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Forums > Submission Feedback > Lewis's Resident Evil review

This thread is in response to a review for Resident Evil on the GameCube. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: January 23, 2009 (11:41 AM)
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This has been an interesting discussion. I can see where the objective/subjective stuff comes in, as you did mention early in your review stuff about how traditional survival horror is rubbish, but you did back up your points well, I thought. But a line like that isn't going to help your case, as I'd guess that many people who don't feel like that about traditional survival horror games for whatever reasons would use it to detract from your points. Like, for example, I'm not a fan of fighting games. If I reviewed one, I could make the greatest case of all time as to why said game isn't good. But if I had a line saying that I don't like this kind of game or something to that effect, that will do nothing but kill my credibility within my target audience. You know, the, "He said he doesn't like this kind of game.....and what do you know, he doesn't like this particular game.....*close window*," syndrome.

Now, when it goes beyond simple genres, that's when I take issue with the whole "objectivity/subjecivity" thing. There are genres I don't like to play for whatever reasons. Ergo, I don't play them and don't review games in them. But the concept that I shouldn't necessarily review a game/series I dislike (regardless of whether it be a poor game in a huge series like Final Fantasy or oft-ridiculed drek like Hydlide) in a greater genre I do like is something I'd strongly disagree with. Obviously, regardless of how popular or unpopular the game is, the onus would be on me to present a good case as to how it's bad and/or didn't meet my expectations. Overall, I thought you did a solid job of that, although as I said before, the traditional survivor horror is rubbish line definitely hurts in trying to convince a person that your stance is "right", as it can be read as simply that you're biased against this sort of game.....and when a reader initially gets that impression, no amount of great arguing of points is likely to change their mind on that.

As for the "official word" of the site, that's part of the beauty of having multiple staff members....there can be multiple "official words". It doesn't take much effort to find games on this site where different staff people have dramatically different opinions on games. Look at Super Castlevania IV, where Masters gave it a 10 and Zig gave it a 5. And I could bring up Chrono Cross's diverse array of staff scores, but that might divert this discussion in a new direction.... So, my challenge to a staff member who feels Lewis' review isn't a good representation of the game for an "official voice" would be to pen your own review with the score you see fit to give us two diverse "official voices".


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


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Author: Masters (Mod)
Posted: January 23, 2009 (12:38 PM)
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I forgot about that, Rob. Man, Zig has bad taste. :\


I don't have to prove I'm refined - that's what makes me refined!


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Author: Halon
Posted: January 23, 2009 (12:40 PM)
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Haha Suskie's last paragraph of his first post is spot on. Lewis often clashes with people for praising every single game and he finally writes a bash review and this happens. Poor guy can't win here.


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


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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: January 23, 2009 (03:21 PM)
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Does HG have an "official word"?

Not so long as I draw breath!

I'm not going to go the way of the mega-paragrapgh. I'm only going to say that, while I disagree with some of what Lew said, it's a stellar review and some of the claims being leveled at it are laughable.

I'm also in full agreement with Suskie. Look the the skies for the riders of doom!


For us. For them. For you.


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Author: dagoss
Posted: January 23, 2009 (03:18 PM)
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I love this 'review'.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm on Lewis's team in the Challange. I have never understood the persistence on this site in the belief that a review's primary functions are to inform and entertain in a capitalistic sense (e.g. should I buy this? Is it fun?). Such an attitude really makes no sense, especially given that the primary audience for this site is its own users (i.e. people that aren't reading it to be swayed into a purchase) and the fact that many of the reviews posted here are on dead systems. Here Lewis engages the "is it good" question on an intellectual level as though games should be held to the same artistic standards as films or books, and when he does so, exposes the game for the cheap, illconceived thing that it is. I applaud this review; I wish I had written it.


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: January 23, 2009 (05:09 PM)
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Well, I'm tired of talking and my points don't seem to be contributing much anyway, so I'm just going to say a few more things:

I also completely agree with Suskie, and OD, to some extent, especially his point about the site's "official word".

