New Battletech Introductory Set Streets 3/30

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It’s been years since I’ve played Battletech, and although I had a couple of guys at Atlanta Game Factory that were diehard players, I never got back to it. Always wanted to, because I really liked it when I was a kid. There was also that period when Wizkids was doing that terrible Clix game where farming robots duked it out and you spent $150 on a case of boosters hoping that you’d get an Atlas, a Mad Cat, a Jenner, anything but a walking bulldozer. Now, I’m pleased as punch to see that the classic game is coming back!

Catalyst Game Labsnow produces a couple of former FASA licenses including Shadowrun, and they’re declaring that the ultra deluxe 25th Anniversary Box Set is almost ready for deployment. I can’t wait to check it out, it sounds like a great deal for fifty bucks. Here’s what their press office has to say about it.

BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set ($49.95)

Strap yourself into the ultimate suit of armor: the BattleMech. Thirty feet tall and weighing up to a hundred tons, this humanoid engine of destruction is a walking arsenal with enough firepower to level a city block. The BattleTech game system takes you into the world of the 31st Century, where war has become a way of life. You are a MechWarrior. You are in command of the most powerful machine on the battlefield, and hold the fate of empires in your hand!

The BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set thrusts you onto the battlefields of the 31st century. This box contains everything needed to play:

24 unpainted, ready-to-play plastic BattleMech minis
2 unpainted, premium-quality plastic BattleMech minis
One 12-page full-color quick-start rulebook will have players into the action in minutes
36-page book of pre-generated BattleMech Record Sheets
One 80-page full-color rulebook
Inner Sphere at a Glance, a 56-page full-color book of universe
background and BattleMech technical data

One 16-page full-color Painting and Tactics Guide
Two heavy-duty cards of compiled tables
Two 18? x 24? game-board quality maps
It’s been a long wait for this much anticipated return of the best-selling Introductory Box Set to the perennial BattleTech game line. With product in transit to the warehouse, the wait for the best version yet of the box set is almost over!

Dear Killzone 3 Medic,

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Dear Killzone 3 Medic,

By the time you read this, I will already be dead.

Guerilla has only given me a couple of seconds to write before my bullet-riddled body expires, provided that one of our adversaries doesn’t come running by and deliver the coup de grace before the “Wait for Medic” screen expires and I just hit X to respawn.

I was just doing my Tactician job, charging headlong into danger to secure tactical spawn areas and making sure we all don’t start back at square one when we die defending control points or trying to maintain a strong front. But then, out of nowhere, xXxSinfulMeatxXx came out of nowhere and blew me away with his shotgun. Now, I’m laying here just waiting for you to come revive me. I’m laying here next to the tactical spawn area I captured for you. Look on your mini-map, I’m the first aid cross.

But I know you won’t come, and I will just die like I have some 556 times according to my statisics. Because you’re not doing your god damned job. Haven’t you heard of the Hippocratic Oath?

What the hell are you doing while your teammates are lying there bleeding out? Are you playing this game like Call of Duty, just running around and racking up kills? I hate to tell you Sergeant Slaughter, there aren’t any killstreaks here. Or are you admiring the many variations of “blown up building” that make up the terrain we’re fighting across? Or could it be that you just don’t have a clue as to what a Medic is supposed to do in a game like this?

This is a team-based game. This is an objective-based game. And most importantly this is a class-based game. And we need your skills to win this battle.

I know it sucks that you only get 25 points for revive, which is half as much as killing Private Newbie, and I agree that you deserve a more equivalent reward. But we’ve got to play what we’re dealt right now. Maybe they’ll tweak it up for us in a patch and make the Medic more lucrative for the points-farmers among you.

Here’s my advice. Stick with your squadmates but hang back and don’t go rushing in to try to wax some bad guys. Cover their six, and stay low. Watch for them to go down and spring into action with that revival tool when they do. If they’re defending a spot, we’ll be able to hold it much longer. If we’re on the hunt, we’ll save valuable seconds since they won’t have to march all the way back out into the field. Or, you could just play another class. I hear that the Marksman gets to shoot people up real good.

I’m sure all of this is falling on deaf ears and you’ll likely continue running around shooting at people and boosting your holy and sacred K/D ratio. All I can say is that I hope that when xXxtEhGrAnDwIzZaRdxXx waxes you, that there is no one there to revive you so that you’ll feel the pain of all of the squadmates you’ve failed to aid.

