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Amir0x
Banned
(09-17-2014, 04:21 PM)
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One of the common problems with many discussion topics, as well as some games reviews, is the idea of attacking a concept from the angle of all the things it is not doing, instead of analyzing if it is successful in the goals it sets for itself.

I prefer open world games to linear games in general. That's the average, but it's by no means a hard fast rule. If I am analyzing a God of War title, however, my approach is not going to be a discussion in how linear the game is. Not being open world is not actually a "problem" the game has. Me preferring one over the other is a "problem" I have.

In the case of God of War, what is it attempting? Well, the combat system is front and center, and you have some puzzles here and there, and a variety of enemies. Is the combat system flexible? Does it offer a decent amount of depth? When discussing this category, it's fine to look at other kings of this specific genre - action combat games like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry for example - and compare how successful (or not) each was at executing their combat system. It would make far less sense to compare God of War to Batman: Arkham City and say "one of the problems God of War has is that it doesn't have environments that are open enough to really explore, like the Batman games." If you want a game with more open environments you can really explore, the aim should be to purchase a game closer to Batman: Arkham City. Attacking a product for not having something that it never intended to have in the first place is odd, to say the least. It's damning a game for you not doing the research to know if the game fit your individual preferences instead of for something the game simply is not doing well within the structure of its game design.

You can apply this to any type of game, but it remains true.

There is also a distinction to be made between feeling a game is simply not up to a certain standard that the genre has now made possible in the modern age over just feeling the game did not have elements you personally wished were there because you like a different sort of game.

For example, I may criticize a modern game for having really poor graphics, when a visual component is handled significantly better in other genre competitors. On the other hand, if a game is meant to achieve a certain type of retro look - like say Megaman 9 - I'm not going to compare that to Mighty No. 9 and say "well, really, we've moved on from NES games. That's a big flaw Megaman 9 has!"

This is frequently a problem where console wars are concerned. Due to the increasing ire between groups of console loyalists, attempts to try to gain "points" for their console of choice turns into a mission statement to compare any games that are even tangentially related by genre and suggesting that "mine is better." Many of these criticisms, due to the nature of trying to stretch the argument to fit a console warrior perspective, are often about calling out other games for what they are not, rather than what they are.

And this is a problem because it avoids being able to discuss real problems games have. If I am playing a racing game that is track-based, for example, I want to be able to meaningfully discuss the nature of the track design. Are the curves and lines interesting? Does the track design surprise in any way? Is it good for competition, or better for time trials? What is less interesting (read: not interesting at all) is to start asking why it is a track game at all.



Or consider RPGs, another genre where this happens all the time. I've even been guilty of it myself in the past. Many times jRPGs are often criticized from certain corners because, for example, they have art styles typical of Japanese anime or that they are far too linear. These are people who prefer western style open RPGs, and they believe it's a valid criticism to point out how unlike western games jRPGs are. It's not a valid criticism.

What do you guys think about this issue? Is it worth discussing? How can we go about making comparative discussions more meaningful?
Last edited by Amir0x; 09-17-2014 at 04:28 PM.
Dahbomb
Member
(09-17-2014, 04:23 PM)
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You should practice what you preach and stop giving DmC such a hard time because it's not like DMC!
The Technomancer
card-carrying scientician
(09-17-2014, 04:24 PM)
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With games, much like with books and films, an enormous part of how I approach them critically is attempting to understand first what the developers intended and they appraising how they executed on that intention.
DryvBy
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(09-17-2014, 04:26 PM)
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That's been my problem with discussion recently. Just going with Destiny. Some of the complaints I've seen and heard are related to what it's not: it's not Halo. It's not Borderlands. It's not game X. It's Destiny. Point out the flaws with Destiny, not that it didn't clone a game you like.

Driveclub is now getting this treatment. It's not open-world, and I don't recall it being called open-world. But being linear is now bad for every racing game? C'mon.
LegendofLex
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(09-17-2014, 04:27 PM)
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Well, let's use another example:

The very first The Legend of Zelda game was pretty open. You could reach most parts of the overworld and access most dungeons within the first few minutes of the game.

If future The Legend of Zelda games are less open, and the game quality seems to suffer as a result, then wouldn't it be valid to evaluate how that shift negatively impacts the experience (even though evaluating it as a linear experience would be "criticism based on what the game IS")?

After all, one of the big benefits of a franchise brand is that they're supposed to offer a comparable core experience from game to game, even as they introduce new content, scenarios, and game mechanics in future installments.

