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morriss
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AATG as we all knwo, is a relatively young site still finding its feet amongst the deluge of competition that exists around the intarweb.

However, at the moment their is considerablt work going on behind the scenes in order to try and raise the site's profile. For example: 'we' are trying to get our reviews listed on Meta-Critic, which obviously would generate a lot more traffic and hopefully new registrations. We are also in the process of trying to liaise with PR companies in the hope of getting review-copy games. Also we are close to becoming another web-sites "Official Gaming Affiliate" and that could really, really boost numbers for the site.

Now all this leads to the road of professionalism. Now the site could be attracting new users and not just 'old friends' I think it is important that the reviews on this site are thorough. That means they must - for the most part - be completed. Obviously games such as Oblivion, GTA, Zelda and also small XBLA games and PSN are the obvious exceptions to this rule.

I think this because as a site contributor a certain amount of notoriety is gained by putting regular reviews up. i,e, if ilmaestro carries on writing he'll eventually get people tuning in just to hear what he's got to say and basing choices solely on his word - or at the very least consider his opinion strongly before they make a purchase. With this notoriety comes a certain amount of responsibility, imo. And giving the most honest review you can given the time you have is for a reviewer top of the list.

The other side of this argument is should AATG put 'reviews' up of games that are only half finished to reflect and pander to the present interest of the readers. i.e. new games come and go so quickly that putting anything up about a new game and giving it a score makes it seem that AATG 'has its finger on the pulse' as it were? Should reviewers play a story-based game, commonly know to be around 10-12 hours long, for say, 4-5 hours and put a review up regardless of being anywhere near to completing the game? I mean, if the review is well written, and no-one finds out, does it matter?

For me personally, it's a question of integrity and professionalism. I'm not for one moment suggesting that anyone on here has been or will be persuaded to part with their hard-earned on the basis of what I say. Nor do I think that anyone tunes in to hear what morriss has to say about game-x. I do however, feel I'm cheating people. I'm leading them to believe something that isn't true - that I've completed the game. I just can't do that.

Anyway, as this is a site for the people by the people etc., I thought I'd get your opinion(s) on the matter.

Is any review better than none so AATG can ride on the wave of the current gaming trend, or should the reviewers wait until they've played the game thoroughly and put the review up later, and maybe miss out on the hype?
#1 at 20:47:54 - 15/07/2007
Harry
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I think a review of a half completed game isn't really a review - it's a "first impressions" piece. It would be better to flag early reviews as just that.

This is especially important if wanting scores to appear on metacritic, game rankings and the like - because the assumption is the reviews are a full look at the game.
#2 at 20:55:07 - 15/07/2007
repairmanjack
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I've finished everything I've reviewed, as it concerns me that someone might spend money based on my recommendation - and I'm mindful that I don't want to short-change them. Plus, if anything game-breaking happens at the end of the game (or it ends like Halo 2, for example) an early review isn't going to acknowledge it.

I got lucky with Crackdown, as I played it a full week before release (and I still think it's my best write-up). Generally, though, I seem to review stuff that no one else wants to play anyway.

Is this really just about peej reviewing The Darkness despite playing less than half of it? ;)
#3 at 21:00:42 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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Which is my opinion too. I mean all someone has to do is click on my name, see my gamertag and then they can see how far I am along with a game. (if it's on the 360, of course).

The also the question of integrity, however. I personally can see what anyone would have to gain, apart from their 'name in lights' by putting a review of something they hadn't finished.
#4 at 21:01:18 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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repairmanjack said:

Is this really just about peej reviewing The Darkness despite playing less than half of it? ;)


Well since you bring it up, yes. I find it pretty outrageous, tbh. How can he "find the game a bit short" if he hasn't even played it through?

I don't really want to be a part of anything where stuff like that is accepted. I thought I might be overreacting so I thought I'd share it.

Anyway, how did you know?
#5 at 21:04:47 - 15/07/2007
repairmanjack
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Gamertag.

To be fair, I like peej's reviews (and this isn't a snipe at him). I actually felt I was a bit hasty, in retrospect, with my Def Jam review score. (I'd put it down as a seven now.)

But that's the difficulty, isn't it? People want reviews of this week's releases ... rather than well thought out and considered reviews of something they completed a fortnight ago.
#6 at 21:12:59 - 15/07/2007
HairyArse
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The thing with The Darkness is that I haven't completed it either but every single review of it I've read has said it's a little on the short side, so I know this already.

