Archive for the ‘Gaming & Culture’ Category

Wilson Fisk is back and better than ever in season 3 of Daredevil

November 12th, 2018
Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) finds himself struggling with his darker nature amid a crisis of faith, as well as a renewed threat from Wilson Fisk.

Enlarge / Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) finds himself struggling with his darker nature amid a crisis of faith, as well as a renewed threat from Wilson Fisk. (credit: Netflix)

Things have been a bit rocky in the Netflix/Marvel Defenders universe lately. But Daredevil is back in top form for a strong third season, largely due to the much-anticipated return of arch-villain Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio, Law & Order: Criminal Intent). Everything that happens this time around is one more step in a steady march toward an inevitable final face-off between Daredevil (Charlie Cox, Boardwalk) and Fisk.

(Some mild spoilers below, but major plot twists are not revealed.)

Season 3 opens where The Defenders left off: with Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) caught in a massive explosion that leaves him near death—indeed, he's been presumed dead by his friends all this time. He's found by a random passerby and taken to the parish where he grew up, nursed back to health by the astringently affectionate Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley, Wolf Hall, The Borgias). As always, he heals miraculously, yet we must plod through every step of the tedious comeback process, complete with philosophical soul-searching.

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Posted in daredevil, Entertainment, Gaming & Culture, Marvel Entertainment, Television, The Defenders | Comments (0)

Westworld’s Main Street shooting set at Paramount Ranch burns down

November 10th, 2018
Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California.

Enlarge / Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. (credit: Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)

The Woolsey Fire currently burning in Los Angeles County has destroyed much of the Western Town, a key feature of Paramount Ranch. The site was where the Main Street scenes in Westworld were filmed.

The news was first announced Friday by the National Park Service, which manages the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

The church featured in the HBO series was also built on the ranch, and appears to be still standing, according to a tweet from cast member Evan Rachel Wood, who plays the sentient android Dolores Abernathy.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, HBO, westworld, woolsey fire | Comments (0)

Review: Super-hot board game Terraforming Mars goes digital

November 10th, 2018
Review: Super-hot board game Terraforming Mars goes digital

Enlarge (credit: Asmodee Digital)

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at

Terraforming Mars is one of the most popular heavy strategy games of the last two years (read our 2016 review); it earned a nomination for the Kennerspiel des Jahres (expert’s “game of the year”), losing to the very good but much simpler Exit: The Game series. It’s currently ranked #4 on BoardGameGeek’s master ranking of all board games, a ranking that tends to skew towards complex games that eschew luck in favor of strategy and engine building.

Now, an adaptation from Asmodee Digital brings the game to Windows via Steam. (Android and iOS ports are coming soon.) The Windows port offers local play, online multiplayer, and a solo challenge mode that functions as a good learning tool in addition to providing a strong single-player experience.

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Posted in ars cardboard, Board games, Gaming & Culture, terraforming mars | Comments (0)

Sony using open source emulator for PlayStation Classic plug-and-play

November 9th, 2018
Inside that tiny box is the same open source emulator you can download right now on your PC (plus 20 game files).

Enlarge / Inside that tiny box is the same open source emulator you can download right now on your PC (plus 20 game files). (credit: Sony)

Sony's upcoming PlayStation Classic uses the open source emulator PCSX ReARMed to recreate its selection of 20 classic games. Kotaku's recent hands-on report with the plug-and-play HDMI system noticed an on-screen menu listing a legal license for the emulator.

ReARMed is a popular, modernized branch of the original PCSX emulator, which was actively developed from 2000 to 2003 for Linux, Mac, and Windows. A new branch called PCSX Reloaded picked up that development later in the decade, adding new features and fixing bugs and eventually leading to the ReARMed fork. The emulator supports network play and a "save rewind" feature that lets you easily reverse recent gameplay, two features that seem to be missing from the PlayStation Classic.

For its recently released NES and SNES Classic micro-consoles, Nintendo used specially crafted emulators developed by its European Research and Development division. That emulator offered more vibrant colors and less blurriness than Nintendo's previous Virtual Console emulators for the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS.

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Tetris Effect review: The puzzle game of my dreams—literally

November 9th, 2018
It's here, and it's beautiful.

Enlarge / It's here, and it's beautiful. (credit: Enhance Games / Aurich)

Before I began playing this week's new game, Tetris Effect, I found myself tempted to compare it to other versions of the puzzle series. That's an easy trap to fall into—a bullet-point sorting of tweaks, features, and differences—and one that gets pretty unwieldy with decades of Tetris games to compare to.

But shortly after I dove into Tetris Effect, with a PlayStation VR headset firmly strapped to my head, my thinking about this game drifted somewhere surprising: not to another game or sequel, but to an event. Specifically, I thought of the latest Classic Tetris World Championship, held in Portland, Oregon, in October.

There, a 16-year-old named Joseph Saelee rocked the gaming world by besting seasoned veterans of the game's 1989 NES version and winning it all. You've seen Tetris before, but never like this—with a multi-camera rig showing pros' gamer faces as they pound through ultra-fast sessions in incredible fashion (aided in no small part by a "hyper-tapping" technique used to keep sessions going beyond that version's "kill screen"). I'll never forget what I saw. What unfolded was not revolutionary, but its presentation, drama, and feeling of an oldie born anew made the competition particularly thrilling to watch.

