WQ's Year in Review - because everyone has to do it
January 10, 2011

I told myself that in 2010, I wanted to write at least ten reviews, which would have been a lot better (for me) than the seven I'd barely managed to eek out the previous year. I succeeded, writing twelve, and also managed a few other personal achievements as well. Three reviews counted for staff, and I actually managed to do considerably better than usual in a couple tourneys. Overall, not a bad year.

The summaries that follow are probably a bit too self-reflective for my tastes, but oh well.

Plants vs. Zombies - February 28
Hits: 390

Subbed this for Challange V where it did pretty poorly with triple 75s. Zipp left feedback of a mixed variety, but it sounded fairly favorable, so I guess it wasnít THAT bad. EmP was happy with it, though, so Iím not too upset over its performance. (After all, my scores in that tourney were part of the reason our team received last placeÖ) Iím not too sure how I feel about it myself. I wasnít too happy with it when I wrote it, but I think itís grown on me a little since. If Iím disappointed about anything with the review, itís that I couldnít make it as ďuniqueĒ as I had originally envisioned.

Resident Evil: Code Veronica X - May 16
Hits: 350

This review kicked off my summer review-off (so to speak) where I wrote one review about once a week or two. Thatís pretty good considering Iíd only written one the whole year until that point, and only written 7 last year altogether. I subbed this for the horror contest thing. It did pretty lousy there. I placed second to last, something I hadnít done in a long while. I was understandably disappointed, but not really surprised since I just didnít feel great about it. The only outside feedback I got was from Zipp, who was one of the judges anyway. Despite seeming to favor it there, he still only gave it a 78, which kind of surprised me when I saw it. Basically a 78 to me is something like ďitís not bad but itís not good eitherĒ. Well, maybe a little better than that, but not by much. Anyway, because of the almost non-existent feedback, Iím basically left with the judgesí opinion and my own feelings about it.

It was a fun game, though, so Iím glad I got to play it.

God of War II - May 24
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I love the God of War series, so I felt like reviewing this. After my first GoW review did so well in Challange IV, I was hoping to duplicate that feat (or at least come close to it). Unfortunately, that didnít happen. I certainly didnít feel it was as good as my first upon finishing it, and I received absolutely no feedback whatsoever, so I assume my original thoughts on it are correct. It wasnít good enough for RotW, and I wrote it between contests, so there was really nothing in which I could get obligatory feedback for it, so Iím stuck like that. But thatís alright. I canít really be great all the time.

Legend of Dragoon - June 04
Hits: 560

Kind of wrote this on a whim after spending almost a week playing the game again. Itís one of my favorite games, so I wanted to do it great justice. Sadly, as Iím wont to do, I felt like the review fell in with the others Iíd been writing until that point and would get either unfavorable or no feedback at all. Thankfully, it did much better than I ever expected, getting more feedback than any single review ever to that point (it even beat Ys in that regard) and even won RotW. EmP said it was the best RPG review heíd read in a while. That made me very happy, and I felt much better about the review after that. Iím quite proud of it now. With all that, I really donít know why I felt so bad about it at first, but, to be fair, I didnít have any reason to feel good about any of my reviews for a long while, soÖ. I guess itís not that surprising.

Beyond Good & Evil - June 30
Hits: 275

This review broke my ďonce a weekĒ streak thanks to incredible writerís block. I eventually choked this one out for TT, though, and Iím rather glad I did. While it didnít do well at all in that contest, its outside feedback was pretty good. Ben gave it third in RotW for that week (and there wee about 17-20 reviews that week), which was cool, and EmP seemed to like it, too. I actually felt alright about this one when I finished it, too, so thatís the first I felt anything decent about a review prior to receiving feedback in a long while. I think LoDís stellar reception bumped up my confidence quite a bit because I donít think I took a huge hit there until several reviews later.

Anyway, I wanted to focus on the more unique aspects of the game, which is why I put a huge focus on the camera. I felt that was the coolest feature in the game, but because itís so unusual and the way I presented it may not have been as ďorganizedĒ (or whatever) as others would have liked, Iím not too surprised at the mixed reactions it got.

Metal Gear Solid 2 - July 08
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The second week in a row I subbed something new for TT. I think this did even worse there than BG&E, but I was quite happy with the review when I wrote it, so I tried not to let it bother me too much. (Although, it admittedly didnít stop me from writing a huge response to all the negative feedbackÖ). It didnít place in RotW (not surprising since it was Schultzís week). Outside feedback told me that True loved it, which made me feel vindicated about my confidence in it. Sash left sort of indirect feedback on it, but thatís alright, since I sort of interpreted it as favorable commentary. So Iím glad for that.

Again, I tried doing things a bit differently here, as I was tired of my usual style. I think thatís partly why I was so satisfied (relatively speaking) with it. Despite the mixed sentiments on it, I felt it was fine and really didnít want to change anything about it, especially not the stylistic approach.

