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    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Another Awful Review, And A Press Release

    Our readers have been on top form this week, alerting us to two points of ridicule. The first follows last week’s report on PC Gamer’s wank-stained review of Oblivion. Tom Francis’ hopeless attempt at padding / NGJ / whatever-excuse-him-and-his-mates-are-using can’t even claim to be original, as a hawk-eyed reader spotted the unreliable had beaten him to it with its review of Animal Crossing: Wild World.

    Written by some guy called Mathew Kumar, (if this was Harry Hill’s TV Burp, the audience would be unfunnily shouting out “who?” – he's a freelancer for places like InsertCredit) the 2344 word review is peppered with exactly the same brand of jizz. Here’s the intro:

    “The first thing I remember is waking up in the back of a warm taxi cab, speeding through the driving rain. The driver, a frog, introduces himself as the Kapp'n, and asks me a variety of questions to find out who I am - secretly it helps me ascertain that very thing myself. It turns out my name is Mathew. I'm heading to the town of NewGenki, a small town populated by animals, and I have no money to pay the fare.”

    No Mathew, you’re having a bad trip.

    Over a third of the text is taken up by this meaningless drivel, making it a 1500 word review (complete with typos – well done EG’s sub-eds) padded to the ends of the earth. Check this out for a finale:

    “In the middle of the night I awaken, and look over at her, sleeping peacefully in her little bed fit for one. Some nights I could just watch her sleep. I put on my goggles, an awesome purchase from the Mabel sisters that makes me look super cool, even with a bee sting, and walk out into the empty streets, heading for the museum's observatory. The lyrics of Aerogramme's 'In Gratitude' run through my head - "I wanted to show you the stars... I wanted to show you the stars.”

    I inscribe her name into the heavens and send her a letter, those lyrics the only content.”

    Man alive, we couldn’t make this shit up.

    And now back to the world of PR, courtesy of another reader who sent us a press release from RR favourite Crazy Frazer Nash. Headed “Teenage Goth-Metal girl designs extreme metal racing video game based in Hell”, the release is a load of empty platitudes about a racing game nobody has heard of, or ever will. Cue Frazer:

    Frazer Nash of Frazer Nash Communications describes how his daughter created the game during work experience at developer, DDI: “Sky, then just 15, was given a huge responsibility to design her own (tongue in cheek) game. By the end of the first week, she had created a Gothic-looking game, complete with drafted levels and an awesome soundtrack. 12 months on and with professional development courtesy of Sam King and Mike Rooker (art), Mark Gemmell (production), Karl White and Julian Salter (Programming) at DDI. (Looks like you forgot to finish your sentence there, Frazer - RR) Aimed to appeal to Goth / Rock music fans the world over, Metro 3D have created EARACHE EXTREME METAL RACING - a monster of a game.””

    Stop the presses – it’s a racing game set to rock music. With bands like Linea 77 and, umm, Akercocke, a new dawn for gaming has been heralded. And you heard it here first.


    1. "Man alive, we couldn’t make this shit up."

      No, you really couldn't, could you?

      Here's what makes the least sense: it's one review, of a game in which you're asked to simply exist, to have experiences. So Mathew describes some experiences. And yes, he has some fun with it, makes it flowery.

      Obviously your rage makes no sense. If a site or magazine were writing every review this way, and you found it obfuscatory, then your complaint would make sense. But one review in every two hundred having an experiential account of something that *the reviewer experienced*, making you so angry? There's another cause.

      I think it might come down to:

      "Man alive, we couldn’t make this shit up."

      For a blog that was supposed to reveal the terrible truths of the games industry, don't you think it's a bit lame to spend your time slagging off people who write better reviews than yours?

    2. Pedro Jalapeno11:28 am

      He doesn't send me press releases anymore because I kept sending corrected versions back at him in RED FONT with SEE ME at the end.

    3. It's hardly one review in every two hundred. There are a startling number of reviews coming out every week that skate around the actual quality of a game and bang on about growing a beard, smearing your face in dog shit and hiding in a bush, waiting to leap out and stab someone with your level 782 dagger of doom.

    4. I don't think there's any question (and I'm not sure of which I grow more tired - saying this most obvious of statements, or defending fucking NGJ as if it's a big deal to describe a gaming experience in the first person) that a review that *replaces* information of a game's quality with anecdotal experiences is a review that has failed.

      It isn't true of Mathew's, it isn't true of Tom Francis' Oblivion review, and it isn't true of any other example RR has cited so far.

      Let us challenge those reviews that fail to deliver the necessary information (and if I have failed, please point this out to me so I can do better - I post under my own name for a reason), but can we stop these pathetic pram-based tantrums because we're scared of someone's being imaginative? (Or, as I suspect is rather more likely, panicking at the realisation that lazy back-of-the-box-with-a-score-at-the-end hackery is no longer going to be good enough).

    5. Anonymous1:24 pm

      Come, come John. Surely even you can't defend the finale? It's Animal Crossing he's talking about!
      What next? A 6000-word thesis on the original Frogger, and how it's actually an allegory of the state of modern capitalism.

    6. Anonymous8:39 pm

      No, John, it IS utter tosh. It really is.

    7. They can be imaginative in their myspace profile. A game review ought to tell a potential buyer what the hell the game is like. It shouldn't read like a Terry Pratchett novel.

    8. Anonymous10:46 am

      i agree. that eurogamer review of animal crossing was absolute bollocks. i gave up reading it after a few paragraphs and read the one on instead which the reviewer didn't write while giving himself a blowjob.

    9. Well, "anonymous", I can. He's having fun, and it's rather sweet.

      Read in context, it makes sense. It's the conclusion to the story told in the review.

      But more to the point: in Animal Crossing you can write her name in the stars, and send her a loveletter.

      What goes over the heads of so many literary-luddites is quite how appropriately that paragraph conveys the game. It is a ridiculously fey affair - a game about planting flowers and writing pretend letters. Mathew encapsulates the tone exactly, in a far more effective and evocative manner than the back-of-the-box crappery people are more used to.

      However, if someone doesn't like the paragraph (and I'd say fairly inevitably, that would be someone who hasn't understood the game), then fine. You didn't like a paragraph. Did the review fail? In no way. So what the flowering-fuck are people bleating about? Back to my previous conclusions.

      Can't wait to see someone who aimlessly shouts about how it's all so difficult for them with their own name.

    10. Mrs Anonymous10:58 am

      There's more than one Anonymous here, BTW. Just couldn't be buggered to fill out more fields.

      But as the other Mr Anonymous says, he should restrict this to his MySpace profile. Let him have fun in his own time and not make me cringe to near vomitting when I'm simply reading a review. The only other industry that accepts this crap is the wine industry and only because there's often bollocks-all else to say so they have to flower it up.

      I have played Animal Crossing. I love Animal Crossing. I don't like this review.

    11. Anonymous2:37 am

      That is quite honestly one of the worst pieces of self-indulgent wankery I've ever read. I love Animal Crossing, I can see what he's trying to get across, but fucking HELL...

      I'm not quite sure why anyone's defending this, least of all John Walker. RR may disagree (as twats are wont to do), but you're better than this shit. Quite a lot better,at that.

    12. Anonymous6:19 pm

      I love Animal Crossing

      and I love this review.

      It sums up the possibilities and experiences of playing the game perfectly.