My review philosophy.

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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I'm writing around 125 reviews because:

  1. Reviews on Reddit get buried
  2. I kept a journal for 3 years on the games i played while i finished college, recovered from a broken arm, and am now going through COVID-19. That stream of consciousness has never really been reflected on.
  3. I consume so much Giantbomb.com content and find the questions i email in are ignored for more crowd pleasers like, 'if you could only have 1 starburst what flavor would it be?"
  4. I'm pairing down my videogame collection and will be making a donation to the goodwill. I should not be keeping any 2, 3, or even 4 star games in my collection.

Of all the games I have my scoring philosophy is that there truly can be only:

  • 5- 5 Star Games
    • Those exist currently as PUBG, Animal Crossing (pick your system.. it's still a 5), Tony Hawk 3, Burnout 2 and Fallout 3.
  • 10- 4 Star Games
  • Infinite everything else
  • Sites like Kotaku.com will do a top 20 games for a system and will move things off the list as necessary. I follow that same philosophy, Nobody wants to hear me drone on about the best games for a system. I should be able to rattle off 5. This review system will help me get there.

I don't play Nintendo games. I famously (friends from years ago might remember me saying this) but I never need to play another Mario game or ever see another episode of the Simpsons. This is circa 1999. I think I'm a fine individual having lived up to that promise and I cringe to think of who i would be had i not proclaimed that years ago. I am not anti-Nintendo. Even with COVID where during quarantine i hesitated to want to pick up a game where violence was celebrated I still couldn't bring myself to care about Animal Crossing, i dont have a switch anyway.. $80 for joycons is MTX level of shady. I find violent and apocalypse games actually have enriched my life now and have helped me cope better than i first imagined. Besides, animal crossing was a 5 out of 5 game on GameCube but Nintendo really hasn't gotten their online sophistication solid enough for me to even trust giving that game a try.

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north6

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Hell yeah, make it happen.

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BladeOfCreation

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Can you also share your email questions that don't get answered. I feel like the community could really benefit from your input.

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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Well I can’t be sure if you’re being sarcastic or not but I’ve had one question featured before. Let me look up my last one.

The last one was on the lines of why hasn’t Sony leveraged their bond license for a 1st party bond game. Since 3rd person is kind of the defacto thing PlayStation has going for it and the games are simplistic enough with their press right to win and QuickTime everything the games are simplistic enough for mass market appeal and with a name attached they honestly could maybe get a PlayStation + game purchase out of someone like me that may have lapsed out of playing games. I kind of only wanted to hear Jeff’s take because he is pretty good about knowing about licensing issues or would have heard about it from industry insiders. Everybody else would have been good idea or that’s dumb.. I can use the internet for that.

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Ry_Ry

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@fourthline They probably didn't answer because Sony hasn't had the Bond license for about two years now. When they did they only had distribution rights for the films.

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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@ry_ry: Nobody is leveraging the bond license for games so I would think whoever holds the license wouldn’t mind royalties on a regular basis especially if it’s going to have skins for some kind of multiplayer. Sony wants butts in their seats for movies but a side story that’s compelling enough to cross pollinate your game audience with your movie audience and vice versa makes more sense and cents than Uncharted Lost Legacy, if you market it as by Naughty Dog. I really don’t think non-gamers will ever be compelled by properties exclusive to videogames to start playing videogames. Until Nathan Drake hits the silver screen i dont think non-gamers will be compelled, if ever.

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Shindig

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EA put the last Bond games out, for what it's worth. They didn't do well.

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What year was that? Those games never do well because they arent attached to an acclaimed studio. If their smart about it they could have people think independently of their games and build a gaming brand for bond. Nobody thinks arkham knight and the dark knight are the same thing or from the same universe.

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ThisIsACoolTag

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Shindig

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Okay, I was thinking about that Goldeneye on the Wii and Everything or Nothing.

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Ry_Ry

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What year was that? Those games never do well because they arent attached to an acclaimed studio. If their smart about it they could have people think independently of their games and build a gaming brand for bond. Nobody thinks arkham knight and the dark knight are the same thing or from the same universe.

