DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: “The Legion of Doom” Review

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Can Rip Hunter survive the Legion of Doom?

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

It’s been pretty clear for most of this season that Legends of Tomorrow has become the best of the various Arrow-verse shows. But based on the show’s recent track record, there’s a strong case to be made for labeling it the best current superhero series in general, even counting Marvel’s Netflix projects. “The Legion of Doom” is a terrific showcase for the all those things Legends does so well, from great character dynamics to comedy to its ability to build on the dense tapestry that is the DC Universe.

As the title suggests, this episode focused an unusual amount of time on Reverse-Flash and his “partners.” These three villains have proven plenty entertaining in their previous appearances, and they certainly didn’t disappoint as they took the spotlight. The appeal ran a lot deeper than the simple thrill of seeing Matt Letscher and Neal McDonough be their usual, charismatic selves. This episode played the three villains against each other wonderfully, as Darhk and Merlyn vacillated between squabbling with each other and trying to turn the tables on Thawne. What else would you expect when three hugely ambitious and self-centered villains try to form an alliance. They truly are their own worst enemy, more than the Legends themselves.

All this in-fighting and backstabbing answered some key questions regarding Thawne’s greater mission and why exactly he needs the assistance of Darhk and Merlyn in the first place. Can’t a time-traveling speedster simply run his own errands? What incentive does Thawne have to treat these two men as equal partners, and what incentive do they have to maintain the alliance if he doesn’t? All of that was addressed in a satisfying way by the end of the episode, and thanks to the very cool return of the Black Flash. This is another one of those cases where I wish The CW had kept quiet about the character’s return, but it nonetheless delivered a fascinating new wrinkle to Reverse-Flash’s role on the show. He may be a powerful foe, but he’s also terribly vulnerable and constantly on the run from a relentless and seemingly unstoppable foe. He needs the Spear of Destiny to cement his own existence and defeat the shambling corpse of Hunter Zolomon. By outsmarting the Black Flash, Darhk and Merlyn proved that they deserve to be considered Thawne’s peers, even if they aren’t necessarily in his weight class in terms of raw power.

The grand debut of the Black Flash didn’t disappoint, either. The character still has the intimidation factor going for him even without Tony Todd’s raspy voice to call upon. Whether intentionally or not, the scene with Black Flash sniffing out Thawne gave off a very strong Jurassic Park vibe, with Zolomon as the T-Rex and Thawne as the helpless human snack. It should be fun to see how the Legends react when they inevitably encounter this foe for themselves.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: “The Legion of Doom” Photos

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DC's Legends of Tomorrow: "The Legion of Doom"  Review
DC's Legends of Tomorrow: "The Legion of Doom"  Review
DC's Legends of Tomorrow: "The Legion of Doom"  Review
DC's Legends of Tomorrow: "The Legion of Doom"  Review
DC's Legends of Tomorrow: "The Legion of Doom"  Review
DC's Legends of Tomorrow: "The Legion of Doom"  Review

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: “The Legion of Doom” Photos
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It was great seeing the writers build so heavily on the foundation established by the first two seasons of The Flash. All of this feels like a very natural, organic extension of those storylines, even without Barry Allen being directly involved. Given the scope of the series, Legends of Tomorrow has the ability to dive into Arrow-verse continuity in a way none of the other shows do, and it’s great to see such a willingness to tap into that potential.

The Legends themselves may have taken on a slightly reduced role this week, but there was no shortage of memorable scenes aboard the Waverider. The rapport among the main cast has only grown stronger with time, a fact that was readily apparent as they argued over their next move and whether they truly were, as Mick insisted, idiots. That exchange was one of several chuckle-worthy moments in this episode. The show is thriving right now because it’s not just fun, but downright funny in a way I wish we’d see more often from its siblings.

