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This is what a lack of copy edit staff buys you...


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#961 mik

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:18 AM

Where do y'all fall on the "product/buyer's guide-style review" vs. "creative/expressive/art critique review"? I ask because I think I favor the former, but many games writers bristle at the notion of writing "mere" buying recommendations. I was reminded of the question thusly:

http://www.1up.com/r...-review-xbox360

Edited by mik, 14 March 2012 - 09:19 AM.

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#962 famousmortimer

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:29 AM

I like things that are written well. So a review in an interesting style is ok in certain circumstances, which as I understand it 1up is going for something a bit 'different' since IGN owns them now and handles the meat and potatoes reviews. But then it goes back to my first sentence. And that's the problem. The people that engage in this shit aren't good writers and they aren't creative.


So given the choice between shitty buyers guide vs shitty creative piece I will take shitty buyer's guide every single time. I don't need Gies wanking about precarious myths. But if someone talented were to come along maybe it could be neat. Maybe.
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#963 PlayerOneStewy

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:30 AM

I've always favoured the product review approach. Obviously there's a bit more to it than that based on the nature of the product being reviewed. But I'm of the opinion that a game review should be informing me about the game - what works and what doesn't. If your review doesn't teach me about the game itself or I'm left without a clear understanding of your opinion about the game, it's a bad review.

This is one of the reasons I used to love the full- and multi-page reviews in the old EGM format (the years I was there). We still had to do our product reviews in the standard review template, but the extra space did let us editorialize a bit. So it was kind of the best of both worlds in most cases.
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#964 Wenny

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:49 PM

I would want the review style to fit the product...so it would make sense (to me) for a Heavy Rain to skew more towards the artistic approach but a Street Fighter review should skew towards the product review style. But I don't think they would have to be all one way...whatever fits the product.

The former style comes across far worse when the writer can't write though...if you want to critique art you need to know what the fuck you're doing and, on average, most game writers don't...
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#965 SickBoy

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 04:32 PM

To talk about the review you linked, I don't feel like it serves my needs to have Thierry Nguyen masturbate for 800 words and leave me to pick through it to determine specifically why he didn't care for the game.

That said, I don't care for reviews written from a template, either. But at least they cover the bases and hopefully compel the writer to say something substantive about their opinion.

Criticism is hard... it can be difficult to articulate why you respond the way you've responded to something... let alone convey it in a way that others will appreciate.

I often bring up Roger Ebert when I talk about reviews because he's well-known and he generally does a good job. I'd say he's more geared for the "product review" camp, but rarely does it seem like he's writing from a set playbook. He's got years of experience, and he brings both perspective and a plain (yet engaging) writing style to the table.

Read this:

"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia," which won the 2011 Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, (copy edit: "is"!!!) 150 minutes long, and its story unfolds slowly and obliquely. I tell you now so you won't complain later. It needs to be long, and it needs to be indirect, because the film is about how sad truths can be revealed during the slow process of doing a job.


That's the opening to one of his recent reviews. He's having a conversation with the reader, and he's already provided an insight about the nature of the movie as well as a detail that will inform some of his readers whether or not this movie is for them (150 minutes, slow). In two sentences. In an average game review, I'd still be getting the history lesson.

There must be a better reason to have a baby than to provide a plot point in a rom-com. Don’t you think? “Friends With Kids” is altogether too casual about parenthood, and that supplies a shaky foundation to a plot that’s less about human nature and more about clever dialogue.


Anyhow, I think a lot of game critics would do well to read more Ebert (edit: or many other well-liked critics)... to think of their reviews as a discussion about a game, where they impart the stuff they think is important and leave the rest on the cutting room floor ("aurally this game is about average. The music is OK and the sound effects are standard fare").

I'm not certain whether it's how they learn the language, demographics, my bias towards their usage of English, but it seems to me that reviewers from the U.K. seem to do a better job (Edge/Eurogamer, whether you agree with their analyses or not). Since he asked the question, I would normally say that that Phillips guy who writes for 1Up occasionally seems to write a more natural review, but he's a little too quick with the nasty quips here and I can't show that kind of weakness/respect, so screw that hack.

Edited by SickBoy, 14 March 2012 - 04:55 PM.

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#966 PlayerOneStewy

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 04:46 PM

What you're describing is pretty much the type of thing we were asked to do at EGM while I was there. Whether we were successful or not is up to those who read us, but that's what we were striving for :)
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#967 SickBoy

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 04:54 PM

What you're describing is pretty much the type of thing we were asked to do at EGM while I was there. Whether we were successful or not is up to those who read us, but that's what we were striving for :)


I'm probably one of the few fans of the podcast who wasn't a big EGM fan, so I couldn't say :)
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#968 Jonnjonzz

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 05:06 PM

1up seems like it wants to be like Tim Rogers more and more with each revamp/owner change/hiring and firing. I can't think of anything worse than that.

