

    Anyone unfamiliar with Superman would be forgiven for thinking that it’s some kind of surreal three-panel cartoon strip from a Japanese newspaper rather than a classic American comic book. Incredibly, things only become more strange from here.

    Everyone hates Clark

    Leave the newspaper headquarters (frustratingly, using doors involves pressing down on the control pad), and Clark will find himself on Metropolis’ bustling streets. Well, we say bustling: the entire place is teeming with identical hoodlums in blue hats and suits, all itching to shoot Clark on sight. Maybe it’s because of the hideous pea-green suit Clark insists on wearing.

    At any rate, Clark has no qualms about using his super powers to save himself in tight situations - pressing jump will send him leaping about 30 feet in the air, which you’d think would have those gangsters scattering in terror. Instead, they just keep shooting at Clark like heavily-armed zombies.

    Superman’s not all that super

    Fortunately, a handy phone booth stands mere feet away from the Daily Planet’s front door. At least, we eventually figured out that it’s a phone booth: the structure’s about five times Clark’s height, so we thought it was the entrance to a supermarket at first. It was only on pressing down in front of it, and seeing Clark turning into Superman, that we realised what it actually was.

    So Clark’s now Superman, and it’s here that you might think that things would improve. As it turns out, Superman isn’t any more handy in a fight than Clark; hoodlums still take about three punches to kill, and Superman’s still painfully vulnerable to their bullets. Although Superman can fly from location to location (more on this later), he can’t actually fly around the screen - he just sort of hops, pretty much the same as Clark. Incredibly, landing on a hoodlum’s head will injure Superman but not the hoodlum, which actually makes the Man of Steel less powerful than a certain Italian plumber.

    The Statue of Liberty can talk

    Here’s something else your alien visitor will be interested to learn: Superman’s best friend is the Statue of Liberty (or Statue of Freedom, as it’s called here). An opening cut-scene has the famous statue - here depicted with kawaii anime eyes - explaining the plot to Superman, which might just be one of the weirdest openings to any game ever. One of Superman’s secret powers is, it seems, being able to converse with inanimate objects. If only his other powers were as useful...

    Superman sometimes rides the subway

    Something else we never read about in the comics: Metropolis’ underground system is inaccessible for Superman - at least at first. Attempt to head down into the subway, and a dialogue box will tell you that Clark (or Superman) doesn’t have the requisite pass.

    This raises two questions: first, you’d think Clark would have a pass for the subway by now, given that he works in the city every day; and second, you might also think that Superman would get a free pass, given that he’s fighting for truth, justice and the American way.

    During the second mission, Jimmy Olsen finally gives Clark a rail ticket, which unlocks new areas of the game - and a disturbing sequence in which Clark (or Superman) is shown standing in a subway carriage, the only profoundly short person in a car full of normal-sized people. We have to say, this one brief moment raises more disturbing questions than we’ve time to even attempt to answer.

    Running away is often the best option

    Fiddling with a menu screen will reveal the wealth of powers Superman has available - these range from his super breath to his laser beam eyes. Unfortunately, these powers only appear to work in specific circumstances, so using the super breath on ordinary street gangsters will have no tangible effect. For the most part, then, Superman has to rely on his fists - an attack that works even when an enemy’s standing about three feet away.

    Fighting enemies is so risky, though, that it’s often better to avoid confrontation than indulge in it just for fun. Take a look at some speed-runs of Superman on YouTube, and you’ll see players actively avoiding every enemy they can get away with, and will only fight if they need to get hold of a power-up.

    If you didn’t know anything about Superman lore, then, you’d probably assume that he’s a squat little guy full of good intentions but completely useless in combat - like Pee Wee Herman in a cape rather than a lonely god who can lift a supertanker. Which leads us to...

    Being Superman is temporary

    Far from being indestructible, Superman’s prone to attack from even the weakest-looking foes, whether they’re rank-and-file gangsters or weird guys with cat ears. If he takes too many bullets or kicks to the head, Superman will revert back to his Clark Kent form - which means he’ll basically blow his identity to some of the worst scum and villainy in all Metropolis. Take a few more hits, and Clark will simply droop, clutching his chest.

    By this point, we can’t help wondering whether the Last Son of Krypton might have bitten off more than he can chew.

