July 18, 2009

The Real Kieron Gillen Darkfall Review

Unlike my Darkfall, The Lost Review (made possible, unknowingly, by Kieron Gillen), this new review at Eurogamer for Darkfall is real and really written by Kieron Gillen.

The actual 4/10 score aside, I think it's important to look at what Kieron did.

First, he addressed the fundamental problem of the first review and Aventurine's claims the first reviewer barely played the game:
From Eurogamer's perspective, they have a developer claiming that logs show something. Logs which are entirely within their control. I'd be surprised if Eurogamer has a tech guy in-house capable of ascertaining the meaning of the logs. More so, when changing logs is an absolutely trivial task, what the logs say when that tech examines it is ultimately meaningless. If Aventurine was dissembling, Eurogamer wouldn't be able to tell.

As long as the reviewer claimed reasonably that he'd played the game for longer, Tom [Bramwell, editor] had to back him because - really - it was his word against theirs.
Essentially, one side is lieing or the other side is putting too much stock in automated computer functions to keep track of the truth. Scratch that, someone is lieing. From Aventurine's attack on play-time, instead of the merit of the complaints in the first review, I tend to side with Eurogamer's first reviewer.

Forutnately, that can be laid to rest. Kieron played the game and came to the following conclusion after debating what he should do for the review:
1) Engage with the debate around the review directly, and review it in two hours (what Aventurine said was played), 10 hours (roughly what the reviewer said he played) and again, with however many hours I ended up playing in the end. As in, how much can you actually say in such a short period? How valid is it? What changes? What doesn't?

Why I Didn't: Fundamentally not enough changed to make it worthwhile. My experience with the game didn't scale. What I liked and what I disliked about the game were there pretty much from the first moment in one form or another, and it was how they appeared which altered as I progressed. Perhaps the biggest irony about this whole mess: I suspect this is an MMO which you can tell whether you like or not in those first couple of hours.
While there is plenty more to read over at Eurogamer, the above quote sums it up nicely and can be applied to most MMOGs. The play experience within the first few hours ultimately defines the experience for the player and whether they will be sticking around. If that experience sucks, the reviews are going to suck. This isn't 1999, MMOGs don't have the luxury of a patient community willing to stick it out for developers to "patch in the game".

This brings us to the most important part of the review, Kieron's take on how MMOG reviews should be accomplished:
In other words, using a travel-journalism metaphor, a first review of an MMO is whether a destination is a place you'd recommend for a holiday. A second review is a recommendation of whether somewhere is a good place to go and live. I think this provides worthwhile buying advice - the first review says whether it's worth your money, which is the primary aim of a consumer review. I also think this is the best we're going to get.
It's evident now why Aventurine turned down Kieron Gillen's offer to re-review the game. Aventurine knew Kieron would kick them in the balls and show how utterly pointless their argument against the first review was. Aventurine got served.

13 comments:

Werit said...

I don't buy it. EG was locked into giving it a bad review. If they did not it would show that they were wrong. And as he said int he article, he has to back up his reviewers. So really the outcome of this review was known before he played.

That's just my jaded view of how companies work.

heartlessgamer said...

How were they "locked" in? Both reviews are on par with almost every single review for the game that I've read on mainstream sites. Eurogamer simply had the balls to assign it an applicable score.

Anonymous said...

"I don't buy it. EG was locked into giving it a bad review. If they did not it would show that they were wrong."

Exactly.

"Eurogamer simply had the balls to assign it an applicable score."

Wrong, the first Eurogamer reviewer quite clearly had an agenda of hatred towards the game. Whether the logs reflect it or not, he clearly didn't play the game. Not more than 10 minutes based on the review. His review was biased, dripping with hatred, and had a sickening amount of factual errors, like him claiming that hit detection is dice roll based. The second review couldn't be too far from the first review, or EG would come off looking like hypocrites for standing with the first review for so long.

Whether you like the game style or not, the game does what most MMOs can only dream of. Twitch combat, 600-1000 man battles, seamless zoneless instance free world. That alone should put it above average (5)

Werit said...

MMO's are not math. I could review WoW and find a way to give it an bad score.

heartlessgamer said...

@Anon

I agree there was some hatred towards the game in the first review, but again, Aventurine never argued the facts laid out against their game. The 2/10 reflected how poorly their game was and there were plenty of valid complaints against the game.

