Regarding this reaction by N'Gai Croal, and the articles written which led to it by Leigh Alexander, Ben Fritz and Keith Stuart. Who from here i will, for convenience, refer to as "the thinker's" (as N'gai does in his article.)
I think the bigger issue surrounding the Mirrors Edge argument, is how games are reviewed. Subjectively or Objectively...Sort of.
Or as i call it, Reviewing for your everyone, or Reviewing for yourself. It's not quite as simple as that either, I personally think the key is striking a good balance. Jeff Gerstmann talks some on the issue here.
The articles leading to N'gai's reaction COULD be broken down and viewed as a bunch of dudes who liked the game maybe more than the average person, complaining that someone's review score wasnt high enough. Which is not a new topic to hear people complaining about on the internet.
But let's be fair and break down the arguments.
The authors of the original articles (here, here and here.) leading to N'gais reply, attempt to make the point that a game should be reviewed according to innovation, despite shortcomings it will have in execution, It should get extra marks for trying. I think this is a flawed argument. A game can shoot for the stars for innovation, but at the end of the day, if it doesnt add to the FUN of the game whats the point? Should a game be reviewed higher for innovating even if its not fun? Is that fair to a person trying to decide whether the game is worth the purchase for their enjoyment? Then again, should that person be judging their purchase from the written review or the score? Probably the written review, But is the average person going to do that?
One of the important things here is the obvious fact that a particular game review is not for everyone. Just because a score is not past an 8 does not mean you personally will not take something awesome away from the experience, just as you personally might take nothing away from it. Of course that's the issue with judging something as with as many complex mechanics as todays video games with a single score, rather than reading what people have to say about it. Related thread.
I guess the fear of the "Thinkers", is that because a game doesnt metacritic above 8 noone will play it, I'm not sure if it's true though I will definitely agree to it being a sad state if that's where we are at. I think in the case of a game like Mirror's Edge, which i see having more of a cult following, it's probably less of an issue.
Their solution? Rate it above 8 you reviewers!
Our own Jeff Gerstmann says :
"But to just blindly throw out every aspect of game reviews in order to ensure games like Mirror's Edge get more credit than they probably deserve doesn't exactly sound like a great way to go about doing things, either. It's asking reviewers to talk more about the developer's intentions than about the actual product. That doesn't seem right at all. The people seeking revolutionary innovation at all costs are also probably the people who would listen to a podcast or dig deeper into alternative coverage of a game to see that, even though the core game is absolutely flawed, there's still something here worth seeing."
They attempt to lay the blame on low review scores at the inability of the reviewers to adjust what they are used to in a first person game (because they are not clever enough to embrace the "Innovation"?), rather than perhaps reading the reviews or in at least one case, actually playing the game at all. What is this incredible innovation anyway? That would prompt Keith Stuart to make this comparison:
"[I]f it were a movie, Mirror's Edge would be critically lauded by the specialist film press--it would be considered a forward-thinking masterpiece"
The real issues that seem to hold Mirrors Edge back as a whole product, I think are expressed well in this comment by Shawn Elliot (they are also well expressed in many reviews of the game) :
"N'Gai, you've nailed it. Mirror's Edge hopes to elicit a graceful, unrehearsed, and gymnastic performance from players under high pressure. Imagine the pitch: jumping puzzles without the stops and starts; without the uncertainty of players who want to carefully plot a path and leisurely calculate possible outcomes to unfamiliar leaps of faith. That's challenging. Since toothless scares lose their motivational impact once we sniff them out, it takes a real threat to prevent players from lingering . And real threats can, of course, kill. Trial-and-error gameplay isnt inherently evil; it just goes against DICE's dramatic intentions.
On another note, controls and combat systems are often where games innovate, and much of Mirror's Edge's innovation is certainly mechanical. Yes, I'm stuck on Keith Stuart's commentary, and I wish that someone would specify the nature of the innovation driving this discussion. For instance, I have no idea what Stuart means when he asks “So should we really be marking Mirror's Edge down for control issues – a game that aspires to re-interpret the very interface between player, screen, and character?” He can't mean that Mirror's Edge “aspires to re-interpret” the controller itself, can he? Perhaps he has the first-person game's approximation of physical presence in mind?"
At the end of the day it seems the whole argument stems from review scores and their impact, and that makes me sad. Its a forum argument between 14 year olds about a review score, except done on a (possibly) more intellectual level than "THAT REVIEWER IS WRONG!"
So how do we fix all this? What are the answers?
I have no idea.