But obviously trying to evaluate Hyrule Warriors as a Zelda game, even though it leaves no doubt about being first and foremost a Warriors game, wouldn't exactly be fair.

And obviously a new franchise should be evaluated based on how well it accomplishes what it attempts (as well as whether it was worthwhile to attempt it).
Aaronrules380
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(09-17-2014, 04:28 PM)
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I agree for the most part, except I think that sometimes achieving what you're aiming for isn't good if what you're aiming for is fundementally flawed in the first place. For example, Gravity Rush does an amazing job with getting it's gravity mechanics to work, but they can't overcome the issue of disorientation that is an inherent parts of being able to completely screw with gravity. Sometimes you can execute an idea really well, but the idea just had some huge flaw in the first place.
Spring-Loaded
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(09-17-2014, 04:28 PM)
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Originally Posted by The Technomancer

With games, much like with books and films, an enormous part of how I approach them critically is attempting to understand first what the developers intended and they appraising how they executed on that intention.

Took the words (sentiment) out of my mouth. Too often, I see people who refuse to look past their preconceptions and expectations when assessing a game. Entire OPs about how a game isn't it like its predecessor rather than about the game itself
Last edited by Spring-Loaded; 09-17-2014 at 04:31 PM.
Aaronrules380
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(09-17-2014, 04:29 PM)
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Originally Posted by LegendofLex

Well, let's use another example:

The very first The Legend of Zelda game was pretty open. You could reach most parts of the overworld and access most dungeons within the first few minutes of the game.

If future The Legend of Zelda games are less open, and the game quality seems to suffer as a result, then wouldn't it be valid to evaluate how that shift negatively impacts the experience (even though evaluating it as a linear experience would be "criticism based on what the game IS")?

After all, one of the big benefits of a franchise brand is that they're supposed to offer a comparable core experience from game to game, even as they introduce new content, scenarios, and game mechanics in future installments.

But obviously trying to evaluate Hyrule Warriors as a Zelda game, even though it leaves no doubt about being first and foremost a Warriors game, wouldn't exactly be fair.

And obviously a new franchise should be evaluated based on how well it accomplishes what it attempts (as well as whether it was worthwhile to attempt it).

I'd argue that a lot of parts of the first legend of zelda are horribly dated and that the series has improved to some extent by adding a bit more linearity compared to the original
jackal27
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(09-17-2014, 04:30 PM)
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Really great write-up. I always try and do this with my reviews. It's difficult at times because you can see areas where the game is lacking, but I think you're right on point!
xk0sm0sx
Member
(09-17-2014, 04:32 PM)
I don't know, I think of criticisms like Final Fantasy 13 not having towns, or the Sims 4 not having features available on vanilla Sims 1-3.

A good idea really, but harder to apply than it seems >_> .
Amir0x
Banned
(09-17-2014, 04:32 PM)
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Originally Posted by LegendofLex

Well, let's use another example:

The very first The Legend of Zelda game was pretty open. You could reach most parts of the overworld and access most dungeons within the first few minutes of the game.

If future The Legend of Zelda games are less open, and the game quality seems to suffer as a result, then wouldn't it be valid to evaluate how that shift negatively impacts the experience (even though evaluating it as a linear experience would be "criticism based on what the game IS")?

After all, one of the big benefits of a franchise brand is that they're supposed to offer a comparable core experience from game to game, even as they introduce new content, scenarios, and game mechanics in future installments.

But obviously trying to evaluate Hyrule Warriors as a Zelda game, even though it leaves no doubt about being first and foremost a Warriors game, wouldn't exactly be fair.

And obviously a new franchise should be evaluated based on how well it accomplishes what it attempts (as well as whether it was worthwhile to attempt it).

From what I can understand from what you're saying, it would remain a perfectly valid criticism to evaluate an open world Legend of Zelda game in the context of how successful it is as an open world game. If you feel that its specific open world nature has critically damaged elements of how the series worked before and can connect that line of thought together and articulate that in a meaningful way, then I don't see how that's a problem. It's more of a murky middle ground of criticism that one can usually tell if the criticism makes sense or not in the context of what game you're discussing.
Aaronrules380
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(09-17-2014, 04:33 PM)
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Also worth noting that no game exists in a vacuum, so comparisons are inevitable. Making them isn't inherently bad, so long as it's made clear how much of it is just your taste and why you prefer one type of game to another. Of course, this is also why review scores are entirely pointless compared to well written write ups
Shake Appeal
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(09-17-2014, 04:33 PM)
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There are no rules for criticism, nor should there be.

