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August 19th, 2007, 16:51
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
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.
Well, maybe it's not possible to equate 2/5 with 40% - but you have a scoring system where 1 is worst game ever and 5 is a gaming gem, so put it down in words anyway you like but 2/5 is still a very very low score.

"A game that has significant flaws or stale gameplay but may still offer some enjoyment to fans of the genre or subject."

This simply does not sound like DM to me! What *significant* flaws does it have when you consider it as an action game and consider what they wanted to achieve with the game? If you had severe technical problems on your machine then I guess the score could have been 3/5 ("A score of 3/5 indicates a good game held back by obvious technical or design issues that limit the appeal.") but since it ran like dream on my machine with high frame rates in 1600x1200 and no crashes during the whole game, and since I enjoyed the action and level design quite a lot, then I guess my score would be 4/5 as I mentioned earlier.

Review scores are of course always a matter of opinion, so I understand why some might not rate it as high as me. I would have accepted 3/5 without comment but 2/5 just seems so completely unfair and overly harsh for the good people at Arkane, so I had to comment it
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August 19th, 2007, 17:28
I'll have to disagree at least with one point too. Realism (or the probability
or logic of the setting) while nice to have, are not exactly the rule of thumb
for a fantasy setting. Especially for a flashy action romp.

Are the improbable worlds of Miyazaki or Moebius (to name a few) twisted
vision trite because of their defiance of the laws of physics ?

Its not bad that the artist be allowed a bit of freedom if he wants to create
a more dramatic spectacular background I think.

I do have to admit though that when it comes to RPGs I prefer worlds that
make sence and have a sense of continuity but even then I dont think that,
with a few touches of normalcy and a bit of background story, anything in Dark Messiah would be more more difficult to swallow than your average Fantasy
cRPG setup.

And yes I too I would prefer that they stopped doodling with Hack em Ups and
did Arx2 But I am afraid that now that they got a taste of money and saw where
it comes from…
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August 19th, 2007, 18:26
I enjoyed this game and if it was me reviewing it, I would have awarded it 4/5. I thought it was loads of fun.

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August 19th, 2007, 18:28
Having a scoring system based upon a standard 5 stars but then having a very non-standard explanation for each rating just confuses people. If there is a numeric scoring system it should be understandable compared to other standard scoring systems so that when people are looking at scores of a game from many sites they can compare apples to oranges. If 2/5 represents a game which is very fun then that's a problem with the scoring system and is very misleading.

I agree with most every part of the review although I didn't do much kick spamming at all because my coordination skills with that weren't good. Based upon a standard and understandable scoring system I'd give it a 3/5.
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August 19th, 2007, 20:24
I agreed with almost all of the review. Even with the rationalization, I too felt the scoring was off and felt it strongly reflected a 3/5, but I think numerical scoring systems are pointless anyways. I believe, as likely you all do, that anyone who judges a game based on a score instead of reading a review is being foolish, unless that person knows the reviewer very well and can trust that the reviewer has nearly identical tastes, and that's rare even in action gaming, much less RPGing. So I'll drop that issue for being pretty irrelevant to the main body of work done by the reviewer.

Reading the review I was reminded of the story of Dark Messiah. Oh my, it was painful. The best term I can use is plucked right from the review, "juvenile". The voice acting wasn't necessarily so bad because the voice actors couldn't act. I don't think they were given a chance by the awful writing. I wanted the same checkbox as the reviewer simply so I wouldn't have to cringe at the dialogue. And I even enjoy fan-play in games, but I too had to roll my eyes at the female character designs.

I'm ambivalent about the level design. On the one hand I didn't feel it was significantly worse than any other action game and largely promoted fun. On the other hand, I'm one of those who believe realism should be a primary goal in game development, even with the consequences. So I'd rate the level design average.

My only real disagreement in the body of the review, and it's a minor point, was regarding "kick-spamming". Just don't do it. I didn't. If you find something that makes a game too easy or repetitive, just don't do it. Exercise some self control. (Yes this sounds just like my argument about mastering every skill in Oblivion.) When I saw someone just begging for a kick I did it…and I enjoyed it! But otherwise I focused on what my character was good at, whether it be stealth kills, arrows across a chasm, or slicing and dicing with a sword. I generally found the "environmental kills" to be unsatisfying because the aforementioned level design just made them too obvious. So I spaced them out and kept them fun.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the review, commend the reviewer, and think it's a good one for anyone with an interest in Dark Messiah to read.

