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25/4/09: I Am Objectively The Best

ZP this week was HAWX.

Here's a recent candid shot of me idly hanging out with my awards from 2008.

That's the Screwattack Gaming's 1337 award for Best Reviewer on the left and the Sun Microsystems IT Journalism award for Best Gaming Journalist on the right. And now you can help us win even more awards by voting for the Escapist in the People's Voice Webby Awards and helping us take it home for a second year running. Only takes a second of your time, and really, have any better gaming sites magically materialised since last time? Didn't think so.

Don't you think it's weird how so many awards these days look like rough crystal formations freshly carved from the rock? Oh I guess you wouldn't know because YOU DON'T WIN AWARDS

-Yahtzee

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16/4/09: Chzo Joke

ZPs since last update: Halo Wars, GTA: Chinatown Wars and Mad Wars. Er, Madworld.

Recently I was given cause to reminisce about a game I played through a while back - Call of Cthulhu: The Dark Corners Of The Earth, an underrated little adventure gem with some nice little touches if a little bit too reliant on a dodgy combat system. With this in mind, I decided to actually sit down and read some of H. P. Lovecraft's stories, for the sake of context.

All I can say is, blimey, old Howard P. must have been being paid by the word, the verbose little git. And I'm surprised how closely Dark Corners adhered to the plot of Shadow Over Innsmouth. I assumed that whole 'ancient underwater city of the Deep Ones being destroyed by submarine in a US naval operation' was a little bit too video game-y to have been in the original text, but there it was. It's also interesting how much casual racism Howard P got away with back in his day. The prize for that I think goes to the bit in Herbert West: Reanimator where he goes on about how a zombie negro wasn't much more ugly before the whole zombie thing.

Anyway, finding myself inspired I wrote a bit of Chzo Mythos tie-in fiction, and originally I think I was deliberately trying to do it in old Howard P's style, but that sort of went away at some point. Here's a passage:

It stood, slowly unfolding its body like the raising of a great and forbidding black tower, and while only half its body was visible, silhouetted against the rising daylight, I could see that it was humanoid. Only by the greatest stretching of the term can I say this, however, for beyond the fact that it possessed two arms and two legs, there was very little that was human about it. It was grotesquely tall, close to eight feet, but with a small, elongated head. Most of its body was concealed under a long black garment that reached down to the floor, more ornate and substantial than the usual robes worn by the sentient residents of this world.

Gosh, I wonder what the narrator could be describing there. Anyway, here's the full text if you're interested, but don't click it yet, I want to give a head's up. HEAD'S UP! This is NOT A FUNNY STORY. This is a horror story intended to tie into some of the darker elements of the Chzo Mythos series, particularly Trilby's Notes. If you want something funny try to imagine that all the characters are chimps. Nazi chimps, so you don't feel bad when they all start dying in nasty ways. Anyway, it's called The Expedition.

-Yahtzee

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28/3/09: Ret's Pray

Bonus update 31/3: I'm doing a bit of an Escapist video crossover with Graham and Paul of Unskippable this week. Watch me intrude upon their latest episode here.

ZP targets up to now: House of the Dead: Overkill, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, and Resident Evil 5: No Subtitle Given. There was another complaint I wanted to mention about RE5 but it seemed so hopelessly petty I figured I'd edit it out and put it here: Why do your characters make so much bloody noise when they're running around? Rustle, rustle, rustle, all the way, it's like they've got their feet trapped in Weetabix. I don't know, it just got on my tits.

I've been watching a lot of Let's Play stuff lately. This is something that grew out of the Something Awful forums and Youtube - basically someone takes it upon themselves to dissemble the entire course of a game into screenshots and videos, annotated with their own commentary. Some LPs are there to highlight an underappreciated gem, some to tear apart a big fat turd, but a well-conducted one is always a criminal timesink for me. Mileage may vary, but such things are extremely useful if, like me, you're occasionally expected to blab knowledgeably about video games and there aren't enough hours in the day to play them all. For example, I've never played any Resident Evil all the way through besides 4 and 5, but I know pretty much everything one needs to know about the gameplay (crap) and the story (craaaap) thanks to various amusing runthroughs by SA forum poster The Dark Id.

Of course, the quality of the LP depends on the author, and talent isn't something that they hand out with AOL free trials. I wouldn't give any Youtube LPs the time of day, frankly. Dark Id's work is all put up on a site imaginatively called the Let's Play Archive. My sole LPing effort from a while back is up there too, one of the old Delphine platformer Flashback, which I would immodestly call quite entertaining. I also recommend these ones, and you should find some good stuff from a good old explore on the dedicated SA subforum.