The corollary of this is that if the slant or focus of a particular critic or outlet seems inappropriate to you, you're free to disregard their criticism.
Remachinate
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(09-17-2014, 04:34 PM)
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Originally Posted by The Technomancer

With games, much like with books and films, an enormous part of how I approach them critically is attempting to understand first what the developers intended and they appraising how they executed on that intention.

This is absolutely true for technical criticism. However, games aren't released in a vacuum; there is also value in discussing how a game fits into the existing landscape. There's absolutely merit in asking why one should play Destiny when one can play Borderlands, for example, when evaluating whether the former has brought anything new of value to the medium.
StreetsAhead
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(09-17-2014, 04:36 PM)
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I agree; I think, for example, that any professional film critic saying 'this rom-com with Jennifer Aniston is not a summer blockbuster starring Chris Hemsworth and I prefer summer blockbusters and Chris Hemsworth and because of this the film is flawed' would be laughed out of a job. I don't think you can conflate genres like that.

I know some people argue that a game review should compare to other genres or loosely similar games because all games compete for time and money, but I feel like most people capable of reading a review online already have an idea of the sort of games that interest them enough so that they shouldn't don't stumble into a Dynasty Warrior's review and complain it's not Destiny.
The Technomancer
card-carrying scientician
(09-17-2014, 04:36 PM)
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Originally Posted by Remachinate

This is absolutely true for technical criticism. However, games aren't released in a vacuum; there is also value in discussing how a game fits into the existing landscape. There's absolutely merit in asking why one should play Destiny when one can play Borderlands, for example, when evaluating whether the former has brought anything new of value to the medium.

Oh absolutely. And even if they executed on it well there's nothing wrong with also explaining why you personally didn't find it fun.

I just think that I see "this doesn't appeal to me" conflated with "this is a badly made game" too often
Aaronrules380
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(09-17-2014, 04:36 PM)
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Originally Posted by Remachinate

This is absolutely true for technical criticism. However, games aren't released in a vacuum; there is also value in discussing how a game fits into the existing landscape. There's absolutely merit in asking why one should play Destiny when one can play Borderlands, for example, when evaluating whether the former has brought anything new of value to the medium.

Yeah, ultimately both are extremely important. I'd say the first is more important for a review in that it's a bit more objective (though obviously far from entirely so) and can add value to the review for people whose tastes don't match the reviewers, but the latter is unquestionably important as well
Game4life
Banned
(09-17-2014, 04:36 PM)

Originally Posted by Shake Appeal

There are no rules for criticism, nor should there be.

The corollary of this is that if the slant or focus of a particular critic or outlet seems inappropriate to you, you're free to disregard their criticism.

Well you can disregard their criticism or critique their criticism.
FriedConsole
Banned
(09-17-2014, 04:36 PM)
Is this like how Destiny gets criticized for not being something that everyone just wanted in their heads because of the absence of information on how it actually played?
Htown
STOP SHITTING ON MY MOTHER'S HEADSTONE
(09-17-2014, 04:36 PM)
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Originally Posted by Spring-Loaded

Took the words (sentiment) out of my mouth. Too often, I see people who refuse to look past their preconceptions and expectations when assessing a game. Entire OPs about how a game isn't it like its predecessor rather than about the game itself

You know what? Then don't give it the same name as its predecessor.

Developers/publishers don't get to say "hey if you liked Game you should buy Game 2," which is an implicit statement inherent to all sequels in all mediums, and then get angry when people compare Game 2 to Game.

The comparison comes with the name. If you want the increased sales that come from pulling in the fans of the first game, then you just have to take it when fans of the first game bring up differences. That's the tradeoff.
Last edited by Htown; 09-17-2014 at 04:39 PM.
Shake Appeal
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(09-17-2014, 04:38 PM)
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Originally Posted by Game4life

Well you can disregard their criticism or critique their criticism.

Sure, but I would suspect there are many better uses of your time, including just writing your own positive critique.
Amir0x
Banned
(09-17-2014, 04:38 PM)
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Originally Posted by Shake Appeal

There are no rules for criticism, nor should there be.

The corollary of this is that if the slant or focus of a particular critic or outlet seems inappropriate to you, you're free to disregard their criticism.

There's 'rules' to everything, even if they're not necessarily in some rulebook. For example, there is an unstated rule that if you're criticizing a game, the content of that criticism should not be nonsensical gibberish. If you write "I hate Batman: Arkham Asylum because bunnies are not in the game and I prefer sun in the sky", that is not a valid criticism, even though we can respect the idea that critics should be technically allowed to write what they want.

