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Forums > Submission Feedback > Lewis's The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings review

This thread is in response to a review for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings on the Miscellaneous. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: orctowngrot
Posted: May 24, 2011 (01:24 AM)
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7, LOL. Well that's gonna need a psychological profile of the reviewer. Needs attention? Can't concentrate long? This game is more than a 7, even if you don't like, it, can't handle the controls, and couldn't be bothered with the item crafting. Suggest another 40 hours of playtesting and try your review again.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 24, 2011 (02:06 AM)
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"This game is more than a 7, even if you don't like it."

Uh.


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Author: xDeth7
Posted: May 24, 2011 (02:05 AM)
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I just registered with this website to leave feedback for the reviewer.

I'm not positive whether or not you're new to reviewing PC games, but I'll assume you're at least familiar with them because of your top 50 games list. In fact, lets dig deeper into that.

You list Vampire Bloodlines: Masquerade as #3 - a game that was well known to have been littered with bugs upon its release, so you should really understand how PC games work. Bugs, stability issues, or continuity errors are all things that should be looked past when grading a PC game. Why? Because they're easy fixes and aren't indicative of the game's real worth. The QA/Test team missed them, but they can easily be ironed out.

Further evidence against your case is the fact that you reviewed the original Witcher and gave it a higher score. It was littered with bugs on release to a degree as much as if not worse than its sequel.

Lastly, did you even research to see if these bugs were ubiquitous? I've beaten the game twice and haven't encountered but one or two graphical errors and a single continuity flaw. If yours was an isolated case (which it is) then it reads as if you let a single error (that few have encountered) ruin your entire experience.

What's really funny is that instead of saying, "Oh crap, I should've picked up my swords - my bad!", you blame the game for not stopping you. Really, all that this little fact (you not noticing you weren't carrying around swords - you know, the two HUGE things on his back that gleam and sparkly) does is helps to prove that you were just going through the motions. I mean really - how couldn't you notice that you were missing swords? That's just ridiculous.

If you want to deduct points, I understand, but citing the a single bug (to which you caused) and a few graphical hitches as a primary concern in your review and following it up with an incredibly underwhelming score is definitely the work of a nubile reviewer. Saying that it "could've been the best RPG of the current generation" without citing any other evidence besides bugs and the prologue is just inane; frankly, I'm not sure why your reviews or this site have reached my eyes because they certainly shouldn't be considered credited enough to be listed next to the likes of PC Gamer or IGN.


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Author: Nightmare
Posted: May 24, 2011 (02:27 AM)
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And he's back again...

Call me crazy, but I didn't think 7 was that bad. It's above average, so it means the game is good, but has its share of flaws. That's what I gathered from reading the review. And one's view of flaws and what deduction they should play is independent to each critic. I personally never picked up New Vegas based on the massive amount of bugs gamers had to deal with on first run. I could have easily purchased it later when they had created patches to fix said issues, but lost interest at that point. If companies are going to take the time to produce and develop a game, they should also take the time to make sure it works properly before releasing it. And if not, gamers should be made aware.

That's my opinion anyway. But then again, it's not the doctored, pre-rendered response required by say...IGN so it's probably wrong.


I believe in Fate.


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Author: xDeth7
Posted: May 24, 2011 (02:39 AM)
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A '7' isn't a bad review score - but the Witcher 2 is a great game on all counts. It's apparent - I mean, it's obvious. If you've played any of the distilled, homogenized RPG titles that have been released recently like DAII then it should be even clearer by simple comparison.

You apparently skipped over the part where I said that bugs are not ubiquitous in this game - especially not to the degree he's giving an example of. He's cherry picking a single incident.

I understand game bugs creating ambivalence towards the overall product, they can be disappointing, but letting a single bad experience contaminate and dominate a good portion of your review of a PC game at v1.0 is just silly.

As for IGN "doctoring" reviews: Witcher 2 wasn't backed by a megalith production company like Activison or EA. Really, if it gets good responses by the usually deemed "bought reviewers" then that means there's really something going on with the game.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 24, 2011 (02:57 AM)
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I'll address a few points.

The top 50 lists I do every year on my blog (one one here, subsequently on my own blog) are to be considered entirely separate from my professional capacity as a games critic. There are titles on that list I wouldn't dream of giving a high score to, because I understand that while they're personal faves, they have problems that will mean most people will get less out of them than me. If I'd have reviewed Bloodlines on release, I'd have probably given it an 8, but only because I believe that what's going on below the bugs in Bloodlines is considerably stronger than The Witcher 2.

