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Forums > Contributor Zone > R'uh R'oh, it's another ROTW! June 10th-June 16th

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Author: zippdementia
Posted: June 17, 2012 (01:20 PM)
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Zipp is back in the ROTW lineup. For the summer. But enough about me, let's get to those reviews.

No big introduction this time. I will say the week provided a good number of reviews, refreshing to see after some of the dead weeks we had this spring. I suppose with summer comes more time to game and more time to write. So let's see what y'all have been spending that time doing.

First of all, I want to do a couple special mentions.

As I become more and more busy, my gaming choices become more and more selective. Add in the fact that I'm enforcing what they call a “conservative year” financially and it takes a lot to create that Pokémon “Gotta Have em All” feeling about a game for me. Two reviews did it this week, though, and those were Pickhut's Binary Domain and EmP's Awesomenauts.

To his credit, Pickhut also got me interested in Chainsaw Lollipop this week, and Binary Domain is described with the same care given to recreating its unique visual style in words. Pickhut seems to know just what to say about a game to recreate its graphics in my mind. Nor was I disappointed: I watched a gameplay video after reading his review and it was pretty much exactly the image I'd been picturing. Binary Domain also grabbed my attention for being presented in a melancholic light as a game which won't receive its due. It's those lost gems that often make the best titles—Alundra springs to mind as one I should get back to this Summer.

Speaking of Alundra, it was EmP who convinced me to pick that one up and he nearly repeats the process with Awesomenauts. Awesomnauts isn't melancholy at all. EmP launches into the game and almost immediately goes on the defensive, forseeing a backlash from the PC gaming community along the lines of it being a watered down experience without any strategical class. EmP then goes into the part of the review that really grabs my attention: he gives some excellent examples of how strategical the game really is. And nothing is more compelling in those regards than a one-two “freeze em and deal continuous damage” combo. Made me yearn for my days of youth spent playing Magic: The Gathering. To be fair, I won't be getting Awesomenauts. After Max Payne 3, I realized I just don't have enough time to play multiplayer games for them to be truly worth a purchase. That's why this review was all the more impressive to me, because it got my interest up for a game I know I won't buy. I will be checking out Neptune's Pride, though. Assuming it's available for the Mac.

Alright, now on to the main event.

3rd place: Overdrive's OCD
No, the award isn't going to a psychological condition of our friend, Overdrive, but rather to another of his spectacular reviews. It does tie in with psychology, though, as Overdrive breaks down the psychology behind level grinding in RPGs. That break down is what really makes this review stand out for me. I have a deep interest in what goes on mentally while we game and I have often found that good games stimulate our minds in a satisfying way while bad games ignore this facet in their delivery of the product, as if they somehow hope that the sheer act of gaming will entertain us enough to keep doing it.

Overdrive highlights this dichotomy and touches on something I hadn't considered before: how in the hell does level-grinding stay exciting, when it is perhaps the most repetitive and pointless thing that can ever occur in a game? He provides a wonderfully thought out answer to the conundrum which I suggest you all go read. It's not even that long an answer: it's just very very right. Great examples from Dragon Warrior and Wizardry, too, showing us that modern gaming has A LOT to learn from the older titles.

2nd place: Joe the Destroyer's Isolated Warrior
… unless that older title is Isolated Warrior. Then you learn what not to do. Joe snuck two reviews in this week, both for games he found ultimately disappointing. Joe's won several ROTW's recently, so I felt I had to be a bit harder on him this week. Amagon was a good read, told with Joe's usual flair for this sort've thing, but Isolated Warrior was the one that looked me in the eyes and said “put me on the ROTW list, or else.” It accomplishes this with three sentences. The first comes early: “He knows he'll probably die, he knows he's wearing pink armor, and he doesn't care. That's how Max rolls.” Awesome. I love how Joe never forgets that old games include a lot of campiness and questionable covers. There is nothing more amusing to me than pointing this out, which is why I continue to watch the Angry Video Game Nerd even through all of his bad scat jokes. Joe is better. He's all the humour without the scat.

