The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on November 23rd, 2008 at 5:45 pm.

The nights are drawing in. Sundays turn from a time to play in the fields to a time to huddle inside and play Left 4 Dead (If you’re everyone else in the world) or Outrun 2006 (If you’re me). But there’s more to Sunday than that. There’s compiling a list of interesting reading from across the week for you to devour, while trying to avoid linking to an Of Montreal record with a well poncy title. GO READ!

Failed.

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78 Comments »

  1. Alex says:

    Of Montreal? Awesome. As well poncy Of Montreal songs go, I prefer When A Man Is In Love With A Man. Left 4 Dead is downloading from Steam now, so between that and Mirror’s Edge (No! Bad console-player tendencies, bad!) that looks like most of my gaming schedule filled.

  2. dadioflex says:

    I haven’t played Mirror’s Edge! BUT that Guardian review of it seems to be criticising reviewers for wanting it to be a better game instead of lauding it’s innovation.

    I’ve seen any number of reviews of ME and it breaks down into people who played it for five minutes and thought it was fantastic and people who played through it and were somewhat disappointed that they didn’t do more with the initial premise.

    Comparing games and movies is pointless.

  3. Rook says:

    How can you review a game on a Pentium D with a 6800, I’ve got a better machine that I use as a footrest.

  4. Alex says:

    Oh also (I miss the edit function), the NMA Fallout 3 review seems unnecessarily bitter.

    “Fallout 3 has two combat modes: real-time and slow motion. The real time mode is a mediocre shooter. You hunt things down with your cursor and shoot them until they die.”
    I’ve never understood this being used to criticise shooters. I mean, that’s what they are, at a fundamental level. It’s like saying a meal is mediocre because all you do is put it in your mouth, chew it and swallow it. I mean, I kind of see what he means, but…

  5. Heliocentric says:

    You can talk about a movie without talking about writing right? Characters or themes don’t matter.

    Or without talking about the lighting and composition? So yeah, er no point talking about the game mechanics. Right? Especially because mechanics can cripple progression.

    Imagine a motive which forced you to take a short quiz or puzzle every act. Can’t do it? Then you can’t even watch the rest of the movie. Or arguable worse you do get to watch it after watching the previous act a few dozen times.

  6. CrashT says:

    Here’s an idea, get two people to agree completely on what Fallout “is” and what it “isn’t” then you can say Fallout 3 isn’t Fallout…

    I’m waiting…

  7. espy says:

    @kobzon

    If fluffy kittens were an Ebola virus they would make you suffer a slow and painful death.

    What, exactly, is your point? :D

  8. duhreem says:

    espy: that it is not a movie, in the same way that a kitten is not ebola.

  9. pkt-zer0 says:

    @CrashT: Fallout certainly isn’t a first-person action-RPG for consoles. You could also check out the “History of Fallout” article on NMA, could be enlightening.

  10. Him says:

    I think people would be better off agreeing on what Fallout “Is” rather than what Fallout “Is not”.
    Personally, I’m going to pre-emptively claim the moral high ground for what I think that Fallout “Is” as I am one of those famed fifty thousand who purchased a retail copy of Fallout 2.
    (I also bought Freespace 2 in the same transaction. Perhaps the finest game-buying day in my life.)

  11. Jochen Scheisse says:

    So Kittens are Movies and Mirror’s Edge is Ebola? Or what is Ebola?

  12. Turin Turambar says:

    That Guardian article is horrible, horrible.

  13. boatorious says:

    I think the teaching moment should really go the other way. Movie reviews are almost universally dismal.

    It reminds me of a famous episode of my high school days. I didn’t witness it, but I had some acquaintances on a sports team, and once on an away game they were summoned to the bathroom by a fellow athlete. The athlete proudly showed them an amazing specimen he had produced.

    This excited athlete probably went on to be a movie critic. On one hand, it was a giant piece of crap. However, on the other hand, it went the whole way around the inside of the bowl twice, unbroken. It was a revolutionary poo that changed my life forever.

    Unlike movie critics, game critics are willing to call a turd a turd.

    Game critics are also willing to treat a racing game like it’s a racing game, and not get all huffy if they don’t like the acting or the plot.

  14. Nihohit says:

    @pkt-zer0: no, fallout WASN’T action-rpg, etc. now let’s argue some more!

    but, seriously – I understand Weller has his criticisms (though I don’t agree with almost everything he says there), but couldn’t NMA at least edit the article enough so it’ll be readable, fitting basic journalistic standarts? personally, I didn’t finish it – by the end of the first half I got so annoyed by the writing and language, that I stopped reading.

  15. Alex says:

    I prefer my Montreal indie bands to be from Montreal, thank you very much, you dastardly Georgians.

  16. Saflo says:

    Unlike movie critics, game critics are willing to call a turd a turd.

    I’m pretty sure movie critics *are* willing to do that, and they do it pretty often.

  17. Trezoristo says:

    In response to Keith Stuart’s blog: I believe every good game innovates a little. A game that offers the same game play as another game but adds a bit of story or some different weapons, is either called an expansion by the developers or a clone by the community.