I reviewed The Witcher and gave it an 8, yes. The Witcher came out four years ago, though, and I'd score it lower if I played it for the first time today as a new release. However, I do not think there was an enormous difference in quality between the two games: things are different, and TW2 is more ambitious, but both - in my eyes - are excellent games let down by some unfortunate design choices and a bit of glitchiness.

As for researching to see if the bugs are ubiquitous, I was pretty much in constant communication with a reviewer for another site while playing The Witcher 2, and he too found plenty of bugs, including one show-stopper that saw him having to reload an earlier save.

And yeah - I'm an idiot for missing the swords thing. I acknowledge that in the review, in fact. Nevertheless, it's a mistake the game allowed me to make which caused it to stop working. Gamers make mistakes when playing games; as a developer, your quality control process should account for this.

(For the record, my playthrough of this was far buggier than my playthrough of New Vegas. I am aware that for others it's been different, but I can only review what's in front of me.)

I enjoyed The Witcher 2 a lot. It frustrated me because I enjoyed it so much, only to be torn out of it so regularly by its problems. The world design is fantastic, the storytelling of enormous depth. If you aren't bothered by the problems I mentioned, then awesome: you'll probably like the game more than me.

As for not being credible enough to sit alongside the likes of PC Gamer, I guess it's just a good job that they disagree, and as such continue to pay me to work for them. ;-)


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Author: Nightmare
Posted: May 24, 2011 (02:53 AM)
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You apparently skipped over the part where I said that bugs are not ubiquitous in this game - especially not to the degree he's giving an example of. He's cherry picking a single incident.

Not at all, but it's a case by case basis and it ultimately depends on how bad the bug is. If I lost over 30 minutes of play because the game didn't register the situation properly I would have slammed it as well. I remember Phantasy Star II and by some miracle I beat the Army Eyes, and after was left wandering in Limbo endlessly, searching for some clue, wasting an hour until I figured out I could go no further and had to start over, walk that dam again and wasted even more time. I waited years before playing the game again, based solely on that experience and the once great RPG was tainted.

The point is, different people take to bugs in different ways. And critics give all sorts of scores for several reasons. After reading it, I thought the score was justified and I know Lewis is a very intelligent, very established reviewer and doesn't let his frustration or emotion influence him. If he gave it a 7, it deserved a 7.

I don't mean to ramble and say this with all due respect...well, at least trying to be courteous: I absolutely abhor the whole "I didn't like the score you gave a game I like so I'm going to complain" mentality. You don't like the review, fine. Hate the writer, fair enough but attacking one's credentials simply because they don't agree with you is utterly silly. It's a long standing rule here that if you don't like the review, or think the game was undeserving of the score it received write your own and disprove it. But signing up just to bash a guy for sharing his opinion--one you don't happen to agree with--is asinine in almost every way, except when you're actually the developer.

You're not, are you?


I believe in Fate.


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Author: fleinn
Posted: May 24, 2011 (05:01 AM)
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..always hate review-scores. But I agree with ^.. the review is fairly solid, it explains well why it ends up as it does.

I would have focused more on the story, and it probably wouldn't have occurred to me to go away from a city without my swords, and so on. Listening to what people actually say, rather than just hit "next", seems like a good idea :p

Also, knocking the difficulty curve, when the fighting system has been dumbed down and streamlined so much it's not really much of a challenge to control it at all.. and so that the only challenge really is /only/ in finding the right way to attack things -- that seems unbelievably out of place.

But from what was written in the review, it's difficult to not see why it's a 7 to the reviewer.

Still.. I think you're going way over the top by suggesting it's not your very personal opinion. I mean, it's not easy to pin down a few landmarks to get an impression of how this game rates to other current rpgs, or even the Witcher. So the review seems awfully isolated and dependent on a standard that we're not.. completely sure what is (even if I can guess). If I had one criticism of the review, it would have to be that.

I mean, I've played DA2 and ME2. There's writing here that would insult six-year olds. DA2 has a fighting system that's both impossibly simplistic, as well as always causing you to wait just long enough to get hurt before spamming another super-power - that's the challenge. Or else you have to go through an impossible interface that just doesn't give you the control you need to be tactical, just as the AI is too stupid for it to matter anyway - and it's simply not mentioned.