    Superman cares deeply about the stock market

    Some of the most famous villains in Superman history make appearances in the videogame, though we’d be stunned if you’d recognise any of them on sight. Lex Luthor has horns; Ursa appears to wield a whip; General Zod looks like a garden gnome. Besides these villains, Superman’s given a bewildering assortment of missions, either by his boss at the Daily Planet (here simply billed as "the copy editor") or by shady-looking characters you’ll find in the sewers.

    Our favorite of these missions involves working out why the stock market’s falling; a quick tour through Metropolis’ Chinese quarter later, and you’ll discover that a bunch of bearded gangsters have somehow manipulated it all. The problem’s solved by punching their ring leader until he stops moving.

    Metropolis’ civilians are an eccentric bunch

    As we’ve already seen, there are far more criminals in Metropolis than law-abiding people, which might explain why Superman destroyed the entire city in Man Of Steel - it was easy to wreck the lot and start again than deal with the crime problem one gangster at a time. Still, the few people who aren’t trying to kill you aren’t much better; like an RPG, you can talk to non-player characters in Superman, though we couldn’t tell you what half of them are on about.

    One will simply say, “Got any news?”, as though it’s a journalist’s job to roam the streets and tell people the day’s headlines. Another will say something like, “Ooh, don’t touch me!”, which left us walking away with a shudder. One civilian will thank you for saving him from the Dragon gang, but then follow that up with the following: 

    Superman as a whole was clearly translated in a hurry; even in an era when games were less expensively localized than they are today, its rash of spelling mistakes and barely-understandable dialogue was notably lacking in polish. Then again, this is a game whose entire final level involves punching blue blobs, running along a bit, and then punching a few more blue blobs.

    Even the flying sequences, a bit of Superman that you’d think might have a bit of pace and verve about it, is reduced to a simple cut-scene here; you can only use flying to go to specific locations, so if you simply try flying just for the hell of it, you’ll be treated to a scene of Superman flying directly up to the top of a skyscraper and then straight back down again.

    Supermanisn’t the worst game ever made, and incredibly, it isn’t even the worst Superman game ever, either - that accolade surely goes to Superman 64, a title so shoddy that it still lives in infamy. All the same, its difficult to think of another videogame that misses the point of its own license so profoundly. That the developers had to give Superman some vulnerability is understandable - it wouldn’t be much of a game if he couldn't be harmed - but it’s startling just how feeble this incarnation of the hero really is.

    In fact, a visitor from the past or from outer space might find themselves feeling deeply sorry for the 8-bit Superman. Shot at by an entire city of gangsters, standing nervously on a subway full of giants, Superman is a delicate, lonely figure, like a character in an Alan Bennett play. His colleagues all talk gibberish; people on the street pester him for news. Desperate for friendship, Superman heads down to the shoreline, and in his solitude, looks up at the benign face of a 150 year-old statue. In the depths of his loneliness, he almost thinks he can hear the statue talk: “I’ll watch over you. Now go, Superman!”

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    From the designer of the incredibly strange Deadly Premonition comes The Missing. Here's Swery himself with a quick teaser...

    News Ryan Lambie
    Feb 16, 2018

    Anyone who's played Deadly Premonition probably won't forget the experience in a hurry. A deeply strange survival horror adventure, its story and tone was evidently cribbed from David Lynch's Twin Peaks, but its eccentricities uan far deeper than its story and visuals. This is a game, after all, that features some distinctly lumpen controls, visibly shoddy programming, odd mini-game digressions, and a protagonist whose beard constantly grows as you play.

    With stuff like that going on,Deadly Premonition understandably garnered a cult following, and its creator, Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro, is now something of a gaming celebrity. 

    Swery's eccentricities look certain to continue in his next game, simply titled The Missing. We know almost knothing about it yet other than it'll be a console title and will emerge at some point in 2018. Swery announced the trailer in a little YouTube video, which you can watch below:

    Expect to encounter stock footage of healthy-looking people walking around in various settings, splashes of blood, some footage of an astronaut on the moon, and a cow's skull sitting in a desert. 

    In between, Swery himself sits before the camera, surrounded by foliage and stuffed monkeys. What on Earth's going on here? Currently, it's anyone's guess. At this stage, we wouldn't be surprised to see a further video of Swery undoing his huge coat to reveal that his body's made entirely of eels.

    More on The Missing as we get it.

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    The event spotlights both doggos and puppers.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 16, 2018

    In celebration of the Lunar New Year, Pokemon GO has kicked off its Year of the Dog event.