-Yahtzee

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6/3/09: Explaining Myself

ZP this week was Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, a rather obscure game from last year. Some of you have been a little perplexed by this choice when such red-hot titles as Street Fighter 4, Killzone 2 and Resistance 2 are jumping up and down in front of my nose clamouring for attention. I thought I'd take the opportunity to write about this eloquently without having to think of a dick analogy every other sentence.

Street Fighter 4 can be simply explained; I don't give a shit about Street Fighter 4. Or less inflammatory, I don't 'get' Street Fighter, or fighting games in general. They're certainly not deep enough to get a full-length review out of. As single player games, they're little more than one element of a game extended out into something you can justify selling for 60 bucks. They're chiefly for playing against other people, which is one point against it for me already because I don't have any friends. But when I do play against another person, if we're both novices, then both of us are really only going to be smashing the controls randomly, and losses and victories consequently don't have much in the way of impact.

Alternatively, you spend embarrassingly large amounts of time playing over and over until you know all the special moves and character strengths, and presumably compete against people of an equivalent level. And then victory comes down, not to skill, but to whoever can reliably remember the appropriate button combinations on the fly. I find them all breathtakingly asinine. Please send me emails filled with cunning arguments that will completely alter my personality until I can retract this statement. I will burn them. All of them.

As for Killzone 2 and Resistance 2, basically I'm just so fucking bored of shit like this. The improbably Warhammer 40k-esque power armour. The automatic healing. The overcompensating macho beefcakes with voices like they've had their lips clamped around exhaust pipes their whole lives. The schizophrenic design-by-committee flitting between whiny drama and goofy wisecracks. The obligatory female support character with the no-nonsense attitude and permanently cocked hips. The monstrous, dehumanised, unequivocally evil baddies. The inevitable betrayal from the jaded authority figure. I've gone through the same banal motions so many times it's increasingly hard to talk about them in any meaningful or interesting way.

But you know what? I'm pretty sure that a lot of this is my fault. I've long been resistant to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to games. Won't play sports games, won't play fighting games, won't play strategy games, won't play JRPGs, ADAMANTLY won't play multiplayer on consoles, these severely limit my capacity to relate to gamers worldwide. Now, virtually no-one likes *all* kinds of games. That's why most sites and magazines hire more than one reviewer, so that they have at least one hopeless antisocial weirdo on board they can offload all the new Total War games onto. But that's no reason to not at least try to expand my horizons. That's why in the near future I'm going to embark upon a voyage of discovery to see if I can find shiny colourful nebulae hiding in the dark unexplored horrors of the gaming universe.

This has been a warning to both of us.

-Yahtzee

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28/2/09: Pod People

I did another podcast with Yug and Matt to tide over fans of our three-way dynamic. And on that subject, Game Damage is indeed in motion, even if we've all been a little quiet about it lately. We're in talks with a couple of parties with lots of free money and we'll almost certainly be making it in some shape or form. So, good news there.

As Yug also lets slip in the podcast, he and I are also partners in another business venture, namely the opening of a gaming bar in Fortitude Valley. Not, I hasten to add, a LAN cafe; this will be an adult drinking establishment which also happens to feature various games that one might play with one's buddies while drinking at home. Rock band, Wii games, that sort of thing. We've got a nice little venue up Brunswick Street (on the nice side of the mall, not the scabby side where the station is) and we're looking into getting open a few months from now. Come down some day to hang out. I will ignore you.

STOP REMINDING ME TO CHANGE THE DATES ON THIS SITE TO 2009 YOU FAGS AARGH

ZPs: Skate 2 and FEAR 2 (both sequels, you'll note AARGH)

I swear there was something else I was meaning to put here. I'm thinking of growing my beard out? Nah, that's stupid irrelevant bullshit no-one cares about. Sorry, I mistook this site for Twitter.

-Yahtzee

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12/2/09: Burner's Permit

The Game On exhibition at the state library in Brisbane is doing another of its Game On nights tomorrow (the 13th) from around 6pm. Yug and Matt and I will be showing the pilot of Game Damage in a public forum and answering questions afterwards, with most of the answers probably going to be along the lines of 'yes, we know, we'll fix that when we have money'. Come along for fun times.