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Posted in Features, Gaming & Culture, Lumines, Rez, Tetris, tetris effect | Comments (0)

AP: Video expert says White House clip of CNN reporter was likely doctored

November 9th, 2018

Expert: Sarah Sanders tweeted altered Acosta video

Video expert Abba Shapiro told the Associated Press that he believes the White House circulated a doctored video of an interaction between CNN reporter Jim Acosta and a White House intern.

In the above video, Shapiro walks frame by frame through the AP's unaltered clip of the incident and the clip of the incident that the White House circulated. The beginning of the clip has extra frames that would be indicative of an alteration to slow the clip down, and then the actual moment of the incident is sped up to make Acosta's actions look more aggressive than they actually were.

On Wednesday, a White House intern tried to take a microphone away from the Acosta as he was asking President Trump questions that the president didn't want to answer. Acosta held on to the microphone, but how aggressively he held that microphone has been in dispute. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders accused Acosta of "placing his hands" on the intern, although the video Sanders shared doesn't appear to support this, and the Reuters reporter next to Acosta says he merely saw the reporter hold on to his microphone.

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Posted in AP, fake news, Gaming & Culture, video, White House | Comments (0)

Forget movie villains—it’s the “good” superheroes that are the most violent

November 9th, 2018
Forget movie villains—it’s the “good” superheroes that are the most violent

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

It's superheroes and not their super-villain counterparts that we should really be afraid of. This idea has been explored in a number of superhero movies, including such diverse fare as The Incredibles, Watchmen, and the post-Sokovia adventures of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In each, lawmakers shackle our protagonists in response to the collateral damage caused when they step in to save the day.

But perhaps collateral damage is not what we should be worried about. According to a new study, the "good guys" are actually significantly more violent than the antagonists they're trying to stop. These findings were presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Pennsylvania pediatrician Robert Olympia and his colleagues sat through 10 superhero movies released in 2015 and 2016, cataloging each specific act of violence and noting whether it was committed by a protagonist or villain.

As anyone who has sat through a recent summer superhero tentpole can attest, there is a lot of violence to catalogue—on the order of 23 acts per hour for the good guys, with just 18 violent acts per hour for the bad guys. And it is mostly guys—male characters were five times more likely to engage in violence than female characters.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Media violence, Superheros | Comments (0)

The media-starved Nintendo Switch just got a YouTube shot in the arm

November 8th, 2018
For now, a YouTube search is as close as we're gonna get to <em>Super Mario Sunshine</em> on Nintendo Switch.

Enlarge / For now, a YouTube search is as close as we're gonna get to Super Mario Sunshine on Nintendo Switch. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Following a wave of rumors, Nintendo confirmed on Thursday that its Nintendo Switch console has added an official YouTube app to its meager selection of media-viewing options.

Google's app is now available as a free download on a variety of territories' eShops (including North America and Japan, which we've tested thus far), and its interface largely resembles dedicated YouTube apps on smart TVs and set-top boxes. The primary difference is that the Switch's on-screen keyboard obscures any auto-complete results you might expect while searching for topics. You can attach your YouTube credentials to retrieve viewing histories, check subscription feeds, and receive automatic video recommendations.

The app, in our limited testing, held up to visual scrutiny in terms of delivering a clear image and a 60fps refresh when replaying high-detail content like "let's play" videos of modern video games. Proving this via direct screenshots is a bit tricky, however, as the YouTube app forbids use of the Switch's built-in "share" button.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, nintendo switch, YouTube | Comments (0)

Borderless shows us the tech-fueled nightmare that we’ve all created

November 8th, 2018
Hard cover book on a nondescript background.

Enlarge (credit: Eliot Peper)

I'm not proud of it, but it's true: I read the bulk of Eliot Peper's latest sci-fi thriller, Borderless, over multiple trips the bathroom. It probably deserved drawn-out sessions in a fireplace-adjacent armchair or at least an airplane ride with a cheap mixed drink at the ready, but hey.

Given all of the demands on my time, both personal and professional, I found that there are ever-diminishing opportunities to sit down and read and honest-to-goodness, dead-tree book.

Like most of you, I do a ton of reading—nearly all of it on a computer screen, or more likely, my iPhone. I'm reading news, Twitter, and a never-ending deluge of emails. I've nearly excised Facebook from my life and have long-deleted Instagram from my phone. For me, havin the discipline to engage with a book is often a challenge.

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Posted in Borderless, eliot peper, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

As PUBG for PS4 looms, Xbox unofficially responds: have the game for free

November 7th, 2018
It's not as solid as the PC version, but at least today, it's free-er.

Enlarge / It's not as solid as the PC version, but at least today, it's free-er. (credit: Xbox/PUBG Corp.)

Performance issues have plagued the Xbox One version of Playerunknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) long enough to make us wary of recommending the game at its $30 retail price point. But at the low, low price of totally free? Now we're talkin'.

PUBG, the game that kicked off an international "battle royale" gaming sensation, is currently free for all Xbox One owners. Even if you do not have a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can head to this link and claim what appears to be a permanent copy of the game for your Microsoft Account. Timed trials of Xbox One games tend to be exclusive treats for XBLG subscribers.

Bizarrely, the Konami soccer game PES 2019, which launched at a standard $60 retail price point in August, is also free to claim as of today. (Here's that link.)

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, pubg | Comments (0)