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Science-Fiction Weekly – Mass Effect Andromeda, Star Wars Rebels, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Starbucks is to thank for a planet name in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. During a SXSW keynote, the film's director Gareth Edwards said the planet Scarif came from a Starbucks barista hearing his name wrong. The barista wrote "Scarif" on his drink instead of Gareth. He also said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy suggested Rogue One's bloody ending, but he didn't think it would stick. He  thought Disney would change course to different conclusion. "I kept waiting for them to go back on that decision," he said to the SXSW crowd. "Until the last week, I still waited for that little 'no,' but it never came."

Star Wars fans will want to tune in to Disney XD on March 18 at 8:30 p.m. to watch a Star Wars Rebels episode titled "Twin Suns." As the name so clearly highlights, the setting is Tatooine, and it just happens to be the battleground for another lightsaber fight pitting Darth Maul against Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, he's old Ben now, and no, Maul will likely never die.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

I don't think I need to remind you that Mass Effect Andromeda is just one week away (just a few days away for EA Access subscribers). My journey is well under way, and I even sat down with Suriel Vazquez to play through two hours of the game for your viewing pleasure. The footage you are about to see chronicles the entire opening of the game up through the first planet, called Eos. You'll meet companions, get a brief taste of open-world exploration, and learn everything you need to know about leveling and combat. We even show off conversation choices – nothing huge, mind you – but you'll get a good idea of how Ryder's brain is wired. I'm finding Ryder to be a much different character than Shepard, showing a little more youthful enthusiasm and a lack of experience. It'll be interesting to see if players take to this younger, more family-driven character than the battle-hardened Shep.

My early thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda are all over the place at this point. I'm enjoying the story immensely. The Andromeda system is proving to be an exceptional canvas for discovery. I love how nothing in this sector of space is defined until another species or a document tells you what it is. We instead see humans trying to decipher what they are seeing. That's a fantastic little touch. BioWare also nails the pacing in the early moments of Andromeda. If you want to take it slow to soak up the lore, you can take on a number of side missions and activities to keep you occupied for hours. If you want to blaze through the campaign, you can bypass those moments and keep moving along the critical path – meaning you won't run into big lulls like you did on Citadel. The new hub world, called Nexus, is nicely designed with most waypoints grouped together tightly. There is a tram ride that takes a few seconds, but again, the destination you seek is usually close.

The lull you'll likely run into is tied to world exploration. Each planet I've landed on has been huge. For those of you who want to explore every little cave and camp, you could spend an entire day on one planet. If you just want to stick to the story beats, get comfortable with the idea of driving vast distances and having to navigate rocky terrain to reach your objective. You are the "Pathfinder" after all. The Nomad controls well, and is an absolute beast when you kick it into six-wheel drive. I haven't unlocked any weapons for it yet, but the base controls are solid. Frustration comes from figuring out how to navigate mountains and uneven terrain. Not everything can be climbed. I'm enjoying the exploration and Nomad moments, but these aspects are where Mass Effect Andromeda slows down to a crawl.

Combat is enjoyable and challenging, but again has some issues. I'm not a fan of the auto-cover design, which makes Ryder take cover when standing next to any flush surface. I much prefer having that action handled by a button press. The Force-like biotics are good fun to wield (as they always have been), and are ridiculously powerful, even in the first couple hours. Enemy A.I. sometimes seems smarter than usual, showing the ability to rush or flank when they have numbers. I have run into a few foes who were defeated by the environment, either struggling with the pathing to reach their destination or thinking they were in cover when they were in fact almost fully exposed. Ryder's companions are aggressive and capable of finishing off foes. They are also quite interesting when you get to know them. So far, I haven't run into a character that is a wholesale ripoff of someone from Mass Effect 1-3. They all stand out in different ways.

