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Corruption in the reviewing industry...


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Sure, I see what you mean, but the internet is just as suceptible, if not more, to hacks and idiots.

I really enjoy reading Edge every month and in the years I have bought it I have yet to find an online equivalent. GamesTM is the only other printed mag I can bring myself to read (Other than MVC, but that's a little different).

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When I was refering to print mags and bad reviewing I should have said that GamesTM and Edge were the exceptions. GamesTM isnt my "bag" I'm afraid but I do appreciate the stand they take over their reviewing policy. But I have been buying Edge for years.

I think the comments by the new tea-boy at Xbox World a few posts above validate my point on most game review mags.

Clearly some mags are 'softer' (and, presumably, more heavily targetted) than others. But we should also be wary of buying into the view that there's some kind of impregnable barrier around certain mags that come from the same publishers and share the same staff as the blatantly corrupt ones.

I've often heard journalists decry the deplorable corruptibility of un-named colleagues, but I'm unaware of any sending back the hundreds of pounds worth of gifts and free product that publishers send out every year, or turning down the free holidays.

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Agree. Anyone shocked by this sort of thing is being extraordinarily naive; it began the day people started buying games because a magazine told them to.

It is still corruption. An informed follower of the hobby will realise when it's happening and not trust that magazine again (leading to a loss of circulation revenue.)

The danger is the casual gamer who takes it as gospel and thinks "if Enter the Matrix is a good game then this is a really shit hobby" and leaves.

I stopped trusting OPSM with the Tomb Raider 3 review. Before then I didn't think the reviews were too bad. (I loved Tomb Raider 1 and 2 BTW. The third was a poorly designed rush job.)

10/10 for TR3? A game which has literally been used since as a showpiece of how to destroy a franchise?

Sod off.

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It was happening in the days of Z*ap *4, B W**e and C A**erson went to lunch with an a*tivision rep and the score for *n court tennis went from 68 to 80% afterwards.

Commodore user used to review half completed games such as Nexus and most ocean titles and give them inflated marks.

Always wondered about that review.

Zzap were caught out doing it a couple of times but most of the time their reviews were spot on. And they were the only mag at the time to say how great Tetris was while C&VG and CU called it forgettable tat.

The scores in all the mags for Predator though were bad. It was universally praised, yet the game I played was slow, difficult and full of lots of cheap death situations.

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Well, quite. There's simply no excuse for reviewing unfinished, broken code - even if the nice PR guy from Atari promises it'll be fixed by the time it ships (96% of the time, of course, it simply won't be). And I'm sure all of their readers who spent £40 on the resultingly exciting and snazzy unfinished, broken game will appreciate that all-important exclusive review.

Indeed. At least in the two instances it happened at Zzap and Amiga Power they were at least apologetic to their readership.

Clue, the ads are worth crap if noone is buying the magazine.

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yup, and he's not even correcting anyone!

To be fair, you could find the source by right clicking on it.

Well worth reposting here.

[ And if Cacky had done it there would be a letter visible stating: "This Game Will Score A 9. The Ed." ;) ]

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what you said..

op thunderbolt was the first game i worked on from start to finish.. the programmer was a total fool, completely screwed it, and the game and gfx had to be done from scratch within about 2-3 weeks.

it recieved a zzap sizzler of about 95% before the reprogramming and gfx overhaul happened.

at least hawkeye had some nice gfx.. levy or something was it? he was damn good.

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what you said..

op thunderbolt was the first game i worked on from start to finish.. the programmer was a total fool, completely screwed it, and the game and gfx had to be done from scratch within about 2-3 weeks.

it recieved a zzap sizzler of about 95% before the reprogramming and gfx overhaul happened.

at least hawkeye had some nice gfx.. levy or something was it? he was damn good.

Wow, I always wanted to know what had happened with Op Thunderbolt.

Was it a problem of not enough memory to run the game?

And how was the finished program anywhere near as good as the one shown to Zzap?

(And was the Parasol Stars story about the C64 version rubbish?)

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no, no memory isues at all.. just a fucking idiot programmer and one fresh faced artist straight out of college with no management behind us..

zzap was shown VERY unfinished and very broken, barely playable code.

whats the story about c64 parasol stars? didnt it get released? ;)

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no, no memory isues at all.. just a fucking idiot programmer and one fresh faced artist straight out of college with no management behind us..

zzap was shown VERY unfinished and very broken, barely playable code.

whats the story about c64 parasol stars? didnt it get released? ;)

I'm surprised, I wonder who was at the helm then...

Ocean claimed that the dev kit along with the code was stolen and it wasn't economical to start the project from scratch with Parasol Stars...

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I'm surprised, I wonder who was at the helm then...

Ocean claimed that the dev kit along with the code was stolen and it wasn't economical to start the project from scratch with Parasol Stars...

well, nobody really.. everyone got their project to work on and the only production schedule was the software managers sister coming over and asking when we might be finished... producers were unheard of back then, and surprisingly, 95% of the time we didnt need em either..

i think the parasol stars story is closer to the fact that it got ditched in favour of gameboy development.. the only burglary ocean had was way after parasol stars, besides, everything was backed up on floppy from the atari ST's.. ;)

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well, nobody really.. everyone got their project to work on and the only production schedule was the software managers sister coming over and asking when we might be finished... producers were unheard of back then, and surprisingly, 95% of the time we didnt need em either..

i think the parasol stars story is closer to the fact that it got ditched in favour of gameboy development.. the only burglary ocean had was way after parasol stars, besides, everything was backed up on floppy from the atari ST's.. ;)

Interesting. Although I was wondering who was at the helm of Zzap at the time.

