"We constantly have to revisit 'Why would Donkey Kong do this?' or 'Why would this environment be like this?' And then we start thinking: 'We're making a game about a gorilla wearing a tie.'"
-Michael Kelbaugh of Retro Studios on Donkey Kong Country Returns
"I have to say it's kinda scary how much you know about this game."
-Nicolau Chaud creator of Marvel Brothel
I had this written up late last night, but wasn't planning on doing anything with it because it's pretty ranty and not that good. However, this issue bled on to the front page and I figured I'd post it instead of deleting it.
So apparently Eurogamer gave a game a review score lower than the perceived average score. This being Eurogamer, nobody should be surprised by this. They do it for every game because that's how they use the range. They have a long running history of this.
However, since it's Uncharted 3, one of Sony's big exclusives of the year and a potential game of the year candidate, it seems people have an issue with this.
First of all, I don't care about the review score. Like I said, this is typical Tuesday stuff for Eurogamer. Don't like it, well take that up with the Brits. I also don't care about Uncharted. I played the first game and thought it was a solid game throughout, but couldn't replicate the fun or excitement of the original Gears of War. I haven't touched the sequel, but I can understand where they were going and what they achieved with it.
What Eurogamer complained about wasn't about any of the things we as gamers come to expect from a critic. It was about preference. I have a slight issue with that.
Linearity is the name of the game in this review. Uncharted 3 apparently is so linear that it pushes you to explore their world instead of exploring your own. Simon Parkin over at Eurogamer has an issue with that. For those who like breakdowns, he's fine with the story, graphics and gameplay. He has an issue with how they presented it.
I'm a huge fan of any developer that can actually immerse you in a game. This current generation is spectacular in it's ability to achieve this. Portal, Bioshock and many others have obtained this. It is one of the greater things that can happen in a game. However, as a reviewer, I can't expect you to gauge immersion.
If the game is faulty because of a design element, a glitch or even just poor realization of a goal, I can see that. Those are what we call faults. However, to not be able to specify this and go on a long tangent about how the game seems scripted is weird. He writes about a fault that could entirely be his own. The only hints I can perceive is the fact that he wanted to blow up a wall that wouldn't let him. As if it's a developers job to allow you to break the world apart to create your own.
This isn't Red Faction and the world wasn't built to be destroyed. We as gamers learned all of this in Super Mario when we hit the first brick and it didn't break. Miyamoto told us we couldn't do it, so we played by his rules. Because of this, I understood that when Mario 3 came out, I shouldn't be expecting a Zelda like experience.
Freedom is a choice in a game. It isn't one that the player chooses, it is one the developer does. If they give you that option, then you can achieve what you will with it. Otherwise, you have to play by their rules in their world. If what they present to you is boring, infuriating or something else entirely, then you have grounds to make claims against the game. If you want more, discuss it. Don't tell me that they played it safe except "for a couple of sections where drug-tipped darts cause havoc with the ensemble cast's minds, and some wonderful moments when the scriptwriters dip back into Drake and Sully's origin story." You are a critic. BE CRITICAL. This is praise. You mean there are wonderful moments to enjoy in the story that at times run off into a weird place, but they played it safe?
I know less about the issues Eurogamer have after reading this review than I do any other. As a critic job one is to criticize the faults you experience in the game. If you can't express that in a definitive matter you make it come off as an argument for something different. Right now they are arguing that they wanted more freedom from a linear game that was fun in nearly every single way except when they tried to do something they obviously weren't supposed to.
That's not a valid complaint as a critic. Complaining that you can't turn the game in to your own is a valid concern as a consumer. Post Final Fantasy XIII, that is a cause for concern. However, I can cite more than enough instances in that game where the design elements hurt it. I see none of that in the article.
These are all the problems that I can find for Uncharted 3 in the Eurogamer Review: Once an enemy sees you, all are alerted to your presence and they don't forget about you. Discovering random trinkets isn't rewarding enough. Sometimes Nathan Drake doesn't allow you to pull out his gun during big events. If you miss time your jump Naughty Dog will help you however, if you jump where you shouldn't, you [i]die.
Those flaws are so weak, it belays the argument.
I believe this is all just the story of somebody that didn't want to get in to the game. Simple as that. Those aren't valid complaints above. This entire review was one reviewer's woes of being forced to follow Naughty Dog's script. It's a game that is "impossible not to get swept up in the drama, and succumb to the ride" apparently. This however is a negative as "the result is that safe thrills and awe-inspiring spectacle are all that remain, sugar-rush gaming that sends your mind into repeated spasm but does little to reward beyond the immediate high."
So it's a game that sweeps you off your feet but doesn't reward you in doing so?
All I'm saying is the review is weird. It isn't an argument on enjoyment, but tiny grievances. The game is apparently flawless in the three categories I deem definitive of a superb game: story, gameplay and graphics. Its just how they achieved this wasn't to Simon's liking. As a critic, you have to justify the faults. I can understand if somebody doesn't like a game because of something in it. However, if I can't find a clear reason for the complaints, they didn't do their job.
I think he went in to this review because he was tired of the big blockbuster experience, which is a valid concern. Break that argument down then. Don't just give us tiny grievances that reduce the game down in score only. Maybe if he had done a better job clarifying the issues he had, the backlash might not have been as harsh. People seem to be defending the review because he has the right to review it this way. Sorry Jaffe, it wasn't a good review.