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August 19th, 2007, 11:35
The Leipzig Games Convention starts next week and we'll have heaps of news on upcoming games - so we have just enough time to catch up on some articles we fell behind on. Our original Dark Messiah review didn't pan out, but Mike Anderson decided to go back take a look at how Arkane's action romp stands the test of time:

My basic description of Dark Messiah Might and Magic is "Half Life 2 meets Arx Fatalis meets Blade of Darkness." The game is powered by the Half-Life 2 Engine, developed by the same folks who brought us Arx Fatalis and based in the storied Might & Magic universe, and features a visceral melee combat style reminiscent of the brutal action game Blade of Darkness (Severence to some). The game has already angered fans of both role-playing games, because this effort took Arkane studios away from making Arx Fatalis 2 and also because this game has very little to do with the Might & Magic franchise, other than using the name.
Unfortunately that is only the tip of the iceberg of what is wrong. Let me get one thing out of the way for those who have played the demo or some of the game and are outraged at the score - this game can be loads of fun. I finished it, went back and played more using a different skill-tree approach and keep loading old saves just to play through some of the areas. It is fun - but that doesn't mean it's very good. Look at it this way - when my kids were toddlers they would often like the box more than the toy that came in the box; but that doesn't make the box a great toy.
Read it here.
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August 19th, 2007, 11:35
The article is well written and brings up several good points, but I fail to understand the score.

According to the review, playing the game was great fun, and the gameplay was still interesting when starting over with a different character build. This can not be claimed for many games, and although it is a while since I played Dark Messiah myself, I agree with the reviewer on this point.

The main purpose of a game is to be fun being played. This purpose is achieved and the game excels in it, and the comparison with the great looking toy box does not fit at all, since the main purpose of a toy is not to look at its wrapping!

The reviewer is probably of the opinion that an action movie deserves a score of 2/5 if it was not completely realistic and does not compare well to an epic drama storywise. The complains in level design are not being about them being uninspired and boring, but in being unrealistic; these are points worth mentioning, but is level design and storyline bad enough to not want to play the game anymore? Apparently not. And remembering my own experience, I still fondly remember the necromancer castle, including the pieces of paper and books lying around just for atmosphere. I wanted to complete the game to see the end. True, Leanna had an uncanny ability to appear in unlikely places, but the story kept me playing and the lack of realism did not destroy the atmosphere.

For an RPG, the rating might be justified, since they are supposed to transport you into an imagined, believable, world, and a lack of realism quickly hurls you out of it. But here? I found myself too distracted by the action to be bothered. Well, maybe I did not get the point, but for me, this is an action game first and foremost, it is addictive enough to keep you playing and you enjoy the experience. Therefore, the score should be high.
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August 19th, 2007, 11:35
Well, I dont agree at all and I think giving it 2/5 is very unfair (look at other titles that score 40% in reviews). It might be a linear action game, but it never pretended to be more than that. The combat is fun, the levels are nice (IMO), it looks good and runs well on my system. The story is very cliche, but this certainly goes for many other games. I would give it 75% at least… in this scoring system, 4/5.

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August 19th, 2007, 11:54
@Kasper, you can't compare those two scoring systems. Hardly any games are scored 40% and those games that are scored 75% actually equals a somewhat low score or at least a mediocre score. I like the rating system that RPGWatch utilizes. I think I would've given Dark Messiah a 2.5/5 but I suppose that is a minor difference.
Last edited by Asbjoern; August 19th, 2007 at 12:20.
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August 19th, 2007, 12:14
@Asbjoern: Mike Anderson himself basically says the score is low…
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August 19th, 2007, 12:19
Originally Posted by coyote View Post
@Asbjoern: Mike Anderson himself basically says the score is low…
Well, I haven't said the score is high, so I don't quite understand what you mean. 2/5 is a low score, yes. I would've given Dark Messiah 0.5 more but that isn't an impressive score either.

