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Killing time 'til Mass Effect 2

Brad Gallaway's picture

Alex & Pixel Screenshot

Since my copy of Mass Effect 2 will be arriving in approximately 2 days (no same-day shipping? Bah!) I'm not playing anything lengthy or substantial... everything stops when the game gets here, so I'm keeping my slate is clean as it can be.

In the meantime, I wrapped up Ninja Blade and turned in the review. You should see it go live shortly. I had an absolute blast with that title, and it was the perfect way to interrupt the extended string of RPGs I've been on lately. If you are not opposed to the idea of a game that uses QTEs as a primary mechanic of delivering action, this one is a doozy.

Following that, I moved on to XBLA's Axel & Pixel. A quirky, eccentric point-and-click with loads of personality, I fell in love with it after just a minute with the demo and did not regret purchase of the full version. The review for this game should be done soon, but basically it was a delightful little Adventure-style game from some talented people in the Czech Republic that focuses more on accessibility and charm than brain-bustingly obtuse puzzles. Finished it in about four hours, but it was pure pleasure all the way through.

Will probably start Contra ReBirth on WiiWare tomorrow, and if I blew through that than I've got a couple more things that should be quick plays to help me pass the time until Commander Shepard makes her return.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii   PS3  
Genre(s): Adventure/Explore  

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ME2 Review

I assume you will be posting this site's "main" review of Mass Effect 2 Brad so I do hope you will remain impartial and balanced when posting it. However, since you hold the original in such unjustified high esteem I feel that this website will lose a fair amount of credibility when you come back with an inevitable 10/10 score.

So far I am already annoyed that yet again that moron Tom Bramwell on Eurogamer has dished out another 10/10 to hotly anticipated title. I'm now 100% confident that he doesn't know how to review games, or that he's taking massive back-handers, or both. It doesn't matter; I just hope you have the reviewing talent to know when a game has flaws, when to point them out, and how to apply them to the score sensibly.

Bare in mind that, no matter how much you personally enjoy the game, as a piece of gaming design you need to highlight what is right and accurate.

That seems unfair to me,

That seems unfair to me, Crofto.

Did you finish the game? Can’t a reviewer give a full score to a hyped game? I’ve learned here, mostly because of the recent Uncharted 2 debate, that I’m no one to judge another person’s opinion. And I think you'll agree with me that gamecritics reviewers do their best to be as honest as they can.

Fans of a game can sometimes

Fans of a game can sometimes be the most critical of a sequel's faults, when there really are problems with it. Only way I can see Mass Effect 2 going wrong is if they decided this was the 'less talk, more action' sequel, and then didn't flesh out the combat and encounters adequately to justify the switch. I mean, Planet missions in Mass Effect 1 did get just a little repetitive. But you know, it's Bioware. There'll be plenty of talk, and the fans will love it.

Hey Crofto, Well, you've

Hey Crofto,

Well, you've put me over something of a barrel, haven't you? ; )

I guess the first thing I would say is that I always strive to be impartial and balanced with every game I review. At least, as much as is humanly possible... after all, there is no such thing as a totally impartial review. We all have our own tastes and preferences, etc.

Although I am a BioWare fan, I don't love all their games equally and I don't think everything they've made is golden. However, I honestly did feel that the first Mass Effect was quite worthy of a 10 by the standards that we operate on here at the site, and I would hope that I made a sufficient case in the writeup for the review.

(And just for the record, I never said that ME was without flaws... I call them out in the beginning of the piece, but the fact was that none of the flaws were significant enough to drag down the overwhelming amount of what the game got right. A score of 10 here at GC does not denote a totally flawless game, since such a thing does not exist.)

You made it pretty clear by your comment that you disagree with that score, and that's totally fine… everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion, and I don't begrudge you that.

However, the only thing I can do is give an honest take on the game once I get it in my hands, and that's what I've intended to do from the start. If you look back in our archives, you'll see that I've only given out two 10’s in the last ten years of writing reviews. That's an average of one perfect score every five years, so I certainly don't hand them out like candy.

I'm very protective of my reputation, and I would not give high numbers just to go along with the crowd, or to jump on the bandwagon for a game receiving a lot of hype. However, the first game was incredible and if the second is better than the first as most have been reporting, then I guess you'd better brace yourself for a pretty positive final judgment. ^_^


I just want to say, anyone who gives glowing reviews to Bionic Commando and Ninja Blade is hardly one to be swayed by popular opinion and hype. ;) If anything, Brad has major huevos rancheros when it comes to staking out an opinion.

That said, I'm also of the opinion that Mass Effect, otherwise known as Generic Bioware Dialogue-athon Part 3, was not a perfect or even near-perfect game. It had major, major, major problems (load times, miserable plot and villain, completely uninspired side quests, and on and on). But I enjoyed it all the same (just like I enjoy Dragon Age, though I can't quite be compelled to finish the damn thing). I look forward to playing the sequel, and if this one turns out to be worthy of "10" scores, more power to it!

ckzatwork: "Can’t a

ckzatwork: "Can’t a reviewer give a full score to a hyped game?"

Absolutely, but what are the odds that a super-hyped game can achieve such credit? If we were to properly analyse games the clear evidence suggests that the probability of a title ever achieving a design level to warrant a 10/10 is, at best, something that may happen once every five years.

