Crysis 2 Trailer and Interview

That’s a PC trailer, by the way. Looks rather slick.

In addition, we have an interview posted today at the Mothership with Producer Nathan Camarillo who turns out wasn’t all to thrilled with that build leak a while back. DRM might be in Crysis’ future?

Looks like it.

More Stacking Coming: The Lost Hobo King Announced

Danielle is our resident Stacking lover so she’ll be pumped over this news from THQ as the company is planning the ‘early April’ release of The Lost Hobo King expansion.

PR Details from the ancient hobo mystics:

In The Lost Hobo King, Charlie Blackmore travels to the kingdom of Camelfoot to help his hobo friend Levi with an important family matter. Levi’s uncle Rufus, heir to the throne of Hobo, may only take his rightful place if the lost crown can be found. To recover the fragmented crown, Charlie must use his talents to overcome several tests of valor left by the ancient hobo mystics. It is only then that the ancient crown can be re-forged, Rufus crowned, and the fractured hobo people united under one sardine.

The Lost Hobo King downloadable pack extends the Stacking experience with features that include:

· An all-new storyline sprinkled with(written by the people at Double Fine) signature charm
· A fully realized (new) environment to explore – the lost hobo kingdom of Camelfoot;
· Several new challenges, each with multiple solutions;
· More than 15 new unique dolls, each with new abilities;
· New achievements and trophies to earn.

Final Mass Effect 2 DLC on 3/29

No High Scores

Remember when BioWare said that DLC for Mass Effect 2 would set the stage for Mass Effect 3? Turns out they were right! The Arrival, the final piece of the Mass Effect 2 DLC puzzle drops on March 29th and has Commander Shepard heading out to the edge of the galaxy to find an undercover agent that may have evidence of a Reaper invasion. You know, the invasion we already know about because they showed it to us at the end of Mass Effect 2. Hrm.

Aaaaaaany way, the final pack features the return of Lance Henrikson, which is always a good thing. We could all use a little Lance Henrikson in our lives. The pack will cost you 560 Microsoft space bucks, 560 BioWare Ferelden bucks or $6.99 in normal, Earth currency.

BattleBlock Theater Opening Movie

The opening cinematic for BattleBlock Theater is absolutely awesome. BattleBlock Theater is from The Behemoth, they of Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers fame. The game is a crazy mix of 4 player co-op, shooting, platforming and general mayhem as prisoners are forced to navigate crazy levels for the enjoyment of giant cats. Giant cats in equally giant top hats.

Don't Shoot the Food – Homefront Edition

No High Scores

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.

With Homefront out this week, I thought I was going to do a tasty Korean barbecue recipe. Then my dumbass squad mate used the phrase to describe a KPA soldier that was burning to death. After that, the idea of Korean barbecue didn’t sound so good. Jerk. Luckily I still had something in my bag of tricks, although I’m not sure it sounds much better. On to the food!

So I have all of these cookbooks that I picked up just for one or two recipes. Hardly cost effective, but usually the one or two recipes are really, really good. The side benefit is that I have a metric ton of recipes ideas for when I have to come up off the wall ideas like something that ties together Korean food and American culture. Enter the Korean burger! It takes the American staple, the hamburger, and invades it with the salty-sweet notes of good Korean barbecue. I bet that if the KPA gave all of the citizens of occupied Montrose, Colorado a tasty Korean burger rather than making them subside on White Castle, the occupation would have gone a lot smoother. I’m just sayin’.

For our vegetarian friends, here’s a recipe for Korean Style Broiled Tofu. Stick it on a bun and no one will know the difference.

Korean Burgers from Barbecue Nation: 350 Hot-Off-The-Grill, Tried-And-True Recipes from America’s Backyard

1. 1 lb ground beef – When I make burgers, I usually go with the 80/20 mix (can’t remember if that’s ground chuck or ground sirloin or whatever) as most of the fat renders out of the burgers during cooking leaving a very moist burger with not a lot of fat. As always, do whatever makes you happiest.
2. 3/4 cup grated onion – Grating onions sucks. Sorry about that.
3. 1 Tbl + 1 tsp sugar
4. 3 Tbl soy sauce
5. 1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
6. 1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
7. 1 Tbl + 2 tsp dry sherry
8. 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided – I buy big jars of the pre-minced stuff, but again, if you want to bust out your fancy garlic press, go crazy.
9. Burger buns
10. 2 scallions (white and green parts) thinly sliced

Cooking Steps
1. In a bowl mix together the meat, 1/2 cup onion, 1 tsp sugar, 1 Tbl soy sauce, pepper, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 Tbl sherry and 1 clove garlic. Work it all together well and then form into four equal patties. Put the patties on a plate and stick in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook, but at least 20 minutes. If your burgers always end up looking more like balls than patties, here’s a pro-tip. Take a spoon and make an indentation in the center of the patty with the back of the spoon. As the meat cooks, the center will swell up, making a patty you can be proud of. Don’t skimp on the fridge time for the patties as the heat from your hands when mixing will make it harder for the meat to hold together while cooking.