Am I missing out on something?
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August 19th, 2007, 12:25
Please read the scoring system linked at the bottom of the review. It's not = 40% (and 75% does not necessarily equate to 4/5)! By all means disagree - go for it, discuss, tell us we suck - but understand the scoring.

-= RPGWatch =-
Last edited by Dhruin; August 19th, 2007 at 12:32.
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August 19th, 2007, 13:26
I give the review a 3/5.
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August 19th, 2007, 13:42
Score 2 (of 5): A game that has significant flaws or stale gameplay but may still offer some enjoyment to fans of the genre or subject.

Understanding the score… success.

Alright, it still seems to be an unfair score for Dark Messiah in my opinion, and the review article does not explain why the score should be as low as it is. I understand that it is quite easy to bash any game by repeatedly brandishing one detail or another, and weighing these details more than anything else, and this is exactly what you have done here.

You do not suck - infact I admire your work for this news site, which is the only gaming site whose RSS feed is on my Google home page, but the article as sure as hell is biased and gives a logic fallacy as reason for the low score.

As far as I care, go ahead an bash games, but if you want your reviews to be taken seriously, then give plausible reasons for the score, try to remain fair, and learn from your readers instead of stubbornly standing on some high "the highest reasoning is my own opinion" pedestal.
Last edited by coyote; August 19th, 2007 at 14:16.
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August 19th, 2007, 14:10
"It is fun - but that doesn't mean it's very good. Look at it this way - when my kids were toddlers they would often like the box more than the toy that came in the box; but that doesn't make the box a great toy."


I've never played the game, but after actually reading the review, and reading what the score means, it all adds up and makes sense. This is a very comprehensive review. If anyone disagrees with the score, I'd like to see them articulate how. Maybe people are just too used to a broken scoring system that if a system that tries to actually work is used they get all whinny.

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August 19th, 2007, 14:19
@1111: my first reply was not articulate enough for you? Please give some articulate reason yourself instead of just stating your affirmation of the article! I have yet to see any reply to that. But of course you might prefer to just accuse those who disagree with the article of whining. Go ahead, kiddo.
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August 19th, 2007, 14:42
I read yours first, and by the time I finished the thread, it was a distant memory. But articulate you did.


"For an RPG, the rating might be justified, since they are supposed to transport you into an imagined, believable, world, and a lack of realism quickly hurls you out of it. But here? I found myself too distracted by the action to be bothered. Well, maybe I did not get the point, but for me, this is an action game first and foremost, it is addictive enough to keep you playing and you enjoy the experience. Therefore, the score should be high."

Is this an action game site or an rpg site? What should be the sites narritive when reviewing a game? A game could be a fantatsic action game and a shit rpg, and on what side should a site called rpg watch fall? Action or rpg? And a game can be fun and still not be that good. How long can it keep your interest? Etc, etc. When does that action become to repetetive and then become a hastle and a grind? We could go on all day, talking in abstract, making sunjective opinions and points, but that doesn't change the fact that the text of the review, the narrative of the review, and the score (when considering the scoring system) add up and fit and make sense.

If you say, "therefore, the score should be high," because of an opinion, that doesn't make the reviewer's opinion wrong. Opinions can't be wrong. Did the revioeiwer say anything that was factually wrong? And what part of the text do you disagree with? And exactly where does the text and the scoring system diverge?

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August 19th, 2007, 14:47
As a standalone action game, I thought it was better than 2 stars. I like a ten star rating system, and I'd give it a 7/10. However it's frustrating to me that the Might and Magic franchise seems to be going in every direction other than RPG's, so in that sense it's disappointing, because this is pretty far away from being a CRPG and MILES away from, say, Might and Magic VII.
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August 19th, 2007, 14:53
And I thought this one would be hard pressed to attract any comments.

We chose a 5-star rating with the particular descriptions because it's simple, uses the whole scoring range (not just 7-9)…and no half marks - editors ultimately have to commit one way or the other.