In this way, if a critic wants to understand what criticism actually means, it is evaluating a product based on its own goals. You can think those goals are poor, but then the action must be to articulate where they went wrong with selecting those goals. It is not to turn the argument into how much you wish this product played like a product with entirely different goals. If you can't see how much of a problem this becomes, consider the tangent a critic is going to necessarily have to go down in order to explain how an open world game is inherently better than a linear game. They can say it, you're right. And people are free to not read it, you're also right. But that doesn't mean they get to be free from criticism that their critique is nonsense.
Percy
Banned
(09-17-2014, 04:38 PM)
Fair point I suppose, but is it okay if I keep being annoyed with 30fps racers if I reason that I'm criticising them because they're 30fps and not because they're not 60fps (Even though it's the same thing)? ;)

Originally Posted by DryvBy

Driveclub is now getting this treatment. It's not open-world, and I don't recall it being called open-world. But being linear is now bad for every racing game? C'mon.

Yeah, that's a dumb as fuck criticism for a racing game (but lets face it, it's not like it's hard to understand where it's coming from and why in most instances). I mean, I actually read the phrase "corridor racer" used seriously today... but on the plus side it gave another poster the chance to (sarcastically) give us "waist high guard rails" so some good came of it in the end ;)
The Technomancer
card-carrying scientician
(09-17-2014, 04:39 PM)
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Originally Posted by Htown

You know what? Then don't give it the same name as its predecessor.

Developers/publishers don't get to say "hey if you liked Game you should buy Game 2," which is an implicit statement inherent to all sequels in all mediums, and then get angry when people compare Game 2 to Game.

The comparison comes with the name. You want the increased sales, you have to take the comparison with it. That's the tradeoff.

Eh, can't agree. Take the Zelda franchise for example. I'd much rather they play around with structure and design the way they have been rather than just give me a new Ocarina of Time every five years and spin off a bunch of new IPs about "Boat-man!" or "dude on a bird!"
Mael
Banned
(09-17-2014, 04:39 PM)

Originally Posted by Htown

You know what? Then don't give it the same name as its predecessor.

Developers/publishers don't get to say "hey if you liked Game you should buy Game 2," which is an implicit statement inherent to all sequels in all mediums, and then get angry when people compare Game 2 to Game.

The comparison comes with the name. You want the increased sales, you have to take the comparison with it. That's the tradeoff.

Exactly.
This topic also means that we have another angle to tear Metroid Other M a new one.
One could find boring to tear holes in that monstrosity but it's such a failure, it's easy to target it with criticism.
DJRawr
Junior Member
(09-17-2014, 04:39 PM)
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I think we should make a distinction between reviews and criticism. While they aren't completely seperate, they have wildly different objectives. Reviews as they historically been used in video games and other mediums is whether or not this is worth your time and money. Is what's the on the disc good? yes/no, 8/10.
Criticism on the other hand is about whether or not the piece is culturally valuable. How does it sit in its own medium and how does it sit with the rest of society. You can't remove the game from what exists elsewhere, as everything is a valuable comparison. Is what it's "trying" to do good enough, should it have tried harder in certain areas? Applying literary criticism to video games is only starting to get going as this medium evolves and grows up, so we'll have growing pains on how it's tackled and whether or not game players want it. I sure as hell do.
Last edited by DJRawr; 09-17-2014 at 04:47 PM.
Htown
STOP SHITTING ON MY MOTHER'S HEADSTONE
(09-17-2014, 04:40 PM)
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Originally Posted by The Technomancer

Eh, can't agree. Take the Zelda franchise for example. I'd much rather they play around with structure and design the way they have been rather than just give me a new Ocarina of Time every five years and spin off a bunch of new IPs about "Boat-man!" or "dude on a bird!"

I'm not saying "don't make changes." I'm saying you can't make changes and then complain when some people focus on the changes.

edit: There's a reason Hyrule Warriors doesn't have the same naming convention as the rest of the Zelda series, for example.
Last edited by Htown; 09-17-2014 at 04:42 PM.
Magnus
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(09-17-2014, 04:40 PM)
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I feel that, in some circumstances, it's alright (and a good thing, at that) to criticize a game for missed potential. That could get categorized as being an attack on a game for something that it 'isn't', even though it's probably a fair criticism.

