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GS's Army of Two Review: Unprofessionalism at its finest?

SamBishop

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Jun 6, 2006
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SuperPac said:
If this were a movie and the reviewer didn't like the slant of the film would you feel differently about the critique? I see no problem here. A review is an opinion, and if that's the way the reviewer feels about the game's story given the current climate (it's not really tainting his opinion of the gameplay from what I gather), then fine.

Now if he's wrong and the game actually ISN'T belittling the army, then you might have an argument.
Couldn't possibly agree more. I think it's a fantastic sign that games have matured to the point where one can actually point out how jingoistic (or not) a game is; it means the medium is maturing to the point where it's not just about jumping from platform to platform or shooting demons on Mars. Criticism of a game's message -- intentional or not -- so long as it's not scrutinizing something that's not there or reading too much into things, signifies the emergence of games as more than just a "go here, shoot this" kind of medium.
 
slasher_thrasher21 said:
Good point. I think you will find the only thing people will have to say AoT does over those games is put a more satire view on the whole situation. So basically, its just people getting their panties in a bundle and their feelings hurt over a games view on the theme.

If anything, we should be applauding games like Army of Two for bringing the whole issue of Blackwater and private military issues to another audience that may not read the NY Times on a daily basis.
 

GauntletFan

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Sep 9, 2006
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Vrolokus said:
Contra, really? That's an example to fold in there?
There was controversy over Contra though (thats why it had a name change in Europe) Same with NARC, there was a lot of controversy over its subject matter at the time.
 

AstroLad

Hail to the KING baby
Jul 23, 2004
37,730
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Gigglepoo said:
A review is no place for opinions.
Bingo. In a perfect world, yes. But sadly in a world of fanboy "journalists" with useless liberal arts degrees they feel the need to leverage, that will never ever happen.
 

Aske

Member
Jul 25, 2006
5,801
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eXxy said:
I feel like I'm walking into a thread prone to disaster, but I must ask.

How does one write a review and remain objective? Opinions are inherently subjective.
I did say as "as objective as humanly possible". You're right that the lines will always be blurred, but I think there's a clear difference between a reviewer who judges a game based upon the successes or failures of developers at meeting the goals they set for their game; and a reviewer who judges a game based upon what he/she wishes the developers were trying to do.

Clearly, there has to be some guess work involved. I'm not disputing that. But there's a big difference between one reviewer who says "the controls of this shooter are sloppy, there are numerous graphical and sound glitches, and the plot feels shallow and tacked on," and another reviewer who says "I hate shooters. I hate plots about guys who shoot. The problem with this game's combat engine is that it focuses on guns that I, as a player, must shoot." Most reviews are somewhere in between these extremes, but it's usually pretty clear which end of the spectrum a writer leans towards.

With regard to the review in the original post, the lack of objectivity isn't focused on gameplay, it's focused on plot. Rather than couch his criticisms of Army of Two's story in context and clarify that his issues are based on nothing but his own subjective tastes; the reviewer is trying to pass off his moral stance as objective fact. "It is bad that the plot of this game deals with this subject matter. If you are the kind of person who actually thinks, and I know you are, you and I must agree."

If he had expressed the exact same sentiments but specified that they were all inherently personal issues, I wouldn't have a problem with it. I may prefer reviews to remain objective, but I don't mind reading unreserved opinions when they aren't the be all and end all of a review. Trying to pass taste off as fact, however, rubs me the wrong way.
 

