As far as I know, other than Steven Kent writing about specific games in his columns, this is the first time MSNBC has hosted a game review.
Z: Steel Soldiers at MSNBC
Has anyone ever seen others there like this? I think it's pretty poor. He lays out the basics and then tells us how he had to reinstall it periodically to make it work properly. At the end he gives it a recommendation though which is kinda silly given the reinstallation woes.
Anyway, it's from the Associated Press so someone paid this fellow to review it. More like it on the way or is this an isolated instance?
By Mark Asher on Tuesday, August 7, 2001 - 01:05 pm:
Yeah, I saw that also and wondered about it. Maybe MSNBC is going to do more reviews so they can do Xbox reviews?
Why review Steel Soldiers? Why not review the Diablo 2 expansion? Or the Westwood Dune game? I would think a mass market media site would be sure to review the big name titles first.
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Tuesday, August 7, 2001 - 05:09 pm:
I've seen Kent do mini-reviews...roundups of 4 or 5 games with 5-star ratings on them. But that's about as close to this review as I've seen on MSNBC, and they're typically far better done.
In fact, I gotta say that I typically enjoy Steve Kent's games journalism. It's often more mainstream stuff, but I think it's often the best of that.
>Maybe MSNBC is going to do more reviews so they can do Xbox reviews?
I doubt this, myself. MSNBC has shown no favoritism to Microsoft in the past: they rile them and point out the shortcomings in all the same places and at all the same times as everyone else does, and they dutifully disclaim that MS is a joint partner in MSNBC at every mention.
By Jason McCullough on Tuesday, August 7, 2001 - 08:13 pm:
Yeah, both MSNBC and Slate have been pretty brutal to Microsoft so far.
By Bub (Bub) on Tuesday, August 7, 2001 - 10:49 pm:
Often when there is obvious bias, like from a parent company, a news organization will swing as far as comfortable the other way.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Tuesday, August 7, 2001 - 11:29 pm:
That is, of course, except in gaming journalism, where we all know that everyone is a sellout, so why make any other pretense. ;-)
By Bub (Bub) on Tuesday, August 7, 2001 - 11:55 pm:
Only if those dirty payola checks cash. That's why Daikatana got the shaft from everyone but Klett at Incite. His check cleared.
By Doug Erickson on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 04:30 am:
Yeah, Steven Kent slobbers over Nintendo and their kid-friendly fare in much the way that mainstream movie critics like Ebert slobber over Disney. I think it speaks somewhat favorably for MSNBC's proclaimed "lack of bias" when the X-Box's major release date competition is getting all the slaphappy hyperbole.
Then again, the MS X-Box hype wagon is getting off to a really rocky start. It's really not hard to get a little irritated by Microsoft's lack of savvy when it comes to console salesmanship: these guys just try too hard. MS is like the grubby, clumsy fat kid waving his porky little mitts about, hoping to be picked for the kickball team. Despite the apparent size and power the fatty's frame might imply, and despite the exuberant zeal displayed, the end product still gets demonstrated as sloppy and unpracticed.
Contrast this with Sony's oily PR hotshotting and Nintendo's razor-sharp press timing, and you can see why nobody feels too bad about the X-Box languishing on the bench. If it were a smaller company, or at least one that didn't write the textbook on PR spin doctoring for the entire software industry, people might feel bad about not giving MS a chance. But this sloppy PR work, which often reads a bit like Ion Storm's goonball gamer zeal back in 1997, is really uncharacteristic of Big Brother Microsoft.
Personally, I blame J. Allard - the man's an odd combination of Microsoft huckster and candid geek. I think he's wasting his breath with the hard sell antics; the core gaming audience is actually a niche, and a pretty damn cynical one at that. If you want to sell a console, you don't emphasize the dorkiness of the hobby; you sell it like a toy or a really keen AV appliance (according to demographic). Nobody wants to associate themselves with a drooling fanboy.
By Mark Asher on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 01:00 pm:
I talked to a game marketing guy at a rival company last year and his comments about Microsoft were that they just "didn't get it" when it came to games. His point was that Microsoft was trying to look cool and appeal to cool gamers and didn't understand how this marginalized their games to some extent. I kind of agree. Purchasing Bungie, for example. Bungie's a great developer, but they've never had a huge hit. Why purchase them and make them your flagship Xbox development group? Microsoft should have used their wallet and grabbed an established console development house or two.
The whole "we're cool and cutting edge" attitude works for software development like Microsoft is known for, but not always for games if you want to reach the mass market.
By TomChick on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 02:01 pm:
"MS is like the grubby, clumsy fat kid waving his porky little mitts about, hoping to be picked for the kickball team."
Great post, but that passage is particularly beautiful, Doug! :)
By Ron Dulin on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 04:45 pm:
Asher: "Bungie's a great developer, but they've never had a huge hit."
I agree with you that MS should have bought a known console developer (and you may remember the mad scramble MS made to do just that - I believe Square & Capcom among the targets). But:
With the exception of Oni, every one of Bungie's games has been good seller. Bungie may not be Blizzard, but its games sell well.
