Reviewers Should Finish Games, Says Zampella

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEXT
 

Reviewers Should Finish Games, Says Zampella

image

Respawn co-founder and former Infinity Ward boss Vince Zampella says that there's nothing more frustrating than reviewers not completing games before they write about them.

Have you ever read a review, and got the sense that the reviewer maybe hadn't played it all the way through? Vince Zampella has, and says that as a game maker, there's not a lot that's more annoying than a review based on only a partial experience with a game.

Speaking on a panel at QuakeCon in Dallas, Zampella said that he had read reviews that contained things that were untrue, or spoke about features that didn't exist, which he said made it obvious that the reviewer in question hadn't finished the game. He added that aside from being frustrating, it was unfair to the games.

Also on the panel was Bethesda's Todd Howard, who agreed with Zampella and said that developers needed honest and complete feedback in order to make better games. "If [reviewers are] going to give you criticism and they've obviously played the game and thought about it, which we all get, it's actually helpful."

While few would argue that reviews should be as fair as possible, insisting that reviewers must complete a game to be able to make a fair assessment is overly simplistic. It is perhaps more useful to say that a reviewer should "fully investigate" a game, something that isn't necessarily tied in with seeing the credits roll.

Source: Eurogamer

Permalink

It's not like they have an excuse. They can't say Modern Warfare 2 was simply far too long to finish in time for a write-up, considering the thing is about 4 hours long.

Yeah....so how DO you finish an MMO...or TF2...or The Path

Even a linear structure like Fallout 3, how long would that take? Yahtzee would be down to one game every two months.

I agree with them, if you're going to review a game you should have finished it.

Ya, I personally agree. I usually wait till I finish a game or know it in and out enough before I ever review it on here.

You can really tell when someone hasn't played the whole thing and makes up false statements like the tutorial being 10 hours long *cough*Yahtzee*cough* ...

But what about a game as long as Fallout 3 or Oblivion...and it sucks? It's kinda nasty to say that a reviewer should have to stand the assault of that game for, say, 15 hours on end. That's mental. And besides, there are not enough game reviewers around so that every game could have a reviewer attached.

Dumb game revieweing should be out, but this...well...

The_root_of_all_evil:
Yeah....so how DO you finish an MMO...or TF2...or The Path

Even a linear structure like Fallout 3, how long would that take? Yahtzee would be down to one game every two months.

Exactamundo.

I remember there being an article here somewhere in an Escapist weekly issue a long time ago about how reviewers really can't afford the time to finish an entire game most of the time, because they have to have a ready review maybe 1 or 2 days after having gotten hold of a copy, and often developers supply them with cheat codes so they can get through games faster, and how they are constantly under stress because if they only write reviews for one magazine at the time, they wouldn't make enough money.

I completely agree. If a movie critic put out a review that said, "'Dinner for Schmucks' was the worst movie this year. I only saw the first ten minutes, but I could tell.", they'd never be taken seriously in their industry again. Why should game reviewers be any different?

As a some-time reviewer myself, I agree. I'll either wind up satisfying myself immensely, or taking a bullet for whoever reads my review.

Granted, I'm not on a time schedule, which is where critics like Yahtzee stand. Might be a bit much to ask in that case (though I got the impression that some of his Extra Punctuation stuff comes after he more fully experiences certain games).

Logan Westbrook:

While few would argue that reviews should be as fair as possible, insisting that reviewers must complete a game to be able to make a fair assessment is overly simplistic. It is perhaps more useful to say that a reviewer should "fully investigate" a game, something that isn't necessarily tied in with seeing the credits roll.

Now... this sounds like an... excuse... almost like a desperate reasoning for someone's own failing... have The Escapist finished the games before they reviewed them?? HMMMMMM???

I kid I kid XD

OT: I think that reviewer's should finish the games, but not in the sense of "get every achievement and trophy on all platforms" sort of finish... I think the reviewer, at least, has the obligation to get through the story, try (at least partly) all the other aspects (side-missions, some achievements, etc), basically any aspect that your average gamer might have a go at before moving onto the next game.

Hubilub:

The_root_of_all_evil:
Yeah....so how DO you finish an MMO...or TF2...or The Path

Even a linear structure like Fallout 3, how long would that take? Yahtzee would be down to one game every two months.

