Title: Pleasure, Pain, and Ghost Stories: A Year in Review
Posted: February 13, 2010 (04:48 PM)
I wasn't going to write one of these. I wrote a fair number of reviews last year and the thought of organizing them all into a mega-review seemed ridiculous.
But then I did it anyway.
I clearly remember almost every moment of playing Valkyria Chronicles. Itís just one of those visually captivating games that leaves you with a lot of good surface impressions. Originally I had planned this review to focus more on those elements of the game, because they really are overwhelming. I ended up talking more about the things that upset me.
I think part of this has to do with the fact that during this time I had decided that, after years of watching it, I no longer liked anime (something that came about mainly because I got into film making and realized how wasteful anime scripts are). Valkyria is one of the best (worst?) examples of an anime game. Itís incredibly verbose, but mostly repeats the same sentiment over and over again. Itís also extremely over dramatic, when subtlety would serve it better.
Then, too, I was put off by the gameplay being broken. As has recently been shown in my SOTN review, Iím not a fan of games where I feel like creating challenge is up to me. I think I did a decent job of explaining exactly how Valkyria Chronicleís system is broken, though I wish Iíd explained better how the visual appeal can end up steam-rolling this dissapointment.
Still, aside from some poor grammar choices and an obvious unfamiliarity with the online posting format (the paragraphs and transitions are a little wonky here) Iím actually happy with the final product. Plus, the line about Welkin being a boob still makes me chuckle. He really is.
The first thing that gets me on this review, every time, is that I was kind of a hypocrite in my writing. I think it had only been a week before that I complained about someoneís Perfect Dark review, which only covered multiplayer. Then I go ahead and write a review for Killzone 2 that focuses pretty much only on multiplayer. I guess the difference was that I felt Perfect Dark had a pretty in-depth campaign, whereas Killzone 2ís campaign was pretty bland.
That said, I think I did a good job here defending my decision to go multiplayer. In rereading this, something thatís interesting is that I start off by stating how much I donít like online shooters and then go on to sell Killzone 2. I think the fact that the audience knows Iíve been sold on something I donít usually like does a lot for this review.
The only real issue I notice here is that my jokes fall a little flat. I was still trying, at this point, to be a humourous reviewer, which is fine if youíre good at it. Really, the best way to get people to laugh at a game is not to try to get them to laugh at you, but just to point out things that suck about the game (and maybe get a little sarcastic or irate about it in the process)
Oh, and NG4 folk hated this review for not giving the game a 10.
This is one of my favourite reviews of the year. Not because I think itís particularly well written (I actually think that the introduction goes on a little long) but for other reasons. For one, itís a game Iíve played for ages but never thought to review, so doing so felt a little like justice. Second, it was really well recieved by the Archmage community and I think maybe the only review of the game on the web. That feels cool.
Aside from that, thereís really not much to say on this one. I tried to write to my audience and I think I achieved that pretty well. The only other thing I can think to say is that you should really go play the game, especially if youíre Aschultz. Youíd really like it and itís free.
Ah, goddamit. I think this is one of the best reviews Iíve ever written, but itís missing a paragraph explaining that score of 8. Really, it just needed one brief paragraph to take everything Iíd written and explain how the co-op is so good that it turns all of that on its head. But see, at this point, I hadnít had a chance to really get a good co-op game going. And the single player sucks. Goddamn terrible Capcom AI. I hate Sheva. You CANNOT beat this game on impossible with the AI partner. Not gonna happen.
Co-op is a funny thing. It can make a bad game amazing, but itís also one of those things that is damn near impossible to review, since so much of the co-op experience relies on things outside of developer control, like having a friend to enjoy it with. The cool thing about RE5ís co-op is that it is set up so that players can really use whatever co-op strategy they want. They can clean up if they go at things with good tactics, but they can also just do what they think is best in a situation and probably come out okay (but with less ammo and herbs).
Of course, if you get some asshole stranger on your team, heíll spend all your ammo and herbs in a split second and then leave, totally fucking you over. Which, incidentally, is a perfect description of Shevaís AI. Some people will never find that perfect companion and then I'm not even sure the game is an 8.
This game took forever to come out. I think it got delayed, like, six times. And that was after Iíd written the review for it. Mytran Wars was one of those reviews that I had to redo a couple times to properly justify my ire. The result is a review that I really wanted to enter in the Team Tournament. I ultimately couldnít release it early enough for that purpose (like I said, the game kept getting delayed) but I think it wouldíve done well. Itís probably one of my cleanest reviews and set me on the whole ďget to the pointĒ path that Iím still walking.
I have to say I'm pleased that, when the game finally did arrive, most major reviewers agreed with my points about the game, especially with the pacing, which had been so bad that at first I thought my game cartridge was busted.