It wasn’t all humor and banter, though, as the return of Lily Stein forced her father to deal with the fallout of his secrecy. The idea that Professor Stein has been coming to terms with the existence of an adult daughter who didn’t exist more than a few weeks ago shows just how varied the possibilities are when it comes to exploring the perils of time travel. Victor Garber and Christina Brucato were both great in the pivotal scene where Professor Stein opened up to his daughter. Brucato is very convincing when it comes to making her character seem like the true, flesh-and-blood offspring of Professor Stein. It’s less about look than cadence and mannerisms.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Rip, as well. As I said in last week’s review, it had gotten to the point where I didn’t really care when or if Rip ever made his return. The team has moved on and become a stronger, more entertaining bunch in his absence. And if the show were merely restoring Rip to his old role as cocky ship’s captain, it might ruin a good thing. But seeing Arthur Darvill play such a different take on a familiar character is another story. He’s very convincing as this brain-addled, cowardly hippie version of Rip. He makes for good comic relief, though there’s still an aura of danger and despair surrounding the character. And despite his cowardice, it’s clear some piece of the old Rip remains buried beneath. The sequence where Rip manipulated Darhk and Merlyn into turning on Thawne was easily one of the episode’s most entertaining.

Best of all, it’s clear we can expect a new incarnation of Rip going forward. Judging from that final scene, Rip seems to have regained his memories and his accent, but is now brainwashed to become the Legion’s time-travelling assassin. No doubt this will create distractions for the Legends while the Legion go about their business.I just hope the show doesn’t get too caught up in the familiar “Meet a famous person and save history” formula, because that’s when Legends of Tomorrow tends to be at its weakest.

The Verdict

Legends of Tomorrow is really on a roll right now. This week’s episode easily ranks among the series’ best. It put the Legion of Doom in the spotlight and reaped the rewards as these charismatic villains schemed and plotted against each other. This episode also did a great job of building on past Arrow-verse continuity and making use of one of the biggest loose ends from The Flash Season 2.

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: “Hot Potato Soup” Review

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Patton Oswalt is back and the Superior is revealed.

Lots of big developments in “Hot Potato Soup,” from the Koenigs finally making their triumphant return to May and Coulson finally sharing their much-shipped first kiss. But as Agents of SHIELD gets into the meat of its L.M.D. arc, it feels like it’s intentionally trying to obfuscate things in this new episode.

Is anything as it appears to be? The characters on the show must be wondering the same thing, as they finally discovered the L.M.D. version of May. In true TV drama fashion, this reveal came right after she and Coulson kissed, though in Agents of SHIELD’s defense, Coulson’s “betrayal” over this reveal was appropriately muted. It’s not the L.M.D.’s fault he was manipulated; it’s Radcliffe’s.

Avengers: Infinity War – Every Character Confirmed

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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review

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Meanwhile back at home base, Fitz continued his examination of the L.M.D. version of Radcliffe to discover it had a brain, and that it’s connected to the other brains in the other L.M.D.s. That led Simmons to the realization that May was the other L.M.D., but in doing so the show never really explored the significance of the brains vs. code to begin with beyond the fact this is the brain Aida had created with the help of the Darkhold. The focus was more on this emotional impact on Fitz as Fake Radcliffe tried to manipulate him with stories of his father, with the show falling back on the humanity debate it’s been having with L.M.D.s all season.

The episode also introduced Zack McGowan as The Superior, a reveal which was somewhat undercut by how much else was going on with the other characters. His motivations weren’t truly revealed until the kicker at the end of the episode, when we find out he’s after Coulson as part of his plan to kill Inhumans, but the show is still being intentionally vague about just how the Darkhold plays into that. Yes it can apparently destroy all Inhumans, and yes the Superior has generic Evil Reasons as to why they need to be destroyed, but the show hasn’t really sold him as a Big Bad.

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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup"  Review

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This episode was trying to do a lot, and because of that the balancing act between all the storylines was a bit off. Patton Oswalt made his triumphant return as the Koenigs here, and while it was certainly fun to have Oswalt back and his return lent itself to a lighter episode (+1 for the Quake/Black Widow fan fiction line), tonally it was a departure from the darker edge of this season so far. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the lightness of the Koenig storyline didn’t match the much more serious reveal of the Superior and the threat he serves. And if this episode was supposed to clear up whether or not the Koenigs are L.M.D.s, it had a very roundabout way of doing it.

