Weekend Confirmed Episode 65

By Garnett Lee, Jun 17, 2011 11:00am PDT

The dust has settled on E3 2011 and we sweep up with a full slate of games we saw on this week's show. But before getting to that, Xav, Jeff, Garnett, and our good friend Andrea Rene of Clevver TV tackle Duke Nukem Forever. From there it's on to Forza 4, F1, Hitman, Torchlight 2, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Ace Combat, and many more. Duke resurfaces in the news when the group discusses the fervor over the reviews and PR responses. There's the rest of the videogame news as well and we wrap it all up with Finishing Moves.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 65: 06/17/2011

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If you're viewing this in the GameFly application, you can play Weekend Confirmed Episode 65 directly.

Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

  • Whatcha' Been Playin Part 1: Start: 00:00:00 End: 00:30:14

  • Whatcha' Been Playin Part 2: Start: 00:30:45 End: 01:00:52

  • Whatcha' Been Playin Part 3: Start: 01:02:00 End: 01:28:21

  • Featured music "Doin" by YUG feat. SoJay: Start: 01:28:21 End: 01:31:47

  • The Front Page news: Start: 01:31:47 End: 02:06:53

With over 10 years of crafting sound under his belt, Toronto native YUG is emerging as one of the most in demand producers. With international and commercial credentials, YUG has created house hits for labels such as Ministry of Sound, Spinnin Records, Jamayka Recordings, as well as his own independent label YUG Music and has remixed top selling artists such as Canadian RnB superstar Jully Black [Universal] and global recording sensation Justin Timberlake [SonyBMG].You can pick up Yug's latest single 'Doin' featuring SoJay on iTunes and Beatport.

Connect with 44th & Filth on Facebook and visit their official site.

Get more from YUG on his Facebook page

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest Album, The Wait is Over on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter delriomusic.

Andrea Rene hosts and writes for Clevver Games where she can be seen daily.

Jeff can also be seen on The Totally Rad Show. They've gone daily so there's a new segment to watch every day of the week!

Remember to join the Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page and add us to your Facebook routine. We'll be keeping you up with the latest on the show there as well.

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  • Shacknews: Conversation Evolved. Sorry. I've been thinking about the tenth anniversary of Halo and couldn't resist throwing that out there.

    Actually, there are quite a few big "tenth anniversaries" this year. 2001 was huge. I was expecting to see more anniversaries being celebrated at E3. In 2001, we (in North America) got Metal Gear Solid 2, Grand Theft Auto 3, Halo, Final Fantasy 10, Paper Mario, Jak and Daxter, Rez, Max Payne, DOA 3, Advance Wars, Golden Sun, Frequency (Even if you are not a fan, it led to Guitar Hero and Rock Band so I think it's a noteworthy release), Tony Hawk 3, Ico, Silent Hill 2, Devil May Cry, Pikmin, SSX Tricky, Civ 3, Phantasy Star Online, the Zelda Orale games, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Black and White, Twisted Metal Black, and, casual as it may be, Bejeweled. A lot of the major trends we see in gaming today were developed, or at least perfected and showcased, in games that came out in 2001. I honestly don't think I have ever been quite as excited to be a gamer as I was in 2001. (It also reminds me of EGM 150, the "Too Many Games" issue. It must have been equally exciting and stressful to be a reviewer that year.)

    Any way, here are a few questions related to that. How, in retrospect, do you feel about the landmark games that came out ten years ago? Can we look at 2001 as a landmark year that changed gaming? Have we had a single year with as much innovation, or at least as many major games, since? We are getting HD remakes of Halo, MGS2, and at some point, Ico. Should the tenth anniversary of any of those other games be celebrated, and if so, which ones and how would you like to see companies handle them (doesn't have to be a remake or rerelease)? Personally, I'd like Jak and Daxter on Vita.



  • The thing about the Duke Nukem reviews that bothered me is how many focused on the inherent poor taste over flawed game design. Who in their right mind would play that game expecting good taste? It seems like those people focusing on that element of Duke went into their experiences looking to criticize the experience for being crass. Who buys a game looking for a poor experience? It seems like a dishonest way to review a game.

    Also, Xav made a noble attempt at defending reviewers, but the problem is that there HAVE been issues with dishonesty in reviews before. I used to never question games journalism, but since Dan Shoe first spoke on dishonesty in games journalism in the editor's letter in EGM years ago, I have seen more and more instances of dishonest, misguided, and just plain questionable actions by members of the media and the sites they work for. IGN's old, Guitar Hero sponsored "music games" section which magically acted like Guitar Hero was the only music game on the market is the first thing that jumps into my mind. Also, anyone who knows who Dave Halverson is knows there is a shady side to publishing... From all angles.

