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Default The Witcher - Zero Punctuation Review @ The Escapist

January 25th, 2008, 15:16
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I personally don't think his reviews are all that thoughtless and arbitrarily through-shit-dragging, but I realise there is always that element present, intentionally. But he has lavished significant praise upon certain titles in his reviews, and as such your claim is not entirely true - as was the case with Portal.

However, I don't judge him, as in judge his person. I simply observe that either his intention or ability to be objective is too limited, and as such he will get no more attention from me, because I find no use in reviews without that particular element present.
I'm sorry, but I think you're going in with a wrong set of expectations. Zero Punctuation isn't a review feature. It was never a review feature. It's a comedy skit that highlights the bad side of games and makes fun of everything and every one. It's not supposed to be informative or a potential part of your buy or don't buy loop.

It worries me that some Escapist readers actually don't seem to grasp this, only one user had this astute comment:
Wait wait wait…hold on…you watch yahtzee for actual views on how good a game is? If anyone who went on this site truely did that we'd all have portal and virtually nothing else.
I don't watch Zero for games, I watch him for laughs
And that's the way you should watch him, not as an objective reviewer. Because he's not, he's just funny. If you don't find him funny, don't watch, but don't judge him by expectancies he's not supposed to fulfil.
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January 25th, 2008, 15:39
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
I'm sorry, but I think you're going in with a wrong set of expectations. Zero Punctuation isn't a review feature. It was never a review feature. It's a comedy skit that highlights the bad side of games and makes fun of everything and every one. It's not supposed to be informative or a potential part of your buy or don't buy loop.

It worries me that some Escapist readers actually don't seem to grasp this, only one user had this astute comment:

And that's the way you should watch him, not as an objective reviewer. Because he's not, he's just funny. If you don't find him funny, don't watch, but don't judge him by expectancies he's not supposed to fulfil.
I don't think you read my post very carefully, because my conclusion is exactly the same as yours. He's not objective, and therefore I find it of little interest after that discovery. I never had any expectations and if I did, they would be beside the point. I'm talking about the end product - his "commentaries" which were never advertised to me in any way so I have had nothing on which to base any expectation anyway. I merely assumed that he would be objective because it definitely seemed like he had some firm opinions on the matter and wanted to clarify them using humour.

I don't know if there is a statement on the site that specifically explains that he doesn't mean anything he says, but if so I certainly missed it. Maybe you can point it out, so I know that I was being a fool for my assumption. If we're talking about your own personal interpretation of the intentions of the site and his commentary, then let's not pretend it's fact.

Anyway, even with the humour included it's quite obvious to me that he has something to say, and that he takes a stand in his own way. Maybe he's hiding it behind whatever, but I think we can all agree that humour is best when based in reality, and in that way he has amused me in the past.

However, I no longer find enough "reality" in his reviews and he seems a victim of his fame at this point, much more so than a guy with good points - which is how I saw him before.
Last edited by DArtagnan; January 25th, 2008 at 15:45.
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January 25th, 2008, 15:43
His reviews are satire. Satire is not appreciated by many, maybe most, people. Satire tends to go over especially badly when they are satirical about something you like or care about. It goes over super especially bad when the satirist pokes a hole in something you deep down know is a problem but try to ignore because you like the whole. I love satire and I find his reviews, even of games I really like, are hilarious. And often right on point, if greatly exaggerated, but that's what satire is all about.
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January 25th, 2008, 17:21
It's not objective, but it was never meant to be objective. It's his opinions on what sucked in games and greatly exaggerates that. That does not mean he didn't find good points in the game or that there was not a moment that he enjoyed himself with it (I assume). It's (presumably) just not funny to talk about a game's high points, or so we are led to believe.

I find it funny and like his stuff, but it's not world-shocking either. I didn't know he was very popular, though! It that a new thing?
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January 25th, 2008, 17:51
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
It's not objective, but it was never meant to be objective. It's his opinions on what sucked in games and greatly exaggerates that. That does not mean he didn't find good points in the game or that there was not a moment that he enjoyed himself with it (I assume). It's (presumably) just not funny to talk about a game's high points, or so we are led to believe.

