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Behind the Mask of Wrench: An interview with Shawn Baichoo

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“In a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, I think Wrench is the perfect embodiment of the spirit of Watch_Dogs 2.”

Characterisation in video games is consistently improving and there’s no better representation of that than with Ubisoft’s sequel to Watch_Dogs. With Watch_Dogs 2, we’ve received a great cast of characters, with equally talented actors playing them. Though they are all standouts in their own way, the reception to the character of Wrench, an endearing and humorous character that manages to eschew stereotypes and subvert many expectations, has been nothing but positive. We managed to wrench away Shawn Baichoo, who plays the character, from holding off his adoring fans for just long enough to ask him some questions.

Shawn has done voice and motion capture work for numerous games and has been involved in several Ubisoft projects, including every single mainline Assassin’s Creed game (that’s a lot of games). He also motion captured all of Adam Jensen’s (lead protagonist) takedown moves in the very well received Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (2016), and is the voice behind the lead characters in both Outlast (2013) and the upcoming Outlast 2 (2017).

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How did you first get involved in the competitive industry of voice acting and motion capture for games?

I started off with theatre studies here in Montreal, intending to make a career of theatre, film and television, with hopefully some voice work (original voice for animation, ideally) thrown in. But I gravitated towards MoCap kind of naturally, as an extension of voice work for video games, as well as my stunt fighting and movement background. And after a rather fortunate encounter with a guy who was in charge of the MoCap for AC2 [Assassins Creed 2] (at the time), Ubisoft gave me a shot a few weeks later, it went very well, and I started working for them since then on various projects. It’s a relatively small community here in Montreal, so once you start working and people get to know what you can do, it can often lead to other opportunities within the industry, which is great.

A good deal of game companies are infatuated with getting big-named actors to play leading roles. How important is it for the industry to give more opportunities to fresh talent?

Well, as a relatively unknown actor, I’d say that it’s very important to give opportunities to fresh talent. MoCap is a pretty new field, and as such it presents a lot of opportunity for people who are willing to explore it. There’s a lot of diverse talent out there with a lot to offer, so having an eye out for fresh talent is is not only good for us actors, but also good for the companies, as look and recognizability tend to play a smaller role in games than they do in movies, for example. So someone who doesn’t have a ‘star’ factor can still be given a shot and compete, if you will, with bigger actors on relatively equal footing (without the price tag that usually comes with stars). That being said, I totally understand the desire some companies have to add some ‘prestige’ to their game by casting names, but Ubisoft, who made Watch_Dogs 2, always seems to cast according to the needs of their games, not based on star power necessarily. After all, a good game is what sells, not how many stars are in it.

The game contains great chemistry between the characters. Were the recording sessions done individually, or were the other cast members in the studio together?

All of the cinematic scenes were shot in the studio with the cast and a terrific director (Jean-Francois Rivard), which was essential for group cohesion and chemistry. We all got along great, too, which helped a lot. A lot of the team-speak was done together in studio, while on occasion we had to do a few pickups together while in different cities, so those sessions would be connected over Skype.

The first game was notorious for having somewhat forgettable characters. Was there a noticeable effort from the cast to rectify this for the sequel?

Not from the cast, really, but definitely from the writers. After all, it falls to them to craft the characters and the stories they tell. That being said, we were all very focused on the relationships between our various characters and how to keep things both natural but also entertaining and fun. I think we succeeded! The writers didn’t play into stereotypes, and there’s a wonderful, organic kind of diversity to the cast that makes them all super relatable, without it falling to pandering or tokenism.

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Plenty of fan art already exists for many of the characters in Watch Dogs 2

The cast of Watch_Dogs 2 is quite diverse. Is character diversity an issue the industry still needs to improve upon?

Absolutely. And I think Watch_Dogs 2 is a great step in that direction. But they handled it without being preachy or in-your-face about it, which I think it the way to go. Marcus being black certainly affects his story and his relationships with the world, but it’s never the point or the driving force of the story. I think it’s a nice balance.

