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New Free Xbox One Games With Gold Now Available: December 2018

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 06:03

We've crossed December's halfway point, which means Xbox Live Gold subscribers have new games available to download for free. The titles in question are Never Alone for Xbox One and Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction for Xbox (it's also playable on Xbox 360 and Xbox One thanks to backwards compatibility). You can add them to your account here.

Never Alone is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer about a girl and a fox. Made in partnership with Native Alaskan Iñupiaq elders and storytellers, it includes actual folklore and history from a culture that's unfamiliar to many. It's free to download until January 15.

Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction is actually an original Xbox game from 2005, but it's compatible with both Xbox 360 and Xbox One. You play as a mercenary tasked with bringing down an evil military regime. The game takes place in an open world that's filled with vehicles and weapons you can use as you go about your various missions. You can add Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction to your account between now and December 31.

Also available until the end of the year for anyone who hasn't picked it up yet is the first-person puzzle game QUBE 2. Microsoft hasn't announced January's Games with Gold yet, but will likely do so by the end of the year.

December 2018 Games with Gold

Xbox One

Xbox 360

Why Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse's Comic Book Aesthetic Works So Well

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:24

The first thing we see after the studio logos in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the "Approved by the comics code authority" stamp. This is not only a great Easter egg that comic book history buffs will understand, but also a subtle and great introduction to the kind of film you're about to see. You see, this is not just another movie about Spider-Man, or another movie about superheroes, but the closest we've ever come to a comic book truly coming to life. As GameSpot wrote in our review, this is "literally a comic book turned into a movie."

Into the Spider-Verse feels special in more ways than one. Not only is this the first time we see a major superhero of mixed-race on screen, and the first full-length animated superhero film to get a wide release in theaters since Batman: Mask of the Phantasm in 1993, but also the first film of its kind that truly feels like it's telling the story from the perspective of someone living inside of a comic book. The opening scene of the film, where Peter Parker recaps the story of his life, is one we are familiar with by this point, since we've seen the story being told over 17 years and 7 Spider-Man movies.

That opening scene feels fresh because it reflects how it would actually feel to live in a world where superheroes are real. Everyone in the MCU knows the real names of Iron Man and Captain America, but we don't really see how this affects their day-to-day lives or the world around them at a micro level. Sure, we saw those robbers wearing Avengers masks in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the X-Men comic in Logan was a cool Easter egg, but not until Into the Spider-Verse have we seen how superheroes being real affects the popular culture of the film's universe. Here we get not only a celebrity Spider-Man, but actual comics made out of his exploits--here called "True Life Tales"--Spider-Man cereal, even a Christmas album. Not only is this fun to see in a meta-storytelling way, but it also makes you feel like you are actually reading a comic book with a vibrant and lived-in universe.

It isn't only through worldbuilding that Into the Spider-Verse pulls you into the world of the film as if it's an actual comic book, but also the animation itself. From start to finish, any frame that you pause could look just like a comic book panel. Each frame has a CGI foundation in 3D that is then followed by an overlay of 2D hand-drawn art, giving the look of 2D art in a comic book page. In an age where every American animated film is following the Pixar mold of going for smooth and clean designs, this film instead goes for rougher? designs to simulate the look of hand drawings like you would have in a Spider-Man comic. The film even replicates retro comic details like the Ben-Day dots (the inexpensive mid-century printing method that used visible colored dots). Into the Spider-Verse uses the Ben-Day dots in the background of most scenes, to make the frame look like it was printed on a page.

Likewise, the movie uses onomatopoeia and kinetic typography to emphasize sound effects and emotions in the same way a comic book would. An early scene where Miles mixes up having spider powers with hitting puberty is enhanced by the use of kinetic typography and onomatopoeia sound effects, as well as thought bubbles, narration boxes, and even panels that split the screen. These are things familiar to anyone who has ever picked up a comic book, but to see it used in the film enhances the story--by allowing the filmmakers to emphasize and visualize sounds or showing you Miles' inner thinking--and further blends the comic-reading and film-viewing experience.

Into the Spider-Verse isn't the first film to do this. Ang Lee's Hulk also used panels to split the screen into different points of view 15 years ago, but it used it as a means to continuously wink at the audience to remind them that the film was based on a comic book, instead of as a meaningful part of the storytelling. Even worse, the film's tone and story were so serious that the use of panels took the audience right out of the film because it felt out of place. The last movie to attempt the comic book aesthetic in a major way was Scott Pilgrim vs The World back in 2010, which also used typography to visualize sound effects, as well as other visual nods to comic books and video games like health bars and hit-counters during fight scenes. In an interview for Animation World Network, Edgar Wright described the film as "a normal world of a normal young man filtered through his overactive imagination."

