We’re kinda halfway through the year (sorta), so we think it’s a good time to look back at the first six issues of the year and have bit of a retrospective. More accurately, it’s a good chance to go back over the game’s we’ve looked at, played and reviewed, and find out how our opinion shapes up well and truly after the fact, how it compares to the rest of the world, and what we’re still playing.
It’s pretty much impossible to really measure the longterm success or quality of a game in a review environment. You’re often rushing the experience, or trying to play three or four of them at once. For many games, getting the most out of any online component can be even tougher.
That kind of experience only really comes in time. That said, a game also needs to hook for that long term experience to dig in, and while a reviewer can play a game and assume they’ll be continuing to do so for a while, the truth may be quite different.
And then there’s the competing stock of past great games. We may be reviewers, but we’re gamers as well, and our old favourites also compete with all the great new games we’re privileged to play. In such a crowded landscape, anything that still manages to get our game-time and hard-drive-space must be good.
So, let’s get started. We’ll kick off with our January 2011 issue (which went on sale in December 2010), looking at each game we reviewed, how we scored it, how we’d change it, and whether or not it’s still got a place in our hearts (or hells).
Issue 120, January
Call of Duty: Black Ops – score: 74%
We were pretty non-plussed by Black Ops when it came out. It delivered few surprises and a lot of what you’d expect from the franchise. That said, we did keep playing it for a couple of months after review, which says something, but we’ve since deleted it entirely from our gaming rig.
The thing with CoD as it stands is it’s a near perfect exploration of Pavlovian stimuli, and once you recognise that, you also recognise that the game’s actually not much fun. Pretty across the board, it pales in comparison to Call of Duty 4 (a game we do still play) – the weapons are less interesting or demanding, the maps are dumbed down, and the community is... well, we hesitate to possibly alienate portions of our own readership, but it’s a community that’s about as offensive and puerile as it gets.
Interestingly, Metacritic scores Black Ops at 84% by review, and a lowly 4.2 out of 10 from gamers. So critically, our review was kinda bang on. That said, if we had to review it today, we’d probably drop the score much lower ourselves.
Did we get it right? I think so.
Shogun 2: Total War preview – anticipation rating: 89%
We’ll leave our thoughts on the game to our review of the, er, review, but how did our preview shape up to reality? Well, we scored the game in the 90s, so we were certainly not disappointed.
Fable III – score: 80%
This was one of the few games that we farmed out to another reviewer. Why?
Well, we just don’t like Fable. I know a lot of people really dig it, so I thought the game deserved to be reviewed by someone invested in the series. After all, folks seem to get angry when reviewers admit they don’t like a franchise but review it anyway.
If ever you want proof that game reviewers are damned if they do, damned if they don’t this is it. Our tame fan was ridiculed for liking the game, and one angry responder insisted the review ‘told me nothing about the game’. I can safely say the review was much more informative than me saying ‘I am not opening this piece of crap’ 100 times on the page and illustrating it with pictures of my cat, which is about as qualified as I felt about Fable.
Incidentally, the game scored 80% among reviewers on Metacritic, and 7.5 amongst players, so we can’t have been that wrong.
Did we get it right? Bang on target.