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Default Hard to be a God - Review @ GameBanshee

March 25th, 2008, 23:34
The anticipated review by Brother None of Hard to be a God is now up at GameBanshee. The article criticises the camera, translation and dialogue in particular but finds some minor positives for a score of 6.7/10. Here's a bit on disguises, which is one of the more interesting ideas Burut included:
To deepen this out a bit, the game has a handful of disguises you can wear. There are five different roles you can assume on top of the standard role (which is mercenary) and they will influence you quite a bit (the guide says six roles, but as far as I could figure thief and robber are the same role). Robbers won't attack you if you're dressed up as one of them, but on the other hand baron's guards will. The Free Republic of Arkanar guards don't mind mercenaries or even robbers, but will attack you if you look like a noble don. It's a bit ridiculous that even people that know you will sometimes not recognize you if you're in the wrong get-up. But other than this it is pretty well-applied, and offers some alternatives in quests, such as walking up to robbers dressed as one of them and getting them to flee by warning them the guards are on the way. To assume a role, you have to wear 5 matching pieces on 6 possible slots (heavy armor, light armor, hat, cloak, pants, shoes). You can't switch roles if someone is watching you.
What's a bit weird is that nobody seems to care how you solve the problems you face. In fact, people don't care what you do much at all. A good example: at one point, you'll be stopped by a group of guards and told to see their leader. The first time, I just did what they suggested and talked to their boss. Then I tried the alternative, namely fighting them all off and then storming the city gates to escape. My escape was successful, but I then found that even knowing where to go I couldn't progress the main quest without talking to their boss. So I went back and talked to him. Did he mention that I killed two dozen of his men? Did any of the remaining guards care? Heck no. The reactivity of the world is pretty damned low.
More information.

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March 25th, 2008, 23:34
Nice to read! Too bad the game has so many issues, but I appreciate you taking the time to run through the good, bad AND ugly of it all.

Sometimes I wish they would just leave the voice work alone and subtitle things like they do for movies and spend more time there.

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March 26th, 2008, 00:03
The problem with many game reviewers is that they don't understand how the 0-10 scale works. An average game is 5/10. 7/10 (which is roughly what 6.7/10 is) signifies a good game, well worth buying.

Which, sadly, is not what Hard to be a God is.

It's, at best, completely average, but IMO even calling it that is giving it too much credit. There's nothing really _good_ about it at all, despite the initially interesting setting it's all just dull, dull, dull. Combat is poor, the story is boring, the dialogs are complete crap, the quests are less fun than the most generic fetch-quest in Oblivion, the world is artificial and uninteresting…

No. This game is not worth bothering with. And it's not worth 7/10.

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March 26th, 2008, 00:11
Who says 5/10 is average? That might be the scale you would prefer but I assure you it isn't how the majority of review scores work. Using a grade school system, 5/10 is essentially a failure and 7/10 is average.

According to their review scoring guide:

6.0 through 6.9:

Some, perhaps many, may truly enjoy this game, but it requires that you overlook a significant drawback or two, and likely requires some patience on your part to make it through. Occasionally, a game in this category has exceptional gameplay but is lacking in graphics and/or sound (or vice versa) and is still worthy of a purchase if on discount. PC Games falling in this category (and in any other) may improve significantly over time with patches.

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March 26th, 2008, 00:27
"anticipated" oh my

That said, I even had to slice it down a bit. For instance, I couldn't rant on the disguises part how completely and terribly unmanageable this is with HtbaG's inventory system. The disguises take up half your inventory space and there's no way to sort them. Insanely annoying.

Originally Posted by unregostered View Post
The problem with many game reviewers is that they don't understand how the 0-10 scale works. An average game is 5/10. 7/10 (which is roughly what 6.7/10 is) signifies a good game, well worth buying.
It does? Sorry, I use continental school scales (even though that traditionally goes from 1-10, yes), making 6.0-6.9 average, and 7.0-7.9 above average. 8.0 and above would be good.

Which is pretty much what our rating system clarifies.

But to be honest, I'm not fond of our rating system myself. If you had read the review, you might have noticed this sentence.
So that begs the question, is it worth it? Hard to be a God is actually a bit of a difficult game to answer that question for (and as such the rating below is not all that meaningful)

Am I being unfair if I assume you just jumped to the rating and from there to your conclusion, skipping over the disclaimer and explanation of who might like this game?

It's funny because the actual text of the review more or less agrees with your opinion that HtbaG is not really "good" and has a lot of major flaws, but I guess you skipped over that.

Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Nice to read! Too bad the game has so many issues, but I appreciate you taking the time to run through the good, bad AND ugly of it all.

