Connect with us

Gaming

Disney+ is giving us a peek behind the curtain of Mandalorian’s first season

Published

on

Trailer for Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, debuting on Disney+ on May 4, 2020.

There are still several more months until season two of The Mandalorian hits Disney+ in October (assuming everything stays on schedule), but to tide us over, the Mouse House has released a trailer for Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian. The eight-episode documentary series will explore multiple facets of the production of this first live-action Star Wars television show.

Disney+ announced the documentary series earlier this month. “Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian is an opportunity for fans of the show to take a look inside and get to see a different perspective, and perhaps a greater understanding, of how The Mandalorian came together and some of the incredibly talented contributors throughout Season 1,” executive producer Jon Favreau said in a statement at the time. “We had a great experience making the show, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you.”

Per the official synopsis: “The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.” The premise is that after the defeat of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, there was a period of chaos and lawlessness as a new government struggled to emerge from the wreckage.

Pedro Pascal took top billing as Din Djarin, the titular Mandalorian, joined by Werner Herzog as “The Client”; Gina Carano as Cara Dune, a former Rebel Shock Trooper; Carl Weathers as Greef Carga, leader of a bounty-hunter guild; Giancarlo Esposito as former Empire governor Moff Gideon; Taika Waititi, who voices the droid IG-11; and Ming-Na Wen as assassin Fennec Shand, among others. The Internet (and Herzog, apparently) soon fell in love with its breakout star: “Baby Yoda,” formally known as The Child (since he isn’t the Yoda, just an infant of the same species), played by a variety of puppeteers.

Ars’ Sam Machkovech raved about the season’s premiere episode last November, praising “the balance of practical effects, carefully molded alien costumes, and intentionally cheeseball CGI.” He added: “Those brief CGI moments are forgivable in light of gorgeous set design, a John Williams-caliber score of brand-new compositions, and a cast of actors who savor their pauses, beats, and moments to simmer in tension (both for action and comedy’s sake).”

Even though it hadn’t yet concluded by year’s end, the series easily landed a spot on our top TV shows of 2019. “Creator Jon Favreau’s brainchild has proven to be a killer vehicle for the most Star Trek-like storytelling yet in a live-action Star Wars product,” Machkovech wrote. “Even better, its freak-of-the-week and brand-new-planet progression has been paired with a proper samurai story, as anchored by the religious, fervent, and conflicted Mando himself.

We get several tantalizing glimpses of how the series was brought to such vivid life in the trailer for Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian. That includes a roundtable discussion with Favreau, Waititi, and several other team members reflecting on their experiences during the shoot. There are shots of the manual operation of the droid IG-11 during that infamous shootout scene; the Mandalorian (either Pascal or a stuntman, who can tell with the helmet on) executing a few fighting moves for the green screen; and a glimpse of Baby Yoda revealing the people behind the puppet, among other highlights. All in all, it looks like a satisfying series, although we wish it was being released all at once rather than in weekly installments.

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian debuts on Disney+ on May 4, 2020. New episodes will stream every Friday. May the Fourth be with you!

Listing image by YouTube/Star Wars/Disney+

Continue Reading

Gaming

The Callisto Protocol review: A relentless horror spectacle

Published

on

Enlarge / Hello, gorgeous.

In the survival-horror genre, building tension and ramping up a sense of dread is the backbone of the experience. As a new sci-fi horror IP coming from the creators of Dead Space, The Callisto Protocol homes in on that creeping sense of unease as it forces you to confront its many grotesque threats head-on. When playing The Callisto Protocol, I always felt on edge, even during moments when I could have let my guard down.

The game takes some strong influences from its spiritual predecessor Dead Space and puts its own spin on a more visceral type of horror experience. That said, The Callisto Protocol‘s influences and genre are abundantly clear, and it occasionally falls back on familiar tropes and some frustrating combat encounters. Still, it maintains its solid, relentless poise as an unnerving yet still thrilling survival-horror game.

Welcome to Black Iron Prison

You play as Jacob Lee (Transformers’ Josh Duhamel), a far-future freelance cargo hauler with a murky past who crash lands on Jupiter’s titular frozen moon. After getting abducted by the ruthless head of security, Captain Ferris (Days Gone’s Sam Witwer), Jacob finds himself trapped in the mysterious and inhumane Black Iron Prison.

Eventually, a mysterious viral outbreak mutates nearly everyone inside, turning them into ravenous monsters called Biophages. Launching an escape with other prisoners, including the enigmatic anti-corporate activist Dani Nakamura (The Boys’ Karen Fukuhara), Jacob delves deep into Black Iron Prison and the moon’s lower depths to uncover what happened and make it out alive.

Right from the start, and despite the grotesque, over-the-top horror setting, there’s a palpable sense of realism to The Callisto Protocol’s story and visuals. This is hard sci-fi through and through, in the vein of Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon or John Carpenter’s The Thing (or the original Dead Space series, unsurprisingly). The game plays it straight with its unsettling vision of a future gone awry, which provides a rich environment to play in. Aside from rare one-liners, there’s not much levity, which keeps with the game’s bleak narrative and atmosphere.

Remember to breathe.
Enlarge / Remember to breathe.

