Polarised Gaming

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Let's face it. There are titles out there that you can't say boo about. Reviewers don't have the nerve and the fanbase will hit you with more fire than a daisycutter.

You know what I'm talking about; Final Fantasy. Grand Theft Auto. The Legend of Zelda. Halo. Doom. Half-Life. Starcraft. Diablo.

The list goes on and on. I say screw the fanboys. Blunt, aren't I?Why should an entity so devoid of knowledge and so consumed by ignorance be pitied? This is not a case of being corrupted by the one ring.

We throw around terms like "over rated" or "under rated" or whatever - as do they. But do they really know what they're talking about? I got into an argumentabout the story in Knights of the Old Republic 2, where I said that the storytelling was so bad that it actually ruined the game. The storytelling IS very bad, although the story itself, once you figure it out, is not only good, but the premise is unique.

Another situation is howfanboys talk about how great Grand Theft Auto 3 is because no game was ever made on that scale up to that point in time. Obviously they never played The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, which has a virtual landmass that is over 200 square miles in size and takes two weeks in real time to walk across.

Or that Halo has an amazing story. No, it doesn't. It does have good storytelling, though. Same with Mass Effect, although there are components of their story that border on plagiarism (like the Reapers; it's right out of the Revelation Space series by Alistair Reynolds).

There's a flipside to all of this; for every fanboy, you have a hater that's out to bait everyone. And there are many series that have those, including the ones that I've mentioned.Their goal is to go in and cause havoc, but they're different than proverbial trolls. Most haters focus on very specific series or games. Halo, Final Fantasy and Grand Theft Auto are great examples. You can find a flame war about any of those on just about any forum. Just about every half-decent Nintendo property has its fair share of these. And of course, all of the game systems.

We get it, you want to justify your purchase to yourself. Good. Then shut up, rent some games and enjoy it instead of making other people try to hate theirs.

Finally, there are reviewers who tap into these groups. Some may even belong to them.

While I haven't played Final Fantasy XIII, I have a friend who is, and he's enjoying it quite a bit. Well, everything but the grinding. So, is an 8.5 a fair score when a problem that has been around since the dawn of the series still hasn't been addressed 23 years later? Halo and Call of Duty games contain campaigns that get shorter and shorter. Their multilayer is still unbalanced (even moreso for CoD). Are 9's and 10's fair scores?

The tinted glasses have to come off sometime.

There are entire genres that take flak, like the Beat-'em-Upaction subgenre. It's like it's been sent to deathrow by a crooked judge and the appeals ignored by a barely literate governor. No matter how much this gameplay genre tries to evolve, it keeps getting struck down by the critics. That isn't to say there aren't turd nuggets - there are in every genre.

And then there's the fact that PC games get scored more critically because of the platform. What about the platform? Okay, so there's a bajillion games on it. So what? If a game's awesome, treat it as such - regardless of the fact that there are more titles on this platform. Especially since this leads to questions, not answers. Is this an indication that consoles are viewed as handicapped, and thus console titles get more slack? If so,priorities need to be straightened out because good gamin' is good gamin' - and bad games suck.

Mama's right; only you can decide what you like or dislike. Everyone has their own biases and you need to have the experience and common sense to discern this. So play some games and ignore the fans and haters. They're too busy complaining on a message board to play anything anyway.

Weakened Resolve or Coming of Age?

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Life takes a lot of interesting twists and turns. For instance: I'm back. Woo. Hoo. Sort of. Well, I guess I'm a hypocrite, but aren't we all.

So I'm back. My reviews aren't. I still have them, but they're no longer relevent; the games are just tooold.

Iguess some might be wondering why I've come back, considering myuhmm, dramaticexit.

Well, I've been coming back since I reconfigured my router a couple years ago. I had to hard reset it, and I just didn't care, plus I like to read the Soap Box once in awhile. I don't care too much for the opinions of the reviewers or the bought-and-paid for reviews (I still can't forget GTA IV's extra point increase, and I won't) that omit important facts about gameplay (or outright lie, like Halo 3's campaign length), but I do care about what real human beings have to say when they aren't contracted to say something.

I came back to comment on a Soap Box article, a really good one actually, about our expectations and hype and whatnot. That's what drew me out.

Well, I'd like to think so. Maybe I just grew up and realised that, hey, I have nothing to actually lose one way or the other. It's just the internet. So, I might as well stay. Maybe post a few reviews about slightly more current titles. I dunno. We'll see.

