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How To Train Your Dragon 3 Review: A Satisfying Conclusion

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 11:33

It is said that the last entry in a film trilogy is usually the worst. For every The Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2, there's a Spider-Man 3 or a The Godfather Part III. Once in a while, though, we get a War for the Planet of the Apes or a Toy Story 3, which encapsulate everything that audiences loved about the first two movies in a satisfying conclusion. Now, DreamWorks has a new winner on their hands with How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, a film that is not only as good as its predecessors but even surpasses them at certain points. It's an action-packed film of epic proportions that will also bring a tear or two to your eyes.

While the story of the trilogy takes place in the span of six years, for audiences it's been nine years since the first How To Train Your Dragon came out. Like with Harry Potter or Toy Story, audiences have grown up watching Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless for almost a decade, and the characters have come of age with us. Just as the wizarding world and the talking-toy world, The Hidden World teaches us that all things must come to a bittersweet end.

We are first reunited with Hiccup and his gang of Scottish-accented Vikings Astrid (America Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple, replacing T.J. Miller) as they raid a hunting ship in an attempt to rescue trapped dragons. It's an action-packed scene that sets the stage for some epic set-pieces, but also the social commentary at the core of The Hidden World.

You see, Hiccup has now taken over the title of chieftain from his late father, Stoick (luckily, we still get to hear Gerard Butler's performance via flashback) in the year since the previous installment. He also achieved his dream of a having humans and dragon living together in a harmonious utopia. The problem? There are too many dragons on the island of Berk, which is disrupting the peace and quiet Vikings are notoriously known for. Their exploits have also attracted too much attention to the village, and heavily increased the number of threats that may end their peaceful existence. This includes Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham), a ruthless dragon hunter that wants to see the entire species dead and has a particular interest in Nightfuries like Toothless. While it's understandable for the film to save time and focus on our heroes, one can't help but wish they had spent a little more time developing Grimmel beyond being evil, even if F. Murray Abraham excels as it.

What does Hiccup do? Well, he decides Berk is not a place, but a people--maybe not those exact words, but the Thor: Ragnarok comparisons are too clear to ignore--and thinks they all should leave their home of seven generations in search of a mythical dragon paradise that may or may not exist. Before he gets there, he will have to face his biggest challenge yet: raging dragon hormones. As it turns out, the gang discovers a female Nightfury who is more than a mere distraction for Hiccup's best friend, Toothless.

Toothless' comedic attempts at wooing his newfound love interest is the highlight of the film. The Hidden World, once again written and directed by Dean DeBlois, finally realized that Toothless is due his time in the spotlight, so a good part of the film is devoted to the sweet yet humorous dragon courtship. There is no dialogue, only the dance of dragon hormones and all the ridiculous things Toothless thinks are part of their mating ritual. This is well contrasted with Hiccup's disastrous obliviousness to everyone's advice to finally settle down and make his relationship with Astrid (America Ferrera) into something permanent, despite her being as equally suited to rule Berk, as well as tactical planning and fighting, as he is. Unfortunately, the focus on the duo's storylines means the rest of the ensemble gets somewhat pushed to the side, even if DeBlois tries to give each character a moment to shine -- one particular highlight is Kristen Wiig's performance as Ruffnut, who gets a rousing monologue about how annoying she is that will have entire theaters in stitches.

The Hidden World shows not only the changing physique of its characters and the maturity that comes with it (Hiccup grows a spectacular beard that will become the topic of many hot takes), but also how much its computer-generated visuals have evolved throughout the years. From the impressively detailed destruction by dragon fire, to the softness of the characters' hair to the fluidity of the dragon dances, and especially the photo-realism of the action choreography, it is all quite exquisite.

Given that each installment in the trilogy has introduced us to a new and better-looking dragon world, it isn't surprising that the titular hidden world is the most magnificent locale in the film. In an awe-inspiring scene that you'll want to see multiple times to fully appreciate, the film showcases a Pandora-esque world filled with stunning landscapes with photorealistic waterfalls, caves, and forest that would make James Cameron jealous. It is no surprise to know that Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049) serves as the franchise's visual consultant when the movie looks this good.

When it comes to the action, The Hidden World sits up there with Lord of the Rings and the third Pirates of the Caribbean (really) as being able to do epic-scale battles just as well as intimate, one-on-one fights. There is no giant dragon boss battle this time, and the film is all the better for it. The battle scenes are as thrilling as they look stunning, thanks to the film's brilliant use of light and shadow, and John Powell's powerful and spirited score.

The How to Train Your Dragon franchise has always found the right balance between action and emotion. The Hidden World strikes a bittersweet chord in exploring how adulthood inevitably leads to an exciting and uncertain future, but also how it means that some things, even dragons, must come to an end. Just as Hiccup, audiences will find it hard to say goodbye to one of the best and most consistent franchises in the last decade.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is in theaters on February 22.

The GoodThe BadBreathtaking visualsThe villain doesn't get much depthLord of the Rings-level actionSome characters get pushed to the sidelineGood balance between humor and emotion Hiccup's beard Kristen Wiig's hilarious monologue

New Anthem Trailer Breaks Down Javelin Customization And Progression

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 11:32

BioWare released a new trailer for Anthem, its upcoming third-person shooter/action RPG. The video is the first part of a series devoted to explaining the gameplay mechanics and features of Anthem.