TomServo

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Dec 19, 2007
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Satellite of Love
Looks like EA missed the mark or GS just didn't get it - the game was intended to be a satire / criticism of PMCs, not taken as a glorification of them:

What we’re trying to do as we advance though the story in the game, we start with the characters. We take them from their days in Delta Force, and their days as Navy SEALs, and their start as PMCs and how they get trained. We unveil the corruption behind the military privatization, and we explain the problems that poses to society and to America, and the world, when you have a gigantic organization that does nothing but operate for corporations and for money.
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1665/an_uphill_battle_chris_ferriera_.php
 

Death_Born

Banned
Oct 15, 2006
7,235
3
0
AstroLad said:
Bingo. In a perfect world, yes. But sadly in a world of fanboy "journalists" with useless liberal arts degrees they feel the need to leverage, that will never ever happen.
Wait, I thought...
review
verb


1. To give a recapitulation of the salient facts of: abstract, epitomize, go over, recapitulate, run down, run through, summarize, sum up, synopsize, wrap up. Informal recap. See thoughts.
2. To consider again, especially with the possibility of change: reconsider, reevaluate, reexamine, rethink. See thoughts.
3. To write a critical report on: criticize. See opinion, words.
Ah, right. So let me get this straight, reviews, which are opinions, do not need opinions? Nice logic!
 

chespace

It's not actually trolling if you don't admit it
Jun 8, 2004
8,580
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Foxtastical said:
So GAF just wants consumer reports? Lame.
Wah wah, games are art, wah wah.

Wah wah, but don't critique games as art, wah wah.

Pretty much.
 

Vrolokus

Banned
May 28, 2006
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I'm not sure it's a critic's job to be perfectly objective, whether it's a film, music, literary or game critic.

Criticism =/= journalism

Games can have objectively good or bad qualities, of course - like if a game camera is terrible, that's objectively bad. If you can perform the actions the game demands with relative ease, the controls are objectively good.

But as games get more complex in terms of visuals, themes, content, etc.... those are areas that are hard if not impossible to be objective about.

Again, to bring up the Lester Bangs/Roger Ebert topics: neither was/is objective, nor ever claimed to be.
 

border

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Jun 7, 2004
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Captain Pants said:
Taking that into account, if you read a review for GTA4 that spent the whole time whining about how the game was a slap in the face to the police, and that it allowed you to kill cops, wouldn't you start to think, "hmm... this would make a better blog post than a review?"
Except that GS's Army of Two review does not "spend the whole time whining" about the game's political undertones. The quoted discussion represents a fraction of the review, most of which centers on poor aiming, poor partner AI, and unimpressive multiplayer.
 

AstroLad

Hail to the KING baby
Jul 23, 2004
37,730
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Death_Born said:
Wait, I thought...


Ah, right. So let me get this straight, reviews, which are opinions, do not need opinions? Nice logic!
Apparently your dictionary doesn't contain the adjective "unbias" as it pertains to reviews.

 

WinFonda

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Oct 9, 2007
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So if he finds the premise of the game so objectionable, why did he review the game? I mean, hand it off to someone who is able to review the game based on its own merits without taking into account his or her own political leanings
 

SamBishop

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Jun 6, 2006
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chespace said:
Wah wah, games are art, wah wah.

Wah wah, but don't critique games as art, wah wah.

Pretty much.
Bingooooo...

WinFonda said:
So if he finds the premise of the game so objectionable, why did he review the game? I mean, hand it off to someone who is able to review the game based on its own merits without taking into account his or her own political leanings
Why can't someone do both? I know plenty of people who rip on a movie's acting or the plot, yet can absolutely appreciate the cinematography. I think it's absolutely possible to review the disparate technical components of a game (controls, graphics, sound, level design, checkpoints, AI, etc.) and talk about how that game's message affected you. Again, I think that's one of the best things about how games are maturing; if they invoke an emotional response of some kind, that means some part of the narrative or the performances were strong enough that they couldn't just be brushed aside as the on-screen character changed a clip and started blasting again.
 