Also, it could be argued that as the game is so story driven, it makes no difference whether you've completed it or not as you're not going to mentioning later elements of the plot in order not to spoil the game for anyone. Therefore I don't really see anything wrong with reviewing the game under these circumstances. You know the core mechanics aren't going to change, I've already unlocked all Darkness powers so I know that I'm not going to be discovering anything new in the game. So why can't I review it yet?

The other point is that this thread could potentially do damage because a lot of people could have read any of the site's review and accepted them at face value, but this thread now casts doubt and could cause a lot of negativity.
#7 at 21:13:06 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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Sorry, Hairy, but that's way off. peej started playing the game yesterday. He the based a review on a few hours play. If you're stick up for something like that, then that's up to you.

But if repairmanjack can see it, so can meta-critic. It makes everyone who contributes to the site look amateurish.

But it's your site. If you think this thread does more damage than something half-arsed then feel free to delete it.
#8 at 21:16:14 - 15/07/2007
repairmanjack
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For what it's worth, I no longer visit EG for the front page. I'm there for the forum (when it's behaving itself). I've scratched my head over EG's reviews for over a year now - and I no longer give them any creedence. I prefer the reviews we put up here.
#9 at 21:18:41 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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repairmanjack said:Gamertag.

To be fair, I like peej's reviews (and this isn't a snipe at him). I actually felt I was a bit hasty, in retrospect, with my Def Jam review score. (I'd put it down as a seven now.)

But that's the difficulty, isn't it? People want reviews of this week's releases ... rather than well thought out and considered reviews of something they completed a fortnight ago.


But not everyone buys things on day one. If you look on the Darkness thread on EG, people are still buying it. A late review can change people's minds who have otherwise sat on the fence.

If the site gets a good reputation, then review copies will come and reviews will be put out on time with ample playtime ahead of them.
#10 at 21:20:34 - 15/07/2007
repairmanjack
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And on the issue of Darkness reviews generally: how many sites have commented on the online portion of the game? Most reviewers haven't even looked at it.

I have. Here's my review: the single most lag-ridden, glitch-filled, broken online experience I've ever had. 2/10.
#11 at 21:21:06 - 15/07/2007
Furbs
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I think having to complete a game to give a full and detailed review is a total fallacy.

Looking at the last three games I completed (GRAW 2, GoW and R6:V..hmmm maybe I need to play less shooters), had I been reviewing them, my comments and score wouldnt have changed in the least. The same applies to loads of games I've finished...the GTA series, the NFS games, all the FIFA games (in so much as winning a trophy can be considered completion), CoD2 and god knows what else.

I could tell by the way the story was going in GRAW2 for instance, how much longer there was going to be in the game, and that it was going to be short. Also, very few games have a dynamic that radically change after the first few levels. Sure, by reviewing it before completing it you might miss out on a couple of nice cut scenes or a great set piece, but in my mind, that shouldnt affect the score. To use another current example...I wouldnt need someone to complete Forza 2 to shape my decision...so long as they had spent a long enough time playing to get a feel for the different cars, the difficulty curve and track variety, I wouldnt care if they had completed career mode, arcade mode and unlocked all the achievements.

Theres also different ways of completing a game...I'd rather have a review of someone who spent their time checking out a games nuances and didnt finish it, than someone who was simply flying through the game to get a review out the door.

Its all about what you want to get out of a review. For me, all I want to know is if a games mechanics work well, and if they are done better than something similar. Other than that, I dont care what the reviewer thinks of the setting, graphics, characters or other aesthetics. In the internet age, I'm capable of reaching my own conclusion on this aspect due to screenshots and trailers.

The mechanics side of things can be answered after a few hours play - I seriously doubt for instance, the last few levels of the Darkness are any different other than graphically than the previous ones. A good reviewer (imo) will know how long a game needs to be played to form an opinion on it...simply completing it doesnt magically make their opinion anymore "right" or accurate than someone who looked a little deeper.

Not that I ever bother with proper reviews anyway. A good preview is all I need nowadays.

Edit: On the subject of this site specifically, I guess maybe there is a bit of an urge to be "first!!!" to review something which I'm not sure is a good idea. As mentioned, I've no probs with a review of a non-completed game, but I do think there needs to be a couple of days play/reflection before drawing a conclusion, especially given that as games fans first and foremost and people are paying for their own games, theres always going to be a bit of overexcitement.
#12 at 21:24:12 - 15/07/2007
peej
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Started the game yesterday - finished the game today.

So exactly what was your point Morriss?

A couple of things.

1) You are not the boss of me, or this site. You contribute to it, as we all do, and it's a community effort. If you don't like it that way, go start your own site with Blackjack, and Hookers, and out of date content that no one's interested in

2) When I "reviewed" The Darkness, it was actually my complete and utter surprise and complete enthusiasm for it (and so far, a bit of a mediocre response from the regulars here) that compelled me to put in writing what I thought of the game. This is where you seem to completely get me wrong the whole time. I LOVE games, I mean really love them, and am rampantly passionate about them and driven about them. I may not steam through and complete them all before reviewing (I note you haven't even reached the last planet on Super Stardust HD yet so let's not get pissy about who's played what as thoroughly as anyone else, shall we?)

As it turns out, there was approx another 3 hours left of the game before I did finish it, so by anyone's measure, it is short (but as I said in the review, very very sweet)

3) Until you're dotting the Is and crossing the Ts on the cheque paying for this site, your opinions on how it is run are only that - your opinion. You have no editorial control, nor do any of the rest of us. You could do with picking up your spelling and grammar a bit before you step into any sort of editorial shoes too.

4) Rich started this site, and I jumped in early to help him - not because I want a slice of any glory AATG gets, nor because I care about milking it for freebies, or vainly claiming that any exclusives I get are putting AATG up there with the big boys (we're a LONG way off that yet, a long way). I did it because I love games, I love to write about them and I love any opportunity to pimp them at anyone who'll listen. As a long standing forumite on Eurogamer and one of the first people who contributed to this site it's always fantastic to know that something you've said about a game has compelled someone to go out and buy it. I get the biggest buzz out of that, and people saying "You were right you sly old devil, so playing games for 34 years has actually given you some experience in gaming, wooh!"

Consequently, I take people's criticisms seriously and this stuff about not finishing games needs addressing. I'm personally of the opinion that a timely review giving as strong a flavour of the game as possible is worth more than something published 5 weeks after a game's arrival, when everyone else has moved on to whatever the newest flavour of the month is. I think you'll find that by and large, even the big boys do this too - take a look at the percentages and achievements of some of the EG reviewer's 360 gaming if you're in that sort of a mood.

Finally, if Rich told me to walk tomorrow, or if he told me my stuff was shite and to stop doing it, I would - know why? Because AATG is his site, not yours so wind your neck in because you're seriously not doing yourself any favours by trying to cause a shitstorm here.

Peej
#13 at 21:29:27 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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All good points, Furbs. And I agree with all of them.

My issue is however, with making people believe you have completed something when you haven't. i.e. saying you found the game a little short, when you haven't, is mis-leading people.

Read through the Krudster review agian, perhaps. I'm not saying he's God but he's written reviews for years and is the Editor of one of Europe's largest web-sites.

The problem is, that if you play less than half-way through, their might be a whole section of the game with a whole new gaming mechanic involved that you've completely missed. There might be a show-stopping bug. If it's story driven there might be an amazing twist at the end that adds to the overall experience.
#14 at 21:30:23 - 15/07/2007
Furbs
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Yeah but EG's reviews have less credibility than most major sites.

Also, dont forget that Krudster put out an incomplete Gears of War review, complete with score just to get on Metacritic. That to me is just as bad, if not worse, especially since EG is allegedly a professional site.

As I mentioned, how many games do have a radical change in gameplay after the first few levels? The last example I can think of is Half Life 1, and even that wasnt enough to change the score. What about games like we're seeing on the Wii, where "completion" is secondary to "enjoying" or improving ones score?

Ultimately it all boils down to the reviewer integrity, rather than if they complete a game or not. If theres a show stopping bug, would that affect the score anyway? It certainly doesnt seem to from my perspective - CoD2 didnt get affected by the gamesave deletes, DoA didnt suffer for its Pal60 requirement. Sure if a game is a buggy mess then it should be addressed, but if its that bad, it would present itself quite early on.
#15 at 21:38:12 - 15/07/2007
ilmaestro
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HairyArse said:The thing with The Darkness is that I haven't completed it either but every single review of it I've read has said it's a little on the short side, so I know this already.

Pretty much every review I read of Chromehounds said it was crap. They were wrong.

Talking in this very specific case, even if a game is short I think that it would need to be finished to gauge if it is too short. An eight hour game that is rushed and broken at the end due to release date pressures is certainly different to an eight hour game that is fantastic all the way through and thus might have more replay value.

In the more general sense, I find it slightly hard to bring myself to comment since I have only written a handful of articles for the site. However, if you really are looking to move forward with the site then I think it's an issue that has to be addressed.

There is no problem (in my eyes) with getting First Impressions (or some such) articles up asap (even if they are basically a 'review' in a different category and without a score), and then following up with a more developed review later. If I was guessing, I'd say that in some cases this would even be simply the addition of a new final paragraph and a score, then bump the article back to the top of the page and change it to a review.

Surely this would fit the bill for both sides of the argument?
#16 at 21:38:24 - 15/07/2007
peej
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morriss said:All good points, Furbs. And I agree with all of them.

My issue is however, with making people believe you have completed something when you haven't. i.e. saying you found the game a little short, when you haven't, is mis-leading people.


Nowhere in that review did I say I'd finished it. I said it felt a little short - it did, and as it turned out even without looking elsewhere for spoilers it WAS incredibly short(something else I should've mentioned in the review, I came to the game completely cold knowing NOTHING about it yet polished it off in a matter of hours, and with me not being much of a gamer either).

Without trying to spoil it for anyone either, it ends rather shoddily too. Doesn't change anything I wrote about it though.

Peej
#17 at 21:38:44 - 15/07/2007
peej
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ilmaestro said:
HairyArse said:The thing with The Darkness is that I haven't completed it either but every single review of it I've read has said it's a little on the short side, so I know this already.

Pretty much every review I read of Chromehounds said it was crap. They were wrong.

Talking in this very specific case, even if a game is short I think that it would need to be finished to gauge if it is too short. An eight hour game that is rushed and broken at the end due to release date pressures is certainly different to an eight hour game that is fantastic all the way through and thus might have more replay value.

In the more general sense, I find it slightly hard to bring myself to comment since I have only written a handful of articles for the site. However, if you really are looking to move forward with the site then I think it's an issue that has to be addressed.

There is no problem (in my eyes) with getting First Impressions (or some such) articles up asap (even if they are basically a 'review' in a different category and without a score), and then following up with a more developed review later. If I was guessing, I'd say that in some cases this would even be simply the addition of a new final paragraph and a score, then bump the article back to the top of the page and change it to a review.

Surely this would fit the bill for both sides of the argument?


I do a lot of first impressions stuff too - I think even covering a few hours play on a demo is enough for most gamers to be able to give a coherent idea of what they think of a game, and naturally all that could change when they finally get the shop version.

The thing to bear in mind with all this is everyone involved is doing this stuff in their own time, off their own backs, with no pay - WITH a full time job to hold down too. Games journalists who do this for a living all day and still don't have the good graces to finish off a game before writing a hasty review, whether to gain favour for metacritic or whatever, have less excuse.

Once again, I love games and buy a lot of 'em, and want to give my friends and the AATG community my wholehearted impressions of a game. There would be little or no point in me trying to mislead anyone about completion and tbh, the only person who's ever made a fucking mountain out of that particular molehill is you Moz, and by and large I get very few complaints from people I know or friends that something I've recommended to 'em has been a complete stinkard (OK we'll let Driver 3 and the Wii slip, everyone's allowed a couple of blips).

Summing up, keeping the site alive and keeping it talked about is good. Causing a ruction between the community just because you feel you're not getting enough control over what gets done here is a pointless exercise - you have as much say over what goes on this site as all of the other regular contributors so stop trying to wear a pair of managerial trousers that don't exist, there's a dear.

Peej
#18 at 21:49:14 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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As I said in my original post, mini-games like SS-HD are pretty much exempt. So that's that dig annulled.

I'm not trying to be your boss, I haven't told you what to do. I haven't given you any orders. That's number 2 dealt with.

When I post on the internet, it's usually free-flowing and I don't bother to check spelling and/or grammar before I click submit. I do check them before submitting an review. No.3

There wasn't another 3 hours left as you hadn't even made it half-way through. I've been playing much longer than since completing Act 2. No.4

There's nothing wrong with having enthusiasm for games, that's why we're all here. But writing something for a pat on the back -"You were right you sly old devil, so playing games for 34 years has actually given you some experience in gaming, wooh!" - and then letting them believe you've actually done something when you haven't is lying. Especially as usuers on the site can see you've lied and even more now that your review has been submitted to meta-critic as a standard of the sites' journalism. It's called responsibility. No.5

I've never made any claims to this site, but spending several hours working behind the scenes trying to raise its profile has made me care about it. If it was my site I'd've pulled your review instantly and told you to write it again in a week. However, I didn't because it isn't mine. In this very thread, I said to Hairy that it's his site and he can do what he wants. But in the spirit of all things forummy, I'm entitled to an opinion. No.6

Krudster's gamerscore is over 20,000. No.7

While we're on the subject of gamerpoints, I rarelt get even close to completing a game - or even testing it thoroughly due to lack of time - hence I don't write that many reviews. You write reviews of 360 games all the time but my Gamerscore is higher than yours, and on inspection you play about as much of the game as me if not less. No.8

As far as doing myself favours is concerned, I've already stated in this thread and to HAiry privately that I want no part in contributing to a site that allows this sort of thing to go on. So there are no favours for me to get anymore. In fact, I was the one doing most of the favours anyway.