The hyper-stylization in Scott Pilgrim worked because it's the filter through which the story is told, which is exactly what Into the Spider-Verse does. The thought bubbles and "BOOM!" "WOOSH!" and "KAPOW!" sound effects are not only used as nods to the film's comic book roots, but as part of the very fabric of the storytelling. Just as Scott thinks he's in a video game, Miles knows he lives inside a comic book. A scene in which Peter B. Parker tells Miles his plan to sneak inside a secure lab is told through a series of panels, with the characters commenting on its comic book look and interacting with the panels. This doesn't feel like a break of the fourth-wall, though, because there is no layer separating the storytelling techniques and the story. When Miles asks, "why are my thoughts so loud?" while looking at the thought bubbles, it doesn't feel out of place, because on some level he's aware he is a comic book character, something the movie's overall aesthetic allows us as the audience to accept.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse truly embraces what it's like to read a comic book, by making its characters and the tone of the film feel like part of a comic book itself. Deadpool may have known he was in a movie, but this Spider-Man is in an actual comic book, looking up to the audience from the page. This film not only proves how versatile animation is as a medium, but how well the look and feel of a comic book translate into animation. Watching a scene in Avengers: Endgame suddenly be divided into panels would feel out of place, yet watching Miles Morales's thoughts appear as text boxes floating in the air feels right at home.

Best Games Of 2018: Tetris Effect

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:00

Over the next few days, we will reveal what we believe are the 10 best games of 2018, organized by release date. Then on December 19, we will reveal which of the nominees gets to take home the coveted title of GameSpot's Game of the Year. So be sure to come back then for the big announcement, and in the meantime, follow along with all of our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2018 hub.

Tetris is time-tested, ubiquitous, and as a result, it's usually taken for granted. Developer Enhance Inc. is here to remind us all that Tetris is a game worthy of our appreciation in 2018, and more importantly, that it has plenty of untapped potential.

In simple terms, Tetris Effect is a rhythm-game tinged version of the classic puzzle game. You aren't forced to act in time with the music, but every time you flip a tetromino or complete a line, the game will produce a sound at the nearest-neighbor beat. So even though you aren't intentionally filling in the notes of a song, you do contribute to the music. With enough experience you may find yourself trying to play along, however, acting out and flipping puzzle pieces just to hear the rapid fire instrumentation and appreciate your mastery of the game's pacing and demands. This of course happens simultaneously as you race to clear lines, consequently harmonizing Tetris Effect's two halves.

The moving soundtrack encompasses a wide range of musical styles that may be unusual to your ears but are nonetheless infectious. The procession of one rhythm or orchestra to another is handcrafted to make you feel something different from level to level, and the push and pull of it all is unquestionably effective. Some stages help you relax and experience momentary bliss, while others drive you so hard and fast that you practically need to catch your breath before jumping into the next challenge.

Inspiring moments like these are great in isolation; when experienced for prolonged periods of time, playing stage after stage in the game's Journey mode, they accumulate into something greater. To succeed at Tetris Effects' later levels requires almost subconscious planning and execution, where thinking too hard may cause unintentional obsession with misleading opportunities. It sounds almost counterintuitive, the idea that you should think less to achieve more, but that's exactly what Tetris Effect is trying to draw out of you, and exactly why you should give yourself up to the feelings it tries to instill.

It's an unforgettable experience that marks a new chapter for one of the medium's most familiar and beloved properties, and when people talk about Tetris from now on, Tetris Effect will undoubtedly be used to reference the original game's timeless appeal.

We often think of VR games as means to travel to new worlds or embody fictional characters. Tetris Effect leverages the inherent immersion that comes from shutting yourself off from the outside world to induce synaesthesia, combining sight and sound into a seamless composite. Until you've experienced it for yourself, it's difficult to understand just how powerful this effect can be, but it's the secret sauce that makes you good at the game. All it takes to locate that mindset is a little persistence and an open mind. The more you can isolate your senses, the better, so you should absolutely play Tetris Effect with PSVR if you have the option.

