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Not all game reviewers are nuts: Gran Turismo 5 December 3, 2010

Posted by Cesar in gaming me.
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I know, I know, I haven’t written nearly enough as I should. So here it goes, a short one.

I was never much of a simulation racing fan. Up till last month, my favorite racing game series was Rockstar’s Midnight Club. I just love driving like a maniac and dealing with heavy traffic, preferably on the wrong side of the road.

Interestingly enough, the other day I tried Forza III and was completely hooked. I don’t know what it was, but all of a sudden the intricates of simulation racing started appealing to me. Needless to say when I found out Gran Turismo  5 was about to be released, I got pretty excited. I bought my copy at launch and well… I was very disappointed. Navigating through the GT5 interface is nothing less than a nightmare. So much that on my first night with the game I got to the track after about 40 minutes struggling with the menus and the tedious (ok, tedious is an understatement, I should say disgustingly boring) background music and my experience even on the track was sub par. The driving felt less realistic than Forza’s. With such a horrendous menu system and a so so simulation, I was very tempted to resell the game on the very next day.

But, as you know, I’m a gamer and I was sure there had to be something there under the hood (pun intended) that gathered so many fans around the franchise. So I stuck with it and forced myself to play it again the next day. And the next. And guess what? Now I absolutely love the game.

What changed? I learned how to navigate the horrible interface, got rid of the background music in the menus and replaced the race BGM by my own playlist, straight from the PS3 library. I also figured out how to change the driving options and disabled a plethora of assists that were stopping me from having a true simulation experience. With all that and mostly driving premium cars (if you haven’t heard already, only 200 of the 1000+ cars in the game received premium treatment, the others are way less detailed), getting to the tracks behind the wheel (or the controller until my Logitech Driving Force GT arrives) is an amazing experience. Good enough to make me gladly endure the menus.

That is not to say I would give the game a 10/10 grade. As much as I love the game now, it is peppered with flaws and inconsistencies that still diminish the experience and were mentioned to exhaustion in every review. And more than that, a game which requires tremendous patience and configuration just to get behind the wheel with the desired settings simply cannot get a 10. This is a game, people, not an anger management test.

IGN put it perfectly, a 10/10 driving experience in a 5/10 game. But in the end, it gave it a questionable 8.5. So the Sane Reviewer Award of the blog goes to Giant Bomb. With a 3/5 overall grade, it expresses exactly how the game is. In a nutshell: if you love simulation racing games and are willing to ignore everything else, run to the closest store and get your copy, it is absolutely worth it. Trust me, I know, that’s my category too. But if you just want to have a fun car game, you are better off with other options (and if you are a 360 owner, I highly recommend Forza Motorsport III).

See you space cowboys…

NHL10 September 29, 2009

Posted by Cesar in games.
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So based in the previous post:

  • Is NHL10 a better game than NHL09? YES;
  • Did NHL10 get a better review? NO.

The game looks slightly better, it plays awesome, the addition of board play is really cool and I love the first-person fighting. It’s better. Period. And the reviews agree. They just don’t score properly.

See you space cowboys…

Game reviewers are going nuts September 29, 2009

Posted by Cesar in games, gaming me.
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There is something very wrong with game reviews. I used to talk a lot about this with a friend in Brazil. The best games don’t get the best scores and that’s just crazy. Now, I am not saying I don’t agree with the reviewers. That is normal. What is insane is when the review directly states the game is better but the grade is still lower. That usually happens with sequels. We see it all the time with sports franchises.  The one to blame is the so called innovation factor.

Sure, if a game breaks paradigms, does something completely original, it deserves credit. Obviously the sequel will not be all that refreshing, right? But is it weird to give it a lower grade. Just think about the utility of the grade: the buyer, curious, wants information on what skating game to purchase.  He goes to gamerankings.com, looks at the averages and then goes to his favorite store to get the title. He gets out with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 under his belt. The game is so old there was a Dreamcast version of it. Now if you actually read the reviews for Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, the main complaint that pulls the grades down is lack of originality. The game itself is better. Want another example? Soul Calibur. The original, for the Dreamcast, is still the one with the best score.

I guess no one want’s to see the old classics surpassed by new ones that just steal the tricks from their older brothers. And I love to see Ocarina of Time at the top of the rankings. The reviews as they are make sense at the exact time they were written: the best game of 1995 is probably not the best of 2009, even if the grade is higher. It is logical, even though in a weird way. And for direct sequels, it is useful to know if the new one is worth buying, considering you already have the old one. I, for one, would like to see review sites at least include a separate space for a timeless game grade. A score that simply tells you which one is the best.

See you space cowboys…

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