The way reviewers dish out all these insane scores completely ignores that, and so we're left with a media that believes that the majority of big-name titles are superbly designed, when they're clearly not.

This does not help our industry move forward; as long as games reviewers do things badly then gaming will never reach the film industry as far as media goes.

"And I think you'll agree with me that gamecritics reviewers do their best to be as honest as they can."

The problem isn't about being honest, it's about them not properly reviewing the game. The majority of reviewers play games as an average gamer - not as a critic.

For example, a reviewer for Gamespot sits down to play Halo 3, enjoys it, and then says its "awesome". He hasn't played it to discover its design merits; he's played it as an average person and is merely rating his personal enjoyment.

Personal enjoyment and opinion is fine, but reviewing is different. Reviewing means highlighting all aspects of a game, and stating whether they are good or not. If the majority of gaming critics did this then websites like Metacritic would be a much less burden on the eyes.

(Ironically, it seems GameSpot are one of the few whom are reviewing ME2 properly!)

KCalder: Fans of a game can sometimes be the most critical of a sequel's faults, when there really are problems with it.

Yes, but there's a difference.

I liked Mass Effect 1, and enjoyed playing it, however, as a piece of gaming design it was massively flawed and so I would rate it 7/10, at best. Unfortunately, a reviewer would ignore the flaws and focus on their personal enjoyment, and then rate the entire game on that notion. That is wrong. Unfortunately, that is also the way 95% of critics work.

@Brad - I usually wouldn't put my words across to any reviewer before they post one, since it makes little point. However, because I believe this website to be one of the few that can, on occasion, rate big-name titles properly (i.e. not be fooled by novelty and hype) I thought I would make my words known. Anyway, I shall await your review.

I’m on your side, Crofto.

I’m on your side, Crofto. Game scores reveal themselves unquestionably inflated when compared with other mediums and games are definitely not as first-class as the press wants us to believe.

That said, there is more to the evaluation of a game than the dissection of its design. For example, a game's soul – and for an admirable definition of it, listen to this week's podcast. Numerous subjective characteristics come into play when analyzing a title, making reviews an individual judgment that can never embody universal viewpoints.

As such, I prefer looking them as the result of tastes and personal experiences than believing that some unbiased scientific calculation could assist reviewers with achieving an immaculate score.


Crofto, I get from your posts that you don't like that Brad likes Mass Effect, but your arguments about what reviewers in general should and shouldn't do sounds to me a little lofty.

If a reviewer took the time to play through all of, let's say GTA IV for ex., it'd probably take a bit of a toll on their personal lives and/or take a month or three to come out (even longer for an rpg if you assume multiple playthroughs with different characters!) and be copious reading at best.. and who would want to read that?

I believe the majority of people who read reviews 'get' that reviewers don't play all the way through, or are playing incomplete beta versions that they got early.. you can tell this by what they cover and what they don't. In terms of the business, that's nothing new, this scenario has already been going on for decades in the publishing market.

A complete play by play of everything the game offers (which would also leave no surprises) would be unrealistic. What should matter is the reviewers TAKE on the mechanisms of play present in the game, and gauge that by how you've agreed or disagreed with a reviewer in the past.

There's also the large matter of a smaller market;
With a planetwide recession going on, you can expect reviewers that collect revenue for advertising from the companies that make the games to be handing out higher scores than they should.

The runaway success of titles like Borderlands and AC2 this past year made this clear to me. There's money and jobs on the line and if the reviews are bad, it's not a bull market where you can just put out something else that some other team was developing, because there are no other teams. They're unemployed. When the market is more dynamic and glutted with product, it's easy to trash the bad and see what's better by comparison.

There's also the technology problem; yesterday's 9's are tomorrow's 6's. I discovered this recently trying to play the original Silent Hill. I used to "love" it, but the gameplay's terrible by today's "standards"... so's Mortal Kombat II.

What is fun or involving in games has to do with the socio-cultural situation people find themselves in, TODAY.

Ok, I'm getting all over the place... what I'm trying to say is that reviews reflect not just the quantity of time the reviewer put into playing the game, their knowledge of the history of the game genre, but ALSO what effort by the developer the game represents in terms of the market as it stands, today, as seen through the eyes of the reviewer.

And ultimately the most important reviewer of a game is still you. :)

Yeah, I do kind of think a

Yeah, I do kind of think a 10 should be "I like this a lot AND in my opinion, it has wider appeal."

The fact is, some people do base game purchases on positive reviews from critics they trust. For my part it's mostly on games outside my comfort zone - Sports, Racing, Platforming, Action/adventure - where it takes a great deal of positive critical acclaim for me to buy in.

With RPGs, Strategy, and Horror games, I honestly don't need good reviews. I'll watch the grainy youtube videos of the foreign version, I'll sift through the terrible, biased amazon and gamefaqs reviews. I do the research myself because it's interesting to me and I have the time.

But without reading the occasional glowingly positive review outside my comfort zone, I'd probably never have played games like Ape Escape, or Gran Turismo, or Flower. I'd have probably spent the money on a stale JRPG instead. And that's why I think wider appeal to all kinds of gamers that aren't hardcore genre fans should be the 'extra ingredient' in a 10 game, not flawlessness. Though it's true, the two often do go together.

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