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What is Phil's review philosophy?

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So I just watched Phil's Mighty No. 9 review and I thought it was very fair and well done compared to most other reviews of it I've seen. The biggest point he brings up in the games defense is that the game shouldn't be judged on preconceived notions of what people expect it to be but instead should be solely judged on what it is. I agree with this but I'm reminded of how Phil trashed The Order 1886 for being a "bait and switch", shouldn't that game have been reviewed solely on what it is and not what people expected it to be? Of course that game had plenty of other flaws (mainly it's price) but I don't think it should have been slammed for being a bait and switch anymore than Mighty No. 9.

My question is, should factors outside of a game itself ever be considered when evaluating the games value? If so, how do you decide what is relevant and what is not?

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The difference between the Order and Mighty No. 9 is that the latter didn't blatantly lie in years of advertisements about what it was. It always claimed to be a throwback-style game that would play like Megaman with some changes; nothing less, nothing more. It was the $4 million Kickstarter budget that got everyone's hopes up, as well as the "stretch goals" that the game devs kept adding/promising and having a hard time delivering on that created the mob of negativity around the game.

The Order 1886, from the get-go, was a lie. The E3 trailer showed a group of hunters facing off against numerous werewolves - which doesn't ever happen in the game. ALL of the PR and press for the game advertised it as a monster-hunting gothic narrative combined with 3rd-person shooter gameplay. But it was never explained that 98% of the enemies you fight in the game would be incredibly generic humans, the same as EVERY OTHER 3rd person shooter.

The selling point of Mighty No. 9 is that it's a progression of Megaman; it delivers on that. The selling point of the Order was that it was a monster-hunting game; it is not. One game comes up a bit short, the other is a blatant lie to the consumer; and of course, the insane price tag for a short game, all of the issues I cited in the review etc. just made it worse and worse.

 

If the core gameplay aspect of a game ends up being a lie, then that should be factored in. But that's not the situation with Mighty No. 9, at all.

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I appreciate the clarification but the thing about PR and advertisements is that they are mostly only relevant before and during the games release, reviews on the other hand last much longer. Somebody who checks out any reviews about The Order 1886 a year or more after release likely won't care about how inaccurate the games marketing campaign was. They just want to know what the game itself is like and of its worth playing.

Like I said, I agree with your Mighty No.9 review but I feel like that  mindset (that games should be judged on what they are and not what is around them) should be something that applies to all game reviews. 

 

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Well, ALL of my reviews go massively into detail about what the game actually is. A $60 game that plays incredibly generically, has entire chapters that are cutscenes, and only lasts 5 hours with zero replayability is a pretty crappy game. Regardless if it's a bait and switch, you get that from the Order review.

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3 hours ago, Phil said:

Well, ALL of my reviews go massively into detail about what the game actually is. A $60 game that plays incredibly generically, has entire chapters that are cutscenes, and only lasts 5 hours with zero replayability is a pretty crappy game. Regardless if it's a bait and switch, you get that from the Order review.

Right, overall I like your reviews. My favorite are probably your reviews of Duke Nukem Forever, Resident Evil 6, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and now Mighty No 9. It's not wrong to address controversy around a game, I just think none of those kinds of peripheral factors should influence a review itself. False advertising is definitely something worthy of being addressed, I just think the content itself should also be given a fair shot to stand on its own. That's what I liked about your Mighty No 9 review and it's just something I hope you keep in mind for future game reviews.

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Here's my problem with Phil's reviews. He factors the price of the game into his review. I'll use MN9 and The Order to explain why this is a problem. If The Order 1886 had cost $30 Phil wouldn't have had as much of a problem with it being short and generic. If MN9 had cost $40 or more Phil would've slammed it for not being polished. Why should the price effect your opinion of the game when that doesn't change the game at all?

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1 hour ago, WazerWifle said:

Here's my problem with Phil's reviews. He factors the price of the game into his review. I'll use MN9 and The Order to explain why this is a problem. If The Order 1886 had cost $30 Phil wouldn't have had as much of a problem with it being short and generic. If MN9 had cost $40 or more Phil would've slammed it for not being polished. Why should the price effect your opinion of the game when that doesn't change the game at all?

He's looking at it from a consumer's point of view. If I want to buy MN9, I want to know what content is in it for the price I'm paying. 

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15 hours ago, WazerWifle said:

Here's my problem with Phil's reviews. He factors the price of the game into his review. I'll use MN9 and The Order to explain why this is a problem. If The Order 1886 had cost $30 Phil wouldn't have had as much of a problem with it being short and generic. If MN9 had cost $40 or more Phil would've slammed it for not being polished. Why should the price effect your opinion of the game when that doesn't change the game at all?

But that makes sense. Value is a huge factor in a game.

What I don't like about Phil's review philosophy is how he thinks a score is a mathematical equation. Like how he sees a 10 has purely perfect or how the score of one game has to match up with another. Now I actually don't mind him doing this. It's when you imposes those philosophies on others.