    From now until February 17th - so not too long - you'll be able to participate in this event that celebrates the game's dog-like Pokemon. According to the Pokemon website, that means that you'll see many more "Poochyena, Growlithe, Eevee, Snubbull, and Electrike" wherever you may play the game. Furthermore, you'll receive three times as much Stardust when you manage to capture one of those dog-type pokemon. 

    Interestingly, not every dog-type pokemon in the game appears to be featured as part of this event. It seems that Niantic may opt to keep the appearance of certain pokemon - like Houndoor - limited to other events more closely tied to their characters. However, this event does introduce the new shiny pokemon, Poochyena. It seems the capture rate of Poochyena may be lower than some of the others because of this. 

    At the end of this event, the appearance rate of these particular pokemon will go back to normal and you'll no longer receive additional Stardust for capturing them. 

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    Niantic has also added some new Team Rocket outfits to the game that don't seem to be directly related to this new event. That means they should continue to be available beyond the end date noted above. Alongside the classic Team Rocket outfit - the best Team Rocket outfit - you can also purchase a rainbow variant featured in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. These outfits can be purchased from the in-game store as usual. You'll have to shell out 950 coins for them. 

    Developer Niantic has certainly been busy as of late in terms of adding new content. Along with the recent Valentine's Day festivities, the studio also added more Gen 3 pokemon to the game as part of their efforts to incorporate as many pokemon into the game as they can.

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    That's nice, but we're still waiting on the official Rocket Power DLC.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 16, 2018

    Developer Psyonix will begin beta testing in-game tournaments in Rocket League.

    According to the Rocket League website, this beta test will run from February 21st to February 23rd on Steam. The purpose of this beta is to test the functionality and UI of the tournament experience. To join it, simply right-click on Rocket League within your Steam client, choose "Properties," click "Betas," and then choose "Tournaments Beta." This should download an update that will activate the tournament mode when it becomes available. 

    How will tournaments work? That's a fantastic question that hasn't been entirely answered at this time. However, the trailer for the mode hints at some kind of bracket system that will allow you to organize online tournaments of unspecified sizes. Presumably, that tournament system will allow you to organize team and solo battles, but the full details haven't been revealed. 

    What's also not clear at this time is when the actual tournament mode update will be officially released and whether or not Psyonix will be testing this function on consoles. We assume that this will not be a PC-only feature and that the beta test is simply easier to run on that platform. However, we'll have to wait for an official statement on how that will work. 

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    Psyonix has also announced they will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars throughout the year. For those who don't know, that was Psyonix's first attempt at the Rocket League concept. Even though it was very similar to Rocket League, it didn't enjoy nearly as much success. The studio hasn't clarified how they will be celebrating the game throughout 2018. 

    Still, tournaments are the headline here. Rocket League has been in need of a tournament mode for quite some time. We've seen how well they work on the pro scene, and they will certainly help add a little competitive incentive to standard matches. 

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  • 02/16/18--14:08: Fe Review
  • Fe is a beautiful and fun new indie adventure game despite its sometimes clunky controls. Our review...

    Release Date: February 16, 2018
    Platform: PS4 (reviewed), XBO, Switch, PC
    Developers: Zoink
    Publisher: Electronic Arts
    Genre: Action-adventure

    It’s obvious from the start that Fe is cut from the same cloth as other indie art games like Journey, Bound, and Abzû, opening up a prismatic, ethereal world for players to explore and ponder, sussing out an opaque, slender narrative by unearthing one cryptic clue at a time. If you enjoy games of the poetic, minimalistic, folksy variety, you’ll no doubt find Fe to be a fulfilling experience, though that’s not to say it’s without its own voice. Swedish developer Zoink has crafted a moving fable about empathy, understanding, and acceptance inspired by the wonders of mother nature.

    You play as a jaggedly, fox-like creature that coos at your command, at different volumes depending on how hard or gently you press your right trigger button. As you traipse around the day-glo forest, you encounter other critters, with each species speaking a different animal “language.” If you offer them a little howl, they’ll sing back, which initiates a sort of mini-mini-game that tasks you to get on the same sonic wavelength as your furry counterpart. It doesn’t work every time, but when it does, you gain a new ally to help you navigate the prickly environment and reach new areas. If you’re persistent enough, they may even teach you how to speak their language and absorb their unique attributes.