That's my early take on Mass Effect Andromeda. Keep in mind, I'm still early into the adventure, and it looks like it's going to be a long haul. I'll have more on my journey next week, along with Game Informer's official review, penned by Joe Juba. For my full take on the first two hours, watch the video below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The 10th season of Doctor Who launches on April 15, and it looks absolutely bonkers. It even has a robot speaking in an emoji language. This is Peter Capaldi's final season as the good Doctor, and odds are we'll see who takes over for him in his final episode. Before that day, he may meet a beloved character from the past if actor John Barrowman has any pull with the show's creators. Barrowman played Captain Jack on previous season's of Doctor Who and Torchwood, and would like to see what happens when the Doctor meets Jack. "The Doctor's a little bit older, perfect – Jack's matured a little bit," Barrowman said on The Doctor Who Fan Show. "Would he think, 'I'm not sure about your cape there, sir. What happened to the coat? Why a cape? Why have you gone all Dracula on me?'"

I'd love to see Captain Jack return. Torchwood was a wonderful show, and Jack proved to be one of the series' most interesting characters (both in the present and future). I also want to see David Tennant return as the Doctor. I know that goes against the spirit of the show (not to mention its lore), but he was so damn good. He should be forced to play that role until the end of time. Again, I don't think season 10 is a good jumping-on point for newcomers to the series, but take a look a the trailer below to get an idea of just how much science-fiction variety this show offers in just one season.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

I don't like saying something is great before I see it, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is going to be great. How can it not be? I laughed through every trailer and think the casting is as good as it gets in Hollywood. The latest clip from Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards reaffirms my stance on this forthcoming film. Get ready to laugh, people. Poop jokes are the best.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Science-Fiction Weekly – Mass Effect Andromeda, Star Wars Rebels, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Starbucks is to thank for a planet name in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. During a SXSW keynote, the film's director Gareth Edwards said the planet Scarif came from a Starbucks barista hearing his name wrong. The barista wrote "Scarif" on his drink instead of Gareth. He also said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy suggested Rogue One's bloody ending, but he didn't think it would stick. He  thought Disney would change course to different conclusion. "I kept waiting for them to go back on that decision," he said to the SXSW crowd. "Until the last week, I still waited for that little 'no,' but it never came."

Star Wars fans will want to tune in to Disney XD on March 18 at 8:30 p.m. to watch a Star Wars Rebels episode titled "Twin Suns." As the name so clearly highlights, the setting is Tatooine, and it just happens to be the battleground for another lightsaber fight pitting Darth Maul against Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, he's old Ben now, and no, Maul will likely never die.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

I don't think I need to remind you that Mass Effect Andromeda is just one week away (just a few days away for EA Access subscribers). My journey is well under way, and I even sat down with Suriel Vazquez to play through two hours of the game for your viewing pleasure. The footage you are about to see chronicles the entire opening of the game up through the first planet, called Eos. You'll meet companions, get a brief taste of open-world exploration, and learn everything you need to know about leveling and combat. We even show off conversation choices – nothing huge, mind you – but you'll get a good idea of how Ryder's brain is wired. I'm finding Ryder to be a much different character than Shepard, showing a little more youthful enthusiasm and a lack of experience. It'll be interesting to see if players take to this younger, more family-driven character than the battle-hardened Shep.

My early thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda are all over the place at this point. I'm enjoying the story immensely. The Andromeda system is proving to be an exceptional canvas for discovery. I love how nothing in this sector of space is defined until another species or a document tells you what it is. We instead see humans trying to decipher what they are seeing. That's a fantastic little touch. BioWare also nails the pacing in the early moments of Andromeda. If you want to take it slow to soak up the lore, you can take on a number of side missions and activities to keep you occupied for hours. If you want to blaze through the campaign, you can bypass those moments and keep moving along the critical path – meaning you won't run into big lulls like you did on Citadel. The new hub world, called Nexus, is nicely designed with most waypoints grouped together tightly. There is a tram ride that takes a few seconds, but again, the destination you seek is usually close.