It’s getting dim now. Time to press X to respawn.

Motheramercy, is this the end of Crackedlcd75?

Tour Arkham City in October

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Batman is awesome. Batman: Arkham Asylum was awesome. These things have been proven, with science.

In fact, Batman is so awesome he deliberately constructed an alternate personality to come out in the event his own personality was subverted. Who does that? I mean, seriously! Ok, that’s actually kind of creepy but so is Batman, but in a good way. In an awesome way. The release dates for Batman: Arkham City have been released and folks the world wide can expect to crack some more thug skulls in October. North America gets the game on October 18, Australia on the 19th and Europe and everyone else on the 21st.

Victory! The Red Ringed 360 Saga's Dramatic Conclusion

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Image: posterize / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A couple days ago I posted an update regarding my red ringed 360. It’s possible I was a weee bit tweaked at the time (and justifiably so). You can follow the details and links from that post back through to the beginning, but the short version: 3 weeks of no 360, severe communication issues from Microsoft support, and me being unhappy about the prospect of paying a second out of warranty fee w/o guarantee of some kind of updated hardware (I’m on my third original gen chipset; I’m done). But then I got The Email….

It was Wednesday morning. The sky was angry. There was a bitter chill in the air that sent chilling fear through the spines of all the woodland creatures. Wood spring never come? And did I mention it was chilly? My belly roiled with hunger as I toiled over the blank page to compose my latest grand opus. Chilly. I… yeah, I got noth’n.

Ahem.

Wednesday I received a rather cryptic email from someone at Microsoft support that’s at least a few rungs higher up the support totem pole than the front (and possibly second?) line folks with whom I’d been communicating. I’m not going to include the text of the email, but it basically said he’d been “reviewing” my case and wanted to call me at my convenience. It took all of an hour for him to call me once I wrote back with my availability. Sure beats the hell out of “24-48 hours,” right?

It was a good discussion. He indicated he had been reviewing my case (no indication of what prompted it to end up on his desk, and I didn’t ask) and gave what felt like my first sincere, non-scripted apology for the situation having been strung out as long as it did. He said the $35 for the new power brick that didn’t solve the problem would be refunded immediately (instead of waiting to receive it back from me) and that in the next couple of days they would ship a “Pro” unit to me at no charge (they refer to any unit that isn’t an Elite or S, as either Pro or Arcade, but it sounds like it’ll be a Jasper-based unit; news to me), requesting only that I send back the defective unit so they can figure out exactly what went wrong with the system. I’m getting a strong impression that for my particular red ring code (3 of four quadrants indicates a power problem) not to be resolved with a new power brick is incredibly unusual. (I’m a trailblazer!)

I thanked him for his call, noting that my primary source of discouragement has been the way this has dragged out in combination with being asked to pay multiple out of warranty fees for the same hardware. He was very frank that the amount of waiting I’ve had to put up with should not have happened and that they’d be reviewing their procedures to determine why it happened and how to prevent it in the future. He also said that he hates to hear stories about customers who’ve had to go through multiple repairs and that it shouldn’t happen, but to my best recollection he stopped short of the whole “we’ll be reviewing and, if necessary, changing our procedures” thing. It was a legitimately good conversation.

Ultimately I’m curious if this represents an internal support mechanism finally kicking in to address a frontline failure (it happens) or if my earlier post somehow found its way in front of somebody at Microsoft. We’re hardly RPS or Opposable Thumbs over here, but we do get traffic, so it’s not out of the question. I’d like to think, though, this was just Microsoft righting a bad situation for a customer that fell through the support cracks and it had nothing to do with the blog. Credit where it’s due, getting to this point may have been excruciating, but in the end I was just looking for a fair and reasonable resolution; not special treatment. I think they did right by this customer and that’s what matters most to me.

Also: “Winning! Duh.”

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Travel Day For Bill. Blog Suffers Mightily

So, today is a rather big day as PAX East is ready to roll and I have GameShark staffers on the scene so I get to screw around! There is sure to be a lot of really cool news flying about, a lot of which deals with Dragon Age 2 and Shogun 2 and other stuff I’d love to talk about but…

I hit the road today, making a road trip with the family to see Todd in Indy. So the rest of the day and the weekend I leave you in the very capable hands of Brandon, Danielle, Mike, and Todd. (Oh God…) I’ll be back Sunday. However, I’ll be starting up my Shogun 2 Game Diaries next week which I am really looking forward to; I’ve had the game for a few days and really started digging into last night. Lots to talk about, lots to say, and …now I’m leaving to play boardgames all weekend.

