The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on January 11th, 2009 at 11:36 am.

Sunday is a day for trying to make my gaming PC start booting again. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe I can procastinate, making a list of some smart and compulsive games reading I found this week for the RPS-readership’s delectation, and try my damn hardest not to include some pop song or another. Yes, I think I can.

Failed.

.

107 Comments »

  1. Lilliput King says:

    Seconded, skizelo.

    Not really doing his job there. I ploughed about 8 hours into Fallout 3 and found it fairly pants – If you can’t hire voice actors with even an ounce of talent, do away with voice acting altogether and let me make up my own voices, early RPG style. Anything is better than Moira. That and the quests were boring. Only two main complaints, but big ones.

    On the other hand, I don’t presume to say that Fallout 3 is pants, merely that I found it so. The definition of an art to me is something that has no clear ‘best’ method of completion. So, cooking is an art form, while mopping the floor is not. Games reached that level a long time ago, and as such its genuinely no surprise that – whisper it – I’ve never enjoyed a mario game.

    If only Scott Jones and his ilk had the courage to be honest and see that a negative review from them doesn’t contradict a positive review from the rest of the industry.

  2. Still annoyed says:

    Briosafreak said: “So he doesn’t like the game, but voted it for GOTY because of peer pressure and a teenage wish to fit in. And then confesses he didn’t like it because it wasn’t like Halo or Bioshock.

    Fascinating.”

    QFT. There’s really nothing to add there, except that yeah, it’s nice of him to let me know not to trust anything he writes in the future.

  3. Git says:

    People have different taste in games shocker!

    I loved FO3, but there isn’t enough time in the universe to try and explain to someone who dislikes FO3 why I loved it. I have trouble understanding the appeal of certain types of game, but you know what – I don’t have to understand it for them to like it! They don’t need my approval and nothing I say will affect their opinion.

    When you don’t like a game it makes its success look like a conspiracy. After all, who the hell bought all those copies? Surely they must have conned all those people, and very few of the would have liked it. After all, I didn’t like it and I’m the yardstick of taste in this universe.

    One mans meat truly is another mans poison.

    Scott should know all this because a) he’s an adult, and b) he’s a games journo. But what did Scott do? He let other peoples opinions sway his. He decided that he needed other peoples approval. He ate another mans meat then bitched about how horrible it tasted.

  4. Cunningbeef says:

    While I can see where you’re all coming from, I was also swept away on the wave of hype that came with Fallout 3′s release.

    To me, at least, it was like an action movie. I’m playing it, saying “awesome, boat city”, or “holy shit, nuke gun”, running around and having a blast. Then, maybe about a week after I finished up the (fucking) main quest, and therefore stopped playing, I looked back at it and saw repetitive combat, exploration that boiled down to “look for non-empty crates in generic abandoned house #387″ and utterly fucking dire writing. Comparing this to the original Fallouts, or indeed any decent RPG, is like comparing Gears of War to Deus Ex. While the former might press all the right buttons in the ‘there and now’, it will ultimately leave you feeling emptier than the latter. But I’m sure, were I in the journalism business, and was writing a review before the epiphany of blandness I had, I would have given it a good review.

    I really don’t like to seem like part of the NMA crowd, and I did support the game prior to and just after release, on the strength of Bethesda’s previous works and the hope that they could be versatile enough to make this more than an overblown Oblivion mod.

    ps. I’m not looking to start a debate about the merits of the game itself, so I’ll say now that the most important failing of the game for me was the writing (which is undebatable, right?). Although I guess it was naive to expect them to pull out anything better than they’d done previously.

  5. PHeMoX says:

    ” When most sites use 7’s (or equivalent) for mediocrity, and anything below is quite simply rubbish, it’s not too surprising that a game like Fallout reviews almost exclusively at 90% and above. ”

    It [i]is[/i] surprising that Fallout scores almost exclusively 90% and above for this very reason actually. You know, stripped from it’s initial hype it very much is a ‘been there done that’ type of game that only barely sticks out above mediocrity. The game actually gets boring quite easily!