For the benefit of all the well-wishers, let me give a blanket response: I don't live anywhere near the fires in Victoria, you bloody idiots. I live in Queensland, which is a much damper place on the other side of the bloody country. And it's a bloody big country full of a whole bunch of bugger all. Asking after my wellbeing is like asking after the wellbeing of someone in Sweden because a fire broke out in Portugal. Yes alright, Americans, go and look up where those countries are, I'll wait.

ZPs of late: Gears of War 2, Little Big Planet, and the Thief series.

-Yahtzee

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24/1/09: Some Kind Of Game Pun

Oh blimey, it has been a long time since I updated last. Apologies for that. My home network still won't let me onto my FTP and the other network I usually use crapped out on me an' all. Let's see, what ZP's have we missed... Left 4 Dead (not bad), Sonic Unleashed (shittiest shit in the shithouse), the year end clip show (not my idea), Prince of Persia (could've been worse), Awards for 2008 (aha), Tomb Raider Underworld (ugh) and FarCry 2 (ehh). For future ZP updates, don't watch this space, whatever you do. Watch some other one. Digg, maybe.

Also, the pilot for

GAME DAMAGE

has been up for a while, and the full 23-minute episode is free to be viewed by one and all. We've gotten some positive feedback, and a fair bit of negative feedback, too. But I'd like to point out to the detractors that this is pilot, by their very nature experimental, and that we're still groping around trying to create the ideal format. So despite your intentions your slanging inadvertently helps us. HA HA WE WIN.

The big words up there are a link. In case you missed that here's another one.

Oh yeah, and happy Christmas, I guess. And New Year. And anything else that came up.

-Yahtzee

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6/12/08: Game For A Laugh

ZP this week is Mirror's Edge, just in case there's anyone left out there who might experience brain damage and want to buy it.

Next Friday (the 12th) I'm taking part in a talk as part of the Game On exhibition once again, who have now moved up to Brisbane, my city of residence. I and Yug and Matt will be talking from around 6:30 on games, game reviewing, and the difficulty of keeping our breath minty fresh. It's at the State Library of Queensland, and I can't seem to find a website that confirms what I'm saying, but we will nonetheless be there. Come and check it out, as long as there aren't 300 of you or something.

Game Damage will be out 'soon'. It's complicated.

-Yahtzee

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29/11/08: Damaged Goods

Again, sorry for the lack of updates lately but I'm still being jollied around by my connection at home and I can only update this site from someone else's internet for some reason. Maybe my home internet pipes got clogged somehow. Anyway, a few pieces of housekeeping to get through. The last few ZP reviews: Fable 2, Fallout 3 and Guitar Hero World Tour. In summary: lame, alright, and alright.

There's also the matter that ScrewAttack is holding nominations for the... ugh... 'Gaming's 1337' awards, and you can nominate any reviewer and game-related website you fancy, so obviously I'd fancy that you nominate me. Just go to this site and fill in 'Yahtzee Croshaw' for Best Reviewer and http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation for the appropriate URL. You can nominate once a day if you feel like cheating on my behalf.

And while you're there, why not nominate the Escapist for best Gaming Website? That should put me back in their good graces after things I may or may not have said on the eGames main stage.

Linking on from that, I should also mention that Game Damage

Game Damage

GAME DAMAGE

is on the verge of splashing itself all over the internet's face, with the pilot - of which I assure you we are all very proud - probably going to be released sometime next week. In the meantime head on over to the site as it currently stands. There's a forum set up already so feel free to sign up and embarrass yourself with baseless assumptions about what exactly we're going to dump on you. God knows we could use some people other than Australian Gamer forum members posting.

-Yahtzee

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8/11/08: Roll Up Roll Up

THRILL! To the freakish and spectacular displays of Yahtzee, the world's most overpaid person of indeterminate role in the games industry!

SEE! His Zero Punctuation review of Dead Space, in which Yahtzee picks apart every slightest flaw while falling from a high trapeze into a bucket of milk!

HEAR! His latest podcast collaboration with Australian Gamer, in which he wrestles with the world record for most contextual references to female genitalia!

FEEL! The smugness wafting through the air when he appears at the Melbourne EGames Expo next weekend as special guest! SCREAM as he courageously hosts the Gaming Trivia Quiz while balancing babies on a wolverine (baby volunteers needed)!

DON'T MISS THIS NEVERENDING CAVALCADE OF ONE MAN WITH TOO MUCH TIME AND MONEY!

In all seriousness, do come along to EGames next week, it's good to get involved with your games industry. Anyone who shows up to the quiz I'm hosting has the chance of winning REAL ACTUAL PRIZES. It's from 4:45 on the Saturday (November 15th) but I'll probably have nothing better to do than hang around the stage all weekend anyway.