Tetris Effect is unquestionably the prettiest version of Tetris there is and it uses that aspect of its personality to enhance the core draw of the puzzle game within, making it easier for you to find that unspeakable bond between mind and game. It's an unforgettable experience that marks a new chapter for one of the medium's most familiar and beloved properties, and when people talk about Tetris from now on, Tetris Effect will undoubtedly be used to reference the original game's timeless appeal.

Best Games Of 2018: Red Dead Redemption 2

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:00

Over the next few days, we will reveal what we believe are the 10 best games of 2018, organized by release date. Then on December 19, we will reveal which of the nominees gets to take home the coveted title of GameSpot's Game of the Year. So be sure to come back then for the big announcement, and in the meantime, follow along with all of our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2018 hub.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a lot of things--methodical in its pacing, ambitious in nearly every department, overwhelming in its scope--but most of all, it is contradictory. Its open world presents you with any number of outlaw activities to take on, but its story is a series of largely linear missions where there is no freedom of choice. The world is expansive and seemingly never-ending, but getting from place to place is a slow, laborious process. But those contradictions work in tandem to develop Red Dead 2's narrative on a deeper level, and it's thanks to those opposing ideas that we gained such an intense connection to its characters and world.

Arthur Morgan's story is not unlike John Marston's story; in Red Dead Redemption, John was working to escape his old life of crime and find a better life for himself and his family. In the prequel, Arthur is torn between two versions of himself: the better man he wants to be and the flawed man he is. This is represented by an honor scale that shifts depending on your actions, like greeting passerby politely or looting an innocent corpse. But in practice, no matter how you're trying to play, you'll always find yourself doing something you didn't want to do. If you're trying to be honorable, you'll inevitably end up doing a homicide-required story mission that tanks your honor score. If you're aiming to be a true outlaw, you'll have to avoid donating to your camp--and miss out on important upgrades, including one that unlocks partial fast travel--if you don't want to gain honor points.

The feeling of inevitability is exacerbated by the tension only a prequel can bring: knowing how the story ultimately ends. Over 50 or so hours, you're forging relationships with people who you know won't make it to the events of Red Dead Redemption. Something hopeful becomes bittersweet, and in turn, sad events take on an optimistic light. There's something beautiful in knowing there's nothing you can do to save someone or avoid the tragic outcome--but that you have choices all the same. Your decisions might not change the ending much, but the give and take of trying and failing makes each step on your journey feel like your own.

It can be frustrating, in an open world game, to be forced into actions you didn't want to take. Red Dead 2 gives you a ton of choices but very few outcomes; there's often nothing you can do to change how a story mission ends. It can feel like you're fighting against the game, but that's why it's brilliant. Your weariness and your frustration are also Arthur's, and that gives you a greater understanding into the inner turmoil he experiences throughout the story. Those feelings draw you into him, his relationships, and his world, and that's a connection that's hard to shake when it's all over. Of everything about Red Dead Redemption 2, from its responsive, living world to its most meticulous details, that is its greatest achievement.

New To Netflix This Week: Movies, TV, And Originals (US)

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 03:31

It's the holiday season, which makes it the perfect time for cozying up by the fireplace with some cocoa and watching streaming shows until you fall asleep and wake up wondering where you are. Netflix has tons of new options this week, particularly chock full of original films and shows.

As of December 16, you can watch The Theory of Everything and Springsteen on Broadway. Starting on December 18, Netflix will have the manga-inspired animated series Baki, the Ellen DeGeneres stand-up special Relatable, and part 5 of Terrace House: Opening New Doors. All are listed as Netflix Originals.

Then on December 21, a veritable smorgasboard of new options opens up. Some highlights include the documentary anthology 7 Days Out, the thriller Bird Box, and documentaries Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski and Tales by Light. Fans of anime have a few reasons to get excited too: the new series 3Below: Tales of Arcadia, Last Hope Part 2, and Sirius the Jaeger.

This is the last very busy week of the year, since Netflix's release docket is lighter over the holiday weeks of Christmas and New Year's. Plus, keep in mind that a few movies and series are leaving this week too--notably Moana, Food Inc., and Spotlight--so you should catch them while you can. Check out our full wrap-up of the month for more details, and read up on our recommendations if you need a little more direction.

