I stopped going to IGN about a year ago after one of their many re-designs. It seems that each time they get a bug up their ass to overhaul their website they make it harder and harder to actually find any content. So I probably never would have seen this review of Clone Wars by Cory D. Lewis had Tycho not been kind enough to bring it to my attention. We always joke about how terrible most reviews are. The rating systems are usually completely worthless. I mean, if you ask your buddy what he thought of a game he doesn't say "It's about a 7.8". This latest review for Clone Wars only served to prove our point. Cory D. Lewis delivers more mixed messages in this review than a teenage girl on her first date.
Cory kicks things off with a brief history of Star Wars games and some insight into the movies that establish his shocking grasp of the obvious. He drops a bombshell in the third paragraph when he announces that, contrary to popular belief Episode III is going to follow Episode II. Hey Cory, how about some spoiler warnings buddy! He goes on to finish that paragraph with this bit of nonsense.
"But like any good Skywalker, this latest LucasArts padawan project lacks the maturity and refinement necessary to claim a permanent seat in the Jedi Academy."
Can anyone tell me what the fuck that means? What exactly is Cory telling us about the game here? It reads as though he is saying that members of the Skywalker family lack the maturity necessary to claim "permanent seats in the Jedi Academy". Well seeing as Luke Skywalker actually established the Jedi Academy four years after the defeat of the Emperor that doesn't really make much sense. In fact Luke Skywalker and a handful of other Jedi teachers are the only ones who actually DO have permanent seats at the academy. A padawan by definition would only attend the school until he/she became a Jedi Knight. Then there is the fact that by the time the Jedi Academy is actually created students are no longer even called Padawans. However it could be argued that any Jedi trainee is by definition a Padawan even if they are not explicitly referred to as such, so I will cut Cory some slack on that one.
Now that we have that garbage behind us we can move onto the real meat of the review. At this point Cory goes on for three pages about how great this game is. Each page is full of stuff like this:
"Make no mistake about it, the action in The Clone Wars is intense. It's some of the best pure shooting action to be found on this or any system to date."
"The mission diversity, along with the non-stop action, really keeps you hooked to your controller."
"LucasArts did it right with Clone Wars."
However even with all this glowing praise the game only manages to get a 7.6 as its final score. I'm sorry, but the "...some of the best shooting action to be found on this or any system to date." Does not sound like a 7.6 to me. Even on the few occasions when Cory does have something bad to say about the game he immediately follows it up with a sentence proclaiming that the aforementioned problem really isn't so bad. After an entire paragraph detailing the woefull state of the AI Cory ends it with this:
"Thankfully, such problems never really keep you from enjoying the mission, and if anything, it actually helps to add to the challenge."
So everything you just said doesn't matter? Great, thanks for clearing that up. Even the ground based combat which he calls "an unforgivable flaw", is summed up with:
"Still, much like the game's other flaws, it is possible to just grin and bear the pain long enough to get back to the highly enjoyable vehicular combat."
So the rest of the game is so good that it makes up for the poor parts of the game? Then why did it get a 7.6 Cory?
He cannot write a single bad thing about the Goddamned game without the next sentence starting with "but" or "however". Jesus man, grow a pair and tell me what you really think of the game. This wishy washy crap is totally worthless.
The only reviews that are worth anything are the ones from people you know. I know Tycho, I know the kinds of games he likes. If he tells me he enjoyed a game I have a pretty good idea of whether or not I am gonna like it. I don't need him to tell me it was about an 82 or that he'd give it three stars. I just want to hear if he liked it or not. I have given up reading reviews online or in magazines completely. If one of these big sites wants to get me back as a reader they need to change they way they review games. You don't even have to go out and pay some consultant a ton of money either I am gonna tell you what to do right now.
The first thing you do is get rid if the numbers or percentages or stars or monkeys or whatever the fuck it is your site uses to review games. Then you get together a group of five or six guys and you give me some background on each of them. Tell me what kind of games this cat likes to play. Did he like Halo? Did he enjoy REZ? I need to know if my tastes match up at all with this guy. Then you have him write an article about a game he just played. No bullshit though, I just want to know if you had a good time. What did you like, what didn't you like? In the end I want you to tell me if it's something you think I should pick up. Once this has been going on for a while people will be able to identify with certain reviewers. If after six or seven games Steve and I seem to agree on pretty much everything I'll know that I can trust Steve's choices in the future. You need to make them people though, not just names at the end of a review. I don't know this Cory kid from Adam, why the fuck should I care what he has to say about Clone Wars? On the first page he already proved to me that he's not much of a Star Wars fan. So already we are going to have different opinions on a Star Wars game.
We tried doing the review thing on Penny Arcade for a while and it didn't take long for us to realize it wasn't worth it. We try to let you know what we're playing and if we think it's cool or not. I think that's the best we can offer. I am interested in what you all think about this. Do you guys still read reviews? Do you find them at all helpful in picking your games?
P.S. I will be picking up Clone Wars this week. I'll let you know what I think.