2. In another bowl mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of onion, 1 Tbl sugar, 2 Tbl soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp sherry and 1 clove garlic.

3. Get your grill fired up and cook the patties to your desired degree of doneness, 4 – 5 minutes per side on medium to med-high heat.

4. Serve the patties on the buns with a healthy dollop of the soy sauce onion mixture.

What’s a burger without fries you say? Well, I don’t know about any Korean fries, but here’s a recipe for Gamja Jorim which are potato chunks in a delightful glaze of soy sauce and corn syrup. Oh hells yes.

Gamja Jorim

1. 2 medium potatoes
2. vegetable oil
3. 4 tablespoons soy sauce
4. 2 Tbl light corn syrup
5. 1/2 cup water

Cooking Steps

1. Wash, peel and cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks. Do your best to make them all the same size.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over med-high heat and saute the potato chunks in the oil until slightly browned.

3. Add the soy sauce, corn syrup and water and bring to a simmer. Simmer the potatoes in the liquid until the liquid is completely evaporated, about ten minutes. Be sure to stir the potatoes frequently so that every piece is covered in the glaze. Keep an eye on the skillet so that the mixture doesn’t burn.

That’s it! Enjoy your Korean-American feast.

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

Enjoy Your Friday With A Portal 2 Ad

Valve doesn’t need ad agencies, calling them “worthless”. And, just to prove that they are a company of their word, here’s a TV spot for Portal 2. I must admit, while I probably won’t get the game, the Laurel and Hardyness of these two robots is incredibly charming. Oh hell, who am I kidding? Of course I’ll get the game! It’s friggin’ Portal.

And the winner is… The BAFTA Game Awards

Unlike in the US, where the only videogame award ceremonies are ridiculous (Spike’s VGA’s) or not televised (the Game Developers Choice Awards), the Brits actually have a respectable, relatively well-publicized event to honor the best the industry has to offer.

The categories are a little weird – there’s an award for best “gameplay” for example, and things are generally separated by genre, which is a smart, if occasionally pretty bizarre way to go about things, but hey, they did a good job.

I can’t say I disagree with much of anything on here: my personal favorite from 2010, Mass Effect 2, won the highest honor, and the flawed-but-revolutionary Heavy Rain won for “Best Story” and “Technical Innovation”.

Here’s the whole list, from Gamasutra:

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
Gaelec Simard – Ubisoft

Artistic Achievement
God of War III
Stig Asmussen, Ken Feldman, Cecil Kim – SCE Santa Monica Studio

Best Game
Mass Effect 2
Development Team – Electronic Arts/BioWare

Kinect Sports
Development Team – Microsoft Games Studios/Rare

Super Mario Galaxy 2
Koichi Hayashida, Yoshiaki Koizumi, Takashi Tezuka – Nintendo/Nintendo

Cut the Rope
Efim Voinov, Semyon Voinov – Chillingo/Zeptolab

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
Development Team – Electronic Arts/Criterion Games

Original Music
Heavy Rain
Normand Corbeil – Sony, Quantic Dream & XDev Studio Europe

Social Network Game
My Empire
Development Team – Playfish/Playfish

F1 2010
Development Team – Codemasters/Codemasters Birmingham

Heavy Rain
David Cage, Guillaume de Fondaumiere, Scott Johnson – Sony, Quantic Dream & XDev Studio Europe

Civilization V
Jon Shafer, Dorian Newcomb, Brian Wade – 2K Games/Firaxis

Technical Innovation
Heavy Rain
David Cage, Guillaume de Fondaumiere, Scott Johnson – Sony, Quantic Dream & XDev Studio Europe

Use of Audio
Battlefield: Bad Company: 2
Patrick Bach, David Goldfarb – Electronic Arts/DICE

Ones To Watch Award
Jocce Marklund, Annette Nielsen, Linus Nordgren, Marcus Heder, Thomas Finlay (That Game Studio)

GAME Award
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Activision Blizzard UK Ltd/Treyarch

David Braben Said Something Silly

I take no pleasure in writing this. David Braben developed one of the essential games from my childhood. Braben was the man behind the classic Elite, the way ahead of its time space trading sim which was released in 1984. I was 12. All of these open world games where you have freedom to do what you want, when you want, go back to Elite. I spent more time playing that game than I care to admit.