 For example many reviewers see a 10 as nearly perfect. If the game is absolutely amazing but the only issues are the tininess nitpicks they don't have to dock points.

The second issue is just ridiculous. Not all games can be reviewed the same. You may criticise the Order for being overly cinematic and having very little gameplay but what about Beyond Two Souls? You obviously don't judge it in the same way because Beyond is an adventure game. Also some flaws are smaller or larger then others. Case in point. When you criticised IGN for their reviews of the Order and Resident Evil Revelations. They game RE a 7 and the Order a 6.5. You called them out on the Order being listed as having more flaws then RE. But maybe the flaws weren't that big of a deal to them. Maybe they saw more value in the production value. Based on their own review philosophy a 6 is average and a 7 is good but not great. Maybe they saw the Order as being generic but playable and RE as slightly better. And you actually agreed with their score of RE. So unless you can argue that the Order review is wrong on it's own then your argument falls flat.

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I enjoy Phil's reviews, but I do think he approaches them from a bit of a falsehood. He seems to believe that you can score a game objectively and that to me isn't possible. A review by it's nature is subjective and informed by the person doing it. Their tastes and preferences, their history and personality all play a part in influencing their feelings about a game. You'd have to be a robot to give a truly objective review of something. A score isn't science or math, its a gut thing. You might believe you're absolutely right which can give you the impression of it being an exact science, but that only proves the subjective nature of a review. Phil comes across as a passionate guy that has strong feelings about almost everything. Especially gaming. That's not a bad thing at all, but if you think that you can suppress all of that and give an objective review of something you have such strong feelings about, I don't believe you're being honest with yourself. The good news however is that you don't have to try and be objective. Every other honest reviewer out there is treating a review as an opinion and Phil should too. That's all it ever can truly be, so no worries.

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4 hours ago, TraditionalGames said:

But that makes sense. Value is a huge factor in a game.

What someone thinks a game is worth is a very subjective thing. For example, Phil hated Star Fox Zero and said that game wasn't worth $60 but I've seen plenty of people around who absolutely loved so to them it was worth the $60 they paid for it. You can't objectively state the value of a game like that.

4 hours ago, TraditionalGames said:

What I don't like about Phil's review philosophy is how he thinks a score is a mathematical equation. Like how he sees a 10 has purely perfect or how the score of one game has to match up with another. Now I actually don't mind him doing this. It's when you imposes those philosophies on others.

 For example many reviewers see a 10 as nearly perfect. If the game is absolutely amazing but the only issues are the tininess nitpicks they don't have to dock points.

The second issue is just ridiculous. Not all games can be reviewed the same. You may criticise the Order for being overly cinematic and having very little gameplay but what about Beyond Two Souls? You obviously don't judge it in the same way because Beyond is an adventure game. Also some flaws are smaller or larger then others. Case in point. When you criticised IGN for their reviews of the Order and Resident Evil Revelations. They game RE a 7 and the Order a 6.5. You called them out on the Order being listed as having more flaws then RE. But maybe the flaws weren't that big of a deal to them. Maybe they saw more value in the production value. Based on their own review philosophy a 6 is average and a 7 is good but not great. Maybe they saw the Order as being generic but playable and RE as slightly better. And you actually agreed with their score of RE. So unless you can argue that the Order review is wrong on it's own then your argument falls flat.

I agree that he shouldn't treat game scores as a mathematical thing. But Phil's gonna stand firm on 10/10 meaning absolutely perfect. I don't think we'll ever change his mind on that.

The second issue is something that has happened multiple times. Where Phil criticizes one game for something and praises another for the same thing. Just recently he criticized mainstream reviewers in his review of MN9 for factoring in what the kickstarter raised in their reviews, when he made a video ripping Tim Schafer apart and calling him a thief because of how much the Broken Age kickstarter raised. Huh?

2 hours ago, Vrifter said:

I enjoy Phil's reviews, but I do think he approaches them from a bit of a falsehood. He seems to believe that you can score a game objectively and that to me isn't possible. A review by it's nature is subjective and informed by the person doing it. Their tastes and preferences, their history and personality all play a part in influencing their feelings about a game. You'd have to be a robot to give a truly objective review of something. A score isn't science or math, its a gut thing. You might believe you're absolutely right which can give you the impression of it being an exact science, but that only proves the subjective nature of a review. Phil comes across as a passionate guy that has strong feelings about almost everything. Especially gaming. That's not a bad thing at all, but if you think that you can suppress all of that and give an objective review of something you have such strong feelings about, I don't believe you're being honest with yourself. The good news however is that you don't have to try and be objective. Every other honest reviewer out there is treating a review as an opinion and Phil should too. That's all it ever can truly be, so no worries.

I think reviews can be objective to an extent. But I agree that there will also be a bit of subjectivity in every review. It's gonna happen especially with someone like Phil. "These reviewers are idiots who didn't do their research" and "you can't understand this game if you never played the original" were said in his DOOM review because mainstream reviewers didn't factor the original DOOM into their reviews, whereas Phil did.