So without mentioning specifically how it is the fighting system disappoints you - it appears unbelievably unfair to knock that system. As opposed to, you know... hail it as at least being a challenge that doesn't depend on mashing buttons and spamming the super-powers endlessly.. At least on normal difficulty and up, etc.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 24, 2011 (05:58 AM)
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If it helps, I'd have given both Mass Effect 2 and the original Dragon Age 8/10 scores. Dragon Age 2 would, like The Witcher 2, have been a 7.


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Author: fleinn
Posted: May 24, 2011 (06:19 AM)
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..wasn't really the point, though. Not sure why the guy up there couldn't be specific, or if it just was a general "I think this game is better than.." thing. I'm just saying that it still looks out of place to knock the fighting system. Not sure if you do that because you.. you know.. don't see the point with it, or if you don't think it matters for the game and the role-playing.

But it's possible to argue that the fighting system, and the abilities you choose, along with how you develop your character - along with alchemy, and so on that is mentioned and referenced fairly often in the story and so on - is an important part of the game's, you know... "experience". That's at least my impression from what I've played. That it's a lot less of the "kill everything however you want until you get to the next cutscene" stuff from the first game (or from every other rpg).

So seems to me it's possible to at least mention that the game tries to create some interesting moments in the gameplay. You know, you had those in Kotor sometimes - when you froze time just as you reflected the first blaster bolt from an assassin, while figuring out the next few moves to get out, etc. The Witcher 2 has a unique spin on those situations with the critical hits and the alchemy, imo.

I mean, I don't want to knock the review, because I think it's a good one, and it is consistent. But there's that specific point that might come off wrong, specially if you compare to other "new" games. It'd be like rewarding one game for being brainless, and then knocking another for the same thing.

Because the fighting in DA2 really has no depth. It even warps your character around the map so you can execute the whacking moves more easily, and escape the character animation.

That probably ties into the other thing about "let's talk about animation" part. Also.. could be seen as unbelievably harsh. Specially since the animation in general in this game is very good. As in: advanced, without the cheap tricks we tend to see way too often when animations are paired up, or when it comes to character movement, etc..

*shrug*


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 24, 2011 (06:46 AM)
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I see what you mean a little better now.

Although for what it's worth, I really did try to convey that, for the most part, the combat system is fantastic. Having to block and parry and dodge and cast spells in amongst your rhythmic hacking and slashing is a really enthralling experience.

And with the animation, too: often it's delicate, and human, and we don't see enough of that in games.

The point I was trying to make is that all of this is worth very little if there are niggling problems that take you out of the brilliance of that moment. It's a thing I found that The Witcher 2 did a lot. Dragon Age 2's combat may have been simplified, but it at least did that simplified combat extremely well, in my opinion.

Hope that clarifies. :-)


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Author: fleinn
Posted: May 24, 2011 (07:07 AM)
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lol :) yeah. ..Or what does orctown say?


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Author: Halon
Posted: May 24, 2011 (09:30 AM)
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See? This is why I'm against scoring games. It does nothing but start fights and piss people off.

Excellent review, Lewis. This is the first review that actually takes a look at the game and mechanics instead of drooling over the graphics and storyline for 2000+ words. While the most negative review I've seen for the game, it is also the best.

p.s. if you disagree then why don't you write your own review? The more opinions the better!


IF YOU WANT MORE BEATS FOR YOUR BUCK THERE'S NO LUCK.


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Author: xDeth7
Posted: May 24, 2011 (10:36 AM)
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I was going to offer more counter-points, but since you said that the Witcher 2 is on equal level to Dragon Age II - I don't have to anymore. The two games aren't even in the same realm of one another. To draw them equally shows a serious lack of prowess, I mean, and incredible lack. I enjoyed Dragon Age II, but its absence of depth, customization, and especially the recycled areas (most importantly) all made it a poor game that was obviously rushed out the door.

For all of the people that have commented saying that Lewis' review is good, well, maybe it is. However, most critics claim the game at the 9.0-9.5 range and to me it sounds like Lewis just encountered an isolated game-stopper that ruined his experience. Occam's Razor.

Bye.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 24, 2011 (11:01 AM)
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Yes, because in my review I definitely said the only problem I had was a single bug. That's definitely what I used up 1,500 words on.

Yes, the simplest explanation is often the correct one. In this case, the simplest explanation is that I had a different opinion of the game to others, and explained exactly why in my review.


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Author: JoeTheDestroyer (Mod)
Posted: May 24, 2011 (11:47 AM)
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Dude, seriously, give it a rest. To quote a user at Destructoid:

"It's his opinion. Stop shitting your pants over it."


The only thing my milkshake brings to the yard is a subpoena.