Peru

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Dec 18, 2005
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They can write all the drivel about the war that they want. Just keep it out of a game review that is supposed to focus on the game itself. It would be like writing a GTA review and talking about how bad gangs and organized crime are in today's society.
I can't believe the shit that's written on GAF sometimes, on one side gaming journalists are always mocked and journalism is put in quotes, on the other a thread like this is full of people claiming those journalists should just be consumer reporters delivering spec facts and technical performance. Since when was it not relevant to focus on the content? Dependant on the genre, a focus on story, themes, ideas communicated is very much a part of the game and what should be analyzed by good reviewers.
 

border

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GauntletFan said:
There was controversy over Contra though (thats why it had a name change in Europe)
The controversy over Contra was that you were killing human beings, so they had to change it to killing robots. It has nothing to do with the game's nonexistent political leanings.
 

skip

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Jun 10, 2004
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Peru said:
I can't believe the shit that's written on GAF sometimes, on one side gaming journalists are always mocked and journalism is put in quotes, on the other a thread like this is full of people claiming those journalists should just be consumer reporters delivering spec facts and technical performance. Since when was it not relevant to focus on the content? Dependant on the genre, a focus on story, themes, ideas communicated is very much a part of the game and what should be analyzed by good reviewers.
agreed. I would actually very much like to read a GTA review that talks about gang culture/organized crime, because that sounds interesting to me.
 

Vrolokus

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WinFonda said:
So if he finds the premise of the game so objectionable, why did he review the game? I mean, hand it off to someone who is able to review the game based on its own merits without taking into account his or her own political leanings
Because when you review a game "on its own terms", every game gets a great score. Even Enter the Matrix was a great Enter the Matrix game.
 

Zer0

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Jun 9, 2004
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this is like same case of the critics who trashed "starship troopers" for being a nazi pro fascist movie,nuff said
 

hclflow

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Jun 9, 2007
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OHHH GOD FREEDOM OF SPEECH I CANT HANDLE IT!

It's funny that of all games the reviewer picks on Army of Two's absurd plot. It's so outlandish and over-the-top that I couldn't take it seriously for two seconds. I mean come ON, you have a 1337 hacker pal who talks to you in 1337 5p34k for Christ's sake.

The whole notion of the superiority of privately funded militias comes full-circle by the end of the game, by the way, for those of you who haven't actually played it (which seems like the majority posting in here). The idea is ignorantly glorified through much of the game by a U.S. senator lobbying for a bill privatizing the military, as well as one of the game's two protagonists.

The other protagonist, however, serves as a foil to the constant glamorizing by thinking their missions through on a slightly deeper level. Y'know, why are we really here, something doesn't seem right about this mission type of stuff. But in the end, it's just a vulgar and violent romp through a fictionalized take on the modern-day political landscape. Those of you saying it should be off-limits can kindly go walk off a cliff.

I found the game's plot to be highly laughable and pretty dumb, but if that's the script EA wants to go with, it's their fucking choice. Besides, it's not like the gaming industry is filled to the brim with brilliant storylines. Please.

I also found the political rantings, albeit brief, in the GS review to be pretty laughable as well. But hey, he has the right to be dumb, just as I do to call him that.

If you don't like it, don't read it.

Freedom of Speech. Fucking deal with it.
 

Vrolokus

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Peru said:
I can't believe the shit that's written on GAF sometimes, on one side gaming journalists are always mocked and journalism is put in quotes, on the other a thread like this is full of people claiming those journalists should just be consumer reporters delivering spec facts and technical performance. Since when was it not relevant to focus on the content? Dependant on the genre, a focus on story, themes, ideas communicated is very much a part of the game and what should be analyzed by good reviewers.
I'm going to name my first wife after you, Peru.
 

arne

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Zer0 said:
this is like same case of the critics who trashed "starship troopers" for being a nazi pro fascist movie,nuff said

who says that might not have been the undertones? Tron was a thinly veiled Christian messiah story -- i would totally bring that up on my review of the movie, even though I think it's a hella awesome film.
 

hauton

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Jan 6, 2007
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Honestly though, my only issue about this is

A) lol Gamespot
B) Is the consumer review the appropriate grounds for this? I see the merit behind the argument of "I'm here to find out whether or not I should buy the game, not an analysis of the themes". Perhaps this would be better suited in a different avenue of discussion (I keep thinking of N'Gai and Level Up).
 