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Some components of game reviews can be objective and unbiased.  Stating literal facts like, "the game doesn't start up" or "it crashes every time I get to 'X' level" are nothing opinionated.  Additionally you can state something is repetitive in gameplay, but to say if it's enjoyable or not is where the subjective component of a review comes into play. I don't see why you need to review the game against others, it should stand or fall on it's own merit.  You don't say, "Well this game is blah, but since it's only two dollars and not as bad as this other title it's rated higher."

 

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45 minutes ago, PoopMagnet said:

I don't see why you need to review the game against others, it should stand or fall on it's own merit.  You don't say, "Well this game is blah, but since it's only two dollars and not as bad as this other title it's rated higher."

 

I completely agree, but it seems Phil doesn't.

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4 hours ago, Vrifter said:

I think a review is entirely subjective, but I'd like to hear what parts you think can be objective.

This is one thing a lot of people don't necessarily think about.

A review is almost entirely the OPINION of the person playing the game/watching the movie/tasting the food/etc. 

Reviews by their very nature are subjective. There can be objective parts yes, stating clear facts and what not but the majority of the review will be down to the individual's experience and preference.

One of the things i hate is when reviewers take their review and the things they say as fact.

It's not fact, it's your subjective opinion.

If a review was entirely objective it would essentially be like the one Jim Sterling made in regards to Final Fantasy 13

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMU1_-_4WKg

Edited by Nation
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Phil's logic when criticising reviewers. A (Game 1) = B (Valid Review), C (Game 2) = D (Invalid Review), therefore A and C = D.

 

Also my point was never meant to change his mind. Everyone has their own review style. I just don't want him judging other reviews based on his own philosophy.

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1 hour ago, PoopMagnet said:

Some components of game reviews can be objective and unbiased.  Stating literal facts like, "the game doesn't start up" or "it crashes every time I get to 'X' level" are nothing opinionated.  Additionally you can state something is repetitive in gameplay, but to say if it's enjoyable or not is where the subjective component of a review comes into play. I don't see why you need to review the game against others, it should stand or fall on it's own merit.  You don't say, "Well this game is blah, but since it's only two dollars and not as bad as this other title it's rated higher."

 

Sure, there's always going to be factual things to point out, but the thing I'm referring to is the difference between "the game is roughly 4 hours long" (fact) vs "the game is short" (opinion). The critique of the facts is a personal opinion and that's the point of a review. To hear what that person's opinion is.

Edited by Vrifter
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2 hours ago, TraditionalGames said:

I like Joe's review scale and how a 5 is an average and a 4 is meh. Normally people see 4 and 5s and bad games and I think that's harsh.

Same. I like the idea of 5 being average and 10 not being perfect but being "The standard" for that type of game.

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On 6/26/2016 at 9:05 AM, WazerWifle said:

The second issue is something that has happened multiple times. Where Phil criticizes one game for something and praises another for the same thing. Just recently he criticized mainstream reviewers in his review of MN9 for factoring in what the kickstarter raised in their reviews, when he made a video ripping Tim Schafer apart and calling him a thief because of how much the Broken Age kickstarter raised. Huh?

I think reviews can be objective to an extent. But I agree that there will also be a bit of subjectivity in every review. It's gonna happen especially with someone like Phil. "These reviewers are idiots who didn't do their research" and "you can't understand this game if you never played the original" were said in his DOOM review because mainstream reviewers didn't factor the original DOOM into their reviews, whereas Phil did.

 

Well to be fair you're leaving out a HUGE problem with Broken Age. With MN9 they never ever demanded or expected more money, they just added stretch goals and people paid up for the basic game. For their 2nd round of funding the MN9 team promised extra features that would not be a necessity to enjoy the base game but would enhance the experience. Granted they kept delaying the game because of these added features.  Broken Age was paid for and done with $3mil + in backing....or so we thought. Tim ended up somehow spending all the first backing and told backers "Hey, so about that game, well I spent it all. So I'm only giving you half the game. Pay up and then I can make part 2!"  I hate to link Kotaku but: 

http://kotaku.com/somehow-tim-schafers-adventure-kickstarter-needs-more-652014092

So from what I saw he proceeded to recycle the environments in part 2 (if I recall next to no new characters/areas to explore and recycled puzzles). If you read the rest of Schafer's note to backers, he basically says he was going to expand on the game making it better releasing it in a more timely manner....and that didn't happen. The original backing for Broken Age was $400,000. They got 3 million the first round. Even after a second round they only "broke even." Umm what? 

 

The difference (at least from what I saw) was that Phil's experience deteriorated from Part 1 of Broken Age over Part 2. Remember Phil absolute LOVED part 1 of Broken age, then part 2 came out and he resented it. Now I never played the game fully so I can't give my own experience but from what Phil said and what I saw in his playthrough I can understand why he was frustrated. Granted I don't think he was a backer though.....

Edited by DML897

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