I think people like DEDSEC so much because they’re easy to identify with in many ways. There are so many stories to tell out there, from so many interesting perspectives, that I really think the more we embrace that in all our media, the more we’ll all benefit.

Were there any disagreements about the decision to show Wrench’s face, or any other decisions regarding the character?

The initial concept for Wrench, I believe, was more of a tough-guy, ass-kicking kind of character, but the man who hired me (Lars Bonde) saw him differently, and thought that combining my unique comedic stylings and energy with such a look could be really interesting. He wasn’t wrong! I think Wrench is so popular, in part, because he’s not what you’d expect. He’s a real person with real passions and fan-boy and geek-out moments, as opposed to some tough, dour, flawless, effortlessly cool and detached (read: boring) kind of person that, frankly, we’ve seen before. I think it was always planned to show his face, however, so no disagreements there. I personally love the idea.

Wrench is portrayed as having a social disorder that is helped by the covering of his face, and he acts noticeably different when the mask is removed. Was this challenging to convey?

Sure, but I was very lucky to have such a great director guide me through some of Wrench’s most vulnerable moments. So while it was challenging, it was also very rewarding. There’s also the fact that I can totally relate to why Wrench wears the mask, as I’m someone who often is filled with self-doubt and can feel socially awkward (I hide it well, though), and I battle insecurity like everyone else. Being able to hide behind something and not let the world see/judge you for who you really are (especially if you don’t like yourself) can be a powerful thing. But sometimes that mask has to fall so we can take stock of what’s really important.

Did you have any input into the dialogue of Wrench, or any ad-libbing?

Oh, yeah, tons. The writers were really great with that, they were totally flexible and encouraged us to make the dialogue our own, which I did with fervor. In my case, it also helped that the writers got to know me throughout the process, so they adjusted Wrench’s dialogue to fit my personality a bit better. Also a great idea, I thought.

Wrench is playable for a small section at the end of the game. Can we expect to see more of Wrench in the upcoming DLC?

I certainly hope so! I love playing him. Unfortunately I can’t talk about any upcoming projects (if any), for if I did I would be beset upon by the Ninjas of the Non-Disclosure Agreement and never seen again.

Do you share any personality traits with the character of Wrench?

Oh yeah, definitely. His sense of humour, his love of movies, games, science-fictions, pop culture (I’m a huge geek), his loyalty, his passion for things, those are all very much me. Where we differ is in his technical savvy, his disregard for the law and his tendency to blow things up. But those are all things that are perhaps easier to enjoy in the power fantasy that is a video game, so that’s fine by me (I like not being in jail)!

If you could add any emoticons to the repertoire of Wrench’s mask, what would they be?

Hypnotic swirls, sound waves that match his voice, some kind of middle finger emojis… oh, and the smiling poop emoji. So many uses for that one. Perhaps with Wrench mask 2.0?

People seem quite taken with the character of Wrench. Why do you think this is?

I think people connect to him partially because the guy playing him (me!) has a lot in common with the fans, and the team behind Watch_Dogs 2 managed to convey that in a really effective and entertaining manner. There’s also the fact that his mask and look give him anonymity… so anyone, really, could be Wrench, which is a fun idea. When I was a kid I loved Iron Man for that very reason. I could be the one in the suit! I also think (in all humility here) that he’s a fun, entertaining and downright funny character, and people love that kind of thing. In a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, I think Wrench is the perfect embodiment of the spirit of Watch_Dogs 2 in many ways.

If you can, can you tell us a bit about the character you play in the upcoming horror sequel, Outlast 2?

I play Blake Langermann, a news camera man, who find himself (as well as his reporter wife, Lynne) in an increasingly terrible and terrifying situation after his helicopter crashes in a remote location. You can guess the rest… or actually, you probably can’t. I can’t talk about the story but I know firsthand that it’s going to be pretty intense, and very disturbing. I had a bit of trouble with a few bits, that’s for sure. I also think it’s going to top the first one in terms of atmosphere, game quality, and the number of times you’ll have to change your pants.

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Outlast 2 is scheduled for release early next year. A demo is playable right now.