    There’s a poignant underlying theme running throughout Fe that celebrates harmony and togetherness, and it’s constantly reinforced by both the art direction and the actual gameplay mechanics. It’s an entirely wordless experience, with all information communicated to the player visually, delivered via expressive character animation and smart environmental design. Flora and fauna give visual cues constantly, and while it’s not unusual to feel completely lost and unsure of what to do next at any given time, if you use your eyes and ears to observe and connect with your surroundings on a deeper level, the way forward will most likely become clear. (If that doesn’t work or your patience wears thin, you can summon a little bird companion to be your tour guide.)

    The most active sections of the game involve antagonistic robot-things that capture frolicking cute-’n’-cuddlies in these odd energy-webs and leave them to squirm or carry them off to god knows where. You can use special green orbs burped up by plants to free the captured critters, but you’ll have to maneuver around the big baddies and use the environment to trounce them, which opens up a very simple, sort of wonky stealth mechanic that’s adequate but isn’t much fun.

    In fact, as far as gameplay goes, Fe feels a bit rudimentary and unpolished, which is a huge bummer. The art direction is magical, but that spell wears off quickly because the platforming controls are imprecise, the camera isn’t fluid enough, and your character gets stuck on the geometry of the environments far too often. One moment, I’d be bathing in the splendor of the game world; the next, I’d be clenching my controller in anger as I fell to my death for the fifth time trying to make what looked like an easy jump. I’m happy to admit that I might have been a victim of my own lack of skill in the platforming department, but I’m confident in saying that there’s something off about how the controls feel.

    But no matter how often the gameplay mires the experience, Fe always manages to suck you back in with the sheer beauty and grandeur of its game world. The sense of discovery the game instills is intoxicating, and it’s the look of the environments that propels you. Your surroundings are constantly changing, and with masterful use of color, light, shadow, and level design, no area of the map feels like any other. The way the sound supports the visuals is remarkable too, with swirling ambient sound and a heart-wrenching string score imbuing every moment with emotion.

    Like in other games of its ilk, Fe’s best moments are steeped in a sense of serenity. There are items to collect, missions to tackle, trees to climb and powers to obtain. This is decent fun, but it’s all stuff we’ve done a million times in a million other games. There’s a hidden narrative to uncover, too, like peeling back the layers of an onion, which is more engaging, but still, nothing groundbreaking. If you want to experience this game in all its glory, keep your thumbs idle for a second and simply take in the living, breathing world Zoink has crafted from the ground up. Little moments like this are what make Fe special, and an essential play for those with a proclivity for games that actually have something to say.

    ReviewBernard Boo
    Feb 16, 2018

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    This new version of Contenders will introduce new regions, aspiring pros, and Overwatch League team spin-offs.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 16, 2018

    Blizzard has announced the official return of Overwatch Contenders League. 

    The Contenders League is a global tournament of professional Overwatch teams. Unlike Overwatch League where rostered professional players play for regional teams in a seasonal format, Contenders allows pro teams from across the globe to compete in a more traditional tournament structure. 

    This year, though, Contenders features a few key changes that should help shake-up the format a bit. First off, there is more of an emphasis on regional play. The Contenders league is now broken down into regions from Australia, China, Europe, Korea, North America, the Pacific, and South America. Many of the teams competing in these various regions have been playing in tournaments in those areas for quite some time. 

    However, they are joined by new kinds of teams that figure to drastically change the landscape of competitive Overwatch. The first teams are comprised of regular, online players like you and I who have been competing in a road to the pros system that allowed them to earn the chance to play against established professional squads. The winners of these trials will join the already confirmed teams in their various regions. 

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    There are also a few squads that are perhaps best described as "Triple-A" divisions of existing Overwatch League teams. For instance, the London Spitfire have fielded a Contenders team called the London Hurricane. The Los Angeles Gladiators have started the Gladiator's Legion. These teams are composed of a variety of players and seem to be operated by the same management responsible for their Overwatch League counterparts. 

    All told, the current OverwatchContenders League will be broken down into three competitive seasons. The prize pool for these seasons adds up to be just over $3 million. The first round of matches begins on March 11th and you'll be able to view them via the regional channels found here

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    After a $1.3 million Kickstarter campaign, Nightdive Studios' System Shock reboot is now "on hiatus," according to a new update...

    NewsRyan Lambie
    Feb 19, 2018

    For fans of classic PC games, this is less than welcome news: developer Nightdive Studios has announced that its reboot of System Shock is being put "on hiatus" after approximately 18 months in development.