12/18/18
  • Baki-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 5-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
12/21/18
  • 3Below: Tales of Arcadia-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • 7 Days Out-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Back With the Ex-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Bad Seeds-- NETFLIX FILM
  • Bird Box-- NETFLIX FILM
  • Derry Girls-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Diablero-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Greenleaf: Season 3
  • LAST HOPE: Part 2-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Perfume-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Sirius the Jaeger-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski -- NETFLIX FILM
  • Tales by Light: Season 3-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • The Casketeers-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Wolf (BÖRÜ)-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Best Buy's Deals On PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch Games This Week (US)

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 03:30

A glance at the calendar shows that anyone who's been putting off Christmas shopping is running out of time to get their gifts. Thankfully, this week's video game sale at Best Buy includes many discounted titles for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. You can even get deals on hardware, so let's take a look at what's on sale before the big holiday arrives.

All Xbox One consoles are $100 off this week, which means you can get an Xbox One S with your choice of pack-in game for $200, or an Xbox One X with Battlefield V or Fallout 76 for $400. Also $100 off are all PlayStation VR bundles, including one that comes with Borderlands 2 VR and Beat Saber. Buy a Nintendo Switch or PlayStation Classic, and you'll get a $25 Best Buy gift card you can use on anything in the store.

As for discounts on individual games, you can pick up Assassin's Creed Odyssey or the online game Fallout 76 on sale for $40. For an even bigger discount, you can grab Battlefield V or Hitman 2 for $30 each. And if you've been wondering about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's battle royale mode Blackout, you can pick up the game for $45.

A number of exclusives are on sale this week as well. PS4 owners can grab God of War for $25 or Spider-Man for $40. On Xbox One, you can get Forza Horizon 4 for just $35 or Sea of Thieves for $30. Anyone with a Nintendo Switch can fend off waves of enemies in Fire Emblem Warriors for $45.

You'll find more games on sale below, or you can head over to Best Buy's sale page for the full list of this week's discounts and price drops.

PS4Xbox OneNintendo Switch

Where You Can Still Get NES And SNES Classic Consoles In The US

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 01:12

Nintendo didn't invent the plug-and-play console, but it certainly popularized it. Introduced in 2016, the NES Classic is a miniature version of the retro console that comes with 30 fantastic games loaded onto it. It sold out fast and was all but impossible to find in stock for many months. The following year, Nintendo released the SNES Classic, which comes with 20 games and was also extremely popular. Unfortunately, Nintendo has announced it will soon cease production of the tiny consoles in the Americas.

But it's not too late. You can still get your hands on both consoles before they're gone for good. Read on to see where you can still find them in stock, along with accessories like additional controllers, wireless controllers, and carrying cases for taking them on the go.

NES Classic

Console

Accessories

_____________________

SNES Classic

Console

Accessories

In our NES Classic review, Peter Brown wrote, "The NES Classic is an affordable solution for playing NES games, and the fact that it outperforms existing Virtual Console efforts from a technical standpoint makes it the most attractive option to boot."

Its successor received similarly high marks. In our SNES Classic review, Michael Higham wrote, "To have this lineup of iconic games in one place, in an easy, accessible, and convenient fashion makes the SNES Classic worth seeking out. If Nintendo’s looking to capitalize on 16-bit nostalgia, I’d say it did a damn fine job."

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said, "We've been clear that, at least from an Americas perspective, these products are going to be available through the holiday season and once they sell out, they're gone."

That means now is likely your last chance to pick up one of these classic consoles for its regular price. After that, the market will determine the value, and the market tends to price out-of-stock Nintendo items above the MSRP.

PES 2019 Is Now Free-To-Play (Sort Of)

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 23:40

Konami has released a free-to-play version of PES 2019 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Named PES 2019 Lite, the downloadable title includes a limited selection of the full game's modes.

Exhibition matches and skill training are the offline offerings, with PES League--including 1v1 and co-op matches--and My Club available for those who wish to play online. Master League and Random Selection Mode are therefore the main exceptions from the full version.

We enjoyed Konami's sports sim here at GameSpot; critic Richard Wakeling awarded the game a 9/10 in our PES 2019 review. "For as long as EA continues to develop FIFA and hold a monopoly over official licences, PES will be the scrappy underdog just hoping for a surprise upset, even when it's fielding the likes of London Blue and PV White Red," he wrote. "The lack of licences for top-tier leagues remains a disheartening sticking point, but PES continues to make brilliant strides on the pitch, building on what was already an incredibly satisfying game of football to produce one of the greatest playing football games of all time. It might be lacking off the pitch, but put it on the field against the competition and a famous giant killing wouldn't be all that surprising."