FlyinJ

Douchebag. Yes, me.
Sep 22, 2005
12,696
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This has to be really difficult for the neocon right.


On one hand, the game is saying the Army is inadequate. How dare they insult our armed forces! They hate freedom!

But on the other, it's saying that murdering tons of browns in the name of freedom is totally rad and butt-slappingly awesome.


How's someone supposed to decide how to feel about that!
 

Kittonwy

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Feb 21, 2006
21,538
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Vrolokus said:
Because when you review a game "on its own terms", every game gets a great score. Even Enter the Matrix was a great Enter the Matrix game.
Except in this case there's nothing wrong with an "oh hell yeah we killed dem motherfuckers good, dey dead bro, lets kill dem some more" fist-pound.


It's like going RAWR after Kratos killed a bunch of motherfuckers in God of War. OMG IMA CELEBRATIN MURDERS HOW AWFUL.
 

Captain Pants

Killed by a goddamned Dredgeling
May 1, 2007
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Peru said:
I can't believe the shit that's written on GAF sometimes, on one side gaming journalists are always mocked and journalism is put in quotes, on the other a thread like this is full of people claiming those journalists should just be consumer reporters delivering spec facts and technical performance. Since when was it not relevant to focus on the content? Dependant on the genre, a focus on story, themes, ideas communicated is very much a part of the game and what should be analyzed by good reviewers.
I feel like what I said later on in the thread has been largely ignored due to it being at the end of the last page, so I will say it again...

Captain Pants said:
You guys bring up great points. I can admit when I'm wrong. This might be a weak response to some well thought out posts, but there are way too many to address individually, I'm not used to game reviewers expounding on their own political ideals when I read a review. There is a part of me that reads a review and just wants to know if it is fun, and doesn't care what the reviewer's thinks about the army... but I'm probably wrong in saying that there are certain things a reviewer should, and should not discuss when the game deals with the same issues he is discussing.
I don't think game reviewers should sterilize their reviews, and neuter their opinions... I'm just not sure if you learn more about the game or more about the reviewer's politics from reading that particular review.
 

Vrolokus

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hauton said:
Honestly though, my only issue about this is

A) lol Gamespot
B) Is the consumer review the appropriate grounds for this? I see the merit behind the argument of "I'm here to find out whether or not I should buy the game, not an analysis of the themes". Perhaps this would be better suited in a different avenue of discussion (I keep thinking of N'Gai and Level Up).
But that's a limitation you're placing on the reviewer, not one that the editor(s) are placing on him.
 

Ranger X

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Jun 10, 2004
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hclflow said:
But in the end, it's just a vulgar and violent romp through a fictionalized take on the modern-day political landscape. Those of you saying it should be off-limits can kindly go walk off a cliff.

I found the game's plot to be highly laughable and pretty dumb, but if that's the script EA wants to go with, it's their fucking choice. Besides, it's not like the gaming industry is filled to the brim with brilliant storylines. Please.

I also found the political rantings, albeit brief, in the GS review to be pretty laughable as well. But hey, he has the right to be dumb, just as I do to call him that.

If you don't like it, don't read it.

Freedom of Speech. Fucking deal with it.

Amen

/thread
 

Mifune

Mehmber
Jan 19, 2005
10,799
0
0
Los Angeles
I don't understand why we even need game reviewers.

Just feed the game into some machine that will add up all the polygons, post processing effects, sound effect bitrates, and texture algorithms, grant the final product a rating out of a total possible score of 433692.33882 and call it a day. Extra point or hundred if the buttons do what they're supposed to do.
 

Evlar

Banned
Dec 22, 2006
14,387
1
0
hclflow said:
OHHH GOD FREEDOM OF SPEECH I CANT HANDLE IT!

It's funny that of all games the reviewer picks on Army of Two's absurd plot. It's so outlandish and over-the-top that I couldn't take it seriously for two seconds. I mean come ON, you have a 1337 hacker pal who talks to you in 1337 5p34k for Christ's sake.