I also somewhat agree with dagoss, but I think we need to combine the two elements. HG, from what I know, is ideally supposed to appeal to a wider audience, but because we're so small, we mostly attract others like ourselves (at least those who are active). However, I strongly dislike the idea of writing something I disagree with just because Zelda_Fan_123 can't bear a single negative word against Wind Waker.

I truly don't believe we should not write about something just because someone else will disagree with it. If you think about it, somebody somewhere is going to disagree with anything at one point or another, so there's no point in trying to make everyone happy. And attempting so would just result in boring material because, well, to create an unbiased piece of literature requires extremely boring, dry, super-analytical and unemotional writing. Nothing wrong with the analytical, but combined with everything else, could just read like an encyclopedia article. But that doesn't mean we should all just say things willy-nilly without any defense or reasonable argument. A review isn't "lol dis gaem sux - dun bai it!" A review is something that tells us why it sucks with as much relevant detail as possible.

In that regard, it's how we present our distaste that counts, and I agree that if you make sweeping generalizations based on your own self-bias, then that could cause a problem (i.e. credibility issues). However, as mentioned before, (by OD and Suskie, I believe, if not myself) I do not see that as much of a problem in Lewis' review.

Anyway, that went far longer than expected. Now let's all discuss in dagoss' vein what a review on this site should be because that's significantly less provocative, I think.

Yay for big, gay happy families!


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: hmd
Posted: January 23, 2009 (06:15 PM)
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PROTIP: There's a difference between, "hmm I kind of don't like this game" versus the dozens of "this game is for gay queer nintendo fans who enjoy the taste of transexual penis p.s: fag" that are probably still hanging around this sites' archives.

As long as Lewis doesn't start posting shit like that, I think we'll be alright!


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Author: bloomer
Posted: January 23, 2009 (10:50 PM)
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I didn't imagine the whole site would be here to talk about this review. With my left hand typing, my biggest criticisim is this. I feel this is the kind of dismissive review in which 80% of it is spent describing a game system the reviewer doesn't like, not= the particular game itself. You even get a timekeeping alert to the fact in this review at the 'Sigh. Calm. Evaluate.' line, which falls at the 80% mark. Was this much of a review of RE rebirth? I don't think so. Was it a good personal discourse about your hatred of older mode of survival horror? Yes. As such, is this really the appropriate venue for it? I'm not sure. It feels more like blog fodder.

To just my plain old disagreements. Re: the cameras. On a personal note, that's what I miss the most, that nobody may make games like this again. I don't want everything like this, but it's a very artful mode I like a lot, which reached its peak in RE rebirth and RE0. The camera angles display great artifice and design and beauty, and also a tolerance for stillness. And they make some extremely 'horror film genre' choices, of a kind that utilitarian 3d cameras very rarely bother with because they're mostly just, functional and (would-be) transparent slaves. They're hardly about artifice at all. I like when someone fights the transparency of the delivery system occasionally. The RE games mess with it a lot and were made by people deeply interested in horror. Glances at screenshots from RE games will not be confused with generic angled looking screenshots from newer all 3d games.

RE rebirth is of course a remake as well, so RE Zero is really the first (and last, for now) game where nobody actually 'had' to use static camera angles, but they chose to. It's the major aesthetic and design choice for the game.

The controls - the angles demand different controls. Some people and me find them transparent (deep nerd analysis has suggested the 'hold button to move forward' model you can get in the cube RE games is actually the height of sophistication with this camera style - I haven't tried it a ton, too used to the other ways by this time). Others hate it. I don't blame anyone who hates it, except when they go for the 'the controls were deliberately crippling to make it scarier.' angle as I don't buy it. Also, people who say this were rarely scared?!

Away from the review, I resist the move in most fields of technical advancement saying we should do the thing the new way just because we can. EG - no more 4 track chiptunes because we can record unlimited audio tracks. No more holding shots in action films because in Bourne someone used really fast edits. And no more static camera angle videogames just because we can move the camera around now. If you're me, the worst gaming one has been 'no more text adventure games because we made point and click', but hordes of point and clickers will disagree.