    Keith Stuart makes it sound as if Mirror’s Edge is a very special case because it tries something new. I would say that Mirror’s Edge maybe innovates a little more than most games. That should certainly earn the game points in reviews, and it does, but doesn’t excuse it from having to offer a pleasant gaming experience.

  18. boatorious says:

    Not if it’s a novel shiny turd.

  19. Muzman says:

    Guardian guy has a point, sort of. Spore and Far Cry 2 only got eights and nines but Bioshock and Halo 3 get tens. To me that’s absurd. It’s pretty far from a rule though (Fallout 3′s reception is countering pretty well), but I do get a general sense that innovative games are more likely to be quirky and awkward in their implimentation and, worst of all, unfamilar and so get marked down.
    (he’s wrong about one point in particular; saying ‘yeah, it had some good ideas, but it wasn’t perfect – I’ll look forward to the sequel’ is almost exactly what critics did say after walking out of Blade Runner)

  20. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Yes, Vince’s Fallout 3 review was rather more positive than I’d expected. But it wasn’t entirely so, as the good Mr. Dweller had some good points to make about why it doesn’t completely live up to the Fallout name.

    On the other hand, I found myself forgiving of Fallout 3′s flaws and Oblivion-ness. More than I forgave Oblivion anyway. I guess it was the Americana that won me over. I’d also mentally glossed over the lousy dialogue because, having played many games, it’s hard not to develop a resistance to inanity if one intends to remain a gamer in the face of modern product.

  21. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    Personally, I think ME is a bit of a flawed gem. It’s essentially merely putting games like Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider into the first person, and it does so with aplomb and panache, but the problem is it’s horrifically short, with nothing to serve as a backup. These days, if a game is going to rely on it’s single player only, it has to be at least 12 hours or so long. I finished ME, on the hardest difficulty setting available at the beginning, in six. That’s not really your money’s worth. Renting it however, is highly recommended.

  22. Meat Circus says:

    Two of the most innovative (from a pure mechanical perspective) games were World of Goo and Braid, games which places like this place gushed over uncontrollably.

  23. AndrewC says:

    Guardian feller makes his argument in a rather horrible fashion (though it is fair enough that he thought he had to describe games in terms of another medium for a readership that will mostly not be gamers), but his argument (which I took to mean that many games reviewers will treat reviews like buyer’s guides, judging the game on how many of a set number of criteria it achieves) I feel is sound. If a game does something different, it won’t check certain boxes and so will be marked down. It is a reviewing system that rewards professionalism and reliability (excellent attributes) but gets confused with innovation or the foggier, fluffier notions of emotions or art.

    Case in point – marking ME down for simple combat. The buyer’s guide review compares it to other combat systems and it comes up short. The intelligent reviewer notices that the game is not about combat (and what little there is is given depth by means of when and from where you strike, not in how many different ways you can strike).

    Plus ME is really a racer and the meat of the game is what happens after you finish the story. How long do most reviewers play it? And are they playing it thinking it’s a first person Tomb Raider?

    Oh, and plus most major internet review sites are mostly read and thus mostly aimed at teenage American males and so even intelligent reviewers must write to that audience. That involves a reviewing scheme that puts Gears Of War at the top of the scale.

  24. moof says:

    @Nihohit
    Why don’t you think it fits any journalistic standards? I don’t see what’s so bad about the writing and language.

    Also, Kieron: You linked to the third page of the FO3 review.

  25. Meat Circus says:

    @AndrewC:

    If only somebody would write some kind of manifesto for what games journalism could be. Some form of ‘new’ games journalism, perhaps?

    It could even be called that.

  26. AndrewC says:

    I’m imagining you have a point, Circus?

  27. Pags says:

    That pic blog reminds me a little of the Youtube video ‘Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years‘ – with music by the excellent Carly Comando of the even more excellent Slingshot Dakota, who you should really listen to instead of Of Montreal. But I digress. It’s a hefty project to undertake; webcomics like Cyanide and Happiness only manage to update so frequently because of their inherent simplicity – although it seems like mostly it’s just a collection of old pictures, it might be difficult even finding enough content lying around to update it every day.

  28. Tom Camfield says:

    Guardian thing – complaining about an IGN review is a bit silly because IGN are aimed at a popular demographic, not specialised tastes like, perhaps, Edge (at least Edge when I last read it).

    Edge’s high score used to mean ‘revolutionary’ so obviously they should rate innovation highly, while anyone aiming at a wide demographic (like IGN) needs to be more conservative because that’s how you satisfy the widest demographic, you pander to conservative tastes.

    To say IGN need to award more creative titles is to ask them to be the antithesis of what they set out to be; they’re a website aimed at making as much money as possible, they’re not here to encourage innovation however much Kieth (of the Guardian) or anyone else might want them to be.

  29. Leeks! says:

    Chemical-oh-ow-eh-owls!

  30. Kieron Gillen says:

    Don’t mention the war, people.