Edited by Jonnjonzz, 14 March 2012 - 05:19 PM.

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#969 mik

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:34 AM

Game Informer's Andy McNamara mixes metaphors like Isaac mixes a drink...

Seriously, if BioWare changes the ending of ME3 because people cry, it's letting a cat out of the bag that can't be returned.


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#970 MojoBox

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:56 AM

A mixed bag of meat and cats that cannot be returned. It's the bread and butter of BioWare's wheelhouse.

It seems pretty unlikely to me that you can do much in the way of critical analysis of a videogame and also get your review out in time for launch. That kind of time crunch writing really only leaves room for product review, doesn't it? Which is fine, but I I wish there were more critical analysis type pieces done on games. They are so few and far between that I can't really even think of an example. I'd really love to see some sort of formalist theory applied to videogames, but that will never happen under the auspices of a "review".

Too highbrow? Well I'm not saying every game deserves, or would support, that level of thought.
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#971 mik

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:10 AM

It seems pretty unlikely to me that you can do much in the way of critical analysis of a videogame and also get your review out in time for launch.

In my very limited experience, that is 100% true. Maybe that's why I default to the product review idea.
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#972 famousmortimer

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:22 AM

I had a friend who worked at EGM who would decide scores of games within about 20 minutes of putting them in for the first time. Or atleast that's what he told me. And, generally, his reviews were pretty much on the money, or atleast seemed that way. Which is what is so frustrating/stupid about reviews. You can spend 100 hours looking into every nook and cranny in a game or you can totally fucking wing it and they both are about as worthwhile to a reader.
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#973 PlayerOneStewy

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:43 AM

We all know who you're talking about (CJ). You don't have to (CJ) call him "a friend who worked at EGM." (CJ)
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#974 mik

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:42 PM

Actually, I'm pretty sure he was trying not to throw Dan Leahy under the bus.


Oops.
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#975 Phineas Gage

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 01:59 PM

A mixed bag of meat and cats that cannot be returned.


More like cats and toothpaste I would have thought, like closing the gate after the train has derailed.
I generally prefer the buyer's-guide, although few things turn me off as quickly as someone discussing a game's controls in great detail.
I actually rarely read reviews these days - if it's a game I'm interested in, I want to avoid spoilers. If it's a game I'm not interested in...I'm not interested. I think the last review I read was because some guy promised me a pony to do so. He didn't come through.

Edited by Phineas Gage, 19 March 2012 - 01:59 PM.

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#976 mik

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:04 PM

Arthur Gies is a liar! (and a precarious myth-weaver)
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#977 Indy aka Rex

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:31 PM

Game Informer's Andy McNamara mixes metaphors like Isaac mixes a drink...



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I... what?
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#978 famousmortimer

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:44 PM

Actually, I'm pretty sure he was trying not to throw Dan Leahy under the bus.


Oops.



LOL nice.


But yeah, him.


AIM conversations used to go like this:


Him: Just got (insert game here) in the mail.

Me: Cool. How is it?

Him: It's ok, I dunno, I don't really like this type of game. I'll probably give it a 7.5



About two months later I would get EGM and (insert game here) would have a 7.5
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#979 mik

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:49 PM

And if you're in your early 20s, and no one has the ability or inclination to police you, why the fuck not?
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#980 PlayerOneCJ

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:52 PM

We all know who you're talking about (CJ). You don't have to (CJ) call him "a friend who worked at EGM." (CJ)


I'm surprised (Greg) people (Greg) think I'm the only one (Greg) who did that. I definitely (Greg) wasn't. And once we started not to review EEEVVVVEERRRRYTHING and cut the # of people per review from 4 to 3 that didn't happen anymore. Did I give Countdown: Vampires a fair shake? Rainbow Six for Game Boy Color? How could I give such classics the short shrift! (We never should have reviewed those in the first place.)




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#981 MojoBox

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:57 PM

I feel so cheated knowing the short lived "Fun Factor" score wasn't a hotly debated topic of great philosophical import around the EGM offices.
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#982 famousmortimer

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:04 PM

And if you're in your early 20s, and no one has the ability or inclination to police you, why the fuck not?