In this first part, BioWare discusses the upcoming game's story, progression, and customization. The bulk of the video is devoted to the latter two topics, and discusses the different playstyles, loadouts, and abilities of Anthem's four Javelins: Ranger, Interceptor, Colossus, and Storm.

You'll start with the Ranger in Anthem, but you'll have the chance to build all four Javelins--and multiple versions of them too--by the time you're done with the game's story. Ranger is built for precision play, relying on a variety of abilities and weapons to target specific enemies. Interceptor is fast and has the strongest melee attacks, allowing it to launch into battle and deal massive damage before ducking out of harm's way. Colossus is best suited for the front lines, and can withstand devastating attacks with its heavy armor and massive shield. Finally, Storm's elemental attacks makes it one of the most powerful Javelins, but it's lack of armor ensures it remains a glass cannon.

Each Javelin can be customized to fulfill multiple roles. Ranger, for example, can be outfitted to survive on its own with a balanced assortment of weapons for solo play. However, if playing with a team, you could either customize the suit with tech that makes it your squad's damage dealer or pick support abilities that ensures everyone remains alive.

BioWare ended the trailer promising that the next part in the series would offer details on "the expanding shared world of Anthem and its massive end game, including a look at [the game's] strongholds."

Anthem is scheduled to release on February 22 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. If you pre-order the game, you can play an exclusive VIP demo on January 25.

Netflix Talks About Competing With Fortnite

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 11:05

Having increased its number of subscribers and overall revenue for the latest quarter, Netflix is doing quite well as of late. But now the company says it could have done even better if it weren't for a little game called Fortnite.

In the "Competition" section of a letter to investors today, Netflix succinctly said, "We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO" as it relates to screen time.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities thinks Netflix's popularity measurement against Netflix was "downright idiotic." Time is a finite commodity, and Pachter points out that Netflix also competes against school, work, and defecating.

Not everyone agrees with Pachter's point, however, as Amazon Studios' former head of strategy Matthew Ball argues that Fortnite's huge popularity is impacting Netflix. He shared how he probably would have finished the new season of Narcos were it not for all the time he spent playing Fortnite. Looking at your own life, you can probably remember a time when your latest obsession--be it a video game or anything else--impacted how much time you spent with another activity. It's impossible to confirm specifically how Fortnite is impacting Netflix viewing, but few games have ever been as popular as Fortnite, so there has surely been some effect.

The point made is that they compete based on providing engaging content and value for subscriber fees spent. The comment about losing to @FortniteGame is downright idiotic. If they're measuring things like that, they lose to sleep, sex, pooping, eating, school, work, etc. https://t.co/9vuRHVfCtb

— Michael Pachter (@michaelpachter) January 17, 2019

Which they say, including "having a glass of wine with your partner".
I don't think the Fortnite comparison is idiotic at all. Were Fortnite not around, I almost assure you I'd have finished Narcos S4

— Matthew Ball (@ballmatthew) January 17, 2019

For its part, Netflix acknowledged that there are "thousands of competitors" in the marketplace trying to entertain consumers, and Fortnite is just one of them. The company said it is not focused on responding to competitors but rather on improving the experience and value of the offering, which would theoretically get more people to sign up.

Netflix has 139 million subscribers by the network's latest count. The company continues to pour money into new, original shows to help separate itself from the onslaught of new competitors in the streaming space. One of Netflix's newest shows is Space Force from Steve Carell and other key minds behind The Office.

Black Ops 4's Free Blackout Trial, New Limited-Time Mode Now Live

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 10:40

Players who have yet to pick up a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 can now try its Blackout mode for free. Treyarch's limited-time Blackout trial has begun on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, allowing you jump into the hectic battle royale mode at no charge.

The free trial runs until 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 6 PM GMT on January 24. To participate, you'll need to download the Blackout trial client from either Battle.net on PC or your console's respective digital store. PS4 players aren't required to have a PlayStation Plus subscription, but Xbox One owners will need an Xbox Live Gold membership, while those playing on PC will need a free Battle.net account.

The trial gives you full access to all the content in Blackout mode. You'll also earn Echelon progression while playing and unlock Black Market Tiers and loot. If you decide to purchase the title after the trial ends, any progress you've made during the free period will carry over to the full game. You can read more details about the free trial on Reddit.

If you're interested in Blackout but don't particularly care for Black Ops 4's other modes, Activision is selling a $40 version of the game on PC that strips out Zombies and only includes Blackout and multiplayer. Like the trial client, this is only available through Battle.net.

Coinciding with the free trial, Treyarch has kicked off a new limited-time mode in Blackout, dubbed Down But Not Out. In this quad mode, any downed players will be able to rejoin the battle with each Collapse as long as at least one member of the team remains in the game. The mode is live now on PS4 and will come to Xbox One and PC at a later date.

Halo Boss Admits "Mistakes" After Taking Over From Bungie

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 10:31

Halo boss Bonnie Ross, who heads up developer 343 Industries, has spoken candidly about the transition from Bungie to Microsoft and some of the stumbles along the way. Speaking to VentureBeat in an interview from December that we were recently made aware of, Ross said 343 "made some mistakes along the way," and that overall, taking over the development reigns from Bungie has been a "very humbling experience."