    I think this makes thing hardest for the smaller sites and anyone new to writing. Until you get a following and people know who you are, you are destined to get some crap from people that don't know your likes/dislikes. I actually think this might be a good thing in the end, because it pushes people to take things more seriously than they would otherwise, and let's be real. Despite all Jeff's "I'm not a journalist" pontificating, we all know that he works his ass off to make what he produces as good as it is. On the other side, fans need to take more responsibility for their actions based off what they read. People need to quit going to Metacritic and writing hate mail to people that write bad reviews for games. Especially if they have not PLAYED the games they are defending before writing said hate mail!

    Most of the Duke reviews just came off as lazy piling on to an easy target to me, although a few were great. Still negative, but great.


  • Re: Forza 4

    I just wanted to say how happy I was to hear some coverage of this game on the show this week. Garnett, I was thrilled to hear your comments about the "tires on the road" feel that the Forza series has nailed so well, and that it feels even better in Forza 4.

    I am not a car enthusiast myself. I don't give a crap about the different models, or customizing the engine myself, etc. But I LOVED Forza 3 because, more than any driving game I've ever played, it made driving a car on the road thrilling. You can feel the weight of the vehicle as you move around a turn, feel the tires grasping for traction.... it makes driving a car feel so much more organic than even Gran Tourismo.

    One thing that I think Turn 10 really nailed with the Forza series is controller rumble. This is easy to overlook, but I think the force-feedback in Forza 3 was masterfully subtle, and went a long way towards reinforcing your connection to the car you are driving.


  • I'm totally with Xav - and I guess the whole Shacknews crew, if it is indeed site policy - when it comes to reviews talking about the experience instead of the technical side.

    I don't need to read a review to find out all the gameplay features, or game modes, or technical bullet-points. Tell me what the experience of playing it was like. The emotions, or catharsis, or tension, or just balls-out fun you had playing it.

    If you are going to tell me about a new feature, tell me how it alters the experience. For example, on't just tell me Halo: Reach has armor abilities, tell me how they affect the way the action unfolds and why they make the game more fun (or less fun). Use in-game experiences as stories to help me get my head around it if it's easier to explain that way.

    The most boring, least informative reviews on the planet are the ones that read like a check-list of graphics, sound, controls, gameplay features, replay value.... ugh. I can read the back of the damn box myself.






  • There were some interesting comments made about Aliens and its relationship with the Space Marine motif in video games.

    There was an article on The Escapist a long while back pointing out how so many video games have coped the Space Marine thing from that movie while actually missing the entire point of it. They borrow nearly every aspect of the movie Aliens except one: the one main character who actually ended up saving the day.

    If anything, Aliens looked down upon the space marines as simple-minded and somewhat childish, thinking of themselves as badasses. They go in thinking the problem can be quickly solved with guns and immediately get thrown totally out of their element. In many ways most video games have put you in the role of that aggressive soldier who thinks he's a badass, and then proceeded to glorify that role while borrowing it from a movie that knocks on it. An actual Aliens game proceeding to do this might be the ultimate sign of the stunted adolescence of action games.

    The actual main character that saves the day in Aliens is female, not a space marine, and ends up assuming a motherly role. How many Ellen Ripleys or Sarah Connors have you seen in action games these days?

  • Okay I had a whole thing typed out on Aliens: Colonial Marines that seems to have gotten eaten, so don't be surprised if this shows up twice.

    It's a little bit damning of the state of action games that an actual Aliens game seems to be following the space marine motif and playing it straight, because the original movie did the very opposite of that.

    I read an article on The Escapist a while back pointing out how all these space marine games that borrow from Aliens completely miss the point of how that movie depicted space marines. In the movie they are depicted as simple-minded and somewhat childish. They think of themselves as badasses who can solve their problems with guns and get immediately thrown out of their element.

    Space marine games have mostly put you in the role of those guys and not only that, but glorified them, putting players in that simple world that the original inspiration was trying to put down. The Escapist article pointed out how all those games missed one key element of Aliens: the main character who actually saved the day. She was female, not a space marine, and if anything a motherly figure. How many Ellen Ripleys have you seen in action games these days?





  • This discussion about the PR/media relationships just brings us (almost) full circle to another series of discussion years ago on 1UP Yours where Luke Smith (yeah, that guy a fair amount of you guys didn't like) went through his troubles with PR, how he would be excluded for certain preview events, and how Garnett mentioned how PR would try to shape his content after telling him that they are not trying to shape the content. Point is that this seems to be a never ending conflict (unfortunately).

    At risk of coming off as an apologist (yet again), I have to say that I don't blame the PR for doing what they did with regards to holding back reviews. Its dumb, yes, since as Xav mentioned, he could just go out and buy a retail copy of the game and review it. But its PR's job to try and represent their company in the best light as possible, and if they feel that an outlet is prone to giving negative reviews for their games, then delay that potential negativity by holding back the review copies. I've often heard (and have been guilty of) responding to that with "then don't make crap if you want good reviews!". However upon realization, that's not the PR's fault. If the company makes crap, then its the PR's job to try and represent that crap in the best light as possible so it appears better than it is. I can't fathom how difficult it can be for them to try and represent a piece of crap in a good light.