Sometimes I wish they would just leave the voice work alone and subtitle things like they do for movies and spend more time there.
Man way too much time. I kinda enjoyed the game, though, didn't finish my second playthrough but neither was it a chore ('cept for the camera). This game has a certain draw.

And yes, no reason for them not to put Russian VOs on the disc. They didn't, though. Shame. Would've been much better.
Last edited by Brother None; March 26th, 2008 at 00:38.
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March 26th, 2008, 00:29
Originally Posted by unregostered View Post
The problem with many game reviewers is that they don't understand how the 0-10 scale works.
And the problem with some readers is that they have decided how the scale should work for all sites, and don't bother reading the site's scoring guidelines or even the text of the reviews … they just see a score and check if it matches their pre-conceived notions and if not (for good or bad) rail against the number …

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March 26th, 2008, 00:32
How true, we have the same problem here and we had it back at the Dot!! Perhaps we should all try A-E??!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 26th, 2008, 00:53
I have to say an A-E system is on the surface kind of childish sounding, but at least it leaves less room for variation and confusion.

Excellent review, Brother None. I only played the demo, but you hit on many of the problems I had with it.
I also appreciated your description of the horseback combat—it seems like something that's getting inserted into games lately regardless of whether it makes much sense or not. It's functionality seems appropriate here as you describe it—that is fairly realistic in implementation, but why would the designers think you would want to fight from a horse in a dark narrow alley? (Because you can, I guess). At least they gave you reasons to try to jump off and play rationally by including special dismount-only moves, similar to how Sacred handled it, IIRC.

Anyway, I thought the score was clear and appropriate and enjoyed the in-depth look at the game.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 26th, 2008, 01:27
I'd prefer a colour rating.

From glowing red ("this game is red hot, baby! Get it now!) down through to cooling blues ("Oh, it's okay, I guess…") through to putrid green ("This game is rotten. Don't even let your dog near it").

You could even throw in multiple opinions and have a veritable rating rainbow.

(Yes, I've drunk too much coffee)

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March 26th, 2008, 04:08
Are you sure it was coffee Shags? You Kiwis have some weird stuff; all my Maori friends prove it!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 26th, 2008, 11:21
I salute Dhruin's little beauty of a snippet —>

[Some, perhaps many, may truly enjoy this game, but it requires that you overlook a significant drawback or two, and likely requires some patience on your part to make it through. Occasionally, a game in this category has exceptional gameplay but is lacking in graphics and/or sound (or vice versa) and is still worthy of a purchase if on discount. PC Games falling in this category (and in any other) may improve significantly over time with patches.]

Well said! - sadly some newer contemporary action-rpg'ers are not quite capable of appreciating this very practical gaming viewpoint, i've played some excellent "bummers" in the past.
…………………………………………..
I loved the music, the open sound especially the acoustic bass is exceptional when listened through 5.1 surround system.

I found, whilst playing the demo, that i only had to change *ONE* item to change to role of a thief and that was the thiefs breastplate, the shoes and other items still being worn to continue in a different role. So the almost impossible wardrobe situation mentioned might not be as daunting as suggested, carrying the *least effective* clothing items could well prove to be a strategic gameplay element.
………………………………………….
Another point system from yesteryear (used in some game magazines) was to begin at 50% minimum, 75% being middle or average. This precludes that any game receives 50% for the sheer effort of making the game from concept to release.

looking forward to playing this game in depth.
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March 26th, 2008, 15:30
I played beyond divinity through allthough the reviews were not so good. I guess I felt the need to do it just because divine divinity was so good.

In the end though it was just a mediocre rpg that I could have easily lived without ever trying even. Somtimes mediocre is just that.
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March 26th, 2008, 19:56
Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
I found, whilst playing the demo, that i only had to change *ONE* item to change to role of a thief and that was the thiefs breastplate, the shoes and other items still being worn to continue in a different role. So the almost impossible wardrobe situation mentioned might not be as daunting as suggested, carrying the *least effective* clothing items could well prove to be a strategic gameplay element.
Yes, 4 pieces = not a thief, 5 pieces = a thief

But that doesn't make it easier in the main game, where there are 6 roles to switch between. Don and thief are particularly often used, but you're going to have to switch to monk and grey one too.
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March 26th, 2008, 21:39
A limited capacity inventory can be a good thing to make the player think, but considering the gothic series where you can carry the whole world in your pack-pack is somehow forgiven within the fantasy of the games. The pack-horses in Dungeon Siege II being a good example of a credible yet feasible carrying solution.