She didn't mention any specific struggles by name, but no doubt the launch challenges for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which 343 previously referred to as a "black eye" for the franchise, are among the "mistakes" that Ross is talking about.

Ross went on to say that 343 not only considers what's best for the Halo franchise as a universe, but also how the studio interacts with and responds to fans. Halo as a universe belongs to the fans as much as it does to 343 itself, Ross said.

"The whole team looks at this as not just our universe. It's the fans' universe," she said. "How are we doing right by the fans? How are we doing right by the franchise? It is a part of our culture, this precious, precious world, and we're responsible for taking care of it. And we want to do it right."

Indeed, 343 has demonstrated a willingness to do right by Halo's fans, one example being the team's ongoing commitment to expanding and improving upon Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Also in the interview, Ross talked about how there are countless more storytelling opportunities within the Halo universe. As fans may know, Halo 1, 2, and 3 take place over a period of time of only three months. As such, Ross said she's excited about how many more stories there are to tell in the Halo universe.

"The fictional universe is huge. I looked at Halo as a universe, which is the most important character," she said. "We spent a ton of time in the early days of 343 just expanding the canvas, or framing the world in which we could tell stories and making it larger, adding more characters such that we could tell stories over the next two decades."

"I feel like it's such a large world and universe and there's so much stuff we can we can do so I kind of I have my dream job," she added. "I feel like there's so much more work to do and super excited about all the things we’re doing going forward."

Some of Halo's upcoming projects include the new Xbox One and PC game, Halo Infinite, as well as the TV show. "There's a lot more Halo stories to tell. It's such an amazing universe," Ross said.

Ross will be honoured as the latest inductee to the AIAS Hall of Fame at the D.I.C.E. Awards next month in Las Vegas.

Movie About Lord Of The Rings Author Gets A Release Date

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 09:48

The J.R.R. Tolkien biopic finally has a release date. Fox Searchlight has announced that the movie about the Lord of the Rings author will arrive in theatres on May 10, 2019, and a week earlier on May 3 in the UK and Ireland. The movie stars Nicholas Hoult as a young Tolkien, with the story following the man long before he came to write his epic fantasy tome.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the film will track Tolkien as a young man who came into his own at school before serving in World War I. In the trenches of France, with death and despair surrounding him, Tolkien was said to have come up with the ideas that would become The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. A number of Tolkien's longtime friends died in World War I; Tolkien survived, came home, and wrote his defining work.

The movie will also focus on Tolkien's wife, Edith Bratt, who is played by Lily Collins, the actress daughter of singer Phil Collins. The relationship between Tolkien and Bratt was supposedly the inspiration for Tolkien's Beren and Luthien story, which itself inspired the Aragorn-Arwen relationship in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings series. Tolkien and Bratt share a gravestone, and on it they're referred to as Beren and Luthien.

The new movie, which is simply titled Tolkien, is directed by Dome Karukoski (Heart of Finland), based on script from David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford.

In addition to this film, another one is in the works that focuses on the relationship between Tolkien and Narnia writer C.S. Lewis, and how Tolkien helped convert Lewis to Christianity.

Outside of these, Amazon is producing a Lord of the Rings prequel TV show, while a massive Lord of the Rings art exhibit is opening in New York City. A new Lord of the Rings video game is also in the work, and it's said to have an online focus.

A Monopoly Movie Is Coming, And Kevin Hart Will Star In It

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 09:30

Yet another classic board game is being turned into a movie, as Hunger Games studio Lionsgate is making a Monopoly film, and now we've learned who will star in it.

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who has made headlines recently for his past tweets that got him fired as the newest Oscars host, will star in a live-action version of the board game that destroys relationships and family bonds.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film has been in the works for more than a decade already, and it's been through what's described as a "hellish development process." The latest script is said to involve a woman and her young son who go back in time to thwart a corrupt businessman. Whether or not that's still the story for this newest version with Hart is unclear.

When the movie was officially announced in 2015, Lionsgate released a synopsis that is either the best or the worst depending on your attitude. Here it is:

"The story centers on a boy from Baltic Avenue who uses both Chance and Community in a quest to make his fortune, taking him on a fun, adventure-filled journey. It's about making your own luck, what makes you truly rich and, of course, avoiding Jail time!"

It was previously announced that Andrew Niccol, who picked up an Academy Award nomination for The Truman Show, would write the screenplay for the Monopoly movie, but it's not clear if he remains attached. According to a press release, the movie will be a "big, crowd-pleasing event film."

Lionsgate goes on to say that the Monopoly movie will be "a film for all ages, visually sumptuous, heartwarming, and full of action and adventure."

Monopoly is just the latest board game to be spun into a movie. The Peter Berg-directed Battleship movie starring Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, and Taylor Kitsch, was released in 2012. Before that, there were films based on Dungeons & Dragons, Ouija, and Clue. Looking ahead, movies based on Tetris and Catan are in the works.

As for Hart, one of his next big movies is the sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which is also based on a board game.