    KG

  31. Dracko says:

    Keith Stuart [is my favourite writer in the whole wide world and I've definitely learned my lesson about mindlessly shouting insults in Comments]

  32. N says:

    new [lovely] journalism is for [splendid] [tasty] [peaches]

  33. Pod says:

    I [Love - ed] Keith Stuart and think he’s a right [cool geezer - ed]. I wish I could [marry him and have his children - ed].

  34. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I’m starting to wonder how many bracket-ed comments are real and how many are there for purely comic effect.

  35. Mister Yuck says:

    “Honkie” is a way better slur for white people than “cracker”.

  36. Pags says:

    [Just no. -Ed]

  37. Turin Turambar says:

    “Guardian guy has a point, sort of. Spore and Far Cry 2 only got eights and nines but Bioshock and Halo 3 get tens. To me that’s absurd.” -Muzman.

    Yeah, it’s absurd. I mean, both Far Cry 2 and Spore are mediocre games, they shouldn’t have scored more than a 6. But alas!, the hype attacked again.

  38. Leeks! says:

    Oh man, Ministry of Truth style comment sections are awesome! I wish the whole internet was like this!

  39. Kieron Gillen says:

    (I’m tempted to change Pod’s fake-Ed comments into proper insults)

    KG

  40. Pod says:

    If Halo 3 got 10, what will Halo 4 get? 11? 10.5? None More 10? 01? Hmmm?

    ps: Dor. Cor. Jasper, the ones without the Future publishing style -ed are real sinners being opressed by the man. The rest of us are good, self censoring citizens.

  41. Saflo says:

    Ah, the dreaded Hype virus strikes again, infecting the minds of reviewers across the internet and making them say nice things about games I don’t like.

  42. Kadayi says:

    Bit late on the Vince review Keiron, we’ve been discussing that in the forum for a few days now. Even had the man himself turn up a contribute a couple of posts as well.

  43. Kieron Gillen says:

    Kadayi: I’ll stick up the Sunday Papers on Tuesday next time.

    KG

  44. Angel Dust says:

    @boatorious
    Just off the top of my head check reviews for ‘The Fountain’, ‘Youth Without Youth’,'The Tracy Fragments’ and ‘Slipstream’. Note I’m not saying I agree with any these views but merely illustrating that film critics, in general there are certainly band-wagon jumping ones, have absolutely no trouble calling a turd a turn even it’s a highly novel one.
    To be honest your anti-film critic stance smacks of the usual they-don’t-like-my-favourites-and-I-don’t-like-theirs bitterness.

  45. wiper says:

    Re: Guardian comments – I couldn’t put it better than AndrewC already has.

    So here it is again:

    Guardian feller makes his argument in a rather horrible fashion (though it is fair enough that he thought he had to describe games in terms of another medium for a readership that will mostly not be gamers), but his argument (which I took to mean that many games reviewers will treat reviews like buyer’s guides, judging the game on how many of a set number of criteria it achieves) I feel is sound. If a game does something different, it won’t check certain boxes and so will be marked down. It is a reviewing system that rewards professionalism and reliability (excellent attributes) but gets confused with innovation or the foggier, fluffier notions of emotions or art.

    Word.

  46. Oddbob says:

    What AndrewC said, also.

    Tom, I see where you’re coming from and I agree that IGN’s stance is pretty clear in the big ol’ world of reviews but there’s something horrible about the “it could have one more button for extra combat” quote (I’m paraphrasing there, obviously) that does make it fall into the realms of “what the?” for me. I mean, it could have an elephant too but it doesn’t mean that it should or even needs an elephant.

    It’s pulling a game down for what it’s not and what it’s not attempting to be and that just doesn’t sit well for me. It feels wrong.

  47. wiper says:

    It’s pulling a game down for what it’s not and what it’s not attempting to be and that just doesn’t sit well for me. It feels wrong.

    It’s a perfectly natural reaction though: people generally have difficulty with new things, and this goes doubly for critics with new approaches – you’ve developed a critical mind attuned to specific types of (game/film/music/literature/drama), so something that doesn’t fit your expectations is liable to throw you. It’s easiest to treat it as something you do understand, that’s gone wrong. Which is, in a way, reasonable: evolution is just mutation after all, and who likes mutants?

    Of course, the trick is to treat change as the norm, and criticise things accordingly – which leads to the inverse form of criticism, where professionalism and reliability are thrown aside as less important than innovation. Which in itself is a problem, if it becomes the only form of criticism (a fear which clearly grips boatorious). Ideally, you have critics performing for both sides of the equation (and some straddling the two). At the moment, however, it seems that games journalism leans a little too much to the classical side of criticism.* As Guardian man was trying to point out.

    *i.e. the form of criticism championed in the classical era, where works failing to correspond, relate or at least heavily refer to recognised genres (and, ideally, works) were critically lambasted or ignored. A form which, had it continued, would have insured that literature never strayed from the choices of epic, lyric, pastoral and elegiac poetry; tragic and comic plays; historiography and religious parables.

  48. Radiant says:

    The golden rules:
    All games start at 7 out of 10.
    8 out of 10 if it’s an indie.
    9 out of 10 if the publisher buys advertising.
    10 out of 10 if your review comes out before anyone else’s.

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