There's also going to be a special sneak preview of Game Damage (try to imagine that being said in a booming, messianic voice). It's a little project me and the usual chums have been working on and we like to think it's not completely horrible. Come one, come all.

-Yahtzee

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1/11/08: Merry UnChristmas

Sorry about the infrequent updates of late, my new home network seems to be having a disagreement with my FTP and I'm having to update my site via other people's internet connections, preferably without them finding out. Last two reviews were the much anticipated Silent Hill Homecoming and the surprisingly non-horrible Saints Row 2.

It really is insane how many big-name titles are being released in October and November this year, rather than the traditional December pre-Christmas glut. Best guess is that the economic crisis made publishers nervous and they couldn't wait any longer to feel the warm kiss of money rubbed lovingly upon their fat apple cheeks.

-Yahtzee

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16/10/08: Me Me Me Me Me

ZP this week is STALKER: Clear Sky. What fun we're having.

This week I've also been expanding my media empire. Firstly, there's an op-ed piece by me up at news.com.au concerning Silent Hill and the censorship issue. Wow, it's almost like I'm a real journalist all of a sudden. Here's a sample:

If you try to oppose changes such as these you have to argue that gore is essential to the intended experience, which isn't the case and makes you come across as slightly psychotic. Let the censors have their petty moment of fuss – I hope their victory feels satisfying from their little temple of total bloody irrelevance on the moon.

Here's the full article.

My second mainstream media appearance of the week is an appearance in Marcus Westbury's interesting documentary series Not Quite Art, in which he examines the new frontiers of culture and its pioneers. Marcus was in Melbourne for my last ACMI appearance and we shot a bit of a segment. Anyway, the show was finally broadcast on the ABC (that's the Australian ABC, not the other, fatter one) the other night, and it's online at the above-linked website for all to see.

Direct download: MP4 / WMV

My bit's from around the nine minute mark. You can tell because an incredibly un-photogenic thing will be on screen sounding like a douchebag.

-Yahtzee

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10/10/08: Agqwjbfjasc

Oh right, shit, there's this website I update sometimes. Last three videos in order were the XBLA double bill, Mercenaries 2, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Though anyone who still comes here for their ZP reminders are probably weird.

Thanks to everyone who keeps sending me helpful reminders on what games I should review. Somehow the fact that Silent Hill 5 had come out slipped by me because I'm a video game media professional and as such are too busy... hang on, let me just look up what a video game media professional does. (rustle rustle) What? Knows things about video games? Well slap my granny, I guess I must have known about Silent Hill 5 all along. FUCK. FUUUUUUCK.

-Yahtzee

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19/9/08: Balls E

Last two videos were Too Human and Spore. People were asking me why I didn't mention the DRM fiasco with Spore. Truth be told, I didn't actually know about this until someone told me the other day. I guess that goes to show just how hugely significant it is to the actual game experience.

Incidentally, I was dragged to see Wall-E last night. Now, objective quality of that film and possible anti-corporate agenda aside, here's a small plot synopsis:

One or more lovable protagonists have existed for some time in a stable but fundamentally flawed routine, which is shaken up by the introduction of a foreign entity, usually another character, around whom attitudes are initially hostile. Attempts to deal with this character eventually lead to the protagonist(s) discovering a new, unfamiliar world, and in doing so discover the nature of the fundamental flaw in their routine. Villains are usually introduced or only become truly villainous from around the mid-point or quite late into the film. Along the way the heroes enlist the help of various lesser characters with clearly definable quirks and at one point reluctantly enter a high-speed chase. The villain is generally finally defeated with surprising ease, and everything concludes in an emotionally manipulative ending in which routine is restored with the fundamental flaw excised.

Now, consider how many Pixar movies that could be describing. Consider it, me bitches.

Yahtzee

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6/9/08: Surprise! Another update

Funny I should have mentioned horrible webcomics the other day, because my girlfriend discovered recently that she could imitate the style of Ctrl+Alt+Del with amazing accuracy, and while she treated this discovery with a due sense of horror and disappointment I took the opportunity to ask her to do a comic I could write the dialog for. So here it is. We're both very, very sorry.

(click for big)

Also, I did another podcast with Yug and Matt for Australian Gamer the other night. And another one the week before, actually, but we were very drunk.