    To me, all that tweet did was spell out in writing what seems to commonly happen anyway. In this day and age with the amount of access to information we have, any metaphorical elephants in the many rooms that get spoken about, have to immediately get addressed, whether people are used to it or not. This isn't anything new, but now with information being readily accessible, ones that info is out, it's out.

    I noticed that often for big games, reviews often appear at least a few days ahead of actual release date on many sites, where reviews are either done by early review copies, or being invited to a mass event to do it. For sites like Shacknews, I don't feel it matters because quite a few of the reviews come out after release dates anyway. But for quite a few other sites and magazines, there's always that scramble to get that review out as soon as the embargo is over. I feel this is what PR feels they are holding over the media with regards to review copies/blacklisting. I personally am a proponent of quality material, over the speed of which that material comes.

    So its a tough spot. Both the media and the PR sides are both doing their jobs. When the developer/publisher makes a great game, then the media and PR can work harmoniously. But when the developer/publisher makes crap... that's when PR's job hurts the gamer more by holding back those early reviews if negative, but sadly the job comes first. I'm sure it pains them to know themselves that the game sucks, but at the end of the day they've still got a job to do.

    Not to the same extent, but this is like a defense lawyer defending someone whom they know is guilty. Does the lawyer do their job and defend as best as they can, or blurt out in admission they know the truth? In both cases, one is the idealistic option with consequences, and the other the realistic option. Even more important if trying to maintain job security and supporting a family.




  • For anyone who didn't catch onto the "Gerstmann" reference, it was when GameSpot fired Jeff Gerstmann shortly after he reviewed Kane & Lynch and gave it a 6 (which was in line with reviews from other outlets). There were allegations of advertiser pressure, since GameSpot had landed a huge ad deal with Eidos, and wallpapered the entire front page of GameSpot with Kane & Lynch "page takeover" ads. Some classic Shack coverage:

    "Report: GameSpot's Gerstmann Fired Due to Negative Kane & Lynch Review" http://www.shacknews.com/article/50134/report-gamespots-gerstmann-fired-due
    "ShackCast 21: Gerstmann Edition" http://www.shacknews.com/article/50164/shackcast-21-gerstmann-edition (this was a really good "breaking news" and discussion of the incident

    Now that whole incident is different from the DNF PR thing, since it seemed to flare up from ad money. However, I just happened to be listening to the November 2 2010 Bombcast, where a game review / PR situation was brought up with Star Wars The Force Unleashed 2:

    (segment starts at 1:02:10)
    Brad: They didn't really send this game out to press so much before it came out... and then we bought it... and I played it... and I kinda figured out why... cause it... I don't wanna say it feels 'unfinished'...

    Jeff: [interrupting] It wasn't that they didn't send it out to everybody, it's that they were... it seemed... so I was around a lot of people who write about video games last week! [smiles]

    (everyone): uh huh

    Jeff: ...and it was a good time for everyone to sit down and compare notes about who's got Kinect and who doesn't, and who's got Star Wars and who doesn't. So it was very easy to figure out... basically it seems like they were trying to min-max early review scores for Star Wars, if I had to guess, after talkin' to people about who got it and who didn't...

    Brad: And having played it now, I understand why, cause it's just SUPER-basic...
    (continues to game review)

    I guess that is PR's job, to decide which gaming news outlet reviewers receive a free copy and who doesn't, and there's probably only so many green discs and/or final discs that can be sent to reviewers, but when it starts getting to a stage of "picking favorites", that gets alarming. There does also seem to be a significant shift in opinion between before a release, and after. For some titles, the shift is huge, and that seems kinda crazy.


  • Great episode, one of the most enjoyable I've heard.

    First of all thanks for considering my comment about last week for discussion. I too don't want you to 'naval gaze' too much, and I'd be happy if the discussion was only brief. Also to be honest, you guys kept touching the topic in ways through the other discussions on the podcast.

    And I thought the discussions where great. Every ones opinions where fun to listen to, I thought Andrea was a breath of fresh air and is getting better every appearance.

    Garnett, as a fellow F1 fan and F1 2010 player, I personally appreciated the F1 2011 discussion. I didn't think I would hear about it anywhere, so its definitely upped my interest in this years installment. (Now if the WRC game could be made/improved with the same amount of consideration).(Also I'm glad you’re a Proghouse-head as well and enjoyed that tune)

    Also, for funsies, for people who want to feel better about the Dogs with explosives thing, it is fairly well known that the Russians used them on WWII. What people may not know is that they trained them by putting food under tanks so they would think food was underneath the tanks in the battlefield and blow them up. However, they trained them using Russian tanks so when they released them in the battlefield they went for Russian tanks instead of the German ones. Self-fulfilling Justice there.