Fantasy Wars - July 21
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Another long(ish) break between writingÖ Thatís OK though since this is a game that takes a VERY LONG time to play. Not that itís a bad thing. In fact, thatís partly why I enjoy it so much. It just shows how much depth goes into the strategy involved.

I wrote this one for TT where it actually won. None of my new reviews had won an individual match until that point, so that was reassuring. True and Ben seemed to like it quite a bit as well, so that was nice. EmP also said he liked it a lot, which gave me a nice ego boost, especially since heís the one who gave me the game. I remember being nervous and excited when submitting this one more than anything else, but I think I was also a little unsure of this one after how the others had been performing. I mean, despite the fact that Iíd felt fine about my earlier two, I guess negative feedback impacts me more than I would like for my future efforts. But even so, I still felt better about this one after writing it than I did about any of my reviews that Iíd written between Half Life 2 and Legend of Dragoon.

After the credit sequence after beating the final scenario, the game almost implies that there will be a second Fantasy Wars. Whether thereíll actually be one or not I canít say, but I hope there is.

Dragonester - August 05
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This is a fun (if flawed) little strategy puzzler for the PC. EmP was nice to let me download his staff copy; I was kind of running out of steam and ideas for good games to play for TT. Therefore, TT or not, I thought the least I could do was review it. I did so, though it felt a little too long for a puzzle review. Even so, I felt that everything I put in there was necessary. I also put A LOT of time into editing it because I wanted it to be as good as I could get it. I knew it wasnít my best writing, after all, so I at least wanted it to read as smoothly as possible.

Overall I was satisfied with it when I finished, and EmP felt much the same way about it as I did, so that made me feel better. It absolutely bombed in TT, but that wasnít too surprising considering the content and type of game. Though I will admit that I was unusually irked at Schultzís editing comments that week. I think it was because I felt like Iíd put a lot of effort into it already and didnít really appreciate the tirade of negativity thrown at me in that regard, especially since a lot of it was, well, editing, whichÖ is also my specialty.

Kingdom Hearts II - August 20
Hits: 231

Wrote this for TT Finals. I wasnít very satisfied with it at all upon writing it. Hell, I may have felt it was one of (if not THE) worst reviews I wrote all TT. I think this had a few main reasons behind it: 1) I felt like my first KH review far surpassed this one in quality. 2) I really wanted to do something else with it than what I did, and I feel that what I did do was basically a rehash of what I had done in my first KH review. And 3) Despite being satisfied with my Dragonester review that Iíd used the previous week, I have no doubt that all he negative feedback deflated my ego considerably.

I still donít know how to feel about this one, honestly. I mean, outside of TT it got absolutely no feedback, so Iím going to assume it was just average and not as good as my first review. Which is fine, I guess, but I really wanted it to compare with my first one.

I really do have a serious issue with writing sequels. I almost never feel like the sequel review is as good as the first one, so when I finish with it, I feel even worse about it than I normally would about writing the same quality review for another game. I think the only time I felt that the sequel review was actually better was my Half-Life 2 review. But, then again, my first Half-Life review was the third review I ever wrote, soÖ itís really not that surprising in that regard.

.hack//Infection - September 04
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During the last week of summer vacation, I decided it would be a great idea to revisit another full-length RPG. Since Iíd played this one many times before, I figured I could beat it in a week and then review it. The main purpose behind this, of course, was to compare it to the later (far superior) .hack//G.U. games on PS2. To my disappointment, but not so much my surprise, I did not enjoy the original .hack as much as I remembered. One nostalgia-themed comparison review written during the first week of classes before things got crazy was the result, and I was pleased.

Shocking but true; I was Ė and am Ė very happy with this review. For once Iíd written something the way I wanted; the time and effort I put into making it perfect (to me) only added to the feeling. Itís reception was generally good, though it failed to win RotW in a rather slow week. That was frustrating, but second place isnít so bad. In any case, I do know that from this point on, I felt considerably better about all my reviews. At the very least, I tried not to allow oh so familiar Creeping Doubt corrupt my thoughts on my work as much.

Itís a nice change.

Rambling aside, the .hack series is fantastic, especially for fans of the anime. Itís true that he original four volumes arenít as good as the later ones, but theyíre still worth a look if youíre into that sort of thing, like I am. And, well, Infection is just the first of the original four. They do get better Ė as they should Ė as they go along.

Puzzle Bots - September 18
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I took Puzzle Bots from EmP as my second Ďunofficialí freelance game in my history of reviewing. Itís a fun, quick little puzzle game that has a wonderful sense of humor. As such, it was quite difficult to review. I think I wound up scrapping the first draft altogether in favor of something a bit more palatable. OrÖ maybe I just heavily edited the first draft. Either way, power edits were made, and the review was made all the better for it. Which is convenient because I didnít have anything better for MOTO, which was going on at that time. I believe I had started Eschalon with intentions of using it in MOTO, but that game proved to be too involving for a contest deadline that was just around the corner.