The lull you'll likely run into is tied to world exploration. Each planet I've landed on has been huge. For those of you who want to explore every little cave and camp, you could spend an entire day on one planet. If you just want to stick to the story beats, get comfortable with the idea of driving vast distances and having to navigate rocky terrain to reach your objective. You are the "Pathfinder" after all. The Nomad controls well, and is an absolute beast when you kick it into six-wheel drive. I haven't unlocked any weapons for it yet, but the base controls are solid. Frustration comes from figuring out how to navigate mountains and uneven terrain. Not everything can be climbed. I'm enjoying the exploration and Nomad moments, but these aspects are where Mass Effect Andromeda slows down to a crawl.

Combat is enjoyable and challenging, but again has some issues. I'm not a fan of the auto-cover design, which makes Ryder take cover when standing next to any flush surface. I much prefer having that action handled by a button press. The Force-like biotics are good fun to wield (as they always have been), and are ridiculously powerful, even in the first couple hours. Enemy A.I. sometimes seems smarter than usual, showing the ability to rush or flank when they have numbers. I have run into a few foes who were defeated by the environment, either struggling with the pathing to reach their destination or thinking they were in cover when they were in fact almost fully exposed. Ryder's companions are aggressive and capable of finishing off foes. They are also quite interesting when you get to know them. So far, I haven't run into a character that is a wholesale ripoff of someone from Mass Effect 1-3. They all stand out in different ways.

That's my early take on Mass Effect Andromeda. Keep in mind, I'm still early into the adventure, and it looks like it's going to be a long haul. I'll have more on my journey next week, along with Game Informer's official review, penned by Joe Juba. For my full take on the first two hours, watch the video below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The 10th season of Doctor Who launches on April 15, and it looks absolutely bonkers. It even has a robot speaking in an emoji language. This is Peter Capaldi's final season as the good Doctor, and odds are we'll see who takes over for him in his final episode. Before that day, he may meet a beloved character from the past if actor John Barrowman has any pull with the show's creators. Barrowman played Captain Jack on previous season's of Doctor Who and Torchwood, and would like to see what happens when the Doctor meets Jack. "The Doctor's a little bit older, perfect – Jack's matured a little bit," Barrowman said on The Doctor Who Fan Show. "Would he think, 'I'm not sure about your cape there, sir. What happened to the coat? Why a cape? Why have you gone all Dracula on me?'"

I'd love to see Captain Jack return. Torchwood was a wonderful show, and Jack proved to be one of the series' most interesting characters (both in the present and future). I also want to see David Tennant return as the Doctor. I know that goes against the spirit of the show (not to mention its lore), but he was so damn good. He should be forced to play that role until the end of time. Again, I don't think season 10 is a good jumping-on point for newcomers to the series, but take a look a the trailer below to get an idea of just how much science-fiction variety this show offers in just one season.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

I don't like saying something is great before I see it, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is going to be great. How can it not be? I laughed through every trailer and think the casting is as good as it gets in Hollywood. The latest clip from Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards reaffirms my stance on this forthcoming film. Get ready to laugh, people. Poop jokes are the best.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Halo Wars 2 Review – Simplified Fun On A Familiar Battlefield

After the crew of the UNSC warship Spirit
of Fire wakes up from a quarter-century cryogenic nap, they discover
that humanity’s war against the Covenant has ended. Stranded a galaxy
from home, the crew responds to an emergency beacon only to encounter a
bloodthirsty faction of the Covenant known as the Banished. Their leader
– an imposing Brute named Atriox – dismantles a team of three Spartans
in their first skirmish. As tensions escalate, the Spirit of Fire’s crew
is forced to push back against these battle-hardened space gorillas and
uncover the mystery at the heart of a new Forerunner installation.

Halo
Wars 2’s story is the most compelling aspect of Creative Assembly’s
console-friendly RTS. The characters’ depth made me want to learn more
about them, and the pre-rendered cut scenes – produced by arthouse Blur –
feature enough spectacle to fill a Summer blockbuster. Unfortunately,
the narrative ends on a frustrating cliffhanger, which left me with
uneven feelings about the story as a whole – and the rest of Halo Wars 2
is a similar mix of emotions.

