Some Reviews Of A Few Games I’ve Never Played

One of the larger issues with being a games critic is having to devote time to sitting down and actually playing the games before you write about them. Finding the space in a busy work day of accepting bribes and secret meetings to decide industry biases is a nightmare, and anyway, you pretty much know what you think of a game from the box cover/Steam store page, right? Right. So let’s stop pretending and get on with the sorts of straight-to-the-point honest reviews we’re all really after.

Dark Souls 3

The Dark Souls games are famously about boss fights. These are large encounters with really angry monsters made of probably black ether and souls. To kill them you have to learn their patterns and then hit them with one or more swords, while dashing about quite a lot and explaining to other people on the internet that you found it disappointingly easy no matter how long it took. There are souls to collect, I’d imagine, and if you get enough of them you probably level up and get a better sword, or maybe a dash-based ability. The chances are there’s no double-jump, however, and I find this to be a shame and has quite an impact on the score.

In between boss fights you most likely walk around grassy/gloomy paths while hitting other stuff with your sword, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that the menus are really dreary which isn’t likely to add much to things. This is of course the fifth game in the series from from FromSoftware, following the previous two Dark Souls titles, plus the PlayStation’s Beyond: Two Souls and the Amiga’s Tower Of Souls, or possibly the Legacy Of Kain series?

Overall I have decided the games are probably a bit too hard, but not quite hard enough, and this third game is a disappointing but triumphant end to the trilogy that captures everything we’ve loved while failing to capture the best of the previous games.


Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Having survived the plot of the previous Tomb Raider reboot (Lara, not me – I didn’t survive that plot), our heroine must destroy another collection of roofs by falling through them, while struggling with her father issues. It’s hard to say for sure, but I feel pretty convinced the camera will be endlessly taken away from you, and moments of freedom will be curtailed with cutscenes and obligatory tasks. Or not. Maybe they’ve improved things this time? Hang on, let me look at some more screenshots…

Oh, one of the screenshots has scores all over it, saying it’s a 9.5/10. I was pretty certain on a 7/10, but hmmm. The graphics look like they’re probably very good graphics, and I did like Tomb Raider Legend an awful lot. I don’t want to cause a stir.


Call Of Duty: Black Ops III

Soldiers with guns?! Goodness me, and it’s like really realistic but in the future with technology that they haven’t had time to invent yet. Now, I’ve played a lot of the previous games in the series, and they’ve all been really remarkably terrible, but this one – I think this one is going to be the one. I’ve never played any of the multiplayer though, but the guy who cuts my hair is really into them and thinks they’re brilliant for playing with your mates, so they’ve got to be pretty decent. Also, this series makes billions of dollars, and you can’t be that successful unless there’s something really good about it, obviously.

I imagine there are a whole load of new guns with gadgets on them, and probably a few bits where you control bombs from a suitcase thing, and then this man shouts at you and then you have to go through the door after they’ve opened it, and then shit, I dunno, a whole building collapses around you and there are helicopters. It sounds brilliant.


This post was originally published to the RPS Supporter Program.


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    Qazinsky says:

    Man, finding a screenshot with a score already on it, that’s like half the job already done for you! Early lunch anybody?

  2. Ridiculous Human says:

    Far too often, corrupt journos give games good reviews, simply because they like what they played of it. Not playing the games at all is the only way to stop these hideous biases from forming. Good work!

  3. SpiceTheCat says:

    Mor SEO clickbiat! RPS has sold out! Again! They keep selling out! Now John Wlaker has confessed! Do they have anything left to sell out?!

    *swoons onto a chaise longue*

    It’s exhausting. I wonder how all those outraged posters keep it up. I almost dread the post going public, because you know someone will take it seriously. Actually, John, come back and put in something about the Vive as well, and maybe the Division. Surely there’s a Star Citizen/Elite:Dangerous update to properly set the post tempo to “paranoid froth”.

    • Captain Iglo says:

      I suspect this article is now going to get quoted by some GOTY edition’s cover art.

      “Thought-provoking and exhilarating.” IGN

      “This series makes billions of dollars, and you can’t be that successful unless there’s something really good about it.” Rock Paper Shotgun

  4. cpt_freakout says:

    The GAEM NEWS we were ALL craving to SEE. Thx JAmes Walker, keep up the good work.

    (seriously though, this was pretty fun to read)

  5. Risingson says:

    It’s actually much easier to do a fake review of a game you haven’t played. Just read some other reviews to have an idea of what the game is about, same the same things with different words – or with more enthusiasm, or a bit less -, and that’s it.