In any case, Puzzle Bots did alright in that contest. Which is fine because it probably did a lot better than anticipated for a review of that sort. Puzzle games tend not to do well in contests, after all.

Eschalon: Book II - November 04
Hits: 1430

The last review I wrote of 2010 and yet another freelance assignment. The game turned out to be incredibly involving, which is why it took practically two months to write the review. But thatís hardly a bad thing. Quite the opposite, really. Eschalon provides an incredible challenge to hardcore RPG fans as well as a plethora of ways to customize your character, which naturally alters the way you play the game. Itís definitely worth checking out if youíre interested in a unique take on the old-school dungeon crawls of old.

The review itself didnít take nearly as long to write, though I do admit I had a bit of a problem with an approach at first. Thankfully, espiga gave me a great idea for how to start it, which I used to the best of my ability, and the rest of the review wrote itself from there. As a whole, itís probably the best review of the year that Iíve written. The praise from it has been phenomenal. Itís probably influenced more people to buy that game than any other review on site of this year, and thatís fact alone fills me with great satisfaction.

I finished this review in time for Trueís ďIím giving away my bookĒ tourney where it won, though not without controversy (unlike some people, I acknowledge the controversies involving my reviews. =D). It can be argued that EmP technically won the contest, and only lost because True docked him 50 points for being English. Initially I defended EmPís right to victory because of the unfairness of the circumstances Ė a fact he often forgets when de-legitimizing my only win and flaunting his forever superiority Ė but after seeing Trueís real reason for the deduction, accepted it. Besides, the rules did state True could dock for any reason, however unjust, and, well, the selfish part of me really wanted something to gloat about, and I refuse to let any level of controversy take that away from me.

Regardless of the circumstances of that tourney, Iím very proud of that review. It almost won RotW, and perhaps should have, but thatís okay. Iím so unbelievably pleased at how many people have gone out and bought Ė or at least considered buying Ė this game because of my review that I canít even describe it. And honestly, I actually like taking pride in my work. Itís so much better than the usual mopey-dopey unconfident sentiments I have about many other reviews. Seriously. That doubting unconfident nonsense really started growing old on me. I canít imagine how sick of it other people have been.

Of course Ė this post aside Ė I fully intend to keep my humility. But I also fully intend not to take it to such self-deprecating extremes as I once had done.

If thereís one thing I can take away from everything thatís gone on surrounding this review, itís that Iíve never wanted to ďlegitimatelyĒ win a contest more in my life.

EDIT: Thanks whoever fixed the title thing for me.

Most recent blog posts from Leslie Dickson...

zippdementia zippdementia - January 10, 2011 (11:22 AM)
That was tough about True's tournament. I could see how that could be a downer. EmP is one of the "big three" though (Suskie and Zig being the other two) that, for whatever reason, have a leg up on the rest of us in terms of churning out evocative and incredible reviews. Maybe it's just their natural style. Looking over other things they've done, reviewing seems to be a mainstay (whether it's in music or film) so that could very well be it.

In any case, I like to deal with it by pouting a lot, catching them on any errors they make, and judging them in as many tournaments as I can so as to inflict stricter penalties on their reviews than on others.

I did buy Eschalon Book II (and I will never forget EmP and you offering it to me a day later for free, gah!).

In short: ya did well.
- - - January 10, 2011 (12:31 PM)
I'll be honest, I've not actually read many of your reviews except for the ones I've had to for contests or Review of the Week, which is a shame, because I generally like your stuff. I'm going to try to make more of an effort this year to read reviews from my favoured writers.

My personal fave from yours last year was the Eschalon review, and I was considering nominating it for that top five thing (thankfully, Zipp did it for me). I also really enjoyed your Beyond Good & Evil. To make your third place in that week sound better, I'll correct you and say it was 23 reviews - more impressive than the number of 17!
wolfqueen001 wolfqueen001 - January 11, 2011 (03:01 PM)
Thanks, guys.

Zipp: Haha. I know you bought the game. We only talked about your progress through it for like a month. =P Are you still playing it?

Ben: Wow. 23 is a lot more than 17, haha. Nice.
zippdementia zippdementia - January 11, 2011 (04:10 PM)
I have not been playing much of anything, sadly. Some Warcraft 3, because I promised myself years ago I would beat it.
fleinn fleinn - June 29, 2011 (10:26 AM)
"That doubting unconfident nonsense"


lol.. but I guess it's easy to feed into that when we're all wondering if this works, if that works with your own writing, and so on... And then no one really has the confidence to say: yes, this works! That part is great! Etc.

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