A side story here... I experienced a true-to-life haunting while I was playing Mytran Wars. Itís kindíve a story that has to be told in person for full effect, but suffice it to say that I was watching someoneís house and, during a shower, was confronted with the apparition of a woman that did not want me in ďherĒ house.
My Resolution version of this review was better. Both times Iíve rewritten a review for Resolution itís come out better. Makes me think I should rewrite every review completely at least once. But then thereís that whole issue of actually having a life. Still, despite my odd Christmas ramble at the start, this review was actually pretty well received by the site.
I donít think Iíve ever felt so dead inside as when I played Syberia. This was a game Iíd waited years and years to have a system capable of playing it. Seeing it butchered so badly on the DS gave me a stomache ache. I keenly remember playing it in my parentís living room and at one point just putting down the system and hanging my head in my hands until my Mom asked me what was wrong.
How could I possibly explain? It was the ensuing conversation that led to a lot of the introduction to this review. Except the christmas song. That I thought up while walking home from work.
THIS WORLD IS SHIIIIIIIIIIT! still makes me laugh, though it had to be taken out of the review for ethical reasons.
I still like reading this review. This was my ďtell a storyĒ days and I think of all those reviews, this one did the best job at it. I still laugh at the ďPhoton Blast is betterĒ line. When you can laugh at your own writing you know youíre either a good writer or terribly narcasistic... or, in my case, both.
I like the guy who came on the site and claimed that my review sucked because Sacred 2 has a good camera system. First of all, thatís not true. Second, even if it was, I love how of all the terrible things Iíd pointed out about this failed Diablo clone, he chose to defend the camera. How does that work out?
Anyway, I wrote this review pretty quickly, all things considered. My biggest hold up was actually feeling like I hadnít played enough of the game to properly judge it. With big games like this, I like to give them time to show me everything. Then I realized that Sacred 2 had shown me everything in the first five minutes and I promptly wrote the review and never looked back.
Ah, FFVII. Iím glad I finally wrote a review for this one. I think the comments made during the brevity contest were all pretty spot on and, had I been a bit more careful with the writing, I probably couldíve scored higher. Iím just glad no one got upset that I didnít cover the gameplay. Everyone seemed to understand the approach I was taking to the game and were mostly saying it could use fleshing out. Which is good, because I really do think that FFVII, after my last playthrough, is an extremely dark game and few games have captured the same detailed view of a depressed world. The gameplay is inconsequential at this point.
I think too many RPG reviews focus on the system when generally the system in RPGs arenít very interesting or innovative. The real thing I think people want to know about an RPG is ďwhatís the general ambiance of the game?Ē Ambiance and setting are what make RPGs come to life. A great battle system is a nice plus, but few are the RPGs which keep people coming back for their amazing battles.
In any case, I donít think this is a bad review by any means. I do think there could be more substance to it, without increasing the word count any.
Wow, check out my snarkiness in the feedback section! Donít know why I was such an asshole back then. Probably because I had no direction in my life and was working a shit job after breaking up my five year relationship. Itís no excuse, though, so I apologize in retrospect for my assholish words... though I actually did mean my final thanks to everyone in the topic, that wasnít sarcasm.
In any case, thank you all for slapping me upside the head about that sister line. With the tremendous powers of EmP, itís terribleness has been forever erased from the face of Honest Gamers and now the Flower review can be read in peace and tranquility with love in your heart.
Also, apparently NG4 thinks Iím gay. They obviously donít know that I just suck cock on the side.
Way of the Samurai
This was my strongest review until the summer, when my writing really picked up a notch. looking at it now, itís a little stiff in its inflection and pacing, but the overal fun of the review is still there. The tragic story of Menji is one that I think deserves to be made into a graphic novel or a webcomic.
This review was really hard to write. It was around this time that my computer stopped playing games well and finally died on them altogether. It wasnít my first time playing Undying, but I had kindíve planned on a full replay before writing. My situation forced me to work off of half a replay, as well as memory and a very fine strategy guide I happen to own for the game.
Taking that evidence and shaping it into an honest review was a challenge. Not because I couldnít remember things (I actually had a very clear memory of the game) but mostly because I couldnít quite figure out what wasnít satisfying about the experience. Thatís where the stategy guide ultimately came in. I found myself reading and rereading its extensive chapter on character history and enjoying it more than I had enjoyed the story during gameplay.
Thatís when I realized that Undyingís problem lies in its presentation of that story, because itís not really present during gameplay. Thus this reviewís ultimate angle. Other than that, I went with a kind of introduction I hadnít tried before and couldnít help myself from poking fun at Clive Barker. That guy is silly.
Tokyo Beat Down!
One of the hardest reviews of the year. Tokyo Beat Down was one of those games that took me forever to figure out the problems with, as it had a sense of humour and style that acted as distractions to keep me from hating it. I think this review ultimately captured that while also nicely debasing the game for its terrible attempt to make a beat-em-up.
