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Reviews Only Matter When We Agree With Them

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Day One: Garry's Incident developers censoring criticism


Exploiting YouTube's copyright protection is kind of poopy, guys
Oct 21
// Jim Sterling
Wild Games Studio, the company behind Day One: Garry's Incident, is currently caught up in a controversy surrounding criticism of its game on YouTube. Immensely popular PC game critic John "TotalBiscuit" Bain has accused the ...
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Rhymedown Spectacular: Whine out of Ten


The brains behind Jimquisition and Zero Punctuation get lyrical
Sep 18
// Jim Sterling
This week, Yahtzee tackles ludonarrative dissonance and puts forth a most eloquent explanation. Meanwhile, I ... well ... look at the title. You know what this is about. You know.  And you love it. 

Jimquisition: Dragon's Frown

Aug 05 // Jim Sterling
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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Oh yes, it's another video about reviews and things. Not quite the usual flavor, but certainly something that cannot be repeated enough. If you're a fan of Vanillaware, you may not be helping by pouring excessive scorn on a ...

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Rhymedown Spectacular: Confessions of a Game Reviewer


The brains behind Jimquisition and Zero Punctuation get lyrical
Jul 10
// Jim Sterling
Welcome to another episode of Rhymedown Spectacular, AKA Yahtzee Won This Week! Having grown accustomed to failing a competition that is not a competition, I think I'm gonna just start getting weird with these poems.  Not this week, though. This week you're invited to the Shooters Ball, and get to hear my darkest confessions. Enjoy!

We don't wait for games to not suck

Mar 21 // Daniel Starkey
On March 15, I tried to log in and work on some of my cities again, but none of them would load. I know that some people have had a fantastic experience since Maxis and EA have beefed up their server capacity, but clearly for some of us, this system still isn't functional, and at this point it's unclear when it ever will be. I realize that experience isn't necessarily reflective of those of most players at this stage, but that's just the point -- it's impossible to account for every possible scenario. As a reviewer I only have my own experiences when I play, and that's all. Even if I were to go back and re-review it now, I would have no choice but to give it a 1/10. It is still a broken product. There are some people that don't believe reviews should be a consumer guide, and that's actually a perspective to which I am sympathetic. As a general rule, I like to think of reviews as discussion topics. I wait until after I've bought, played, and formed my own opinion on a game before I look at any scores or read any reviews. As a general rule, I consider any information about a game to be a spoiler. This way I expect almost nothing and have a fresh mind going into every experience. I realize however, that that approach isn't at all common. Many people don't have the cash to blow on a $60 game at launch and either need to rent, wait for the price to drop, or check out their favorite critics' thoughts. I get that. I know what it's like to be a gamer on a budget, and I know how hard it can be to scrounge up the cash for a new release, and it's for that very reason that I approached the SimCity review in the way that I did. People who really wanted it, the classic SimCity fans, would buy it no matter what I did. The same is true for the people that want nothing to do with the series. My target audience was the few in the middle, those who weren't sure about whether the game was worth buying at launch. I did the best I could to dissuade people that might otherwise sit on their hands for what is at this point, weeks, for the game to be playable while they have nothing to play in the meantime. Did SimCity get better? I'm sure it did for most people, but as of today, I still can't play the cities I started, and the prospect of creating a whole new region is reason enough to keep me away. As Jim Sterling said a few days ago, buying games like this at launch is not a good idea. The more that don't, the clearer the message to EA that such behavior is unacceptable. In that sense, I think I was still able to fulfill my goal of using the review to spark discussion that took place in the comments, on Twitter, and on other sites like NeoGAF.  If an otherwise rational consumer decided after reading my review that they still wanted to buy the game, good for them. I hope they get lucky and I hope they have the best time possible, but at least they did so knowing what was and is still quite likely to happen. They made an informed decision with their money. Ultimately, so much of this conversation depends on what you personally think the role of a game critic should be. I can say that I expect an engagement with the actual content of the game, and that I want to know far more than whether or not it looks good or if it has decent controls. If those components are exceptional -- going either way -- then that warrants a mention, but otherwise I want to know about themes, I want to know what XYZ critic thought about the message, if there is one. I want to hear about how the mechanics reinforce or clash with the core purpose the game, and I want to know if it's something that's culturally relevant. If a critic goes into an in-depth description about how combat works or about the menu system, I'm immediately turned off. Everyone, when writing, should ask themselves "Why does this matter? What is the point of what I'm saying?" While I'm sure many people have grown rather attached to the current format and structure of reviews, I've always figured that one of the reasons that people like Yahtzee are so popular is that they offer something more. He has a very clear point and is remarkably consistent with his approach. I'm sure some portion of this piece sounds like I'm trying to describe why people should read what I write, and it's entirely possible that that's what I'm actually getting at, whether I realize it or not. Consciously, though, I only hope that people find this interesting. I plan on watching the discussion closely and seeing if I can get a better idea of what others prefer to see in their reviews. Maybe I really am in a very small minority. Maybe I'm operating on a lot of baseless assumptions. I'd like to think, though, that I'm not so far removed from the opinions of most people that I'm completely off here. So what do you think? Is the role of a critic to provide the seeds for a discussion, are we in the business of creating consumer guides, or is our job something else entirely?  [Header image from Suvodeb]
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A Critic's Manifesto
A couple weeks ago, I posted my review of SimCity on ScrewAttack. I gave the game a 1/10, which is the lowest I've ever scored anything. That review sparked a surprising amount of controversy amongst one of my roommates who c...

