Tag: Video Games

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Review Scores: Help or Hinder?

Here at Zero1Gaming we thoroughly enjoy playing video games and proceeding to write about their merits and downfalls for 1000 words, give or take. At the end of these reviews there is usually a summary, gathering our thoughts upon what we have just played and occasionally an accompanying video. Go to most other websites and you’ll see something we like to avoid. A number. Sitting there at the bottom of the page like an overbearing shadow that invalidates the hours toiled on the piece of writing that has just been read by you, sitting there on the computer at home. Sometimes it’s worse. A few websites don’t even have the common courtesy to print the number which rescinds the masterpiece sculpted by the writer at the top.

This disgusts me, as I feel when I read a review I get an entirely different story than I do from the score on most occasions yet people still judge a game by its cover, or rather its metacritic. I’m going to tackle the issue of review scores head on, discussing the good and bad, what could possibly be done to improve the way they work or if we should just get rid of them altogether.

To prove that I shall be unbiased whilst writing this I’ll provide proof as to why they have a positive impact on review sites and the industry in general. Firstly, the website you visit to see the review still gets the revenue from ads regardless if you only read the score or scroll through the whole review, so they don’t lost money from it. Secondly, you get information quickly. Suppose you have to go out in 3 minutes and you’re not sure which game to buy. Review scores help more than the reviews themselves and the convenience speaks for itself. Believe it or not everybody wants to read 1000+ words upon why Resident Evil 6 deserves its own little spot in hell and an article that is actually just a device for flirting with Ken Levine (we’re looking at you Polygon) and I respect that. Each to their own, as they say, and I respect that.

On the other hand, review scores can hurt games. Some games aren’t that polished or deep, but have a charm about them which is referenced often in the written review but forgotten when it comes to the score. This prevents indie games from achieving greatness in the eyes of consumers who now most likely won’t give them a chance.

The inclusion of a review score can cost more than just a sale though; Bethesda’s bonuses are decided upon the metacritic score of the game, and in the case of the developers of Fallout: New Vegas cost them a whole lot. $1,000,000 in bonuses to be precise. If they game recieved a metacritic of over 85 then they would get that bonus. The game fell just short, achieving a taunting 84 on PC meaning that the devs who toiled for years upon attempting to create the best game possible got simply their straight up fee, no royalties.

Metacritic isn’t  a great way to see review scores either, as some sites use the whole of the score spectrum, from 1 all the way to 10 yet some only appear to use the upper 5 numbers to judge a game as even the buggiest, most hated wrecks of a game achieve something which can be conceived by others as an average score (for instance Aliens Colonial Marines on PC for IGN). The only real way to tell what the reviewer in question thought of the game his opinion on the entirety is to read the review. If you’re only interested in the singleplayer in Call of Duty then the score is probably an unfair judgment for you, as the result for such a game is usually more based upon multiplayer than anything else, so it could still get an 8 despite the singleplayer being appalling,  which would mean that the review score misguided you and your expectations and caused you to waste £40/$50/however much a game costs in your currency on a title you don’t enjoy.

The next problem with review scores? 9’s and 9.5’s are given out too lightly. If you read IGN’s Bioshock Infinite review then you get the impression that it is maybe a 9, possibly an 8.5 but alas when you look at the score you see a whopping 9.5. Review scores are easily bought and payed for, unlike the reviewers opinions and although I’m not suggesting that Irrational did such a thing but that game, albeit an exquisite game did not deserve a 9.5 from anybody.

In the case of Fallout: New Vegas it suffered unnecessarily, as the bugs that were holding it back on the day of release were fixed within a few months, making the reviews criticizing it almost entirely invalid, yet they still put people off purchasing what is an otherwise brilliant game.

So in the end I say begone with review scores, begone with the stipulations to adhere to what makes a 9/10 and begone to the days of people just scrolling to the bottom, because opinions matter a whole lot.

 

 

GD

The Learning Curve of Video Games.

As some of you may or may not know, I’ve recently started my degree to study these things that we all know and love – video games. I’ve only been studying this since the start of September and while it’s had it’s perks like saying I’m ‘researching’ when I’m queueing up at midnight for the release of Assassin’s Creed 3, it’s really opened my eyes into the world of video games and how much time and effort is needed to create them.