Kieron's review levels some of the same complaints and the score only improved to a 4/10, because Kieron did the one thing any game reviewer should do: he pointed out that maybe, possibly there was a reason some gamers out there would play the game.

It still brings up the fact that Aventurine has NOT defended the issues these reviews have brought up about their game. They simply found a low review score and attacked the author.

Also, just because a game has X,Y, and Z, does not mean it magically gets a certain review score.


@Werit
Correct Werit, you could. People would disagree with you, as they did with the Darkfall review.

It would then be up to the evidence laid out to determine the validity of your review. Again, in Darkfalls case, the majority of complaints leveled were never successfully debated or refuted by Aventurine. Some of them were flat out accepted as part of the game.

This is all fine, Aventurine can do as they please, but I will not defend their position for them when there are a dozen other reviews out there with the exact same sentiments about the game. Aventurine just wanted some press and Kieron has brought that full circle and stomped their attempt to run Eurogamer under the bus.

Dizzarian said...

There's a lot of wrong on both sides here. EG f'd up and after their first bit of poor journalism they did on this I haven't been back to their site because I expected more out of them. Adventurine messed up by arguing it and thinking they were owed some kind of honest review, they have the right to publish whatever smeer piece they want.

Now, having actually played the game I know for fact that the first reviewer was incompentant at best. The 2nd reviewer stated his biases up front so it was fine although like the other stated he couldn't go to far off the original mark to "jouralistic integrety".
The thing is this isn't a normal mmo if you think all mmo should behave like all other mmos, specifically wow, then this game immediately gets a very poor score. And that's fine as long as you state it up front that you're going to be biased like that. If instead you review it as a niche game like say.. eve then you'll get a different review.

My whole take on this is that it's very sad that game journalism has sunk to where it currently is. I don't trust any of it till I try it myself.

heartlessgamer said...

I keep hearing that everywhere Dizzarian: that Darkfall should be considered for its niche market. That it shouldn't be held up to the standards of games like World of Warcraft.

I'm sorry, but thats utter crap. Darkfall plays like utter crap. The only people able to stomach it are veterans of the MMO genre who have dealt with crap games of it's sort for the past decade.

Darkfall does not got a free ride on bad reviews simply because it has some different ideas and a smaller targeted audience.

And again, the points in both reviews about the game's downfalls have not been successfully argued. Darkfall is a mechanical and functional letdown as a game. Darkfall only succeeds based on the idea of what it is.

Thats fine, but don't give it more credit than its due.

Keen said...

I would break that down even further. Only MMO vets who are masochists can put up with Darkfall's level of crap.

I was able to play it for as long as I did because it was different. Once you get past that phase where you keep saying "I like this because it is different", it's easy to see it for what it is. What makes it all even worse is the company behind the game - they're ultimately why I bailed.

FFXI Accounts said...

I keep listening from many of my online friends that the both sides are wrong. I would liek to try my hands on this game and check out.

Anonymous said...

@heartless_

Could you be anymore of a carebear, brah? Seriously, you claim to be a PvP oriented gamer, yet this gold-mine of PvP is released and you whine like a little girl.

Just remove the PvP oriented part from your "about me"... do it now, right meow!

After maintaining a 2200+ arena team in WoW for 2 years, I can honestly say the PvP in that game is retardedly easy!

Anyways, you suck at PvP, gaming, and life in-general.

-------------

Now for my point...

This is my first time on your blog, and I'm reviewing you as trash without even reading but one of your post.

So, yeah, that's how AV felt.

Thanks for playing!

heartlessgamer said...

Oh, I see. Arenas are now considered PvP and subsequently, being a high ranked arena player means you are a cheater... err sorry, expert on PvP.

Sorry, I missed that memo.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this game really is utter trash. I mean, i loved it when i completed a quest and it said in huge ugly letters on the screen "congratulations you have unlocked more quest!". I thought to myself, i feel dumber as i play this. Another part of any mmo that is key is the Community, and the community in this game is the worst. It's full of people that are in denial about that game and defend every shit aspect of it to the tee. And another thing too.. Monsters in this game serve as a source of items and gold right? Well, then why are there such SCARCE amounts of monsters in this monstorous game? But i do give the combat credit, aside from the horribly low quality sounds you'll hear while fighting it's actually fun.

Anonymous said...

I think Aventurine could clear the whole matter by allowing people to test-play the game before purchase. End of.