Maybe that’s because Agents of SHIELD is trying to keep us in the dark. Given all the mystery and confusion about the L.M.D.s, I’m still not convinced we know who all of them are. I also am suspicious of all these emotional reveals with Mack and Fitz, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they are coming clean about dark, personal details in rapid succession. If Simmons spills a sad anecdote from her past in next week’s episode, then three’s a trend and something is definitely off.

The Verdict

While it was welcome to have a lighter episode with Patton Oswalt back in the mix (and the Koenigs have definitely been missed), it tonally didn’t match with the rest of the darker L.M.D. arc. There were some great and much anticipated moments, but this episode was maybe trying to do too much, undercutting some of the impact in the process.

The Flash: “Dead or Alive” Review

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The Mountain and the Vibe-er.

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Last time a hugely popular, nerd-friendly TV series hinged an episode around a trial by combat, the result was Game of Thrones’ “The Mountain and the Viper.” Luckily, the Flash crew weren’t interested in mentally scarring their viewers with the sight of Cisco’s head being smushed into jelly. Instead, this trial by combat offered a fun change of pace and the opportunity for the show to focus on characters other than Barry for a while.

The big news this week was the debut of Gypsy (Sleepy Hollow’s Jessica Camacho). This was a fairly loose interpretation of the character, though, what with her being re-imagined as an interdimensional bounty hunter and her illusion powers being cast aside in favor of making her Earth-19’s answer to Vibe. Comic fans might be a little disappointed, but these changes definitely worked in the context of the episode. Plus, much like Vibe himself, Gypsy was a mildly offensive ethnic stereotype when she first debuted in the comics. With all the problems the Romani people have with representation in media already, I don’t know that a traditional take on the character is really in anyone’s best interests.

Gypsy worked well because she was basically the perfect mash-up of villains Reverb and Golden Glider. Like Reverb, she offered Cisco a glimpse of what he could become if he ever lets go of his fears and fully embraces his powers. And like Golden Glider, she had a bit of a forbidden romance thing going on with the squeaky-clean Cisco. The fact that he seems to have a predilection for bad girls is definitely one of Cisco’s moe amusing traits. And it didn’t hurt that Camacho and Carlos Valdes had solid chemistry together. I do wish the episode had more time to explore that romance, but the potential is certainly there for some follow-up. It is about time Cisco had a recurring love interest of his own.

The final showdown between Vibe and Cisco made great use of their powers. For once, this wasn’t a battle between rival speedsters, but rather two combatants who can warp space and travel between worlds. The trial by combat used that element to great effects as the two warriors bounced from one world to the next. The National City cameo was an especially nice touch. And in the end, Cisco proved that a good brain can make up for a lack of experience.

This was also a fairly significant episode for H.R., as he was the whole reason Cisco was forced to participate in a trial by combat. In the end, I was left with a nagging feeling that the writers didn’t really take advantage of the situation to explore H.R.’s personality or past in great depth. It doesn’t seem like we know much more about the character now than we did a week ago. But if nothing else, the conflict did strengthen the bond between Cisco and H.R. and allow Cisco to reflect on the pivotal role H.R.’s predecessors played in his life.

The Flash: “Dead or Alive” Photos

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The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review
The Flash: "Dead or Alive"  Review

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The resolution was also interesting, as H.R, has essentially become a permanent Earth-1 resident. Does this mean the series will bring an end to the recurring gag of swapping out one Wells for another every season? Personally, I hope not. I’m amused by just how different H.R. is compared to the previous two versions of Wells, but I don’t know that I actually prefer him to the others. I’d just as soon have a Wells 4.0 next year, which may mean that H.R. has to die by the end of Season 3.

This episode also allowed Iris to take a more proactive role in the plot as she and Wally resurrected the brother/sister team-up they had going in the Flashpoint universe. That led to an amusing scene where Iris had to distract Joe with embarrassing family planning talk while Wally snuck a peek at Joe’s files. But more importantly, this team-up offered an intriguing look at how iris is coping with the knowledge of her imminent death. On one hand, she’s panicking at the thought of dying without leaving a legacy behind. And on the other, she’s become suicidally foolhardy when it comes to confronting danger. She assumes she can’t be killed before her time, and that seems like a very dangerous mindset. It’s so often the case in superhero stories that prophecies and premonitions wind up becoming self-fulfilling prophecies, and you really have to wonder if that won’t also be the case with Iris.

