4/10. Now what?

EG’s re-review of Darkfall is here.

Very good review, in my opinion. Just talking about the review in itself, that’s all. Enjoyable and informative, as reviews should be. This is why a second review was needed, and EG did the right thing on this one. People will say it doesn’t change anything; the faithful will keep playing it, the loathers will continue to loathe. But this is missing the point. The second review (and a good one like this one, at that) was needed because there’s tons of people that could -still- be looking for information about the game and could -still- use a good review of it. It changes exactly what needed to be changed; the replacement of a poor review with one of much better quality.

Does it change things about the game? To me? No. When reading the first poor review, with its errors (factual or not) notwithstanding, I knew the game wasn’t as bad as it was painted, but I also know the picture the review was attempting to present wasn’t that far off either. I don’t like using scores myself, and never liked it as a reviewer, but I can say that while I knew the game couldn’t possibly be a 2/10, I also knew it couldn’t possibly be 7/10 or higher either. The original review, terrible as it was in almost every metric you could apply to a review, was essentially not wrong in spirit. Unfortunately that spirit was buried under piles and piles of garbage. It was a bad review, but essentially not as wrong as the faithful claimed.

I wonder what happens now. Do people still care?

15 thoughts on “4/10. Now what?”

  1. It’s a fair and considered review – the DarkFall community cannot dispute that. The blood of the previous reviewer was split, this is the rematch you demanded. The old review has been redacted and this is the new score. Words are more important than abritary score though? Innit!

  2. He totally missed the point with the second review. He kept harping on “How long does it take to truly know an MMO?” And all that BS. What he MISSED was this. People were not angry over the fact that the first idiotic reviewer only played for 2 hours or 9 hours.

    Now pay attention here’s why they were mad…

    He had no idea what he was talking about. If he had played the game for 20 hours, the review still would have been bad. There were, I counted, 8 factual errors within the first few paragraphs. He made such big mistakes as saying “Attacking is based on random dice rolls”. Which is the complete opposite of how the system works. He also listed this as WEAK point, despite his review for WoW, giving it a 9.0, and praising the fact that its random dice roll based.

    The reviewer clearly had an agenda. And this second review, while clearer, still does not hit the mark. The game is nowhere near a 4. The sheer number of things you can do should raise it way above most games that aren’t even remotely abitious. But hey, Euro Gamer was just trying to save face. No way they’d allow the new review to be radically different or they’d look like morons.

  3. This was a pretty poor review. It described very little of the game, and was mainly a pages-long statement that the reviewer couldn’t wrap his head around the controls. That doesn’t lead me to believe he put himself into it for longer than it took to write *something* about it.

  4. To clarify, I haven’t played the game, don’t know more than the gist of it, and am no wiser for having read the re-review.

  5. @Jezebeau – The problem is in you. To be precise, in your head.
    This is where your brain resides.

    @Tobias – Factological errors can easily happen, when there is poor to no documentation. As the second review pointed out. Especially in under 20 hours of testing. As the second review pointed out. Especially in a game, that has the most boring and painfull first 20 hours. Like this one, apparently.

    And for the agenda this reviewer allegedly has – yes. You can read it here – http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/07/17/darkfallout/ (cant be bothered to link it up.)

  6. The review was well written, however I feel that except for the random skirmish the reviewer missed or avoided the soul of the game. Kind of like reviewing WoW and refusing to go into a dungeon, or basing a GW review off of PvE, etc.

  7. But “the soul” of an MMO is an unattainable target for anyone doing a cursory review of things, which is what reviews are. It’d just be too far ahead for a reviewer to get there in any reasonable time.

    Just like the soul of LOTRO might be its epic quests and how they develop and weave the story, and just like the soul of EVE might be way deep in 0.0 fighting protracted alliance vs. alliance campaigns… what’s the soul of Darkfall? Where is it? Unforgivable pvp? Territorial conquest? If it’s unforgivable pvp, it’s mentioned in the review. If it’s territorial conquest it can’t be properly reviewed without going at it long and hard, something no professional reviewer would do.

    We can’t have the cake and eat it too. Reviews should be general appraisals of a game, and really have no mandate to nail “the soul”, particularly when said soul is placed way down the line. It’s like saying “Right now the soul of raiding in WoW is in Northrend, where the newest instances are”, which is logical and fine. But then to turn around and decry that the review doesn’t talk about Northrend instances because the reviewer didn’t take the time to level a character to 80… bit silly. We can’t demand that of reviewers or anyone really. If the reviewer wants to find a group to hit the lower instances and extrapolate from there, fair play to him. It’s welcome. But it’s perfectly possible to have a perfectly good and adequate review without having seen 100% of the game.

    Hell, I’d say without having seen even 50% of it. Good reviewers and good gamers can be given a new game and instinctively know where it’s heading for the long run in 2-4 hours with it. We usually extrapolate the rest, and quite accurately too because mechanics don’t really change that much, if they do at all.

  8. @Tobias – Factological errors can easily happen, when there is poor to no documentation. As the second review pointed out. Especially in under 20 hours of testing. As the second review pointed out. Especially in a game, that has the most boring and painfull first 20 hours. Like this one, apparently.

    Are you seriously saying that all these errors in his review were due to the game being poorly documented? Are you that thick? How does one mistake random dice rolls for twitch combat.

    If you aim your arrow, and it hits something, you hit it. If you swing your sword, and you hit something, you hit it. The person reviewing the first time clearly didn’t even have the slightest clue of the very basic mechanics of the game he was reviewing. I bet he didn’t read the tutorial in the start either.