Konami continues to update the game with squad updates and new player faces, though it still lacks some big team licenses. For more on that topic, check out our feature on how EA and FIFA beat Konami and PES to football's biggest licenses.

PES's mobile version has been updated, meanwhile. What used to be PES 2018 Mobile is now PES 2019 Mobile, which includes local 1v1 matches as well as a mobile edition of My Club. PES 2019 Mobile is out now for iOS and Android.

Kingdom Hearts 3's Final Trailer Is Heavy On Cameos And Story Setup

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 23:07

Square Enix has released a new trailer for Kingdom Hearts III. The long-awaited sequel is set to launch in January so, according to the publisher, this will be its last trailer. The video touches on familiar themes from throughout the Kingdom Hearts franchise: stolen hearts, worlds, and destinies, and--of course--returning home.

From there we're given a showcase of all the iconic Disney characters and worlds that will be featured in the game. Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc. make an appearance, Tigger very excitedly reunites with Sora, and of course, King Mickey looks to be out and about on mysterious world-saving adventures. Naturally, given that Kingdom Hearts III wraps up Sora's story, there's an abundance of characters critical to the main narrative, most notably the members of Organization XIII and Xehanort. Check out the trailer below.

Kingdom Hearts III has leaked and versions of the game are out in the wild. Director Tetsuya Nomura responded to the leak with a statement encouraging people not to share spoilers, especially the "epilogue and secret movie."

"We want everyone to be able to equally experience the full game after its release, so we ask for your continued support on this matter," Nomura added. "We're sorry to see this caused concern amongst our fans who are excited for the release. We're one month out from the release. Let's enjoy the game together when it releases on January 29, 2019."

Kingdom Hearts III is the first core entry in the mainline series since Kingdom Hearts II was released in 2005. As previously mentioned, the game will wrap up Sora's arc, after numerous side-stories and spin-offs have thoroughly explored the universe as a whole. Square Enix and Disney has signed-up an all star cast of familiar voices for this entry. Kingdom Hearts III's release date has been confirmed as January 29 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Top 10 UK Games Chart: Red Dead Redemption 2 Is Back On Top

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 22:27

Red Dead Redemption 2 is top of the UK sales chart once again as we reach the penultimate week before Christmas. The week ending December 15 saw Rockstar's open-world title sell more physical copies than any other game, despite heavy retailer discounts helping some big hitters to climb the chart.

FIFA 19 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 were two of those AAA titles to rise up the chart--EA's sports sim climbed one place to No.2 and Activision's shooter is up four places to No.3. Nintendo's Switch exclusive Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, meanwhile, is down three places to No.4 after a strong debut last week.

The Christmas No.1 will be confirmed in next week's chart, with Red Dead Redemption 2, Black Ops 4, and FIFA 19 all vying for top spot. Those three games were awarded, 9, 8, and 7/10 respectively in GameSpot's reviews; check out the full verdicts below.

You can read the full top 10 sales chart for this week below, courtesy of UKIE and GfK Chart-Track. Note this table does not include digital sales data, and so should not be considered representative of all UK game sales.

  1. Red Dead Redemption 2
  2. FIFA 19
  3. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  4. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  5. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  6. Spyro Reignited Trilogy
  7. Battlefield V
  8. Forza Horizon 4
  9. Spider-Man
  10. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

Capcom Responds To Controversy Over Street Fighter 5's In-Game Ads

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 16:08

Street Fighter V recently released an update that introduces advertisements to the fighting game's loading screens, player models, and stages. While the advertisements can be toggled off, the introduction of ads in the first place went over just as well as you'd expect.

Now, Street Fighter executive producer Yoshinori Ono has responded. In a statement posted Sunday evening, Ono thanked fans for their feedback, adding that Capcom will continue to consider this feedback to think about how it may "improve" the sponsored content feature in the future. Advertisements in Street Fighter V seem like they are here to stay.

pic.twitter.com/DnDJqCshFB

— Street Fighter (@StreetFighter) December 17, 2018

"We value and thank our community for providing feedback on the new sponsored content feature added to Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition this week," Ono said. "We will continue collecting everyone's feedback to consider how we can improve this new feature for players in the future."

Advertisements came to Street Fighter V in an update released on December 11. Some people immediately criticised the move, and made silly mock-up images of new skins for brands like McDonald's and Mtn Dew. Right now, the ads in Street Fighter V are for things like the Capcom Pro Tour series and extra content sales for the game. Players who view the ads earn extra Fight Money (the game's currency) from Ranked and Casual matches, but the sponsored content, as Capcom calls it, can be toggled off for those who don't want to see it.

