Metro: Last Light E3 Trailer


Another video for Last Light and this one shows more than the old teaser.

Yep. Gotta see this one. We’re seeing THQ on Thursday near the close of the show. I’ll be tired, likely irritable, and ready to see this one up close. Barnes is weeping.

Madden '12: Dynamic Player Performance


No High Scores

Of all the good-sounding, but ultimately ill-fated ideas I’ve seen implemented in sports game, the notion of having player ratings dynamically change based on the ebb and flow of the game is probably the biggest. The notion of a guy getting on a hot or cold streak lies at the heart of sports. Last year at this time Armando Galarraga tossed what should have been a perfect game for the Detroit Tigers. The guy epitomizes back-of-the-rotation starter, even borderline major leaguer, and there he was, one out away from perfection. For one day, he was the best in baseball. Since then… well, not so much. (Still a hell of a guy, though. No matter what uni he puts on, I’ll always root for him.)

Athletes play above and below their abilities all the time. But for as long as sports games have tried to replicate this idea, I can’t really name a game that I thought did a convincing job of it. Very often it completely jacks with the balance of the game. Madden ’12 aims to take a fresh stab it with their Dynamic Player Performance (DPP) feature. Today they’ve put up not one, not two, but three posts on the Madden ’12 blog to convince us all they’ve found the secret formula. And you know what, totally unnecessary duplicative posting aside? I really want to believe they’re going to pull it off.

Here’s a look at how, in the first post, Aaron Boulding describes this feature’s effect on quarterbacks (from the first post)…

Separate from a player’s ratings, DPP introduces player traits that are position-specific and have only a handful of potential “settings”. Understanding these traits and what kind of on-the-field events trigger them and in what direction is key. As the most important players on the field, quarterbacks have the most traits including ones like “Senses Pressure” and “Tucks and Runs”. The Senses Pressure trait, for example, can come up as Paranoid, Trigger Happy, Ideal, Average and Oblivious. A “Paranoid” quarterback, like a rookie, will look to throw the ball as quickly as possible to avoid a hit rather than waiting an extra beat for a receiver to break open. At the other end of the spectrum is a guy like Ben Roethlisberger who is oblivious to pressure and will wait forever before delivering the ball, sometimes taking sacks, sometimes creating a play that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
The most important points to understand about traits is that they only change over the course of a game based on events that happen during the game. Roethlisberger is “Oblivious” when it comes to sensing pressure but if he gets hit often enough, if his late throws lead to interceptions, eventually he will look to deliver the ball sooner when he feels pressure coming and maybe he moves to “Average.”

What we didn’t tell you is that all traits for all players are “in play” and can be affected at all times during a game. So while you are sensing the pressure as Roethlisberger and calculating how many milliseconds you have to fire the ball or when you’re going to tuck the ball and run away, Roethlisberger’s Tight Spiral trait may switch from “Yes” to “No” after a few hits. After he’s gotten to you a few times the pass rusher’s Big Hitter trait may switch from “No” to “Yes” now that he smells blood in the water. A linebacker or defensive back may have his Plays Ball in the Air trait switch to “Aggressive” since he’s seen you throw so many wounded ducks due to pressure and now he wants to go for the pick. The whole point is, A.I.-controlled players will be the ones most influenced by the new Dynamic Player Performance system rather than the players you’re controlling. You’ll be able to understand Roethlisberger’s tendency to hold the ball or tuck and run better when you’re playing against him than when you’re using him.

There’s a whole lot of ways this can go wrong, but that’s pretty damn cool, and an accurate reflection of how football plays on a week to week basis. This isn’t arbitrary or based on the user making a barrel-full of plays that only the user can pull off. It’s based on the genuine ebb and flow of everything that happens on the field and that could lead to a lot of the game to game variability a sports game desperately needs to have legitimate staying power. (Note: The third post, the one by Wes Reinhart, lists all 18 different player traits. Well worth checking out.)