Priorities, people. Have a good weekend.

Dawn of War II: Retribution Review

A few days ago I posted my spin on Dawn of War II: Retribution. Overall, not bad. The screenshot above that I captured is typical of a DoW2 fight. Lots of booms and dead orks.

Barnes also penned his regular Thursday Cracked LCD column, this time discussing more games from Victory Point Games, a small DIY outfit making some really neat boardgames.

Check ‘em out. Keep us employed.

Don't Shoot the Food – Baseball Hammer Time Edition

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Welcome to Don’t Shoot the Food, a semi-regular series where I combine my love of gaming with my love of cooking and eating.

Ah March, winter is ending and a young man’s thoughts turn to baseball. Well, the video game version any way. I haven’t cared about baseball since I was made to play Little League in 5th grade but I have always loved the idea of ballparks being the perfect place to take in regional fare. This week, I turn your attention down south to Atlanta, home of Turner Field and one of the greatest sandwiches ever invented. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Hammer time.

Despite being raised a Yankee, my stomach was born in the deep South. Luckily I now live in Atlanta and am but a stone’s throw away from some truly exceptional southern cooking. One of the oddest food pairings I have discovered since moving here is the combination of chicken and waffles. The name says it all. It’s a piece of fried chicken and a waffle. Nothing more to it than that. Oh sure you can vary the piece of chicken and restaurants usually have daily specials on what flavor of waffles, but what you see is what you get. I get my chicken and waffles fix at Gladys and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles, as their fried chicken is exceptional, their sides are fantastic and their sweet potato cheesecake is, hands down, one of the best desserts I have ever had. The fact that the restaurant was created by Gladys Knight and Ron Winans doesn’t hurt either.

So what does this have to do with baseball? Well, if you head a few miles south on 75/85 from Gladys and Ron’s, to Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, you can have your own version of chicken and waffles in a sandwich called The Hammer. The sandwich features waffles instead of bread, fried chicken cutlets, bacon, pepper-jack cheese and a pecan syrup mayonnaise, The Hammer is all of the southern goodness of chicken and waffles made portable. The best part about The Hammer? It’s a tribute to Hank Aaron, one of the greatest individuals to ever grace a baseball diamond.

As I couldn’t get the exact recipe for The Hammer, this is a good approximation. For the vegetarians among us, these sandwiches used breaded and fried chicken cutlets but you could very easily use breaded, fried tofu, as seen in this recipe. Make a fake bacon switch to go with it and you’re all set.

Ingredients
Makes four generous sandwiches.

Waffles – two per sandwich, obviously. Use your own recipe, use frozen, or use this recipe.
1. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2. 1/4 cup cornstarch
3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
6. 1 cup buttermilk
7. 1/3 cup peanut oil
8. 1 egg
9. 1 teaspoon sugar

Chicken
Peanut oil, for frying – You can use any vegetable oil if you don’t want to buy 5 gallons of peanut oil however I like peanut oil best for frying chicken as it’s a lot lighter and cleaner than other vegetable oils.
1. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2. 1 cup panko bread crumbs
3. 3/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning – Feel free to use whatever spice inducing seasonings you want here, Cajun, smoked chile powder, maybe some Old Bay. Go crazy with your bad self.
4. 5 – 10 dashes hot sauce – Texas Pete’s rules the roost at my house but again, it’s your dish.
5. 1 egg, beaten
6. 1 tablespoon water
7. 12 chicken tenderloins (1 to 1 1/2 lbs) – Make sure to trim off all of the nasty bits first. I usually use chicken breasts that I just cut into tenderloin shaped pieces as chicken breasts are less expensive and I find that I end up trimming so much of the tenderloins away that it’s a waste of food.
8. Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Maple Mayonnaise
1. 1 cup mayonnaise
2. 1/4 cup pure maple syrup – This is the pure, from the tree stuff, not Mrs. Buttersworth.
3. 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
4. 1 teaspoon horseradish

Fixin’s
1. 12 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and drained
2. 8 slices pepper-jack cheese

Cooking Steps
Waffles:
1. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients until well mixed. Add the buttermilk, peanut oil, egg, and sugar and mix well. Let the batter rest for thirty minutes.
2. Get your waffle iron fired up and either make four large waffles that you’ll split for each sandwich, or eight bread sized waffles. I don’t have a waffle iron, so do whatever your waffle iron demands of you!
3. Once the waffles are done, set aside and keep warm.