As for Wally, he’s the one character right now where everything seems to be going his way. He’s become Central City’s new favorite son. The girls are fawning over him. And he’s well on track to eclipsing Barry when it comes to speed. Enough so that Barry has decided that Wally may be the real key to stopping Savitar. But based on the way the Arrow-verse works, it’s safe to assume that this is merely the calm before the storm for Wally. Sooner or later, that other shoe is going to drop. And with each passing week I’m growing more and more convinced that Wally is doomed to become Savitar.

Finally, this episode also marked Julian’s first outing as a full-fledged member of Team Flash. So far, he seems to be a worthwhile addition to the mix. The group is in danger of becoming a little overcrowded at this point, but Julian’s hard-ass demeanor and apparent inability to to deliver a proper compliment do set him apart.

The Verdict

The Flash picked up some steam this week after a fairly underwhelming midseason premiere. It was nice seeing Cisco take the spotlight and continue his trend of falling head over heels for the bad girl in his life. And with the West siblings getting into their own shenanigans, the show barely even needed Barry Allen this week.

Wii U Production Ends Globally

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Goodnight, sweet prince.

Nintendo has confirmed that it is no longer manufacturing Wii U consoles.

In a statement to IGN, a Nintendo representative confirmed that “Wii U production has ended globally.”

Got feedback on our player?

We want to hear it.

Previously, Nintendo confirmed that Wii U production would be ending soon, but didn’t provide an exact timeframe. Yesterday, Nintendo updated Wii U sales figures alongside its latest financial report, confirming that just over 13.5 million consoles were sold as of December 31, 2016.

Nintendo confirmed last month that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be the last first-party Wii U game.

The news comes as Nintendo prepares to launch its next console, Nintendo Switch, on March 3rd.

For a look back on our favorite games, check out IGN’s list of the top 25 Wii U games.

Andrew is IGN’s executive editor of news and is just happy he got to play Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. You can find him rambling about Persona and cute animals on Twitter.

Unsung Heroes of the Games Industry: QA Testers

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Do you want to help make games for a living? This feature series explores some of the roles you may not have considered.

It’s easy to forget how much work goes into making a video game, particularly the AAA kind. We tend to associate games with one or two visionaries – the Miyamotos, the Levines, the Kojimas – while overlooking the dozens, sometimes hundreds, of men and women who strive daily to implement their vision.

In this multi-part feature, we shine a light on the forgotten, the overlooked – the unsung heroes. Drawing on the expertise of over a dozen experienced developers, we get an insider’s overview of five vital but seldom celebrated roles in game development. We find out what makes these roles so important, what it’s like to work in one, and what it takes, skills and knowledge-wise, to obtain one.

The first piece looked at sound designers, and today we’re chatting with QA testers.

What does a QA tester do?

The role of quality assurance (QA) in game development is largely self-explanatory: to ensure that games meet a certain standard of quality by eliminating defects. The QA tester’s role is to find the million and one ways video games can break, identifying and cataloguing a multitude of bugs and glitches that will (hopefully) be fixed before the game goes gold.

There are technical testers who cover security and performance, narrative testers who handle things like text, story, and localization, and general testers who cover the game from top to bottom… – Jermaine Davis

“Most modern titles require a few different types of testers,” explains Jermaine Davis, an ex-tester with over a decade of experience. “There are technical testers who cover security and performance, narrative testers who handle things like text, story, and localization, and general testers who cover the game from top to bottom making sure all the parts work well together and make sense.”

Davis tells us that there are two major kinds of QA testing: positive and negative. Positive testing ensures that everything works the way that it’s supposed to: doors open, buttons light up, guns fire, that sort of thing. Negative testing assesses the game’s ability to handle invalid or unexpected behaviour – like pressing all the buttons at once, or trying to walk through supposedly solid objects.