Witcher 2 1.2 Patch Released


No High Scores

True to their word during CD Projekt’s summer conference extravaganza, Witcher 2 Patch 1.2 is now available. Newly installed copies of the game will get the patch automatically. If you have already updated to version 1.1 the PR says you can get it from the Witcher 2 Launcher, but I see no such option. Fortunately, you can also download it directly, here.

Among other fixes, the patch includes the latest DLC, Barbers and Coiffeuses, which lets you restyle Geralt’s hair. (Note: If you do this you’re no longer allowed to make fun of girls accessorizing their Barbie dolls.) Also of note, NVIDIA put out a new official driver update that includes Witcher 2-specific fixes/tweaks.

Here’s the PR (unabridged)…

CD Projekt RED, the creator of distinctive non-linear RPG experiences, announces the release of a new patch for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings that upgrades the game to version 1.2. It implements more than 30 significant additions, improvements and fixes plus a number of lesser ones. The full list of changes can be found at

Version 1.2 of The Witcher incorporates several downloadable content packs. A highlight is the completely new “Barbers and Coiffeuses” DLC, which adds the option to use hairstyling services in the game, and thus the possibility for the main character to have a total of six different looks. A video showing these haircuts may be viewed at http://en.thewitcher.com/the-witcher/2/videos/gameplay/. In addition, six previously released DLCs are now automatically installed as natural parts of the game. Some of these provide equipment and other items that can be quite helpful right from the start of play in the Prologue.

Adam Badowski, Development Director at CD Projekt RED, commented, “Making a very good game is, in my opinion, equalled in importance by the need to offer strong ongoing support, especially on a platform as complex as the PC. I hope providing two major patches within barely more than two weeks after release demonstrates our dedication to supporting The Witcher 2 over the long term. What’s more, this is just one small sign of our commitment to this guiding direction. PC gamers can expect more goodies from us in the future. And of course, we won’t charge for them since we feel it’s our duty to improve and enhance the game for both current and future players.”

The game now patches to version 1.2 automatically during a fresh installation, or through the auto-patching option from the Game Launcher if version 1.1 is already installed. Any players who installed and also activated their games but did not apply patch 1.1 should do so manually from http://www.en.thewitcher.com/patch/; this will enable auto-patching to the latest version. In addition, patching from version 1.1 to 1.2 can be done manually via http://www.en.thewitcher.com/patch1-2/ Users who purchased the Steam digital version must use the Steam patcher.

The Witcher 2 was released internationally for the PC in mid-May. It has been received exceptionally well by gamers and media alike, and sold through 400,000 copies in its first week. An Xbox 360 adaptation was announced yesterday, and will be shown behind closed doors at the E3 trade show next week in media-only presentations; to book an appointment, please contact us at e3@thewitcher.com. Together with important announcement, the company released a new Papercraft Launch Trailer that may be viewed at http://en.thewitcher.com/the-witcher/2/videos/gameplay/

Additional information is available at the recently re-launched official site, www.TheWitcher.com.

Remake/Remodel- Konami's upcoming HD Collections

Look, I’m just as excited as everybody else to wallow in the flood of new game announcements, screenshots, and press that’s about to be unleashed upon mankind. But strangely enough, the one bit of pre-E3 press that’s got me excited is Konami’s announcement yesterday that they’re bringing out three HD’ed-up remake collections for Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Zone of Enders franchises for both PS3 and Xbox 360. The MGS one in particular almost had me hyperventilating- MGS 2 and 3 along with Peace Walker (!) completely redone with full HD support. I missed all of those games but the first MGS remains one of the best console games I’ve ever played and the fourth is one of the most batshit insane ones I’ve ever played- in a ood way. So I’m glad to get a chance to catch up without having to go buy an old console, find a copy of the games on eBay, and bother with the hassle. I’ve played either Zone of Enders game or Silent Hill 3, so I’ve got some catching up to do. After the jump, I’ll rap some more about reprints.

