Hawkes Editorial: Trio of “Terror”

In: Uncategorized by David LaMont

30 Oct 2008

From Gamespot’s review of Fallout 3:

It’s a shame, in light of these impressive design elements, that the PlayStation 3 version is shockingly inferior to the others from a technical perspective. Although the Xbox 360 and PC versions display the occasional visual oddity and bland texture, these nitpicks are easy to overlook. Sadly, the jagged edges, washed-out lighting, and slightly diminished draw distance of the PS3 release aren’t so easy to dismiss. We also experienced a number of visual bugs on the PS3. Character faces disappeared several times, leaving only eyeballs and hair; limbs on robots went missing; some character models had an odd outline around them as if they were cel-shaded; and the day-to-night transition may cause odd streaks on the screen as you move the camera around. This version doesn’t even offer trophies, whereas the Xbox 360 and PC versions offer Xbox Live/Windows Live achievements.

For irony purposes, Giant Bomb offers Jeff Gerstmann’s review:

The 360 version is no slouch, though. It might not be quite as pretty as the PC version, but it still looks fine. The load times remain pretty reasonable. The PlayStation 3 version is below the 360 version, by comparison. The level of detail when you’re in the wasteland or other areas where you can see for great distances isn’t quite as good, the game seems to be a bit more aliased, and the frame rate isn’t as smooth. Plus, the PS3 version of the game doesn’t have any trophy support (yet), and the game actually freezes every time a status message, such as “so and so is online” or “DUDE HOW DID U GET FALLOUT 3 EARLY!!!!???” is on-screen. That’s bad enough to make you want to log out of the PlayStation Network before booting up the PS3 version of the game.

From a forum post linked to Gamespot’s review after being asked how bad the glitches are:

The versions are practically the same. I don’t know what merits vast inferiority, aside from Microsoft payoff money.

From Cooper Hawkes:

*#&$!&$*@!&$*!@&$*&!*@$@&$!

(Link not available)

There are a lot of villains in this one. First you have Bethesda, who in an effort to get the game out day and date cross-platform perhaps didn’t spend enough time to truly polish the PS3 version to shiny. Then you have the game review sites that, in an effort to drive traffic, throw out an obvious piece of flame bait so meaty that I’m shocked there’s any blood left on the floor. Finally you have the fanboys, who can never ever possibly conceive that there may actually be issues with a game on their “console of choice.”

The sad part is, this is nothing new or unique. This has been happening since the Atari versus Intellivision days, and I can’t help but wonder what the Risk versus Monopoly fights must have been like ten years prior.

Heck, the fact I’m commenting on it is basically fueling it, but it’s gone from “Isn’t that amusing?” to “Oh Christ, will you please get a fracking life!,” and I only have so much patience folks.

Since we have three villains I’ll break them down devil by devil, and I’ll start first with my favorite group:

The Fanboys

I’ve got a secret to tell you, Microsoft isn’t paying Gamespot to give favorable reviews. There is no vast conspiracy on the part of Sony to gobble up companies and force them to do first-party for the PS3, and Reggie does not sacrifice goats to the pagan gods to make Microsoft and Sony lose. This is the biggest load of crap ever shoveled by someone who has the nerve to call themselves a fan of anything. It is nothing more than attempt to try and massage your own ego, to convince everyone that your decision to buy the console was a good one, and that obviously something’s wrong with everyone else for not seeing it your way.

It makes you look petty, and it certainly diminishes how people view your opinions. Throwing out some wacky conspiracy theory as to why two separate sites cite the same issues is shallow and easily spotted. The only person who feels better when they read it is you, and perhaps a small handful of others with like sensibilities.

I’ve another secret to tell you: Microsoft? Sony? Nintendo? Every single game publisher on the planet? They see you as dollar signs, nothing more. I have no doubt that a good majority of the men and women who bleed for years creating an amazing game really do it for the love, but whoever gave the project the thumbs up is in it for the money. So your little puppy-dog antics are quite amusing to them, but trust me when I tell you that they would sell you to the medical-testing lab if they thought they could squeeze 20 more bucks out of the deal.

I don’t think of fanboys as gamers, I think of them as wannabes. They wannabe cool kids, but they don’t realize that to be “cool” in gaming you have to be open to all forms of gaming from all sides. A true gamer is not niche-based, they are game-based. They are looking for the challenge, for something fresh and fun and innovative, and it doesn’t matter who “brings” it as long as it is “brung.”