You know… 2/5 suddenly seems justified when I remember my righteous fury at Arx Fatalis 2 getting bumped for a pure action game! ARGH!
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August 19th, 2007, 20:28
Considering the review alone, the comparison used to demonstrate why a game could deserve a low score despite being fun is not conclusive. A toy less fun to play with than you have looking at its box fails its purpose, which is obviously not to create high expectations by featuring a nice box, but a game you have fun playing till the very end does exactly what a good game should do. While I agree with the critisism of the game in the article, I still do not get why someone would give a low rating to a game he thoroughly enjoyed and even intends to keep on his hard disk for continued playing.

Considering also my own experience with the game, the review stresses the fact that the level layout was not always plausible to the point where it sounds like a major fault, despite my own impression that many levels were very atmospheric and carefully laid out. The story was clichéd, true, but for an action game it seemed above average still. Thus, first I feel that readers who have not played the game yet might be misled by the low score, although if they follow the suggestion to play the demo they should be able to form their own opinion, and second, since rpgwatch is my favorite gaming news site, I suppose that bringing up some constructive criticism is only going to help in the long run.
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August 19th, 2007, 21:10
After reading this I would like to see you give four or five stars to a game that is no fun. You know, in the sense that even though your children would rather play with the packaging, the toy itself is really great (somehow).

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August 19th, 2007, 21:18
Hey all - thanks for all the comments! I have a couple of thoughts:
- My original reviews at other sites were 5/10 and 2.5 out of 5.
- Coming to a no-half star system I played the entire game through again to decide whether it was a 2 star or 3 star. The more I play the game, the more I feel comfortable with the score.
- That said, I understand people who would score it higher.
- Also, this is a sort of game that makes me hate score systems - I would rather we spend time discussing whether or not the horrific level design impacted your immersion than whether the game should be a 2/3/4-star game.

— Mike
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August 19th, 2007, 21:26
@yonsito: did you reply to my post? If read out of the context of the article the toy story might be a bit confusing, since I spend only a few words on it.
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August 19th, 2007, 21:57
Originally Posted by coyote View Post
@yonsito: did you reply to my post? If read out of the context of the article the toy story might be a bit confusing, since I spend only a few words on it.
I agree.

Thing is I used that analogy rather than drumming up loads of crappy games I have enjoyed through the years - fun doesn't make it good. The problem is that there is a small fun element that is part of the combat system that gets quickly over-played yet remains exploit #1 throughout the game … and while I could simply ignore it, the bottom line is that *every* area in the game is designed around kicking enemies.

— Mike
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August 19th, 2007, 23:06
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I would rather we spend time discussing whether or not the horrific level design impacted your immersion than whether the game should be a 2/3/4-star game.
OK. It didn't at all . In fact this is the major point where I completely disagree with your review. I thought that the level design was great, not horrific. I hate games where there is only one way to get to the next part of the level. Dark Messiah did a great job of leading the player through the levels in my opinion. It was very linear, of course, but that is to be expected from a first person fantasy "shooter" on rails. I liked it that you rarely ever had to backtrack and that there were basically no dead-ends. The most annoying level IMHO was the one with the spider where you had to collect those gems or crystals to insert into the spider statue (the only level where you had to do some serious backtracking) but other than that I can't think of a single annoying passage.

Also, I didn't feel like the levels were too artificial. The rooms with the spikes were obviously used as torture chambers by the goblins or the orcs (or whoever was the enemy in the level). There was blood on the floor and old rotten corpses hanging from the spikes. And the rooms with the barrels were often designed as storage rooms so that seemed OK, too. I don't really remember any "Huh? How did that get there?" moments. Not at all. It definitely seemed "natural" enough for a game.

That's why this point of criticism seems a little bit overly critical to me. We could pretty much pick any level in any (fantasy/SciFi… not based on real-world locations/furniture etc.) game apart and find flaws where the setting/scene would seem like a setup just made for the player.

I'm curious to see how you will rate the level design in Bioshock where it seems like the levels are basically set up as one giant playground for the player. Or the whole setting itself. The "credibility" of (or very heavy lack of) a retro-style underworld Utopia is going to have to be explained pretty damned well if we apply such high standards as you do. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind that at all since it's just a game to me and I can live with some fictional design liberties and even some limited silliness but I'll be very curious to see if you, Mike, are going to apply the same high standards then.