To take the OP's example; I really feel that some non-linearity is a welcome addition in almost any game. I think over-linearity is a fair thing to criticize GoW for. I truly believe it'd be a better, more re playable game with more choice made available.

Hope that makes sense. Hurriedly typing on mobile here.

If one were to turn around and say that developer intention with GoW is to make a cinematic, controlled, linear experience and that it would be unfair to call it out for being mostly on rails, I could rebut with a massive argument about linearity being a major obstacle to innovative game design that might be hindering everything the medium should truly be capable of.

In that regard, I think it's a bit precarious to ascribe intentions to developers; how can we know? How do we know that they wouldn't have made the game in a different way or with different better features (as posed in a review) if they'd had time or thought to include them?
Last edited by Magnus; 09-17-2014 at 04:46 PM.
Superflat
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(09-17-2014, 04:40 PM)
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Yep.

I come across all sorts of similarly ridiculous statements in film all the time and it drives me crazy. Not saying that it should be abolished from all game discussion, but I just want to say that the majority of statements like it are usually lazy criticisms; it's often thrown out as a bullet-proof argument as if it legitimizes their stance. But if we're just discussing purely personal taste and not in a heated debate, it's fine.
Aaronrules380
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(09-17-2014, 04:40 PM)
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Originally Posted by The Technomancer

Oh absolutely. And even if they executed on it well there's nothing wrong with also explaining why you personally didn't find it fun.

I just think that I see "this doesn't appeal to me" conflated with "this is a badly made game" too often

Honestly, I think an ideal review system would have multiple reviewers per game, each with a different outlook on the genre. So maybe 1 who generally doesn't enjoy the genre, one who is more neutral, and a genre fan. that way you can see a more full spectrum of opinions in one place without having to search multiple internet sites. It's really frustrating when someone who seems to just flat out dislike a genre review a game in that genre and criticize it for having staple elements of the genre
Mesoian
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(09-17-2014, 04:41 PM)
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Originally Posted by Shake Appeal

There are no rules for criticism, nor should there be.

The corollary of this is that if the slant or focus of a particular critic or outlet seems inappropriate to you, you're free to disregard their criticism.

Indeed.

Making concessions for movies that are clearly bad because "it was a fun romp through a world of modern fantasy that keeps you on the edge of your seat, even the acting, plot, script, and special effects are all garbage" is just silly. Just as silly as getting upset at game reviews because "that reviewer clearly didn't have the passion needed to fully appreciate the game. Passion like I have."
conman
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(09-17-2014, 04:41 PM)
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Originally Posted by Amir0x

One of the common problems with many discussion topics, as well as some games reviews, is the idea of attacking a concept from the angle of all the things it is not doing, instead of analyzing if it is successful in the goals it sets for itself.

Unfortunately, there's no clear line between what a game "is not doing" and how a game isn't "successful in the goals it sets for itself." Tomayto, tomahto.

A good review should be honest in its account of the writer's experience and reaction to a game. If that includes what "feels missing" or how it "falls short," then that's a totally valid response and worth writing about. As with anything, good judgment is a writer's best guide. If all a writer does is blast a game for no good reason other than to sound "smarter than the game," then that's a problem. But that's more an issue of explaining oneself than it is of being too negative.
Last edited by conman; 09-17-2014 at 04:44 PM.
TheNoblePirate
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(09-17-2014, 04:41 PM)
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This could be an interesting discussion. I feel that if I were to dwell on what a game isn't instead of what it is, then could find myself massively disappointed in just about every game out there. The importance is in realizing what a game is attempting to do, and to what extent it succeeds in that task. There are valuable critiques to be made based on a combination of elements in a game, and how those elements compare to other games that share a similar style or range. I can appreciate both linear or open world designs, so evaluating a game based on how well its design works is better than trying to evaluate how it could have been were it a different design altogether. Now, that's not to say that we couldn't discuss the possibilities of such design differences, but there needs to be some grounding of certain mechanics or design choices first, so that you're only really changing one variable at a time. Otherwise, it would be too easy to slip into your imagination, thinking of all the various ways a game could be different, and then you will just lament that it doesn't reach those lofty expectations in your head. It's nice to dream, but it's more valuable to look at the reality of a game, and then see what works and what doesn't. It also helps to know that, despite it being easy to see what you personally want in a game, not everyone can share the same opinion, and that games are made for a variety of different audiences. Thus, genres are used to categorize and evaluate games of a similar nature. Although, whether certain games belong in certain genres might also be a debate that complicates that evaluation.