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Author: xDeth7
Posted: May 24, 2011 (12:10 PM)
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It's apparent that hyperbole is your secondary language.

You and Jim from Destructoid should go out sometime. You can talk about how much fun it is to publish material based on subjective indifference rather than fact-founded thoughts.

As opposed to just writing, I've decided to address your concerns and some of mine as well.

Regardless, your concerns:

- Bad pacing/Chaotic difficulty (Easily fixed through patching)

I found the pacing to be somewhat chaotic as well, but once I started taking advantage of their easy-to-regulate difficulty settings, this was a self-fix.

- Littered with bugs (Easily fixed through patching.)

I encountered no game-breaking bugs and only a couple minor issues.

- Animations break fluidity (Minor annoyance.)

This was addressed on their forums. The reason animations play out through gateways is because it's loading some minor bits for the area you're transitioning to. The fact that the game is almost entirely seamless for as much as there is should be a positive note, not a negative one.

- Combat lacks fluidity (Actual opinion.)

I disagree. The combat in the game can be difficult, but with proper use of alchemy, bombs, and Signs, all fights have a different approach that leads to victory. If you're playing on Normal and aren't taking advantage of potions, crafting, upgrades, or all the other essentials, then you're doing it wrong.

- Prologue is abhorrent (Actual opinion.)

Matter of incredible opinion. I actually agree with this; the opening act was a mass of confusing links to a story with no real introduction. It came off somewhat gimmicky.


Severe issues with your review:

- "nothing especially innovative"

This is funny. It really is. The game's graphic capabilities, optimization, atmospheric presence, storytelling, and even its packaging are all innovations to an otherwise dying breed of story-driven RPG.

- "It’s a disappointment because it largely succeeds in that goal while fluffing the basics."

The basics to you, then, are a bug-free game with a strong introduction and fluid combat? Vampire Bloodlines was a bug-ridden game with a weak prologue and shoddy hybrid combat. Yet you really liked it. Strange.


I'm done arguing here. Critics don't seem to like it when their own works of criticism are subjected to that same criticism. Just as someone else said, my review of your review is my opinion, so take it or leave it. If you want to review my review of your review then feel free to review the facts because I'd be happy to review your review of my review reviewing your review, reviewer.


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: May 24, 2011 (01:03 PM)
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Ugh. There's no such thing as objectivity in a review. Reviews are based on a single person's experiences, good or bad, which ultimately forms their opinion of the game. Because one person's experience can differ widely from another - especially considering that each person considers some aspects of a game more important over others in differently proportionate amounts - these experiences shape and form the beliefs a person holds about the game. Therefore, no objectivity can exist, and any notion of "facts" is a mere charade.

Now please, Mr. Troll, write your own review or stop lambasting others' for their own individual beliefs. What you are expressing is your own opinion as well, and can equally - and has been - be lambasted in turn.


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: xDeth7
Posted: May 24, 2011 (01:10 PM)
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"What you are expressing is your own opinion as well, and can equally - and has been - be lambasted in turn."

"Just as someone else said, my review of your review is my opinion, so take it or leave it."


Thanks for skimming over my thoughts and labeling me a troll. In good fashion.


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 24, 2011 (01:10 PM)
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I don't think he's being a troll, Wolfqueen. Not really. He's expressing his distaste for the review that Lewis wrote and he's not being kind about it, but he's at least making an effort to do that rationally and that's something I can appreciate even if I like the review that Lewis wrote a lot more than he does.

I would address one of his points, however:

- "nothing especially innovative"

This is funny. It really is. The game's graphic capabilities, optimization, atmospheric presence, storytelling, and even its packaging are all innovations to an otherwise dying breed of story-driven RPG.


Remember something important: innovation is not the same as polish. The two things are quite different, actually. Let's assume that this is the prettiest game ever, with the best graphic capabilities, optimization and atmosphereic presence. I know some people feel that way about it, and I'm not ready to argue that point as I've not yet loaded the game past the title screen (though I will soon). Whatever. So the game looks pretty. Other games have looked pretty, too. It's one of those things that games sometimes try to do. Unless it accomplishes that beauty in a remarkable manner, there's no innovation there.

Likewise, the story isn't innovative. It's fragmented at the start, according to everyone who has played the game and commented in this thread. The game doesn't take some radical approach that hasn't already been attempted a long time ago. Having good storytelling at this point isn't innovation--and certainly not within the genre. It's just another case of a game doing something well, something that hundreds of other games have done before it. And finally... the packaging is innovative? I'll admit that the packaging is very nice. This isn't the first time that a game has included lovely packaging and extras, however. It's not innovative. It's just a nice feature.