    Why do magazines or websites give 90%+ scores anyways? Perhaps for nostalgia reasons only, but really I felt the same about Oblivion, the whole hype-based scoring is off by at least a full point, perhaps even two.

    I’ve even seen 10/10 scores for Fallout3, I mean come on!?! :p

    There’s no way I am going to take any of those scores very seriously, when a 50% to 60% score means ‘it barely playable, but still good enough for your money. (as in full-price, not budget bin bargain, as it should be.)’.

    Instead of ‘very mediocre game, miles away from the competition. stay away, for fans only, search the budget bin.’. Something like that… 0_o

    The current mags and websites have a long way to go when it comes to objectiveness. Because really, regardless of true taste and what not, what the heck happened to common sense and a healthy dose of relativity?

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    Right – I’m actually going to defend Scott Jones’ a bit – or rather, rephrase his argument. By accepting people would understand why he’d vote for something he didn’t love, he’s concentrated on the issue of Fallout 3, when what people are going WTF!!!!!!?!??!?! over isn’t related to Fallout 3 per se.

    His position is that he can recognise the worth in Fallout 3, but doesn’t dig it enormously himself. He also knows that everyone really likes Fallout 3. Specifically, the readers.

    This isn’t about going along with the hype. This is recognising that everyone loves a game. Fallout 3 has won most of the Readers Game of the Year awards I’ve folllowed (Which is two, admitedly). I dare say it’s turned up top 5 in most of them. Maybe all.

    This is a highly popular game. The issue is, as a critic who is meant to forward the interests of your readers, am I alienating readers of our site by not chosing something which they love and I recognise is really neat.

    Because, you think, what’s the alternative? You run a list that ignores the games your readers love. Which means they think you’re being elitist and distant and whatever ivory tower insults they choose to throw.

    So, yeah, maybe I should show that I recognise it’s an enormous achievement in game design. Because I can see that it is. I’ll be objective, yeah?

    That’s basically the line of thought which leads to where Jones started his article. It’s about trying to represent your readerdship in the end of the year lists, and feeling the pressure to do so.

    For the record, I disagree with him totally.

    KG

  7. Paul Moloney says:

    I loved Fallout 3, but Jesus, the ending sucked the proverbial donkey’s dick. It didn’t help that on my system, the narration over the ending couldn’t be heard. So all I got was a disjointed series of sepia drawings.

    P.

  8. Confidence Interval says:

    I don’t remember any proverbs about donkey’s dicks…

  9. qrter says:

    Fallout 3 has won most of the Readers Game of the Year awards I’ve folllowed (Which is two, admitedly).

    And this, to me, is a weird thing – it did top a lot of ‘normal’ gamers’ lists but was largely ignored by critics in their end of year/GOTY lists, as far as I can see (all of this said with the acknowledgement that a lot of these lists are stinky hot air, anyway, but that’s beside the point..).

  10. Dolphan says:

    The whole thing about reviewer ‘groupthink’ or the fact that critics generally have a narrower range of opinions than consumers – this happens in other media too, to an extent, and is going to be at least partly because of certain sensibilities that lead to, and are later shaped by, being a critic. It doesn’t have to be because they’re all influenced by hype or what other writers think, although I’m sure that does have some effects.

  11. soundofsatellites says:

    the album certainly would be eight times *worse* if “new york…” wasn’t there. It’s just a great song (oh man! that guitar…) just as “never as tired as when i’m waking up” from the first album.

    These songs are awesome.

  12. Funky Badger says:

    Keiron: can see the coherence of that argument but the rather stronger subtext is “I don’t have an opinion worth reading” isn’t it?