Anyway, thanks BN for the fairly critical but direct and informative review, this is better than pulling punches, it gives credibillity which i prefer, much better than some glossed-over (read: favourable) reviews. I believe those minor positives could just sway this game.
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March 26th, 2008, 23:06
Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
A limited capacity inventory can be a good thing to make the player think, but considering the gothic series where you can carry the whole world in your pack-pack is somehow forgiven within the fantasy of the games. The pack-horses in Dungeon Siege II being a good example of a credible yet feasible carrying solution.
That's not my problem, it is usability that bothered me. There's no "put on thief's outfit" button, which would've been a life-safer.

Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
Anyway, thanks BN for the fairly critical but direct and informative review, this is better than pulling punches, it gives credibillity which i prefer, much better than some glossed-over (read: favourable) reviews. I believe those minor positives could just sway this game.
Like I said, I'm not going to recommend it, but I definitely enjoyed it myself despite some clear annoyances. I liked the plot and the world-building in particular. But it's pretty clear not everyone will feel that way.

Originally Posted by mag
I also appreciated your description of the horseback combat—it seems like something that's getting inserted into games lately regardless of whether it makes much sense or not. It's functionality seems appropriate here as you describe it—that is fairly realistic in implementation, but why would the designers think you would want to fight from a horse in a dark narrow alley? (Because you can, I guess). At least they gave you reasons to try to jump off and play rationally by including special dismount-only moves, similar to how Sacred handled it, IIRC.
Hard to be a God really does it better than others, but keep in mind they also simplify it down a lot, so it's not a lot of fun to do either.
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March 27th, 2008, 21:13
Dhruin: Why on earth would someone use a scale where more than half of it signifies a failure? That is complete idiocy. But okay, I was not aware that the GameBanshee-site used that kind of scale, so apologies for assuming they used a mathematical scale like every other site I visit. You are right, though; I should have checked first. But at least this taught me never to take any scores from GameBanshee into account when I consider buying a game.

As an aside, it's a bit problematic that scores from such sites are counted equally as scores from sites which use a mathematical scale where 5.5 (or 5 if they have 0 as a valid score) is average at sites such as GameRankings and MetaCritic. I wasn't aware of this, and it does kind of make the statistics at GameRankings etc. fairly useless (esp. if many sites use this "continental school scale").

Brother None: Yes, I read that bit. I didn't read the entire review, but that was one of the parts I did read. It doesn't change anything, though. As long as putting a score at the end of the review is part of your job, you can't just make a disclaimer and basically tell people to ignore it.

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March 27th, 2008, 21:28
Like every site you visit? There are certainly some sites that use your scale but they are in the minority, so I would suggest they are skewing Ganerankings (etc) and not the other way around. To be honest, I hate aggregation sites, anyway. Why would I want to see arbitrary scores without the supporting text to validate the opinion?

A quick look at Gamerankings shows Hard to be a God currently holds 64% - about what I would expect and very much in line with GameBanshee. If you look at other games you consider "average", I'm pretty confident you'll find they mostly score in 6-7 range from readers and not 5.

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March 27th, 2008, 22:42
Originally Posted by unregostered View Post
assuming they used a mathematical scale like every other site I visit.
What Dhruin says is correct - almost *no* sites really use the 1-10 scale … GamesForWindows mag claims to and does on occasion, but even within a single issue there are clearly more games rated on the '7 to 9 scale' than on the 1-10 scale.

I would really love to hear about all of these sites using the full 1-10 scale.

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March 28th, 2008, 03:53
Originally Posted by unregostered View Post
But at least this taught me never to take any scores from GameBanshee into account when I consider buying a game.
Really?

The lesson you should have learned is not to sail blindly on ratings and instead read reviews to see what they actually say, in which case you would've seen here that the review agrees a lot with your own opinion.

This is the big disadvantage of ratings, when people just jump on them instead of reading the text. That's not actually their purpose.

Originally Posted by unregostered View Post
I wasn't aware of this, and it does kind of make the statistics at GameRankings etc. fairly useless (esp. if many sites use this "continental school scale").
GameBanshee isn't carried by either MetaCritic or GameRankings, AFAIK.

Originally Posted by unregostered View Post
Brother None: Yes, I read that bit. I didn't read the entire review, but that was one of the parts I did read. It doesn't change anything, though. As long as putting a score at the end of the review is part of your job, you can't just make a disclaimer and basically tell people to ignore it.
Considering that's exactly what I did, I'd say "yes I can".

I've discussed the rating system with the head editor before and we both have our issues with it, but it's a carry-over from before. That doesn't mean I have no right to ask of my readers to consider my text before they jump to conclusions based on the end ratings. The end ratings are fine and I stand behind them, but you shouldn't blame me for people too lazy to consider the text before the rating.
Last edited by Brother None; March 28th, 2008 at 04:01.
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