That said, I agree with a lot that Coyote has already pointed out. I also think that 2/5 is a bit too harsh. 3/5 or if there were half points 3.5/5 would seem like a more comfy score to me but as a very passionate UbiSoft hater I can very well live with 2/5 just out of spite .
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August 19th, 2007, 23:49
@txa1265: you actually enjoyed playing loads of crappy games? Or is it just that you do not want others to enjoy them, too, so you give them crappy scores?

I agree with the kicking, though. Especially kicking the cyclopes to their untimely demise was a major let down

Ok, just to be serious once more: I can not say it any better than Moriendor; which game does not feel like a playground for the player? Did the houses in NWN ever feel to be the right size when you walked outside? When did you last see a lavatory in Morrowind? The list goes on, yet you hear little complaints about a lack of realism in these games. Consequently, it did not bother me in Dark Messiah, either.

Regarding the kicking, there were plenty of fights without a convenient ledge available - not only those with the cyclopes. On the other hand, it was a convinient way to just get on with the storyline, after you had already beaten the 100th orc the hard way. Possibly, the temptation to kick enemies around is greater on the second playthrough, though, since the familiarity with the level layout makes the opportunities for it more apparent.
Last edited by coyote; August 20th, 2007 at 00:05.
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August 20th, 2007, 00:06
Originally Posted by NFLed View Post
Having a scoring system based upon a standard 5 stars but then having a very non-standard explanation for each rating just confuses people. If there is a numeric scoring system it should be understandable compared to other standard scoring systems so that when people are looking at scores of a game from many sites they can compare apples to oranges. If 2/5 represents a game which is very fun then that's a problem with the scoring system and is very misleading.
What is a standard 5 star system?
On a 1-10 scale almost no game scores below a 6. Comparing our 1-5 star system to a 1-10 numerical score is useless. As it would result in 3 stars (a 6) being the lowest a game normally scores. We wanted to move away from numerical scores and just introduce 5 levels that had no relation to a 1-10 scale or even a 1-5 scale. It can't be compared to a numerical system, that would be like comparing apples with oranges.
And a 2 star score doesn't represent a very fun game, at least not in our system.

Computer n. A machine which flawlessly performs the instructions it is given, no matter how flawed those instructions may be.
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August 20th, 2007, 00:37
Originally Posted by Myrthos View Post
What is a standard 5 star system?
On a 1-10 scale almost no game scores below a 6. Comparing our 1-5 star system to a 1-10 numerical score is useless. As it would result in 3 stars (a 6) being the lowest a game normally scores. We wanted to move away from numerical scores and just introduce 5 levels that had no relation to a 1-10 scale or even a 1-5 scale. It can't be compared to a numerical system, that would be like comparing apples with oranges.
And a 2 star score doesn't represent a very fun game, at least not in our system.
I think if you tell the majority of people who play PC games that there is a 1-5 star scale and the game received a 2 then it's a fairly poor game overall (though not horrible) while a 3 is average. That is what I mean by standard, it's understood by most people.

If a reviewer feels a game is fairly poor overall and not just average overall then it deserves a 2 from that reviewer, no problem. But from reading the review I gathered that the reviewer did enjoy the game — enough to play it twice which is more than I did even though I would rate the game a 3 — despite its many flaws so that is why the score is confusing to me after reading the review.

However, the score is not ultra-off-base from the written portion of the review, it's just somewhat confusing to me.
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August 20th, 2007, 01:28
Sorry if we make you think here!! It's only confusing to people who dislike putting their brains into gear. The REVIEW is what's important, NOT the score!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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August 20th, 2007, 03:01
The score isn't off-base from the review. The review doesn't say classic to me and you can see the low score coming from the start. Remember reviews are one persons opinion and your own should/will differ from everyone elses.
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August 20th, 2007, 05:09
it wasn't a great game to me and most of what mike said i agree with except in level design. yes there were lots of spikes and other opportunities to kick or impale enemies that you could look at if from the perspective that the designers really wanted that feature to resonate with gamers. if it had been more sporadic people might not have tried it, but with it nearly everywhere most likely everyone tried it out and now their brains will remember the game. that could be bad or good depending on the level of their enjoyment i suppose. and surely the level design was contrived at times and not the best ever, but the massiveness and height of some of the levels was a joy to behold and surely was immersive in making me feel the oppresion of the massive network of caverns and cliffs. i really liked the level with all the hill huts that was immensly fun…and come on people don't you have and love for the rope arrow
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August 20th, 2007, 05:15
I like the review and I agree the score is too low and seems to me the reason it's to low is because txa1265 is using a unfair curve.