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Jon Blow

Jon Blow likens popular games to dog food


Believes you have 'no taste' if you like certain critically acclaimed games
Jan 31
// Jim Sterling
Indie developer Jonathan Blow is angry again, and this time he's got his sights set on critically acclaimed games, alongside the critics acclaiming them. Telling the world he's played some recent games that were "obviously te...
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Metacritic's top rated games of 2012


The Walking Dead shuffles into first, but year deemed bad overall
Jan 02
// Jim Sterling
Metacritic has released its annual list of the top rated games of 2012, organizing its review averages to find which titles received the most critical acclaim throughout the last year. Unsurprisingly, The Walking Dead took to...
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Jimquisition

Jimquisition: Review Scores Are Not Evil


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Dec 03
// Jim Sterling
When Jim Sterling isn't busy being the voice of a generation, he's a videogame reviewer -- one that's constantly told to abolish review scores. This is a silly request, hinging on the belief that review scores are an evil we...
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EA: Warfighter is better than reviews say, trust us!


Medal of Honor defended by its biggest fanboy
Oct 31
// Jim Sterling
Usually, a negative review for a major videogame is accompanied by all sorts of wailing and caterwauling from angry fans, but in the case of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, most readers expected it. All except Medal of ...
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This is why Conan O'Brien is the best game reviewer


Jul 01
// Tony Ponce
On Thursday, Team Coco kicked off a new web series called Clueless Gamer, in which Conan O'Brien tries (and fails) to play a videogame then assigns a review score. And unlike The Tommy Wi-Show, it won't make you feel like yo...
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Obsidian missed Metacritic bonus for Fallout: New Vegas


Mar 15
// Jim Sterling
Does Metacritic matter? Ask your average gamer, and they will likely sneer with contempt, blame it for all the ills in the world, and declare that the collector of review scores is useless. Ask a developer like Obsidian, howe...
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Metacritic user reviews tear Mass Effect 3 to pieces


Mar 06
// Jim Sterling
It's becoming all too common for gamers to hold irrational grudges against videogames they haven't played yet and take out their frustrations on Metacritic or Amazon. Games such as Portal 2 and Modern Warfare 3 have been vict...
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Dear reviewers, we need another word for 'experience'


Mar 02
// Jim Sterling
There's a grave problem facing videogame reviewers today. No, it's not the rampant backlash over numerical scores. No, it's not corruption and publisher pressure. It's something far more deadly to our entire industry ... we'v...
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Batman: Arkham City is Metacritic's top rated 2011 game


Jan 13
// Jim Sterling
Metacritic has released its annual list of top rated games, revealing that Batman: Arkham City on PS3 was the most critically acclaimed title of 2011. It beat out The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by a mouse's cock.  Here's th...