The kind and amount of testing required varies dramatically between titles and over the course of development. Games in the alpha stage require little in the way of QA simply because there’s not a lot there to test. It’s when beta rolls around that things start to ramp up, with designers, programmers, and producers actively deciding what parts of the game they want to keep and polish, necessitating in-depth testing. When development enters the final stretch, testers – like their colleagues – enter crunch mode, often working sixteen hour days, seven days a week.

Unsung Heroes of the Games Industry: QA Testers

Imagine testing an open world game with the ambition of something like Phantom Pain.

What it’s like being a QA tester?

Not surprisingly, the popular perception that QA testers get to chill out and play games all day (reflected in movies like Grandma’s Boy) is grossly misleading. “There are times during development where you will actually play portions of the game from the perspective of an ‘end user’ in order to gauge if a section feels fun or is fair, but those are few and far between,” says Davis. Instead, most of your time as a tester will be spent playing the same sections of game over and over and over again, scouring every virtual nook and cranny for defects big and small.

It’s hard, tedious work. Imagine having to play the same level, read the same dialogue, listen to the same cheesy upbeat music – imagine banging your head against a solid wall for hours, days, weeks at a time, hoping to make a crack. For some testers, it’s enough to make them stop enjoying video games altogether – a phenomenon Davis refers to as “tester’s syndrome”.

“We naturally find ourselves critically analyzing any game we play,” he says. “We do stuff like jump into a pit or climb a tree when there is no ostensible logic or benefit to doing so. We identify and exploit patterns in systems just to see if they break. We end up playing video games like lunatics out of pure habit.”

But a tester’s life isn’t all bad. Like most people who do gruelling, underappreciated work as part of a team, QA testers develop a grim rapport that help sustain morale over long hours. “The people you see every day are the ones that keep you sane,” says former QA tester Felix Wai. “They’re doing exactly what you’re doing and everyone’s who’s there understands what you’re going through.”

Unsung Heroes of the Games Industry: QA Testers

QA testers tend to see games in a completely different way to the rest of us.

How can I become a QA tester?

There are no formal requirements for becoming a QA tester, but there are a few mental and emotional qualities that distinguish the stayers from the burn-outs. Patience is key – bugs and glitches take time to find and time to fix, so it can sometimes be days, weeks, or even months before a tester sees the tangible results of their hard work.

“QA testers often have to work with team members of all levels and disciplines, so communication skills are also super important,” says Liza Shulyayeva. “Being able to pick concepts quickly is also very helpful. You will have a better time if you understand the basic concepts that different disciplines work with.”

Shulyayeva, an ex-tester and current employee of Swedish developer DICE, explains that there are two kinds of QA jobs: embedded QA (in-house with a developer) and external QA (at a “QA house” that does contract work for other devs). For the many who see QA as a stepping stone to a career in game development, embedded QA offers countless opportunities to mingle with and learn from seasoned developers. “I’ve never worked in a larger QA specific studio, but [embedded] QA was never really boring,” Shulyayeva says. “There are lots of opportunities to learn from and contribute to different disciplines.”

Most of my closest friends who moved on to do great things in the gaming industry are people I started out with on the QA floor many years ago. – Jermaine Davis

For those who have the discipline and tenacity to stick it out, QA testing is a proven path to gainful employment in other areas of game development. “Most of my closest friends who moved on to do great things in the gaming industry are people I started out with on the QA floor many years ago,” says Davis.

There is an understanding among developers: if a person can enter the crucible that is QA and emerge unbroken, they are ready to handle anything else game development can throw at them. “It’s sort of like an exclusive club,” says Davis. “When you interview or work with a person who has worked QA they understand you that much more and know that you are dedicated, passionate about gaming, and willing to work your way up from the bottom.

“I very much believe QA is the best possible entry point into the gaming industry.”

Thanks to Jermaine Davis, Liza Shulyayeva, and Felix Wai for their invaluable assistance.  Keep an eye on IGN for part three of Unsung Heroes: tools programmers, and be sure to check out part one: sound designers.

Dan Staines is a freelance writer and academic with an unhealthy fascination with moral dilemmas and Deus Ex. You can read more of his stuff and listen to his terrible music at danstaines.com, and tweet at him @drstiz.