But Braben said something really silly earlier in the year and tried to “clarify” his thoughts at the BAFTAs in London.

Yes, this is another Metacritic story. I don’t post this to give David a virtual noogie, although he clearly deserves it, but I really want the readers of our little ol’ blog to understand where I’m coming from when it comes to Metacritic and how people look at it and some of the insane ideas that people inside this industry come up with when it comes to the aggregate site and how it relates to people like us who are trying to do a job.

So off we go…

Before Braben backtracked, his original statement was this:

“Most reviewers are excellent at what they do, and it is a very hard job with, frankly, little glory. As an industry, there is something we could do to recognize this – effectively a Metacritic for reviewers.”

So far, nothing too crazy. In truth, I have always found it unnerving when reviewers don’t take their job seriously, and I know plenty who don’t, or when a game site assigns a review to someone who isn’t qualified to do it. When you read a review that starts, “I normally don’t play/like this genre, but here’s my 800 words on the subject anyway. You can trust me. Really. (Hey how many points for a made basket again?)

When those reviews get lumped in on Metacritic with those from qualified writers, it’s rather unfair to the reader and to the game. So go on David, you have my attention.

“The best reviewers give spot-on reviews pretty soon after a game is released. They do not wait to see what others say, but nevertheless consistently come very close to the final average score. There could be a prize for the best each year. Don’t forget – this is not intended to influence reviews – just to encourage and reward consistency – as it is not a high reviewer that gets the reward, it is the one that gets the best result.”

Whew, a lot to digest there.

First off, let me explain how this works.

The quality of the writer has nothing, at all, to do with whether a review is posted first. We have all read reviews from major websites that are published on day one that make us turn our heads like a dog that hears a funny noise. The size of the website has more to do with the speed of the review than the awesomeness of the writer or freelancer. So that’s just wrong.

In addition, there is never, ever, a “right” score for a game. Ever. We’re talking about a lot of variables here: the scale of the website, the influence of the writer, so on and so forth.


I gave NCAA Football 10 a “B-” grade, which in truth was being generous. This was turned into a 67 on Metacritic. That review was posted soon after release and I stand by that article 100%. I feel I was fair, honest, and wrote my ass off, thank you very much.

The overall score for NCAA 10 was an 83.

See here:

See that 67 at the bottom?

Hi mom!

If you want to use the Braben System of Reviewer Judgment I’m just some kook who should get a real job. I’m also apparently an idiot because I missed the average score AND an opportunity to earn a prize!

Braben basically wants reviewers to conform to one big, easy to digest opinion and if you review a game a week or two late or you don’t agree with the masses you’re not good at this whole “being a critic” thing. Bad idea, David. On a whole lotta levels.

Apparently, what sparked this was, according to Eurogamer:

Braben’s suggestion followed musings over the problems that face developers of children’s or casual games. He argued it was often difficult for such a title to get a fair, balanced hearing from ‘core’ orientated reviewers.

I think that’s fair — to worry about that sort of thing I mean. I know I wouldn’t want Barnes reviewing my brand new fluffy animal Candyland game either. I shudder at the thought. But this isn’t the answer, either.

You want to get your kid’s game out to the right reviewers? I have a suggestion:

Ask the editors.

We listen. Honest.

If you have a niche game, and developers of wargames have dealt with this for *years*, you ASK if they have anyone on staff who has familiarity or a real interest in the product. If you just blind send a game to a website there’s a good chance, if it’s a kid’s game or a movie tie in game it will get assigned to the “B Team” — that’s for the new guys, or the guys editors rarely give AAA reviews. (Yes, pecking orders exist; it’s how Brandon gets all the bad DS games.)

Do you see reviews of niche games like text based sports games, or hardcore wargames on every site? Of course not because you have to have faith that the website will review it with some level of competency. If you don’t feel that way — don’t send them a copy. Done and done.

But “grading” critics based on how close they follow the average score on Metacritic and on how quickly they post reviews is a terrible, terrible idea.

Now onto the backtrack.

