My Relative Perspective on Review (A response to Total Biscuit)

A response where I’m not angry at the person talking?  Yeah, doesn’t that feel weird.  Normally I respond to people who I take umbrage with.  That’s not to say that I agree with all the people I watch all the time.  I really don’t.  Sometimes I very much disagree.  I did a response to Super Bunnyhop’s video about E3 2015 and hype for games.  I think that he sounds burned out of big budget games.  The games he praises these days are the smaller games.  That’s not to say that I think all big budget games are great.  Far from it.  This year has been an example of a game that had a huge budget, came from a great company, and absolutely sucked.  I am, of course, talking about Batman: Arkham Knight.  Between the repetitive vehicle combat and the story that shoots itself in the foot so hard that it legitimately pissed me off, this is a game that I am never going to be able to love, because it is just a let-down.

For those who don’t know, I’m a fan of a British game reviewer called Total Biscuit.  When I found out that his cancer has come back, and it is inoperable, it hurts.  This is a good guy, who is still going out of his way to bring reviews and thoughts about games to gamers, even facing adversity.  He has said that he is going to fight this cancer right to the very end, and I think that he is great for that.  I wish him all the best, and if his fight fails, and he leaves this world, he will have another person who is going to be saddened by his passing.  I’ve never talked to the guy, but that’s how I feel.  Best of luck, TB.

Anyway, he made a video talking about this idea of relativism in game reviews.  It is hard to be objective, after all.  If I were 100% objective, then my reviews of both Arkham Knight and the final episode of Life is Strange would have been very good.  Neither game had a problem, from a mechanical aspect.  However, when I couldn’t get away from the fact that I took MAJOR problems with both games.  With both of them, my chief problem is the story.  But I’ll get to that in a few.  TB put out a video some time ago, talking about how there is this idea that if a game reviewer doesn’t like the games that one likes, then their opinion isn’t worth taking.  I’ll let you watch the video, then I’ll talk about it.

This video got me to thinking about something.  TB says that when you look at a person’s review of a game, then you should really get to know a lot about what that reviewers stickler points are and use that to judge whether or not you take their reviews or thoughts on games seriously.  I happen to agree with him.  TB said that for him, the things he likes in games are things like mechanics and gameplay.  It’s why he despises games like Dear Esther and would most likely despise a game that I very much enjoyed – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.  That’s fine.  He is totally within his rights to enjoy games for his own reasons.  But as he said, it’s good to know where your game reviewer stands.  With that in mind, I thought that I would tell you, my faithful audience, where I stand on games.

I am a story seeker.  It’s always been the reason that I game.  It’s why I watch movies, read books, am very picky about my TV shows.  I like a good story.  Not only that, but I like stories that are more character-driven than plot-driven.  It’s why I love Game of Thrones so much.  There is a plot, in that series, but it is very second-fiddle to the characters.  At least in most seasons.  This latest one is definitely my least favorite, but I get why it went down the way it did.  They are setting things up for the end game.  There are three seasons left of this series.  The show-runners said that they will pay whatever it takes to get an eighth season.  I think that’s good.  Gives them time to take more time for character development, instead of the plot stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the plot stuff.  I could watch that battle of Hardhome over and over again for hours.  That was fucking awesome!  That scene where Jon Snow is fighting a White Walker was so incredible!  I am one of the people who believes that he’ll be back.  He’s been seen on set too much for that not to be the case.  He’s gonna be back, but I am thinking that he’ll have some baggage along the way.

But I game for stories.  Am I forgiving of bad mechanics?  Hell no!  If a game is unplayable, I won’t tough it out for a good story. But if a game’s mechanics are simplistic, I can deal with that if the narrative keeps me going.  It is why my favorite game of 2015, up until now, had been Life is Strange.  A character-driven story about a girl who can alter time.  That was great.  If it hadn’t of ended on such a sour note, then it would be among my favorite games of all time.  The plot of a game is the thing that calls to me, and that is something that you need to know.  Not only that, but the characters as well.  If I can’t believe a game’s characters, then the game is very dead to me.  I can already hear some of my detractors…

But Lucien, you were all over DmC: Devil May Cry!  That game’s story was ridiculous and the characters were cardboard cutouts!

I’m working on a review right now for a movie I just got done watching.  It was made in the 90’s, and it has every single 90’s cliche, but god-dammit, it is has fun with them!  It is able to enjoy being dumb.  It is a movie we’ve seen a thousand times, but if you can embrace the silliness and not take it too seriously, then it is a lot of fun.  That’s how I am about DmC.  It’s a silly game, where you get to cut up demons.  I also just reviewed Wolfenstein: The New Order.  That is a game where they give you guns, ammo, and Nazis to kill.  It’s awesome!  But the games that I love, the ones that stick with me the most, are the ones with stories and characters that I can feel for.  Those are the ones that leave a lasting impression.  It’s why I am still sour about both Mass Effect 3 and the last episode to Life is Strange.  Both games had some INCREDIBLE build-up!  No joke, right up to the very end, I was in love with those games!  The former especially.  I was wrapping up plots three games in the making.  I was making peace between warring factions.  I was bringing life-long enemies like the geth and quarians together.  If it hadn’t of been for the lackluster final act, that entire series would be my favorite games of all time.  If it hadn’t been for that stupid, contrived ending, the same would be true of Life is Strange.

I do try and look at the various aspects of a game.  Really, I do.  If a game lacks in some area, I’ll point it out.  While I really like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, I didn’t give it a 9 or a 10 because it isn’t a spectacular or perfect game.  But I won’t lie, the story is the thing I pay attention to first.  Hopefully those of you who actually read my reviews (they don’t get the views you’d think) and like what you see understand that.

So yeah, that’s my thoughts.  TB’s video is good, and while I don’t agree with him on everything, I can still enjoy his content.  Good luck in your own battle, you poncy British bastard.

Until next time, a quote,

“You and I have found out that being normal sucks, because we’re freaks.  The advantage of being a freak is that it makes you stronger.  Now, how strong do you want her to have to be?”  -Gregory House, House, M.D.

Peace out,

Maverick

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