The wackiest Destructoid reviews of 2011

Dec 27 // Jim Sterling
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PlayStation 3)Score: 7.5 The rage started early this year with a 7.5 for this PS3 exclusive and a hefty dose of resulting rage. For those not in the know, a PS3 exclusive is never allowed to score lower than a nine, otherwise 13-year-olds around the world collectively shit themselves, smell the shit, and type literal equivalents of what they smell as comments on blog posts. The game did get a good score and a recommendation that fans buy it, but that didn't stop people telling me on Twitter that I "won't stop the game selling," as if my goal was to bankrupt Media Molecule. Anger around the Web was worse than on Destructoid itself, but this article thread still contains some idiotic gems. Star Comment: "Alright, who fucked up and gave this fat ass an A grade release to review? Go back to your fritos and Sonic manga you fucking joke and let the real writers review these games." Hyperdimension Neptunia (PlayStation 3)Score: 3.0 It's hilarious that so much anger blew up around this review because, seriously, who the Hell is playing Hyperdimension Neptunia now? I am fairly certain most of you didn't even remember it existed before now, if you even knew it existed in the first place. In any case, I can attest that the game is just as bad as Matthew Razak said it was. In fact, I practically begged him (or anyone else) to review this because I found it too painful to play, despite having looked forward to the game so much. Still, at the time, fans were sneeringly accusing Matthew of not understanding the game, while playing one of their most popular cards -- claiming the reviewer was playing "out of his genre." This is a very common method by which reviews are invalidated, stating (without evidence) that the reviewer has never liked a game in a particular genre, so his opinion can be discounted. I guess that's easier than defending your shitty game. In any case, people got mad over Hyperdimension Neptunia, and now nobody remembers it. What was the point? Star Comment: "Pfft, whatever. I was just in it for the lolis anyways." Ys I & II Chronicles (PSP)Score: 3.0 If there's one thing this year taught me, it's that people do NOT fuck about when it comes to weird little JRPGs. We had Darren Nakamura review this PSP title and people got pissed. While it only received 78 comments -- low by shitstorm standards -- there was a lot of rage to go around. Darren was accused many times of being "wrong" with the review or of writing a half-assed article, but nobody seemed to be able to point out what was so wrong with it. Yet again, he was accused of not liking the genre, even though he does, and writing an unfair review. Despite not blowing up to the degree that other reviews on this list did, it contains pretty much every example of how not to deal with a review that you disagree with. Worthy reading for research purposes. Star Comment: "Darren Nakamura once again proves that he's a fucking idiot. News at 11." The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC)Score: 6.0 This review became such a shitstorm that, even six months on, people still reply to a 6.5 review score with "At least it's better than Witcher 2." In truth, this highly regarded RPG had a lot going for it -- it was grown-up, looked gorgeous, and stood out as a seriously solid PC exclusive. However, due to a range of problems that conflicted with its ability to be fun, the game was merely decent at best. It was an okay game, but Witcher 2 wasn't spectacular. Believe some commenters, however, and you'd think I hated the game beyond all reasonable contempt. The review peaked at 622 comments, with very few of them actually defending the game or arguing the review's points, instead focusing on my marvelous breasts or lack of talent. One particular comment declared that The Witcher 2 was "for the master race, not you damn console derps," and that we should "leave [his] games alone and enjoy [our] own boring filth." A lot of PC elitists crawled out of the woodwork to cry foul and crow about their superiority, because PC gamers are fun like that.  Star Comment: "My God this guy is a joke! A 6?? What a dumb azz like somebody else said if it was Mario or pokemon he would have gotten an erection! If you are a fan of rpgs you will love it don't listen to this jack-azz!!!!" Duke Nukem Forever (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Score: 2.0 Whatever score it was getting, Duke Nukem Forever was going to be a wild review. It was one of the most famous cases of videogame vaporware in history, finally resurrected and released, with hype going through the roof. Unfortunately, the actual game was an offensive, insulting exercise in horrible gaming. Levels felt literally patched together from bits of random code, the combat was mediocre and repetitive, and the overall game resembled some troubled, canceled, sloppy title from over a decade ago -- which is what it was. People got mad, but it was Jim Redner, head of the Redner Group, who got the maddest. He was the PR rep for DNF, and he complained about "venomous" reviews (particularly a certain 2/10 one) and threatened to blacklist a number of publications. He later apologized for this threat, but his behavior is still remembered and is solidified as part of Duke Nukem Forever's fucked-up legacy. Star Comment: "I think I hate you. Never before have I read such a harsh review for a good game. You are worse than all of IGN put together." Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (DS)Score: 4.0 This may be my favorite review of the year. I haven't gotten around to playing my copy of Solatorobo yet, but whether I like it or not, I respect Allistair Pinsoff's willingness to damn the trolls and say what he thinks. This is a guy that truly gets what Destructoid reviews are about, which is why I am proud to have us feature his writing. In any case, he didn't like this game at all and gave it a 4/10. The fallout that followed, for an obscure DS RPG, was intense. This little review garnered a staggering 579 comments, although part of the blame must go to the evil tag team of Jonathan Holmes and Tony Ponce who were stoking the fires of fanboy rage in a deliberate effort to break the 500-comment barrier. Destructoid's resident village idiot Stealth also contributed hugely, rushing to post "bullshit review" and then spending the entire thread going apeshit. On the first page of comment alone, Stealth had racked up 12. The whole thread is worth reading to watch a random kid having a nervous breakdown over a random review on the Internet. Star Comment: "For the record personal opinion should never be in reviews ever. If that was the case for different people every game of a particular genre would get a 1. Just based on there personal opinion."A review is a critical examination of a game and only that game. Not based on something else." Batman: Arkham City (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Score: 8.5 One of the most ridiculous controversies of the year, I actually got hate mail from a reader furious about this low score. He called Destructoid gay and asked why we gave Arkham City "such a sting" with the review score. I mean, really, 8.5 is a "sting" now. This review really typified the "hate out of ten" phenomenon that's swept gamers (and at least one developer) this generation, where great review scores are despised for not being great enough. It's a really sad direction to head in. Naturally, some accused the review of looking at Metacritic and deliberately scoring lower, even though the review went up at the same time as everybody else's, so that would've been impossible. For many, it didn't matter how good the score was -- it was the lowest score on Metacritic at the time, and that meant the review was horrible. It's quite frightening how some gamers want all reviewers to have exactly the same opinions. When it gets to that point, we might as all just publish the game press release and call it a review. Seriously, this growing desire for the game community to enter an Orwellian dystopia is fucking alarming. Star Comment: "Good to see Jim is at his main game as always: ATTENTION SEEKING. If this game was an 8 Jim would give it a 5, just so people would see the metacritic and say WTF and come here and see why. That's OK Jim, we know that anything Kirby is a 10/10 game. Keep it up Jim! Busy now. Will come back and chat later. This review gets its own score: 3/10!" Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)Score: 9.5 Every year, gamers react to one particular review in a way that shocks me completely. This year, Modern Warfare 3 took the prize with a reaction I have never before seen and may never see again. The sheer anger, hatred, and outright spite this review got was utterly astounding, and I still haven't quite worked out what went wrong. I am aware that it's become cool to hate Call of Duty now, but I didn't realize people hated it so much that they attacked anybody who liked it. This may be the first positive review I've seen that caused such levels of anguish and fury. Usually, a positive review makes fans happy while non-fans simply ignore it. That did not happen this time around, and you can almost feel literal heat when you open the review up and look at the comments. It seems some people were bitterly disappointed that I did not attack the game for them, seeming to believe that reviewers are now hired hitmen who carry out drive-by criticisms of games on command. Sadly, we're not. I still like Call of Duty and I loved Modern Warfare 3. People will need to deal with it. Holy shit though, this one had me in shock for a few days. I still can't get over just how mad people got at somebody enjoying a videogame! Star Comment: "9.5 for a cut n paste of MW2, 5hr campaign & same again MP. Wonder how much Jim Sterling got paid by EA ? Hes just a wannabe kneejerking to make MW3 seem cool & get his SE/LE copies."
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Destructoid reviews can get something of a ... spirited ... reaction from readers. Our scores don't always line up with the majority of other publications, and some gamers can't stand that. However, as we learned this year, e...