I hope I articulated my thoughts well enough.
hardcastlemccormick
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(09-17-2014, 04:41 PM)
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It's a worthy direction for some reviews (I prefer those that discuss the execution of the concept and don't just bash the concept), but it's also true that some games simply don't start with a good concept to begin with.

If a game's trying to be something terrible, it's fair to take a look at that. It's also fair to note that we as gamers expect certain signposts indicating game mechanics, and if they're not present it's weird to us.

I also don't think it's out of the realm of suggesting that some reviews should be from the perspective of someone expecting something very different, because those sorts of perspectives undoubtedly exist. If somebody fires up Hyrule Warriors expecting a Zelda...well, there should be a review for them.
Duster
Member
(09-17-2014, 04:42 PM)
This has always been a pet peeve with many reviews of handheld games (although sometimes it can be fair for things like rubbish ports).
It's something that became even worse with the Vita as many games seemed to get docked points just because they didn't single-handedly justify the existence of the system or some such nonsense rather than being criticised for what they were.
Superflat
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(09-17-2014, 04:44 PM)
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I hope people appreciate how I don't rant in 90% of game OTs talking about how it's not enough like Dark Souls :U
jg4xchamp
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(09-17-2014, 04:44 PM)
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There is some truth to the notion that you should review what the game is trying to do, and not what it isn't trying to be. That said this defense always stems from some unjustified stance that deems that someone can't have a valid complaint against a genre trope or something like that.

For instance the go to defense for some of the things Destiny does are: Diablo, Borderlands, and other MMO's do this. Usually without taking into account what those things do different from Destiny for starters, but let's say all things were equal. Let's say that all those games do exactly what I don't like about Destiny: repetitive one note encounters, grind over genuine depth or challenge in gameplay. Then I am totally justified to criticize what Destiny is doing, and frankly I have a valid criticism against what this genre does, and why I find it poor.

If all a game is a loot grind where you spend a ridiculous amount of hours till RNJesus throws you a bone, then I am going to criticize that game for not having genuine depth or asking the player for mastery of any gameplay system, but more so to have their time wasted.

In a context like that, the notion that "you have to review it for what it is" bugs me, because I am judging it for what it is, and what it does is exactly what I'm not liking about it.

Now if you are arguing something like Conviction wanting to change itself from how old Splinter Cell did things, or a FPS being judged and criticized for not doing things like CoD or Halo, then yes, those criticisms are lazy and unfair. At some point you have to accept the differences, and judge whether or not those differences work. Legit differences, not we changed studios and are essentially making the same game, but shallower: DmC: Devil May Cry.
Aaronrules380
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(09-17-2014, 04:46 PM)
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Originally Posted by hardcastlemccormick

It's a worthy direction for some reviews (I prefer those that discuss the execution of the concept and don't just bash the concept), but it's also true that some games simply don't start with a good concept to begin with.

If a game's trying to be something terrible, it's fair to take a look at that. It's also fair to note that we as gamers expect certain signposts indicating game mechanics, and if they're not present it's weird to us.

I also don't think it's out of the realm of suggesting that some reviews should be from the perspective of someone expecting something very different, because those sorts of perspectives undoubtedly exist. If somebody fires up Hyrule Warriors expecting a Zelda...well, there should be a review for them.

I agree entirely and have said pretty much the exact same things. You need reviews from a wide range of people who might be interested in a game because that way it's possible for more people to find a review that will foreshadow their own experience. One thing I think sites need to do is give us information on the reviewer, their favorite games and genres, least favorite ones, stuff like that, before even starting the actual review. Reading an opinion is vastly more helpful when you have a reason to think the opinion might reflect your own should you try the game
Superflat
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(09-17-2014, 04:47 PM)
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Originally Posted by jg4xchamp

There is some truth to the notion that you should review what the game is trying to do, and not what it isn't trying to be. That said this defense always stems from some unjustified stance that deems that someone can't have a valid complaint against a genre trope or something like that.

For instance the go to defense for some of the things Destiny does are: Diablo, Borderlands, and other MMO's do this. Usually without taking into account what those things do different from Destiny for starters, but let's say all things were equal. Let's say that all those games do exactly what I don't like about Destiny: repetitive one note encounters, grind over genuine depth or challenge in gameplay. Then I am totally justified to criticize what Destiny is doing, and frankly I have a valid criticism against what this genre does, and why I find it poor.

If all a game is a loot grind where you spend a ridiculous amount of hours till RNJesus throws you a bone, then I am going to criticize that game for not having genuine depth or asking the player for mastery of any gameplay system, but more so to have their time wasted.