Yahtzee

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4/9/08: The Fortnightly Update

Braid was last week, this week's ZP is Eve Online. Predictably enough the humanoids who are really into Eve have been on at me, stating that Eve only becomes a fun game once you get involved with the corporations set up by other players. In response, I might ask those people "Why are you paying the developers 15 dollars a month to do their job for them?"

You know what I hate about the internet? You can't take back anything you put on it. I'm usually content to let my older, terrible stuff exist because I would hope that people understand that I was young and still learning, and that you have to get the bad stuff out of your system if you ever hope to improve. But I've been noticing around the place that some people tend to think the very fact that something is on the internet implies that its author totally thinks it's still worth two tugs of a dead dog's cock.

So, just to be on the safe side, I totally disown every webcomic I have ever made (excepting ZP if you count it as a webcomic, which it seems Wikipedia does). From any standards they are universally dreadful. Anyone who says otherwise should be disregarded because, as the creator, my opinion outranks theirs. And while we're on the subject, all the games I made before Odysseus Kent were badly drawn and clumsily written. And if anyone happens to know where to find any fiction I wrote before the age of 20, please throw it into the nearest convenient natural disaster.

Yahtzee

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21/8/08: Hope Floats

So this week's review was Soul Calibur IV, a predominantly multiplayer console game, so obviously I forced it to live up to the single player experience and hated it. But hey, I did play some rounds against my roommate and spamming throws seemed to work alright there, too.

Oh yeah, and last week was a retrospective on the Prince of Persia series. Guess you'd be better off going to the Escapist for regular ZP updates, hm? And why not click on some ads while you're there.

Anyway, it's been a while since I threw a bone to my own website, so I uploaded an old short story I wrote ages ago and didn't do anything with. I had to trim it and edit it a fair bit before I didn't hate every bloody word, so it's not like I'm avoiding work or anything. Here's a sample:

Over the next few months, that sub sandwich earned a sort of legendary status aboard the Endeavour as the lunchtime snack that destroyed us all. For one or two days before the end, a couple of people had even started using ‘sandwich’ as a curse word. As in, “Oh sandwich, we’re all going to die.”

It's called The Hopeless Endeavour. Don't worry, it's not based on any existing characters of mine. Check it out.

Yahtzee

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10/8/08: Ninja Something

Ninja Gaiden 2 was the last ZP review and oh bloody bleeding christ (probably shouldn't click that link if you're reading this at work, slacker). To the sweating entity who drew this, it's nice to know I can inspire you, but I'm depressed about my cultural legacy as it is. Besides, they make you wear tiny little thongs in Age of Conan if you take your pants off.

Yahtzee

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1/8/08: You Can Never Go Home

ZP last week was Age of Conan, and this week it's a rundown of trailers that came out of E3 in an attempt to stamp on the embers of what little excitement the lacklustre event managed to create.

You know, being new to this whole 'fame' business I'm surprised by how many things I can't do anymore. For example, if I'm browsing forums and I read an interesting thread that isn't something to do with me, if I post an incidental comment about whatever the subject is then the thread immediately derails into people going 'make a video about it' or other examples of priceless wit. I used to be one of the guys, you know. I used to be another faceless contributor in a wall of opinion. I miss those days.

Of course, the obvious solution is to re-register with a different username. Of course this doesn't help if your favourite forum is one that require a credit card payment to register, and if you don't have a credit card, and you got your last account with a gift certificate, and if you're an English ex-patriate called me.

But the thought did cause me to wonder about the people behind the thousands of faceless names you interact with on a daily basis on the internet, because it seems any famous person will obviously use a false name and deny their true identity for the same reasons that I would. And then somehow I managed to convince myself that everyone on the internet besides me is Bruce Willis, but that was around the point that I noticed a stain on my wall that looked like a dog's head, and I had to start thinking about that instead.

Yahtzee

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19/7/08: Pee Three

All my Escapist pals have buggered off to E3, scarcely sparing the time to put up my Alone in the Dark review before swanning off to watch Sony talk about how much money they make and view exclusive previews of the next generation reboot of ET for the Atari 2600. I've been left all alone in my little Brisbane flat to sullenly watch the videos as they come online, but that didn't keep me from joining Yug and Matt for a podcast on the subject.

Anyway, if anyone reading this hasn't seen the Dark Knight yet, you officially aren't allowed on the internet until you rectify that. I think I should give it a few months and maybe watch it again on DVD before giving a definitive opinion, because being a massive cynic I'm immediately suspicious of any film that appears on the surface to be absolutely fucking legendary.

Yahtzee

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