By and large, I find Mike's review of Oblivion to be nearly as flawless as the game itself. Everything he said in his main review about the game's beautiful graphics, playability and scope I agree with wholeheartedly. It really is stunning to walk all the way to the mountains at the end of the map, then turn around and be able to see the main city in the distance. Where his opinions and mine diverge, however, is on the subject of the game's lack of focus.

Mike believes that, at least at some point, a game needs to force its player to explore the main plot. I believe I would agree with him if discussing just about any game other than this one. The reason isn't because I was especially fond of the game's sandbox features, but because I found the game's sub-plots to be every bit as satisfying as the main story, and far more than just 'generic fetch-quests'.

First and foremost, Oblivion is a triumph of videogame storytelling. Every single quest in the game features an interesting story behind it, presented with well-written dialogue and surprisingly good voice acting. This step prevents the missions from ever feeling generic or repetitive. Each new mission is a new story for the player to play a role in, full of characters to meet, monsters to kill, and mysteries to solve. If the game's main quest doesn't seem grander or more important than the rest of the game, it's not because it isn't especially well designed, but because the rest of the missions are.

Mike's not wrong about the bugs in the system, though. I played Oblivion on the PC, and the frequency with which it crashes on my normally stable system made me quite a big fan of the Quicksave feature. Although even that didn't help when the game decided to erase all of the magic weapons and armor I'd created. The only other issue I had was with the game's experience system. Attaching level advancement to skill improvement was a good idea, but there are a few skills that are just far too easy to improve, such as Alchemy—after one particularly exhaustive search for ingredients, I found myself advancing four levels at once. Since the game's monsters become more difficult based on character rather than skill level, I was thrust into a situation of having to fight a class of monsters that I didn't have the weapon or magic skills to deal with.

Even with these problems, this is still the finest role-playing game I've ever played. It's rare that I'll spend more than ten or twelve hours with a title, and Oblivion managed to suck up more than a hundred hours before I actually reached the endgame. It's an accomplishment unparalleled in the field, and will likely remain such until Elder Scrolls V is released around five years from now. Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Disclaimer: This review is based on the PC version of the game.

Daniel Weissenberger

Daniel Weissenberger

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?

Nothing relevant to this conversation, that's for sure! Because we're here to talk about (sorry, write and read about, respectively) GC_Danny, who's updating this profile for the first time in thirteen years!

So let's take a gander back at that time and see what's happened! In addition to writing hundreds of video game reviews, Dan produced a book that can be legally purchased by almost anyone! He also wrote two short films, two episodes of television, and two movies! Although, sadly, and through much fault of his own, the movies have yet to be released.

In addition to general game reviewing, he's also dabbled in more long-form work, writing some of the longest and most comprehensive game reviews of all time. Then there's his non-GameCritics blogging, where he's famous as the world's foremost expert on the TV show Criminal Minds, as well as the co-host of a weekly podcast - he's even working on a new videogame/critical experiment, which you can find out more about here!

If all that wasn't enough, just a few months ago he rebranded himself as 'The Hidden Object Guru', hoping to stake another claim of ultimate expertise, this time over a genre of casual games! Will he be successful? Only time will tell, but you're free to join the thrilling ride at his YouTube channel!
Daniel Weissenberger

Latest posts by Daniel Weissenberger (see all)

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

It's the exponential progression of these things that bothers me most. Ever since the original Doom, the majority of First Person Shooters (FPS) have followed an incredibly strict formula: The hero begins the game with a ridiculously underpowered weapon, and is besieged by an army of enemies that can be just barely killed by that first weapon (it's challenging enough that each enemy put down feels like something of an accomplishment). Then, in the next area or level, after a harrowing experience, it becomes clear that the first weapon just isn't going to cut it against the sheer volume of simple enemies the hero is facing. Just then, when things are looking their worst, the hero will discover the second weapon (generally a shotgun; although sometimes it's a futuristic shotgun, or a space shotgun, or an energy shotgun) and the tables will have turned. The zombies that just a moment ago spelled my imminent doom suddenly fall like tenpins before my mighty will, their heads only a single click away from exploding. It's a great feeling, suddenly going from prey to predator, and the adrenaline kick of easily mowing down what was, a moment ago, an impossibly overwhelming threat. The real sense of satisfaction gained from doing this goes a long way towards explain why this genre continues to be as popular as it is.