  13. Funky Badger says:

    Actually on Fallout 3: the Wasteland’s a superb creation, really pushing the envelope for “play environments”. The writing and quest structure doesn’t come close (with a couple of notable exceptions) I hope someone looks at Fallout 3 and Fable 2 and takes the best bits out of both and moves things forward another step…

  14. Leeks! says:

    It’s been said, but I’ve really got to second (third? fourth?) the point that Fallout 3 wasn’t universally loved, that it was, indeed, one of the most divisive games of the year (for gamers, maybe not so much for professional critics). Personally, I think that many of the critiques I’ve read of it tend to be of the “the Beatles are overrated–being overly discerning makes my opinion relevant, right?” variety, but keep in mind that I’m quite well known for being a boughie mainstream whore.

  15. skizelo says:

    K.G., the only people he quotes as loving Fallout are the nameless and angry “Fallout 3 fan base”. He seems more concerned with establishing a connection with the people who didn’t get it, including the two C.G. execs whom he (and the half-dozen writers) actively failed by not voicing an honest critical opinion.
    Basically, he feels a games reviewer could “forsake … credibility” by reviewing games. Which ultimately shreds the credibility of all reviewers.

  16. Pidesco says:

    That Fallout 3 article makes the author seem like an incompetent twit. Which I guess makes sense as he is a games journalist.

  17. Kieron Gillen says:

    Skizelo: The Fallout 3 fanbase are the readers.

    And no-one has to convince me that the line of thinking is wrong. It’s just that “My gut response is less important in a game of a year vote than what I feel the objective worth of a game” is a bit more complicated than “Lying”, and it’s worth people trying to understand the thinking which underlies the piece.

    Though, yes, the implicit insult against all games journalists grates somewhat.

    KG

  18. crap guy says:

    Edit: Poor timing!

  19. Tom Camfield says:

    Kieron, I read your rephrasing of Scott’s argument and was totally prepared to fight on his side, but then read his original and it’s so not your rephrasing of it.

    Scott’s done two things. A. He’s just totally missed the whole point of Fallout 3 (the fact that it’s an RPG) and decided to assess it as a shooter. That’s like saying Red Alert is a shit racing game.

    On it’s own, that’s just stupid, but less of a crime than B. recommending a game you just don’t fundamentally understand or even like because you’re afraid of your readers, which is what Scott does. And I’ve seen that so much in 2008, critics shitting themselves over their readers reactions, running scared. It’s rubbish.

    If he had recommended a game that he didn’t enjoy himself, but could totally see how it was a cool game, fair enough, what is wrong with that? (And that, as far as I can see, is how you rephrased his argument, and yet you seem to find that disagreeable, how come KG?) but that’s not what he does. He recommended the game without even thinking it’s good, which seems to make him a sheep and an idiot.

    (Although kudos to him for actually saying as much, since I imagine many people have quietly done the same.)

  20. Tom Camfield says:

    Oh, although I get where you (Kieron) are coming from if it’s just about End of Year lists – it would seem silly to waste space voting for things you didn’t like over things you did.

  21. Kieron Gillen says:

    Tom: Yeah, I probably should have spoke plainer. When I say “rephrase” I meant “rework from scratch to show the thinking behind it”.

    Because his article isn’t actually about feeling pressurised to vote for Fallout 3 in the end of year features – it’s actually about him saying why he didn’t like Fallout 3 very much.

    The actual contentious parts of the piece, he just throws off without really even talking about them. I thought I’d explain why some people think along such lines. Picking apart his problems with Fallout 3 is a totally separate debate.

    KG

    *With some stuff about how other people got lured into it.

  22. leeder_krenon says:

    why was it called ‘new games journalism’ anyway? nothing written today can hold a candle to the writers at your sinclair in the late 80s.

  23. Andrew Doull says:

    Isn’t there two fundamental requirements for a game review? Create an overall impression in the readers mind of what they’ll experience playing the hand. And point out the broken bits that stop you from playing at all. For example: Far Cry 2. Morrowind in Africa with guns. Don’t get in boats because you can’t get out. No autosave. Which is why I’m surprised more people don’t use the Kotaku style format for reviews.

  24. Kieron Gillen says:

    Leeder: Because I was drunk one night.

    KG

  25. Ergates says:

    @leeder_krenon: Amiga Power (the most direct descendant of Your Sinclair) is clearly the greatest games magazine to ever have existed. You are a heretic and must be burned.