In a context like that, the notion that "you have to review it for what it is" bugs me, because I am judging it for what it is, and what it does is exactly what I'm not liking about it.

Games that are similarly designed is welcomed in discussion. It's when you bring apples to an orange fair that things get stupid.
IcyEyes
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(09-17-2014, 04:48 PM)
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Wow, what a thread you open.
I could spend my whole week talking about this matter.

In a few words : it's an issue for me, but we need to understand from which people this "issue" comes and overall it's a matter of how extensive the personal experience is.

For example, I'm unable to criticize a game because it lacks "something" since I know what that game is trying to achieve, what its scope is, the development problems, etc etc

I'm more competent in criticizing a game talking about its mechanics, even in deep details, because, thanks to my knowledge, if something is not well developed or there are some limits that prevent the enjoyment of the whole game, it's pretty "easy" to spot the problem and "criticize" that.

The perfect example is The Order 1886.
Criticizing this game because it's a corridor shooter is incredibly wrong.
Criticizing this game because the enemies are plain stupid and that prevents the players from enjoying the game it's something different.

There are a lot of examples we can make ...

In a few words, criticizing a game for what it is not, it's a serious issues that I hope will not spread too much.
JediLink
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(09-17-2014, 04:48 PM)
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Originally Posted by Dahbomb

You should practice what you preach and stop giving DmC such a hard time because it's not like DMC!



Poe's law. I can't figure it out.
Shake Appeal
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(09-17-2014, 04:48 PM)
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Originally Posted by Amir0x

For example, there is an unstated rule that if you're criticizing a game, the content of that criticism should not be nonsensical gibberish. If you write "I hate Batman: Arkham Asylum because bunnies are not in the game and I prefer sun in the sky", that is not a valid criticism, even though we can respect the idea that critics should be technically allowed to write what they want.

I'm not trying to be contrarian here, but there are no "valid" or "invalid" criticisms. The concept of criticism resists those adjectives. What you are talking about are implicitly agreed standards of reviewing that are useful for most readers. I agree that we should have those (if only so that videogame reviewing remains a viable business model), and that they should probably include sensible comparisons and frames of reference.

But the project of criticism, very broadly considered, doesn't have to concern itself with the goals of creators, or with "valid" comparisons or framing contexts, or even with satisfying majority standards. It's inhibiting to impose those things on current or future critics; it will lead to worse criticism and worse games, over time.

I think a lot of this fractiousness stems from videogame reviewing more or less being a buyers' guide up until recently, and from gamers stoutly defending this narrow conception because the alternative is messy and confusing to them. It's also potentially more inclusive.
Magnus
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(09-17-2014, 04:49 PM)
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Furthermore, if two games achieve the same general quality levels and both stay firmly confined within their genres and include the same general features, but one is released in 2010 and the other one today, I think it'd be more than fair to more heavily criticize the latter. The argument being that as time goes on, one can and should reasonably expect games to do new things, bring more to the table and refine concepts further.

Otherwise, you're selling the same product with a different artistic skin laid on top. Which is fine! But inviting some design criticism, IMO.
Peltz
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(09-17-2014, 04:49 PM)
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A perfectly executed game could have a flawed concept that, for example, simply isn't fun to play.

The converse is also true and far more recognizable to the average gamer: A game can be executed with tons of flaws and game breaking issues... but the concept, if it's fun enough, could be so significant and joyful that it's worth looking past those flaws.

Reviews should totally reflect both of these points. In the end, it's about whether or not the game is good, which is entirely subjective and analytical of the entire package -- from concept to execution.
ibyea
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(09-17-2014, 04:50 PM)
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Agreed, that is why I don't find "being linear" that meaningful of a criticism unless accompanied by some other context.
LegendofLex
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(09-17-2014, 04:50 PM)
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Originally Posted by Amir0x

From what I can understand from what you're saying, it would remain a perfectly valid criticism to evaluate an open world Legend of Zelda game in the context of how successful it is as an open world game. If you feel that its specific open world nature has critically damaged elements of how the series worked before and can connect that line of thought together and articulate that in a meaningful way, then I don't see how that's a problem. It's more of a murky middle ground of criticism that one can usually tell if the criticism makes sense or not in the context of what game you're discussing.

Yeah, that's basically what I'm trying to get across.

