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Adam's Blog #3: On Reviewing

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2016 at 3:31am
I'd forgotten about these cases as the reviews were not for music but I have had someone get mad at what I wrote for a both a TV boxset review posted to Amazon and one for a video game review posted to Steam

The boxset review was for the first season of the show Legend of the Seeker. It was based on the fantasy book series The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind. Goodkind's books are mature fantasy in the vein of Game of Thrones but where that show (which didn't exist then) is faithful to the tone of the books the producers of Seeker decided to take something that was written strictly for adults and make a family friendly show out of it. And this wasn't even its worst offence. The bigger offence was that they made a 22 episode season out of the first book and only four of that number had anything at all to do with the book's plot. The rest either did their own thing with pointless side stories or went out of their way to do the exact opposite to the book's established canon. It short they completely butchered it and I gave the series a negative review (2/5).

Enter the rapid fans who promptly informed me about how wrong I was and that my criticism were basically invalid because the series was only meant to be 'based on' the books (which ironically they think are shit) and not an actual 'adaptation'. I was unaware there was a difference. Apparently there was 'no point' in comparing how faithful the series was to its source in 'ridiculous detail'. I expect these are the same sort of people who complain about Game of Thrones being too full of sex and violence. Anyone's who's extensively read fantasy should know the majority of it is not for the kids.

The game review was for Slender: The Arrival which I thought was a pretty good horror experience but a bad video game experience. I can't remember exactly what the comments said now as this review doesn't exist any more as I decided to pull everything I wrote from Steam due to the mentality of the user base but I felt that I gave it a fair write-up based on my experience of the title. Again, enter the rabid fan who was quick to tell me I wasn't qualified to give the game a negative write-up. He seemed most pissed that my review had actually been voted up as the most helpful review as well. Another one was genuinely upset that I had given the game a negative review saying something like 'I don't care if you didn't like it but don't rag on the game and hurt its reputation for the rest of us'. 

I eventually deleted all my Steam reviews as I couldn't stand the user base any longer. I've since put a new review up to test the waters but found it hasn't changed much. It's a place where throwaway reviews that don't really tell you much get voted up and thought out ones that actually evaluate the game get voted down as unhelpful. My testing the waters review was for a simple point and click game that I found a game breaking bug in that required a complete restart to get by so I based my negative largely on that (while praising the game in general and pointing out that it would be a positive otherwise). Apparently pointing out this serious problem in the game meant the review was 'unhelpful' though. 

Here's the Slender review. You guys tell me if it describes a game you want to play (the game has actually been updated since this was written but I never played the new version):

Quote I've been a fan of horror video games, particularly survival horror, ever since buying the Penumbra and Amnesia titles. Following them I'm always on the lookout for further horror titles for my collection, the latest of which to find its way there being the 2013 game Slender: The Arrival. I've seen the game called before a sequel and extended version of the previous game Slender: The Eight Pages. I haven't played the original, so I'm not sure which is correct. Perhaps it's both.

In any case Slender: The Arrival does what every other horror game I've played since Amnesia: The Dark Descent has failed to do, and that is give such an experience to prompt a panicky sort of gameplay as you desperately try to keep the player character alive.

Ironically this is what makes Slender: The Arrival such a poor survival horror experience. The game starts off more positively, featuring exploration and very little danger, but enough creepiness to keep you wary of your surroundings, and jumping at every little noise and cautiously poking into dark rooms of the house that marks up part of the early setting. You're following clues in regard to the disappearance of your friend Kate and any moment you're expecting something to happen and have to run, like in any good survival horror game where you can't defend yourself.

Well that happens, but when it does happen it simply does not relent. The titular Slender Man attacks relentlessly after the first area of the game is completed, resulting in that panicky gameplay I previously mentioned. You'll spend a lot of time running. As a horror experience I can't fault it, but the trouble is the attacks from the Slender Man are so frequent it begins to kill the atmosphere and become simply tedious. And the game only has autosave, and only at the start of each level, so if you fail you potentially lose a lot of progress. But hey, now you know what you did wrong right? Wrong. The second chapter randomises itself , placing the items you need in different locations. Good replay value if you were going to start the game from scratch, but utterly frustrating when you're only reloading after a death.

