Medal of Honor: review of reviews
The Medal of Honour reviews have hit, and here I’ll take you through the best and worst of them. Why write a review of reviews? Well MOH is a huge game, a controversial one and a big deal for EA. The marketing is off the scale, the subject matter is controversial and the game has not been out of the news since it was announced. I’m not here to pass judgement on the game (thats for later), I’m just going to evaluate who does the best job of presenting their opinions and backing up their arguments. Here’s how well the major review sites have managed to handle the responsibility of reviewing such an important game.
This is probably the gold standard so far. The main criticisms are laid out with a focus on the playing experience above all else. In a video review, what we really want to know is not the background of the EA/Activision fallout (we can read that ourselves), but the quality of the level design, the extent that it imitates the Modern Warfare titles and how successfully it handles the seriousness of the subject matter. Gametrailers reviews typically have a more neutral tone than other sites with a “why not give it a go” usually creeping in towards the end, but this one is more critical and quite simply better than their usual efforts. If you want a review that highlights the gameplay flaws in detail and evaluates the game maturely and responsibly, this is the best so far. Additionally, the video footage used is excelent and supports each point made in the commentary.
9.0 out of 10
A serious surpirse here. This video review on IGN was also very good. Despite being a site which favours the big releases, IGN have hit a home run with this review. The criticisms are suitably damning and supported with well reasoned arguments. They seem to be revising their scoring system at the moment. Had I guessed at the score for this beforehand, I would have plumped for a 8.1 out of ten (don’t ask ME why they can’t use whole numbers). They instead score this a six, which sounds fair from the footage they show and the facts they provide.
Unfortunately this video review is inundated with some of the least intelligent comments I have ever seen, even on IGN. The internet is currently groaning under the weight of all the stupid on this site, and these comments threaten to rupture our beloved series of tubes. Here’s some examples:
“Im sorry but i dont belive a single word of that because the review was being WAY to critical “
I shall only believe uncritical reviews.
“Sorry but this guy is being far too harsh and 6.0 is no a fair score given the over scores.”
Other people disagree, so this review is wrong
“sure, it has it’s problems, but which game doesn’t?”
Give games with problems better scores, because if we don’t they’ll be sad
“think about it,this is the first game ever tried to maintain autheticy by working WITH the army! If you guys hate good games, go play haze.”
Pathetic attempts to win over fanboys with “authentic” input from veterans dreamed up by the EA marketing department have sure worked on me! Meanwhile, my obscure reference to a PS3 exclusive hints at some level of trolling too advanced for most normal people to understand!
Hopefully IGN sticks with its newer system and gives this particular reviewer a pat on the back for a job well done while ignoring its cretinous trolls.
IGN Reviewer: 8.9/10, IGN comments 0.1/10
I’ll try not to gush too much here because I’m a big fan of these guys. In this review it’s Jeff Gerstmann who tees off on MOH and he does a good job as always. Giantbomb reviews have that great colloquial feel, you always get the impression that they are clever, knowledgeable gamers who are looking out for your hard earned cash. Occasionally this means there writing isn’t particularly clever or witty, but it is direct, honest and concise. In the review Gerstmann takes us through his issues with the game, highlights the god and bad and puts the whole experience in perspective. At their best, a Giantbomb review is like a clever videogame store owner who has immense game knowledge giving you the bottom line: should you spend money on this or something else. The only difference is the Giantbomb guys aren’t rude as fuck and don’t smell like BBQ monster munch (hopefully).
Of all the review I read, this was the one that I was most personally disappointed with. Tom Bramwell is a great reviewer and seems like a nice guy, so I can’t help but think that he wanted to say more on MOH, and maybe wanted to be more critical than he was. Eurogamer always has a higher standard of writing than the other sites, and Bramwell brilliantly opens the review in a way that’s both considerate and humorous. At its best, Eurogamer review read well and can be poignant and funny, but at their worst you get the feeling that the reviewer would rather be doing something else. In this case Bramwell’s apparent distaste for the tone of the game is the best part, but the corresponding criticism of the gameplay itself is weaker. About halfway through the review you can feel Bramwell’s interest in the whole thing wane along with your own. Overall though this is a must read as most other reviewers opt out of the debate on the appropriateness of the setting, but Bramwell’s brave enough to stand out and attempt to tackle the more controversial issues surrounding the game.
7 out of 10
One of the weakest reviews, Joystiq is in some ways a mirror image of Eurogamer. While the review is strong on the gameplay aspects, its consideration of the issues surrounding the game is poor and internally inconsistent. Despite mentioning that the game talks about September 11th in the first minute, the review goes on to say that MOH is “unquestionably a pro-American game, (MOH’s) narrative isn’t about politics, or the morality of war”. It seems to me that if the game frames the conflict in Afghanistan as the result of the September 11th attacks then it is most definitely making a political statement, and that statement is implicit in everything you do (and everyone you kill) throughout the game.
Joystiqs review also focuses on the multiplayer aspect far more than any of the other sites. This is to the detriment of the rest; most gamers will have played Bad Company at some point so will have a clear idea of how this section of the game plays. Additionally, many of the statements made in this review contradict ALL of the other reviews as regards the quality of the single player experience and the polish of the game. While this does not mean that Joystiq is wrong, it would seem likely that they are glossing over problems. The alternative is that every other site is imagining those same problems and they simply don’t exist.
2 out of 5
So how does the site with zero credibility do? Written in a breathy, intern-trying-to-impress-his-boss-with-his-first-review style, this review nonetheless covers all the basics. There’s some factual errors (the enemy are no longer called the Taliban, maybe you heard a news story about that?), but the text conveys the main issues with the gameplay well enough. There’s a complete absence of comment on the issues surrounding the game, and on this site it seems a little cowardly. Overall, this is not a terrible effort, but if you want to know how serious a reviewer is about the quality of their work you should read their last sentence. In this case, it seems like the author finished the end of this review while lapsing into an apathetic coma.
4.5 out of 10