-= RPGWatch =-
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August 19th, 2007, 15:24
@1111: thanks for the answer.

You say that as an RPG site, each game should be reviewed as an RPG. If Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is reviewed not on the basis of it being a good game, but on the basis of it being a good RPG, my score might be even lower than 2. However, this should be mentioned in the article: "be aware, we are not rating this based on how much fun it is, but we are rating how the game fares as an RPG". This is not done.

Regarding "fun but still no good": both Mike and me agree on the point that the game is fun and even has some replay viability. It kept our interests and playing it did not become a hastle. Sure, the combat gets repetitive at some point, but less so than in most other games. Infact, I would be hard pressed to name any other RPG or action game where the combat stays interesting as long as it does in Dark Messiah, and I got the feeling that the reviewer thinks similarly on this point. For me, a fun game is a game that stays fun till the end, which already includes being addictive enough to keep me playing. There is surprisingly little room for subjectivity in this definition.

I understand that it was frustrating that Dark Messiah did not become the CRPG we all wanted it to be, but when we bought the game, it was crystal clear that we would not buy an RPG, but a first person shooter in a fantasy world with RPG light character development. This game was not advertised as a full blown RPG, so it should not be scored as one, unless this is explicitly stated in the review article.
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August 19th, 2007, 15:32
Not a great game - but the combat is fun. Source engine still is atmospheric as well.
Hmmm a 3/5 from me.
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August 19th, 2007, 15:38
My defense isn't about the rpgness of the game, I was just replying to your point. My whole argument is based around three things:

1) Text of the review

2) The rating system

3) The text and final score matching, and making sense within the site's rating system.

Some times you read a review and the score just does not match. An example would be Corwin's Bard's Tale review on rpgdot. It was a good review, but I personally don't think what was said and what the score was matched. No biggy, just read the text and make your own score up from what you read and the weight you place in the pros and cons.

Some reviewers just don't have an idea what they are talking about, that makes a review invalid in my opinion. If the reviewer can't get facts right, or says stupid shit in genral, why would anyone put any weight at all in the review boogles my mind.

I never played this game so I have no idea how I'd frade it. Maybe I'd give it a 10/10 or a 1/1. I have no idea until I actually play it. I'm saying that the review (text) and the score fit together within rpgwatch's scoring system. This was a good review. It was very informative and gives you a good idea of if you might be interested ijn buying the game, or if this game is something you might enjoy. Of course, if people just look at the score, which it seems a lot of people are doing before posting (not including you coyote) and are seeing a 2/5 without reading what a 2/5 means for a game they might have enjoyed, of course the comments posted are natural and expected.

But I ask you, does the text match up with the score and make sense within rpgwatch's scoring system? Yes or no?

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August 19th, 2007, 15:44
"Some reviewers just don't have an idea what they are talking about, that makes a review invalid in my opinion. If the reviewer can't get facts right, or says stupid shit in genral, why would anyone put any weight at all in the review boogles my mind."

Reading through what I wrote, this part might seem like it linked to Corwin's review of BT. It isn't. Corwin's review was good, I just don't think the text and score matched. This part was more about just shit reviews, like some reviews of UFO:ET, that one about NWN2 that was more of a rant about numbers, a lot of Oblivion reviews, Gothic 3 reviews, etc, etc. We've all seen and read them. Someone retarded had to review a game, looked at some screenshots, played for a couple minutes, and then wrote some gibber jabber that had nothing to do with anything, good or bad.

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August 19th, 2007, 15:44
I thought Dark Messiah was a pretty good game. But trying to see the big picture, it bugs me that the Might and Magic license is heading in this direction. Is anyone ever going to get around to making a Might and Magic CRPG again?
Last edited by Sir Markus; August 19th, 2007 at 15:51.
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August 19th, 2007, 15:47
No. RPGS don't sell well or make money. Its better to make a FPS with a couple numbers so you can market it to various crowds under different genres.

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