One of the first things I learnt, and it’s somewhat an obvious one, is that there is a hell of a lot of work that goes into them. You may think “a year is a long enough time to create a game, why have they not released it yet?” Truth is, the amount of work that goes into creating a game that developers will sit back from and know people will be genuinely interested in playing it can take some time. I know from my own short experience, when working in groups on a Tuesday morning, trying to come up with something then even ourselves would play nevermind other people would play was a difficult task. Thoughts ranged from having a small Leonardo Da Vinci bomber game to the next Angry Birds spin off.  Trying to find out what game mechanics would work well together and whether it had been done before is no easy task. I know that normally when I pick up a game, I start comparing it to other games that I’ve played that are similar and to be honest, if something works well in one game that I’ve enjoyed in the past, why would I not enjoy this game? For example, 99.9% of all FPS when stripped back to the bare bones of the game are a case of running from point A to point B, shooting enemies in sight. Now think about it, how many shooters are out on the market right now if you popped down to your local GAME or Gamestop. Just as a start, we’ve got the Call of Duties, the Battlefields, the Medal of Honor’s but just to name a few AAA titles nevermind those that are getting sold at £20 because no-one heard of it. All the same core game mechanic and yet each dressed differently to suit their own following of fans.  This has made me think that are game developers either losing the imagination to come up with something that hasn’t been done before and that will be new on the market or are they just too scared to take the plunge? This is a different topic of discussion but still, it’s a point that’s been brought to my attention during my short time studying video games.

“Call of BattleHonor” It’s all the same game… right?

For those wondering what I’m doing exactly at university, I’m concentrating on the programming behind the video games, no easy task for anyone I assure you. Why do you think I drink so much coffee – it’s to keep some of my sanity! Nevertheless, I appreciate now when developers take some more time to carry out some debugging and testing on their games. Yes it’s a pain in the arse when we have to wait an extra couple of months for a game we’ve waited long enough for but the debugging process can be a long one. In all fairness,  the games I’ve created thus far are definitely nothing Bethesda would be proud to release but even on that small scale, the debugging/testing process has been a bit of a long one. Now this could be put down to the fact that I’m still learning the language and what not but considering that compared to a game of Skyrim or Mass Effect size – that’s a hell of a lot of lines of code just to get that troll that’s chasing after you to move or to get Shepard to shoot so to test everything will require a long amount of time and something that I’ve done before heading off to uni, and rest assured, it’s a soul destroying task to test a video game.

Speaking of getting things to move, to any animators that could be reading this, I must bow down at your feet.  In a lecture one day, we were told  “Animation is a true art form that takes a good while to master” to which I’m thinking in the back of my head “How hard can it be?” Turns out – very! Even to get my poor wee Jimmy to walk without him looking like he has invisible rollerskates or without his arms flailing all over the place is a fair task and a half. In short, I’ve found a new respect for animators and will always be a bit envious of when I see a good one. From doing this, I do find I think twice about criticizing on how well an animation is.

No-one can deny how well the facial animations were in this game.

The final point I’m going to make here is that even before I went to the big bad and drunken world of university, I was writing game reviews simply because, I liked writing them and wanted to get my point across on how I felt about those video games. Since beginning to learn the inner workings of them and how they’re developed, this has just made me open up my eye when I’ve been playing games, even for fun. I really hope that this will reflect in my future game reviews that I write up whereby I’m picking out the parts of the game I enjoy more and explaining myself what aspects of the game I don’t like and why I don’t like them.

If anyone has got any questions for me or want to know any more information about my course, feel free to drop a comment below or catch me on Twitter (@KirstySays) but for now, keep your eyes peeled on a future Assassin’s Creed game having my name in the credits. Oh how I can dream!

Five Annoying Video Game Characters

Gaming is a personal experience. What one person sees as a vast world waiting to be explored, another sees as a lifeless plain with things way too far apart, but there is one thing that all gamers can agree on, stupid annoying characters.

Almost every game and every franchise has at least one character that makes you want to gouge out your own eyes or rip out the HDD of your console and burn it, below you will find a selection of these characters that really grind our gears!

(It goes without saying that there are some spoilers below – you have been warned!)

5: Sheva Alomar:  Resident Evil 5

This was a tough call between Sheva from RE5 & Ashley from RE4, both are horrendously annoying in their own special ways but in the end Sheva won out. See, with Ashley, she was your typical damsel in distress, useless to the point of idiotic; all she could do was scream LEOOOOOOON and get carried away by cultists. Capcom paid attention to players and the feelings they had towards Ashley and promised us something different, they promised us that in the next game we would have a female companion that would kick some serious ass, instead what we got was Sheva.