Finally, a criticism:

'Hats off to Capcom for re-recording the inexcusably bad voice work'

The implied alternative being you thought they might just re-use the recordings from before? :)


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Author: bloomer
Posted: January 23, 2009 (11:47 PM)
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for those as stimulated by the discussion as was said, have a look here:

http://dreamdawn.com/sh/

Nearly all the articles on the front page should interest you, and talk about s/h controls, the change in the genre post RE4, the camera, etc. etc

Chris has a veeeery still hand in his writing delivery, but he is very good.


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: January 24, 2009 (12:07 AM)
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I feel this is the kind of dismissive review in which 80% of it is spent describing a game system the reviewer doesn't like, not= the particular game itself.

That's the thing, though... by critiizing the game system (camera, controls, whatever), he's basically implying it belongs to this game as well.

That's probably not a very strong argument, but I'm tired of arguing anyway.


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: Suskie
Posted: January 24, 2009 (12:59 AM)
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I'm sure Lewis wrote this review knowing that plenty of people would disagree with him, and that's perfectly fine. Where I start getting ticked is when those same people start questioning the validity of his review and Lewis's authority in penning it.

If my enormous post didn't make my point clear, here it is bluntly: The objectivity argument can work to a certain degree, but push it too hard, and suddenly any game can be excused of any flaw on the grounds that the reviewer didn't fit into the target audience.


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


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 24, 2009 (01:55 AM)
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Much more interesting a topic than whether or not Lewis' review is good or not is the discussion about objectivity in a review. Let's have more of that.


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


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Author: bloomer
Posted: January 24, 2009 (04:00 AM)
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This big topic didn't develop for nothing. Many people felt the review was somehow unreasonable or we wouldn't all be here.

I don't question Lewis' authority to review anything (though I don't know if you're referring to what i wrote, zipp.). I question choices he made here in this review, and yeah, I have thus questioned this review's validity.

We all draw what we probably don't realise are tons of complicated lines in the sand about our own reviewing behaviours - I would do this, I wouldn't do that - and we stretch them around to suit our taste and circumstance. And when others cross them, we come out and say so, especially if we're interested in the game in question.

I could summarise this review unkindly into, 'Resident Evil sucks because I hate this genre, for these reasons.' It's a kind of misdirective approach I don't like in what we call reviewing, where any genre is concerned. I hate point and clickers but I still address particularly what is in front of me if I try one, and don't rely on my criticisms of an entire mode as being a review of that game. This review could probably get to that way with rewriting, but that's where it'd go if we subscribed to my lines in the sand.

Re: objectivity in general. if you find yourself thinking about what you're doing, you're probably trying to write with a degree of objectivity. Even what that objectivity is changes with everyone, but it has some tangible quality for an individial that, if they're any good as a critic, they are conscious of and somehow aspire to deal with. I think if you don't aspire to deal with it or don't think about it, you're not a critic. I concentrate on the broad notion of a sense of it because each person will define its edges differenetly if asked, giving the illusion of no agreement. But actually there's a big fat overlap that everyone here with some reviewing chops is aware of and probably trying to serve.

Comparing it to the other forum topic, I think a sense of objectivity is like a sense of how to score a game. Very hard to articulate if you're pressed on it, yet you see everyone's actually thinking about it a lot in practice, which is good. And if you lapse on that big overlap area, people tend to notice.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: January 24, 2009 (06:35 AM)
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"I could summarise this review unkindly into, 'Resident Evil sucks because I hate this genre, for these reasons.' It's a kind of misdirective approach I don't like in what we call reviewing, where any genre is concerned. I hate point and clickers but I still address particularly what is in front of me if I try one, and don't rely on my criticisms of an entire mode as being a review of that game. This review could probably get to that way with rewriting, but that's where it'd go if we subscribed to my lines in the sand."

How many times? I don't. I hate its former reliance on outdated mechanics that contribute little to the genre other than to render it practically unplayable for anyone who isn't so into the games that they begin to overlook it. My accusation of the 'traditional survival horror genre' as being "rubbish" should have been pointed specifically to its mechanics, not to the genre as a whole. That was an oversight, granted.