It's worth nothing that the Arkham series went out of its way to cast Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill and Batman and Joker. You don't do this without trying to draw a connection to Batman nostalgia.

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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@ry_ry: if you surveyed people exiting a 2020 rerelease or Star Wars in imax (excluding present day circumstances) I venture that 99% of those people could not tell you which game mark Hamil Was in and the 99% of the people that knew that did not pick up the game because of him. It’s like casting for voices in cartoons. Nobody cares who is in the movie. Half the time you don’t recognize the voice unless you already knew they were in the movie.

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ghost_cat

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#13  Edited By ghost_cat

@fourthline: Weird analogy, but it's not black-and-white like you put it. While I bet very few people will purchase a game or movie because of Mark Hamill, I know for sure he plays a sizable influence towards that purchase. Like live-action films, people do care about VO stars in games and animation, and there are plenty enough of them out there with a voice that is instantly recognizable without prior information (it's why they get the big VO bucks).

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Onemanarmyy

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#14  Edited By Onemanarmyy

I also think those batman movies & the batman games being popular in the same time period is no mere coincidence. Yes, those stories don't really overlap with eachother, but at the end of the aughts (is that how we call 2000-2010?) there was a lot of interest in all things Batman and the games definitly benefitted from that widespread interest.

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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@ghost_cat: I totally disagree. I'm going to look at the announcement trailer for Batman Arkham Knight. If there is one mention of Mark Hamil I'll eat my hat. If there's not realize that this small bubble of videogame culture is not representative of the world at large. Linking now before i view .. though a teaser should really include it. A 3 minute trailer then there's time.. V.O. for cartoons is really for the parents. I'm guessing you can't name one celebrity actor for the more minor Pixar movies that you've likely seen.. So Inside, Wall-E, or Up. If you see a name of a voice that you should have recognized then maybe the voices arent as big a deal as you claim.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsf78BS9VE0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVk9jW9EzD0

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=batman+arkham+city+teaser+trailer+

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Efesell

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I have no idea what you are attempting to prove.

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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@efesell: at this point it's that Mark Hamil was not heavily marketed as the one dude claims or he would have been in the teasers. Other than that.. who knows what i'm talking about.

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Efesell

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It's not a matter of the marketing, it's more that those are extremely specific casting decisions that they're using to bolster their audience.

Whether it's the bulk of them or not there are absolutely people who see that and be interested in the Arkham games because they loved Batman TAS.

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ghost_cat

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#19  Edited By ghost_cat

@fourthline: Dude, you don't have to market voice actors: their voice is in the trailer already. Sometimes the marketing team cuts a trailer and list the actors and actresses for added hype, but something like an Arkham game doesn't need it, because everyone knows that's Mark Hamill as Joker. Even without the knowledge, the performance and delivery are striking enough to make an impression. Then there is press and PR, which is another form of marketing, and usually they include details like voice actors.

To take a different example: a ton of people were pretty bummed when it was announced that David Hayter was not going to play as Big Boss for MGSV.

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SethMode

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#20 SethMode  Online

What is happening?

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Ry_Ry

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@sethmode said:

What is happening?

i don't know anymore

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Gundato

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#22  Edited By Gundato

I don't have the foggiest what else is going on in this thread but

@fourthline said:

I don't play Nintendo games. I famously (friends from years ago might remember me saying this) but I never need to play another Mario game or ever see another episode of the Simpsons. This is circa 1999. I think I'm a fine individual having lived up to that promise and I cringe to think of who i would be had i not proclaimed that years ago.

As someone who regularly gets shouted down for his thoughts on breath of the wild or mario odyssey and bought his switch for "the nindies": that is a REALLY messed up mindset

Maybe you like the games, maybe you don't. Assess the games. Not some desire to take pride in being too cool to even see if you would enjoy something. One should NEVER take pride in forcefully burying their head in the sand.