What has to happen? Do reviewers take a more personal slant on their reviews scores or not? Is it up to the readers to be responsible for they way they interpret their reviews and from where? Or is it inevitable that we have this same argument everytime a new game is released, and we just accept it as the way things are?
If Blizzard think they are big enough and loved enough to pull this shit, i have a feeling they might be in for a rude shock.
Of course, maybe there are some details we are not aware of, but its still a fail on the account of Blizzards PR for the way it has been announced, the conclusions people will draw and the subsequent backlash that will follow.
If they halfed the amount of missions and released a game with all three races included, then releasing an expansion after with the rest of the content, i think thats a pill i could swallow.
They are going to have to make it pretty fucking special to keep me interested with one race over the course of 26-30 missions.
Not to mention here is Australia, each game will probably be somewhere around $100 each. Thats $300 for the entire experience.
Well so much for all the C64 editing i was going to do.
Unfortunately i have a short attention span, and pretty low wiki edit ability, as I outlined in my first blog. Who knows though, my interest could rekindle at some point and I might get something written in those 2 hours before I get distracted again...
...So anyway, I got a little bit of the "ebay madness" a couple of weeks ago and ended up with some interesting game related items.
Now its no psp, although the speakers and camera definetely give the psp a run for its money. It comes with 160 in-built NES roms, which I further bulked up to EVERY nes rom. The materials seem a little cheap, though for the price, I expect that. The D pad isnt the greatest, though im thinking of pulling it apart and seeing what i can do.
The only real Issues it has is the inability to sort Mp3/Video files into directories and the lack of an external volume, with no volume controls at all for the games. Also, I couldnt get the video to output to my television, though i havent extensively tested that. For $35 i cant really complain. Interestingly i recieved an email from the company recently saying they were temporarily under investigation by ebay, so im not sure about future availability.
Since i first heard of the concept I always wanted a chair with a subwoofer inside it.
Now I have one.
The sound quality is decent enough and it works well as a rear set of speakers complimenting the sound from my reciever. The vibrate function which works in response to the input of audio is also pretty great, though if i want to get the full effect of it in a game, I need to turn any in game music off. It works really well with GRID.
Unfortunately the base of the seat in relation to the back rest seems to be designed for xtreme slouching (the latest xtreme sport for kids.) which i cant do very comfortably as i like to keep my back straight. This leads to numb ass. Im going to try and pick up some bed material somewhere and modify it for more comfortable sitting. Overall im pretty happy with it though.
I freaking loved this platform, I have a special place for it in my heart as it was my introduction to video games.
My earliest memories are sitting on my fathers lap watching him play. To spending hours sorting through boxes of 5 inch floppy disks typing load, run and list commands ( , 8, 1)
We had hundreds of games, some which would take up to an hour to load everytime they were booted up, seriously. Think about that the next time you have to do a preload of a game on your console.
Ive just spent a good few hours watching youtube videos and adding to my C64 classics list, and I noticed many of my favourites still need to be added as games in the wiki, and the others are yet to be filled in. I cant let this stand.
Well heres my excuse to get into the wiki in earnest (i was getting around to it). These games must be entered for the good of mankind! Many of them the first games to introduce important concepts and ideas, and they deserve their place in the gaming annals!
Im starting to get a feel for where i will fit into the site, as far as the wiki goes.
As much as I enjoy writing about things I am passionate about, Im just not much of a facts and figures kind of guy. I came to realise while intending to do some writeups for various games on the site, that Im just not confident enough on most of the information pertaining to one game. Sure i can search on the net, bring up wikipedia and carefully summarise/rephrase and article, but at that point im nearly doing free work in mundane data entry, theres no soul in writing like that and many others can do it better. At this point I felt sad. What do I have to contribute after my 21 years of gaming?
And then i found the concept pages.
So while not having complete encyclopedic knowledge on various games, I feel i have very broad knowledge across many genres, on many platforms over practically the entire lifespan of gaming. As far as game mechanics I feel im an expert, and this is where the concept pages come in.
The concept area of the site seems to find less attention than the other more encyclopedic sections of the site, which I find strange, to me the game mechanics and overall concepts investigated can be the most important and memorable parts of the game. Bioshock being the best example, off the top of my head, of a game presenting various concepts and being successful and memorable for it.
Its this part of the site where i think i could find my place and offer some small value, although I've decided to stop submitting data until things quiet down a bit and the guys catchup with the queue. Its pointless for 3 or 4 people to be submitting the same entries in the window of time before anything goes up.