Maybe I'll use my flair for the dramatic to our benefit instead of my own embarassment sometime.

Game Over

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As some of you may - or may not - have noticed, I've effectively removed my reviews. I've resigned from my unions - one of which I was an officer. And this is the final note, the final say, the last word.

I've been a member of gamespot for 3 1/2 years. For 3 of those, I've been writing amateur reviews, and for over one of those, I was an officer in the Candid Collector's Union - which is by far one of the best group of people I've ever met online or off.

And I'm not bragging. This is what I've chosen to give up because of the current scandal here. At the same time, I'd like to believe I'm not throwing this all away. But other than the friends I've met here - with whom I can communicate with in any form of IM software - what am I losing?

An insider information site? I can always go to IGN, Kotaku, Game Informer, 1Up, EGM, Gamepro and Game Politics for that. You're not the only game in town - no pun intended. I'm certainly not losing a review site; I stopped taking reviews seriously a long time ago.

I know that I am leaving a place of corruption. I know that someone lost their job so the company could save face with an investor - an investor often plaguedwith money troubles, at that! But that's what happens when you've already sold your own soul; you have to find someone else's as collateral.

If I were a paying subscriber, I might actually be talking to a lawyer right now; if someone says their product is red when in fact it's blue, and I bought the product based on that pretense, you have a duty to either give me what I paid for or give me money back if I reject your substitute.

Speaking of substitutes, there is no substitute for integrity. If Eidos tasks you, CNet, with a glowing review, you should have given it if you were so inclined, not handed it to Gamespot to see who'd fall for the trap.

CNet, you have earned every ounce of illwill aimed toward you. And that's not my problem. Nor will it ever be.

Now, for those of you who enjoyed my reviews, they're pretty easy to get; just e-mail me and ask; my contact information is in the "about me" tab, and I'm not going to change that.

Also, to those who I've tracked and who have tracked me, thank you for all the articles and reviews; it was good to read some real perspectives.

I wish you all the best, no matter where you go.

NWC.

P.S. This will be my last post. After I finish this letter, Gamespot and CNet will be blocked on my router; if you wish to contact me, e-mail/MSN is pretty much the only way. Just the way it goes.

Be Careful What You Wish For

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You just might get it.

I've been wishing for the last two years that Gerstmann would get kicked right to the curb. He had a tendency to write reviews that were unprofessional not only because of what seemed to be a personal bias (some seemed like he wished he wasn't "stuck" reviewing the game, so he'd give it a lower score out of pure spite - Scarface is a great example - especially the Wii version), but there are reviews of his that also made me question whether or not he even played the title, such as Capcom Classics, Vol. 2

I so wanted to see him fired for these, and every other game he hit because he seemingly either didn't want to play it or decided to play part of it and then write the review.

You don't put down a game for artistic license (changing the ending of Scarface to create the sequel - IMO, that was bloody brilliant because it put you right in that scene), and you don't promote something you think looks cool on paper but is totally broken (CCV2; Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo's emulation is broken; controls are terrible and the audio emulation is ruined) - especially since the latter brings a reviewer's integrity into question because you start wondering if theyplay the games they review.

If this Kane & Lynch debacle is true - and we have little reason to believe otherwise - Gamespot has put themselves into a very, very bad position.

One, you can be sued - not only by Gerstmann (wrongful dismissal), but paying subscribers (false advertisement; you don't say you're the most unbiased and then prove otherwise for firing a reviewer that doesn't bend to your advertisers/investors).

Two, you have no credibility. None whatsoever. Your readers are dropping their subscriptions (because it's not worth taking you to court), your reviewers seemingly don't want to write and the forums are abuzz with how you can't be trusted. Your opponents are having successive orgasms, and your allies...well, other than the CNET network, I don't think you have any anymore.

If I were in your shoes, this is what I'd do:

1) Come clean. Man up. Spit it out. The truth really is vindicating. Keeping quiet only builds suspicion, and Eidos can't legally sue over the truth.

2) Refund every paid subscription for the year; You just publicly violated your number one policies (objectivity and integrity).

3) Issue a public apology to Gerstmann and offer him his job back - despite the fact that he'll more than likely tell you where to shove it, or worse.

Jeff, I dislike you as a professional reviewer; I have yet to agree with one of your reviews (that are based on a game that I've actually played) and as much as I wanted to see you turfed, it most certainly was not for this reason; I've never had to eat words on wishing someone lost their job; this is one of those few times.

I do wish you all the best in the future and I hope you can find another job in your field that will treat you much better than this; no one deserves to be sold out like you were.