Exactamundo.

I remember there being an article here somewhere in an Escapist weekly issue a long time ago about how reviewers really can't afford the time to finish an entire game most of the time, because they have to have a ready review maybe 1 or 2 days after having gotten hold of a copy, and often developers supply them with cheat codes so they can get through games faster, and how they are constantly under stress because if they only write reviews for one magazine at the time, they wouldn't make enough money.

This one here http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_243/7235-Cheating-the-System

Space Spoons:
I completely agree. If a movie critic put out a review that said, "'Dinner for Schmucks' was the worst movie this year. I only saw the first ten minutes, but I could tell.", they'd never be taken seriously in their industry again. Why should game reviewers be any different?

Because games tend to be much longer than movies. The fact of the matter is that they just don't have the time sometimes, take Yahtzee for example: playing an entire game a week doesn't sound too bad until you factor in the fact that he has to write a script and make a video too, not to mention that there are probably other games that he wants to play too.

If a reviewer HAS to review a game (Yahtzee) and they haven't finished it because it's too long or too boring, fine. They still have to make the review, and then idiot fanboys insult the reviewer constantly thinking their oppinion matters. If I HAD to write a review on a game I hated so much that I didn't finish it, it would piss me off if morons constantly insulted my mother's sexual dcency in the name of a game I hate. It's my oppinion of the first bit I played, and it sucked.
Ya know what I'm sayin?
(Alternatively, Ya don't know what I'm sayin?)

Sure in shot straight forward games that take a few hours to do, yes, reviewers should play the whole game. But what about the games that are all about exploring open worlds, multiple choices etc etc that would take days, possibly weeks, to do everything that can be done. There would be no way for a reviewer that has a strict time limit to do everything in a game.

If a game isn't good enough to keep them entertained, it's probably not worth their time. games are made to amuse, after all.

Does this really need to be said yet again?

Of course game reviewers don't have enough time to play through every game they have to review, what we get is mostly an impression of the game with the gaps filled in by technical views and the obligiatory 7-9 judgement at the end.

The business of reviews. That simple. Get them out as quick as the game is released and if your publisher/website has some vested interest forget about realistic scoring altogether.

The best reviewers will give a personal account of what they played and interest/put you off with that whilst keeping within the obligatory guidelines of scoring etc. But to expect every reviewer to complete every game is just insanity, It's a job. Get the job done. Show your love for games.

I agree/disagree. I think that it's fine to write a review on a game even if we haven't finished it but I think you should make that fact clear from the get go. I have yet to play (and probably will never play) FF13 because it sounds to me as though it takes a solid 20 hours to get good. I think games should be good from the get go (not having to invest a ridiculous amount of time to get to the good part), but the fact is that apparently it DOES get better. The vast majority of reviews claim that it really picks up 20 hours in so in this sense, yes, the reviewer should finish the game to give it a final rating. But if he didn't finish it then at least let the reader know just in case it does get better.

In Vince Zampella's utopian society, probably the only games that would be reviewed at all are those that take less than 20 hours to play, and the only ones that would get a lot of reviews are those that take less than 10.

Hey... wait...

Spending 10 hours with a game is probably enough to get a good feel of everything it has to offer. Good games shouldn't be springing massively game-changing things on you after then anyway.

On the flip side, how slow you take a game can affect how much fun you have with it. I ripped through Oblivions missions and factions and had a meh time. I played it again a year later, taking my time, exploring and going at my own pace and had a blast - I think that's how the game should be played, and how it should be reflected in review scores.

Ironic considering you can't complete Modern Warfare 2. Well, the majority of people who care if they can beat other people in a video game can't anyway.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Yeah....so how DO you finish an MMO...or TF2...or The Path

Even a linear structure like Fallout 3, how long would that take? Yahtzee would be down to one game every two months.

Yahtzee is a critic. He goes by the Guitar Hero review style. If it starts sucking way too much for him, he's done. He won't give points based on how good it theoretically might be.