And lastly, this is somewhat self indulgent, but Wrench seems to have some kinky interests. Do you view him as sorely on the straight side of the sexuality scale?

To be honest I don’t think anyone is solely on the straight (or queer) side of the scale. I think we’re all queer to some degree (even if it’s minor), it’s just a question of how much we embrace it or hide it away. While I played Wrench as a fairly straightforward hetero cis-male (that’s who I am, after all), I allowed him to have the same degree of comfort and familiarity with his more ‘feminine’ side that I do. Which is to say, Wrench isn’t macho, or sexist, or at all afraid to express behaviour that could make other more ‘rigid’ men uncomfortable. Part of why Wrench does it IS to make Marcus a bit uncomfortable (it’s his way of playing), but the other (probably larger) part is that he’s not afraid to express just how much he loves Marcus and thinks he’s cool. It doesn’t have to be a romantic love, but something I love about fiction (whether it be movies, games, books, animation, whatever) is that fans can read whatever the hell they want into it. I’ve received fan art, [erotic] fan-fiction, etc for Wrench with Marcus, and I’m totally fine with that. The point of all this is for people to escape into whatever worlds they want to, so if that includes one where Wrench is queer, or kinky, or whatever, I say more power to them!


If you want to read more about Shawn you can see the full list of projects he’s been involved in on his website: http://www.shawnbaichoo.com/bio/. Or you can find him at @ShawnBaichoo on Twitter.

One day it struck Oliver what his true calling in life was; to become a millionaire celebrity while doing nothing. Unfortunately YouTube has enough of those, so until then Oliver will have to deal with writing about games. He has experience writing for several games sites, talking nonsense and working on a novel when sanity can gain traction. Currently dancing through life until the impending death of the sun consumes us all. Likes sandwiches.

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Fantastic Fest 2019: Second Wave Adds ‘Knives Out’, ‘Parasite’ and More

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This year’s Fantastic Fest is shaping up with one of the strongest lineups in recent years and if the first wave announcement didn’t impress you, the second wave of films announced today will have you running to buy tickets.

Wave two brings a ton of exciting new titles including Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, Bong Joon-ho‘s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, as well as Richard Stanley‘s The Color Out of Space and the latest from filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Synchronic.

This year, Fantastic Fest will also be spotlighting Mexican genre films such as The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Ship of Monsters—and, the festival will also include a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema.

Check out the full second wave film lineup below. Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

Abou Leila
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène
In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

The Antenna
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram
Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez
Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

Bliss
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos
While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

Blood Machines
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman
The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, Turbo Killer, shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

Butt Boy
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

Climate Of The Hunter
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reece
The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Color Out Of Space
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley
Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley’s entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story.

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou
From the Shaw Brothers to The Matrix, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

Knives Out
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson
In attendance – Director Rian Johnson
From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

The Lodge
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Five years after Goodnight Mommy stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

The Long Walk
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do
In attendance – Director Mattie Do
An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

Lyle
2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike
In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike
After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder
In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers
Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

Nobadi
Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics
In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

Parasite
South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.

Patrick
Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielants
Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

Phil Tippett – Mad Dreams And Monsters
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet
After their documentary Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

The Platform
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Somewhere in the future exists The Platform, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

Prey
1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren
Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen
In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.

The Ship Of Monsters
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González
Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

Synchronic
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

Trampa Infernal
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III
In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

The True Adventures Of Wolfboy
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krej?í
Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

The Vast Of Night
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson
A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

VFW
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos
In attendance – Director Joe Begos
In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.

VHYES
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins
In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins
This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Vivarium
Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan
When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.

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Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’ Gets a Mysterious Trailer

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Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer and poster for Antlers, a rural horror film about a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, who discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret that places the entire town in danger.

Director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro have teamed to adapt a short story from Nick Antosca, the creator of the criminally underrated horror anthology series Channel Zero. Not much is yet known about Antlers other than Fox Searchlight, now owned by Disney, has scheduled the film for a 2020 release. Rounding up the main cast is Graham Green, Amy Madigan, Scott Haze and Rory Cochrane. Watch the trailer below.