    @KG: “Fallout 3 has won most of the Readers Game of the Year awards I’ve folllowed (Which is two, admitedly).
    Pedant mode: How can something win “most” of 2?

    Also: I’m fairly certain the MGS4 thing wasn’t sarcasm. Thats what MGS fans are actually like.

  26. deadbob says:

    ah thats the excuse for most of the worlds evils :P

  27. Thiefsie says:

    And this is why the eurogamer list was so good (and caused a ruckus – in opposition of a Tim Stone kind of list) rather than the readers choice lists which are always full og just the hyped up blockbuster releases.

  28. hydra9 says:

    @Andrew Doull:
    I think the Kotaku review format is about the worst one around. ‘Loved / Hated’ and nothing in between?

  29. Paul Moloney says:

    “nothing written today can hold a candle to the writers at your sinclair in the late 80s.”

    Whatever happened to T’zer?

    P.

  30. Igor Hardy says:

    Somebody asked about the release of Hal Barwood’s Mata Hari. Well, I know it’s already out in Germany and GamersGate claims they will have it January the 31st. Somehow no official information about it though.

    As for recent titles from LucasArts ex-employees, don’t forget about Insecticide. It’s very underappreciated in my opinion, much more fun than A Vampyre Story. It also is the game with the highest rate of old LucasArts fames working on it in all kinds of departments. For instance, if you liked the music from Full Throttle, Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, you get to hear here the newest soundtrack by Peter Mcconnell.

  31. Kua says:

    “I don’t remember any proverbs about donkey’s dicks…”

    Ezekiel 23:19

    Although its a prophecy, rather than a proverb.

  32. qrter says:

    That piece by Jenn Franks on EGM’s demise is interesting. Sam Kennedy basically made the mistake of choosing the wrong words, putting on the corporate happy face – saying “hey this is great for 1UP!” when 30 people (who were your colleagues and friends) lose their jobs, it just rubs people the wrong way (see Jeff Green’s reaction).

    For those interested in the podcasting side of 1UP – a lot of those guys are setting up their own things:

    http://www.eat-sleep-game.com/
    http://talkingorange.com/

    (don’t look at the photos on the last one..wacky!!)

  33. Helm says:

    “Like shagging a super model”
    It’s strange for me that this seems to be the equivalent sexual high-point to playing one of the greatest games ever to this writer. I don’t know any personally but these women don’t seem terribly inviting to me. I certainly don’t think about how much I’d like to have sex with them when I chance on catwalk footage.

    About Fallout 3 being not as good as it seemed: I can understand people changing their minds later on because the game does open well in my opinion but then suffers from dull content and bad writing in places (it feels like a ‘shell’ of a game to me, if that makes any sense), but I don’t understand professional video game writers not having reached the point where the game does so, before writing their reviews and submitting their ‘game of the year’ choices. If this writer has names he should name them so we can know who to not trust to do their job responsibly.

    “So, yeah, maybe I should show that I recognise it’s an enormous achievement in game design. Because I can see that it is. I’ll be objective, yeah?”

    I know you’re playing devil’s advocate here and I think your insight is generally correct but what a blessing it would be when people – especially those who get hired and paid to do critical analysis – realize there’s no objectivity whatsoever in their job, that it’s highly personal and that a lot of people actually pay to read the opposite of an ‘objective critique’ of a videogame. But wait, what am I saying, didn’t NGJ just die?

  34. Pags says:

    As for recent titles from LucasArts ex-employees, don’t forget about Insecticide.

    I wasn’t a fan of it myself, it was nice to hear a new Peter Mcconnell soundtrack though. Not on a par with the Grim Fandango soundtrack, but then what is.