Especially if you are trying to be an authority on... whatever you are trying to be an authority on.

And regardless: never take pride in willful ignorance.

------

As an example: I saw the first Purge movie probably shortly after it hit DVD (I think Blockbuster might have still been around?). It was one of the most up its ass things I have ever seen and I mostly ignored the franchise all while muttering that it was stupid to make a franchise for that movie

Then I was in a hotel room (remember those?) with nothing to do and flipped through HBO and saw some crazy old lady throwing exploding baby dolls at a kid. And then a crazy zombie dude merced some people. And then a dude took out two hooker-ninjas. And then black solid snake straight up murdered the klan with a machete and it was AMAZING. Apparently I frigging love what The Purge became.

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Shindig

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Might as well through some of my review philosophy up here. So Playstation Country, the site I write for, use a 10 point scale. I definitely think a five star scale is more appropriate (because really, really poor games are relatively rare) but, with us having metacritic credentials, 10 fits better with their 100-point scale.

So what does the scale mean to me?

10 - I've only given out one to The Witness. I think this was partly down to it having the same kind of mystery that Fez held. Some days I tend to feel like it's misplaced (it's a puzzle book but the book is an island) but I won't find another game like it. In that respect, it feels appropriate.

8-9 - Off the top of my head, Nioh and MGS V landed as 9's. Two games that I find sprawling in terms of stuff to do. Very systems heavy and replayable. When it comes to 8's, I'm looking for something that leaves a strong impression. This could be small and narrative-driven like Telling Lies. I've also got a habit of giving Sim Racers strong marks. Assetto Corsa Competizione and Project Cars had a great feel to them and I love sim racers. Consider that where reviewers tilt can hit the hardest.

7 - On the flipside, I end up reviewing yearly motorsport titles and sometimes they don't really add much to each iteration. NASCAR Heat's settling into this grove and there was a ton of Milestone's bike efforts that fit that 'yeah, it's good but what's new' rut. Also, I don't agree with Metacritic's weighting that gives 7's a mixed reception. When I score something 7, it's out of a broadly positive review. 7's are good games.

6-5 = Average games. 6's lean towards some good ideas that are either not executed enough or executed poorly. 5's are more processional. A game I play that doesn't raise the needle. I don't hate it but I can't take many positives from it, if at all.

To be honest, I rarely delve beyond these five but there are exceptions. We get all sorts to review and this includes steam tripe ported to console, mobile ports, one-man team efforts, visual novels, etc. 4 and below are games I genuinely don't like playing, either from poor design decisions or legitimate technical horrors.

I've never given lower than a 3 and I do mostly find myself something of an optimist.

One other thing is I dislike the use of the 'royal we' in reviews. My work is not the views of the site. They are mine. I own them and write them as such. If everyone at the site had the same gaming interests, we wouldn't divide the work up as we do.

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sombre

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5 star- Completely unassailable in their respective genre. Games that I feel buck the trend of common conventions in their archetype. I will recommend these games to any friend, regardless of interest in a genre. Not without fault, but good enough that it doesn't matter. Often times new IP

Historical Examples: Persona 4, Dark Souls, Spelunky, Final Fantasy XII

Modern Examples: Risk of Rain 2, Octopath Traveller, Vermintide 2

4 Star: A better than average game that keeps my interest levels going for over half the game. It drops a star because the story goes off a cliff, or new gameplay mechanics dry up, or I put it down one day and never pick it back up. The story is typically a strong starter, but doesn't continue to evolve enough. Often times a very good game, but only if the player is specifically interested in that genre. Some crossover, but often genre fare.

