Monday, February 17, 2014

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Gamespot Review - More of the Same

I've been around gaming quite a long time, and one important thing I learned very early on is being able to recognize a quality game before I buy it. Gaming is expensive, and people like me hate wasting their money on a bad game, so I've been very good at not doing that and discerning the crap from the gold.

That's where reviews come in. They help you decide if something is good or not. Some reviews are less informative than others I'd like to comment on the recent review of the new Donkey Kong game, Tropical Freeze. I've never actually done this before as a blog, but nothing has been quite as dumbfounding as this review. You can read it for yourself here:

Now, I don't want to go into a long diatribe about review scores, or things being poorly written or what consideration is given to what as my reviews are probably full of holes just like I personally feel this one is. To summarize, it seems he gave the game a lowish score because he felt the game was "more of the same" as is my title in this blog, see what I did there?

But on that note let's consider the reviewer for a moment, and let us also consider hypocrisy. This reviewer lists his top ten games of 2013 here:

On it, we can see some striking choices. Most notably that 6 of these 10 games are sequels, and by design are "more of the same." Sure, there's some outstanding creativity in games like Bioshock Infinite, and Super Mario 3D...but is there uniqueness there, or am I personally loving games like this for what I know they're repeating?

That's an interesting question that I pose to myself when I see such a harsh review of something I am sure I will love for the same reasons I've always loved Donkey Kong. So when I see a harsh review like this, I question the hypocrisy of it especially in the face of seeing past reviews and not even mentioning "more of the same" as a critique, yet it surely can be applied. Let's take his top 10 list of sequels one by one very briefly.

Bioshock Infinite: This game provided a new story and a new environment, but down to brass tacks the gameplay is the same and perhaps even less interesting than Bioshock 2 where they advanced the combat a bit. Overall, all three games are corridor shooters where the gameplay being good is based mostly on how interesting your abilities are, and how interesting the enemies are. Personally, I feel Infinite had the weakest set of enemies, with nothing as imposing or prominent as Big Daddies were in the first two. The powers were fun though, but I wouldn't say they were better or worse than the first two either, if anything most of them felt "more of the same." (please note though, I loved this game)

Super Mario 3D World: As my review of this game stated, I loved this game. But I loved it for knowing what I was getting, which is something I love playing, which is a Mario game. Sure, I can identify a bland entry to the series like New Super Mario 2 on the 3DS, but I'll still enjoy it because the gameplay is solid. Ultimately, what is this game though? Mario being in what was mostly an isometric view has been done on the 3DS game of a similar name. The levels are bigger in this one and more interesting but at the end of the day you can indeed slap a label of "more of the same" on this game too.

Pokemon X: Do I need to even outline what is more of the same about this game? Surely, I don't, but I will say the game was fantastic like previous entries. But, "more of the same" this game most assuredly is.

Rayman Legends: Also, another game I loved tremendously and fully recognize how amazingly uniquely it handled itself and level design. did the first game. It's more of that game, should I put this..."more of the same."

DMC - Devil May Cry: Yes...he lists this game as his top games of 2013...somehow mistakenly missing the fact that this game plays nearly identically to all the previous entries. Sure the story is better and actually makes sense, and the characters are therefore more interesting but from a gameplay point of view what we have here is "more of the same."

Grand Theft Auto 5: Now this game, I haven't played. I can only comment that I've heard the cast of characters is unlikable, the online is great, and there's a lot to do in the game. But it's Grand theft auto FIVE. Certainly, without any detail I can probably say this game has "more of the same" in it and not get any flack from this.

So, this is his best of 2013 with 4 notable other games that you can't really say is more of the same. The argument can be made for The Last of Us since the game plays pretty much like Uncharted but I give it a pass since it's a new IP and that alone is a risk for developers.

Still, if this list isn't identifiable as hypocrisy enough to make the claim that "more of the same" isn't actually a bad thing, here's a link to a random review I noticed this reviewer did:

See what that is? That is God of War Ascension. Now I'll be the first person to admit loving these games, but I'll also be the first person to tell you all 6 entries have been EXACTLY the same game. I can think of no other series that has done so little in advancing what goes on in the game than say...Mega Man, than that of God of War. And here we are with a glowing review from the guy that claims this new Donkey Kong game is boring, and same old same old, by the numbers etc. He was bored by Donkey Kong, being realistically the 5th entry in the side scrolling version of DK in over a 20 year period....whereas we've had 6 entries of God of War in the last 9 years....

Seriously though do the math on that one. 5 side scrolling Donkey Kong games in 20 years, versus 6 God of War games in 9 years and somehow Donkey Kong is old and boring now?

Now, I wasn't going to poke holes in the review specifically but let me note just one thing he mentions that the level design is stale and doesn't excite him...In EVERY entry of God of War Kratos fights his way out of hell at some point (pretty sure it's every one...most of them anyway...) Never the less, how is that not "stale" level design? How are Bioshock's obvious rooms of enemies not stale, how are Grand Theft Auto's escort driving missions not stale by now, how is catching over 700 Pokemon NOT stale by now?

What I'm getting at here, is the crux of this review is written on the notion that it bored the reviewer personally, because he's been there and done that, and seemingly less so about the qualities of the game itself. As I've outlined here, more of the same is not a bad thing, and I've pointed out how hypocritical this reviewer is being about this game due to his own personal history of obviously liking games that are the same as previous entries. To such an extent he would give 6 slots to his top 10 of best games of 2013 to sequels.

Obviously, I haven't played the new Donkey Kong yet, but I expect what other reviewers have noted that the game plays great just like Returns did, the levels are well designed and challenging. And the game gets high marks for that polish as it should. But, if anything maybe this will help gamers begin to learn how to sift through garbage articles and help figure out if a game is something they'll like or not.

Also, one big thing I'd like to note against "more of the same" is what if this is your very first Donkey Kong game you've ever played? Suddenly, it's not the same as any other game now is it?

*Donkey Kong swung on a vine again....fuck yeah!*

PS - Two the "negatives" in the summary section of the Gamespot review make it sound like he was butt hurt by how challenging the game

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not just that darling, his review totally stinks of butthurt.
I noticed a trend with DKCTF reviews, top scores praised the game for its creativity, nostalgia factor, graphics, art direction, soundtrack and difficulty, lower ones seem to leave these aside and instead rant on their gripes about either the difficulty (GameSpot) or the fact that the game is not Metroid Prime 4 (EDGE).