The problem with FPSs is that historically, and especially here in Doom 3, the designers don't have any idea what to do after that first big reversal. So they just do it again, confronting players with bigger monsters that aren't afraid of a puny shotgun, then providing with the player with a gun that will make them stop in their tracks. Unfortunately, it's just not as satisfying the second time around, or the third, or the fourth… Worse still, while the power of the weapons and monsters is increasing, the health of the player never does, so by the end of the game, I'm invariably packing weapons that can kill any enemy with a single shot, batting enemies that can kill me with a single shot. By that point, the gameplay boils down to who gets the first shot off, and arbitrary enemy placement ensures that most of the time, it ain't gonna be me. By the end of Doom 3, I found myself quicksaving every minute or so, to ensure that next time I fell victim to one of the game's endless deadly ambushes, I wouldn't have to replay more than sixty seconds worth of game. I'm sure it's possible to play the game so cautiously that the constant ambushes aren't invariably fatal, but I can't imagine it would be any more fun than the way I was playing.

Mike's right about the storytelling being very effective at drawing the player into the game. The terminals that allowed me to interface with the game's computers in real time rather than on a separate screen were also a huge step forward for immersion. Of course, fans of System Shock 2 are quick to point out that this dynamic is taken whole cloth from that game. The only thing I find surprising about that is the fact that it took game developers five years before they started ripping off the best system of FPS storytelling to date.

Doom 3 begins wonderfully, with more than half an hour of wandering around the Mars station before all hell starts to break loose (although I understand this was cut down somewhat in the Xbox version). This builds an incredible amount of tension that pays off when the first zombie finally appears. It was here that I enjoyed the game the most. Slowly inching my way through dark tunnels, listening for movement, keeping my pistol at the ready… Zombies and ammo were so well-placed that the game managed to make me feel like I was always on the cusp of running out of ammo, and becoming dinner for some vicious monster. My heart rate was continually elevated, and I couldn't help but think that if the game could keep up this brutally tense pace for the rest of the game, I'd be looking at the best FPS I'd ever played. Of course, the game couldn't maintain the pace, and shortly after I found a submachinegun and started seeing Imps, it became painfully clear that Doom 3 was beginning that long slide down towards tedium that I'd become all too familiar with in my years of playing FPSs.

In his review, Mike referred to the game as "old school," and he's not wrong. I differ from him in that I don't think that's a very good thing. Games like Halo have proven that there are other, better design concepts to model your game on. And while I understand that Id was trying to recreate the feel of the original Doom, I can't imagine that I'm the only one who thought there were fundamental problems with Doom's design that didn't deserve to be recreated so exhaustively here. Sure, it's prettier now. But that doesn't make it any less dull or frustrating than it was when I was growing sick of Doom 2 all those years ago. But for all these problems, it still deserves a rating of 7.0 out of 10

Disclaimer: This review is based on the PC version of the game.

Daniel Weissenberger

Daniel Weissenberger

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?

Nothing relevant to this conversation, that's for sure! Because we're here to talk about (sorry, write and read about, respectively) GC_Danny, who's updating this profile for the first time in thirteen years!

So let's take a gander back at that time and see what's happened! In addition to writing hundreds of video game reviews, Dan produced a book that can be legally purchased by almost anyone! He also wrote two short films, two episodes of television, and two movies! Although, sadly, and through much fault of his own, the movies have yet to be released.

In addition to general game reviewing, he's also dabbled in more long-form work, writing some of the longest and most comprehensive game reviews of all time. Then there's his non-GameCritics blogging, where he's famous as the world's foremost expert on the TV show Criminal Minds, as well as the co-host of a weekly podcast - he's even working on a new videogame/critical experiment, which you can find out more about here!

If all that wasn't enough, just a few months ago he rebranded himself as 'The Hidden Object Guru', hoping to stake another claim of ultimate expertise, this time over a genre of casual games! Will he be successful? Only time will tell, but you're free to join the thrilling ride at his YouTube channel!
Daniel Weissenberger

Latest posts by Daniel Weissenberger (see all)

1
Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
ZippyDSMlee
Guest
ZippyDSMlee

Like the newer Final Fantasy’s Doom 3 is almost more of a movie than a game with the basic weapon designs ontop of lack luster level designs DOOM 3 cant even be compared to DOOM,DOOM was a adventure FPS think metroid prime with more things to shot and less things to read. DOOM 3 takes FPS’s back 10 years or more the only thing it manages to do right is tell a story the game itself is a overly simplistic horror survival game not a adventure class FPS like DOOM,Blood,Duke,Unreal,Halo,Half life,Undying. I am very fickle with my games enough flaws… Read more »

Brad Gallaway ended his review of Fantavision by saying that he feels like he was ripped off by the game, despite the fact that he got it for free. So you can imagine how I felt after paying five dollars for it. Sure, those are Canadian dollars, but still.