Chicken:
Now, for the chicken, if you want, you can deep fry the chicken entirely or, do what I do and do a combination of pan frying and oven baking. You use less oil, so there’s less to clean up and it’s a little better for you.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Place flour in a shallow bowl or deep plate. In another bowl, mix the panko and Cajun seasonings. In a third bowl, beat together the hot sauce, egg and water.
3. Heat up about 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet.
3. Dredge each tender in flour, then in the egg mixture, then in the panko mix. Fry immediately until golden on each side, about 3 – 4 minutes total (that’s total frying time, not per side) and place the fried pieces on a large cookie sheet. Once all of the pieces are fried, bake the chicken in the oven for another five minutes.

Mayo:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the mayo, syrup, mustard powder and horseradish.

Assembly:
1. Preheat your oven’s broiler.
2. Place a waffle on an oven proof plate, or a cookie sheet. Place three chicken cutlets on the waffle. Top the cutlets with three slices of bacon and two slices of cheese. Broil the sandwich, open faced, until the cheese melts. Spread about three tablespoons of mayo on the other waffle, top the sandwich off and then repeat the assembly for the other three sandwiches.

Hammer time never tasted so good.

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

THQ Drops 50 Mil on Warhammer 40K MMO

If you know me, you know that I’m an admitted fanboy of almost everything related to Warhammer fantasy and Warhammer 40K. I’m no longer into the miniatures game (I was in college) but I still enjoy the setting immensely. So, any sort of RPG set in this world gets my attention.

THQ knows my sweet spot because the Dark Millennium MMO is more action based without the normal “WarCraft” style gameplay. That fits this setting perfectly. The company is also dropping serious coin on this game according to GamesIndustry.biz . This from CFO Paul Pucino:

“Somewhere in the area of $50 million or so to get these games to market, certainly in that range for Dark Millennium. What you want is a game like this to be successful and the development budget gets higher. It can continue to generate over a long period of time – 5,6,7, 8 years of high operating margins and a significant amount of cash.”

“When you just think in terms or profitability, the owned IP, there’s a threshold of break-even of about two million units per game, so you have to sell somewhere in the area of two million copies of a game like Homefront to break even. Once you get past that you’re generating incremental operating margins as high as 60 per cent.”

Crazy eh?

THQ has a lot riding on this game as well as its upcoming action game, Space Marine, another game set in the 40K universe. That’s a lot of faith to put into space orks.

L.A. Noire: Investigation and Interrogation

A couple of things here. First, I’m still pissed off at the whole “hey here’s a new investigation if you buy this game from GameStop” crap. I really hate that practice. A lot.

Second, as much as I tend to not like Rockstar’s scatterbrained storytelling, I think this looks, really, really promising. If this is done properly, from a gameplay and story perspective, I will eat this stuff up. Philip Marlowe. FTW. Actually, this feels like L.A. Confidential, the videogame.

Shotgun Ed!

You guys did see L.A. Confidential, right? Tell me I’m writing for people who know that movie. Lie if you have to.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Trailer

Even more trailers today — this one for Transformers: Dark of the Moon

PR smackdown:

The Transformers: Dark of the Moon game allows players to fight through the epic battles on Earth that will shape the events of the upcoming film. Armed with a brand-new gameplay mechanic, fans will harness the power of (use) Stealth Force to instantly convert to a third, hybrid state that combines the weapons and firepower of robot mode with the agility and maneuverability of vehicle mode. Set in environments around the world such as the Jungles of South America, Siberian military facilities, Detroit Cityscapes and more, the game lets players assume the roles of a diverse roster of everyone’s favorite TRANSFORMERS from the movie through a heart-pounding campaign to save mankind. Additionally, fans can play the game with or against their friends through intense, online multiplayer game modes as their favorite iconic characters.

This one drops in May.