Here, you will find the periodic commentaries, rants, and raves of a cranky old-school gamer. While I focus a lot on the Halo series, I will talk about other topics like the state of the video game industry, make observations of the gaming community, or go on nostalgia trips and talk about how things were back in the day.
A resident of the Augusta, GA area, I’ve been playing video games since the mid 80s. I own or have owned most of the major systems that have been released, including the Intellivision, NES, SNES, Genesis, Playstation, N64, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Wii, with the NES & SNES being my all-time favorites. I own several dozen titles and have played dozens more.
I also have a blog at 1up, but due to post size restrictions and some minor format-affecting technical issues, I’ve decided to use WordPress as my primary blog. Also, while this blog is focused primarily on video games, I may occasionally write about subjects not related to gaming, which might not be appropriate for 1up.
Finally, one thing you’ll notice about my writing style is that many of my articles, are very long, particularly my reviews for Halo games, which are often well in excess of 10,000 words. I’m able to write so much because instead of writing a lot about one thing, I write a little bit about each of a game’s various mechanics and features. I’m always very thorough and I’m a perfectionist with an eye for detail, so many of my articles end up being longer than I initially thought they would be. However, I often have difficulty putting my thoughts into writing, so more often than not, it takes me quite a while to write an article. In fact, my larger articles take me several months to finish (I typically work on an article for maybe 30 minutes to an hour a day if I have the free time). Even something like a forum post consisting of only a few paragraphs might take me half an hour or longer to compose since I’m often constantly thinking of new things to add as well as checking for spelling errors (there’s always time for proper spelling).
Needless to say, this blog is definitely not aimed for the short attention span “TL;DR” demographic. If you’re looking for short soundbites more suitable for Twitter, this is not the place. I support in-depth analysis and substantive debate, not short little blurbs. Furthermore, if you feel the need to insult me because of the length and/or content of my articles, don’t waste your time. Rude, snarky replies to any posts here will be quickly deleted.
Game Review Guide
As stated above, my reviews can be quite long. I’m a stickler for detail, so for me, it’s usually not enough to simply write a few paragraphs saying what I do and don’t like about a game. I have to break it down into every individual facet and say in detail why any given feature or aspect of a game is good or bad. My review style may be perceived as being overly critical and that it accentuates the negative. That’s not an accident. I’m not one to mince words or be soft on a game. I call ’em like I see ’em. If a developer makes a mistake, it’s incumbent on a reviewer to say in detail exactly what the dev did wrong and how they can fix things in the future should they issue a patch or release a sequel. It’s just as important (if not more so) to point out these flaws as it is to heap praise on the developer for when they do good things.
My reviews use a 1 through 10 scoring system. No fractions or decimals; only whole numbers. A game’s overall score will be heavily weighted towards how good its gameplay is, as I’m at heart a gameplay-first kinda guy. While graphics/art design, story, and so on are important, they cannot save a game that has bad gameplay. Conversely, a game that is fun to play can still get a great score even if it’s not the prettiest game and/or has little to no plot (I did grow up in the era of the Excuse Plot, after all). Since I’m not a professional reviewer, I only review games I buy, rent, or borrow, and due to my picky nature few games I’ve ever bought will rate below a 6 out of 10 overall. And if you think I’m lowballing a game’s score by giving a “7” or whatever, well, I’m not. Despite the existence of the “Eight Point Eight” trope, a 7 or 8 is to me a damn good score. For clarification, here is what each number means in my ratings system (which is similar to those of IGN and Gamespot), as well as a description of what they entail for a game’s overall score.
A game with this score represents the cream of the crop, the best of the best. It’s of a caliber every game should strive to be but few ever attain. There are only a small handful of games ever made that would be worthy of this score, and they’d be sitting at or near the very top of my favorite games of all time list.
Falling just short of perfection, but nevertheless an incredibly amazing title worthy of one’s time and money. You can’t go wrong with these games, and very few games can claim to be this good. Whatever negatives are in this game are simply drowned out by the sheer amount of awesomeness.
The game has a few noticeable issues and/or may have low replay value, but is still a rock-solid title and comes highly recommended. Definitely something worth buying new; it’ll be $60 well-spent. Very few people will be disappointed by such a game.
The game has some obvious problems that serve as major drawbacks but is an otherwise high-quality experience. The negatives are outweighed by the game’s many positives, and these titles are nevertheless better than most of the competition. This is the lowest score I can give a game and still consider it worth buying new at full MSRP.
While above average and definitely providing enough entertainment value to make them worth playing at least once if only just to try it, these games are for the most part “rent/borrow first” material. I’d even say they’re worth buying, but only once the price goes down as they either have enough negatives or sufficiently low replay value to make them not worth $60. They might be worth your time, but your mileage may vary on these titles.
These games get a disinterested “meh.” They still hold together somewhat, but aren’t anything special or remarkable and are either roughly equal parts good and bad or are just plain boring. I can’t recommend that anyone should ever buy such a game unless they can find it used for dirt cheap or it’s something that really appeals to them. Strictly rental material at best.
The game is sloppy and amateurish in its design, with more bad aspects than good aspects. It might cater to a particular niche or have some appeal if only as a novelty item, but I personally can’t recommend such a title even only as a rental.
It’s hard to see how anybody would like a game with this score. It might have one or two good things going for it, but those are far overwhelmed by all the game’s negative aspects. I wouldn’t waste my time on such a game if I were you.
A trainwreck, utterly broken and not fun in the least. A game with this score should never have made it to market. One would be hard-pressed to find even one thing remotely good about it. The developers should be ashamed of themselves and should probably seek new lines of work, and the game would be a waste of space on a store shelf.
The worst of the worst. Such a game has no redeeming value whatsoever. Not as curiosity, not as a novelty. Its mere existence is an affront to gamers and the gaming industry. It’s a broken, unplayable, and un-fun abomination, and the developers should probably resign from the industry in disgrace.
About the Drive-in Totals
In addition to the obligatory sub-scores for graphics, story, etc., you’ll notice an odd entry: the Drive-in Totals. They are a reference to MonsterVision, a program hosted by Joe Bob Briggs that ran on TNT Saturday nights during the mid to late 90s. It would air various horror and sci-fi movies (most of which were B-grade affairs) and Briggs would offer commentary just before and right after coming back from commercials. Before the movie started, he would give a humorous list of various highlights from the movie. The Wikipedia article linked to above provides a sample list of Drive-in Totals for the movie Phantasm II, but the one I remember best is the episode where they aired Gremlins, and a transcript for that episode can be viewed here. I watched MonsterVision regularly, and it was a staple program of my weekend TV viewing back in my high school days, and I give my own Drive-in Totals in my game reviews as a shout-out to Joe Bob.