    This is why for adventure games you can have two reviews for the same game, one saying that the puzzles are too easy and mundane and the other saying that the puzzles are convoluted.

    • Nauallis says:

      It’s actually even easier if you just copy and paste parts of different reviews together. Internal consistency isn’t important! Some people might call it plagiarism, but those silly twits are just jealous. It’s all about efficiency!

  6. liquidsoap89 says:

    “I don’t want to cause a stir.” I’m glad you came to that conclusion. Giving the game a score other than 9.5 could cause arguments, and we shouldn’t be fighting over this. Maybe from now on the first game reviewer to score a game should just CC all the other reviewers in an email to let them know what the score will be. That would prevent a lot of confusion for the customers when they’re wondering whether the game is actually a 9.5 or a 9.3.

    In other news… Imagine if these RPS scores were added to metacritic though.

  7. caff says:

    Having read these reviews carefully, it’s clear to me you haven’t actually played any of the games, but have great knowledge and experience of them. So 8/10 for the journalism.

  8. Risingson says:

    You know, actually I like the point John is making. Imagine the videogame journalism saying that they haven’t played the games but they are going to give that review just because they can.

    As it happens with film criticism so often.

  9. Minglefingler says:

    I haven’t read this article but it’s fucking fantastic.

  10. Grizzly says:

    Like you, I totally haven’t played Blops3, but what did you think of it’s subtle M+A+T+H=42 subplot? I think it’s brilliant that a video game that is normally as rowdy as CoD would go deeper into the meaning of life!

  11. Thulsa Hex says:

    The final paragraph of the DS3 review is perfect.

    • Grim_22 says:

      I quite enjoyed that bit as well, very on point.

    • Horg says:

      ”Overall I have decided the games are probably a bit too hard, but not quite hard enough” ….could be used to describe the Souls series with a perfectly straight face, and no one would question it.

  12. DDark says:

    I miss the old Tomb Raider, I hope this new series ends with the next game and we start getting proper Tomb Raider after. I just want Tomb Raider Anniversary again.

    • Blake Casimir says:

      YES THIS.

      Christ, I absolutely hated the new Tomb Raider. Generic Uncharted-style third person gameplay / questing, an abhorrent and unbelieveable “Lara becomes a serial killer and almost gets raped” plot, and a persistent obsession with showing Lara dying in many varied and gruesome ways with LOTS of camera closeups. Yes I know she dies in some nasty ways in the older games but at least the camera doesn’t zoom in to emphasise the BLOOD and SCREAMING.

      F*ck Squeenix for ruining this francise.

      • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

        Are you sure you’re not talking about Tomb Raider’13? Because it had all the stuff you’re complaining about, but Rise of the Tomb Raider has none of it? They even toned the cutscenes and QTEs way down, give it a chance if you haven’t!

      • Cryio says:

        Man, if only we would get more generic Uncharted-style third person gameplay. Generic means dime a dozen. Can you point them to me please? :P

  13. Dushanan says:

    so this is what I’m missing out on by not subscribing to RPS? Maybe it’s time to sign up.

  14. Distec says:


  15. Imbecile says:

    I give this article 73%. Its the sort of article you’ll like, if you like this sort of article.

  16. Optimaximal says:

    7/10, would read again (had I read it the first time).

  17. dbsmith says:

    It reminds me of the time I went to Paris. See, I’d heard great things about Paris. That it is was the city of romance, that the women were all elegant and mysterious, that the food was so decadent that a morsel the size of a grape would cause ones taste buds to explode in orgasmic fireworks (the good expensive fireworks, not the ones that you bought in a giant box for $20 that just fizzle out on the ground and cause your child to cry a tiny bit).

    Ahh the dream of Paris wafted through my thoughts often…until I went there.

    First impressions matched my dreams. Gaudy brilliant buildings towering over me, with arches and gargoyles at every corner. As I got closer however, I saw the imperfections. Like an HD porn film, I saw the cracks in the veneer of the architectural majesty. Grimy corners with piles of trash hid homeless beggars, toothless and gnashy. One chased me for a while, shouting obscenities.

    The food was the next letdown. “Escargot!” they said. “A delicious delicacy!” The rubbery slimy slug was exactly as it sounds like, when you stripped away the exotic French name. French chocolate is much more bitter than most of us are used to, leaving your throat parched and dying for a cool glass of milk. However, milk in Paris costs around 6 Euro, so no respite there.

