- Sep 27, 2007
Honestly, after THIS...Joccaren said:Well, this has turned into a thread about Jim, so, fuck it.
In regards to his couple of most recent reviews, I'm finding him less of a reliable reviewer, and more like a Youtube amateur hour reviewer.
Lets look at Yooka Laylee. He doesn't like 90s style platformer collectathons. He buys a 90s style platformer collectathon, and his review is largely "2/10, its a 90s style platformer collectathon".
To me, this is just stupid. Why even bother reviewing something if you KNOW you're not going to like it going into it? It'd be like me playing Dynasty Warriors and giving it a 2/10 because it isn't a RTS game - and you can bet your ass he'd have a field day with someone attacking one of his favourite franchises for being what it was promised rather than something else that I wanted. He'd be saying it was stupid to review it as an RTS when its obviously not - yet its exactly what he has done.
Hell, he has done similar before - he rounds up all the 2/10 reviews for games from Metacritic and ridicules them for being out of touch. A lot of fanboy trolling, however he even ridicules the ones that just didn't enjoy a game and rate it really low for not enjoying it at all, for disagreeing with him. He doesn't get a defence for doing that same thing here.
Of course, he's entitled to his opinions, his opinions in this case are just worthless though. The review could honestly have been summed up as "I don't like 90s platformers, this is one".
Hell, IGN gave a more impartial review. Fucking IGN. That's a joke.
When it came to BotW, I can understand his criticisms a bit more. That said, he went too far in ignoring the merits of the game, which was evidenced in other episodes where he praises other games for doing the exact things BotW does, yet never mentioned for BotW. There was also a bit of expecting the game to be something else, rather than reviewing it on its own merits, but I can understand a small amount of that, and that's fair enough. His criticisms were mostly fair, though he seems to have missed a lot of the positives because of his focus on them.
Jim reviews games 100% by how much he enjoyed them - with his pre-play biases strongly impacting the scores. If before trying something he thinks its going to be bad, he's going to rate it poorly because of that rather than coming at it with a fresh mind. This is ok, however it means you cannot take him as a remotely reliable source of game quality or enjoyability. His analysis is often also simplistic or flawed, meaning there's minimal takeaway from it.
"But all reviews are subjective" I hear you say. To an extent, is the answer. I've heard "What other medium has an average 7/10 review score?", as if Jim giving a 2 is him fighting this trend. It isn't. He is perpetuating it. Games have relatively high review scores because reviewers review them almost solely on personal enjoyment, and most people tend to enjoy the games they play. Hence, high review scores. Jim doing exactly the same thing, but not liking a couple of games, isn't bucking the trend - its continuing it.
Counter question; When's the last time a respected movie critic reviewed a competently executed movie in a genre they didn't like a 2/10, because they didn't like the genre?
I'll sit and wait. The answer is, it doesn't.
And that's the difference between videogame reviews, and other reviews. Other reviews have actual critics; people who are literate in the medium they are reviewing, and provide a baseline objective review, with some subjectiveness sprinkled in. Even that subjectivity often comes down to how good the writing is, which is only partially subjective as there are again objective qualities people can base their reviews on.
When it comes to videogames, the majority of reviewers are illiterate. They don't understand game design theory, how things fit together, and the effect it has on the game. As a result of this, they can only give a review based on how they felt about the game, and that turns it from somewhat subjective, to fully subjective - as shown with Yooka Laylee. This is useless, unless your taste in games is exactly the same as the reviewer's.
And yeah, such hobbyist reviewers exist for movies and books and such too. However you ALSO have professional critics who know what they're talking about. Jim is considered the latter, whilst being very much the former. That's the problem.
And yes, it is a problem. It isn't just a slight "Well just find a reviewer you like" problem, it creates a huge level of inconsistency.
What were Jim's criticisms of Yooka Laylee?
-Poor level design
-Poor platforming controls
-Poorly written dialogue
Now lets look at Mass Effect Andromeda.
All of those points, except Simple Combat, apply. Platforming is even a pretty core part of the game, blocking of several areas until you complete a platforming puzzle and being required to finish the main story. Does he mention it though? No, of course not.
The game is also extremely buggy, and is a technical shitshow.
We get a 5/10 instead, because... ok?
For the same set of complaints, except bugginess being swapped for simple combat [With combat being a rather minor part of the game in question], we get hugely different review scores. In fact, prior to posting, he was contemplating even giving Andromeda a 7, despite he himself believing it was nowhere near as good as Zelda, which he also gave a 7.
Am I saying he should have reviewed Andromeda lower? No, I think 5-7 is a far range for it. Yooka Laylee, however, from all I've heard, also sits in that range, if not higher.
The scores are entirely arbitrary and utterly inconsistent. You literally cannot tell the quality or enjoyment of a game from them, as they change based on how you're feeling the day you review the game. Today a 7 means great, tomorrow it means average.
This is why a baseline level of objectiveness in reviews is useful, and expected in all mediums outside of games.
And people do do these kinds of objective analysis of games - they just don't write reviews. Numerous people will break down what makes a game tick, why some things are fun, why others aren't, because they're literate in game design. But again, they don't actually review the games, because that's not their focus. Their focus is on increasing game literacy, using examples.
Were reviewers to learn from videos such as this, some basic game design literacy, they would be able to both enjoy games more in general, being able to actually play games better and thus derive more enjoyment from them, rather than stubbornly sticking to a skillset from their favourite genre even when it doesn't apply, but also review games better, stating why some systems don't work at a design level, and why some do.
Throw in some writing literacy, and screenplay literacy, and hell, you'd have a good reviewer who could tell you how well designed something is and how it all fits together - and that does, for games at least, directly correlate to how enjoyable a game tends to be for its target audience. Throw in some subjective "I like/dislike this genre, and I don't/do enjoy this game" to keep the exact same quality of subjectiveness in reviews we have now, and you'd see average review scores plummet to 5-6, extremist review scores disappear for the most part outside of exceptionally good or bad games, and reviews become useful for everyone.
I'm surprised anyone gives Jim's reviews any thought, let alone hold them in any regard.