The next chapter seemed more thought out, with a different enemy known as the Chaser with the Slender Man markedly less troublesome than previously. This does of course change again in the later stages of the game as you try to escape a forest fire, with no real clue about where you're meant to be running too, and it is only by sheer dumb luck I eventually got out of that area. But then, I suppose that is good for a horror game is it not?

Well, I can't deny that developer Blue Isle Studios make a good horror experience in Slender: The Arrival. What I do deny is that they made a good game out of it. The story is rather vague, perhaps intentionally but even so, fleshing out a proper plot is essential for any game, and Slender: The Arrival seems to really scrimp on the details and in my opinion it suffers for it. The ending is especially deflating and sudden when it comes. I actually groaned thinking I'd just got killed again before the achievement popped for beating the game. The gameplay is further more rather repetitive even for such a short game, which can be beaten in under 45 minutes, going by the requirements for one of its speed runner achievements. It's basically a lot of running, collecting items, and shining your torch at things. Said torch went dead towards the end of the game, leaving me in pitch darkness and literally unable to progress due to not being able to see a single thing beyond the outline of the video camera the character holds throughout, a item which serves no particularly use, by the way.

I want to like Slender: The Arrival, I really do. But it's difficult. The game is good horror, yes, but it is not fun. Surviving is down to luck and running, leaving no room for really thinking problems through and trying to find a solution. Disappointing because it has the potential to be so much more.




Edited by adg211288 - 15 Apr 2016 at 3:33am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2016 at 2:39am
Originally posted by Vim Fuego Vim Fuego wrote:

Originally posted by siLLy puPPy siLLy puPPy wrote:

Have you ever had anyone go ape sit over a negative review?


Several times on Amazon. Suffocation fans seem to be particularly venomous.LOL
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2016 at 2:37am
Originally posted by Vim Fuego Vim Fuego wrote:

Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

He he The Great Kat...yeah that is pretty awful music LOL


She has other...talents though.














She's also a violinist.Tongue
Yeah if you´re into a violin playing domina LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vim Fuego Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2016 at 2:35am
Originally posted by siLLy puPPy siLLy puPPy wrote:

Have you ever had anyone go ape sit over a negative review?


Several times on Amazon. Suffocation fans seem to be particularly venomous.LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vim Fuego Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2016 at 2:30am
Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

He he The Great Kat...yeah that is pretty awful music LOL


She has other...talents though.














She's also a violinist.Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bosh66 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 3:41pm
Originally posted by adg211288 adg211288 wrote:

Rabid fans. Dead An absolute pain the arse. 


One other thing semi-related, I don't usually bring up this review as it should be let lie now (which means do not post shouts on it - I'll just delete them) but this is a great example of how not to write a review. http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/aquarius/270812

Just read this on the train coming home from work. Sorry, had it in my head that you'd written it, which was confusing as it's not your style of writing. Then realised it was our old mate Liam.

Did he not like the album? 

Actually his analogy of Aquarius being like watching ice melt made me chuckle. Quite like the album myself. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 2:02pm
^LOL those cute Little Mayhem fans
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 12:54pm
Rabid fans. Dead An absolute pain the arse. 

Here's an example (not mine) of a fan attacking a review and a band member actually stepping in and being cool about the less than stellar write-up: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/the-lotus-effect/260618#comments

Worst I ever had I guess was the Mayhem fan sent me a death threat once for daring to give De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas an average rating. 

One other thing semi-related, I don't usually bring up this review as it should be let lie now (which means do not post shouts on it - I'll just delete them) but this is a great example of how not to write a review. http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/aquarius/270812
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 11:56am
Not over a review but I had a few cases of readers going apeshit over something I wrote. Usually about a sacred cow, like Iron Maiden or Megadeth, there are people who will not tolerate any negative comment, let alone someone who says Maiden hasn't released a masterpiece since 1988 or that Megadeth's true greatness ends roughly with Cryptic Writings. "Congratulations to management in letting that asshole write such filth!"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 11:44am
No. The closest I've seen was a general snide remark by I think it was Aural Music or one of their sub-labels over one of their releases that was getting a largely negative to lukewarm reception when they said something along the lines of 'ignore the reviews'. 