    And the women…well. They certainly lived up to expectations in terms of looks. But, as the glacier is a frozen beauty to be admired at a distance, so too were the women of Paris. Any attempts at friendly conversation were met with looks of disdain, designed to cause you to wither and slink away. A quick glance down from them and you could feel them judging your “fashion”, not so much last season’s but making you feel as though your clothing was from a long time ago and a place far far away.

    I give Paris 3/10. Having never been there of course.

  18. Jediben says:

    Just ripping off Charlie Brooker and his significantly more subtle Barry Shitpeas. 2/10.

  19. Michael Fogg says:

    This reminds me of the current nontroversy over from consoleland, where a guy writing an informal essay about why he disliked the new Uncharted for a mainstream publication (he had good reasons) led to a truly unrelenting onslaught of fanboys (armed with online petitions) after the piece was accounted for on the Metacritic page and for some reason affixed with a score of 4 out of 10.

  20. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    These three shouldn’t have got 10/10. This one weird trick, publishers hate her.

  21. April March says:

    *reads the description for CodBlops* No, John, I’m pretty sure that’s Saints’ Row the 3rd you’re describing.

  22. geldonyetich says:

    At last, reviews that I won’t quite find time to read about games I won’t quite find the time to play, yet still find a great deal of time to comment and grouse about, especially the reviewers whose scores that deviate as much as one tenth a percentile from the average user score.

  23. stoner says:

    Although reviewing games you haven’t played improves the efficiency of the reviewer, i.e., not wasting time playing so he can get on to other tasks (bribery, secret meetings et al), there are further efficiency improvements we can make.

    Specifically, development. Reviewing a game you haven’t played REQUIRES that the game ACTUALLY be created. As often happens, the AAA, multi-million dollar game is complete bollocks…a waste of resources and manpower, which is shredded by reviewers. Those bad reviews kill sales, causing losses to the developers.

    Therefore,I propose RPG do reviews of games that are proposed by developers. Maybe, show scans of artist concepts of in-game assets. The reviewer can email the devs to learn details of what the game may or may not do. To get a full, unbiased assessment of gameplay, contact the marketing and PR department.

    Then, write the full game review. If the game is crap, the bad reviews will kill it, and the developers can go on to other projects. RPS reviewers won’t waste time playing the game, because there is no game.

    Yes, quite efficient, I’d say

  24. cautet says:

    I have found a way to further increase efficiency. The developer could produce screen art and also write the review and post it for publication. Then pre-sell the game and a season pass and also pre-sell lots of micro-transaction type things. Then just re-release the previous game in the series and reskin the characters (or not, as no-one really wants something different from what they already have). This would save massively on development time while still making money for the studio. As the only improvements are going to be re-texturing and new voiceovers you would only need a small team. For further efficiency of course scrap all this and just increase the number.

    If you release the same game you wouldn’t even need to re-write all the reviews thus saving even more time and effort for journos and the poor gamer who has to read a summary of them on metacritic. Instead he knows exactly what he is getting and everyone is very happy.

    • Don Reba says:

      As a bonus, there will be no crunches and no one will have to work overtime.

  25. ROMhack2 says:

    I played Rise of The Tomb Raider for precisely 20 minutes before turning it off and never playing it again.

    I correctly guessed that you’d get separated from the other guy within the space of ten minutes and, as such, I didn’t want to submit myself to another ten hours of a story I knew I’d be able to play out in my head before it happened.

    Maybe a little unfair but them’s the rules.

    • ROMhack2 says:

      Oh, and I borrowed it. No pirate.

      • lglethal says:

        That’s a pity for you. I’m about half way through the game and am loving it! The start drags on a bit, but I mean it is effectively a tutorial and setting the story up for those that haven’t played the first of the reboot series (like myself). But once the game is actually into the Tomb raiding, it’s pretty awesome!

        I would recommend trying it again. You should only need to put up with 25 minutes of the climbing tutorial and story cut-scenes and then your into some really fun tomb raiding! You almost made it!!! ;)

    • Cryio says:

      You should like … become a fortune teller or something.

  26. try2bcool69 says:

    Wait a minute…we know for a fact you haven’t played Stellaris, care to have a crack at giving it a score? I see a missed opportunity here.

  27. Cryio says:

    I did like Tomb Raider Legend an awful lot too.

    It’s one of those games very simple in design, but such a blast/pleasure to play. It’s a 4:30 hour game, but it’s always a joy. The visuals, soundtrack and Lara’s voice simply makes it a lovely action-adventure game.

  28. Where_is_Zed says:

    Easily atleast a 7,5 for me. I´ll probably give it a go when it goes on sale on steam