Creative Assembly holds closely
to the work done by Ensemble Studios on the original Halo Wars. At the
center of the strategy is a classic rock-paper-scissors mechanic where
air units are strong against vehicles, while ground troops are strong
against air units, etc. Most of the missions boil down to “capture this
point” or “defend this position for X amount of time,” but the gradual
unlocking of new units prevents the campaign from feeling too
repetitive.

Unfortunately, a few integral components of Halo
Wars 2 feel pared down. First, most of the maps feel smaller than
average. This pushes you into conflict regularly and keeps you from
getting complacent, but it makes the action feel a bit cramped as a
result. Base-building is also cut back. You still manage your resources,
upgrades, and train troops from your base, but these buildings can only
be constructed on predetermined points, which means that all your HQs
essentially look the same. Since you have limited lot space, you’re also
restricted in the number of buildings you can construct, which forces
you to make some needless sacrifices. (Read our impressions of the Xbox One version here.)

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Despite those issues, I
loved the elegant dance of moving the right troops across the field to
take out an enemy’s well-fortified base. I only ran into a few hiccups,
like telling my units to attack a garrisoned foe only to watch them move
toward that point instead. Thankfully, issues like this are rare.

Halo
Wars 2’s successes and failures transfer over to the multiplayer modes,
many of which feature the exact same gameplay. If you’d prefer a battle
of wits against a living opponent, Halo Wars 2 allows you to set up a
number skirmishes where you either eradicate you opponent or battle over
control of specific points.

Creative Assembly’s new Blitz mode
is Halo Wars 2’s most exciting online offering. This mode streamlines
the base building and resource management mechanics by giving players a
deck of cards to use to deploy units and other special abilities
anywhere on the battlefield. You earn new card packs by completing
various missions or buying them in the online store. Thankfully, it
seems like you can earn most of the cards without spending extra money,
and I remained competitive using only cards I got in-game. This new
card-based system also keeps matches short and fast-paced, and I enjoyed
tinkering with my deck between each match. Blitz could be the go-to
mode for anyone looking for a quick strategy fix.

I enjoyed my
time with the first Halo Wars, so I’m glad that Microsoft took a chance
with a sequel. Unfortunately, aside from Blitz, I don’t feel like
Creative Assembly pushed the envelope. Simplified base building, smaller
maps, and outdated level design keep Halo Wars 2 for achieving great
heights. However, if you loved the first Halo Wars, this entry delivers
more of the same.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Four Things To Know About Halo Wars 2

Adapting what has been primarily a PC genre to the console can be a challenging task riddled with uncertainty.  And while the original Halo Wars was regarded as a triumph in bringing real-time strategy mechanics to the Xbox 360, Creative Assembly (Total War, Alien: Isolation) was charged with building upon the series' proven formula for Halo Wars 2.

Kyle Hilliard and Ben Reeves bring you four things to know before deciding if the game is right for you, and break down the main modes of play.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more Halo Wars 2 coverage, check out Ben Reeves' review.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Star Wars Han Solo Film Has Begun Filming

Today brings word that the next Star Wars film is underway. The untitled Han Solo-focused movie began filming on February 20 at Pinewood Studios in London, and today brought us a shot that shows some of the cast and crew gathered together in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit.

The new film stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca,  and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, along with other cast members Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The movie is being co-directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and written by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan. 

It's a safe bet that Star Wars fans will be watching the Han Solo movie very closely, and may be more ready to critique actors who are reinterpreting such iconic roles as Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. At the same time, it’s certainly exciting to think about new adventures with those characters in which we should get a new glimpse at their earlier lives before the original trilogy storyline. 

[Source: StarWars.com]

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Title Confirmed Plural By International Sources

Since Star Wars Episode VIII's subtitle, The Last Jedi, was revealed a few weeks ago, fans have been wondering whether or not The Last Jedi was referring to a single Jedi, or multiple Jedi. Thanks to international versions of the logo, fans now know that the title is referring to multiple Jedi instead of just one. 

Looking at the German reveal specifically, the word for "last" is used in the plural form, denoting multiple Jedi. Similarly, the Spanish version of the logo is being reported to utilize a plural order as well.