Sheva was promoted as a highly trained, highly skilled agent with the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance; she had to have been quite good otherwise she wouldn’t have been assigned to Chris Redfield…..right….RIGHT?? WRONG! Sheva spends most of the game acting like an entrée at a Manjini cocktail party. When she isn’t screaming for your help while being chewed on by the inhabitants of a small African village, she is busy wasting all your ammo and using all your herbs and sprays on a paper cut or grazed knees.

4: Any ‘friends’ from the Sonic Series

I wrote an article a while ago about Sonic the Hedgehog and where the series had gone wrong, you can find the article HERE, but one of the points was the frankly baffling roster of ‘friends’ that Sega have inflicted on the Blue Blur.

Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, Amy Rose, Knuckles The Echidna, Nack The Weasel, Charmy Bee, Espio The Chameleon, Mighty The Armadillo, Vector The Crocodile, Big The Cat, Froggy, Omochao, Rouge The Bat, Cream The Rabbit, Blaze The Cat, Jet The Hawk, Wave The Swallow and Storm The Albatross.

I rest my case.

3: Rinoa Final Fantasy VIII /Vanille Final Fantasy XIII

I’m not an expert on Final Fantasy games but I’ve played enough of them to know that they are filled to the brim with characters you just want to slap. So with this I consulted my good friend, fellow writer and Final Fantasy aficionado, Gareth Edwards. After much deliberation (less than a second) he gave me names of Rinoa from Final Fantasy VIII and Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII, but I’ll let him explain why he dislikes them so much:

Rinoa appears in Final Fantasy VIII and makes a stunning appearance in the ballroom dancing cut scene. Unfortunately, for the rest of the game, she is annoying, whiny, and you are forced to save her from becoming the next “sorceress” puppet set to destroy the world. She fights with a Frisbee, and her limit breaks are based around dog tricks for her beloved “Angelo”. At one point you have to rescue her from floating in space, and I have lost count of how many times I left her to float away, just to get some satisfaction from the situation

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Vanille, from Final Fantasy XIII, was an overly sexualised teenage girl, with an irreverent cheerfulness despite the dire situation facing the characters from the game. Her final sacrifice at the end of the game was an attempt to justify her as a necessary inclusion, but was ultimately pointless due to the fact that Fang had volunteered to sacrifice herself for the Ragnarok. Her brief reappearance in Final Fantasy XIII-2 only reaffirmed the fact that her existence was never really required.”

 

2: Navi: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Loving something is about seeing it for what it is and accepting that and its faults. I love the Legend of Zelda franchise, it has been a corner stone of my gaming life since I can remember so I like to think I am well placed to provide critique to Nintendo regarding the ‘companions’ they create.

Companions have been a part of the Zelda franchise since Ocarina of Time was released. Nintendo prides itself that the game is often rated as the best videogame of all time practically every time someone does one of those polls, what they don’t seem to champion so much is the fact that the game manages to receive those accolades in spite of the fact it contains one of the most annoying companions to have ever been invented.

Ask any gamer about Navi and usually the first thing they will say is ‘Hey!’or ‘Hey! Listen’. Both sayings ran from Navi’s mouth like water down the Niagara Falls, the flying ball of fluff appeared to be physically unable to shut her trap to prevent some of the most obvious and inane comments from spewing forth, but in spite of it all Navi is still of use as without her you wouldn’t be able to Z Target. It is this one redeeming feature that prevents her from securing the top spot on this list.

1: Trip: Enslaved Odyssey to the West.

The characters I have mentioned so far have one thing in common; they are not responsible for the situation the main protagonist finds themselves in. They are not the reason the game takes place, they are merely playing a secondary support role to assist our character in their quest.

Trip does not fall into this category. She is the reason the game takes place, shortly after escaping from a slavers ship she places a control device on our hero and forces him to help her get back home, if he doesn’t agree, he dies, simple! What a Bi**h.

Plus she’s whiny and useless. Every five minutes of gameplay it felt like I was having to run around after her, pick her up, help her get to a new area, chuck her across a gap that was too big for her to jump (I tried chucking her elsewhere but the game wouldn’t let me). I would even go as far to say that I actually feel my overall enjoyment of the game was ruined because of her and constantly having to press L1 to see what she was doing or listen to her state the ruddy obvious.  Plus at the end **SPOILER** She pulls out the wires and cables from the Glass Pyramid which destroys the system and brings everyone out of the matrix style life they were living to start living in the ruins of a war zone. I mean what gives her the right!! I wanted to shove that bloody dragonfly so far up her……aaaaaand breathe.

So there we go, a list of five very annoying game characters. As I said at the start most games will have a character in there that makes your blood boil so let us know who they are in the comments box!