As a cinematic, story-driven game, The Callisto Protocol keeps its pace and structure tight, focusing on Jacob’s ordeal as he’s ferried to different encounters and events in a mostly linear fashion. Aside from chapter breaks and more in-depth cinematics, you’re always viewing events from Jacob’s perspective. The performances from the main cast do an effective job of selling the plot’s sense of urgency and dark tone. While the story largely keeps its twists subdued and doesn’t venture far from its initial premise by the end of its 12-plus-hour campaign, it still succeeds as a solid vehicle for an intense and brutal horror game.

What truly sells The Callisto Protocol and its setting are the fantastic visuals and sound design. The presentation is incredibly effective at establishing mood, with small details combining together into the most impressive and effective survival-horror tapestry I’ve seen in a long time. This is especially evident in the gruesome design of the Biophages, as well as the numerous, wince-inducing death scenes.

When the visuals and sound design all work in concert, it creates a stark sense of dread and unease that sticks with you to the end. One section had me explore the depths of the prison while the power was fluctuating, creating moments of darkness for the enemies to move around unseen. Just trying to keep track of where these monsters were put me on edge. It was an unnerving section that really showcased the craft of the game’s impressive presentation.

While Black Iron Prison is slightly similar to the USG Ishimura from Dead Space, the setting comes into its own once the game’s scope expands, showcasing fantastic views of the outside frozen lunarscape and the darker depths of Callisto. The game’s linear progression and tight pacing cut down on backtracking. That said, there are still moments where you can venture off and explore hidden rooms, mainly to uncover some intriguing clues and audio logs about Black Iron Prison history and what came before.

Continue Reading

Gaming

The Mandalorian season 3 has been delayed—but only a little

Published

on

Enlarge / A promotional image for the third season of The Mandalorian.

After months of silence about it, Disney has finally revealed the premiere date of the third season of its first live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian. The new season will premiere on March 1, 2023.

That’s just a little bit later than what Disney said to expect the last time it made an announcement; the release window was announced to be February 2023 in a tweet in May.

Minor premiere date slipping aside, it’s been quite a time since the previous season in either case. The second season premiered back in October 2020. That said, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that it’s been more than two years since we last spent time with the show’s two central characters, Mando and Grogu.

That’s because both appeared prominently in The Book of Boba Fett, a limited series that ran from December 2021 through February 2022. In fact, they were so prominent in part of that show that we called it The Mandalorian season 2.5 when we reviewed it.

Expect them to be the main focus of The Mandalorian season three when it premieres March 1, though; that point is driven home by the promotional image shown above and by the plot threads that carry over from The Book of Boba Fett and prior seasons of The Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian received generally positive reviews when it premiered—a stark contrast to the divided responses to most of the recent Star Wars movies. Thus far, the various TV series have been helmed by a different creative team than the movies. Accomplished director Jon Favreau and Star Wars animated series veteran Dave Filoni seem to have done a better job satisfying fans than some of the other directors, producers, and writers of the films.

Disney sought to spin off several additional live-action Star Wars shows from the series, several of which stem from characters who had guest roles in the second season, including the first live-action rendition of Ahsoka Tano from the popular Clone Wars animated series.

Not all of Disney’s now-numerous live-action Star Wars series are Mandalorian spinoffs, though. Earlier this year, Disney+ ran a limited series focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi that took place between the prequel films and the original trilogy. The same goes for the thriller Andor, which just finished its first season to widespread critical acclaim.

Continue Reading

Gaming

Nintendo apologizes for Pokémon performance problems, promises “improvements”

Published

on

Enlarge / Portrait of the author learning that some of the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet performance problems might be fixed.

Andrew Cunningham

Our review of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet mentioned some of the game’s pervasive performance issues, and we weren’t the only ones. Even more mainstream outlets like The Guardian and CNN noted the games’ performance problems. Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry team, known for its in-depth analyses of game performance, called the games “comprehensive technical failures,” also calling attention to their blurry and poorly tiled textures and “low-geometry” environments.

Players have noticed plenty of other problems, too; these include a bug that allowed players to run twice as fast by connecting two controllers to the Switch, bizarre animations and clipping problems, Pokémon that blast off into the sky like Team Rocket, and some evidence that online battles were using the same probability seed for every match, making it easier for attentive players to make low-accuracy moves hit 100 percent of the time. I captured a screenshot of a Hoppip that was casting three shadows simultaneously (though it’s possible the Paldea region has three suns that I just don’t know about).

I'm no scientist, but I don't think this is how lighting works.
Enlarge / I’m no scientist, but I don’t think this is how lighting works.

Andrew Cunningham

Nintendo released a 1.1.0 update for both Pokémon games today that includes “select bug fixes” (though the company didn’t specify which). But alongside that mostly routine post-launch update came a less-routine acknowledgment of the performance problems and a suggestion that the company would provide fixes.

“We are aware that players may encounter issues that affect the games’ performance. Our goal is always to give players a positive experience with our games, and we apologize for the inconvenience,” the statement reads. “We take the feedback from players seriously and are working on improvements to the games.”

Notably, “tak[ing] feedback from players seriously” and “working on improvements” don’t amount to a promise that every single dropped frame and ugly texture is going to be fixed. But like Sword and Shield, Scarlet and Violet will likely enjoy a decent amount of post-release support, including functional updates like Pokémon Home compatibility and substantial new DLC content. This should hopefully justify the time and money needed to make noticeable performance improvements, even though the games as they currently exist have still managed to be the fastest-selling titles Nintendo has ever released.

Continue Reading

Trending