Blonde But Not Forgotten

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One of the family dogs, LG, passed on last week. He had to be put down because they'd found a tumour and couldn't fix it. He was a sweet little guy; dumb as a post, rarely came to his own name because I don't think he ever realised that he had one. But he was so adorable.

Last I saw him, which was...I think August, he was perfectly fine. While, as fine as he could be I guess; he wasn't exactly the most active dog; he'd rather lay on his back spreadeagled and snore through most of the day. He only really got active when there was another dog that he could try to screw. Yeah, that was our LG.

We got him when I was 18 - on my birthday, actually, though not as a gift. He was a 2 year-old stray that had been found by one of my dad's co-workers, and apparently my dad and stepmom were looking for a second dog (I think I'd heard them musing about it, I can't remember). No, I got a Terry Goodkind novel instead. That was also the first time I forgot it was my birthday, but that's another story for another day.

Obviously, he was pretty lean when we got him, and our other dog, Buster, was anything but. So, we got to work on attempting to spoil LG, only to find out that he was a picky eater. No wonder he was skin and bones :|Buster was picky, too; LG, though, would only eat certain things -dogfood, meat and dog cookies. Buster would only chips with dip on them :P They did have one thing in common, though, which was a love for watermelon; Buster taught LG to eat it down to the rind.

LG's favourite pasttimes involved digging up my stepmom's garden...lawn...oh, and under the porch. And then eating the dirt. Unfortunately, he had to have a lot of teeth pulled because of this past time. As I said, dumb as a post.

Heh, he'd usually only even come if you called him by something else...he seemed to like being called "f*ckstick". But for all his faults, he was the sweetest, most docile animal you could ever meet. He wasn't a neurotic mess, he loved to cuddle and he loved to goofy - one of his more amusing habits was mooching for food he didn't even like.

I'll miss ya Little Guy.

Ubuntu 7.10 Blows, 98 Caught a Bad Driver, And I May Have Killed A PC

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I liked Ubuntu, despite its terrible inflexibility. I wanted to like 7.10. However, I can't like something that installs and then corrupts my boot sector byseemingly installing a SCSI driver. I didn't tell it to, it just did :| Screw that. Buggered 5 hours of OS reinstallation, there's only so much crap I'll put up with.

After getting everything fixed (actually, just makign sure that 98, 2k and XP were installed and working), I get a driver crisis with Windows 98; my goddamned sound card driver pack installs a driver not only onto the motherboard soundchip, but the PCI caqrd as well. Chaos ensues. Even after I disable the onboard...98 was still screwed. I had to fix it with 2k because the FILE SYSTM had to be repaired. Christ on an effing crutch! The funny thing is...the drivers I installed were specifically for the onboard - I even specified in the install that that's what it was for :| And yet I had two entries...ugh.

And after putting a NIC in my 10 year old DOS gaming PC (I was going to try my hand at setting up internet and network printing using my router and school PC as the testbed server), it cacks. Mind you, I had to take it apart, hwoever, I consulted a whack of web resources to make sure I set the cabling back up properly. No dice. Hey, for all I know, I could just need to change a jumper or flip a connector (the power connectors are set up propery, I quadruple checked that one) around. But it's behaving exactly the same way it did when 2 of its four sticks of RAM fried. And EDO isn't exactly common. I have neither hte money nor the time (patience I have, time...no) for EBay...It was a good machine, better than most. It will be missed. But hey, I can scavenge the hard drive, burner and even videocard :P

I Got The Boot

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Today, as of 3 PM EST, I finally finished getting all of my drivers for Windows 2000 and 98 SE. And no, I didn't just do a double boot, but in fact a multi-boot with each OS on a different drive, and the 3rd OS being Ubuntu Linux. I still haven't had much hands on time with Ubuntu, although I've had enough time to say that from an end-user perspective, I like it. From an administrative perspective...it's nothing short of a pain in the ass.

But after the install (which comes with an absolutely kickass partition tool -GParted - that you can use without installing the OS), actually adding things to it is quite a chore if you don't know Linux Commandline. So that's next up on my list of things to do.

I also circumvented the old custom of old OS being installed first. I knew if I installed 98 first, it would just use up my hard drive, and the FDISK program that comes with it won't let you partition more than 2 gigs at a time. SO, I manually partitioned with GParted, and took a Ghost image of 98, put it in the partition and all was fine. Then after loading all my OS's, I realised that i need a larger second drive so I can load XP Pro on later this year for school.