Netflix Reveals Viewership Projections For Some Of Its Biggest TV Shows And Movies

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 09:07

Typically, Netflix doesn't release viewership figures, but as part of the company's earnings report today, the streamer revealed key datapoints for some of its biggest TV shows and movies. The network announced that the drama You, starring Penn Badgley and Elizabeth Lail, is tracking to be watched in 40 million households over its first four weeks.

Meanwhile, the British comedy/drama Sex Education, starring Gillian Anderson and released on January 11, is expected to reach the same viewership figure within its first month. Netflix also announced that the Spanish show Elite was seen in more than 20 million homes globally after its first four weeks.

Joe isn't the only one watching: @YouNetflix is on track to be viewed by more than 40 million members in its first four weeks on Netflix! pic.twitter.com/W4jZ3nYTdQ

— See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) January 17, 2019

One of Netflix's biggest hits recently, meanwhile, was the Sandra Bullock horror film Bird Box. It was astonishingly popular, tracking to be watched by 80 million users over time, according to Deadline. All of these figures are likely well below the number of people who end up watching the programs, as people often watch movies and TV shows on Netflix together.

Anyone who watches at least 70 percent of a single episode of a series or a movie is counted as a "viewer" according to Netflix, which is surely inflating these figures.

#SexEducation has come out with a bang — the smart and emotional series is on pace to be watched by over 40 million accounts over its first month pic.twitter.com/TAsklhTSQH

— See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) January 17, 2019

Netflix had another strong quarter for the three final months of 2018, as the network announced revenue of $4.19 billion for the period; that's up 27 percent year-over-year. Additionally, Netflix added 8.84 million subscribers during the period, increasing the total number of paying members to 139 million globally.

In recent news, Netflix announced yet another subscription fee price hike for all tiers. For more on Netflix, here's everything coming to and leaving the service in January (US only).

#Elite is a true global phenomenon. The Spanish language original attracted more than 20 million households during its first four weeks on service! pic.twitter.com/FwrRT6gqyh

— See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) January 17, 2019

Dark Horse Is Expanding The StarCraft Comics Universe With StarCraft Soldiers And Here's The First Look

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 08:51

The expanded universe of Blizzard's classic sci-fi strategy franchise StarCraft is about to get a bit bigger next week with the release of StarCraft: Soldiers #1, the latest comic to enter the alien-fighting canon by writers Jody Houser (Stranger Things, Star Wars) and Andrew R. Robinson (Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch) with artist Miguel Sepulveda. GameSpot has an exclusive preview of the first six pages for you, right here, right now.

Soldiers will follow the newly graduated Lieutenant Shivani Singh as she early fights to prove herself on the Dominion's front lines--all while learning some hard (and potentially fatal) lessons about the realities of zerg space that her time at the academy didn't quite prepare her for.

This will be Dark Horse Comics' second entry into the StarCraft pantheon following the StarCraft: Scavengers, a four-issue series released last year following a group of terrans attempting to--surprise!--scavenge supplies out of a derelict Protoss starship. Soldiers will be independent from Scavengers' in terms of plot, so no need to worry about prerequisite reading before you pick up issue #1 next week. If, however, you're a StarCraft fan looking for even more expanded universe lore, working your way back through Scavengers certainly wouldn't hurt.

StarCraft: Soldiers #1 hits shelves on January 23rd everywhere comics are sold.

New Mortal Kombat 11 Character, Geras, Revealed

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 08:25

NetherRealm gave fans a much closer look at its upcoming fighting game, Mortal Kombat 11, during its big livestream event. The developer showed off a load of brutal gameplay footage and revealed a handful of familiar characters who'll be returning in the game, as well as one entirely new one: Geras.

Described as the "powerful and loyal servant" of Kronika, the Keeper of Time and the first female boss in the Mortal Kombat series, Geras looks like a powerhouse of a character. As you can see in his character trailer above, Geras is able to conjure up objects made of sand, such as a bed of spikes that he can slam his foes onto. He also has the ability to manipulate time, which he can use to freeze foes in place.

Geras is one of eight fighters who have been confirmed for Mortal Kombat 11 thus far. In addition to Scorpion and Raiden, who were both revealed during The Game Awards this past December, we got our first look at Baraka, Sub-Zero, and Sonya Blade, who this time is being voiced by Ronda Rousey. NetherRealm also confirmed that Skarlet, the DLC character from Mortal Kombat 9, is set to return.

In addition to the characters, NetherRealm shared some details about Mortal Kombat 11's story, which takes place after the events of 2015's Mortal Kombat X. The developer also demonstrated some of the gruesome new fatalities in the game.

Mortal Kombat 11 is in development for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. The game is slated to launch on April 23, and those who pre-order it will get a bonus character: Shao Kahn. Reserving the game for either PS4 and Xbox One will also get you access to an upcoming beta, which is scheduled to take place on March 28.

Mortal Kombat 11's Character Customization Detailed In New Video

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 08:14

The long-awaited gameplay reveal of Mortal Kombat 11 revealed all sorts of new details about the upcoming fighting game from NetherRealm. As expected, one such aspect is customization options similar to Injustice 2, the studio's other hit fighting series.