In other Street Fighter V news, Capcom just today launched a new character, Kage, and introduced a big new balance patch. You can learn more in GameSpot's coverage here.

After Kingdom Hearts 3 Leaks, Director Asks Fans To Please Not Post Spoilers

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 14:59

One of the most anticipated games of 2019, Kingdom Hearts III, isn't due out until the end of January, but it has already leaked in some capacity. Game director Tetsuya Nomura responded to the unfortunate news, saying in a statement that he urges people to not share any spoiler-y videos. Specifically, Nomura said he hopes players don't spoil the "epilogue and secret movie," as these represent the game's "biggest spoilers" overall, though he didn't say why.

"We want everyone to be able to equally experience the full game after its release, so we ask for your continued support on this matter," Nomura said.

An important message for #KingdomHearts III from Director Tetsuya Nomura: pic.twitter.com/j9aVRFTS5B

— KINGDOM HEARTS (@KINGDOMHEARTS) December 16, 2018

Regarding the leak, Nomura said he and the team are aware of a "small portion" of the game emerging online ahead of time. He also stated that Square Enix knows "how this has all happened," though he didn't share any specifics.

"We're sorry to see this caused concern amongst our fans who are excited for the release," he said. "We're one month out from the release. Let's enjoy the game together when it releases on January 29, 2019."

According to Eurogamer, Kingdom Hearts III's title screen and other elements have emerged online. Leaks are nothing new in gaming, but this one comes six weeks out from launch, which makes it notable. Fans hoping to go into the experience with fresh eyes should be careful on social media sites and elsewhere between now and launch.

Kingdom Hearts III is the first new numbered entry since Kingdom Hearts 2 in 2005, so it has been quite a long time, indeed. Fans have been waiting a long time to see this story resolve, and Square Enix and Disney have put the requisite work in to make it a treat for fans--including pulling familiar voices from its various Disney movies.

The game launches on January 29 for playStation 4 and Xbox One.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Sets Box Office Record

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 14:32

The new animated Spider-Man movie, Into the Spider-Verse, is not only a success with critics, but it's doing big business at the box office as well.

The movie opened this past weekend, and it made $35.4 million over its first three days in the United States. That sets a new all-time record for any animated movie released in December. Into the Spider-Verse was the No. 1 movie of the weekend by far, with Clint Eastwood's The Mule ($17.2 million) coming in second place for the three-day period.

Into the Spider-Verse holds an incredible A+ CinemaScore rating from movie-goers, which suggests the movie will perform well into its second weekend and potentially beyond.

With its international box office figures added in, Into the Spider-Verse has now made $56.4 million after just one weekend. The film had a reported budget of $90 million.

Into the Spider-Verse is just the latest Spider-Man film from Sony, which licenses the character Spider-Man and others from Marvel. Sony's previous Spider-Man movie, the spinoff Venom, was a massive success at the box office, taking in more than $850 million.

Into the Spider-Verse features the voice of Shameik Moore as Miles Morales in the lead role.

In GameSpot's Into the Spider-Verse review, Meg Downey wrote that the film is an "instant animated classic, and, with any luck, the firm of many of its kind."

You can see the full Top 10 box office chart below, as rounded up by EW. Of note, the CGI-filled steampunk film Mortal Engines from Peter Jackson and other Lord of the Rings veterans, is off to a slow start and might end up losing $100 million or more.

December 14-16 Domestic Box Office
  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse -- $35.4 million
  2. The Mule -- $17.2 million
  3. The Grinch -- $11.6 million
  4. Ralph Breaks the Internet -- $9.6 million
  5. Mortal Engines -- $7.5 million
  6. Creed II -- $5.4 million
  7. Bohemian Rhapsody -- $4.1 million
  8. nstant Family -- $3.72 million
  9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald -- $3.65 million
  10. Green Book -- $2.8 million

New Street Fighter 5 Character Revealed, Out Now; See First Gameplay

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 13:48

[UPDATE] Capcom has officially announced a brand-new Street Fighter V character, Kage. He's available in the game right now alongside a new balance patch.

"Kage, the Embodiment of the Satsui, rises in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. Available now! Manifesting due to Ryu's rejection of the Satsui no Hado, Kage hungers for power to prove Ryu is nothing without him," reads Capcom's official description of the character.