Ignoring a game like Gears of War 2, Resistance 2 or Super Mario Galaxy because they’re not on your console is an outrage to me. I completely understand that, with the cost of software and accessories, owning a single console is the only economically viable way of going, but don’t belittle your own decision or show your insecurities by both needlessly and foolishly defending the console and, by proxy, your decision.

Criticism is the nature of all media, and it is obvious to me that fanboys are not equipped to handle it. If the above mentioned person had brought up ideas from his/her own observation of both versions of the games and declared the differences “inconsequential,” I would find that fair.

In short, keep the discussion grounded in reality, not in some delusional world where everyone is out to get your precious console using dirty tricks and back-end money.

It makes all gamers look like sniveling idiots.

The Reviewers

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jeff Gerstmann, so normally I’d be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t consciously going for flame bait, but frankly, it’s hard to defend that benefit.

The problem is that anytime you run a comparison video or story, it tends to generate a ton of comments from the fanboys. Comments equal traffic, and traffic equals money. You can see the obvious attraction to add something like that.

There is something to be said about a valid compare and contrast between the two versions since there are a (limited) number of people with both consoles who want to know which one is better.

Well, I guess that would depend on your definition of “better,” wouldn’t it?

See if there were a bunch of obvious and game-crippling bugs in one version over another, that would be a legitimate point to bring up. If there were massive differences in game play elements between one and the other, that also would be a legitimate point to bring up. To talk about slight graphic differences or message interruptions that do not break the game itself is petty and does nothing more than just fan the flames you’re hoping for.

It’s irresponsible.

Yes, a message popping up and freezing the game is bad and does warrant mention, but do not contrast it with the other console as a means to generate controversy. A review should be based on your personal perception of the game, the game play mechanics, and the feel of it. That’s it — not graphics, not which is better on which system. It’s the game that matters.

Time to stop giving fuel to the crazed for financial benefit and to go back to what you guys do best, which is review games as honestly as possible.

The hits will come, trust me.

The Developers

Bethesda, I also love you guys. Oblivion is such an amazingly huge game that you have scared me from playing it. That may not be the type of praise you’re looking for, but trust me, it’s meant well. A majority of gamers know and revere you as a developer and think of you not as console specific but as genuinely interested in pushing the RPG boundaries.

PS3 fans were overjoyed when Oblivion came to their console, more so when Fallout 3 was announced as day and date with the Xbox 360 version. I have no doubt that you all worked and toiled very hard on this game, and I hope your upcoming vacations are restful ones.

That being said, why the hell didn’t you iron this shit out before you released the game?

I understand that you had a schedule to keep, that there are myriad factors that some gamers cannot even comprehend to get a title out the door, but if your goal is to have a quality cross-platform title out the door day and date, then you need to make sure that all versions share the same quality.

It has been three years since the debut of the Xbox 360, two years since the PS3 — that’s more than enough time to get an understanding of the inner complexities of both systems and figure out your best method of tackling such an endeavor. Had you mirrored development from day one to the point of near redundancy, there wouldn’t be this issue at all.

If you are going to go cross-platform, then both versions need to be exactly the same in every way. If you want to make side deals for DLC, that’s your prerogative, but the initial game must be solid across both platforms with no discernable differences apparent. Couple these reviews with your intent to publish exclusive DLC to Xbox 360 and you give off the perception that the Xbox 360 is your console of choice. I know that’s not the message you want to give out, but that’s how it will appear to the reviews and the fanboys.

Please take better strides to ensure that there are no differences in console version, it will prevent the reviewers from putting up flame bait, and the fanboys from taking it.

In the end, does this damage the game? Not at all. The game is still being universally praised and is easily a top three for game of the year. Only those with the keenest of eyes will see the differences, but not me. I’ll be too busy playing the game to actually notice.

~ Hawkes

UPDATE 10/31/2008: For Murphys Law:

Actually Atari and Intellivision were nipping at each other during the early 80′s, this spilled over onto my school playground with people comparing Atari with Intellivision.First there was this commercial:

Click here for YouTube video.

Atari responded with a commercial I couldn’t find, that pointed out the exclusives on Atari’s game console.  Intellivision responded with this:

Click here for YouTube Video. For the record, I had both, but you can see the beginnings of the console Fanboy in these commercials.

PS. If anyone has a link for the Atari “exclusive games” commercial that preceded the last Intellivision commercial, I would really appreciate if you linked me up!

