Saturday, 17 December 2011

Am I becoming 'the' critic?

Homer Simpson became 'THE' critic. Have I?

After posting my third review of the week yesterday, and not being overly gushing yet again and perhaps being critical of a product, I got to thinking about whether reviewing things was changing how I perceive products. If that wasn't enough to get me thinking I also received email off of somebody. Not a very pleasant one if I'm honest! I kind of expect to get the odd death threat and people disagreeing with me, after all it's the Internet. So the question arises... am I becoming 'THE' critic? You know, the one person that has nothing good to say about anything? You see I don't think I'm a massively negative person in real life, and despite 2011 being one long never ending stream of shit heaped upon a mountain of misery and suffering... I think I've remained fairly upbeat and positive in the main. True my balls are sore from life kicking me there so often, but honestly I like it a little bit rough!

I guess I'm a bit concerned that of late maybe I've come across as negative. I think I've been honest and fair in my deliberations, but I guess it's possible that I've become a little bit harsh. So I'm just putting this out there really and asking for some honest feedback, from you guys who read my blog. Because I've had some people say I was over the top with Dreadfleet, massively unfair on Super Dungeon Explore and just plain mean to Descent: Journeys in the Dark. There have also been people who have accused me of being a little bit harsh on the first two Dungeons & Dragons games. I fully accept I'm a bit blunt in my assessments, but if I'm coming across all bitter and twisted then I'm doing something horribly wrong with my articles, because that's not me. It's certainly not where my hobby is at right now either. So come on, be honest with me, have I become a jaded wizened grumpy old gamer who just wants to be mean and nasty? Peace out!


  1. I'd rather see critical reviews than people blowing smoke and waxing lyrical about "HOW AMAZING!" something is.

    Dreadfleet was a perfect example, so many people raving about the game, but mostly about how it looked. You were one of the few to go "wait a second, this pretty game has rubbish rules!"

    Your nowhere near being Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation yet.

  2. If by 'THE critic' you mean critical in a reasoned way, then there is no problem is there?

    Reasoned and explained criticism is fair criticism.

    If you start over-thinking the consequences of your posts in the responses you may provoke, then there is no point in offering critical appraisal.

  3. I think a review should be as honest as as possible, otherwise it's only a pointless comment in the web cloud.
    Personally I like your reviews, they are great as they point out all the good and bad things a game come with.
    Keep on blogging the way you do, and be sure that there are more people liking what you're saying than the one bothering you.

  4. Other than on editorials (where you aren't expected to be fair or reasonable) on the overall I've found your reviews to err on the side of positive.

    The fact that you've been so critical recently has actually improved my perception of your reviews as a whole - without a baseline to compare against, constant positive reviews mean nothing.

    Do I think you've been overly critical? No, and I don't think you should worry about it. Reviews at the end of the day are elongated opinion pieces. Tell it like it is, stay honest to what you think of a product, and people will keep rolling in to read them.

  5. Well I'm glad people don't think I'm deliberately being an arse about things. I try to be constructive in my criticisms and even when I'm being positive I'll sometime temper it with a bit of devils advocate. I know reviews are nothing more than personal opinions, so I just say what I think and say why I think it, so you can judge for yourself whether or not you're likely to agree with my reasoning or not.

  6. Oh, yer an arse...don't get it twisted.

    However, you're also a fairly impartial 'reviewer.'
    I don't think you're a critic, because you're a big fan of the things you're willing to give a go.
    You don't just critique stuffs just cuz that's what you do, if you know what I mean.
    But yer still an arse.

  7. If you say that things are bad you always explain why. If you would calculate an average of the scores you give out it would probably be pretty high -- suggesting that all games are pretty good or that you actually are rather too positive. Keep it up!

  8. I think you're just opinionated.
    But with a healthy amount of informed reasoning and (just) enough impartiality.
    For a hobby that inspires such passion and love in its followers, being impartial is almost impossible, but I think you give it a decent go.
    Although, don't think I've seen you be negative about Infinity yet...

    In the end, a critic is just a bloke. With opinions. And more of a keen eye for practical qualities than a fanboi does.

    I think you're doing fine, but you will judge for yourself whether or not you're likely to agree with my reasoning or not.

  9. "without a baseline to compare against, constant positive reviews mean nothing."

    Yup. Exactly this. Too many reviews are overly positive without enough criticism. And those that do throw in negatives tear strips off for offending a reviewer's personal hobby horse, without looking at the flaws in enough aspects of the product. Like, with computer games, moaning about DRM that doesn't actually impact game play at all.

    Me, I'm not analytical enough.