Historical Examples: Final Fantasy XIV, Half Life 2, Crash Bandicoot 2

Modern Examples: Red Dead Redemption 2, Civilization VI, Assassin's Creed Odyssey

3 Star: Completely average in every possible way. The gameplay tends to favor being safe, or it's a HD remake, or the story is generic. A LOT of JRPGS fall into this category. They WANT to be excellent, but they're too held back by their desire to make money, so play everything RIGHT DOWN the middle. This is about the star rating I give to games I don't finish. Typically sequels, remasters and remakes. There's shining moments, but they're overran by being "safe"

Historical Examples: Dark Souls 2, Halo 2, Mass Effect 3

Modern Examples: Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

2 Star: This is where games get bad. At this point, star rating is completely subjective. The gameplay is either imbalanced, the story nonexistent, or the game is outright broken or busted. It's around about this point where games are predatory on their consumers, which is why so many 2 star games are F2P. Think: excessive MTX. People tend to give them a pass because "Well it's free to play, you don't ACTUALLY NEED TO SPEND MONEY", but know in their heart of hearts that this is a strawman. Around about this point, I don't play much before I realise this game is the pits.

Historical Examples: Dark Sector, Yoshi's Island, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

Modern Examples: Dota 2, Borderlands 3, Doom Eternal

1 Star: Completely without merit. Games like this often have no redeeming qualities. I don't play a lot of 1 star games, for obvious reasons, but they tend to be phone games. Are all phone games bad? No, are they heck. But do phone games typically have extremely, egregiously bad systems in place? Yes. Games like this tend to just have absolutely on artistic merit whatsoever, and are explicitly designed to make money. Just stay away from them

Examples: Any gacha game.

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Cory7911

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This was a weird and interesting thread to read though 🤔

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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@shindig: Did you look up or consult with others for solutions. I couldn't stand The Witness and probably only made it through about 10 of the puzzles. Visual puzzles like that are like learning to speak Latin. I guess you can do it but it serves no purpose. I didnt like Braid either. It's why i can't stand Uncharted franchise and the prompt to hit L3 cant come soon enough.

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Shindig

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#27  Edited By Shindig

It's just lines, man.

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Efesell

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I don't even like the Witness and that take annoys me somehow.

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Onemanarmyy

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I guess you can do it but it serves no purpose

Entertainment is doomed!

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bwheeeler

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@fourthline: It came very naturally to me without walkthroughs, I wonder if you need a high IQ or something?

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ghost_cat

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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I’m really enjoying the reveal for far cry 6. They put the actors front and center. If only the Arkham knight series thought it was worth mentioning Hamil in their initial teaser. Batman was the draw and gameplay was the draw. Nobody but GiantBomb premium subscribers cared about Hamil. I guess everybody knew according to my poll. As games evolve they have to start putting actors front and center because the gameplay is 100% what you expect these days.

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Efesell

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#33  Edited By Efesell

You made a really weird point about this and everyone said "uh, no" so just take the L my guy.

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ghost_cat

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Dang George, you're a funny dude. Keep being you.

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simmant

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@fourthline:

Just out of curiosity, why do you keep referring to the Arkham games as the Arkham Knight games? Literally no one refers to that series by the title of the 4th and final game in the series. It makes absolutely no sense. Do you just assume no one referred to that series at all until the last game came out or do you think people changed what they referred to the series as after each game was released?

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Quantris

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I'm more curious about your preferred Starburst flavor than anything else. Come on, be brave enough to share it.

(for me it's the red ones...which probably makes me pretty boring / predictable).

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Onemanarmyy

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#37  Edited By Onemanarmyy

@simmant: As a SoulsBorneKiro connoisseur i don't know what you're talking about :)

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Shindig

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Might as well get one more serious one in before this goes full anarchy ....

When a review should go up - When it's done. Whilst I'm always under some time constraint (day job mostly, review work occasionally) I am not a fan of rushing for day one views. We're not doing this for ad money, I'm not taking a payslip for my work so I'm under no incentive to rush. Furthermore, there's always the possibility the version you review might see patches days into sale.

Ultimately, I need to put something up that is a good first take. Unfortunately, the way metacritic works, it doesn't allow for you to edit reviews and scores in post. It scrapes your site shortly after it goes up. We toyed with the idea of doing follow-ups for any games that had poor launches (DRIVECLUB) or games-as-service's but, by the time that comes around, I'm usually reviewing something else.