The whole notion of the superiority of privately funded militias comes full-circle by the end of the game, by the way, for those of you who haven't actually played it (which seems like the majority posting in here). The idea is ignorantly glorified through much of the game by a U.S. senator lobbying for a bill privatizing the military, as well as one of the game's two protagonists.

The other protagonist, however, serves as a foil to the constant glamorizing by thinking their missions through on a slightly deeper level. Y'know, why are we really here, something doesn't seem right about this mission type of stuff. But in the end, it's just a vulgar and violent romp through a fictionalized take on the modern-day political landscape. Those of you saying it should be off-limits can kindly go walk off a cliff.

I found the game's plot to be highly laughable and pretty dumb, but if that's the script EA wants to go with, it's their fucking choice. Besides, it's not like the gaming industry is filled to the brim with brilliant storylines. Please.

I also found the political rantings, albeit brief, in the GS review to be pretty laughable as well. But hey, he has the right to be dumb, just as I do to call him that.

If you don't like it, don't read it.

Freedom of Speech. Fucking deal with it.
You're knocking down a straw-man. A good review doesn't try to censor the developer: it tries to inform the viewer/player. EA can do whatever the fuck it wants but I want to know "Should I play this game?"

If you insist on putting this in terms of "freedom of..." then reviews are directed at the "freedom to make informed decisions", not "freedom of speech".
 

Vrolokus

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Kittonwy said:
It's like going RAWR after Kratos killed a bunch of motherfuckers in God of War. OMG IMA CELEBRATIN MURDERS HOW AWFUL.
When every day crazed Greeks are slaughtering sometimes innocent minotaurs for money and then escaping any sort of legal repercussions, that will be a fabulous analogy.

But my point was: judging a game "on its own terms" is a dead end, because eventually, if you're being intellectually honest, you have to admit that some games' "own terms" are crappy to begin with.

I think the lowest score I even gave was to Pocket Pool for the PSP. If you get lost in that "but how is it on its own terms" BS, you can catch yourself saying, "Well, it's a $20 game that only meant to be a crappy billiard sim padded with lots of pics of skanks in their underwear. That's all it ever intended to be, so I can't damn it for not being more."

Obviously, that's bull. Even at best and giving the developers all the benefit of the doubt for their intentions, the whole concept was terrible. As Ebert aptly put it (paraphrasing), a thing can be great for what it is and still have no real value, the example being a bowel movement.
 

Captain Pants

Killed by a goddamned Dredgeling
May 1, 2007
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Vrolokus said:
When every day crazed Greeks are slaughtering sometimes innocent minotaurs for money and then escaping any sort of legal repercussions, that will be a fabulous analogy.

But my point was: judging a game "on its own terms" is a dead end, because eventually, if you're being intellectually honest, you have to admit that some games' "own terms" are crappy to begin with.

I think the lowest score I even gave was to Pocket Pool for the PSP. If you get lost in that "but how is it on its own terms" BS, you can catch yourself saying, "Well, it's a $20 game that only meant to be a crappy billiard sim padded with lots of pics of skanks in their underwear. That's all it ever intended to be, so I can't damn it for not being more."

Obviously, that's bull. Even at best and giving the developers all the benefit of the doubt for their intentions, the whole concept was terrible. As Ebert aptly put it (paraphrasing), a thing can be great for what it is and still have no real value, the example being a bowel movement.
Great post! Going Overboard is the best 'Adam Sandler on a boat' movie I've ever seen... that doesn't mean it is worth a damn.
 

Kittonwy

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Feb 21, 2006
21,538
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Tortondo, Canada
FlyinJ said:
This has to be really difficult for the neocon right.


On one hand, the game is saying the Army is inadequate. How dare they insult our armed forces! They hate freedom!

But on the other, it's saying that murdering tons of browns in the name of freedom is totally rad and butt-slappingly awesome.


How's someone supposed to decide how to feel about that!
Teh neocon right doesn't have to justify one with the other just like how abortion is bad but you can kill execute people for murder. Sometimes one doesn't have to care about being hypocritical. It's kind of like having the cheese cake and eating it, if that's what it means to be an american, so what?
 