    The project leapt to greater attention in the summer of 2016, when a campaign for a new version of the much-loved sci-fi action adventure appeared on Kickstarter. Backers rallied around the project, and by the time its funding period had ended, System Shock had garnered a healthy sounding $1.3 million in pledges.

    Over the past year-and-a-bit, however, "something happened," to borrow a dramatic phrase from Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick's announcement on Kickstarter. 

    "Maybe we were too successful," Kick wrote. "Maybe we lost our focus. The vision began to change. We moved from a Remaster to a completely new game. We shifted engines from Unity to Unreal, a choice that we don’t regret and one that has worked out for us. With the switch we began envisioning doing more, but straying from the core concepts of the original title."

    According to a report over on Polygon, largely backed up by Kick's own statement to his backers, Nightdive's decision to expand the scope of its game beyond that of a fairly straight System Shock remake, with modern bells and whistles, meant that the game soon needed more funding - and an attempt to gain the interest of publishers didn't pay off.

    "As the budget grew, we began a long series of conversations with potential publishing partners," Kick confirms in his Kickstarter post. "The more that we worked on the game, the more that we wanted to do, and the further we got from the original concepts that made System Shockso great."

    As a consequence, System Shock is now on hold. Kick insists that the firm's taking a break rather than ending the project, and adds that "we will be back and stronger than ever." He doesn't, however, give an idea of when development will resume or when backers are likely to get their game.

    More on this as we get it.


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    Forget Sonic The Hedgehog: the Sega Genesis played host to some of the best shooters video games ever.

    FeatureRyan Lambie
    Feb 19, 2018

    The early 1990s saw Sega at the height of its powers. After a difficult entry into the console market in the 1980s, where its Master System (or Sega Mark III in Japan) struggled to make much headway against the Nintendo Entertainment System, the company was better known in Europe and America for its arcade hits like Outrun,Afterburner, and Space Harrier.

    Sega's fortunes finally changed, though, with the Sega Genesis: a 16-bit, next-gen console that, on its Japanese release in 1988, beat its old rival's Super NES to the market by almost two years. Unlike the ageing NES, the Genesis could get closer than ever to the speed and vibrancy of Sega's arcade machines - you only have to compare the NES port of Altered Beastto the one on the Genesis to see how great the technical leap was.

    Thanks to a brash yet highly successful marketing campaign, the Genesis made inroads in America, where the Master System had failed. When Sonic the Hedgehog became Sega's mascot in the early '90s, what once seemed like an underdog company now seemed like a genuine competitor to Nintendo. There was a similar story in Europe, where the Genesis  (or Master System) had a greater toehold than in the US. With the Mega Drive arriving in PAL regions in 1990, the console had a full two years to grow its audience before the SNES came along.

    Admittedly, the Genesis was never quite as popular in Japan as it was elsewhere, but that was partly because it had greater competition not only from Nintendo, but also systems like NEC's PC Engine, an otherwise wonderful console that largely failed to catch fire outside its home country.

    All the same, you wouldn't necessarily know that the Genesis was a smaller concern in Japan from looking at its library of games. The console had hundreds of titles programmed for it in Japan alone - some of them exclusive to that country. And among that library of games (which globally stretches to around 900 titles), you'll find some flat-out classic shooters.

    The shoot 'em up genre had reached its peak in the late 80s, so it's probably no surprise that the Genesis played host to quite a bewildering number of them. But its timing doesn't entirely explain it. While the SNES had some classic shooters of its own - Axelay, UN Squadron, a trio of Parodiusgames - the system's processor meant that it wasn't exactly ideal for a genre that required dozens of sprites to hurtle around the screen at one time. As programmers got better at coding around the SNES' hardware, they produced some amazing effects, but even so, the action would often slow down quite noticeably when too many bullets and enemies flooded the screen.

    Although the Genesis had its own hardware quirks, including a more muted color palette than the SNES, its superior CPU speed (7.67 MHz vs about 2.68 MHz, fact fans) made it ideal for the shoot 'em up genre. And boy did the Sega Genesis get a lot of shoot 'em ups.

    Bullet Heaven

    At the height of the Genesis' popularity, the number of shooters available for the console - either available in officially or via grey import from Japan - evidently bewildered game journalists at the time. Writers would often grouse that one side-scrolling blaster was broadly the same as another. In their review of Darius II (also known as Sagaia), UK magazine Mean Machines wrote, "I can't believe how many horizontally-scrolling shoot 'em ups are being released on the Genesis at the moment - it's all getting a bit much..."