By Alan Dunkin on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 01:12 am:
I thought the Myth series did pretty well for Bungie.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 01:40 am:
"Nobody wants to associate themselves with a drooling fanboy."
More to the point-- nobody cares. Even the "must have" games like Gran Turismo 3 are eliciting little more than disinterested shrugs from everyone but the hard-core.
None of the consoles, existing or upcoming, has anything so unique, so whiz-bang, that the general public will sit up and take notice. If anything, the preponderance of consoles makes them even less likely to care. Yet Another Console Gaming Device. Yawn.
By Mark Asher on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 02:08 am:
Thing is, the consoles have hit the mainstream, more or less. Gran Turismo 3 may not be eliciting a lot of excitement, but it's selling a lot. It's like some tired blockbuster Hollywood movie doing it's expected $100+ million and getting yawns from the critics and movie buffs. Think the studios have their feelings hurt?
I do think the consoles have something that the general public likes -- great graphics. I've walked by a software store in the mall where the latest PS2 football game is running and heard the comments: "Man, it looks just like TV!" "It's almost like watching a real game!" That's what non-gamers latch onto and that's what the next gen consoles deliver.
By BobM on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 11:30 am:
"Gran Turismo 3 may not be eliciting a lot of excitement, but it's selling a lot."
Hmm... From where I'm sitting GT3 elicited plenty of excitement.
I think all of us who have been playing video games for 20 years are just too damned jaded.
By Rob on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 11:41 am:
I played GT3 last night for the first time. I'm sold. In a few months I'll have a PS2 because of it, and thank God they have the DVD player so I can sell the idea with my girl. I'm also looking forward to SSX. Is Project Eden an original PS2 title?
By BobM on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 11:44 am:
Doug E said "Personally, I blame J. Allard - the man's an odd combination of Microsoft huckster and candid geek."
And isn't his 2nd-in-Command the same Seamus Blackley responsible for Jurassic Park: Trespasser?
By Bub (Bub) on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 02:24 pm:
But Seamus is party responsible for System Shock and Ultima Underworld as well...
By kazz on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 11:31 pm:
"a really keen AV appliance "
Sorry, but just to be sure: Audio-visual?
Say, speaking (well, sorta) about old games, has Infrogrames made any announcements about any plans for the trove of Microprose properties that it now controls? That might be a neat interview, if anyone could get the scoop. Of course, the longer nothing gets done with those titles, the less most of the world will care about them, I suppose.
By Steve on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 10:57 am:
Bub, I'm not sure Seamus was at Looking Glass in the Underworld days. He did do the physics for System Shock, tne bipeds for Terra Nova, and was the main guy for Flight Unlimited.
But he also did Trespasser, which was a bad thesis as opposed to a game.
By Bub (Bub) on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 11:27 am:
I recall Seamus telling me he worked on Underworld too, I could be wrong.
I did an awards thing I called "System Shocks and Trepassers" once or twice. System Shocks being games that surpassed expecation and Trespassers being games that fell way short of them.
I got an amused letter from Blackley thanking me for representing both sides of his career with that title.
By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 01:40 pm:
I played GT3 last night for the first time. I'm sold. In a few months I'll have a PS2 because of it, and thank God they have the DVD player so I can sell the idea with my girl.
Sounds good Xaroc. I can't get a PS2 for a few months due to the complexities of relationships, but I'll get there eventually. However, I am living vicariously through a friend of mine, and it is his birthday this week. Naturally, he will be receiving a brand new PS2 game, but I can't decide between TM:B and SSX. I'm sure he would like both, but I'm leaning towards SSX because it gives a little variation from the car games (he LOVES GT3). Do you think this is a safe bet, or should I go with Twisted Metal?
By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 02:02 pm:
I haven't played enough of either SSX or TM:B to make any deep insights. SSX seemed a bit confusing as to the controls when we played. It was hard to land even simple moves. In TM:B the controls were pretty intuative. The graphics and effects are good on both from what I saw in my limited time playing. One other note, TM:B is more like a shooter than it is a car game from what I have seen. Lots of blowing things up which is never a bad thing.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 12:06 am:
"My wife okayed it without knowing it played DVDs. Once I told her about that and she saw it in action she was thrilled. I know little about DVD players so it is probably missing all sorts of features but it looked and sounded great to me."
Just FYI, my PS2 DVD playback looks noticeably worse than my Sony carousel DVD player when connected via the same method-- vanilla coax. I have a fairly nice television, but I was shocked that the difference was so obvious.
I also really disliked SSX. I own it, and its appeal is completely lost on me. I was bored for an entire hour. Does one have to be a snowboarder to like this game? I loved Tony Hawk 2, and I've never touched a skateboard...
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 12:12 am:
Just because I happened to recall the thread title -- I noticed at the BGII website that they have a little "medal" saying that BGII was named GOTY by MSNBC. Thought that was interesting.