  10. The only downside is I like reading your thoughts but always end up bummed about the games I was looking forward too :D

  11. @SinSynn, if you come here for 'teh kittehs' tehn you better stay tuned next week... heaven help me but Macavity is taking over the blog for a week!!! And I've seen the articles o_0

    @orderanduncertainty, that's sort of what I thought when I looked through my reviews. Although to be fair I'm hardly likely to spend my precious money I things I might not like, so that could account for the slightly higher average I guess.

    @GoldenKaos, cheers. Just thought I'd ask really. I know a lot of people have said they've found my reviews useful but I just thought given the venom in the email I'd ask. Can't hurt to make sure I'm not being blinkered can it?

    @Minijunkie, yeah well imagine my disappointment... I actually spend money on them. lol. I think the biggest kick in the balls recently has to be SDE. I love the chibi style. I love the concept. I just don't like the execution. Descent was annoying... but SDE was gutting as I'd been waiting for it for so long.

  12. I think you call it as you see it - your recent Claustrophobia was hardly negative. Although I do like a good negative review (I started following your blog on the back of your Dreadfleet review). Even the review that would've been most likely cause complaint from me (Descent) didn't. But maybe all that says more about me than your reviewing style - I don't know.

    Nothing substantive to say - just figured I'd chime in with a general thumbs up.

  13. @AC, at the end of the day I don't pretend my reviews are anything other than my opinion. Dreadfleet was an interesting review because out of the test subjects I was actually the kindest to it as a product. I did take some flak for it though, although the chap who emailed me to say I was harsh about it did email me back after he'd had a few games. Funnily enough he didn't think it was very good either, although he did get some enjoyment out of it with his daughter, and that's great.

    As for Descent... it's just not for me and my group of friends. It takes too long to resolve as a game. Although I concede that I don't own any of the expansions and everyone has told me the Road to Legend expansion is actually pretty awesome. But I had to review the game as was in the box, not of potential. Likewise Super Dungeon Explore, I now know there are going to be some pretty cool expansions for SDE and I'll be interested to see what they do and how they 'open' the game up and vary things.

  14. i like your reviews. the only game i thought you were a little unfair on was Dreadfleet, which i dont think was near as bad as you said. but i would never presume to tell you that your opinion was wrong, and i appreciated that you had played it and given a considered opinion, even if i disagree to an extent.

    in any case, people who are interested in buying a game should read as many reviews as possible before deciding whether to buy, and you give credit where credit is due. you make it clear if a product is strong in one area and not in another and a reader can then decide which is important to them.

    gah, sorry for rambling post that probably doesn;t make sense. i promise i'm not actually illiterate, just tired ;)

  15. Have I agreed with everything you've said, no. Do I see where you are coming from and appreciate seeing something from another perspective, yes. Just keep on doing them the way you have with well thought out points and everything is aces by me.

  16. @Atreides, I think if anyone is spending money on pretty much anything nowadays they should do a bit of research. Don't worry about sounding illiterate round here, I'm dyslexic so its all good! Plus when I'm realy tired I get the worlds worst brain freeze too.... besides that post seemed cogent enough to me!!!

    @@DotP, I don't expect people to agree with what I've said, never have done. Like you I also enjoy reading other people's perspectives and I'm glad people find them useful.

  17. My comments are generally not an interesting thing to read, so I'll try to do better with this one :P

    Personally, I think your reviews are fair. At least, you mention both good and bad things about everything you review, and you give reasons. Without giving the sort of detail that you give us, your reviews would just be another guy saying "woo" or "meh". Giving us the details, however, means that regardless of how positive or negative your reviews are, the reader can make an informed decision, and can compare your review to other such useful ones. This is important because everyone has opinions, everyone has favourites, and everything is looking for different things.

    On the subject of favourites, I think we all know how much you like Infinity. Even if this causes you to skim over the bad parts and emphasise the good, I don't see it as a bad thing for two reasons.

    1) The fact that you like it so much means you talk about it more, and so readers of your blog find out more about it. This means they get a better idea of what it's all about and can make an informed decision regarding whether they would like it anyway.

    2) We need more people who champion the things they like. As you mentioned in your other post about fun sponges, there is a temptation to always (publicly) put down the things you don't like. The world would be a better place if everyone, instead, promoted the things they enjoy.

    That's my (possibly incoherent) rambling for now, make of it what you will ;)

  18. @Kemp, nope that is shockingly coherent for a Monday and I think you're right. Although I have skimmed over certain things with Infinity it is because I don't find them an issue I guess. Although between Christmas and new years I'll be touching on some things. Mainly the game systems biggest flaw at the moment, which is the lack of official missions. I've written 4 fun story type missions that I quite like if I'm honest with you... but then again I would!!! :P Cheers for the comment, I always appreciate people taking the time to type them.