I find it funny and like his stuff, but it's not world-shocking either. I didn't know he was very popular, though! It that a new thing?
You obviously haven't experienced him with a game he liked, as with Beyond Good and Evil, Portal, and presumably a few others. To me, it's not simply about bringing games down, it's about him using humour - or satire if you will - to underline his points. I have no problem with satire, though I suppose that is a predictable assumption given my words on the matter. I'm simply saying that unless a review is objective to a certain degree, I don't personally find it of much interest. I also happen to prefer humour with some significance which typically requires something grounded in reality, but that's just another personal preference. Bringing stuff down just because is simply not amusing to me, but I would hate to give the impression that I'm somehow offended or even moved on any significant emotional level. That's not the case, and I remain quite detached in this case. I guess that might make me a total bore, but so be it.

About him being popular, I have no proof of that. I'm just noticing links to his work everywhere these days, and people are responding to his commentaries a lot on the sites I tend to visit (like octopusoverlords and quartertothree). Maybe that's not popularity as such, but he's certainly a figure people are taking note of these days.
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January 25th, 2008, 17:55
I won't watch the review since I'd rather give this guy a fair chance by listening to a satire of a game I actually hate first instead of one I like. If I listened to this one first it might stoke my ire and make me prejudiced towards all of them.

However, I will say this, on the issue of snobbery among PC (and RPG) elitists: Is a little bit of snobbery such a bad thing, when the other side (the common popular console-playing masses) often do not even acknowledge our existence? If we refuse to take a stand in defence of the more intellectual games we enjoy over the mindless hack-n-slashes and other cliché popular genres, then we are doing ourselves a disservice and contributing to the downfall of our own favorite kind of game. Why is it our responsibility to give dumbed-down console games a fair chance when the typical consumer of that type of game has absolutely no interest in even trying the highly complex games WE enjoy? Most of the people I talk to in real life won't give them a CRPG a second glance! So hey, if we occasionally show a little bit of snobbery toward them when talking amonst ourselves, I think it's warranted. Still, I guess it's bound to happen since we just think harder about this sort of thing than they do. Heh.
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January 25th, 2008, 18:12
DArtagnan: no, there's no detailed guide to not taking him seriously, though he has noted himself he's purposefully not being positive (see: Psychonauts ZP). But considering you came to exactly the same conclusion as I did, albeit after a few more episodes, I'm not sure where this angry "it's just your opinion" is coming from. Isn't it your opinion too? Isn't it, for that matter, apparently the opinion of everyone here.

Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
I find it funny and like his stuff, but it's not world-shocking either. I didn't know he was very popular, though! It that a new thing?
Well, let me put it this way, here is an EscapistMagazine.com user graphic (compared to RPGWatch and GameBanshee for reference). Yahtzee was hired in August. At the end of last year the Escapist had a healthy 150,000-200,000 hits a month, as far as I can tell. At the last known report (a few months back) they now have over 1,000,000 hits a month. Some of that is from their other efforts in overhauling the site but let's not kid ourselves, it's mostly Yahtzee.

Now I like the Escapist, a lot, despite having a tendency to run-in with their staff, but I hope they're not kidding themselves in riding on this gimmick, because that's basically what it is. Their readerbase has surely become less…well…less eloquent, to put it mildly. I haven't noticed a real drop-off in article quality, and that's good, but maybe someone disagrees on the point.

So hey, if we occasionally show a little bit of snobbery toward them when talking amonst ourselves, I think it's warranted.
I don't think snobbery is ever really "warranted". But then again, I don't take it very seriously myself. I think the only people who make a big deal about not being snobs are those who are offended by snobbery myself. And I'm not. People can feel superior to me all they want, why would that matter to me?
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January 25th, 2008, 19:09
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
Come on now, the need to research every creature in the game (even after killing scores of them) to even know what it is youre looking at is pretty ridiculous. The fact that lots of quests depend on you knowing a bunch of almost random ones compounds it, it's totally frustrating. Time to run around buying $400 books, even after investing talent points in monster lore. Better hope you can even find the damn book. It's stupid as hell.