Conversely to you, I love the point-and-click adventure genre, but actually loath the majority of its output. It's a more specific occurence of the same thing I think about survival horror - ie. done well, it's fabulous, but it mainly isn't. Point-and-clicks for far too long relied on obtuse, arbitrary puzzles with little to no guidance. Fans of Myst - and, inexplicably, there were tonnes - probably liked this approach, and as such won't mind it in its various sequels. But critically, across the board, it's a series that's pretty much detested.

Does this mean the entirety of the enthusiast press wrote inappropriate reviews, because they weren't pandering exclusively to the views of the series' fans?

My thought on 'objective reviewing' is that it serves absolutely no purpose to anyone. By trying to account for any experience a gamer may have with a product, you're A) failing to engage with it on any meaningful level, and B) likely to provide a report on an experience that, in fact, no-one will have.

Read this review of the Rhodan game. UK journo Richard Cobbet picked up on this as an example of "a reviewer who's clearly not enjoying the game at all, but is absolutely terrified it might just be them." Observe the lack of any detail whatsoever, speaking in sweeping generalisations, and a truckload of hedging. It also focuses more on a description of the game's content than an analysis of its quality. In fact, the tone is vaguely positive, but suggests absolutely no enthusiasm whatsoever on the part of the reviewer, so I end up simply not believing him when he says it's a good game.

(And, y'know, because I've suffered through the game as well.)

This is what happens when you try to be totally objective in a review. Ultimately, you're going to end up praising it and criticising it in equal measures, and you aren't going to talk about whether you actually enjoyed the thing, which is inherently the most important bit.

The best critics will engage with a piece of work at a personal level, analysing how it ticks and how that affected them. But videogames journalism is still in its relative infancy. It's why reviews of films and music tend to vary wildly across publications, while videogame reviews tend to nestle quite sweetly in ambivalent agreement.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: January 24, 2009 (04:44 PM)
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Oh, and by the way.

I mentioned the games journos' Symposium email group on another thread, but it's definitely worth having a read through when it comes to this sort of discussion. It's primarily about scores, but there's a lot of 'subjective vs objective' talk as well. Thoroughly interesting to see what the pros have to say on the matter.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/12/18/symposium-part-one-review-scores/


Oh - the site's down at the moment. Hopefully will be operational soon.


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Author: bloomer
Posted: January 24, 2009 (07:55 PM)
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'My thought on 'objective reviewing' is that it serves absolutely no purpose to anyone.'

Then you have gone too narrow in your definition of objectivity. This review you cite is just a lame-o consumer guide, not a poster boy for objectivity, except in some super calcified extreme manifestation. The guy did not bring his own subjectivity and was clearly wimping around for reasons that somewhere are related to money and company relationships, maybe even his fear of unemployment, not because he personally subscribed to a theory of pure objectivity. This does not mean you don't bring objectivity to your own reviews every time.

You already exercised a ton of objectivity as soon as you compared all those games, genres, etc in your own review. It's why we give creedence to your opinion as a reviewer, for playing a ton of games and demonstrating you know where things have stood in the past and where they do stand, where they could in your opinion. If you either never played any other games, or acted in each new review as if you never did, as if they just stuck this in front of you now and 'here's my opinion on this thing in isolation', then we wouldn't give you any cred.

When you raised the spectre of a pile of survival horror games, you were demonstrating objectivity. It's not like there are these two poles 1000 miles apart from each other. We bring our subjectivity, modulated by objectivity, to each review. Everyone has the former, but it's some engagement with the latter that makes a critic, and actually, in demonstrating your sense of the latter is how you can get away in turn with being aggressively subjective and having people go with you. They mentally grant you the authority to do it.

You build objectivity first by playing games, remembering your experiences and bringing them to bear on your later actions, and showing people you're doing this when you communicate with them. They can be made to feel 'Oh this guy clearly guy knows his stuff (and is aware of standards.)' and then they heed what you say. And standards are a manifestation of objectivity.