First of all, I basically agree.
Reviewers should be well informed before they write and publish a review.
It really bugs me to read someone complaining about something missing from that game that is actually very much there... which they would've known if they didn't skip the manual, intro, tutorial mission, and in-game help feature.
The thing where reviewers mentioned Arkham Asylum being buggy for many others while it really wasn't, made me feel sad/angry, although that wasn't really/completely the reviewers' faults.

I can imagine them not feeling like finishing every single game though, them having lives and everything.
I played the demo for that recent-ish Turok game, and where I usually think demos are much too short, I actually couldn't even be bothered to finished this one out of boredom.
I very much doubt the full game shakes things up much; demos are supposed to show some of the best of the game.

There is also the fact that regular players tend to not finish their games either, according to statistics.
If Joe Average only plays the first half of their games, isn't reviewing the first half actually more indicative of the player's experience than reviewing the entire thing anyway?

This is not actually about reviewers not finishing the game, but about reviewers claiming things that aren't true, based on assumptions.

I think when the reviewer writes 'this games sucks so much I couldn't even finish it', well that's helpful. But if the reviewer writes bullshit that's not true, that's a different matter. That can actually hurt the product.

I agree, except for one circumstance where the game is so terrible that the reviewer can't keep playing it anymore, but those are extremely rare cases.

Generally speaking, of course a reviewer should finish a game, but if he doesn't it would be irresponsible not to mention that.

FargoDog:
It's not like they have an excuse. They can't say Modern Warfare 2 was simply far too long to finish in time for a write-up, considering the thing is about 4 hours long.

Agreed. I seem to be agreeing to pretty much every post you make, Fargo. You must be my long lost brother!

OT: It depends on the game. Take Oblivion - how long would that take to complete 100%? It would be impossible if given a deadline of a few weeks. Sure, you could do the main quest line but you wouldn't hit up every nook and crany of the game, but neither do I think you have to.

As Fargo said MW2 was particularly short so reviewers should try and aim for a happy compromise if the game is long in the proverbial tooth.

(Probably going off topic...) However I would also like to ask developers to release games that are actually finished. It's not as bad as a few years ago, (at least in my experience - I could be wrong) but releasing games and then patching it to 'fix' the game is insulting.

This also affects the review negatively and generally doesn't bode well for the final product and potential customers will stay clear of it.

I've also found, as I have said before, on the likes of GameSpy (now that a lot of the old reviewers are gone, as are the 5 page reviews) some reviewers compare games solely on what they enjoy/prefer instead of perhaps giving their opinions as well as giving an impartial view over what they feel is good and bad about it.

They should at least finish totally linear games (unless they really are THAT bad) . . .

Sgt. Sykes:
This is not actually about reviewers not finishing the game, but about reviewers claiming things that aren't true, based on assumptions.

I think when the reviewer writes 'this games sucks so much I couldn't even finish it', well that's helpful. But if the reviewer writes bullshit that's not true, that's a different matter. That can actually hurt the product.

My feelings exactly. It's one thing to criticize a story that you didn't finish, and it's another thing to say that the mechanics/interface/gameplay are so terrible that it's not even worth playing in the first place. The latter is an honest assessment, the former is bullshit.

NeutralDrow:
As a some-time reviewer myself, I agree. I'll either wind up satisfying myself immensely, or taking a bullet for whoever reads my review.

Granted, I'm not on a time schedule, which is where critics like Yahtzee stand. Might be a bit much to ask in that case (though I got the impression that some of his Extra Punctuation stuff comes after he more fully experiences certain games).

Yeah, its a shame though that he started the extra punctuation thing later, as several of his so-called "reviews" (face it people, they aren't reviews like many like to believe) consist of him playing little more than a few hours into a game (aka Valkyria chronicles and Demons Souls), which ends up showing either directly by him stating it, or what he says about it (such as Valk's upgrade system being completely linear, despite it breaking off into paths, which he'd of seen had he simply scrolled down).

I agree, but with something to tack onto this.

Reviewers should finish games they review. granted that the game doesn't eat out too much of their time; or if the game is literally un-finishable (pointing fingers at MMO's, games spesifically designed for multiplayer exclusive, games designed to never end.)

When the reviewer plays a game designe to never end; then they should at least play enough of it to form an opinion from not only the tutorial or the first 5 hours of the game, but hopefully a little taste of everything the game has to offer.