Franchises are unlike other ventures in that, while they need to keep the content fresh to avoid becoming stale, they typically suffer if they step too far outside of their defining values in a way that doesn't strengthen the core gameplay. 3D Mario, for example, is really a different beast from 2D Mario - the way you navigate the world, tackle enemies, use abilities, etc. is radically changed. And while the result is satisfying for lots of people, the gulf is still pretty clear (based on sales especially, and also based on how 2D games have managed to stick around even while 3D platformers have relatively faded).

Completely original IP, on the other hand, have a clean slate to work from as far as values and core gameplay are concerned: the main question is whether they offer what's needed to create an audience in the first place. That can in part be determined by how well they do their jobs compared to other games that do the same or similar jobs, but it's not a given.

Originally Posted by ibyea

Agreed, that is why I don't find "being linear" that meaningful of a criticism unless accompanied by some other context.

2D Mario games are pretty linear, but 2D Mario games by their very nature don't really suffer from being linear.
Spring-Loaded
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(09-17-2014, 04:50 PM)
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Originally Posted by Htown

You know what? Then don't give it the same name as its predecessor.

Developers/publishers don't get to say "hey if you liked Game you should buy Game 2," which is an implicit statement inherent to all sequels in all mediums, and then get angry when people compare Game 2 to Game.

The comparison comes with the territory.

When that's the entirety of your criticism, then it shows you don't have any consideration for what's being done with the game on its own.

Like I said, I've seen entire threads devoted to what a game isn't under the pretense of being a complete assessment of a game's quality. No one's saying that you can't or shouldn't compare games with similar titles, but when that's the extent of your criticism, don't pretend that you're saying more than that.

Judging Lara Croft: and the Guardian of Light through the lens of "this isn't Tomb Raider 1" rather than having that be a bullet point in your overall assessment will likely paint a flawed picture of the game. I've seen the same done with Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Max Payne 3, Batman: Arkham City and many others. Games that purposefully do new and different things — and some things objectively better — from their predecessors, yet all some people see are the differences which they paint as being objectively worse, then go on to make tier lists of those games or entire OP's pointing out differences and their own personal preferences as objective problems with the game.
Last edited by Spring-Loaded; 09-17-2014 at 09:56 PM.
Magnus
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(09-17-2014, 04:53 PM)
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Originally Posted by ibyea

Agreed, that is why I don't find "being linear" that meaningful of a criticism unless accompanied by some other context.

If a game's competitors are bringing more to the table with branching paths, more choice and therefore, more re playability (under most circumstances), is it unfair of me to criticize the game for being relatively more confined?

Yes, a game can argue for having a more focused, more powerful narrative if it's more linear.

All I'm saying is, I think it's a bit dangerous to invalidate criticisms based on semi-arbitrary limitations derived from developer intentions.


"Game X is Y. Unfair to dock it points because it doesn't do Z."

"But its competition is doing Z and it's a better game for it."

What then?

I think it's every game's responsibility to do more for its genre and for gaming as a whole. Games that shatter genre or categorical conventions are often some of the greatest games of all. And then, it becomes totally natural and fair to compare it to its competition, and slightly devalue one or the other for not taking as great a stride. I'd agree that it would be a mistake to call any game 'bad' by this metric. But it's fair to call it out for either being safe or missing potential, I think.
Last edited by Magnus; 09-17-2014 at 04:57 PM.
Arthr2ShdsJcksn
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(09-17-2014, 04:54 PM)
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Originally Posted by Aaronrules380

I'd argue that a lot of parts of the first legend of zelda are horribly dated and that the series has improved to some extent by adding a bit more linearity compared to the original

I would wholeheartedly disagree with this. The non-linearity of the original LoZ is one of its best features and hasn't been equaled with any technological advances in gaming. Any attempt to add more story or character to the series has felt weak, and only served to distance the series from its open world roots.

I have enjoyed every major Zelda release, but, for me,the series hit its high point in its first outing, and has struggled to remember what made Zelda great in the first place. I have a great amount of hope for the new game, based upon the direction of last years 3DS title, and what they've shown so far of the new environment, but I am worried that it will remain, more or less linear.

More to the point of this thread... It is difficult to divorce a game from the context of the current gaming culture. It might be doing x, y, and z awesomely as designed, but if people are no longer in x, y or z because of other things going on in gaming, it almost no longer matters.
Last edited by Arthr2ShdsJcksn; 09-17-2014 at 04:58 PM.
SonyToo!
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(09-17-2014, 04:55 PM)
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That's why they'll never be a 10/10 Sonic, everybody has their own idea of what a Sonic should be rather than what version they're playing.

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