I love reprints. When I was a kid listening to obscure metal and punk rock, if it weren’t for reissues, remasters, and box sets of older records I don’t know what I would have done since I didn’t have MP3s or Soulseek to track that stuff down. And with films, can you imagine a scenario where the only films available to purchase were “current gen” titles, and you couldn’t pick up a DVD of a Stanley Kubrick film simply because it’s “old” and out of circulation? In the past couple of years in the tabletop gaming scene, reissues of out-of-print games has become big (relatively speaking) business, and classic board games like Fury of Dracula and Cosmic Encounter are widely available in best-ever editions. Back catalogue is important and keeping significant and influential games in circulation and available is becoming more and more critical as the cultural history of video games lengthens.

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when you couldn’t easily and readily by a copy of and play Super Mario World, Perfect Dark, or Master of Orion II. It’s even harder to believe that there was a time when lots of folks didn’t _want_ to play old games like that. There’s been a drastic change over the past decade in that kind of thinking, and there is a much greater awareness of what games are significant and which remain worth playing today, even if the technicals are long past their prime. Digital distribution has been incredibly significant in keeping older games current, with services such as GOG.com and Nintendo’s Virtual Console serving as indispensible- and accessible- archives for classic games. Even though I’m squarely on the “let’s go all digital” bandwagon and I think that eventually almost every game we’ve ever played will be available on demand, it’s still nice to see companies like Konami recognizing the demand for disc-based collections like this and giving them a modernizing face lift to keep them from embarrassing themselves at the reunion.

A lot of folks tend to cry “milking” when collections like this are announced. Then there’s the guy that proudly announces in the forums that he has five copies of each game in their original format along with the console to play them at his bachelor pad and he doesn’t understand why they would re-release old games. And then there’s the person grousing that companies are wasting time and money doing remakes rather than constantly churning out new IPs. Many of these kinds of comments are, of course, made by either kids or the very naïve who aren’t aware of how capitalist businesses operate.

But I say bring ‘em on. “Box set” collections like this are a great opportunity for fans to revisit old favorites and reassess them as well as a jump-on point for those who might have missed out during their window of availability. As we head into a week likely filled with plenty of “no shit, Sherlock” announcements of annualized franchises and stuff we’ve all known about for months or even years, I won’t be surprised if these collections are what I’ll come away most excited about. Sure, if had played these games before I’d probably be less enthusiastic, but regardless I’m glad to see that the industry realizes the value of its past successes. They might be monetizing their properties, but we benefit from their availability.

Darksiders II Announcement Trailer

You probably saw this one yesterday on the Game Informer site, but here’s the Darksiders II announcement trailer. I was disappointed to hear that the game won’t be at THQ’s booth at E3, especially seeing how I went on about it when recording the podcast last night. Oh well, I guess this trailer of Darksiders II goodness will have to salve my soul.

Star Trek Coming in 2012; Kirk and Spock Co-op?


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And we have yet another PR letting cats out of bags. We booked an appointment with Paramount for a game that they said “would blow us away.”

I’m assuming this is it.

It’s being developed by Digital Extremes and yes, you can play as Kirk and/or Spock.

PR Ahead:

Paramount Digital Entertainment confirmed today that Star Trek will be coming to the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC in summer 2012. With an original story and unprecedented co-op experience, the game casts players as Kirk and Spock for the first time ever.

The game, which continues the adventure that director and producer J.J. Abrams envisioned with Star Trek (2009), boasts a stand alone story filled with action-packed combat as Kirk and Spock must work together to stop a legendary enemy race bent on conquering the galaxy.

“Star Trek challenges the boundaries of co-op gameplay with a galactic adventure that gamers and fans have never experienced,” said Tom Lesinski, President of Paramount Digital Entertainment. “Working closely with the Star Trek filmmaking team throughout development, the game is sure to deliver AAA production values, a wide variety of gameplay and all the action you would expect from the hit franchise. This will be the definitive Star Trek gaming experience.”