In a video, director Ed Boon walks us through some of the customization options using Scorpion. Each character has three pieces of customizable gear, and in Scorpion's case that's his mask, katana, and spear. Each of the options themselves changed his look pretty significantly, but further "Kosmetic" options change his look even more dramatically. Tabs for "Abilities" and "AI Behavior" can also be seen in the customization menu. Boon also mentioned you can set intros and victory celebrations.

After that, the closer look treated us to a scene of Scorpion vs Baraka, cycling through several costume changes for both. The customization looks to be pretty in-depth, even from just a brief look at some of the menus and options.

Other details from the Mortal Kombat 11 reveal event included a partial character roster, our first extended look at gameplay, a bunch of fatalities, and story details. A beta test is coming in March for PS4 and Xbox One, followed by the game on April 23 on those platforms plus PC and Nintendo Switch.

Watch The AEW Roster Invade Another Wrestling Company

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 08:06

All Elite Wrestling may not be holding its first show until May, but that isn't stopping the new company from making an impact wherever possible. Wrestling fans in Los Angeles found that out Wednesday night, January 16, when several members of the AEW roster invaded Bar Wrestling during the main event, creating one of the most memorable wrestling moments in quite a while.

During a match that saw AEW signees Scorpio Sky, Frankie Kazarian, and Christopher Daniels--known as So Cal Uncensored--take on the team of Eric Watts and the RockNES Monsters, some very special surprise guests made their way to the ring to help SCU fend off the heels. First out was Bar Wrestling founder Joey Ryan, who has been featured extensively on the Being the Elite YouTube series and appeared at All In. He was soon joined by Elite member Adam "Hangman" Page, as they performed a double YouPorn Plex--a move you have to see to believe--on Watts.

From there, The Elite's Cody and Brandi Rhodes made their arrival to dispatch of the RockNES Monsters, before the Young Bucks joined in for one of their patented Superkick Parties. The entire thing was utterly ridiculous in the best possible way, and based on the video above, the audience couldn't have loved it any more.

Once SCU secured the victory over the fallen villains, the show kept going as Cody officially signed everyone in the crowd to All Elite Wrestling and promptly crowd surfed over the audience. Of course, Brandi quickly fired them all because they simply can't afford to employ that many people.

The only unfortunate part of the entire invasion is that AEW didn't sign Joey Ryan on the spot, even though he seems tailor-made for the promotion. However, as Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks revealed to the audience, Ryan is currently under contract to El Rey's Lucha Underground promotion until 2020. Who knows what could happen once that contract has run its course, though?

While there may not have been any major AEW news to come out of this event, the invasion makes it obvious that it's business as usual for The Elite. While they may have partnered with the owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars to launch AEW, that's not going to stop them from going to smaller shows and having fun. Now if they could just bring the rest of their group--Kenny Omega and "The Villain" Marty Scurll were absent from the invasion--along for the ride. At this point, though, both men are still under contract to other companies.

All Elite Wrestling's first major event, Double or Nothing, will happen on May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Make sure to check out our wishlist of wrestlers we'd like to see sign with AEW and be part of that show.

Why Akuma Should Be In Resident Evil 2 Remake

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 08:00

The highly-anticipated Resident Evil 2 remake's release draws near and I couldn't be any more excited. I'm a huge fan of the 1998 original--alongside many lovely coworkers at GameSpot--and have countless fond memories playing it during my formative years. But amidst these memories were hours spent speculating upon the validity of a popular gaming hoax; the ability to play as Akuma in Resident Evil 2. That's right, the Akuma (or Gouki, if you're a Capcom purist)--the infamous top knotted practitioner of the Ansatsuken fighting style and well-known beaded necklace aficionado from Street Fighter. Though it began as a joke back in 1998, I'm crossing my fingers that Capcom puts Akuma in the upcoming remake. It's a longshot, but the iconic fighter's addition could prove a humorous and unexpected way to experience the horrors of Raccoon City.

"[Akuma's] main weapon is a fireball, done just like holding the Action button and firing" -- EGM2

The popular Akuma hoax was birthed into the Resident Evil 2 community thanks to the work of the now defunct Electronic Gaming Monthly spin-off magazine, EGM2. The publication's April issue "Trick of the Month" column stated that Akuma could be unlocked by typing "AKUMA" instead of "GUEST" on a laboratory computer located at the end of the game, allowing a new save file to be made where you could play him. However, to actually get this to work, EGM2 claimed you needed to first beat both Resident Evil 2 scenarios six times in a row with an A-rank, and do it only using the handgun combat knife. Akuma could then be unlocked on the seventh run after inputting the login name across both scenarios. This was clearly an April Fool’s joke, but readers quickly spread word of the false unlockable. None of this was unfeasible, as both The 4th Survivor and Tofu modes demanded similar unlock requirements.

"Remember that 'Unused' Cryo tank? Well, at the start Akuma will bust out of it!" -- EGM2

Looking back at the low-resolution screenshots from EGM2, it's not surprising that many were fooled by this joke. A polygonal Akuma exploring RPD and launching Shakunetsu Hadokens at zombies looked as authentic any other screenshots in the magazine. As a child, I only heard about this myth via word-of-mouth during a vague encounter that only seems to escape my memory the more I think about it. Regardless, the myth worked its way into the community to the point where many were convinced of its existence. Though, I do admit that by the time I built up the courage to play Resident Evil 2, the hoax had already been debunked. However, an uncertainty around the myth remained--if anything a nostalgic yearning for it to somehow be true.