I think the reviewers only duty is to be honest, which means, if he reviews a game based on the box art, then that's fine, so long a description of his exposure to the game--in this case none--is included in the review. Whether it meets the editorial standards of the publication is another matter, but so long as length of time spent with the game is mentioned, not finishing the game is cool with me.

If it is implied that the review is of the whole game, then I guess I have to agree with Zampella. However, I also think 10 hours should be enough to comment on controls, graphics, audio, narrative themes, and overall fun. If a game isn't good by then well...

Space Spoons:
I completely agree. If a movie critic put out a review that said, "'Dinner for Schmucks' was the worst movie this year. I only saw the first ten minutes, but I could tell.", they'd never be taken seriously in their industry again. Why should game reviewers be any different?

Sorry, but that should be obvious: A game takes longer than two, maybe two and a half hours. Except for the occasional XBLA title most games exceed the average movies' length by far. Movies work distinctively different from games, as do books and music. Every medium has to be treated according to its needs.

That said, most movie, book and music critics "finish" whats on their plate before writing the actual review. But you cant always do that with games. Games are an active medium, as opposed to passive ones like movies and music. Means you actually have to do shit to use the medium. That can be extremly tiring over a prolonged period of time - a problem most people seldom have with movies, books or music.

Does anyone here saying reviewers should finish the games do actually review games themselves? And I dont mean in a kind of hobby way - maybe to put it up on these very forums - but maybe for an ezine with a deadline and all that stuff? Its easy to say games have to be finished when you have all the damn time you want. But when I get to review a game my boss gives me 5 days to do it. The game usually come one day late, so whats left are 4 lousy days to play the game and write the freaking review. That is simply not enough time to finish some damn epic RPG or explore a whole sandbox or what have you not. If the game cant unfold itself, show me all its precious features and establish a compelling story within the first 10 hours, then it just fucking fails! Stop whining about reviewers missing important stuff in your game and make games that dont keep the cool shit up until the very end...

To me, I find the "fun factor" to be of hefty concern along with story. A game could offer the most epic narrative to be seen, but play like deconstructing an automobile with your elbows. I play games to relax, and it is good to know when a reviewer upright tells you that a particular title is on the verge of masochism. So long as it is properly explained what portions of the game were played through, then at least one can gauge how to react to the review in question.

This is also where I can also see potential of a game missed by a reviewer. As many of you have said prior, it really depends a lot on the game in question. I don't see any reason why one couldn't finish Modern Warfare, but there are other games that actually take quite a while to complete the storyline. For example, if you tried to do a speed run on Bioshock, it would be a sore disappointment compared to an exploratory romp searching every shadow to immerse oneself in the world.

Also, what are the goals of the game? You can't really judge a fighter for its "story" alone. That is where the mechanics are going to be of prime concern to readers rather than if the scene where so-and-so avenges her brother makes you well up or not (most likely the latter).

I'm a contributer as an amature games reviewer on a website and I can say that all the games I have written up on I have either completed or fully analyzed to the an extent where I can talk about it in a professional manner even though I am not recognised as such.

I think Vince is just being petulant because hes gotten a few bad write ups in responce to some of his games and is taking it out on the reviewers as opposed to actually taking on board what they say as something to consider.

I recently did a retrospective on Halo 3 and discussed how John 117 never seems to move faster than a casual stroll. So I fail to see how thats poor journalism on my part when its something prevalent in the series as a whole and not any one Halo game and its a functional critism considering in multiplayer you get killed when strolling from cover to cover or from your spawn in the middle of a killzone to cover.

If the critics are saying the game is slow and they have only played the intro levels then yeah its unfair if the game speeds up on lvl3 and they only played up lvl2 but if they say that the combat mechanics are sticky and slow and they have fought 20 odd battles be it FPS, RPG or some other collection of initials then its justified to call it out at the 2nd lvl.

Vince, grow up dude. You might be a big shot in the industry carrying your ego on the Modern Warfare Games but that doesnt give you the right to claim invulnerability to genuine critisms.

If a reviewer finds so little enjoyment in a game that he can't finish, yes it says something about the game, namely, that it sucks. NO, they shouldn't have to fucking finish the game if they don't want to, it's a fucking game review, it's not going to change the world.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here