A penny for my thoughts? No refunds.

November 7, 2008 § 10 Comments

With Jon and James thoroughly incapacitated by the recent release of LittleBigPlanet, it appears that I can write about whatever the fuck I want and not get called out on it. I fully intended to take this opportunity to dole out some bitchslaps to the good ol’ games industry until my bile-dispensing organs dried up and crusted over, but then I had a better idea. Instead, I’d like to squirt some wisdom into your open eyes and gaping mouth, fresh from my knowledgableness glands. You’re welcome.

Never trust game reviewing websites to choose your games for you. Not even us, awesome as we are. The only thing keeping games from degenerating completely is the people who don’t just follow the crowd, and buy copy after copy of Gears Of Duty IV or whatever it is you crazy kids are playing these days instead of Boro Toro or Cortex Command.
Allow me to explain myself.
Almost all game reviewers work for a profit. They almost always earn more money for praising hot new releases, and they almost always have no fucking idea what they’re talking about; which confuses me to no end since they always seem really worked up about whatever they’re blathering on about at any given time. I’m always hearing reviewers talk for ages and ages about how an “incredibly innovative new combat system” or an “intuitive heads up display”are going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before and completely revolutionise the face of every game for the next twenty lifetimes. This is always, without fail, a method of avoiding having to talk about how they actually felt while playing the game. It’s also a LIE which they are probably being PAID to tell you by some company or another, and don’t themselves believe for a second.
Never mind the fact that they spend most of their time asking the developers whether their game is good (point of interest: they just might be slightly biased), never mind how it’s ridiculously easy to make a bad game sound good in text (see Hour of Victory and Turning Point) and never mind that almost every single motherfucking review on gamespot has a rating in between 7 and 8 (incidentally, using numbers to communicate an opinion is a retarded way of doing things – I give it a negative 4.12 on my scale of mathematical wizardry in game reviewing techniques). No, just look at how gamespot’s number 8 game of all time is Chessmaster 7800, while Breakdown lingers somewhere far below, an underappreciated jewel.
I think the best way of showing someone what you think of a game is by telling them what you felt while playing it. For instance, playing Halo 3, I would occasionally struggle out of my stupor to the jarring realisation that I was frustrated and confused because I couldn’t accept how little fun my favourite franchise was giving me. This, I hope, tells you that it wasn’t a noticeably bad game. However, it sure as hell wasn’t an enjoyable experience and close inspection of your own feelings will tell you the same. On the other hand, the Mirror’s Edge demo, which I have played about 20 times now, still has me on the edge of my seat every time; exploring the limits of this new sub-genre and the ways in which the incredibly consistent FPS formula is twisted into new and interesting shapes when you’re forced to approach age-old problems in such radically new ways.
Case-in-point: Two armed guards on a rooftop, aware of your presence. There is lots of cover around. In a regular FPS, you probably gun them down, zig-zagging between cover and making motions towards your goal. In Mirror’s Edge, your first priority is always to keep in motion. By stripping you of any long-range weapons, the action shifts and becomes much more frenetic and risky. Being capable of zig-zagging up and down as you go adds an extra dimension to what was previously just an obstacle. Blockades become routes, cover offers not only protection, but a chance to build momentum, stepping up the already frantic pace of the action. You could vault over anything in your way, on a direct route to the first guard, using your momentum to kick him clear off the side of the building, before climbing a succession of crates to get the drop on the second one, knocking him out from above. Conversely, you could stay low, ducking and rolling out of sight, until you’re close enough to take one of them by surprise, relieve him of his weapon, and use it to take out the other guard. Of course, you could always just outmaneuver them both, and their hail of gunfire, by weaving in and out, above and below, side to side in your desperate flight towards your goal.
Do you see what I mean? No? I’ll try to put it simply:
Great games are made when you seriously try something which has never been done before. Mirror’s Edge has done this, but not in the way everyone thinks it has. Parkour has been done to death in Crackdown, Assassin’s Creed and the countless Tomb Raider games. I couldn’t give a shit about another parkour game. No, what Mirror’s Edge has done is create a truly three-dimensional game. Up is now an option. Verticality¬†provides new, more creative approaches to situations we’ve encountered thousands of times before. You’ll understand when you try to play another FPS in the same way. Dice, it seems, are the first to understand this in a long time. I will say just this – Mirror’s Edge has taken the next step forward, and it’s really fucking high up. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be there for the release, no matter how much shit I have to write to make the time pass quicker.
But I digress…about three or four miles off course, reading back. I hope hearing how I actually felt while playing provided a better idea of my opinion about it than if I’d just reeled off a list of features and how competently they were put in. Fuck that. Fuck gamespot.
All my love and bile
P.S – Fable II is alright.

§ 10 Responses to A penny for my thoughts? No refunds.

  • Jon Porter says:

    So firstly, the gaming press won’t get paid more for praising a game, they’ll get paid exactly the same wage. Any respectable news outlet will work in this way, they have staff writers who have a salary, and the review scores they give don’t affect that one bit.Secondly, although in a perfect world it would be nice for reviewers to tell you what they felt whilst playing a game this is never going to be possible. Why? Feelings are entirely subjective, and everyone’s experience is going to be different. The only way in which to give an objective view is to present you with these things that you don’t care about, in the hopes that you can use them to decide whether you’re interested in a game or not. It’s completely impossible to tell readers what emotions they’ll experience whilst playing a game, all they can do is tell them what the game does, and users need to decide for themselves whether this sounds fun or not. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best we’ve got.Oh and your point about Gamespot is valid, it’s a straight up bad site. 1up have tried in the past to remove review scores entirely, but the backlash from the community was so intense that it would have been financial suicide for them to continue with it. The Mirror’s Edge demo IS fun though, I’ll give you that.

  • Jon Porter says:

    Oh, I WILL say though that if you want to hear about a reviewers personal feelings then you should try listening to them informally talking about games, on podcasts for example.

  • Niall says:

    Speaking of podcasts…

  • James says:

    First point ive hardly had a chance to play littlebigplanet properly and when i finally can play my playstation i need to familiar myself with rock band. Seriously I’d stop when i see myself reaching a dead end with the songs.Secondly please for fucckss sake stop talking about mirrors edge. Jon gets LBP and i get mirrors edge, does shotgunning/bagsying stuff not mean anything? Nige here talkin about innovation and jon talking about just about everything in the demo which covers probably half gameplay aspects, barring all environment. When my fucking review comes out all I’d be able to do is summarise what everyone has already fucking said. Don’t make me put up a LBP review before everyone else..I’ll do it! I’m crazy, and it’ll be a shit one too cause I’ve hardly played it.I want trophy support for rock band.

  • Jon Porter says:

    I hardly expect your views on the game to be exactly the same as ours, so I see no problems with us taking a subjective view on it informally. Its review should be completely different from what’s already been said anyhow.Go on, post a LBP review, I dare you *readies administrator privilages*.

  • Niall says:

    Dibs on left 4 dead then.

  • James says:

    Haha its yours ^o)I call next GTA!

  • Jon Porter says:

    I call the next Infinity Ward COD.Consider yourself bammed.

  • James says:

    haha whatever dude, i thought you would call MGS5, now thats mine too mwaha!

  • Niall says:

    I call LBPwhat now fuckers

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