If this all sounds too obvious, it's probably why people find it hard to articulate. Most frequent reviewers on this site have developed a high level skillset in most of the above already, which is almost second nature to them.


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Author: threetimes
Posted: January 24, 2009 (08:19 PM)
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Quote: I have no methodology for choosing a review score. I certainly don’t think about it much. Your gut feeling (after either beating the game or the game beating you) is more accurate than whatever you might come up with after careful consideration."

I realise I tend to go either high or very low, and mostly only review games I enjoyed. I don't aim to be objective at all. It's a subjective experience. But then, I haven't reviewed many games.

What clicked for me was reading something Honestgamer wrote somewhere. Judge a game by what it intends to accomplish, or words to that effect. So if it intends to be scary, it should scare me. If it intends to be comical and light hearted, then it should make me chuckle. That kind of thing. If RE doesn't accomplish what it sets out to do, then that's fair enough.


Don't panic!


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Author: Suskie
Posted: January 24, 2009 (11:21 PM)
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If we're supposed to judge games by what they mean to accomplish, then I'm wondering why Killer7 didn't get perfect scores across the board. Just because developers have achieved what they set out to do doesn't mean that everyone will agree with said goals. And who's to say what any game means to accomplish, anyway? From what I've heard, the guys who made Too Human think their game is pretty awesome.

I judge games by how much I enjoy them. That seems reasonable enough to me.


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


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 24, 2009 (11:46 PM)
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I'm glad you're posting again, Suskie. As usual, your posts are right on target.


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


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Author: Halon
Posted: January 25, 2009 (01:17 PM)
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This reminds me of that article on Segabastard a while back about the Twisted Metal/God of War creator (can't remember his name ATM) crying over his car mini-game scoring in the 6-range on Gamespot because he didn't set out to make a 10/10 game so it shouldn't be judged that way. He set out to make a mediocre game and since it is a mediocre game it should receive a 10!

It's a lame argument.

EDIT: Who keeps on changing my avatar? Even Heavy is way better than this.


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


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Author: WilltheGreat
Posted: January 25, 2009 (01:25 PM)
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Posting in a thread with Suskie.

(<3)


"Either, sir, you're an ass or you're masquerading as one."
- Nero Wolfe


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: January 25, 2009 (01:23 PM)
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I don't remember the article, but you're probably thinking of the very vocal David Jaffe. If he made a mini-game collection that was worth 10/10 (such an occurrence is not impossible) and then a bunch of action and FPS fans in the media rated it down because there wasn't enough shooting or sword slashing, then he has a point.

If Road & Track started rating down sports cars that don't have enough towing power, people would cry 'fowl' and they would be right to do so. It's the same sort of thing here. Rate a game down because it's a bad game, not because it's a good game within its respective genre and you just don't like that genre.

With that said, I rather doubt that Mr. Jaffe produced a 10/10 mini-game compilation. That's not the sort of thing a developer like him tends to stumble upon the first time out the gate. Someone critiquing his game needs to go deeper than "This game sucks because it's not God of War," though. If Jaffe makes a mini-game collection, it's not beyond reproach just because it's in a different genre, but it should be criticized according to the criteria that genre needs to meet. Critics have a responsibility to bring the right tools to the table.


"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: bluberry
Posted: January 25, 2009 (01:35 PM)
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have you been lurking for months?

good god.


Oh no, it's a Goomba!


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Author: Lewis
Posted: January 25, 2009 (02:59 PM)
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Anyone got a link to that Gamespot review?


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Author: JANUS2
Posted: January 25, 2009 (03:03 PM)
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This topic is going round in circles.

I could make similar complaints about Jason Venter's Winning Eleven 2007 review (complaining that you can't slide tackle everyone is clear evidence of a lack of understanding of the genre, in my view). But then we all have personal issues with games or genres that others see as ideal. People disagree. It happens. I really don't understand why this review is so contentious. It's only one person's opinion. If someone mistakes that as the site's official word, then that's down to their ignorance.


"fuck yeah oblivion" - Jihad


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