    In retrospect, though, it looks less like an irksome deluge and more like an abundance of riches. Sure, there were a few less-than-great shooters on the Genesis - the hugely forgettable Whip Rush (1990) is one example - many of them were flat-out astonishing.

    The most obvious place to start is Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar (known as Thunder Force IV everywhere else in the world), a title released in 1992 by Technosoft. The studio was at the height of its creative powers at this point, having helped revolutionize the real-time strategy genre with the hybrid Herzog Zwei, widely credited with inspiring Command  & Conquer, and creating a string of technically excellent shooters, including the Thunder Forcegames and the lesser-known Elemental Master.

    Lightening Force was easily the series' pinnacle: a tough, satisfying blast that epitomized everything that was good about the genre at its best. The alien enemies attacked in novel yet fair patterns, appearing to swoop in from the middle distance as well as the sides of the screen. The scrolling backgrounds gave the illusion of progressing through a dangerous and futuristic landscape. The weapons struck that balance between satisfying power and tactical clarity - you don't just snag all the power-ups and mash the fire button in this game. You have to constantly switch between weapons, selecting the correct one for each encounter.

    Blast Processing

    Looking at Lightening Force as a case study, it's quite extraordinary to look back at how quickly the shooting game evolved from its roots in 1970s arcades. By the early '80s, the plod-plod march of Space Invaders had given way to the lightning-fast, side-scrolling action of Defender and the more measured but no less tense tunnels of Konami's Scramble(both 1981).

    From there, shooting games diverged along varying paths: horizontal shooters that built on the legacy of Space Invaders, Galaxian and Galaga (the latter being among the very first to introduce its own power-up system); side-scrolling shooters evolving from Defender and Scramble. (To this we could add top-down run-and-gunners likeCommando, isometric scrolling shooters like Zaxxon, and so forth.)

    Within four years, Konami had taken Scramble and transformed it almost beyond recognition with Gradius; another Japanese company, Irem, took things even further with R-Type in 1987.  By this point, the rules of a typical shoot 'em up were pretty much set: a lone player moved from left to right along a pre-set path, gunning down the enemies largely entering stage right. At the end of each stage, there would be some kind of gigantic enemy that would likely take multiple hits or some kind of special tactic to destroy. Destroy that enemy - or boss, or guardian - and it's on to the next, more difficult stage.

    As a concept, it's pretty narrow, and you can see how developers freely pilfered ideas from one another in shooters of the late '80s. Even so, it's remarkable how many great shooters there are on the Genesis, and how different the best of them feel from one another. There's a world of difference, for example, from the precise top-down shooters ported from Toaplan's arcade machines - Truxton (or Tatsujin), Fire Shark, Twin Hawk - and Compile's MUSHA. The latter is fiery, frenzied sensory overload where everything seems to be happening slightly too fast; Toaplan's shooters achieve their difficulty with elaborate and multi-directional enemy patterns that require memorisation and pixel-perfect positioning.

    By the same token, the quirky, fiddly Super Fantasy Zone, which didn't arrive in the U.S. until 2008, was the polar opposite of the Thunder Force series. The former looked like a cross between a kawaii Japanese anime and a 60s acid flashback; the latter are all hard surfaces and pounding synth-metal music. Ironically, the Thunder Force games were generally more forgiving - Super Fantasy Zone, despite its friendly face, has the teeth of a predator.

    Sound and Fury

    The 16-bit era also gave developers more leeway than ever to tailor their graphics and sound beyond the circles, blocks, and bleeps of, say, Namco's Xevious from 1982 - and having been given this new box of tricks to play with, those developers duly went nuts.

    Wings of Wor, sometimes known as Gynoug, is one of the weirdest-looking shooting games ever made. Released in 1991 and created by Masaya, it pits a winged hero (a kind of grown up Kid Icarus) against an army of exotic, demonic-looking entities. In short, Wings of Wor splices the iconography of ancient Greece with the H.R. Giger-inspired bio-mechanical look seen in games like Salamander and R-Type, then throws in some topless, muscular men for good measure. The result is a game that, in a genre not widely known for its atmospherics, comes draped in an unmistakeably spooky air. By the time the bosses roll in - a grotesque assortment of deformed lizards, sentient death machines, and giant screaming heads - it's clear that we're in the presence of something deeply strange. Masaya would later go on to make the similarly weird Cho Aniki series, which upped the muscular men quotient even further.

