Well, actually, just one Chick. A Tom Chick, to be exact.
Just commenting on Tom Chick's slamming of the game, much like how the Incredible Hulk slams his fist unto the ground whenever he rages about his purple pants, or something.
Okay, enough with the bad similes. Onto Chick's review.
For those who wanna "talk shop", I read this review because I'm interested in what The Other Tom had to say. Because I myself, assigned and edited the review by My Tom.
Similar feelings, by the way, if you're curious about that sorta thing.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Saturday, July 28, 2001 - 02:09 am:
Interesting. I'm kinda surprised to read that, given the ever-so-popular response that the game has gotten around here. I mean, yeah, everyone has said that the game isn't finished -- and I'm not necessarily arguing that they shouldn't be charging $40 for it yet -- but everyone I've heard from has said that it's just unbelievably, addictively fun.
What say, Tom? Is it that hard to walk away from, despite its flaws, or is it just that -- a box full of "if onlys?"
Well, I for one hope that they do get it transformed into what it's designed to be, because it sounds very cool. I keep thinking about getting it, but haven't done so yet. I'd love to get some playing in before they start charging the monthly fee...
By TomChick on Saturday, July 28, 2001 - 03:12 pm:
I had no trouble walking away from WW2OL. I've been keeping an eye out for what the latest patches do, and I look forward to revisiting it when it shakes the overwhelming stink of its incompleteness. But in its current state, it really is a disgrace.
BTW, I regard WW2OL as a good test for a reviewer's reliability. Anyone who condones this game based on its potential, how much "fun" it is, how it's unique, how this is what MMO gaming should be, etc., etc., etc., really has no business making recommendations to unsuspecting gamers. I can't imagine this half-baked heap getting an even remotely good review until it comes closer to being what it's supposed to be.
(Apologies for my vehemence to Playnet's Alan Dunkin, who has been kind enough to post here.)
By gregbemis on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 09:27 pm:
The reviewer for our show (Actually, I think it was Bub) gave it two out of five stars and I think that he pretty much nailed it. As for me, I've been playing it on and off again since it was released. Each patch that comes out improves the game somewhat, but as it stands the game still doesn't even come close to what is promised on the box. And it doesn't look like they're going to get there anytime soon. I do hope they continue to plug away at it, because I swear there's a good game in there somewhere, but as it stands I couldn't recommend it.
By Bub (Bub) on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 09:48 pm:
Thank you Greg, that was me.
That was one of the most "non-fun" reviews I've ever written. And I normally enjoy slamming bad games. Part of me hopes buyers stick with it until it's done... but most of me wonders if the game and development team deserves that kind of loyalty.
By mtkafka (Mtkafka) on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 12:45 am:
I read Toms review of both WW2OL and that Dune game in the recent CGS... talk about ripping them a new hole... but I'm glad he did it. Buggy games dont even deserved to be reviewd imo... and i mean REAL buggy games... the ones you have to download 60mb for a patch and STILL not being playable!
By the looks of it WW2Online looks to be the WORST release ever... even worse then BC3k. I particularly didn't think Falcon 4 was so buggy (it was, but not as much as WW2OL.)
What I'm interested is if WW2OL will EVER be playable in its advertised form. I highly doubt it. Its way too ambitious and it looks like they aren't even half way there... though i haven't played it, basing it on word of mouth!
By Dave Long on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 10:09 am:
Tom is completely justified in his review. The game is certainly in an "if it ever works as intended" stage of release. When I previewed it, (an article you'll likely never see due to the timing of the game's release) I was super excited about what they were going for. I never expected them to go gold a couple weeks after I turned in the article since I knew the state the game was in at that time.
For those that want to look past all the bugs, slow framerates in airplanes, hellish load times and all the missing features, there is fun to be had. You can see the kernel of incredible interaction there and often get so caught up in it that the rest of the problems simply don't matter. But you've got to put up with so much to get to that point that for probably 98% of the gamers out there, it's simply not worth the effort.
If they ever finish it, it could be one of the best online experiences money can buy. It held my interest far longer than any MMORPG ever has. It also justifies owning a slick new joystick. ;)
By Jeff Lackey on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 12:16 pm:
"Buggy games dont even deserved to be reviewd imo"
I disagree - buggy games such as this need to be reviewed and the readers told precisely how buggy they are. Publishers need to understand that if you release an incomplete game on the public, you're going to be publically thrashed. You get the behavior that you reward.
By jshandorf on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 01:44 pm:
Personally I like the game, but would I recommned it to my friends? Probably not, and if I did I would do it with a strong warning of all the things that are wrong with it.
It's really a shame cause there have been nights I have played where everything just clicked. People were communicating, we used tactics and combined arms to take the towns. It was just a blast, but then I log in the next day and it is all gone. All the work...gone. It just got to be so meaningless after a while. Kind of like Black & White. Pretty soon you start to ask yourself, "Why?"
