Saturday, July 18, 2009

News Filter: Whither The MMO Review

  • By way of happy MMO blogger Yeebo Fernbottom, I discovered that Eurogamer had gone through with its re-review of Darkfall. Kieron Gillen, an accomplished game and music journalist as well as the author of the awesome comic book Phonogram, not only gives a remarkable, in depth review of the game, but also muses on the original review kerfuffle, review ideas he scrapped, and how to go about writing an MMORPG review at all.

  • The review itself is both fair and entertaining, everything I want when I read about a game. Gillen walks a careful line that praises the game's positive aspect while tackling the issues where it fails. He does so without fear of offending Aventurine and the Darkfall fan base, and he does not go out of his way to offend them either.

  • The review sets a good technical example for MMO review writers. More importantly though, the meta-commentary should guide the debate about how MMOs should be reviewed in the future. It reminded me of Tipa's miniature tirade wherein she implied that MMOs are basically unreviewable. Gillen's idea is that there should be two reviews of a game: an initial review to tell you whether you should invest in the game and a follow up review to determine if the subscription is worthwhile. I understand why some might prefer a long term retrospective that encompasses the entire game experience, the realities and purposes of a consumer-oriented review don't allow for this kind of depth. I do think such a piece would be excellent for examining how an MMO has changed over time and whether or not a new player can find a place in an elder game community.

  • If you haven't read the re-review, you owe it to yourself to investigate the link above. Just steer clear of any rabid Darkfall fans.

© 2009 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Bullet Points, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Had a look at Dark Fall myself, looks like it has potential with all that there is to be had, it's just not done yet, like many other an MMO.

    In regards to the topic, it seems to be good to have the two different ways of looking at it, but what of a different approach, instead of, "Is it any good?" and move more onto what may be opinion related? "If you like A, B, and C, You should check this out, people who prefer D, E, and F should probably stay away."

  2. @ Riknas - I haven't tried Darkfall myself, mostly because I have plenty of other games I want to play. But I think the review matches the frustrations various bloggers have with the game.

    Relational comparisons can be helpful in reviews where products are of similar quality. Since it is the quality of the product that is the greatest issue for most MMOs (and all video games for that matter), reviews will probably focus more on playability rather than such high level relationships. Once games can guarantee high quality products, I'm sure we'll see reviews that feel more like movie and book reviews.