You can watch the reveal trailer for Kage in the embed above, while a more in-depth breakdown and analysis of the character can be seen here on YouTube.

The original story is below.

It appears one of the Street Fighter V announcements coming at the Capcom Cup event today has leaked ahead of time. An image of a brand-new character named Kage has appeared online; you can check out the image below from Twitter user @DaFeetLee.

EventHubs reports that Kage started appearing in Street Fighter V's character-select menu when you apply a new update that some people are getting already. An image of a darkened character appears in the character-select menu, and hovering over it reveals his name. Kage looks quite evil, with spiky black hair, red eyes, fangs, and horns.

KAGE #PS4share pic.twitter.com/FKcDb1OH3K

— DaFeetLee (@DaFeetLee) December 17, 2018

The Capcom Cup 2018 professional gaming event is taking place right now, and you can follow along with the action here on Twitch.

It is rumoured that there may be multiple new character announcements pegged for the end of the event, so keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest.

In other Street Fighter V news, the game recently introduced advertisements on loading screens and other places that are toggled on by default. You can turn them off, but some people are still unhappy about it.

All Xbox One Bundles Are $100 Off For The Holidays, Including Fortnite Package

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 12:36

Microsoft has announced a really good deal on Xbox One hardware this holiday. Starting today, all Xbox One S and Xbox One X bundles are marked down by $100 in the US.

That means you can get a new Xbox One S with a game for only $200, and a new Xbox One X with a game for only $400. It's the best deal on the console ever, and it matches some of the offers from Black Friday. Microsoft was previously offering $50 off every Xbox One bundle this holiday, but the deal has now been sweetened nicely to $100 off.

With the $100 off deal, you can get an Xbox One S in bundles that come with games like Fortnite, Minecraft, NBA 2K19, Battlefield V, Forza Horizon 4, and PUBG.

Of note, the Fortnite bundle comes with 2,000 V-Bucks to buy extra cosmetics with, along with the Eon cosmetic outfit right out of the box. The Battlefield V bundles come with the game's Deluxe Edition, which gets you copies of Battlefield 1 and Battlefield 1943, as well as a one-month subscription to EA Access.

The Xbox One X has numerous bundles available going for $400. These include bundles that come with Battlefield V, Fallout 76, PUBG, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Forza Horizon 4, and others. It is difficult to buy an Xbox One and not get a free game.

You can visit the Xbox website to see a full rundown of all the Xbox One S and Xbox One X bundles.

This is an aggressive pricing promotion from Microsoft, and it'll be interesting to see if PlayStation follows with a PS4 deal of its own this holiday. Microsoft is in second place against Sony, and this price drop, though it is temporary, may help close the gap.

Pokemon Go Dev Could Be Worth $3.9 Billion After New Funding - Report

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 11:34

Pokemon Go developer Niantic Labs began its life as a Google subsidiary, but the company spun out in 2015, and reached a new stratosphere of success with the launch of Pokemon Go in July 2016. The San Francisco-based developer is growing still, with a new report claiming the company is working to secure a $200 million round of funding.

According to The Wall Street Journal's sources, the further $200 million would raise the company's total valuation to $3.9 billion. The latest round of funding is expected to be led by venture capital firm IVP, with more money coming from Samsung and aXiomatic Gaming.

There is no word on what the rumoured round of $200 million in funding would go toward at Niantic, but the studio has a new Harry Potter game in the works, in addition to ongoing support for Pokemon Go. The WSJ report says Niantic could be working on games for "other franchises," but none were named.

Niantic's new Harry Potter game, Wizards Unite, was initially expected to launch in 2018 but it was later delayed to 2019. Not much is known about the game, but it's said to use a similar augmented reality set-up that Niantic struck gold with for Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go is free, and it makes money through in-game microtransactions. While the game might not be as popular as it once was, it still makes a lot of money. In November, the game pulled in $80 million worldwide from its microtransactions on iOS and Android, according to a report from SensorTower.

In other news, Pokemon Go's latest winter event kicks off this week. Among other things, it lets you earn bonuses, hatch Eggs more easily, and encounter Pokemon from the Sinnoh region. You can learn more about the event in our coverage here.

Fallout 76, Hitman 2 Are Discounted To $30 Right Now (US Only)

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 10:51

Two of the year's biggest games, Fallout 76 and Hitman 2, are currently marked down substantially on Amazon. Bethesda's open-world multiplayer RPG and the stealth game from Warner Bros. can be had for just $30 USD each right now on PS4 and Xbox One.