Another really sucky thing about the game is now that the 1.20 patch came out I am experiencing new errors. Greeeeeeat.
Most people in my squad believe the game will pull through this period of crappy this and crappy that, but I am starting to think that it won't be long before this game dies a miserable, horrible death.
By gregbemis on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 01:56 pm:
Got a quesion for y'all. In the thread below this one, Rob declares WW2 Online the clear winner over Anarchy Online. I agree with him because between the two, I've actually had more fun with WW2 Online bugs and all. Currently, our show has AO rated much higher than WW2 because AO, despite the problems is much more polished and "feature complete."
Coming up with a solid review of these two has been a real pain because of this. Any thoughts?
By Anonymous on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 03:44 pm:
Sounds to me like Bub dropped the ball with Anarchy Online there. It shouldn't be "much higher" than WWII Online. Slightly higher maybe.
By gregbemis on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 03:52 pm:
Except that Bub didn't review AO. Another freelancer did.
By Jeff Lackey on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 03:56 pm:
It's a tough call. Which is better: an outstanding concept, poorly executed, or an average concept, well executed?
By Rob on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 04:19 pm:
"Another really sucky thing about the game is now that the 1.20 patch came out I am experiencing new errors. Greeeeeeat."
This is discouraging.
But, I'm sticking with my declaration (unfounded on anything but pure personal whim of course) because of the gameplay. Even as they stand today, where the multiple worlds on WW2OL reduces the game to a giant dry erase board in which "nothing really matters", versus the utterly beautiful landscapes in AO, playing WW2OL can be a great experience with all hordes of people, the real time combat, the massive terrain, and the constant back-and-forth of battle. Playing AO is most comparable to playing checkers against a blindfolded monkey (or maybe a sentient turnip, a monkey would actually be pretty fun).
Naturally I hope both prosper, but I'm only paying for WW2OL (for now).
Long live Operation Flashpoint!
By Alan Dunkin on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 05:57 pm:
> (Apologies for my vehemence to Playnet's Alan Dunkin, who has been kind enough to post here.)
I am so outta here! :)
Well what can I say. Nothing, really, I'm under NDA :)
By Mark Asher on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 04:22 am:
"Coming up with a solid review of these two has been a real pain because of this. Any thoughts?"
The review score should never be based in part on promise. If the game is buggy and difficult to play, the review score should reflect that.
My take might be to dispense with review scores for MMOGs. Then you can describe the problems and also talk about the potential, and you don't have the headache of affixing a score. They really are works in progress, so a review is just a snapshot of the game during a given month. The review quickly becomes obsolete. Why beat yourself up by having to worry about a grade?
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 04:26 am:
Yeah, but if you had your way, wouldn't you just do away with scores altogether? (Hence the fact that Qt3 doesn't give scores...) ;-)
Really, though, I agree. Or perhaps come up with a different scoring system altogether for MMOGs, but that seems like a massive headache...You're probably right, but I doubt that a magazine would give one game a score and not another.
Still, it's a good idea. MMOGs are sort of a different creature altogether.
By Robert Mayer on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 09:14 am:
They are different, except that they charge money, too. We all know--and I think most gamers know--that a massively multiplayer game is going to evolve over time, so a review now isn't really reflective of what the game will be then (though one could argue the same for many regular games, given the severity and frequency of patches these days). But, you still have a commercial transaction--someone goes into a store and shells out $40 or so for the MMOG, on release day. If it doesn't work, that's bad. It may work two weeks, four weeks, six months later, but where do we draw the line?
Once a game is being sold, either boxed or subscription or both, it's fair game for a review. The simple but expensive solution for MMOGs is to release the game that would have been considered "gold" for free, and let folks play it for free for a year, then ship and sell a fixed version .
By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 02:57 pm:
I think since MMOGs are different than any games that have existed before they should be re-reviewed every 3 to 6 months. You can keep the original grade but then add another grade with a date plus the new comments. So maybe WW2OL scores an F at launch but scores a C+ 3 months after release for example. Have any gaming mags/sites thought to do this?
By Bernie Dy on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 06:19 pm:
"games ...should be re-reviewed every 3 to 6 months... Have any gaming mags/sites thought to do this? "
Every so often I do see some mags take a look back at a patched version - it's rare, but it can happen. Some car magazines do it with looks at how a car holds up after the first couple years. I think it's a great idea, and not just for MMOGs.
The problem is that we tend to think of reviews as a critique of a finite product, and software is often evergreen. Some of this is accounted for when subsequent versions of a title are released, but some games like MMOGs and releases from some smaller shops, or heavily extended (or heavily milked) games like Half-Life or the Quakes may go through many enhancements between versions.