Star Trek features an original story by BAFTA award winner and God of War writer, Marianne Krawczyk, in collaboration with the writer/producers of the new Star Trek films, Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

The game is under development by Digital Extremes (Bioshock 2, Unreal Tournament, Dark Sector, The Darkness II), working closely with Bad Robot, K/O Paper Products and Damon Lindelof and published by Paramount Digital Entertainment through a license with CBS Consumer Products. Star Trek will be available in stores 2012.

XCOM to Drop March 6, 2012. Or not.


UPDATE: Added the E3 2011 trailer. Hmm…yeah still not feeling this one yet.

2K sent out a PR today letting everyone know that the game finally has a release date! That date? March 6, 2012. In other words, sometime next year. Release date announcements like this are pretty meaningless as any number of things could still delay the game and push it off that date. But hey — at least we have a target now. I’m seeing this one with Brandon on Wednesday at E3 so hopefully it shows better than it did last year. It was the one game Todd and I differed on greatly — Todd thought it looked great, I thought it looked…not that.

Curious to see what another year of development time has done.

PR ahead:

2K Games announced today that XCOM, the intense sci-fi thriller in development at its 2K Marin studio, will be coming to the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC on March 6, 2012 in North America and March 9, 2012 internationally. XCOM is a gripping tactical action experience set in mid-century America, where the player leads an elite field team of specialized government agents into battle – combining deep, visceral gunplay with powerful sci-fi abilities. Together, they face an vicious and otherworldly enemy, who conspires to shatter our world and rebuild it in their own image.

“Every time I think of XCOM it gives me the chills, the kind that come from standing witness to the corruption and destruction of your world as you stand powerless to prevent it,” said Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K. “I’m pleased to announce today that we will be bringing this experience to an even broader audience when XCOM comes to the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in March 2012.”

Featuring a bold new origin story told from a first-person perspective, XCOM pits Special Agent William Carter and his veteran team against the threat of human extinction. But every enemy is an opportunity – players will strike surgically against the alien menace, capture their technology, and by the science of desperation – turn the invaders’ weapons against them. Armed with these lethal new tools of war, players will command their squad on XCOM’s front lines: Main Street, USA.

For more information on XCOM please visit www.XCOM.com. XCOM is not yet rated by the ESRB.

Don't Shoot the Food – Summer Lovin' Edition

No High Scores

Ah, summer in Atlanta, where you can get drenched in sweat simply from watering the garden. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer here in the States and it’s been in the upper 90′s all week here in the Dirty Dirty South, so I’m considering summer in full swing. If it’s summertime, then it’s grilling time!

Honestly, I grill all year long, a benefit of living in a warmer state, but my Northern upbringing still makes me associate grilling with summer. I can remember going to my grandparents’ on a Sunday afternoon and my grandmother grilling out on the driveway. I don’t know why she didn’t grill in the backyard, or why my grandfather didn’t grill, but I remember her making food and then everyone eating on the picnic table in the backyard and then playing bocce. Those were great times.

So, with that in mind (and no readily apparent food that would go along with Daggerdale), I’m sharing my favorite grilling recipe, namely bacon cheeseburgers, but not any bacon cheeseburgers. No, these are bacon cheeseburgers with a twist. I apologize in advance to vegetarians, Muslims and those keeping Kosher as I’ve got nothing for you this week.

Ironically enough, this recipe comes from Steven Raichlen’s book Indoor! Grilling. Personally, I’ve never had much success grilling indoors as I can’t get my various pans hot enough, but hey, a good grilling recipe is a good grilling recipe. I have a lot of grilling recipe books like this, where I buy a book and use just one recipe. It’s not the most economical approach, but I get a good food out of it, so I don’t care.