Lewis noted that The Witcher 2 did nothing especially innovative. There's nothing in this thread so far that contradicts that claim. Perhaps there's content in the game that does, but no one has actually provided any examples of that. Therefore, I'm inclined to believe the person who wrote a well-supported review and not the person who took issue with the review (largely, one might suggest, because of the score).


"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: xDeth7
Posted: May 24, 2011 (01:36 PM)
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"Unless it accomplishes that beauty in a remarkable manner, there's no innovation there."

But it does. There are points in the game where I can't help but to just stop and look around at the world they've handcrafted bit by bit (as opposed to reusing setpieces). I don't do this with many games, but the ones I do it with brought some innovation to their world. Crysis did this a few years back and before that it was Half Life 2 (which had several other great things going). In fact, Crysis was generally noted as doing little other than creating a world for people to look at and enjoy and was found innovative for just that single point. So yes - I think when you add up the atmospheric foundation, pleasing aesthetics, and powerful world design, you've got something truly innovating in an otherwise lackluster area. Dragon Age II fell on its face with that mark. I mean, there hasn't really been a great atmospheric game since Oblivion or FO3, maybe.

I took a (what I considered) stunning picture a week or so ago. Can you seriously not say that the following isn't a breathtaking achievement in video gaming?

img828.imageshack.us/img828/5898/witcher2201106061737057.png

"This isn't the first time that a game has included lovely packaging and extras, however. It's not innovative. It's just a nice feature."

In a time where games come with a paper-thin manual and a disk - the Witcher 2's bulky contents can easily be described as innovative. Whether or not you think it's an important innovation could be up to you.

"Therefore, I'm inclined to believe the person who wrote a well-supported review and not the person who took issue with the review (largely, one might suggest, because of the score)."

The review is well-supported on the reviewer's home website? Shocking! You forget to mention that it dissents with the vast majority. Just because I'm the only one taking my time to disagree doesn't mean that it's well-supported simply because Lewis' fellow website-mates find it acceptable. Especially when it appears bulk of them have yet to play the game! Come on!

" . . . and I'm not ready to argue that point as I've not yet loaded the game past the title screen"


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 24, 2011 (02:03 PM)
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When I said "well-supported" I was referring not to the reception from audiences (I'm aware that his dissenting opinion is unpopular in the world at large, as dissenting opinions tend to be) but to the structure of his review and the support he provided for each of his dissenting points.

You're still mistaken on your idea of what it means to be innovative, by the way. Evolution is not innovation, period. It's evolution. Evolution can be a very good thing, and in certain situations--including the ones you referenced--can trump sloppy innovation or no innovation.

What I'm taking from your arguments here, whether you like it or not, is that to you The Witcher 2 is a satisfying experience because it does many things well that you don't feel other games within the genre do well, to the extent that you're able to easily overlook its flaws. I can appreciate, based on that argument, why you would score the game higher--at least an 8 and possibly a 9--but I also believe that the experience Lewis had with the game (and relates eloquently in his review) justifies his score of 7.

I hope you're not seriously suggesting that Lewis should play the game, have one experience and then write about a different experience that he imagines other people might have.


"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: Suskie
Posted: May 24, 2011 (02:33 PM)
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xDeth7, you obviously disagree on many levels with Lewis's review, and you're obviously passionate enough about it to put your feelings into a lot of words. So you know what I suggest? Write a review of your own. Seriously. In case you haven't noticed, user-submitted reviews are the fuel that lights the HonestGamers fire, and we heavily value a variety of opinions from a variety of voices. If you want to invalidate Lewis's review, then the best way to do that is to write up a review that's even more convincing than his.

Because believe me when I say that it's the only good that can come out of this. Lewis isn't going to suddenly alter his views on the game, the review won't be edited to accommodate the demands of some outsider who's never been to this site before, and the score certainly won't be changed, not when it's already been recorded on numerous databases across the internet. You must know that. You must realize that this conversation will amount to nothing. The only thing you've accomplished is that you've informed us all that you disagree with Lewis, and if so, then I encourage you to put the effort where it counts and write a review of your own. I'd love to see it! If not, then you're just wasting everyone's time, including your own.


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


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Author: JoeTheDestroyer (Mod)
Posted: May 24, 2011 (03:59 PM)
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Indeed. You've provided ample information here to outline the structure of your own review. It's a far better usage of one's passion.


The only thing my milkshake brings to the yard is a subpoena.


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