    And what is painful or boring for the first 20 hours? You can do absolutely anything you want the second you get into the game. Other MMOs make you run on a fake treadmill to give you a false sense of achievement. In Darkfall, the second you drop into the game, you can run off hunting other players, you can do the quests, you can start harvesting materials and learning spells, you can start crafting, you can join a clan and get involved in territorial conquest and politics, you can become a merchant and run goods across the map. There are NO limits when you start the game, so if you find the first 20 hours boring, its your own fault. Maybe people have just had their head stuffed up WoW’s *** for far too long that they can’t remember what freedom is like anymore.

  9. “it’s more engaging than any of the games where you stand there pressing 1 then 2 then 3 then 1 again until a sprite falls over”

    Yet he gives it 4/10 when you know he’d give WoW at least 8/10 while enjoying it less.

    I think the problem is in the scoring system. What he says in the text was pretty balanced and gave you a clear idea of whether the game is for you. But putting a 4/10 is a big “don’t play this under any circumstances” for most people.

    It’s really a 4/10 if you just gnerally like MMOs and don’t care about impact etc and 9/10 if impact is the reason you play MMOs.

    Which is what he seems to be saying when you get past the score and just read.

  10. *sigh* All this is already starting to remind me of discussions with my editors regarding review scores and content.

    In my opinion, even though it is technically a part of the review, one thing is the score and another, way over there, is the actual review content. There is correlation, usually, but it’s not necessary for both to be related because it’s two different things, aiming for two different goals.

    The content of the review is what you should read if you wanna go in depth. The elaborate impressions of the reviewer will be there, as well as a lot of other information. Some crucial, some tangential. The score is something else. The score is the reviewer attempting to condense an impression into an arbitrary number according to an arbitrary scale working with arbitrary and -key word- subjective parameters.

    It’s perfectly possible, and has happened many times, for reviews to gush or gut a particular game, and the score having little to do with the impression you get from the content. This happens because different reviewers value different things, and when they are asked for the score they instintively grab all their high points and low points and condense it into something.

    Take this re-review of Darkfall for instance. It could have happened the other way around. It could have happened that the reviewer liked many things about the game, overall, and the bad things in his opinion did not influence his picture much. With the same review content, the score could have been higher. “There are a few kinks in this, but overall I enjoyed it”. How many times we’ve seen this? Tons. We read the review, and we see all the bad points highlighted there, and we think “How can the score be so high with so many bad points highlighted?”. It’s because they exists, but they might be minor, inconsequential or out of the way of things.

    But in this one, the opposite happened. The reviewer found his fun in a few things, but the number, severity and importance of the bad things, in his estimation, outweigh the good points. Outweigh, not eliminate. And that’s why the review is how it is – a reviewer having a bit of fun, enjoying a couple of things, but when having to appraise it overall the numerous (in his estimation) bad points enter the picture and the score is what it is.

    It’s not that “the reviewer said he was having fun! how can the score be low?”. The reviewer said he was having fun -sometimes-, at -some points- and with -some elements-. The rest, he found it ranging from not fun to aggravating. Hell, I’m sure I can find -some- fun in Lineage, for example. If I’m writing a review does that mean I need to give it a good score because I had a little bit of fun with it? No, don’t think so.

    This is why I always wanted to get rid of final scores for my reviews, but never really could. Cuts a lot of the ambiguity, but TPTB won’t have it; we need those scores there for the casual page browsers, so they can have their appraisals at a glance and move on. God forbid people spend time reading a few pages that -should- interest them in the first place.

    Reading this re-review I can see why he thinks it’s a 4/10 because I’m not getting hung up on the little fun he had. He felt the game’s drawbacks were important enough to erode that fun, and that’s that. Maybe if I played it I’d have a different opinion, maybe the same. Maybe I like the same things and dislike different ones, etc.

    My advice: Forget the score, read the review. If you’re playing DF and having fun, keep at it. But if you’re looking for info about it, read the review, skip the score, get your own idea guided by the reviewer.

  11. @ Julian – Excellent rebuttal. So many people are looking at this review through their own prejudices that they can’t accept it for what it is. Gillen played the game, wrote about what he liked and didn’t like, and assigned a score based on Eurogamer’s rating criteria. And a 4/10 for Eurogamer solely states “Below Average.” That’s it. If anyone thinks that review described a game that was other than below average, they may want to read it again.

  12. Pretty much, yeah. I don’t know EG’s explanation for their scoring system, and I really don’t care to know. But if a 4/10 is “below average” to them, I read the review and I get that impression as well. I don’t need the score.

    Let’s see, going by memory and ignoring all the meta about the previous review situation, what do I come out with?

    – The game has solid, unforgiving PvP action, which is intense…

    … but marred by…

    – Inadequate controls at some points
    – Not so great UI
    – Excessive grind
    – Some questionable design decisions

    In the middle I’m sure there’s the slew of tiny little things, for good and bad, that any MMO has and are not worth to write about, but can affect things.

    So how’s this not “below average”? I think the problem we’re having with this thing, even before that fateful review had come along, is that some folks do very much want that unforgiving pvp action and are willing to excuse or not mind a lot of “below average” things in order to get to it. Some others won’t, and would say “no, hold on, the below average things do matter”. That’s where we are.

    I’m not harping on my distinguished pvp enthusiast cousins. Next year it could be anyone else on any game who will dismiss a lot of things that should not be dismissed (and much less, dismissed from a professional review) in order to get the one thing they’re interested about. This time it was them, and of course some attitudes didn’t help one bit.

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