This wasn't the first time EGM fooled people, either. In fact, the magazine did something similar in a previous April Fool's joke with Street Fighter II with the infamous Sheng Long hoax. Many were lead to believe that the game had an unlockable character named Sheng Long, who was framed as the martial arts master of Ryu and Ken. The joke's status grew over the years, gaining international fame. Capcom acknowledged its existence several times and eventually added the character to Street Fighter IV in the form of Gouken as a response to fans.

Imagine performing a Raging Demon on Mr. X. It would be ridiculous.

Like EGM's Sheng Long, the Akuma hoax is a peculiar piece of gaming history that continues to captivate in its execution and overall endurance. Its alluring promise is a fantasy that I hold steadfast in wanting to come true in the Resident Evil 2 remake. Imagine being able to send enemies across a room with a well-placed fierce punch or performing a Raging Demon on a Licker. Of course, let's not forget about spamming Hadokens at the undead. And if we're remaining faithful to EGM2's vision, you'll have free rein to be merry and explore environments without worrying about locked doors. You might call it a pipedream, but given Capcom's track record with previous Resident Evils, I could easily see a playable Akuma becoming a reality.

Case in point: Wesker mode in Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster. This bonus mode made Rebecca's and Billy's terrifying zombie-infested journey into a silly romp, allowing you to use Wesker's super-human speed and destructive arsenal to wipe out the undead with ease. The ability to instantly overpower your enemies supplied a satisfying release, especially after spending hours desperately managing resources to survive. Akuma could easily bring all the joyous highs of Wesker mode into Resident Evil 2 remake, while also being a fun, loving nod to the hoax that captivated readers back in the day.

I'm still shocked at how well Akuma was inserted into Tekken 7's story. I envision a similar scenario playing out in Resident Evil 2 where Akuma just happens to walk onto the scene as if he's always been there.

Capcom certainly isn't shy towards allowing Akuma to be in ridiculous situations and crossovers. He recently jumped franchises by appearing in Tekken 7, somehow managing to be naturally incorporated into that franchise's lore. In addition, Akuma once appeared in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter as Cyber-Akuma, a cyborg version of himself with a sweet robot arm that was brainwashed by X-Men baddie Apocalypse.

Despite all this talk, I admit that Capcom adding Akuma into the remake is still unrealistic. Compared to Sheng Long, the Akuma hoax had more impact in North America than in other regions, so I'm sure it would be bizarre for European and Japanese players, who would see Akuma's inclusion as a random choice. I already feel lucky that Capcom is taking a chance on a Resident Evil 2 remake in the first place. But I know that whoever Capcom chooses to be the star of the game's Wesker mode-like equivalent, if anyone at all, my heart will always be longing for Akuma and the promise EGM2 cleverly fooled me into believing all those years ago.

Who The Hell Is Jude Law In Captain Marvel?

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 07:53

Jude Law's role in Captain Marvel has been a hotly contested issue since he was confirmed for the film, originally as "Walter Lawson," the human alter-ego of the original Captain Marvel, the Kree warrior Mar-Vell which naturally led fans to assume that Law would be playing Mar-Vell himself. This would go to follow, given the movie's status as an origin story for Carol Danvers and Mar-Vell's integral role in Carol's comic book history.

However, as the movie marches closer and closer to release, details about Law's character have surfaced via Marvel's Minimates figure line, naming Law as Yon-Rogg--another name that might be familiar to MCU speculators as one of the educated guesses for the villain of the film, prior to Ben Mendelsohn's confirmation as Talos the Skrull.

So, what does that actually mean? Who is Yon-Rogg and what is his deal?

We're so glad you asked.

Introduced in the late 60s, Yon-Rogg was a Kree military officer sent to Earth by the Supreme Intelligence, a hyper-advanced Kree AI designed to promote Kree genetic superiority throughout the galaxy. Yon-Rogg had a deep-seated, soap opera flavored grudge against Mar-Vell, who was already stationed on Earth at the time of his arrival, which drove him further and further into a zealous madness. Ideally, he would have been helping Mar-Vell fight off the Skrull invasion, but instead, he sought out every opportunity to undermine Mar-Vell's efforts and fight against the people of Earth as well.

Why the grudge? Well, like any self-respecting warrior, Yon-Rogg was jealous over the relationship between Mar-Vell and a Kree medic named Una, who Yon-Rogg was in love with as well. Thus far, no casting announcements for Una have been made for the MCU (though it should be noted that Annette Bening's character is still a mystery), so it's not all that likely that this specific character trait will be getting a direct translation to the big screen, but if you're wondering what Yon's "traditional" villain motivation is, that's it. He really is just that petty. So while comics Yon-Rogg tried to sabotage an entire planet all because he couldn't get a date, MCU Yon-Rogg will probably find his beef elsewhere.

