The scoring system that I've been using for video game reviews on this blog is a holdover from the reviews that I wrote for Game Observer. I'm not a big fan of using scoring systems for reviews, since reviews are inherently subjective, and it's very hard to quantify the quality of a creative work with any degree of precision. I can rate a game on technical levels, but that still doesn't tell whether a game is "good" or not. A game can be technically perfect, but not very "good"; alternatively, a game could be technically inferior, but is just more fun to play, and is thus "better". In fact, sometimes, my scores don't really match up with how I actually feel about the game because I include categories for technical executions of the game that may not have any real relevance with respect to whether I like a game.
Unfortunately, however, attention spans being what they are, a simple score does serve a function for some readers who are either unable to read the full text of my reviews, or who are unwilling to read the full text of my reviews.
You may have noticed that my scoring system changed slightly. I'm still going to reuse the basic scoring system in which I grade a game based on a set of five criteria and then average those criteria scores into a single overall score. However, I've changed the criteria slightly, and would like to spend a moment to define what these categories represent.
My reviews will now start using 4 pre-set criteria, and an additional "wildcard" criteria. [More]
If you’re not completely sick of reboots by now, here’s another one to sink your teeth into: Capcom’s DmC (Devil May Cry). The franchise is only 10 years old, but nothing’s too young for a reboot these days (see: Amazing Spider-Man). The original Devil May Cry still stands proud and tall as one of the shining gems of the PS2’s library, and I would even argue that it might be the single best game that Capcom has ever made! I’m sure Mega Man and Street Fighter fans will argue though. Bottom line is that Devil May Cry single-handedly created a whole new genre of game: the "stylized action" genre. It was the first in what would become a long line of spectacle action games that would eventually contain names like God of War, Bayonetta, Lollipop Chainsaw, Batman: Arkham Asylum (to an extent), and Heavenly Sword. That last title is of particular interest because its developer, Ninja Theory, is the developer for this new DmC game (Capcom is only publishing).
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New Dante sucks.
Prerelease promotional material really soured my interest in this game to the point that I waited over 6 months to pick up a used copy cheap off eBay. And the movie ended up being sloppy and wrong on numerous levels. And Edge of Time had caused me to lose faith in Beenox’s competency as a developer of Spider-Man games.
So there was a lot stacked up against this game, and I went into it gritting my teeth and ready to be furious. Maybe I set the bar a little bit too low, but I ended up enjoying Amazing Spider-Man. It cut a lot of corners and is easy and boring, but there’s enough good ideas in here that I’m actually excited to see if Beenox gets another chance to hopefully knock one out of the park.
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Spider-Man can swing without anything nearby for his webs to stick to, including over the tops of parks and the city skyline itself.
This instantly pulls me out of the game experience everytime it happens.
This review was originally published 09/14/2010 on Game Observer. It has been republished here for archival purposes.
More than just a roster-update, but Gameflow is worthless and not worth the full price if you already own Madden 10.
It’s that time of year again. It’s time for the annual release of EA’s powerhouse licensed NFL game, Madden. This year’s release promises to completely redefine the way people play football games by bringing the playbooks of hundreds of plays down to one pre-selected play based on a Gameplan. It’s the way NFL coaches really do it, and once you stop and think about it, the idea really is brilliant. But a good game needs more than just good ideas. The ideas need to work. And Gameplanning just simply doesn’t.
I’ve always played the Madden games for the strategy and coaching elements. So when I first heard that the game would now be picking my plays for me, I was skeptical and afraid. But after hearing the arguments, and thinking about it a little bit, the change actually did make sense and even had me excited.
The Madden developers were claiming that gamers would be able to Gameplan for their upcoming opponent by setting up which plays to run in any given situation -- exactly how real NFL coaches do it. The system also had the potential to make full-length, 15-minute-quarter games more playable and practical, since the combination of the Accelerated Clock and GameFlow means that all the time spent between plays is now simulated. A default-length game of 7-minute quarters takes half an hour. And a full-length 15-minute-quarter game can be completed in less than an hour. An in-game save would have also helped make full-length games more practical for those of us who still may not have a full hour to devote for one continuous game. But too bad, we didn’t get that. [More]
This review was originally published 07/30/2010 on Game Observer. It has been republished here for archival purposes.
The game has nice ideas and looks great, but new gameplay mechanics only seem to create more bugs and problems.
EA really needs some competition in the football gaming market. I can’t imagine any football gaming fan NOT wanting the NCAA to discontinue EA’s NCAA football-exclusivity license when it expires either this year or next. [Update: EA has agreed to not sign another exclusivity agreement!] Comptetition is always good for the consumer, and right now, EA really isn’t giving us games that are up to par with our expectations. For the past two or three years, EA has given us NCAA football games that have contained some great new features and gameplay additions, but every year, they manage to fill the game with new flaws or take steps backwards in terms of gameplay.
Two years ago, excessive turnovers made the game almost unplayable. Last year, the oppressively fast game speed made the game look and feel so chaotic, that it almost completely overshadowed the improvements such as the "Dead Duck" passes and the "Setup Play" feature. Like in past years, the new game gives us a lot of welcome improvements, but also introduces new problems and takes several steps backwards in certain areas. [More]