    Less twisted, but no less captivating to look at, Steel Empire forged a steampunk landscape seemingly inspired by Studio Ghibli's classic anime, Castle in the Sky. The usual array of chrome ships and glowing lasers seen in typical space shooters was here replaced by armored zeppelins and huge rumbling tanks. Its visuals alone were enough to justify its cult status, and Steel Empire was among the relatively small number of shooters that lingered on after the Genesis era ended. Ports later appeared on the Game Boy Advance and the 3DS in later years.

    Few - if any - Genesis shooters transformed the genre in the way that some of its most famous names did, but the best of them nevertheless came with their own cool ideas and gimmicks. Toaplan's Zero Wingis best known these days for its "All your base..." meme, but get past that, and you'll find a rock-solid space shooter with a clever mechanic: your ship is equipped with a beam that drags in enemies, which you could then use as a shield or as a projectile. Gaiares, actually released a year before Zero Wing, took this even further. Here, the player could use a Force-like drone to take the weapons systems from enemy ships, resulting in some varied and spectacular displays of laser power.

    It would be remiss not to mention one of the great driving forces behind all these shooters: the music. Wings of Wor was scored to an unearthly warble of faux church organs. Thunder Force's J-metal backdrop was almost as addictive as the action itself. Even more unassuming blasters were sometimes rescued by some great music. Take Dangerous Seed, for example - a port of Namco's vertically-scrolling blaster that, although pretty entertaining, came fairly early in the Genesis' life and contained some distracting sprite flicker. Its music, on the other hand, was absolutely storming: a relentless pulse of baroque electronica with an occasional rising, digital "whhhooosssh" that made the shooting feel far more thrilling than it actually was.

    Shooters Forever

    Shooters were ten-a-penny on the Genesis in the early '90s, but today, they're among the most avidly-collected genres on the system. This is partly because so many of them are so enjoyable - $50 for Lightening Force doesn't seem an unreasonable amount to pay in 2018, given how good the game still looks and feels - but also because some are just so scarce. Take Eliminate Down, a space shooter that, at first glance, doesn't look much different from most of the other titles mentioned already. But because it was only released in Japan and South Korea, by a relatively small publisher (Soft Vision) and in small numbers, it's become something of a holy grail for collectors. A quick check on eBay will throw out prices of about $1,000 or more.

    Indeed, the market for some of the Genesis' most sought-after shooters is now such that some small firms have started creating reproduction cartridges - A handy fallback if you don't have hundreds of dollars lying around to drop on Eliminate Downor Gley Lancer, another unfathomably expensive game, though new collectors should be careful of buying counterfeit carts sold as the genuine article.

    The continued affection for Genesis shooters is, inevitably, colored in part by nostalgia. But at the same time, I'd argue that the genre reached its pinnacle in the early '90s. Developers were still coming up with creative ideas, musicians and artists were full of inspiration, and the difficulty levels were high, but not so high that the games were only designed for an elite few with flea-like reflexes. Spectacular shooters continued to emerge in the years after the Genesis gave way to the Saturn and then the Dreamcast, but in ever decreasing numbers. Today, the shoot 'em up is a niche affair - too simplistic to garner much interest from gamers who get their adrenaline from more modern genres, and too tough and drenched in curtains of bullets to entice a casual audience.

    It's possible that we're only a short time away from some kind of indie resurgence. Games like Braidand Super Meat Boy helped remind people of the brilliance of the traditional platformer. With games like Shovel Knight, Axiom Verge, and even Super Mario Odyssey paying homage to the genre's '80s roots, it's a resurgence that's ongoing today. Maybe there's a developer out there with a satisfying, approachable new twist on the classic shooter - the horizontally or vertically-scrolling equivalent of a sleeper hit like Super Meat Boy.

    At any rate, the Sega Genesis remains one of the single greatest platforms for the 2D shooter. From Lightening Force to MUSHA, and Steel Empire to Raiden Trad, the sheer range of titles made for the 16-bit console remains extraordinary. Much has changed in the games industry over the past 25 or so years, but plug in one of these cartridges today, and the experience remains undimmed: self-contained, immediately graspable but often full of tactical nuances that only reveal themselves over time.

    Shoot 'em ups aren't necessarily the most sophisticated of genres - they weren't even back in 1991 - but therein lies their appeal. The simplicity, the challenge, the pace, the sights, and sounds: all these things made the best Genesis shooters absolutely timeless.

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