Both games were also discounted nicely on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if you missed out on those deals, now you have another chance.

Fallout 76 didn't get the best reviews. If you wanted to pick up the game but not at full price, now seems like a good time to do so. Hitman 2, meanwhile, was generally better-liked by critics. You can read GameSpot's reviews for each game below.

Bethesda has pledged to support Fallout 76 with new updates in the weeks, months, and potentially years to come. Hitman 2, meanwhile, is getting more content down the road when new locations come to the game through the expansion pass.

Aquaman Movie Makes $250 Million Before It's Even Out In The US

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 10:29

The new Aquaman film from Warner Bros. is doing quite well already. The superhero origin movie has now exceeded $261 million from all international markets combined, an achievement that is especially notable given that the film hasn't premiered in the US yet.

According to Variety, China is the biggest market for Aquaman so far, with box office receipts totalling $189.2 million there after two weekends. Other markets where Aquaman is performing well so far include Mexico ($7.9 million), Brazil ($7.7 million), Russia ($7.4 million), the UK ($6.5 million).

Aquaman, which stars Jason Momoa in the title role, opens in the US on December 21. In addition to Momoa, the film stars Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard, and Willem Dafoe. It was directed by James Wan, who previously made Saw, Insidious, and Fast & Furious 7.

GameSpot's Aquaman review mostly praised the superhero film.

"Aquaman isn't simply a bunch of remixed comics elements thrown together. It's a movie with its own over the top, tongue in cheek, inconsistent, massive, irreverent, CGI-soaked tone, aesthetic, and world," reviewer Michael Rougeau said. "And somehow, it works well enough that you'll be calling Arthur king by the end."

For more on the critical reaction to Aquaman, check out this roundup of reviews.

New Mortal Engines Movie From Lord Of The Rings Veterans Is A Huge Flop, Report Says

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 10:10

Mortal Engines, the big-budget sci-fi movie from a series of Lord of the Rings veterans, is expected to be a major box office flop. Variety reports that the film is expected to lose more than $100 million when all is said and done. The film had a reported production budget of $100 million, with "tens of millions" more spent on marketing.

As of today, Universal's Mortal Engines has made only $42 million worldwide.

"This is a true Christmas disaster and a lump of coal for Universal," Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock told Variety. "They took a big swing, and they struck out."

Mortal Engines has yet to open in China, which is a massive market, but it currently has no release date for that country.

The disappointing box office results come even though Mortal Engines has big names attached--it was written by LotR's Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh. It was directed by Oscar winner Christian Rivers, who also worked on LotR.

As we reported in the past, Mortal Engines takes place in the far future where modern technology as we know it has been destroyed and morphed into a steampunk-like world, where giant, moving cities traverse through Europe looking for other cities to eat, in order to use the eaten city's structures to power their gigantic machines to continue the hunt.

That might be a visually stunning set-up, but the complicated plot was one of the reasons that Warner Bros. and Fox said no to the film because Universal picked it up, according to Variety. Universal reportedly only contributed 30 percent of the production costs, with Media Rights Capital putting up half of the money. Legendary and Perfect World also financed the movie.

Jackson apparently at one point said he believed Mortal Engines could become another big franchise, but this box office performance suggests that may not happen.

Kassandra Or Alexios? Game Director Reveals Which Character Is Chosen Most

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 09:48

For the first time in the history of the Assassin's Creed franchise, this year's game, Odyssey, lets you choose to play as a man, Alexios, or a woman, Kassandra. But which was the more popular choice?

Game director Scott Phillips told Game Informer (via Destructoid) that Alexios is currently the more popular choice. Around two-thirds of players chose him. This ratio surprised Phillips because early playtests were closer to 50/50.

"Right now it's two-thirds Alexios and one-third Kassandra," he said. "The interesting thing is that, during playtests, it was pretty much 50/50. I was a bit surprised; I was expecting half-and-half or even a little bit more Kassandra.

"The idea of choice being key to our game shows really well in that even we are surprised by some of the choices [players] ended up making."

It's unclear if the breakdown between Alexios and Kassandra includes people who played the game more than once and chose a different character the next time. We also don't know how the player split breaks down by console.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey launched in early October, and it enjoyed the franchise's best start in many years in terms of game sales and microtransactions.

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