The twist to this recipe is that the bacon and cheese are worked into the patties prior to grilling which gives the burgers an amazing taste. Add to that a nice chipotle mayo and you’ve got a hell of a burger. My good buddy Mr. Bones can attest to this as he’s had them personally. Bonesy is one of those people that makes me feel like we were brothers in another life because of how much we dig the same things. You know, the kind of guy that has you thinking that you wish you’d grown up with because of all of the fun you would have had, until you keep thinking about it and realize that you both would have ended up jailed, dead or part of an epic story that people told whenever the words “chicken coop” were mentioned. Bones is a great guy who has had a lot of shit thrown his way, but he keeps his head down and keeps on keeping on. He loves horror movies, comic books video games and is totally devoted to the Auburn Tigers and two of the most adorable kids in the world. I don’t talk to him as much as I should on account of me being an antisocial bastard, but he knows I’ve got his back and when this zombie shit goes down, and you know it will, we’ll meet half way between Valley and Atlanta and bust undead domes until civilization rebuilds itself. But I digress. Let’s make some burgers.

A New Cheeseburger – Steven Raichlen

Makes four burgers.

Ingredients
1. 4 thick slices bacon or 6 – 8 thin slices
2. 1 1/2 lb ground sirloin or ground chuck – I don’t care about the fat content when I’m making burgers as the fat usually cooks out of the meat and leaves the burgers quite juicy.
3. 6 oz smoked cheddar or other smoked cheese, coarsely grated – I use applewood smoked cheddar. Yum.
4. 1 clove garlic, minced
5. Coarse salt
6. 1/2 cup mayo
7. 1 – 2 canned chipotle peppers with 1 Tbl adobo sauce – you can usually find these in the Latin food section.
8. 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
9. Four hamburger buns
10. Lettuce, tomato, onion slices, whatever garnish you want.

Cooking Steps
1. Cook the bacon until crisp however you choose to cook your bacon (frying pan, microwave, whatever). Drain, cool and crumble it.
2. Combine the bacon, ground beef, cheese and garlic in a mixing bowl and mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Form them into four evenly shaped patties. Use a spoon to make an indentation in the middle of each patty to keep them from turning into meatballs on the grill. Place the patties on a plate, cover them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for 20 – 30 minutes. Don’t skimp on the fridge time. Making the patties with your hands is going to warm them up and make them more susceptible to falling apart on the grill.
3. Heat the grill to medium.
4. While the grill is heating up, mince the chipotle peppers.
5. Mix the peppers, mayo and paprika in a bowl, stirring until everything is fully mixed. Place in the fridge until the burgers are done.
6. Season the patties with salt and grill them over medium heat for 4 – 6 minutes per side for medium well to well done burgers. Keep an eye on the burgers as the combination of cheese and bacon make them susceptible to flare-ups, so keep the patties moving around the grill.
7. Once the burgers are done, (I use the poke test to check), put them on the buns, slather some of your fancy mayo on them and dress them however you want. Delicious

For the record, the poke test is where you poke the meat and based on how much give there is, it tells you how done the meat is. If there’s a lot of give, it’s rare. If it gives just a little, but it mostly firm, it’s well done. It’s not scientific, but it beats serving a burger or steak that has a bunch of cuts in it.

Still hungry? Check out the Don’t Shoot the Food archive.

Dark Souls Story Trailer Prepares You For Death

The undead taken away and corralled up North? That doesn’t sound good. This trailer for Dark Souls, on the other hand, sounds and looks fantastic. I’ll be seeing this one at E3, provided my reputation as the World’s Laziest Gamer doesn’t precede me and Namco bans me from the booth for not being hardcore enough to take it. Should be an interesting demo. Some of those bosses look downright gargantuan.

SSX Trailer Has Me Feeling Somewhat Optimistic

While I’m still not down with the whole snowboarding-from-a-helicopter thing, this latest Mac reveal trailer for SSX has me feeling somewhat optimistic that the game will maintain what has made the series so good, namely insane, physically impossible tricks. I’m still not convinced, but I’m starting to warm to this game.