Braben tried to qualify his statement by saying:

“I think a lot of people assumed I was criticising journalists, which wasn’t the intention.”

No, that’s not what I thought.

“What I was really saying was that actually, it’s a really hard job. Because if you want to try and make your reviews stand out, you end up producing something that, with time, will make you look silly. So, in actuality, hitting Metacritic early on is a challenge, and I am impressed by the writers who manage to do it. Essentially, yes it’s a very hard job and I apologise to those who either misunderstood what I said or disagreed. I’m happy to debate with them if they want at some time!”

Anytime, Mr. Braben.

(Elite was awesome btw! xoxoxo)

Lastly, Marc Doyle, co-creator of Metacritic and a man with whom I have exchanged several emails over the past year, and a guy I happen to like quite a bit, said this which made me smile:

“Penalizing a brilliant critic who happens to utilize the lower end of its publication’s scale more often than a middling critic who never gives lower than a 6/10 doesn’t make sense to me.”

Good on you, Marc.

Shogun 2: The Warrior’s Cry 1556 – 1560

The first five years of our quest to claim the prize of Shogun have been fruitful. Clan Shimazu has established itself as a strong, loyal clan and has wiped the hated Ito from our island. With our allies, the honorable Clan Sagara at our side we now set sights on new lands to the north.

But things are about to get complicated…

The year 1551 starts off as the sea cries, flooding our homeland and stronghold with large waves and terrible storms, wrecking our economy for several seasons. Funds are thinning as we need income to pay our troops, which grow in number each season. This is hopefully but a minor setback.

The Sagara are at war with Clan Shoni, one of the last holdouts on our small island. The Shoni is a small but fierce clan and the Sagara have been fighting with them for years and we can now offer assistance.

As we begin to marshal our forces north, led by our Daimyo and our new eager yet inexperienced general, word has come that one of our Daimyo’s sons has come of age and is ready to begin his first military campaign assignment. For now, we will keep him in our homeland, secure from the war, while he raises his own army to lend support if needed.

The hero from the Ito war, General Tomokata remains stationed in the former Ito stronghold, on the border with the Christian Ouchi Clan. The Ouchi do not trust us, which will soon be there undoing, but we must first focus on the Shoni and if the Ouchi decide to invade, Tomokata will be our wall.

The march from our home to the northern tip of the island will take a few seasons so we must prepare. Money is low so we cannot continue to improve our infrastructure but hopefully the spoils of war will help us in obtaining the extra funds we need.

The year is now 1552 and our Daimyo and new General Fujitsu lead separate armies against the Shoni, supported by Clan Sagara’s small force. Our Daimyo sacks one Shoni fort without resistance while Fujitsu storms the larger fortress at Buzen, slaying many Shoni while receiving moderate casualties. Clan Sagara proved little help in this struggle, but we will continue to support our allies, as weak as they may be. The constant war with the Shoni clearly wore them down while we delivered the killing blow.

As we begin rebuilding the damaged fort cities and taking stock of casualties, we receive a message of Imperial Recognition from the Imperial Majesty! He has heard stories of our clan’s strength and honor and will be keeping a watchful eye on our progress. We are honored by this message, but know all too well – if we grow too powerful the current Shogun will attack. We must be cautious.

We have received word from across the sea that powerful Clan Uesugi has been destroyed—no doubt by their former allies the Takeda. We see no honor in this.

Our trade ship has encountered the Mori Clan, who agree to do business with us for our newly discovered silk. This has improved our seasonal income, which is key now that we have two new provinces under our control who are threatening to rebel – we must lower taxes or provide more troop support. We have also hired a Metsuke, a captain of the secret police to protect generals from assassination and to quell uprisings. He is stationed in the former Shoni capital.

The Mori are at war with the Ouchi, which gives us reason to continue our subjugation of the island. Our plan is clear, we declare war on the Ouchi, send Tomokata north to invade while Fujitsu moves south and we crush them in a vice. We can ask the Sagara for assistance; we must, by our code, continue to support them. As winter comes to a close, the year 1553 begins and we launch our attack Tomokata moves his army north and Fujitsu follows by moving south – the Ouchi have nowhere to go.

And yet…

As our armies approach the citadel, the flag of Clan Sagara flies high as dead Ouchi lay strewn about the field. Our scouts return, telling us that Clan Sagara is a formidable clan, much more than we ever imagined. Their power matches our own. We asked for help to fight the Ouchi out of respect for our ally and they took the initiative and destroyed them in one mighty assault. The Sagara now have control of the province, and while we are happy that our ally is thriving, we must be wary. Not every clan is as honor bound as the Shimazu and now that the Sagara has shown its teeth, we must not get bit. This situation has grown surprisingly dangerous.