Yon's hatred ran so deep that he even tried to get Mar-Vell put on trial for being "Un-Kree" (one of the worst things a Kree could be accused of) by Ronan the Accuser--a name you'll recognize from Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 1 and a role Lee Pace will be reprising in Captain Marvel.

Over the years, Yon continued to be a thorn in the side of both Mar-Vell and Carol, who he inadvertently helped transform into Ms. Marvel by causing the accident that fused her DNA with Kree genetics. Though that story has been retconned out of comics continuity several times over, it still presents some interesting possibilities for Yon-Rogg's MCU future. Most notably, he actually was revealed to have a telepathic connection with Carol because of the accident, which later results in Carol attacking Yon at the cost of all her memories.

This is specifically important, given Carol's apparent status as an amnesiac in the movie, and her seemingly close relationship with Yon and the Starforce. Maybe Yon himself was somehow at fault for the Kree selected Carol in the first place and maybe that decision somehow affected her ability to remember her time as a human. Or, at the very least, maybe it was Yon's decision to erase Carol's memory.

Regardless of the link between them, it's pretty safe to say that, given Yon's rather dubious comic book past, it's probably not the best idea to go into Captain Marvel trusting him all that much. We may only be able to make educated guesses about what his motives and plan might be, but it's probably not good.

Mortal Kombat 11 Beta Dates Confirmed, You'll Need To Pre-Order If You Want To Enter

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 07:43

Those eager to get their hands on Mortal Kombat 11 who weren't fortunate enough to attend the January reveal event are in luck. We already knew a pre-release beta was on the way, and now we know exactly when it's set to begin.

As part of the avalanche of MK11 news, NetherRealm Studios announced that the beta will begin on March 28. We don't know how long it will last, but it unfortunately won't be available on all platforms: Only PS4 and Xbox One owners will be able to participate. That leaves out both PC and Nintendo Switch players, although the full game is scheduled to hit all four of these platforms on April 23.

This beta won't be available to everyone on PS4 and Xbox One either, though. In order to get in, you'll need to pre-order Mortal Kombat 11. As an added incentive, you'll be able to play as Shao Kahn in the full game if you pre-order. He's one of eight confirmed playable characters so far, alongside Geras, who's a completely new fighter for the series.

Pre-ordering may not be quite so simple, as there are multiple versions of the game set to be available. The most premium of the bunch is the newly revealed Kollector's edition, which comes with the Kombat Pack DLC, Scorpion mask bust, steel case, magnet coin, and authenticity plate.

The reveal event also brought with it word on Ronda Rousey's role and gave us a look at new gameplay and fatalities. Another livestream dedicated to the game is coming later in January.

New Mortal Kombat 11 Trailer Reveals First Details About The Game's Story

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 07:06

NetherRealm Studios has released our first look at the story in Mortal Kombat 11. The prologue to the game's story plays out in a trailer revealed at NetherRealm's January reveal event, which sees Raiden interacting with Shinnok after the events of Mortal Kombat X and also introduces a brand-new character.

In the prologue, Raiden is wearing Shinnok's amulet as he tortures the captured Elder God. Shinnok arrogantly reminds Raiden that an Elder God can't be killed, so the Earthrealm defender simply cuts off his victim's head while reminding it that there are fates worse than death. The prologue ends with Shinnok's still-living head being approached by Kronika, the first female boss character in the franchise's history and who we first saw during the Game Awards 2018.

During the reveal event, NetherRealm also revealed gameplay moments of several characters, including Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Skarlet, Raiden, and Geras--the latter of which is a brand-new addition to the franchise. Geras also got a reveal trailer at the end of the event that showcased his incredible time-bending abilities in action, both summoning artifacts from other periods, transporting himself to his past position to avoid enemy attacks, and also freezing an opponent's time to land some devastating combos.

In addition to again being able to change between different character variations, in Mortal Kombat 11, you'll be able to customize fighters. Options include a fighter's costume, intros, victories, abilities, and AI behavior. Mortal Kombat 11 also adds Fatal Blow attacks for each fighter, which act as special, powerful attacks--similar to Fatalities--that can be pulled off in an effort to change the tide of a battle. The one meter devoted to offense, defense, and supers in past Mortal Kombat games has been separated into three different meters for this eleventh entry.

Mortal Kombat 11 is scheduled to release April 23 for Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Switch.

Ronda Rousey Joins Mortal Kombat 11 As Sonya

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 07:05

Mortal Kombat 11 will feature a surprising guest star. During the game's big reveal livestream, developer NetherRealm announced that athlete and current WWE Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey will be supplying the voice for series staple Sonya Blade.

Rumors that Rousey would be voicing Sonya in the upcoming fighting game were circulating prior to the reveal. Rousey herself further fueled the speculation by sharing a picture of an invitation she received for the reveal event on Instagram.

"Sonya Blade was the first kick-ass girl that I saw come onto the scene, and I've always admired her and admittedly kind of emulated her in my own way," Rousey said during the stream. Rousey shares more of her thoughts on voicing the character in the trailer above. You can also see some gameplay footage of Sonya in action below.