I thought there was a line in here that bugged me, but on re-reading it, I canít find it. So weíll call this one good and done... or done and good, if you prefer.
Side note: when I sold this game, the guy at the counter bought it directly from me so the store wouldn't have a chance to sell it. Despite my warnings he was very excited and his exuberance warmed my heart just a little bit. Some good has come out of Tokyo Beat Down, even if that man is still an ugly teenager who works at a gamestop in the mall.
I went in recently and changed this review around a lot. The original version was just... redundant. And it mentioned Myst, which I really shouldíve played again before running around congratulating it on being... whatever it is.
I think I went a bit overboard with the voice clips in this one. But they are really awful. Kindíve like how the voice acting destroys what is actually a pretty neat game, I think the accumulation of voice clips and camp in this upsets what wasnít such a bad review. At least the intention was good.
Fat Alber- Princess
Never again will I give a positive review to an online co-op game. I was excited by Fat Princess for about a month after this review was released. Then I realized that people donít know how to play online games co-operatively. I havenít played it since. But itís tough to write reviews for online-only games. They are so dependent on the player base and on updates and patches. In this case, I still think the original idea behind Fat Princess warrants the score I gave it, but I give the player base a fucking 2, or maybe a 3 on a good day. Ah hell, letís boost it to 4... the majority of them donít have mics so at least I donít have to listen to them whine racial slurs. Of course, that could also explain why no one can get their shit together and form a proper charge.
I wrote this review at the same time that I was writing the one for Mytran Wars and they took drastically different paths to their respective finish lines. In all honesty, I wish Iíd read This review before making my own attempt. Itís a much more streamlined approach to the fact that Steambot Chronicles is what you make it and you can make it a lot of different things. My review tried to tackle that a little more technically and the result is a very slow read that doesnít do much for itself.
This is one of my favourite reviews for the year. It was really fun to review a game in a genre that I donít really like and be able to come away from it with an objective review that totally bypassed all of my biases. Writing this review, and later SOTN, taught me a lot about the differences between going into a review biased (which is bad) and having an experience during a game that others might consider biased (which is not bad, but is something you have to justify).
I do think thereís a wierd transition in the beginning of this review where we jump from a good introduction to what feels like a second introduction as I talk about the name of the game. But I think that was just a sign of my developing style early in the year. I hadnít learned yet how to remove the fat from my reviews.
Ultimate Alliance 2
Another tough review. These games that are passable but nothing special are really hard to review. A review for a great game is filled with enthusiasm. A review for a poor game is filled with humourous ire. But a game that is ďjust another gameĒ kindíve leaves the reviewer hanging in terms of emotion. Thereís a lot of tricks you can use to still fit in ire and enthusiasm, but in this case I think I just walked the middle line of neutrality.
That last line isnít true anymore.
This game highlights the inherent failing of the DS online and multiplayer, er, functions. I say functions very lightly here because very little about the system actually works. The only game I ever managed to play a decent amount of multiplayer on was Mario Kart DS and then it took sometimes fifteen minutes to get in a match. All of these complaints, by the way, can be easily carried over to the Wii.
I think Jason had a good point about the introduction to this review being a little wierd. I think I know where I was trying to go with that, but... like... did I just forget to go there or something? It never ties back into the review and thus leaves the whole thing feeling like it was supposed to be meaningful... but is instead about some strange downloadable game where you play as warring factions of water. Maybe I was just trying too hard.
I was set up for disappointment in DMC4 and boy did it deliver. I blame this game for making me so critical of RE5. I really am tired of seeing Capcom release the same damn thing year after year.
Overdrive had a good point about the ending of this review being too stacked with all the negative comments about the game. Reading it now, though, I can see why I did it that way. There wasnít really a place to put those things in while talking about the other aspects of the game. I possibly couldíve left them out or maybe taken a different approach to the game, but Odinís Sphere is one of the toughest titles to review because itís so unique. You have so much ground to cover to make the player understand how the game feels and handles... I actually donít think Iíve seen a great review for this game anywhere on the net. Itís just too new and unique to review properly, at least if you go at it from a technical angle.
Not my favourite review by far. Actually, I think this is one of my worst reviews of the year. The problem was that I just went ahead and wrote it without reading what was already out there. Had I done that first, I wouldíve realized that my approach was not only unoriginal, but it wasnít even tactful or well-written. I do think I had a good thing going with the intro. I still often call upon WWKD? to steer me right.