What this means for the final film remains to be seen. While first impressions might lead to the assumption that Luke Skywalker and Rey are the titular Last Jedi, there is still a good amount we don't know about the film at this point. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is set to hit theatres on December 15, 2017

[Source: Slashfilm]

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

New Humble Bundle Offers Collection Of Classic Star Wars Games

A new Humble Bundle collects a handful of great Star Wars games (and throws a few not-so-great ones in for good measure).

The pay what you want tier includes Knights of the Old Republic, X-Wing Alliance, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter – Balance of the Power Campaigns, and Galactic Battlegrounds Saga. The pay above the average tier (currently $ 10.06) includes Battlefront II, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Starfighter, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, and Rebel Assault I & II. Finally, in the pay $ 14 or more tier, is The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition, The Force Unleashed II, Rogue Squadron 3D, Shadows of the Empire, and Empire at War: Gold Pack. If you go up to $ 35, there is also a Star Wars shirt you can grab as well. As is the case with nearly all Humble Bundles, these are the PC versions of the game.

For our ranking of the 30 best Star Wars games, head here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

New Humble Bundle Offers Collection Of Classic Star Wars Games

A new Humble Bundle collects a handful of great Star Wars games (and throws a few not-so-great ones in for good measure).

The pay what you want tier includes Knights of the Old Republic, X-Wing Alliance, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter – Balance of the Power Campaigns, and Galactic Battlegrounds Saga. The pay above the average tier (currently $ 10.06) includes Battlefront II, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Starfighter, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, and Rebel Assault I & II. Finally, in the pay $ 14 or more tier, is The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition, The Force Unleashed II, Rogue Squadron 3D, Shadows of the Empire, and Empire at War: Gold Pack. If you go up to $ 35, there is also a Star Wars shirt you can grab as well. As is the case with nearly all Humble Bundles, these are the PC versions of the game.

For our ranking of the 30 best Star Wars games, head here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Microsoft Commissions Stunning Halo Wars 2 Posters

To celebrate the launch of Halo Wars 2, 343 Industries partnered with three artists to create a series of stunning character posters. Even if you just a fan of the original Halo series, you might still be interested in some of these art pieces.

Halo Wars releases on February 21 for Xbox One and PC, but if you're interested in snagging a few of these neat posters, keep your eye on the Xbox and Halo Twitter channels over the next few weeks to learn how to get your own limited-edition print. Below is a look at the posters as well as a short bio from each artist.

Grzegorz 'Gabz' Domaradzki: who started his career as an illustrator and graphic designer, has evolved his art over the years with a focus on keeping his work intriguing and captivating. Putting pen to paper, Gabz designs by hand before perfecting his work digitally. Gabz has lent his artistic style to several iconic franchises including Star Wars, Batman, Iron Man, and many more.    

Kevin Tong: U.S. based artist Kevin Tong has built a name for himself over the past decade through his intricate portrayal of mainstream entertainment. His portfolio includes work throughout the film, music, and book universe including work for The Black Keys, Mulholland Drive, Aliens, and most recently Akira Kurosawa's RAN.    

Craig Drake: began his career in animation and freelance design, channels classic movie posters and modern pop-culture to bring his art deco inspired visions to life. You can see Craig’s use of sleek, sharp lines in his work for Pulp Fiction, Mad Max, Back to the Future, and most recently Disney’s Mulan.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Will Feature A Single-Player Campaign, Multiple Eras

One of the most requested features for DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront was a single player campaign – something the sequel looks to deliver.

During an earnings call today, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson confirmed that the Star Wars Battlefront sequel will release this holiday season. DICE, Motive Studios, and Criterion are all working on the title, which will feature new locations, heroes, and a single-player campaign. EA also plans to include content from multiple Star Wars eras such as the The Force Awakens and Rogue One.

 

Our Take
The more I hear about the Battlefront sequel the more it sounds like a real crowd-pleaser. I skipped the last game because if sounded a little light on content. I probably won't skip this entry.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed