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Forums > Submission Feedback > zigfried's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves review

This thread is in response to a review for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on the PlayStation 3. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: October 22, 2009 (01:19 AM)
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MoreHonestGamer, I think the fact that you pulled so many quotes from Zig's review as examples of "masked positives followed by petty negatives" is way more anal than anything in the review itself. I think the fact that you insist that the positives are "masked" indicates that you have an ulterior motive. I think the fact that you've pulled examples that don't even apply to your formula indicate that you're desperately stretching for "evidence" here.

Positive and negative statements are intertwined because that's how you describe something with both positive and negative aspects. It may be difficult to for you to see since you probably have some kind of agenda, but as someone who has never played Uncharted 2 and barely paid any attention to its pre-release press, every single quote you've pulled from Zig's review of a "masked" positive seems like the kind of writing you would expect from an 8/10 review, so your entire effort looks ridiculous. I guarantee you that if you read 8/10 reviews from GameSpot or IGN you will find plenty of statements intertwining positives and negatives as found in Zig's review. Some of the quotes you pulled are so legitimate that it really makes me wonder what's really going on in your head, like this one:

"The insanity almost felt like a high-budget Power Stone, although I know that feeling will fade once everyone becomes more familiar with the maps. Money earned during multiplayer can be spent on single-player tweaks such as unlimited ammo; ***** I just wish I could play locally with a friend (Uncharted 2's multiplayer is online only)."

It only seems to indicate that you think the negatives shouldn't be there at all because you think this game deserves better than an 8/10. In short, I think your post is just a pretentiously intellectualized version of all the idiots saying "how the fuck could you give this game a lower than a 9/10?" It's all very suggestive of how the majority of the gaming public is not only not in favor of honest criticism, but actively against it and more interested in making the world conform to popular consensus.

Also, I think the first game to use a cover system was WinBack -- but WinBack sucked ass and nobody played it. Manhunt also had one, but it was secondary to its stealth melee, and Manhunt wasn't incredibly popular. Gears of War popularized it, and it is the game that developers steal the cover system from.


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Author: MoreHonestGamer
Posted: October 22, 2009 (02:16 AM)
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Lewis, my posts and comments have nothing to do with the score, but everything to do with the written article. Also, I'm one of those who are in the train of thought that even if someone doesn't enjoy something themselves, they should still be able to objectively recognise the quality/merits of that medium. For example, there are plenty of people out there who for example, dislike fantasy films, but can and should be able to appreciate the quality of say, the LotR franchise. Zigfrieds written review in general just seems rather aloof and inconsistent, not to mention very alternative and in an extreme minority of opinion.

I feel that in putting forth his own pre-convinced slant or opinion of the title, he lost objective merit. Whether one enjoys Uncharted 2 or not, just playing it, I think we can or at least should all agree that it IS in actual fact doing lots of innovative things at the very least on the technical end of the spectrum (hell, just ask other AAA game developers and they will and HAVE agreed). Namely with the dynamic environment and set piece gameplay sections (the train, collapsing building, chase scenes etc). I don't think any other video game has attempted to, let alone actually triumphed in doing many of the things U2 succeeds in doing. Which is precisely why it has been getting such unanimous praise. From journalists and developers alike.

"but fails to demonstrate daring ambition or conceptual innovation."

I just feel the above quote is not only incredibly inaccurate, but does a complete disservice to the title, and readers of this review. U2 is quite clearly ambitious, and conceptually innovative in many respects, I don't think this much is even debatable.
In-fact, you can near enough tell as much in the first 5-10 mins you spend with the game, with the opening train tutorial level. This alone, in terms of technical potency, dynamic level integration, animation blending, camera implementation and cinematic appeal (despite being pre-canned) is quite bespoke and ahead of the curve.


--- Avid honest gaming fan ---


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Author: Lewis
Posted: October 22, 2009 (03:48 AM)
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Does being ahead of the curve mean something's innovative? I'm not sure. I haven't played Uncharted 2, so can't comment on that in the context of the game. But in terms of dynamic set-pieces... I can think of plenty of games that have achieved that. How does it stack up next to some of Half-Life 2's sequences, for example? I'd be interested to know.

In what way do you feel Zig came into the review with a pre-conceived opinion? I can't see any evidence for that in the review. In fact, it seems quite the opposite to me. It's uncoloured by the hype, and critically assessing the game itself, rather than the jubilations surrounding it.

To me, the review makes Uncharted 2 sound like a refined, polished action adventure with unprecedented levels of acting quality and character animation, one which compares favourably to motion pictures in the same genre. That's pretty big praise.

Indeed, the overriding message of the review seems to be that while Uncharted 2 has its share of problems, they barely matter in the context of what is a thoroughly engrossing, exciting videogame.

I don't see how this differs from the norm. Pretty much every decent review I've read of the game lists a set of problems. The difference is that many reviews have buried them in a single, obligatory flaws paragraph, before continuing onto a gushing conclusion. Same opinions conveyed, different method of doing so.

But even if it were to deviate from the norm, why is this a problem? Look at any music or film on Metacritic and you'll see an enormous range of opinions, because art and entertainment are subjective experiences. I don't see how it makes sense to mask that by reviewing everything based on what most people will think, because while that keeps a lot of people happy, it does an enormous disservice to the minority who won't be so sure.

Either way, I cannot see how Zig's review is anything other than a thorough and fair assessment of the game, one which allows the reader to form his or her own judgements based on their own knowledge of what appeals to them in such a title. If you don't mind about minor graphical glitches, it won't be a problem to you. If you don't mind about repetitive climbing, it won't matter to you.

Have a read of Tom Chick's review over at Crispy Gamer. I'd be interested to know what you think of this, as you'd have to form a pretty compelling argument to claim he had any sort of agenda, being as he is one of the most experienced, respected and fiercely honest critics in the videogaming world. Funnily enough, it touches upon many of the same points as Zig's review, and reaches a similar - though probably less favourable - conclusion.

Your argument would have to be more compelling than those on the comments thread there saying he did it for the hits due to no one reading Crispy Gamer, anyway, given that in its niche it's one of the most popular publications out there.

Aaaanyway. You still haven't addressed my most salient question which is: why do people care so much when a review deviates from the norm? Why is that an issue? Why should everyone share some sort of quantitative judgement of a personal experience, and why do people rally against the outsiders when this doesn't happen?


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Author: sashanan
Posted: October 22, 2009 (03:55 AM)
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But even if it were to deviate from the norm, why is this a problem? Look at any music or film on Metacritic and you'll see an enormous range of opinions, because art and entertainment are subjective experiences. I don't see how it makes sense to mask that by reviewing everything based on what most people will think, because while that keeps a lot of people happy, it does an enormous disservice to the minority who won't be so sure.

Interesting that you should bring that up - I know I've struggled with this (very) early on on my first few reviews (excepting the Commodore 64 ones of which I knew that most readers hadn't played nor would play the game anyway). Was I supposed to review and score based on what *I* felt, or based on what I felt was objectively what the game was like? Was I supposed to gush over a dungeon crawler with repetitive encounters because I didn't care, or be critical of it because presumably many people would care?

The fallacy being that I still thought at the time that a review could objectively, mathematically, state good and bad aspects as fact, when it is by definition a subjective piece coloured by the author's perspective. There is no harm in this because this is what a review IS. And on a good one, it should be easy for the reader to tell anyway if their opinion is or isn't going to mirror. A reviewer might get hung up on something they disliked, but if they've written their piece well I'll be able to tell if this is something that is likely to bother me as well.


''Yes, yes...but apart from all that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?''


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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: October 22, 2009 (03:25 AM)
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The problem with your train of thought is that it's wrong. "Merits" and "qualities" are not strictly objective; they only have the pretense of objectivity when there is a diffused consensus on standards. Your LotR example is also inappropriate because it is about recognizing the "objective" qualities of a particular entry in a genre that a given individual dislikes. That's not the case here. Zig dislikes neither the genre nor the particular entry; he merely has a slightly less positive (but still very positive) opinion than the rest of the gaming public or press.

I reread the review specifically with an eye out for the inconsistency you alleged and found none. I'm not sure what "very alternative" is even supposed to mean. The statement that Zig's review is "in an extreme minority of opinion" is itself extreme. This is another ultimately positive review, along with all the other positive ones. It is an outlier only because it is slightly less positive. It's also irrelevant. Why is minority of opinion even worth mentioning at all? What are you implying by that? That as such it lacks some kind of sanctity or legitimacy? I hate using extreme and dramatic examples to prove points, but there have been times when the opinion of the majority was that black people should be forced to labor against their will and without compensation (or in the case of black women, accept rape with no legal recourse as well).

Now I would like to ask precisely what you seem to think Zig's "pre-conceived" slant precisely is. From reading the review, it seems as though if there is one, it's the one given to him by all the 9/10 and 10/10 reviews -- and that the game itself, while very good in his opinion, did not quite live up to the expectations set by other reviewers.

I would love to know exactly how you know that "other AAA developers" have agreed that Uncharted 2 is doing lots of innovative things. Such information is not publicly available. Developers don't have their own review outlets and they typically don't release statements about their opinions of the products of other developers, and they don't send their statements to publishers to put on the back of the box. The only way you could possibly know something like this for a fact is if you're somehow involved in the industry and your involvement entails a high level of communication with developers. I have no idea what type of job would even involve that. Publishing maybe? But even that would only involve interaction with a limited number of developers and would not be representative. In the end, I can only assume you're making this information up.

Finally, your posts seem to reflect the all-too-common misconception that game reviewing is game journalism. It's not. Game reviewing is game criticism. The former is strictly fact-based reporting; the latter is an opinion supported by analysis. This does not mean providing explicitly false information, but it does mean opinion, personal experience, argument, etc. Uncharted 2 is not "in actual fact" doing anything innovative. In actual fact it has a train, collapsing buildings, and chase scenes; it is subjectively doing many innovative things in the eyes of a majority of gamers, many of whom are represented in major gaming publications.

Unfortunately, this is a misconception that is intentionally perpetuated by major gaming publications as they try to turn game reviewing into something it's not, and they succeed to some extent. If you look at reviews for film, music or books, they look absolutely nothing like reviews for games. The former use more sophisticated language, write more coherent essays, and have deeper analyses. But perhaps most significantly, they lack the compressed scoring aggregates that characterize game reviewing. See a movie you love recently? It has an average score of 50 on metacritic and a range from 0 to 100. Corporations hold more sway over the gaming press than in other industries because their words have deeper economic consequences for everyone involved: developers, publishers, the press, and consumers.

The real problem isn't losing sight of objectivity; it's losing sight of subjectivity. Reading different reviews for movies, music or books provides insight from different points of view, some of which may matter more to certain readers than others. Game reviewing is commodified, intended for mass consumption, but this only devalues the practice of reviewing as a whole. That's why sites like this exist: to provide an outlet for real gaming criticism and to restore subjectivity to its practice.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: October 22, 2009 (05:08 AM)
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radicaldreamer just completely won the thread.


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Author: MoreHonestGamer
Posted: October 22, 2009 (06:52 AM)
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Ok, firstly, Levis, please don't take this the wrong way, but you are in no position to even comment on whether his review is fair or not, or perhaps even the merits of the review or the game since you, yourself, have not played it. My guess is Radical hasn't either (but who knows). If you HAD played it, you might have had a different opinion of the review.

What Radical glossed over, was specific issues I had with quotes in review. For example, the one about lack of ambition and conceptual innovation. 99/100 of the reviewers would argue different. And rightfully so. And in that respect, yes, the fact that Zigfried's opinion is of the extreme minority DOES count. It means 99 other professionals have a different take on the game. And 99 professionals is better than one. In this respect, his comments are not only peculiar, but imo well off the mark (this is what I meant by inconsistent, perhaps I worded it wrongly). It's not by coincidence that the ONLY other journalist to share similar views as him is Tom Chick (who has a reputation for stirring pots). The fact that Zigfried's review is brought up in-line with Tom Chick's in itself dents it's credibility somewhat. Tom Chick is not a journalist you want your reviews to be associated with (and that goes well beyond his U2 review).

Also, I completely disagree with Radical's take on subjective innovation. Games can and do, do things objectively innovative, all the time. And Uncharted 2 is no different. It is not the fact that it has a train level that makes it innovative (duh!), it is the way it is implemented. And saying such things cannot be objectively innovative is doing a complete disservice to gaming as a medium, and to the developers that put all the effort in to these things. Imo what makes a good journalist or critic, is being able to look at these things objectively (same for any medium).

The point is, developers and journalists (apparently not Zigfreid mind) should be able to look at whatever game, and de construct what it is and isn't doing beyond the norm. This sometimes does mean looking at things on a deeper level, beyond personal taste, perhaps technically (which is largely where U2 innovates). Maybe Zigfreids take on the game differs because he has a lack of development knowledge or even basic know how? Who knows, I don't, but I do know that many of his comments were way off the mark.

You only have to play a few of U2's segments to realise that you are experiencing certain things you have NEVER experienced in any other game. That sounds like hype, but it's not, it's just the plain truth. As someone who is getting in to the development side of things now, it is interesting to unravel the different facets of U2 and trust me, a lot of it makes the mind boggle. I am sure there are many developers out there scratching their heads after playing the game, wondering how Naughty Dog did some of the things they did (again, mainly on a technical and cinematic level).

And in respect to other developers, yes, comments have been made. By some of Infinity Wards staff for example. Many of whom were even expressly told to go and play Uncharted 2, I'd imagine so they could learn a thing or two from it on the creative development side (though that is just an assumption). In the same way that ND staff clearly paid a lot of attention to Bungie's/IW's titles since they are mentioned in the credits.

Honestly, I would love to have Zigfried sat next to me whilst we both played the game together, so I could quiz him on opinions on different segments, just to see if perhaps he could concede that certain elements were indeed extremely ambitious and conceptually innovative if looked at with a less narrow viewpoint. All in good nature mind. But I have to say, many elements of his review just baffled me...

Even the comments about the visuals as well. I have not met or heard a SINGLE person who has not agreed U2 is the best looking (matter of opinion) and most technically impressive (not really debatable) console game to date. Yet somehow, Zigfreid even manages to go against convention with his comments here. With compliments that are apparently very withdrawn or conservative, and wrought with as much negativity as they are positive. When I read "plenty of games look better on the surface" and then read "Sigma 2" as an example, I couldn't help but laugh. That may sound condescending, but I'm sure others who have played the games might have had a similar reaction.

Plus...other comments...

"Even though the jungle's lighting is unconvincing"


Really?.... (screens shamelessly taken from the GAF)


example 1

example 2

example 3

example 4

example 5



"Which is odd, considering the characters still look like plastic-skinned dolls with creepy glass eyes."


Is it really that bad?...Or does Zig just have outrageously high standards...possibly limited to Uncharted 2?


example 1

example 2

exampe 3

example 4

example 5

example 6

example 7

P.S. I think Chloe is supposed to have steely looking eyes. I'd imagine to give her that piercing sexy gaze. Whether it works or not is an entirely different story.


On one other minor side note, contrary to what his review says, you DO actually get to see your explosives go off in the jungle, if only for a split second. The bombs do go off, in a cut scene following the gameplay segment in question. The explosion acts as a diversion, giving Drake time to explore a segment of the camp following it. Not sure how he quite missed that glaring mistake, seeing as how he did apparently play the game twice.


--- Avid honest gaming fan ---


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Author: Lewis
Posted: October 22, 2009 (09:27 AM)
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Okay!

A few things.

1) You're right. I have not played Uncharted 2. I cannot comment on whether or not I agree with Zig or Tom's reviews. What I can say is that both strike me as measured analyses, and unless they are simply fabricating negative points, which seems unlikely given they arrive at the same ones, I cannot see any reason to question them.

What you are doing, however, is disagreeing with their views. And I know that sounds patronising, but bear with me, as it's relevant. You're assuming that the majority is necessarily the most valid. And it's true that the majority has a tendency to be viewed as the most valid. But it does not equate to absolute proof.

In other words: "99 professionals is better than one" is necessarily not always true.

So my comments about the review being fair are based on the eloquence with which the writer communicates his argument, and the means he uses with which to get there. I do not feel I have to have played a game in order to feel a review is reasonable. It's never overblown, and it's always measured. Nothing has been verifiably invented as evidence for his argument. It's a case of an opinion being presented via a series of argument strategies. The conclusion at which he arrives is not what I'm arguing about; the means with which he arrives there is what I'm discussing.

I'm maybe coming at this from the opposite angle, as I am a games journalist. But hopefully that explains why I feel qualified to comment on the review without having played the game.

2) Tom Chick has a reputation for stirring pots amongst those who believe that every critical outlier is stirring pots, rather than actually expressing an opinion that differs from the norm, based on his own personal standpoint.

Among the circles that do not care whether his views fall in the majority, he is considered one of the most eloquent, respected and revered professionals within videogame criticism, and has been for many years.

3) There is a difference between critical analysis and objectivity. Objectibity does not serve an audience within games reviewing, because no one buys a game, sits down with it, plays it through, then simply considers a list of quantifiable, factual statements about the game. I'd say pure objectivity would actually be doing a disservice to the developers, because undoubtedly, the vast majority of developers want their players to either think or feel something; develop a connection on a personal level. If a review is not communicating on that personal level, it has failed, far moreso than a review which merely does not align with the majority view.

4) With regards to innovation, if I had time, I could pen an essay on why no game has been truly innovative in the past 60 years. Yes, 60. I don't, so I won't, but it's worth considering.

5) "Plastic dolls with creepy eyes" is a really fascinating thing to mention in the review. Are you familiar with the Uncanny Valley theory? It's the idea that technology can never absolutely replicate life-like figures, and that the mind is more tuned into flaws the closer it gets to that life-like image. Hence the valley. The amount of positive responses rises with improved "life-like-ness", but drops staggeringly when it gets to that stage that's so near, yet so far.

What Zig is describing here is that theory in action. And I can totally understand that. I have exactly the same reaction to the Heavy Rain footage. It's a very perceptive and smart comment to make.

***

More Generally:

You're in danger of being a little prescriptive here, and overgeneralising with regards to how game reviews should be written. Context is everything. You say reviewers "should" go beyond personal taste. But HonestGamers was founded, ten years ago, with a view to communicating that personal taste, as a platform for discussion, regardless of agreement or disagreement. Again, worth keeping in mind.

***

Above all this:

Thanks for sticking around and holding your own in a debate against a whole bunch of us. I'm glad you did, as with each step the conversation takes, it gets more interesting.

***

One more question:

If Zig had written what you considered to be a convincing argument as to why Uncharted 2 wasn't deserving of its praise, even though you wholeheartedly disagreed, would you have been more receptive to the piece?

If, honestly, you can't say you would have, then why is that?


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: October 22, 2009 (12:09 PM)
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Morehonestgamer ---

The point is, developers and journalists (apparently not Zigfreid mind) should be able to look at whatever game, and de construct what it is and isn't doing beyond the norm. This sometimes does mean looking at things on a deeper level, beyond personal taste, perhaps technically (which is largely where U2 innovates).

I would say that this is what I did. I have yet to see evidence that I failed to do this. If you are referring to moments such as the convoy scene, I did experience similar in other games. Uncharted 2's moments were much prettier and more gripping (the first time through), but they are not conceptually that much different than "OH ****" moments from other games.

I then used that deconstruction -- all of which are personal opinions based on my perceptions and experience (as they would be for anyone else) -- to build a review.

In regards to your final paragraph.... whether a game is technically impressive actually is up to debate, because everyone applies different weights to various technical aspects and perceives the quality of each aspect differently. One person may think character model texturing is important, another may think the number of animations used while walking is important, and someone else may place the most importance on appropriateness of lighting. "Technical quality" for any game is very open to debate.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: October 22, 2009 (01:09 PM)
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I don't care if I've never played Uncharted 2. If anything, this gives me a position of neutrality, and you are not really in a position to even comment on whether his review is fair or not because you appear so severely and incurably biased. You are basically saying that Zig is just wrong and that if we had played Uncharted 2 we would know the "truth." The arrogance here is massive.

Your post isn't even saying anything other than that Zig's opinion is wrong and that the proof is the 99/100 other reviewers who disagree with him (a very clearly fabricated statistic). You don't even have a real argument here. You just say that majority opinion is automatically and inherently the legitimate one. Do I need to bring up more ridiculous examples, like of majority opinion of the earth being the center of the galaxy?

The only way games can be "objectively innovative" is if you define innovative in its most strict sense of doing something new that has never been done before. But this is precisely the opposite of the definition you gave, which is the liberal, subjective interpretation that is used in gaming media. The mere fact of having a train level is an example of the objective (if it had never been done before); the way it is implemented is the subjective.

Are you even serious about your comments about the visuals? You're just dropping the pretense of argument again and just saying that Zig is wrong because he disagrees with you and other people. It sounds condescending because you are condescending. I think I have been condescending too, but your condescension stems from the fact that you obviously think people are wrong who disagree with you about about whether or not a particular video game is the prettiest one. Your only support for this is that so many other people agree with you and disagree with Zig, as if he's the only one with his opinion, when in fact there are probably several other people who do feel similarly who simply haven't voiced it publicly. Yet again you only argue that going against popular opinion is inherently wrong.

I don't know how Zig feels, but I would never want to sit next to you, or associate with you in real life. I would never want to deal with someone trying to force their opinion on me in real life. What makes me laugh is how you want to see if Zig could look at it with a "less narrow viewpoint." I know you're actually trying very hard to be nice, but your arrogance, hypocrisy and bias are so flagrant, shameless, and deep-seated that it makes it difficult for someone with more socially adjusted sensibilities to not get angry.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: October 22, 2009 (02:20 PM)
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MoreHonestGamer, I'm going to take a wild guess here and say you're pretty unfamiliar with this site, so I'd like to fill you in. We're a community of writers who take pride in the quality of our work. Every member of our staff and freelance team fits that description, and I'm not exaggerating when I say our user base is the most consistently talented of any gaming site on the web -- really! Just take a look at our Review of the Week feature, which regularly highlights the best in user-submitted reviews. We're constantly holding reviewing competitions. We treat reviewing as a hobby and are dedicated to it. You need only to take a glance around the site to see what I mean.

I say this because Zigfried is considered one of the absolute best writers on the site, if not the best. I invite you to click on his username and browse his review archive; he has nearly 200 to his name and they're all excellent. I've known the guy for a couple of years and can say that he's an intelligent and level-headed person with a passion for gaming and a genuine concern for the quality of his writing. So suggesting or implying that his sole intention in penning this review was to stir up the pot is nothing short of insulting.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: drella
Posted: October 22, 2009 (02:59 PM)
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I like this review for one reason.

Whenever a major release comes out, unlike other subsets of critics -- movies, music, what have you -- video game reviewers in no way attempt to temper their response or place a title in any sort of future historical context. Look at the ratings for Madden games dating back for the past two decades. Undoubtedly, there have been such radical improvements -- excusing graphical, because that would be too obvious -- that any high rating for, say, an N64 iteration looks laughable in the face of a modern release. Those were all six or seven out of ten titles at best. Simply, they were just the best available football game at the time and inflation naturally occurred.

Yet critics -- lacking any grasp of foresight, part due to ignorance and part due to the trade secrecy of the tech industry -- in no way try to establish context with ratings, merely giving their in the moment reaction. All those near perfect scores are catering to whims -- Uncharted 2 is new and fancy and hip. It's got luster and shine. Of course you want to buy this, you dolt, and we'll have another must buy next month. Video games are still gizmos -- nothing resembling art for sure -- in the eyes of the critics, and scores for popular new games reflect what is state of the art right now. In the late 1970s, 8-track players were 10/10.

What Zigfried's review does effectively is to remain level-headed and maintain some perspective on the grand scheme of the industry. Most other video game critics seem baffled by the notion. They live in a world built around right now and their fond memory of yesterday. Often, they only notice when something is not fun, not to the varying degrees it may be. Mostly, they act as consumer reports, what you should buy if you're in the market now, not what will last.

The one reason I like this review is this: Ten years from now, this 8/10 will probably make a lot more sense.


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: October 22, 2009 (03:28 PM)
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Since I am posting on 10-minute breaks, I wanted to add a couple notes to Lewis that I didn't have time to type out before....

I too respect Tom Chick, and don't quite understand the internet hate towards him. This isn't the first time I've seen him questioned (and I've certainly seen him attacked), but his reviews generally sounded fair and well-reasoned to me. As an aside, I had not read his review (or any review) of Uncharted 2 before writing mine. For new games, I intentionally try to avoid them. But when you posted your link, I must admit that I was happy to be compared to him.

Also, I had forgotten the term for the Uncanny Valley, but I was always fascinated by that. Up to a point, human replication becomes more and more admirable... but then suddenly, it starts to turn creepy. It's an interesting phenomenon, and I was definitely thinking that while playing Uncharted 2. But since I forgot the term, I had to actually find a different way to describe what I was feeling/seeing (which was probably better, since it resulted in a more concrete description).

Even though the character's appearance was on the wrong side of the valley, the behavior and motion was quite remarkable. Was the motion human, or was it far enough from human that I didn't notice its flaws? An interesting question to ponder.

To everyone else, thanks for a thoughtful discussion. I think I've reached my typing limit, but I've read every word posted here.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: October 22, 2009 (04:01 PM)
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Drella raises some interesting points, so I'm going to acknowledge that and then jump off wildly in my own new direction...

When I review a game, I try to strip away some of the hype that comes from the game being a new and "exciting" release, but there's only so far I can go in that and I don't go insane trying to figure out what's genuine greatness and what's me feeling the rush from playing the newest and most exciting game. After all, that feeling is going to be shared by consumers and I owe more to consumers than I do the video game historians of the hypothetical future.

The more interesting question is why gamers get so angry when a critic expresses an opinion that a popular game isn't that great.

The answer as I see it is that the person who gets angry is angry because the critic is putting the game's victory at risk. To me, the mentality is a lot like it is with fans of a given sports team. Uncharted 2 is like a terrific quarterback. If enough injuries (bad reviews) happen, he's taken out of the game and that puts his team at a risk of losing the game (the console war). Every new console exclusive that comes is a chance for that team/console to lose.

So the PlayStation 3 fans fear that if Uncharted 2 doesn't score at least as high as Gears of War or Halo 3, Microsoft has just scored a point. Likewise, the typical Microsoft fan seems more repusled by the notion of a PS3 exclusive being worthwhile than he is the notion of his mother dying in a fiery blaze. It works both ways and it's ridiculous.

Why don't we see this kind of fandom from movie lovers? You don't see a Disney fan screaming every time a Disney film is panned, at least not to the same extent. You don't see as many shouts of "fanboy!" when critics don't enjoy a Dreamworks picture. The accusations leveled against critics in those cases are entirely different, with a more natural focus on just the one thing: was this a good movie or a bad one?

Game reviews carry a lot of baggage, baggage that critics wish weren't there. Baggage that is there precisely because the people reading the reviews are so often unwilling to stop living in a console war zone.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: SuckingDick
Posted: October 22, 2009 (04:10 PM)
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I just registered to pay homage to this site. I respect this site just as much i respected Electronic Gaming Monthly. I may disagree with some reviews (Mass Effect got 10 out of 10, yeah , right.) , but i've noticed this site has one of the most thorough retrogaming reviews, PC-wise and console-wise, which somewhat legitimizes your passion in gaming.

Although i'd rather Marc Golding or Gary Hartley review Uncharted 2 because they seem to be the shooter afficionados of this site.On the other hand Zigfried reviewed God Of War and Ninja Gaiden Black, so he must have some authority in action adventure genre.

BTW, i don't believe video games are art, so we may as well be on the same boat here. And i prefer Frasier over Seinfeld.

And Persona 4 shits all over Deus Ex, because Deus Ex is a constant stream of pig diarrhea.So Suskie, if you think you are playing JRPG just to reassure that PC RPG are miles ahead of console RPG and to look down upon it, PErsona 4 is going to change your mind. Ditch Lost Oddysey, or Last Remnant or whatever garbage this current gen has to offer , and play Persona 4.PErsona 4 has surpassed Deus Ex on every level conceivable.

Persona 4 is the best game of this decade.



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Author: Lewis
Posted: October 22, 2009 (05:11 PM)
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A true fact: Deus Ex is the only game I would, without any hesitation, award a 10 out of 10.

To address some other points:

Jason, I think the sports team analogy works well, but for another reason. The console wars will continue to rage, but I think that's a supplementary issue. The main one is a sense of identity and belonging. For the record, I don't think our new friend MoreHonestGamer fits into that category, and unlike Radicaldreamer would happily sit with him and have a beer and a chat about games. He seems to know what he's talking about in terms of games themselves, and while I don't agree with many of his views on game criticism, it would make for an interesting discussion.

The problem is this. Many players adopt certain games as a part of their own identity, long before release. Uncharted 2 was one of these. Popular AAA sequels often fit into this category, as the original will have built up a passionate fanbase off the back of its quality. When Official Playstation Mag France then turns up with - quite frankly - the most hideous offence to games journalism and the biggest disservice to its readership by awarding a nonexistant, more-than-perfect mark, that's the confirmation that these fans have been waiting for. The game they've been eagerly anticipating for ages, the one they've been praying will be outstanding, is that good.

And they start telling everyone. It's great! OPSMF said so! We all need to buy it and gush about it and spew awesomes! And it becomes part of a personal identity, that you read that review, and you're telling people about it, and you've pre-ordered the special edition. And then all these other reviews emerge that agree with you! It's brilliant! Everyone's part of this little group that appreciates and understands the exemplary quality of the game.

And somewhere along the line, this sensibility gets offended by someone eloquently disagreeing with the expected view. By this point, the game has become so intrinsically tied with its player base that any harsh words are interpreted, whether consciously or otherwise, as personal attacks. You said my baby was ugly, y'know?

It doesn't happen in films because film is more widespread in term of its audience. That audience is older, for the most part. And the medium is more mature. Gaming is wonderful, but in terms of delivering intense personal connection, I'd say the gaming hype machine is more effective than actual games themselves. Compared to film, games flail widely in that respect. Whether they should try to compare (and my absolute favourites do) is another discussion entirely.


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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: October 22, 2009 (05:31 PM)
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When I first played the Deus Ex demo, I proudly declared it the best game of all time. I didn't care about the hilariously bad animation, the crappy gunplay, or the basically nonexistent AI.

I would probably still give it a 9 today, and I have very fond memories of the voice acting.


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Author: SuckingDick
Posted: October 22, 2009 (05:46 PM)
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You don't really believe that because a game offers you multiple ways to solve a stage , it necessarily has to be the best game of all time, don't you ?

By that standard , all sports games would have to be given a ten, because you have the freedom to develop your own style and problem solving methode.

Persona 4's battle system is better than anything Deus Ex has to offer.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: October 22, 2009 (05:55 PM)
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You don't really believe that because a game offers you multiple ways to solve a stage, it necessarily has to be the best game of all time, don't you?

No, I don't. Which is why I never, ever said this.


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Author: SuckingDick
Posted: October 22, 2009 (06:00 PM)
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Well, if it's not because of freedom , what separates Deus Ex from being a complete feces ?


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: October 22, 2009 (06:12 PM)
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Okay, so I bought this game and it's really cool but,... I'm stuck at the part with the gorilla that throws turtle shells at you. I don't know how to counter his attacks. Can anyone here give me advice? The female sidekick is useless; all she does is stand there while dinosaurs spit bombs at her. Fucking-A!


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Author: MoreHonestGamer
Posted: October 22, 2009 (06:01 PM)
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I think it's ironic and rather disheartening that the two people most defending or championing Zig's review have not even played Uncharted 2 themselves. I realise this discussion has so far been relatively well mannered and actually quite fruitful, I however simply have to admit that I find these new revelations rather laughable.

How can you possibly defend a review for a game, or film (or whatever medium) if you haven't even played that game, or seen that film yourself? The implied notion that someone is perhaps more adequate to debate on a review of a game they themselves have not played because they would be more "neutral" is just idiocy. If anything, it's the exact opposite, arguing or defending a critique of something you yourself have never played shows a level of jaded bias in itself. What is it compelling that person to defend something they have never experienced themselves? A friendship (as far as forums go) with Zig? The forum? It's writers? The negative elements of the review? One can only guess, but the fact of the matter is, you simply cannot competently or credibly defend, or criticise a critique of something you yourself haven't played. The best you can do is analyse the language or style of the written work itself.

I would recommend that before any further debates about the review, or Uncharted 2 as a game, it's accomplishments, failings, technical merits, innovations etc are discussed, the people debating actually PLAY the game. Otherwise any debate is nearly pointless.

I cannot help but sit here and feel a sense of perplexity knowing that the two people I've spent the most time debating the review with, have not even played the game. Unreal.


--- Avid honest gaming fan ---


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: October 22, 2009 (06:45 PM)
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MoreHonestGamer:

While I agree to some extent that not playing the game beforehand reduces a person's credibility to talk about the game itself, I disagree in that not playing the game itself doesn't mean you can't talk about a review.

Everyone on this site is an experienced writer who has written reviews for years, so it is perfectly reasonable that they should be able to read another's review and level any criticism or praise within a well-reasoned manner. To effectively analyze a review, one needs to examine the content and style of the review in order to determine whether it is a good review or not. Whether they have played the game or not doesn't matter at all.

Further, your argument makes absolutely no sense in at least one regard. You're basically suggesting that the average person who reads a review to find out whether the game in question will appeal to them cannot make any judgment on the review itself because they have never played the game in question! This is highly paradoxical because reviews are meant to appeal to the consumers looking to spend their money in the wisest fashion imaginable. I believe Zig's review does a fantastic job outlining everything a gamer needs to know about the game before making the purchase. Like him, I would like to know about any flaws in the game rather than discovering them on my own and then blaming the review for not being complete enough. That sort of censorship of negative information is a travesty.

Also, I think I can legitimately say that since this is the only argument you can level against the people discussing this topic, you are just grasping at straws now looking for any reason to find fault in the defenders' opinions when in fact they are so well-argued that you can no longer come up with a more legitimate critique.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: October 22, 2009 (06:52 PM)
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It's quite simple. I am defending Zig's review less than I am attacking you for not debating and instead being a fanboy splitting hairs over semantics and claiming that majority opinion is the objective truth. To the extent that I am defending Zig's review, it is based on the manner in which it is written, and in this respect I seem to have more competence and credibility than you.

You claim he had a pre-conceived notion about Uncharted 2 when that is not evident from the writing. You make the even more ridiculous claim that he uses "masked" positives intertwined with negatives to hide his "ulterior motive," something which you absolutely do not know for sure and is most likely colored by a bias for wanting there to be an ulterior motive. You were truly stretching to find examples of this because some of them didn't even apply to this formula. Putting positives and negatives in the same paragraph or sentence is a valid form of writing. You pull statistics and evidence out of the nether void, and your arguments are weak at best and nonexistent at worst. Taking issue with his stance on the game's visuals and supporting it only with "everyone thinks they're the best," saying that you laughed, and a bunch of screenshots, shows bias on a much higher level, since it makes it seem as if you really believe Uncharted 2's having the best visuals to be the objective truth.

I cannot help but sit here in perplexity as you argue at much length and at some level of sophistication, but ultimately have little more to say than "Zig's wrong and I'm right because everyone agrees with me." In this respect, I find you disheartening. In short, I am "debating" because of your anti-critical mindset and strict conformist ideology.


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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: October 22, 2009 (07:27 PM)
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After finally reading all this thread, I could type for three hours about how I feel about all the stuff being said, but there'd likely be very little original content after all the responses and conversation that's happened. So, two AND ONLY TWO points:

1. Without having played this game myself, I'd still give Zig's review credit due to my personal opinion of his writing. He's one of the guys who's been around this place longer than I have, going back to the GF days where he was among the top names when I first started. My support of his review stems solely from the simple truth that he's proven to be a top-notch writer who has a reputation for writing among the best on this site. Not overly-harsh ones designed to stir the pot. He's one of the main people on this site when I look at writers who'd I'd consider a reliable person as far as coming up with excellent, legitimate reviews.

2. On the other hand, I have trouble with your credibility. First, as RD essentially said, you operate under the assumption that if "x" number of people love a game, anyone who doesn't love it to that degree is automatically wrong. Second, a number of your examples of him blunting praise with related negatives seems to be grasping for straws. Third, going by your logic that people who haven't played this game aren't capable of giving a valid opinion on a review of said game, wouldn't that mean that someone who isn't a professional (or semi-professional, since for us staff/freelancer people, we only get paid with the occasional comped game to review) reviewer NOT be allowed to criticize the intentions of someone who is? Unless you're at least a semi-pro reviewer, what credibility do you have in questioning his integrity as a reviewer? As far as this goes, you and Zig are peers in that you both have familiarity with this game. Many of us others commenting on this thread are peers with Zig because we've written with him on this site and/or GFaqs for many years. You know more about this game than we do, but we know more about Zig's credibility as a reviewer than you do.

On a different topic brought up here, the whole thing about how the more realistic characters look, the more they get criticized due to the minor imperfections really interested me because I've noticed that I see the imperfections more when it's a great-looking game (I'm thinking the cinema in RE 4-5, FF XII, Lost Odyssey for particular examples). Sometimes, their faces are so smooth they look like vasoline was spread all over a human face; and when they talk/emote, the motion of their mouth over the teeth just looks bizarre and unnatural so often.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle


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