Since games, and software in general, started out as milestone retail releases (and patches were rarer then), it was easy for publications to follow them. But the model has changed a little, and perhaps editorial should adapt to a software's life cycle? This is why I like the columnists - Desslock and T. Baker in CGW often point out nice little extras I don't have time to hunt down, and they're not bound by a review schedule.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Wednesday, August 1, 2001 - 12:32 am:
CGM has an "Afterlife" section, in which they look back at older games. It seems like this would be the perfect place for MMOG reviews, after they've been out for awhile. I think they might do that, from time to time, too.
I also think that perhaps Mark was right, the more I think about it. MMOGs either need different scores, or no scores at all, surviving on the words alone.
By Mark Bussman on Wednesday, August 1, 2001 - 11:40 am:
I think it's funny that even with a review saying that a game is horrible they still put the "Buy it Now!" link on the page.
By Robert Mayer on Wednesday, August 1, 2001 - 01:10 pm:
Well, it would hardly be honest not to treat all games equally. When an advertiser like Chips deals with us for buy-it buttons, we insist they go on all games, not just ones we like :-).
By Mark Bussman on Wednesday, August 1, 2001 - 11:06 pm:
That makes sense, I just found it amusing at the same time.
By Mark Asher on Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 01:45 am:
The frightening thing about the MMOGs is that retailers seem to refuse returns. Games released in beta form that can't be returned is not good.
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 11:24 am:
"I think since MMOGs are different than any games that have existed before they should be re-reviewed every 3 to 6 months."
That's a really good idea, actually, but there are some issues that you have to consider. One, with magazines at least, is limited space. I understand that massively multiplayer games are a new (and constantly evolving) type of game, but are they worthy of extra coverage down the road at the expense of something else? When you are dealing with a set page count, every article comes at the expense of something else.
For really big games it might be, but what about smaller online games? Is it worth running an update on Dark Age of Camelot's latest fixes at the expense of not reviewing some other non-online game at all? And in the spirit of fairness, could we run review updates for some online games and not do it for all of them? And what about non-online games that get patched? If we cut the online games a break, why should they be left out? Now we're talking about (potentially) devoting a goodly number of pages to re-reviewing existing games. Do readers really want that? I honestly don't know.
But I do think the idea of some sort of coverage for game updates is a compelling one, I'm just not sure how to go about doing it, or whether people really want it or are just enamored with the idea of it.
By Mark Asher on Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 01:19 pm:
Probably the best idea for ongoing coverage of the MMOG scene is to devote a column to 'em. Now there are five significant commercial ones and by the end of the year there may be at least seven.
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 03:28 pm:
That's not a bad idea, either, but it would require that someone actually PLAY all the major games, at least from time to time. Good god, what a time investment that would be. It's hard enough (for me at least) to even set aside time to play one of them with any regularity.
By Desslock on Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 03:44 pm:
>But I do think the idea of some sort of coverage for game updates is a compelling one, I'm just not sure how to go about doing it, or whether people really want it or are just enamored with the idea of it.
I think that publications have to make a judgement call: if you believe that one of the purposes of a review is to allow potential purchasers to make an informed decision, you should update your review whenever you no longer believe it accurately describes the commercially available game. That may be in the context of an expansion pack, or just the result of ongoing improvements.
I would have given much lower ratings to Anarchy Online or WW2 Online than most of those currently available (other than Chick's WW2 review). The games don't work as intended - I don't think they should get "passing" (i.e. higher than 50%) grades. In fairness, I haven't played them as much as I'm sure the reviewers who gave the games higher scores did - but it does seem like they reviewed the games based upon their potential, not the currently available product.
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Thursday, August 2, 2001 - 05:22 pm:
"I think that publications have to make a judgement call: if you believe that one of the purposes of a review is to allow potential purchasers to make an informed decision, you should update your review whenever you no longer believe it accurately describes the commercially available game."
Well, hopefully the review does help them make an informed decision at the time that it runs, and if the game changes after that I don't think it invalidates the last review, it just puts it out of date.
Really, no magazine helps readers make buying decisions on every product, because there just isn't the space. We focus on the ones that we feel people are most interested in (or alternately, ones that we feel people SHOULD be interested in).
So (and I take no responsibility for the fact that this flies in the face of my last post; I'm thinking out loud here), in the same way that we might decide to skip covering The Jurrasic Park budget games, we'd have just as much justification to skip covering the update to Online Game X if we felt that the reader interest simply wasn't there.
Even so, though, most months involve pretty tough decisions regarding which reviews we have space to run and which we don't. I can't imagine many situations where I would want to run a re-review of a game we already covered in favor of an entirely new review, and that's almost certainly what it would boil down to. I know that online games are different and all, but it seems somehow... unfair... that they would be allowed to steal the limelight away from other titles based merely on a technicality of their nature.