And dont even get me started on the herbs

Not to hijack a thread but I wish you really knew what you are complaining about xSamhainx! You don't have to buy and read every book in the game. Talking to people, checking abandoned houses and putting a couple of bronze and silver talents into intelligence does the trick just as well. Almost all the info and books you need can be got for nothing or next to nothing.
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January 25th, 2008, 19:10
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
DArtagnan: no, there's no detailed guide to not taking him seriously, though he has noted himself he's purposefully not being positive (see: Psychonauts ZP). But considering you came to exactly the same conclusion as I did, albeit after a few more episodes, I'm not sure where this angry "it's just your opinion" is coming from. Isn't it your opinion too? Isn't it, for that matter, apparently the opinion of everyone here.
I assure you, I haven't felt the slightest hint of anger towards you. I don't get worked up over exchanges as small as these, and even when I'm passionate about something I generally excel at keeping my feelings in check when posting, and I'm not passionate about this.

However, you made a claim as if it was fact and now you reveal that it's merely your opinion. I find it interesting that I have to be angry just because I prefer making my own interpretations. My opinion is that he's not sufficiently objective to be of use to me, but I still don't know what everyone else seems to know - that it's apparently the entire point of the site.

I will remain sceptical until I see something to convince me, and I have to assume that people mean what they say even if they spice it up with humour. As I said, I don't really see the point otherwise. I fully admit, though, that I might just be totally dense.
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January 25th, 2008, 19:14
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
However, you made a claim as if it was fact and now you reveal that it's merely your opinion. I find it interesting that I have to be angry just because I prefer making my own interpretations. My opinion is that he's not sufficiently objective to be of use to me, but I still don't know what everyone else seems to know - that it's apparently the entire point of the site.
Something Awful's reviews of games don't contain instructions that they're not to be taken seriously either. It's kind of implied. Just like Zero Punctuation is satire and thus implied not to be serious, in addition to him noticing several times that he can't be nice to games because people don't like it. Hell, there's no real reason to assume he's being serious about his stated opinions, is there?

But hell, since you agree it's not to be taken seriously anyway, what's the diff? That's enough of that for me.
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January 25th, 2008, 19:23
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Something Awful's reviews of games don't contain instructions that they're not to be taken seriously either. It's kind of implied. Just like Zero Punctuation is satire and thus implied not to be serious, in addition to him noticing several times that he can't be nice to games because people don't like it. Hell, there's no real reason to assume he's being serious about his stated opinions, is there?

But hell, since you agree it's not to be taken seriously anyway, what's the diff? That's enough of that for me.
Well, of course we shouldn't continue if you feel upset. That wasn't my intention, I just wanted to clarify.

The thing is simple, maybe they're not MEANT to be taken seriously but really, try to think about that. Why would he comment on popular games if he had absolutely nothing meaningful to say? Why is the commentary funny if it doesn't have something that rings true? I personally found many of his commentaries amusing precisely because he had good points that were based in reality - like the fact that Bioshock was made to suit a more casual audience than similar games in the past.

I have no great love for the Witcher, but I found much of his commentary lacking in terms of being founded in reality. It became bitching for the mere sake of bitching, which is apparently what you and others have expected all along. In that case I might be in the minority when I say that I felt many of his past commentaries were full of valid points, and the humour helped underline them and bring them across. I will reserve the right to believe that was partially his attention all along, and until I hear otherwise I don't think it's fair of you to expect me to change my mind because you feel differently.

Now, I probably can't be anymore clear, so if this hasn't clarified things sufficiently then you're likely right. That's enough of that.
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January 25th, 2008, 19:33
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
W In that case I might be in the minority when I say that I felt many of his past commentaries were full of valid points.
Oh, hang on, I wasn't contesting that. Loaded with valid points. But the thing is, ZP as a medium has to focus on the negative side of games. Would you purchase BioShock based on his bit? It's a purposefully one-sided look at games; he takes an in-depth look at what's wrong and barely a glance at what isn't unless the game wowed his pants of (see: Portal).