If someone ever did get hostile over getting a negative I would just politely apologise that they're unhappy with my verdict and then make it clear that I won't be dealing with them again. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote siLLy puPPy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 11:15am
Have you ever had anyone go ape sit over a negative review?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 9:46am
I actually find that most labels are cool if you do give their artist a negative. They're more used to them every now and then I guess. It's definitely different to have to give one directly to the artist. I only rarely hate something enough to give really lower end ratings though. Normally I just won't bother to review it in that case.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote siLLy puPPy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 9:22am
Very cool blog, Adam. It hasn't happened in the metal world so much but I have gotten quite a number of contacts on prog archives where I have written many reviews upon request. I basically demand a physical copy in exchange for a review. I'm also of the mindset that reviewing is first and foremost a hobby that I do not want to ruin by feeling obligated to channel my interests into a commercial arena. I have noticed that if I'm just not into the album at hand my review doesn't come out very good. Luckily I've been somewhat successful in weeding out albums I find interesting when a band contacts me
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 8:55am
He he The Great Kat...yeah that is pretty awful music LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 8:33am
Very interesting read!

I can relate to many of those points. Including the comment about feeling bad about criticizing work that has been handed to you - and I will add ...with eagerness and high hopes by people who say publicly they are fans of your writing. That's a wonderful compliment but a real awkward situation when they hand you something that sounds completely bland and uninteresting.

I remember when I got my first physical promo, back in 1997. I don't know who remembers The Great Kat, that crazy, CRAZY woman but in 1996 she made a comeback and a year later her sister (I think) contacted me about reviewing her new EP, Guitar Goddess. I was quite flattered because I had a website with some reviews but nothing major. Although back then there weren't many sites anyway. I got the full package too, large folder with professional pictures, bios and other notes, the cd, I felt like a real pro. 

A shame it was fucking awful. I never wrote a review for it. Hahaha.

As for plagiarism, I've seen people in major outlets in Greece copying specific arguments from my reviews, sometimes even verbatim. I am not sure they even realized it. I took that as flattery and as succeeding in getting the point across. The more, the merrier!


Edited by Vic - 14 Apr 2016 at 8:33am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2016 at 1:15am
Just a note that I extended the article slightly to touch on some extra points. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2016 at 9:16am
Yeah I prefer to actually play my CD's whenever possible. I only have a little radio to play them on, but it's a pretty good unit. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nightfly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2016 at 9:02am
Interesting read Adam. I tend to prefer to listen to my music on my hi-fi for reviewing purposes as for one I'm more comfortable and the sound quality is 100 times better than on my PC, therefore the music is likely to get a fairer hearing. For that reason if I don't have the CD or vinyl version I'm unlikely to review it in most cases. When I was more active on Prog Archives I did get sent a number of CD's for review and if the band took the trouble and expense of sending me it I always did a review. For the most part I have tended to decline any offers of free downloads as I don't want to listen to music this way. I appreciate that this is the way most promos are sent these days and it doesn't cost the band/label anything so they can send out a lot more but I'm unlikely to review it though I do make exceptions if i particularly like something. If that's the case though I'm probably going to buy it anyway.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2016 at 2:05am
^Plagiarism ugh Dead.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2016 at 12:57am
Originally posted by Vim Fuego Vim Fuego wrote:

Oh yeah, and I also got accused of plagiarism for stealing a line from a Metal Hammer review, when it was the other way around!

I should add plagiarism to reviewer mistakes. I've been victim of it before and I also had one of the other reviewers on Heavy Metal Haven ripping off someone else's reviews (he got banned for that). 

I have something similar to what happened to you happen way back in school though. The person sitting next to me copied my work and I got done for it because his was marked first! 
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