GauntletFan

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Sep 9, 2006
1,112
0
0
border said:
The controversy over Contra was that you were killing human beings, so they had to change it to killing robots. It has nothing to do with the game's nonexistent political leanings.
No, there's a reason why it's name was changed to Super-C in America. Of course there was no political leanings in the game, but I was pointing out it was a game with some controversy over it's name (and as such, not a good example by the poster)
 

Kittonwy

Banned
Feb 21, 2006
21,538
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0
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Vrolokus said:
When every day crazed Greeks are slaughtering sometimes innocent minotaurs for money and then escaping any sort of legal repercussions, that will be a fabulous analogy.
But my point was: judging a game "on its own terms" is a dead end, because eventually, if you're being intellectually honest, you have to admit that some games' "own terms" are crappy to begin with.

I think the lowest score I even gave was to Pocket Pool for the PSP. If you get lost in that "but how is it on its own terms" BS, you can catch yourself saying, "Well, it's a $20 game that only meant to be a crappy billiard sim padded with lots of pics of skanks in their underwear. That's all it ever intended to be, so I can't damn it for not being more."

Obviously, that's bull. Even at best and giving the developers all the benefit of the doubt for their intentions, the whole concept was terrible. As Ebert aptly put it (paraphrasing), a thing can be great for what it is and still have no real value, the example being a bowel movement.
You're telling me everyday crazed greeks DON'T kill dem motherfucking minotaurs?

Dem motherfucking minotaurs all deserve to be killed for some fantabulous orbs.


Have you ever thought about WHY you have to kill those minotaurs? Why not have tea and talk it out? Or play a game of checkers? Or thumb-rassle?

The whole point is that these are mercs we're talking about, they kill people for money, they thrive in war-torn areas, the more motherfuckers fight each other, the messier the political situation, the better off these dudes are, they aren't saints, they're not supposed to be saints, they're really just a couple of fucking assholes, so what's wrong with a little fist-pound after they kill a bunch of no-good motherfuckers for some cold hard cash?
 

Slavik81

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Jan 23, 2007
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Oh, the the objection is the inverse? That there isn't a meaningful political statement in Army of Two?

Vrolokus said:
Contra, really? That's an example to fold in there? Who would object - people sensitive to our black op campaigns against invading extraterrestrials?

Videogames never stopped being videogames; what happened is some games have content that's controversial because of real world issues they draw on. The Soviets slaughtered thousands, including their own troops, subjugated half of Europe, and have been involved in some of the most horrific crimes that've taken place there.

And Call of Duty Two makes it all fun.
fixed.
 

WinFonda

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Oct 9, 2007
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Vrolokus said:
Because when you review a game "on its own terms", every game gets a great score. Even Enter the Matrix was a great Enter the Matrix game.
Except thats not what I meant (or said.) Enter The Matrix was a poor game in my opinion, but I shouldn't feel that way because I didn't like the Matrix films, or I because I don't like that Naiobe is played by Jada Pinkett-Smith. I should feel that way because I didn't find the game very fun or entertaining, and I should be able to explain why. This is what I meant by judging something based on it's own merits (and demerits) as a video game. How well it performs as a medium of entertainment. And of course it's judged amongst its peers. What isn't?
 

No6

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Oct 15, 2004
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skip said:
agreed. I would actually very much like to read a GTA review that talks about gang culture/organized crime, because that sounds interesting to me.
I'd think that would be terrible because the 3D GTA games (so far) have been (ultra-violent) parodies of pop culture. Discussions of actual gang culture would be completely out of place, and akin to reviewing Young Frankenstien as a critique of mankind's fear of the unknown. If there was any game that should have been put under that kind of lens, it was The Warriors.

I'd also say that the "consumer report" version of reviews is still definately necessary, and will be for quite some time. I just think there's a place for a seperate "content critique" review for games that need it.