I remember the original graphics in the Zzap review looked fantastic. Reminded me a bit of the technique for sprite masking they used in Target Renegade to make the C64 sprites less blocky.

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I love the guy on the Spong forum who wades in and accuses Edge of having been bought over their coverage of the PSP. He seems to be rather missing the point.

Anyway, for what it's worth, in my experience corruption in the reviewing industry is rife, though it varies enormously in extent - from the lazy shortcuts taken by journalists who can't be arsed to play the games they're reviewing, or don't want to offend their mates in PR, to this sort of Driv3r style score-fixing deal, to journalists who simply don't pay any money for games and so don't have any empathy with readers who can't afford many games, to journalists who are only working on games mags because they couldn't get a job on a music mag etc.

I also think that, although this sort of corruption is present in pretty much every consumer magazine sector (see Dylan Jones's idiotic article in the Media Guardian some months ago in which he explains that it's perfectly morally acceptable to give beneficial editorial coverage to advertisers, because, well, duh, we're all in it to make money, stupid!), I think it's probably more pronounced in the games sector simply because so few videogame journalists have any sort of training, and so many of them are young and underpaid (indeed the magazine publishers seem to consider perks from PR types as a supplement to the paltry wages that they pay).

But I think the most offensive thing is the duplicity; the stark contrast between the rubric laying claim to independence and integrity and the actual industry practice of reviewing games from pre-release code (*everybody* does it - although I don't think it's such a bad practice as long as the reviewer assumes that any flaws won't be fixed - too many flaws and the review should simply be postponed till more finished code becomes available), or of magazines pitching to publishers for exclusive coverage in return for minimum page counts etc.

I don't offer any solutions, by the way, because when we tried to review games fairly on Edge we got pilloried for it, from within the company, from PRs who'd withhold code, and from readers who were outraged by our negative coverage, or that we'd dare to give Mario Kart 5/Halo 10/etc. So, erm, yeah, you make your bed, you lie in it.

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I don't offer any solutions, by the way, because when we tried to review games fairly on Edge we got pilloried for it, from within the company, from PRs who'd withhold code, and from readers who were outraged by our negative coverage, or that we'd dare to give Mario Kart 5/Halo 10/etc.

Nah, you were BLATENTLY bribed to give Mario Kart a shit score. ;)

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Trying to think of examples..

Team 17 complaining to AP about negative reviews. They withheld games, even sending games to A Format marked 'dont let AP see this'. Hilariously dissected by Mr. Cambell in an article on his site.

PC Zone sending Breed back to the publishers loads of times after being told it was final but the thing being bugged to unplayability.

PC Gamer's editorial admonishing Rockstar for being wankers, and refusing their offer of 1st review / cover with minumum score of +90%.

Edge for having that little 1st inside cover page of all the 'review copy' gold discs.

Edge. Turok. Brontosaurus. Apology. "Held back for the sequel". Where was that in Turok 2 then?

Moral? An honest mag wins more reader loyalty with a few stories about how theyv sent back bugged games and stuff than ANY 'we only review full games!" blurb in the review section.

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In an ideal world, all magazines etc could try and collectively name and shame publishers who put pressure on them for 'high review scores or no copy of the game' etc, so even if the publisher is annoyed, if practically everyone shared the same views, the publisher could do nothing about it.

Thinking about it, that probably wouldn't work, but meh.

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Of course, this only happens because publishers won't stick together and because frankly some people in the industry like things as they are. If Atari in this case was told to stuff it by everyone then what were they going to do, never hand out review code again? Not have any advertising in the games press?

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Of course, this only happens because publishers won't stick together and because frankly some people in the industry like things as they are.

I thought it didn't work because there's really only effectively one publish. Future 0wn the industry, really. Makes it easier to games publishers to get what they want, really.

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As many of us are aware, there has been a level of under the table shenanigans going on with regards to review scores for quite some time....

But this Driv3r situation is almost a whole new level. Look at a 'real' review like the one on Eurogamer, and then compare that to Nick Ellis' missive.

I have it on good authority that what he posted there (on GamesRadar) is basically 99% bullshit. I'm actually staggered anyone would defend their magazine with such blatant untruth.

I don't think I'll be trusting many print mags, pretty much ever again.

(barring EDGE, yadda yadda)

-J

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It is still corruption. An informed follower of the hobby will realise when it's happening and not trust that magazine again (leading to a loss of circulation revenue.)

The danger is the casual gamer who takes it as gospel and thinks "if Enter the Matrix is a good game then this is a really shit hobby" and leaves.

I stopped trusting OPSM with the Tomb Raider 3 review. Before then I didn't think the reviews were too bad. (I loved Tomb Raider 1 and 2 BTW. The third was a poorly designed rush job.)

Oh yeah, absolutely; it's morally indefensible. It also instantly and utterly devalues your magazine's score policy - if Driv3r gets, say, 90%, then what do you give a good game? 172%?

And - lest we forget - the OPSM gave the chuggy and dismal Driver 2 10/10 back in the day. Terrible, terrible magazine.

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It also instantly and utterly devalues your magazine's score policy - if Driv3r gets, say, 90%, then what do you give a good game? 172%?

This reminds me of when Edge was accused of devaluing its rating policy by someone on OPM2, who, when Edge gave Enter the Matrix 3/10 asked something along the lines of 'where do you go from there?'. I guess the obvious answer is to 1 or 2 out of 10 (or even 0), but heck, who wants to use those pesky low numbers, eh? After all, nobody wants to be told that they've just shelled out £40 on an unfinished piece of shite, do they?

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