/winds neck in
#19 at 21:50:28 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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I'm pleased that I didn't have to resort to insults in order to get my point across.

#20 at 21:52:22 - 15/07/2007
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I could probably review most games I play after about an hour and give a more "accurate" review than most sites (assuming I could write).

FWIW I didn't see a single thing wrong with that particular review - even without you playing it to completion, lets face it, that won't happen with 90% of games anyway. I've never been under the assumption that most reviewers play more than 5-6 hours before reviewing a game.

I would guess that the majority of people rarely get past the first few hours of any game, if they do then it's unlikely their opinion will change vastly from that point having invested so much time into it.

Already had this debate with TG (wanted to kill myself 1/2 way through) and all I would suggest is either not putting your gametag in the profile or not make it available via the review screen.
#21 at 21:55:51 - 15/07/2007
Furbs
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Ever since I've started using gaming sites, going back to VE3D (which I see this place hopefully being the spiritual successor!), I've always paid more attention to forum posts than any actual review. In almost all cases this means relying on the opinions of someone who hasnt completed the game, at least in the first few days.

The way I look at the front page articles here are simply longer, more detailed forum posts, for the reasons peej just gave. Its people writing out of interest, rather than to make money, and thus its people I have more in common with.

One thing I absolutely HATE is people trying to sound like a journalist (and to be frank, this is often why I dont read front page reviews, sorry guys). If that is where you want to end up and writing here can help you, then great, just dont expect me to pay much attention to your on the job training :P If I want professionalism and professional reviews, I'll go to an established game site.
#22 at 21:56:09 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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peej said:
morriss said:All good points, Furbs. And I agree with all of them.

My issue is however, with making people believe you have completed something when you haven't. i.e. saying you found the game a little short, when you haven't, is mis-leading people.


Nowhere in that review did I say I'd finished it. I said it felt a little short - it did, and as it turned out even without looking elsewhere for spoilers it WAS incredibly short(something else I should've mentioned in the review, I came to the game completely cold knowing NOTHING about it yet polished it off in a matter of hours, and with me not being much of a gamer either).

Without trying to spoil it for anyone either, it ends rather shoddily too. Doesn't change anything I wrote about it though.

Peej


As far as I can see, you still haven't completed it. Unless you went though on it Easy, which if you did, is no foundation for a review whatsoever.
#23 at 21:57:28 - 15/07/2007
HairyArse
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The main jist of the arguements in this thread all seem to be about maintaining a certain level of professionalism. Well fuck me if this thread doesn't undo all that.

:D
#24 at 21:58:38 - 15/07/2007
Furbs
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morriss said:Unless you went though on it Easy, which if you did, is no foundation for a review whatsoever.

Out of interest, why not?
#25 at 22:00:14 - 15/07/2007
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HairyArse said:The main jist of the arguements in this thread all seem to be about maintaining a certain level of professionalism. Well fuck me if this thread doesn't undo all that.

:D


I refuse to type "+1" but, well...you get the idea.
#26 at 22:00:44 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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HairyArse said:The main jist of the arguements in this thread all seem to be about maintaining a certain level of professionalism. Well fuck me if this thread doesn't undo all that.

:D


So discussing journalistic integrity is unprofessional?

As I said earlier, if you really feel the fault lies within this thread and nothing else, then feel free to delete it.

I didn't call anyone names. I didn't even allude to what I was talking about in my initial post. But repairmanj. being able to see it speaks volumes, tbh.

But please. Delete the thread. Be my guest.
#27 at 22:03:48 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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Furbs said:
morriss said:Unless you went though on it Easy, which if you did, is no foundation for a review whatsoever.

Out of interest, why not?


As most FPS' on easy are so dumbed down you can literally stand there shooting and not get killed. The AI is dumbed down considerably. They AI shooter 'is' the game. If you play through something on Easy and just run through never dying then that's not really a true representation of the game. IMO.
#28 at 22:05:50 - 15/07/2007
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I completed GRAW2 on Hard and the AI just stood there waiting for a headshot. Not all games change the AI with difficulty level. Often its just damage/ammo levels that change.

Would you say then that the hardest difficulty level is the only real way to review a game, even if it meant most of your readership probably wouldnt play it like that?
#29 at 22:08:11 - 15/07/2007
morriss
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No I don't. But for me, the whole point of a game is being presented with a challenge and over coming it. Playing a shooter on Easy is like playing an adventure game with a walkthrough on your lap.
#30 at 22:09:35 - 15/07/2007

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