The problem afai can tell, txa1265 gets more frustrated each time he plays it due to what he expected and the potential the game had, verses the game released.

The weaknesses of the game are pretty apparent but look at the comments;
# Lousy & obvious story
# One dimensional combat
# Led-by-the-nose linearity
# Ridiculous level design
# Annoying character you just can't shake

1. Lousy?
How about weak and flawed?
2. One dimensional combat?
Say what ? By every account this game has the most visceral combat ever released in a game.
3. Led-by-the-nose linearity?
How about linear story and gameplay?
4. Ridiculous?
How about average?
5. Annoying character.
She's playing a Succubus in the MM world, iirc.
I have reinstalled and currently playing to re-read the books in the game that I recall even detailing her behavior, to verify and will update.
We had this long discussion at initial release here at RPGWatch, of course she’s annoying and cliché that's the character.

Clearly you are just over reacting to feeling, like you had to force yourself to play the single player game 4 times in a row.
Who wouldn't be sick of the Averageness of the story, level design and characters especially one whom is spose to be manipulative, seductive and annoying to someone whom knows better, but Sareth didn't know better.

I share many of your opinions but my suggestion, in the future is to either Not put yourself in this sort of position, but if you must, possibly try put down the bulk if your review after the first play through or you could add the variable of, Reviewer's Curve as some reviewers often do to help keep a fair balance.

Imagine if you had done this with oblivion when your replayed vanilla at the release of KotN and had played it 4 times in a row.

As I mentioned in the original thread here, my suggestion to anyone playing was to give yourself at least Double the points to get multiple Trees, which I wouldn't normally do for people playing a game for the first time, But this game was a special exception in that it really wasn't a game many would ever play more than Once.
So to get the best effect and most fun out of the game you needed to increase your variety of choices, Not so you can be super uber but because it give you some variety of play and you won't feel locked down.

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August 20th, 2007, 09:09
As a RPG its propably 2/5 but as a game its 4/5 IMO. In the same sense somone might give diablo great score as a game but as a RPG its propably 1/5.
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August 20th, 2007, 09:41
I completly agree what the reviewer said about storyline and characters. Its fantasy full of cliches and stereotypes. Only missing elements were dwarves and elves :-)

However I can't understand how could have Mike found level design weak, uncreative and unrealistic. I have played many fps games over the years and level design is maybe the only area where Dark messiah truly shines. Those varied locations look and feel amaizing. Not only for the sake of visuals, but level design carves out the frames for great gameplay. Maybe few of levels aren't very plausable, but mostly they are there for a reason.

Secondly I have to disagree a bit what Mike wrote about combat. The melee combat was fun like he said. I felt constantly like a was holding a real sword and it cut enemies like a sword should, Only downside is the notorious kick move which makes combat a bit too easy at times. But then I have to ask myself: why would I wish to use just one move? It ain't fun in the long run. When i played DM first time I made a pure fighter, which meant no spells or stealth. I cut through enemies like a knife through butter. I hardly needed to knock enemies on spikes.

The mage's career was quite fun too, because some of the spells were actually creative and forced me to choose totally different playing style. I couldn't just blast my way through. When playing a mage I had to use more enviroment for my advantage and that meant kicking lots of frozen orcs over the cliffs

Stealth and archery however are clearly the weakest link of three. Maybe I wasn't just doing it right, but usually monsters spotted me before I could do stealth kills or get my bow ready.

Dark messiah is at best a medicore game but by reading the review I got this image of much worse game than I played. Its not a half-life or Blade of darkness, but certainly it ain't dungeon lords or blood 2 either! There are not many good fantasy action games on pc. So its a shame if other fans of the genre wouldn't dare to try this. The review itself was good reading and it shows how much you have played it (probably more than most of us), but I think DM should deserved a bit more, but at the end reviews are subjective
Last edited by Dez; August 20th, 2007 at 18:56.
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