John Walker's Electronic House

11 Comments for this entry

  • bob_arctor

    Congratulations on the high prestige type review.
    I will read it now.

  • MightyPenguin

    I’m confused. You make it sound like the worst think to come out of Molyneux’s arse since his head and then give it a score as high as a six.

  • admin

    I think I explain quite painstakingly why the review’s tone is so negative, but it still gets a 6. It’s about why it doesn’t get 10, not how it reaches 6. It’s a difficult choice, but with a game such as this, it seems the correct angle.

  • DAT500

    I’d agree with that. Especially when Molyneux is the king of the big-up. I won’t be buying Black and White 2, although purchasing it was only on the edge after the impressive failure of the first game. I read the IGN review after dusting off the PCG forum to see the reaction to Tim’s review and it smacked of everything Peter wants to hear.

    It’s strange to think that Fable may be the best release from Lionhead affiliates so far. The Movies? Hmm…

  • admin

    The weird thing is, that IGN review names a number of the significant flaws with the game, and then gives it a huge mark anyway.

  • MightyPenguin

    6 is high.

    B&W boils down to two elements; AI and the flashy (read: reinventing the wheel for the sake of reinventing the wheel) gesture-driven interface. Reading from your review (I haven’t managed to lay hands on a copy yet), and assuming that the reporting is accurate and not exaggerated for the sake of effect (that sounds snide; apologies) the AI simply does not work.

    Leaving aside creature AI (whether or not a system more complex than the binary decision tree you describe is possible to make or would be reliable on today’s hardware is debatable), the villagers are inexcusable. The whole point of a god-game (and to a lesser but slowly increasing extent) is that the world reacts to your actions in a way that makes it matter to you. Otherwise the game is bland and there is no reason to want to do anything at all.

    Let’s look at Darwinia. Specifically, let’s look at the infamous moment when a darwinian would encase the soul of one of its dead breathren in a kite. A very beautiful moment (and frustrating; the left part of my mind could never get over the fact that that soul was gone and I couldn’t take it back to the respawn point), and it made you *care*. They were green stick figures and that moment gave them more emotional importance to the player than they had any right to have.

    Excuse me while I attempt to find my point about AI again.

    Right, here we go; the villagers in B&W don’t think, you make that perfectly clear- they’re random movement generators attatched to need variables through a complaint interface. So you don’t care about them, and doing anthing for them ends up feeling like a chore.

    Interface. Right. I point you to your own paragraphs about poor hotspots, broken guesture for tasks, the horrific overabundance of help and the gob-smacking lack of any where you might actually need it.

    And more importantly, it isn’t fun. The world is bland and lifeless, lacking substance, and the quests that are supposed to supplement this are arbitrary and joyless.

    Above all other things, the score at the end of a review should be a measure of how fun a game is to play. If you want to throw the developer a bone for trying, fine. But do it in the body of the review, where you can mitigate it with a “but…”.

    All of the above comes with the caveat “…or so your review leads you to believe.” If I’ve read it wrong, tell me, please. There’s always going to be a little part of me that wants to believe that the game is good.

    Did that get a little harsh at the end?

  • MightyPenguin

    A thought I just had. I thought I’d like to see an counter-article from the devs defending their work. Might be quite interesting. Then I realised it would always to see that, and out came the idea of a forum where journos and devs rip the shit out of each other with biting, acidic remarks while the fee-paying public sit and throw popcorn at the stage.

  • Jonh

    Good review. Thanks

  • admin

    “6 is high”

    No it isn’t. It’s in the middle. Stop this nonsense. EG readers are allowed to be this dim. Mine are not.

    ” the score at the end of a review should be a measure of how fun a game is to play.”

    No it shouldn’t. It should reflect how good the game is. “Fun” is way too loaded a phrase. If a game has a really sad bit in it, should it lose marks?

  • Rob

    Enjoyed the review, partly because despite being a bit of Molyneux fanboy (well, clinging to his back catalogue), and despite being right in the middle of Lionhead’s community, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an axe to grind after Fable (and the less said about Fable TLC the better), and maybe I was hankering for a bit of a critical backlash.

    Not that I don’t wish it could have turned out as a really, really good game, anyway.

    Oh, and apparently you’re now being grouped in with KG as ‘part of the problem with Eurogamer’.

  • Iain

    Hi John,

    I read your B&W2 review today on EG on account that I’ve been playing it pretty much constantly over the weekend and most of this week, and… I pretty much agree with absolutely everything you said. That comments thread on EG is pretty vicious, and unwarrantedly so. Anyone’s who’s played the game for more than an hour or so will realise just how broken the game is. Let’s just say I’m glad I got a review copy and didn’t have to pay for it…

    I don’t *quite* agree with your 6/10, but that’s more down to my own peculiar brand of brokeness than anything else – it still had that morbid Star Wars Supremacy micro-management appeal for me, so I still had quite a lot of fun with it – I just wanted to register my solidarity with you for giving an honest opinion in the face of rampant fanboyism.