Antlers Movie
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Be Excellent to Each Other with these Awesome ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ Figures

“History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell.”

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Since its release in 1989, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure inspired a sequel (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), a Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series, and launched actor Keanu Reeves into movie stardom. And now, three-plus decades later, Bill and Ted are getting their own scale collectible set courtesy Sideshow and Blitzway.

This is your chance to own the friendly duo in one go! The work put into creating these high-end figures is truly astounding as the figures capture the look of a young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves just as we remember them. If you have $399 to spend, they can be all yours.

Check out the photos below along with the official press release.

Bill and Ted are two high school buddies who dream of becoming international rock stars. Their hilarious time travel adventure is depicted in the amazingly audacious comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

It’s like having them pop up right in front of you, with their iconic fashion and elaborate accessories. Besides, the iconic props are designed to let you reproduce a variety of wonderful scenes from the movie.

Be excellent to each other and travel to the past through the exciting story of Bill and Ted!

The Bill & Ted Sixth Scale Collectible Set specially features:

Highly detailed likeness of Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston Esq.
Highly detailed likeness of Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan
Newly designed and developed male body with over 30 points of articulations and flexible soft arms
Two (2) Newly designed and developed figure stands
Twelve (12) interchangeable hands (total for both) including:
Two (2) pairs of guitar hands
Two (2) right blow fist hands
Two (2) pairs of open hands
Two (2) right good fortune hands

Costume for Bill:

One (1) purple pattern shirt
One (1) graphic t-shirts
One (1) pair of blue jeans
One (1) pair of pattern underpants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

Costume for Ted:

One (1) blue jacket
One (1) black vest
One (1) graphic t-shirt
One (1) pair of graphic shorts
One (1) pair of inner training pants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

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Watch the Creepy Trailer for ‘Little Nightmares 2’: Six is Back and She has Help.

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One of the biggest surprises to come out of Gamescom 2019 so far is the announcement of Little Nightmares 2, the sequel to the puzzle-platformer hit horror game developed by Tarsier Studios.

While the first Little Nightmares has you take control a character named Six while avoiding instant death as she traverses alone amongst the depths of a dungeon, the sequel will give her a companion named Mono, who must accompany Six throughout her terrifying new journey.  

Little Nightmares was one of our favorite games of 2017 and so we can’t wait to get our hands on the sequel. In our review, James Baker wrote, “Tarsier Studios have created a wholly original concept to a horror genre that has leaned more towards thriller before anything else, bringing its roots back without relying on jump-scares and needlessly-gory shocks. Just like hide-and-seek, Little Nightmares captures the fear of being caught, albeit in a creepy, macabre style.”

Little Nightmares 2 will be released sometime in 2020 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Watch the trailer below and if you are a fan of the first game, we recommend reading this article that dives deep into the meaning behind Little Nightmares.

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NBA 2K20’s Story Mode Gets a Stunning Trailer

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NBA 2K19 features to date, its strongest MyCareer mode with the aptly titled, “The Way Back”, a fascinating look at the culture behind college basketball recruiting. The story mode was well received by critics and fans everywhere and in our review, we called it, “an incredible achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations and incidentally, sports, in close-up and at length”.

NBA 2K20 which will be released in less than a month, promises to include an even better story mode, and while we haven’t played the game yet, we have plenty of reasons to think it might be. Not only does it feature an all-star cast with top-tier talents such as Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson, but the story mode – entitled “When the Lights Are Brightest” – is being produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Productions, the same company behind the upcoming Space Jam 2.

NBA 2K20’s latest trailer, which debuted Monday during Microsoft’s Inside Xbox show live from Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, give us a good idea of what to expect. We get a glimpse at Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson in action as well as the rest of the supporting cast which includes Thomas Middleditch, Mark Cuban, Ernie Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Scottie Pippen, and Jaleel White!

The NBA 2K20 demo will go live on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and will allow players to create a character and get a head start on MyCareer. Any progress made will carry over to the full game, which will be released Sept. 6 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

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Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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