Posts tagged Eurogamer

The Gaming Review Review


Lately in the MMO-sphere there’s been a bit of to-do over reviews and what a proper MMO review really constitutes. The most recent and visible example was Eurogamer’s review of Darkfall, which generated quite a bit of angst and outrage, even straight from the developers, about the practice of proper gaming reviews. Looking around at where gaming sites placed recent MMOs, I stumbled upon a review of Aion on Eurogamer – one which immediately drew the usual ire from dedicated players looking to discredit the review for being lies and chicanery.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t really see a need to be upset over your favorite game getting a bad review from someone else. I’ve always shrugged off reviews for the very simple reason that, boiled down, they are essentially someone’s subjective opinion about their experiences. The only difference between reviewers and us as players is really where the paycheck is coming from. Don’t get me wrong – we can’t all be Roger Ebert – but Ebert and his peers in the movie reviewing biz, along with their counterparts in the gaming industry, have simply come up with a framework for a review that might or might not be helpful to someone’s decision about something.

Getting bent out of shape and wanting to burn a reviewer at the stake for a supposedly poor review is just kind of silly to me. I mean, in the end, what really matters is how you yourself are experiencing the game. If the worst-reviewed game in the world is a game that you play for 6 hours straight a day, who’s to say that you’re wrong for enjoying it? I do think that people should relax and understand that when a reviewer gives a game a bad or not-ideal review, they aren’t telling you how much you should enjoy a game. They’re simply sharing their own, inevitably biased opinion about that particular aspect.

Besides, “professional” reviewers have to acknowledge that Joe Schmoe who has a blog that some people might regularly follow is starting to gain credibility. It’s why Evony is so bent out of shape over Bruce and his articles on Evony’s practices. A person who writes with little to no journalistic or reviewer training can create the same kind of resonance with readers and influence them much like a reviewer can. In that respect, the opinions on a particular game are potentially so numerous and so varied so as to further reinforce what I’m saying. Reviews are just opinions, and unlike assholes, they aren’t an inevitable part-and-parcel to our function or motivation to be gamers.

I read reviews to get a second opinion and ideas on my own feelings about a title. But in the end, I control what I like or dislike, be angry or happy about, whether to have waffles for breakfast or not, and other such significant and important decisions. I’m just happy that we can get such a variance of opinion on any title, no matter how well-reviewed it is by professionals.

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Light in the Darkfall Review Situation

Image by Stefson via Flickr

Those of you who keep up in the know about MMO news may have heard about the whole Eurogamer situation regarding the review of the Darkfall MMO. Darkfall, the hardcore MMO that claims to take people back to the days of Ultima Online-old, has been out for a few months, and despite the bluster of both its developers and its community, may have suffered the same fate as many other MMOs that have released in the past year or so – an initial surge, followed by a decline in subscriptions due to core problems.

What made things worse was a Eurogamer review of the title that gave it a 2/10, which did not please Tasos Flambouras of developer Aventurine at all. In fact, it made him so angry that he cited server logs, where he immediately purported that the Eurogamer reviewer hadn’t played enough of the game. This led to a lot of calls of unfairness, after which Eurogamer promised to have someone else re-review the game. Said re-review just came out, with Darkfall scoring a 4/10. The slightly better, yet still poor score has not surprisingly drawn ire from the Darkfall community, with all kinds of attacks on the reviewer’s credibility, their methodology, and perhaps, their parents.

To be honest, while the re-review was a bit of a downer for Darkfall supporters, there is actually some good that can come out of the entire situation. First, the very fact that this even happened is at least a check on reviewers, a sort of warning that regardless of how unprofessional Aventurine might have sounded in their response, that as a CYA they’d better have played through enough of the game to craft a sufficient opinion of it. In MMOs, this is especially important, as realistically speaking you can’t create a comprehensive review of an MMO title when you haven’t experienced the full scope of its system. MMO reviews are limited to what boils down to first impressions, and it’s a matter of where the line is drawn between a good first impression and not having played enough. As dramatic as the situation is, it may have been worth it to ensure future MMO reviews are a bit more robust.

Second is the fact that Darkfall was re-reviewed at all. I see the Darkfall review situation much like the way the Firefly movie Serenity came about. Cancelled series are not supposed to be made into movies, and reviewed games are not supposed to get a do-over. Darkfall got a rare chance to be looked at twice by reviewers, getting a second chance to make a first impression on someone else. In MMOs this is even more of an opportunity considering that bugfixing and patching means that inevitably, a second review done after some time spent on the engine means it’s more stable – or at the very least, that the developers have had a chance to pore over and implement things based on user feedback. Darkfall may not have gotten the score players were looking for,but it did get another handshake from a major video gaming site. That’s more than most titles can say.

Lastly, there’s always the argument of “there’s no such thing as bad press”. The entire Darkfall situation with Eurogamer has probably given the game more publicity than it could have gotten without it. It’s also given a boost to the amount of people simply looking at the game itself – recently, the North American server has launched, and a major patch has come down the pipe that has looked at several large issues and fixed them. Even though the second review score was poor, you have to wonder how many people out there like myself are writing about Darkfall despite it not being on their radar normally. Of course, there are blogs like Hardcore Casual, who are up to date with the latest in Darkfall info, but even the ones who provide a rather cheeky evaluation of the Darkfall situation like Broken Toys are still giving Darkfall publicity it probably couldn’t hurt to have.

To be perfectly honest, to have Darkfall remain viable or at least operational is nothing but a good thing for the MMO market. The genre in general needs to have titles that can survive based on premises that are not World of Warcraft-ish in any way, and if Darkfall can provide part of that niche, then more power to them – even if it takes a bad review (or in this case, reviews) to do it.

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