The second and third sentence go well together: “It wouldn't be so bad except that I like my shoot 'em ups with plenty of shooting and not so much jumping” and “I should never have to say that a concept as simple as jumping "takes some getting used to." I could almost argue that this review is a little too long, but I can only make that argument because Joe is such a good writer that he can do in a couple sentences what it might take me a whole review to do. He points out immediately and with gusto why jumping doesn't belong in this game, when one might believe that it is al part of the game's unique attempts at innovation. It's the sort of precise analysis I would love to see applied to some of our modern offerings, such as Final Fantasy XIII or even Deus Ex: Human Revelations, where it is easy to come away feeling underwhelmed and sometimes difficult to pinpoint why. Joe could do it. I'm sure of it.

First place: holdthephone's Diablo III
In a week where we had reviews on teenage chainsaw killers, monkeys in space helmets, and isometry done horribly wrong, holdthephone's Diablo III coverage seems almost an hopelessly straightforward choice for the winner of Review of the Week. That's exactly why I chose it. It is not easy to write a review on Diablo III that gets my interest. It was one of those games that saw so much coverage and so much discussion over such a wide range of opinions that it's hard to write anything new about it. It would be easy for holdthephone to come in, point to arguments that have already been made, and then state his opinion on which held true. Instead, he puts all of that aside and leads an incredible reasoned discussion of the game which leads with a great question: what is fun to kill in Diablo? Right away, holdthephone has gotten to the heart of the matter. He has opened the discussion for more than one game; he's talking about an entire genre of popular gaming and highlights the one thing that makes or breaks a dungeon crawl. I think developers of these kind of games should hang that as a sign in their office all throughout development: what's fun to kill in this game?

The other thing I like about this review is that it is clearly written by someone who enjoys this kind of game yet speaks with a voice that any gamer can relate to. Joe brought it up in his comments: this isn't the ramblings of a Diablo-hater... I add to that, it is also not the gushings of a Diablo-überfan. I read the IGN review right before this one and had a difficult time believing their claims of the game's greatness. They just explained the game without getting into the psychology of it. Holdthephone gets beneath the skin of Diablo III, questions whether it has the right elements to achieve greatness in its genre, and finds it lacking. He takes you through the argument step-by-step, never giving in to emotional outbursts and always providing evidence so solid that I feel, at the end, like I've played the game myself.

Thanks for saving me $60 bucks, holdthephone.

Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."

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Author: pickhut
Posted: June 17, 2012 (04:22 PM)
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Thanks for the kind words for both reviews, Zipp. Congrats, holdthephone!

I head spaceshit noises.

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Author: bbbmoney
Posted: June 17, 2012 (04:58 PM)
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Damn, it's nice to open a ROTW topic that's as nice to read as the articles it recommends. Great write up. Not because I won, of course, it just seems like you put some good effort into this =]

Overwhelmed by the feedback, by the way. A game like D3 brings a lot of complicated emotions, and I scrapped nearly two pieces before those feelings were properly organized. Last thing I wanted to sound like was a whiner, as this was the first overtly negative review I've ever written.

Learning a lot thanks to the feedback here, thanks!

Mobius 1, engage...

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Author: JoeTheDestroyer (Mod)
Posted: June 19, 2012 (12:36 AM)
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I've been meaning to reply to this for a while, and keep forgetting. I'm such a horrible person!

Thanks for the placement, zipp! Congrats as well for the much deserved win, htp!

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

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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: June 19, 2012 (11:57 AM)
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Thanks for the recognition! Wasn't sure how that one would be received, so I'm glad it went over well.

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

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Author: zippdementia
Posted: June 20, 2012 (09:00 PM)
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I was tempted to try it out, OD, once you told me it was, like, a buck to buy. But I couldn't quite bring myself to do it. I wanted to experience your pain, but I chickened out.

Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."

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