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11 Responses to Hawkes Editorial: Trio of “Terror”

Avatar

Murphys Law

October 30th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Actually Hawkes, I can safely say I don’t think we ever had fanboys back in the days of Intellivision and Atari…games looked so crappy on Atari that nobody would argue that Intellivision was better. I think the true fanboy wars started with the launch of the xbox…as that was right about when the internet became a popular place to troll and leave comments.

Heck, maybe we should blame the internet for the fanboy wars? After all, without the internet the fanboyism would be just a shadow of itself as it stands today.

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dave19711998

October 30th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I remember at school hearing the boys argue over whether the Spectrum was better than the Commodore 64, then is was the Sega master system Vs the NES. It never ends and there will always be this attitude of mines better than yours.

They have to justify to themselves the money they spent on their system, even if it isn’t the best choice they could have made.

Avatar

HeartbreakRidge

October 30th, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I think you are being too hard on Jeff, really. If I was choosing between the PS3 and 360 versions, something as annoying as what is described would really get my crank out – and point me in the direction of the other version.

I’d almost expect the PS3 version in this situation to have some problems the 360 doesn’t – because the PS3 is not the lead console, and in a multiplatform development, when the 360/PC is the lead platform, that usually spells some level of trouble for the PS3 version.

Avatar

CooperHawkes

October 31st, 2008 at 2:21 am

I would love to give Jeff a break, but let us, for example, go with the idea that what he put in the review was NOT intended as flame bait.

Jeff is not a n00b to the Internet, nor to the gaming industry, the best way to compare the two would be to break each console into it’s own paragraphs of “Here’s what’s wrong on 360, and here’s what’s wrong on PS3″ and not directly compaire the two. GIVE the information and let the people decide. Don’t include what could easily be seen as inflamatory: “The PlayStation 3 version is below the 360 version”

If it wasn’t on purpose, than he should have presented it so it was un-flamable.

Murphys Law, I’ve added some old commercials from the Atari/Intellivision days to the main article, they show the very early attempts by Atari/Intellivision to bring out “fanboys” :)

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Maj Malfunction

October 31st, 2008 at 4:56 am

I’m with Heartbreak on the reviewer issue. As an owner of both systems I want to know which runs better and why.
Being the huge Fallout fan that I am, pausing when messages pop in would irk me to no end and having arms and faces disappear is inexcuseable as well.
The entire point of games reviews is to let the customer know what to expect for their money and to help them make an informed purchasing decision. Letting them know about the differences in this case is doing his job IMO.

For the record, I was a colecovision fan with the atari emulator.

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HeartbreakRidge

October 31st, 2008 at 6:32 am

I think you’ve been following Jeff longer than I have, but let me posit this – Jeff knows what will happen, but Jeff does not care (or, to put it differently, Jeff flatly refuses to change his style for non-editorially sound reasons).

A direct comparison is logical and reasonable, and only NOT so in the minds of the fanboys, and perhaps Jeff did not have the patience to dance around the issue (or the patience to kowtow to their unreasonable idiocy.)

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October 31st, 2008 at 7:15 am

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Murphys Law

November 1st, 2008 at 9:55 am

Hawkes, Brand loyalty is something EVERY company strides to bring forward from consumers. Those early ads were just that, attempts to bring about consumer loyalty to a device and company.

Now, thats not to say that isn’t similar to fanboyism…but its not the same. Fanboyism has taken a complete turn from consumer loyalty to consumer fanatacism and you can clearly see giving fans voices on the internet is a direct cause in the escalation of it. We all like to be right, and once you get someone responding back to you in a public way like a forum telling you that you are wrong…well…I think you know the rest.

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CooperHawkes

November 2nd, 2008 at 4:07 am

@Murphys Law,

No doubt about brand loyalty. :) The reasons for the video was to show the infancy of fanboyism. Since I couldn’t expect you to rely on my own observance of adolescence fanboys between Atari and Intellivision, I figured I’d show some video that demonstrated some of the arguments I’ve heard.

Either way, I’m not saying I’m right, I’m saying this is how I feel. Take that as you will.

Thanks for the wonderful replies to all of you!!

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Slymanx

November 2nd, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Mind explaining to me how Fallout 3 pushed the boundaries of RPG’s?

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CooperHawkes

November 3rd, 2008 at 8:33 am

@Slymanx

I didn’t say they did, I said that people perceive Bethesda in interested in pushing the boundaries of RPG’s.

If they succeeded is more a personal tastes thing.

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