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Presenting the new-look Destructoid reviews format


Dec 06
// Jim Sterling
We at Destructoid are always looking to improve our reviews. They're a huge part of our site and one of the most controversial aspects of any videogame community, so ensuring that reviews are clear, concise and fair should be...
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Telltale employees caught reviewing Jurassic Park


Nov 18
// Jim Sterling
Some naughty Telltale employees were caught writing user reviews for Jurassic Park on Metacritic, with four 10/10 summaries going up at once. Their cover was blown by GameSpot, who found the reviews suspicious and did some de...
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The Jimquisition: Hate Out Of Ten


Nov 14
// Jim Sterling
Review controversies are nothing new, but things went from bad to worse this year with gamers going crazy every time a major title got scored by various outlets. The "Year of Threes" have created more high profile titles tha...
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Modern Warfare 3 dev tries to boost Metacritic user score


Nov 14
// Jim Sterling
OH THE CORRUPTION! Sledgehammer Games boss Glen Schofield has been upset by the Metacritic score for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and was caught red-handed attempting to boost it via Twitter. But before we grab our pit...
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Ladies and gentlemen, this may be the most important film you will ever see. It's raw, it's gritty, it's real, it shakes the very foundation of the enthusiast gaming press. This is a movie that will change not only the future of filmmaking but also the very fabric of social constructionism. Modern Game Journalism: The Movie: The Trailer [GameTrailers]

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Metacritic user reviews take a dump on Modern Warfare 3


Nov 08
// Jim Sterling
Metacritic user reviews are always good for a laugh, and the level of resentment they have for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a riot. Currently, the game boasts a 2.9/10 score average, as gamers have united in droves to po...
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Art Juice: Gamer


Oct 26
// Jim Sterling
[Every week (until I get bored), Art Juice takes a recent videogame story and provides an unremittingly artistic slant, telling us a little something about ourselves in the process ... whether we want to know the truth or not...
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Does Uncharted turn people psychotic?


Oct 26
// Jim Sterling
Our very own Jordan Devore linked to this thread on NeoGAF last night, which is full to the brim with commentary about Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and the recently released reviews. Now, we had Chad Concelmo review the gam...
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DICE: Battlefield 3 will be judged by review scores


Oct 24
// Jim Sterling
Gamers often complain that publishers put too much stock in Metacritic averages and I'm inclined to agree. However, Battlefield 3 producer Patrick Bach has said that his game will fall into the same trap because there's no ot...
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EA Norway tries to manipulate Battlefield 3 review scores


Oct 19
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts' Norwegian division was caught with its hands in the cookie jar earlier this week after a number of publications spoke out against its Battlefield 3 reviewer grooming process. The publisher was sending ou...
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Cliffy B 'upset' by hateful 8/10 Gears of War 3 reviews


Sep 16
// Jim Sterling
With any other videogame, scoring an 8/10 would be considered glowing praise. According to Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski, however, that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, according to him, anybody who dares give Gear...
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Duke Nukem voice actor slams 'clueless' critics


Jun 17
// Jim Sterling
Duke Nukem voice actor Jon St. John has written off negative reviews of Duke Nukem Forever as coming from "clueless" critics. These, of course, are the same critics that would have been quoted on press releases had they said ...

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