I almost certainly would have done the same thing, especially during that phase of my life. I'm not judging it in terms of thinking someone is a bad person for doing it, im more judging it in terms of review scores are, in some cases (and i tend to think *most*), complete bullshit.
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#983 PlayerOneStewy

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:14 PM

I reviewed everything as thoroughly as I could while I was there. Unfortunately, as thoroughly as I could didn't necessarily mean giving the game the amount of time it deserved. Though I will say I never started a game on the day of a deadline *ahem* :)

7.5 was the "I don't like this but I can't be bothered to make a real case for why I don't like it" cop-out score :)
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#984 mik

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:28 PM

I never started a game on the day of a deadline *ahem* :)

Talk to me about Gran Turismo 3.

Edited by mik, 19 March 2012 - 03:30 PM.

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#985 PlayerOneStewy

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:44 PM

That wasn't on the day of a deadline. That was a single day with the American build under the watchful eye of Sony. Big difference.

Plus I had a couple months or so of time on the Japanese version at that point, anyway. So suck it!
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#986 mik

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:53 PM

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...


;)
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#987 PlayerOneStewy

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:59 PM

I will side with CJ, though. He was far from the only one to pull those deadline review shenanigans. I saw more than a couple reviews written and scored based on nothing but reading the another reviewer's completed text.
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#988 PlayerOneCJ

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:05 PM

I reviewed everything as thoroughly as I could while I was there. Unfortunately, as thoroughly as I could didn't necessarily mean giving the game the amount of time it deserved. Though I will say I never started a game on the day of a deadline *ahem* :)

7.5 was the "I don't like this but I can't be bothered to make a real case for why I don't like it" cop-out score :)


I never started a game I was the "main" reviewer on (except in the case of single-reviewer Minis like Rainbow Six GBC) the day of deadline. It was the stragglers that I was finishing up with that got that. But I wasn't the only one who did that nor was I the only person who reviewed a game after 20 minutes.

Trying to get 4 people to review every game that came in during those holiday issues was just plain stupid to begin with and I was very glad when that changed.
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#989 PlayerOneStewy

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:09 PM

Read my more recent post, killer. :)
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#990 PlayerOneCJ

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:26 PM

Yay!
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#991 PlayerOneCJ

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:39 PM

This is just a poorly constructed news story.

http://www.theverge....-ken-levine-sad
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#992 rafterman

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:36 PM

Couple things:
While I like reviews that can go into great detail about the game, most of the time I just want a quick review that tells me if the game is worth my time. I prefer to save the analysis and discussion for after I play the game. Reviews help people make purchases, so just get to the game. Don't get poetic.
Also, as a teacher I find scoring a game much like scoring a paper. It's a subjective thing, but there is still a standard of good and bad. I may think the essay is an A, while another person would call it a B+. The same thing happens with game scores. You just feel the score. I start reading an essay and can kind of guess my grade before I'm even done with it. More time with it usually confirms the initial impression.
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#993 PlayerOneStewy

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:57 AM

I absolutely love the intro to Kotaku's Ninja Gaiden 3 review roundup.

"For years the folks at Team Ninja have been making poor game reviewers battle their way through some of the most ninja battles in gaming history. With the release of Ninja Gaiden 3 the tables are finally turned.

In order for the tables to be turned the game critics would have to make their game reviews incredibly difficult to survive. Using that criteria, at least three of the reviews featured in the Ninja Gaiden 3 Frankenreview fit the bill, delivering some of the lowest scores in franchise history. The other three seem to cut the latest entry a bit more slack, but still don't hold back when it comes to heavy-hitting criticism."

Not only does that first sentence not really make sense, but the author sets up this weird sort of adversarial relationship between reviewers and publisher, intimating that the game deserves low scores because the previous two in the series were way too hard and made game reviewers' jobs too difficult.

I don't even...
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#994 famousmortimer

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:05 AM

Wow.
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#995 momerath

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:57 AM

That is fucking awful. Like, junior-high-book-report awful.

It really started to fall apart once I hit the phrase "using that criteria."
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#996 SickBoy

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 01:44 PM

Can we agree that's one of the most ninja reviews in gaming history?
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#997 MojoBox

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 01:47 PM

"...some of the most Ninja battles..."

Not exactly a good start.
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#998 Ondore

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 04:50 PM

I just accidentally my laptop screen reading that.
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#999 gamer812

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:49 PM

In order for the tables to be turned the game critics would have to make their game reviews incredibly difficult to survive.


What?
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#1000 TheKurichan

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:07 PM

What?


He means that his review will be in the form of an interactive game that publishers and readers will be completely bemused by.
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