  35. skizelo says:

    Why are all these Lucusarts alumni coming out of the woodwork now?
    And Pags, the soundtrack to Monkey Island 2. I’ll fight anyone who says different. Over the internet

  36. Nick says:

    My problem with his piece was both his position in the start – bowing to peer pressure in voting games against your own opinions is shockingly poor behaviour for a so called critic, reguardless of the reason (in my opinion) AND the borderline moronic ‘whut I has to talk to peoplez? I want halo 4!’ subtext to most of his criticism. What I felt totaly undermined it was an apparent ignorance of the whole point of the game in the first place, not to mention the mixed reception it recieved (although a lot was, of course, positive).

    I liked it, thought it was better than Oblivion by a long shot, but still think Beth could do a hell of a lot better if they weren’t so seemingly lazy with some developement descions. I’m certainly not discused by that article merely due to someone saying a bad word about it.

  37. Nick says:

    (I mean disgusted.. bah)

  38. Pags says:

    Let’s take it outside skizelo. I will fight you! In the face!

  39. Mattress says:

    Sound of Silver would be no more superior (a nigh on impossible feat anyway) if “New York I Love You…” was excised. Actually it would probably be a lot more inferior, the song’s a lovely endnote.

  40. EnglishStudent says:

    “Well, you have to talk to a lot of people,” I explained.

    “Real people? Like in an MMO?” he asked.

    “No … fake people.”

    May I add my edit?

    “No…fake people, like a novel, poem or play.”

    Case in point, I believe, although its merely one man’s opinion.

  41. drewski says:

    Fallout 3 is great, and Scott Jones is a gutless limpet for not actually giving his opinion properly when asked. If I want the consensus, I’ll go to Metacritic. As a games journalist his obligation to his readers is to – in an opinion piece, which a GOTY or Top 10 by definition is – give his opinion. Even if, when it comes to games, he and I clearly like very different things.

    I can has integrity? Apparently not.

  42. Phlebas says:

    Hang on. There are people who didn’t like Moira?

  43. Cunningbeef says:

    The biggest disappointment in the game was that the Megaton blast didn’t kill Moira.

    What the fuck kind of cop out is that?

  44. Freakoftheuniverse says:

    Has anyone given this a whirl yet? I saw it in a local magazine which has it’s own little indy column, but is a little lacking in the rest of the journalisms these days…

  45. Bozzley says:

    Love Fallout 3, hate Moira. I think it’s the voice. I get the impression that her voice was made to be extremely whiny and grating on purpose; success!

    Can’t wait to play through again with the evil devil on my shoulder, I’m gonna make Megaton BURN.

  46. Jimmay says:

    At least eight. Maybe nine. It’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t match the rest of the damn album. Sigh. Oh well.

  47. dhex says:

    “And no-one has to convince me that the line of thinking is wrong. It’s just that “My gut response is less important in a game of a year vote than what I feel the objective worth of a game” is a bit more complicated than “Lying”, and it’s worth people trying to understand the thinking which underlies the piece.”

    i dig what you’re saying about serving the readers and all, but he can’t honestly think that it’s the game of the year. what context does he have beyond “lots of people liked it”? in his own words he found the conversations largely inane, the tasks repetitive and his choices utterly lacking in consequences. that screams “not good” when it comes to games in general and especially rpgs, which probably aren’t his cup of tea in the first place.

    i think there are a lot of ways to approach f3 even if the total package was wanting in parts and wasn’t one’s cup of tea; how it’s another curious sidestep on the fps/rpg hybrid or “fps+” genre, or as an attempt to build off of the western rpg tradition on consoles (with whatever modifications/simplifications go into that).

  48. Risingson says:

    And “new york I love you” is a fantastic song, which grows on you a lot and is great to sing with james murphy live, totally drunk, maybe a bit drugged. No, really, it’s an epythome of the Bowie blinks that Sound of Silver has, a wonderfully well-constructed ballad with a great progression, just as over-the-top as needed. But, again, I love Sound of Silver.

  49. faelnor says:

    Re : Kieron’s “everyone liked fallout 3″.
    I very highly doubt the assumption : vocal gamers in gaming webrings that gained credibility liked X == everyone liked X. Most people don’t talk. And when they do, you would be surprised at how many people do it out of their arse.

  50. Nick says:

    Aptly demonstrated by that baffling post!