Sometimes I hate this stuff, but it was a hell of a learning experience. I mean, I circumvented the step of doin gthe traditional Windows dual-boot, and just went full out. Took 7 tries and about 25 hours to get everything just right (and even then I might have to re-install 98 due to a certain program installation that has something ot do with USB keys, ahem - oh not to mention bad Radeon drivers from my card's manufacturer, but ATi's work fine), so when I go back to redo it using both a Ghost image of 98 SE and 2k because 2k's installer won't recognise a drive bigger than 137GB, which is in turn screwing my OS over. So yeah, I'll remake my partitions and all will be well. And after that, then I'll take the effort to learn Linux commandline.

Well, teh Ghosts are better anyway. 98 only takes about 5 minutes to install from an image. Go figure. 2K will take longer, though, but not as long to install. Christ, I swear it takes at least 2 hours ot install 2k.

On another school-related note, I just had my first midterm fo rthe A+ component, and I scored 98% :D So I went and played pool, had a glass of scotch and bought a large pizza to gorge on :D

Notice To All Concerned

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Alrighty guys, today I pack up computer, tomorrow I unpack it. I should have internet back up and running by...I think Fri, could be as early as Monday.

Well, see yas in Sudbury, eh?

An Announcement - Get Yer Party Hats And Boogaloo Like It's 01/01/2k Edition

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Two things. I have been approved for college, so starting Monday, I will begin my course for Network Engineering Technologist! Which means that by next July, I can come to your house and fix your computer for $300/hour :P

The other is that I'll be offline for a couple days, maybe a week starting Saturday. Just waiting for the internet changeover.

But yeah, I'm going ot college. Time to get my party hat on and get ready to chase some skirt! I mean work really really hard...all...hours...of the...night. Yeess.

Actually, I have very little room to screw around (both figuratively...and...figuratively, heh) due to strict stipulations associated with the nature of my funding (need to maintain a certain grade point), and the MCSE, CCNA andA+ exams can allegedly be quite brutal, but it's nothing i can't do. I was born for this.

Can The "Big" Words

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I just read the review for Stranglehold, and whether or not I disagree with it, it has something in it that brings it's credibility into question: "Big" words. You know, intellectual-speak. "Contrived" is used so many times it becomes ineffective -although it had to be used properly, first - and either way, that's no way to talk to your audience bcause you're making a chunk of it feel pretty dim.

I know how it goes, that's the way I used to talk in grade 4, and it's the way I talk when I get nervous, either way, it really bothers people - unless you're atsome kind convention for teachers, reading, writing or any other intellectual pursuit.

However, this is a trend that's not limited to game reviews, I saw it a lot in music reviews. A great example is Rollingstone's review for Rammstein's release "Mutter". Words like "operatic" - which was accurate - and "Wagnerian" - which is absurd because it's a cultural reference, and even then, the only similarity to Wagner that Rammstein carries is their...operatic sound. Sure, it sounds like an opera, but it's not about conquering the world. They just wanted to make their review look a lot better than it was.

I stopped reading music reviews because of that and a review of a Judas Priest cd, Angel of Retribution - by Metal Express - because it doesn't cater to the audience. Metal Express sounds like it's aimed at university professors, for christ's sake!

Thankfully, movie reviews generally don't seem to suffer from this. And usually, neither do game reviews either.

Unfortunately, reviews written like that are also, nine times out ten, hiding something - such as bias. I'm not going to say the Gamespot one wasn't biased- in fact it looked fairly solid based on the user opinions (which, if delivered well, are the only opinions I'll trust because we pay forwhat we play- no offense, just common sense), but it definitely seemed to hide something. Either a lack of vocabulary (very rare), nervousness - or maybe it was a display of arrogance and contempt - someone with a little bit of a superiority complex going on. I don't know. But reviewing like that shows disrespect to your audience all around.

If you're going to make your review an essay, you also have to stop overusing words; I'm guilty of it, too, by the way - no angel here. But you also have to stop overusing "big" words. I know what contrived means.

I highly doubt that two thirds of the audience does, but the reviewer also needs to know what they're using and what the proper context is. "Contrive" is not a negative term - unless referring to BS facts because they are contrived - which, by the way, means created or invented - so it shouldn't be used in that way - just like Wagnerian shouldn't be used to describe a metal band just because it's German and uses operatic vocal style.

So reviewers everywhere, you have a choice. Read your audience better, or if you'd rather be "wordy" anyway, at least get a dictionary and a thesaurus.