It's easy to write about a game that you hate. Complaining is the easiest thing in the world. How, though, do you spin utter and complete boredom? What interested me most about Brad's review was just how succinctly he managed to capture just what it was about the game that made it so awful: the absolute tedium of it. The game is so dull that you can't even describe it in an interesting fashion. Go back and read Brad's paragraph about the game's play mechanics. Not especially gripping, is it? The amazing thing is that playing the game is far, far less entertaining than reading about it.

Brad described the game's tutorial as slow, but he was, if anything, being too kind to it. The tutorial is the most plodding example of its kind that I've ever had the displeasure of taking part in. It's completely non-interactive. The game crosses from just being boring, to actual hostility towards the gamer by presenting everything at what can only described as a torturously slow pace. Not only does the dull-voiced narrator speak in an incredibly slow monotone, but the game will pause for five to ten seconds between each statement, as if the rules were so complex that the player needed to be given the time to properly digest the information they were being given. The only effect is to create a seething rage in the player's mind that quickly replaces any awareness of the myriad rules.

Another terrible failure of the game is the decision on the part of the designers to have the supremely boring narrator from the tutorial narrating the game itself. You see, in order to play the game, you have to explode flares, at least three at a time. Naturally, to score higher points, you're expected to form longer and longer chains of fireworks. Every time you finish a chain, the announcer pipes up and tells you exactly how many flares you've exploded. Now, even if the announcer had the most interesting voice in the entire world, this would still get tedious very, very fast. Try to imagine playing Tetris, and every time you complete a line, a tinny voice exclaims 'One level destroyed!' Now, considering that in your average game of Tetris you'll destroy a few hundred lines, you can see how annoying that would become. Of course, if you don't want to strain your imagination, you can always just play Fantavision for five minutes, and you'll understand just how hostile a puzzle game can be to its players.

In fact, the game's biggest flaw, which Brad touched on tangentially, is that it actually punishes the gamer for playing it. The entire game seems to have been constructed without anyone giving the least bit of consideration to the people who were going to have to play it. This is no more obvious than the game's biggest problem—which exists at the conceptual level. Whenever the fireworks go off they create admittedly spectacular explosions. Since these explosions only come in five or six different varieties, they get repetitive awfully quickly. What's worse, though, is the fact that the explosions tend to fill the screen, obscuring the next set of flares. It's a sad day for game design when your only noteworthy feature actually serves to make the game less playable.

The game's only redeeming feature, the one tiny silver lining, is a relatively well-implemented replay feature, which allows you to watch the events of a completed level as a single, uninterrupted fireworks show. There are a large number of filter and camera features, allowing you to see what your achievements would look like if they were trailed by psychedelic afterimages, or going on in the middle of a rainstorm, viewed through a red filter. This special effect proves unintentionally hilarious—I don't know very much about fireworks, and do not consider myself any kind of a combustion 'expert'. The one thing I do know? They don't work in the rain.

Fantavision is a singularly awful game, one that commits the worst sin a game possibly can. It's not fun. From beginning to end—okay, I didn't actually get to the end, so that's just theoretical—Fantavision feels like work, and is that what anyone is looking for when they sit down in front of their PlayStation 2? Rating: 0.5 out of 10

Daniel Weissenberger

Daniel Weissenberger

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?

Nothing relevant to this conversation, that's for sure! Because we're here to talk about (sorry, write and read about, respectively) GC_Danny, who's updating this profile for the first time in thirteen years!

So let's take a gander back at that time and see what's happened! In addition to writing hundreds of video game reviews, Dan produced a book that can be legally purchased by almost anyone! He also wrote two short films, two episodes of television, and two movies! Although, sadly, and through much fault of his own, the movies have yet to be released.

In addition to general game reviewing, he's also dabbled in more long-form work, writing some of the longest and most comprehensive game reviews of all time. Then there's his non-GameCritics blogging, where he's famous as the world's foremost expert on the TV show Criminal Minds, as well as the co-host of a weekly podcast - he's even working on a new videogame/critical experiment, which you can find out more about here!

If all that wasn't enough, just a few months ago he rebranded himself as 'The Hidden Object Guru', hoping to stake another claim of ultimate expertise, this time over a genre of casual games! Will he be successful? Only time will tell, but you're free to join the thrilling ride at his YouTube channel!
Daniel Weissenberger

Latest posts by Daniel Weissenberger (see all)

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of