Meanwhile, one of our retainers has offered the hand of his daughter in marriage to our Daimyo’s son. Rumor has it that she is a meddler, however, who would try to talk our heir into bigger and better things – perhaps even forming his own clan. This proposal will not stand.

The year 1554 begins as the Sagara Clan convert to Christianity. What has become a possible rift between us has grown into a potentially poisonous relationship. Their diplomat ensures us that they still respect our treaty, but our guard is now up. If they break the bonds of our alliance we will show them no mercy. At some point I fear this will have to be dealt with.

Our friends from across the strait, the Mori Clan, have been attacked by Clan Besshu. Our Daimyo is in the former Shoni city and can lend a hand in this war, which would also allow us to get a foothold on the main island of Honshu, so this works out perfectly for the Shimazu. The Daimyo’s army now has bow cavalry and Yari Samurai in addition to Katana Samurai and archers.

As we cross the strait we receive word that another clan has destroyed Clan Mori. This is a serious turn of events as the Mori were a potentially strong ally in the region. If this is the Besshu, this could prove a more dangerous excursion that anticipated. Our list of allies grows thin.

As our army camps, the Besshu army attacks us in an ambush. Our Daimyo must take the field against the Besshu Daimyo in what could be a fight to decide the war. We should have scouted this region more closely, we are moving blind in foreign lands.

The enemy puts 850 men in the field to our 1,000. They have lesser troops in Yari Ashigaru and Yari Bowmen but also bring three regiments of cavalry, which are the general, his son and heir and a lesser general all with their horses. Additionally, reports are that their Yari carry great experience in battle.

The battleground is hilly, misty, and our troops take cover in the woods. As the horn sounds, the enemy generals all advance in what looks to be a suicide mission. They are charging straight at our Daimyo, trying to end this quickly. Our archers are at the ready. Our Daimyo orders our cavalry archers to sweep the right flank, drawing the Ashigaru out, peppering them with arrows and retreating out of range of their spears.

Our bowmen are ready along the edge of the forest and right when they begin to fire, the enemy generals sweep left – it was a feint. They are going after the cavalry archers. If they tie them up the Yari will skewer them. Immediately the cavalry archers are called back to our line, as our own Ashigariu and Katana Samurai emerge from the woods.

Click for full size screenshot:

The fight is now bloody as katanas swing in the air, spears penetrate horse flesh and men die in great numbers. Our superior forces push them back, as the enemy general swings around to attempt to destroy our archers. Our Daimyo, however, has beaten them to the punch as his cavalry storm the back lines of the Besshu and crushes their bow regiments, forcing them to flee. The rest of the battle is a slaughter as dead Besshu litter the field. We are victorious, suffering the loss of two Yari Ashigaru regiments and half of a Yari Samurai regiment.

The Battle of Nagato is over.

The enemy was able to flee, however, and the general and his son still live. We must chase them down. The following season ends with their execution, which was only a matter of time. The Besshu stronghold is another season away and winter has arrived so we must turn back unless we face attrition in the cold.

But the Besshu are playing dirty.

Parked right in the middle of the strait which leads back to the safety of our province is a Besshu fleet – effectively blocking our escape route. The dogs! We must face the winter alone, and men will undoubtedly die. We will see the Besshu city burn to the ground for this.

Click for full size screenshot:

The following season, after losing many men to the cold, the Besshu offer us a peace treaty, which we spit on as our armies begin to mobilize for what will surely be a quick and decisive end to Clan Besshu.

Check out Part one of the Saga of Clan Shimazu here:

THQ Totally Gets That You Want to Sell Your Games

No High Scores

In a refreshing moment of understanding regarding how the real world works, THQ’s CEO Brian Farrell says that THQ isn’t looking to kill off used games, but would rather make games that people want to hold on to. Smart strategy, that is. I have two co-workers that play Call of Duty, pretty much exclusively because they love the mutliplayer and have gotten so good at it. These are two people who absolutely will not trade in this game until the next one comes out simply because they have a reason to keep playing it night after night. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with DLC that keeps people from buying used, but that’s only a partial fix. I’d rather companies work on developing games with staying power that I don’t want to sell in the first place.

Seen at MCV.