Sonya is one of several veteran Mortal Kombat characters who were confirmed during the reveal event; we also got our first look at Liu Kang, Baraka, Sub-Zero, and Skarlet, who was originally one of the DLC characters released for Mortal Kombat 9. NetherRealm also revealed a brand-new character, Geras, who has time-control abilities.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Mortal Kombat game without an absurd amount of gore, and we got to see some of the inventive and gruesome ways the characters will dismember each other in Mortal Kombat 11's first gameplay trailer. NetherRealm also showed off some of the game's brutal new fatalities.

Mortal Kombat 11 launches on April 23. The game is coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. Those who pre-order it will receive Shao Kahn as a bonus character. Ahead of the game's launch, NetherRealm will hold a beta for PS4 and Xbox One on March 28.

Mortal Kombat 11's $300 Kollector's Edition Has A Scorpion Mask

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 06:58

NetherRealm shared more details on Mortal Kombat 11 today, including its high-end limited edition with goodies aimed at hardcore fans of the hard-hitting series. It's a sizable package, and the centerpiece is a neat costume prop honoring one of the series' most iconic characters.

The "Kollector's Edition" boasts a 1:1 scale Scorpion mask measuring at 35 x 18 x 21 cm. That includes both the dark cowl and the bright gold mouthpiece, giving that important otherworldly look. We saw it on stage during the presentation, and it actually appears like it could reasonably fit on the heads of the two hosts around it.

Other baubles in the Kollector's Edition include the Premium Edition of the game that includes the Kombat Pack, a Kollector's Box, and a Steelcase with MK logo medallion magnet. Kombat Packs were the name given DLC character packs in Mortal Kombat X, and GameSpot has contacted WB to confirm details for this one. It also appears as if the magnet may fit into an indentation in the case.

According to a listing on GameStop's website, this special edition will be priced at $300 in the US. It also appears to be PS4- and Xbox One-only.

The Mortal Kombat 11 reveal stream was packed with new information for the upcoming fighting game, including an extended look at gameplay, a montage of fatalities, and the first solid story details. The announcement also confirmed the beta dates for PS4 and Xbox One, and started to reveal the character roster. The game itself is coming on April 23 to those two platforms, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Riverdale Is Getting Musical Again With Heathers Adaptation

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 06:41

Riverdale continues to be one of the weirdest shows on TV where everything that happens is likely the last thing you'd possibly expect. Don't believe that? Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) was attacked by a bear in the latest episode and just might be dead. (He's definitely not going to die, don't worry.)

Now the CW series is gearing up for its next musical episode. You may remember last season when they tackled Carrie: The Musical in an episode that left one character dead and everyone else freaking out. Now Riverdale is looking back on another classic film for its musical inspiration. On March 29, the series will present its take on Heathers: The Musical.

In a statement, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa teased, "Last year, we had a blast doing Carrie. This year, we wanted to honor another iconic teen movie. Heathers: The Musical is big fun, with great roles for the Riverdale kids. And everyone is singing." That last bit seems to hint that even Jughead (Cole Sprouse) will be getting in on the vocal action this time, after being sidelined during the Carrie musical.

Riverdale's second musical episode will include nine songs from the show's cast. The episode debuts on March 20 on The CW.

Fortnite Week 7 Secret Battle Star Location Guide (Season 7 Snowfall Challenge)

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 05:30

We're nearing the end of Season 7 of Fortnite, but Epic still has plenty of challenges in store for players before Season 8 arrives. Week 7's challenges are now available across all platforms, giving everyone another opportunity to score Battle Stars and unlock some Season 7 rewards. This week's objectives are fairly straightforward, although perhaps the trickiest of the bunch is to visit seven Expedition Outposts.

On top of leveling up your Battle Pass, there's an extra incentive to complete as many challenges as you can this season. If you manage to finish all of the tasks from a given week, you'll complete a related Snowfall challenge, which will reward you with a special loading screen. These screens typically feature some cool artwork, but what makes them particularly worthwhile is they also contain a clue that points to a free Battle Star or Banner--depending on how many weekly sets of challenges you've completed--hidden somewhere around the map.

If you've completed seven weeks' worth of challenges, you'll unlock the loading screen pictured below. This one features the mysterious Ice King sitting ominously on his frozen throne. While the clue each loading screen hides is typically subtle, this week's is easy to spot. Look on the left side of the image and you'll notice a Battle Star peering out between the ice surrounding the throne, giving you a clear indication of where you need to go.

The Ice King's castle can be found atop Polar Peak, the snowy mountain that appeared at the beginning of Season 7. Chart a course to the area at the start of the match, make your way into the throne room, and the Battle Star will appear next to the throne, just as teased. Collect it and finish the match, and you'll level your Battle Pass up by one tier.

If you need help finding the Battle Star, you can watch us collect it in the video above. As usual, however, this Battle Star will only appear if you've completed enough challenges and unlocked the above loading screen, so you won't simply be able to go to the right location and find it if you haven't put in the necessary work.

Season 8 of Fortnite is approaching, and some strange new objects have started to appear in the game, most notably a mysterious ice sphere. We'll likely learn more about its significance in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, you can still complete any remaining challenges from this season. We've put together tips on how to do that in our complete Season 7 challenges guide. You can also peruse the guides below to see where to find this season's other free Battle Stars and Banners.

Fortnite Season 7 Snowfall Challenge Guides

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