My contention is that if you're going to purposefully highlight only one side, then you're technically being biased, since you'll never going to give the full picture.

Now Yahtzee simply doesn't know RPGs, and he knows even less about PC RPGs, so yes, if you shove the Witcher into his hands his negative valid points turn into negative invalid points. But they're still purposefully negative points, valid or not.
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January 25th, 2008, 19:55
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Oh, hang on, I wasn't contesting that. Loaded with valid points. But the thing is, ZP as a medium has to focus on the negative side of games. Would you purchase BioShock based on his bit? It's a purposefully one-sided look at games; he takes an in-depth look at what's wrong and barely a glance at what isn't unless the game wowed his pants of (see: Portal).

My contention is that if you're going to purposefully highlight only one side, then you're technically being biased, since you'll never going to give the full picture.

Now Yahtzee simply doesn't know RPGs, and he knows even less about PC RPGs, so yes, if you shove the Witcher into his hands his negative valid points turn into negative invalid points. But they're still purposefully negative points, valid or not.
To me, there's a difference between focusing on the negative and not being consistent or knowledgable about that which he writes. I have no problem with the satirical and "negative tone" aspects of his reviews, and indeed that's probably the source of much of the humour. You can remain partially objective even if you have the intention to be negative, as long as you don't lose sight of what you're dealing with. It wouldn't be the best source of objective journalism, for sure, but it would still be useful to me as long as he remained informed and consistent.

I have a problem when he jumps around in his views, which is exactly how I read his complaints about the complex and "hardcore" nature of the Witcher. In several of his previous commentaries, he's bitched endlessly about the dumbing down of many games, like the case was with Halo 3 and Bioshock. He was craving more complex features, including RPG features like a traditional inventory (Bioshock) and lamented how it was obviously simplified for the console tards. Sure, you could make a case that he didn't want such features like they were implemented in the Witcher, but if you have an understanding of the genre you will know that the implementation is not a big negative in an objective sense.

Naturally, I can't prove that he has changed, but to me he's increasingly becoming more about the inventive bitching, than the excellent points he used to include - a gimmick as you say. The end result is a much less amusing and much less useful site, but this is all about my own personal opinion.

I should also note that I never buy products based on reviews, or at least extremely rarely. I just take pleasure in reading (or listening) to reviews that are made by informed and objective people. It helps me to articulate my own points of view and sometimes it even manages to change my mind about the occasional title. So, I would never use any review site as a guide to my purchases. It's just another way to pass the time.

If I had followed his review, I might not have bought Bioshock, no. Though I found he was reasonably fair regarding the good points, and I'm a huge fan of that particular subgenre, so I don't think his negative tone would have dissuaded me. In fact, that was one review where I agreed almost 100% and had I done it myself, I might very well have sounded equally negative and I don't have a need to be gimmicky. So, you see, I never considered the site a pure gimmick, and I'm still not convinced that was his original intention - at least not all the way.
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January 25th, 2008, 22:20
I haven't noticed a real drop-off in article quality, and that's good, but maybe someone disagrees on the point.
I remember it launching with this air of intelligent thought towards the subject of games, but as I recall people saying this started to diminish over time. Of course, I never kept score or consistently read their articles, so I have no personal opinion of it.

As to snobbery, I don't understand why it is ever necessary. I mean, it exists on both sides, but just the same there are people that simply enjoy games and I would hope that is the vast majority of true game lovers. Surely there is the mainstream console crowd, and it may even impact the PC market, but as a game lover, I've gone from cartridge-based consoles from before the time of home computers, to the Commodore 64, to simple PC games, to advanced PC games, to simple console games, to advanced console games, and I've loved them all. But I've said all of this before…
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January 25th, 2008, 23:09
Loved it… and no, it's certainly not objective - it's pretty obvious that the guy greatly exaggerated "The Witcher"'s flaws. But nonetheless, some of his points are very valid. I'd say it's the overdue reaction to all the totally uncritical reviews out there which praise the game as if it were near perfect.

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