Another blaise game that I had to try and spice up a bit so that people didnít fall asleep while reading about it. I think I actually slept through the last level of Wolenstein. The main character is ridiculously overpowered and the game is stupidly linear. The gaming world has to come to realize that First Person Shooters are not easy to make. Developers just slam some shooting mechanics into a neat setting and think theyíve created the next Half Life. It doesnít work that way and I donít understand why people havenít realized this, yet. Even the most recent Call of Duty fell into that trap. I think Iím done with FPS for a while... at least until Half Life 3 comes out.
8-bit reviews are fun to write. Thereís no rules, really, because very few people actually care whether the game was good or not. They want to know how crappy it looked, how awful the controls were, how terrifying the 8-bit music was. Some people, like the Angry Video Game Nerd and Seanbaby, have made careers out of insulting NES games. But I like to actually have fun, so that path is not for me. Plus they are way better at it than I am.
I canít play Fatal Frame. I get too scared. But I think it was Lewis who pointed out in a System Shock 2 review that a good horror game can take debilitating fear and still make you want to eat it. In Fatal Frame terrible controls just serve to make the player feel helpless to affect the game, which is different from feeling helpless because of the gameís scenario or a lack of weapons. The more cold-blooded of us will continue to play and just feel frustrated... the pansies, like me, will stop playing and write a bash review bitchiní about the controls.
I think maybe two people on the site read this revie. Bioshock reviews are simply not popular on Honest Gamers ever since we posted fifteen of them. It makes sense, though. Bioshock had to be one of the most-hyped games of the last decade and that kind of publicity invites discussion post-release. There was no middle ground on Bioshock; people either thought it was the second coming or they felt that it had been way over advertised and was a pretty medoicre piece of shit. I fall into the second category.
X-Men: NES version
You know what this review taught me? Use HTML in your reviews, because it always looks better than straight up text. I havenít really followed that rule closely since writing this, but looking at it now, I think the visual benefits of those three bullet points are evident. Other than that... yeah, the whole ďanything goesĒ approach I mentioned in my last 8-bit review.
Virtua Fighter CG Portrait
Itís nice when a company takes a series youíve been complaining about for months and releases a game that fixes everything you had talked about. Makes you feel noticed.
I wrote this for the ďWe Hate YouĒ something-or-other contest. I hated writing this review. It took me forever to properly justify why I hated the game and then longer still to figure out how to get the reader to hate it, too. Outside of Hello Kitty I donít think Iíve hated a game quite as quickly as I learned to hate Warhawk. Those opening cutscenes are teeth-grindingly bad and the gameplay gives you a headache. Not to mention the graphics look like the original StarFox dipped in ominous amounts of brown.
I really donít have anything else to say about Dead Space. Between two reviews I think everything that needed to be said was. It was nice to have this win ROTW, though, because I thought it was a huge improvement over my original version (the only review Iíve ever taken down off the site). I did learn something cool from this review, which is how fun it is to go back a year after youíve first played a game and revisit it. Itís very revealing.
The review that awoke the Penguin!
Some people (penguins) questioned the nostalgic direction I took with this review, but in my mind, there could have been no better game to highlight the nostalgia factor. I thought I showed that during the review, but maybe I shouldíve tried harder? The poster may be a little gimmicky, but I think itís appropriate in this case because itís very game-centered and not about getting you to laugh at how clever I am (which I donít really think I am). Itís just a highlight of one of those memorable SNES lines we all know and some of us love.
Thereís that nostalgia, again.
There was so much BAD about Obscureís cheesy opening that I had to really pull myself away from a review that was unbalanced with criticism. Because, really, it does some cool things with the Survival Horror genre. Suvival Horror games are tricky that way. They have two distinct goals: good gameplay and a chilling atmosphere. So rarely do they get them both right and I canít understand why this happens.
In retrospect, I shouldíve mentioned the chainsaw. Itís the weakest chainsaw ever. Like, the spoof-saw, or something.
Lara Croft in a general kind of way
Iím really pleased with the way this review turned out. It was written during the Team Tournament, which holds everyone, I think, to a higher standard of writing than usual. Not everyone loved this review and ultimately I think it lost during the tournament. Looking through it again, I think maybe people found a little bit too much of ďmeĒ in the review, which is understandable considering the way I wrote it. I still like this one, though. Probably one of my favourite reviews of the year.
Posted: February 13, 2010 (08:37 PM)
I know what you mean about having a soft spot for certain reviews. Interesting to read your opinions about your reviews though I confess I haven't read all the reviews yet! Maybe I'll look at them.
I'm surprised how interesting this meme is regardless of how many reviews a person has or how much of their work I'm familiar with.
However, Hello Kitty games just aren't allowed to be bad, and anyone who says so probably hates rainbows too.
Posted: February 13, 2010 (09:48 PM)
I should probably have a disclaimer somewhere stating that I do not actively dislike rainbows. Especially the ones with pots of gold at their end.
I do NOT like the Rainbows inside lucky charms though. They give me diarhea.