As a writer about video games, I’m obligated to look at the works of others in my field. And they are found wanting. I never get tired of pointing out how corrupt and worthless the mainstream video game sites are. The most obvious example of this is Jeff Gerstman (Formerly of Gamespot, now working for GiantBomb, now enslaved to his former masters), who got fired for giving a 6 out of 10 to Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (Which by all means is awfully generous) while ads for Kane & Lynch: Dead Men sandwiched his review.
Here’s a mediocre review plagued with an opening paragraph so unbelievably pretentious that I could barely stand to read any farther. The rest of the review could contain Skittle rainbows shooting out of a leprechaun’s buttocks but I will never know because I’m not reading it seriously. Here’s a better one, and it is better because the author describes the actual game in detail. If the review has any flaws, it would be that it offers no explanation of the original SNES game; it assumes that readers are already familiar with the game. This isn’t such a bad thing if you take into account that reviews of the original are readily available, but a review of a port should cover those bases.
This is another good one. Despite being a review for a boring soulless cash cow franchise like Naruto, the author puts more effort into examining the game’s mechanics in a few short paragraphs than any no-content quasi-philosophic art-game review from the likes of any of the drooling imbeciles from Kotaku.
Oh hey, a competent-but-unnecessary review of First/Third Person Tactical Cardboard Cutout Highly-Polished Boredom Action Ops #665225727984. If you spend $60 plus tax on that game instead of waiting a few months for it to fall into the bargain bin, I have some real estate on Mars to sell you. Let’s move on to something else.
This slew of reviews is noteworthy for several reasons. The first entry, for a NES nostalgia-fest named Abobo’s Big Adventure, accurately portrays the experience of having played the game without the reader having to actually play it. I think the score is too low (Especially compared to a rancid, smoldering turd like Retro Game Challenge) but the overall sentiment is precise and succinct: The game is fun because it openly copies from other games that are fun.
But then they turn around and give an A to The Ocean Around Me, a boring, fun-hating “art game” that was made in MSPaint in fifteen minutes simply because it has a supposed “message”. Yes, those scare quotes are intentional; the game is a worthless endeavor that no one should seriously enjoy but the AV Club writers love it because they are caught in the Very Important Indie Game Message mindset that tells them that an objectively poor game full of bugs is actually a good game if it has some vague meaning about loneliness or childhood or whatever. This is not an acceptable attitude.
The Onion AV Club, one of my very favorite places on the internet, recently turned its gaming division into a separate site. Gameological society offers daily updates of articles, reviews and interviews rather than mindless celebrity gossip and speculation like many other gaming sites. I find them to be generally average and therefore disappointing. This article is about two similar games separated by a decade, which in video game terms is a lifetime of technological progression. I wish the author had gone into more detail about games inspired by 1986’s Defender of the Crown and whether or not they improved on its basic framework.
Look at this crap.
“Out of This World was ahead of its time in 1991, and it is still ahead of not-its time in 2008. One might call it an art film of a videogame. This wouldn’t be a wrong description so much as a lazy one. It’s more of a silent film of a videogame. Or, better than that, it is a videogame of a videogame.”
That is just awful writing that does not get any meaning across. That and Action Button’s black-and-white-and-blocky filter deliberately ruins the images of any game they’re presenting. Yet many of his other points are true: Out of This World’s lack of cumbersome inventory or on-screen HUD are points in its favor; they result in a more streamlined and immersive experience that portray the bleak atmosphere of Eric Chahi’s genius.
GameFAQs is notorious for its very useful guides contrasted by moronic reviews and sub-idiotic message boards. Kid Icarus: Uprising is worth waiting 25 years despite the reviewer not mentioning what makes the game fun to play? X-Men: The Arcade Game deserves a 10/10 for story? Tetris is good because it has drama? LOL. This review of an extremely obscure 1997 JRPG is the only review on GameFAQs I recall ever enjoying.
I have no faith that game reviewers will get their act together and start practicing a level of professionalism seen in all other media. And I don’t think I’m even good enough to make up for the gaping abyss of quality in games journalism, let alone writers superior to me such as the pretty good Yahtzee and the staggering genius Seanbaby. I want to see people who actually talk about the game and what it’s like to play it rather than arty artsy art art AHHHHHT. The industry is doomed unless it gets hundreds of great writers, pronto.