There is always a problem with writing reviews of matters of taste… specifically, the whole “one man’s DC is another man’s Marvel” or however the statement goes.

I know that *I* enjoy games like Space Invaders… but let’s say that this new game comes out. Galaga, say. How to review it in a meaningful way? Do you set Space Invaders as a baseline and explain what Galaga has pretty much the same (shooting up at aliens), pretty much improved upon (two ships shooting at once!), or pretty much abandoned (no shields)? Does Galaga deserve to be reviewed in a vacuum (no pun intended) as if Space Invaders didn’t exist? How do I best communicate to you, the reader, whether it’s worth dropping a token for? A letter grade communicates next to nothing. 4 or 5 composite scores averaged together tells only a little bit more… and, really, my saying “this game is a solid B+, could have been an A with shields!” tells you nothing but “Jaybird liked it” and that tells you only a little bit more than a composite score.

Anyway, I’ve got a preliminary review roiling about in my head for Dragon Age II. I like it… but I have no idea how much that tells you.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com


  1. Saw Red Riding Hood. Loved it. I hope lots of people go and see it as well to reward the producers for making it. Not exactly groundbreaking plot but sufficiently convoluted with enough false leads to keep me guessing and with a secondary villain (I consider the werewolf the primary) that actually worked (as in made sense) for me in my head.

    Proof that flowers can grow from horseshit. The werewolf cgi was developed using the ample funding of the Twilight series and has now been put to nobler use.

  2. This reminds me of a pet peeve – game reviews that treat video games as Choose Your Own Adventure movies – which is most, especially those in major non-gaming publications (Seth Schisel in the NYT, for example). Reviews generally consist of a plot summary, evaluation of the visuals and a few anecdotes that made or broke the game for the reviewer. What they seem to never do is review the game part.
    I’m more interested in what the game is – what do you control, what do you decide, how does it work? Is it any fun to do those things?
    Video games may be art, but they’re not movies. I would prefer if we would move beyond the ‘interactive movie’ goal for game developers and focus on game experiences that are meaningful in and of themselves.
    Minecraft is awesome, Team Fortress 2 is awesome, Plants vs. Zombies is awesome, but they don’t exist under the interactive movie rubric and how to review them still seems to escape us.

    • As such, I’d like your take on my Dragon Age II review in the comments there. Please be *BRUTAL*.

      • I’ve read it and it provided food for thought, but I have a hard time addressing it directly as I’ve not played either DA or the sequel. I have the original purchased and waiting for the right moment to tell Steam to download it and start playing.
        I tried playing Mass Effect and I realized that the last 8-10 years of playing online multiplayer games (primarily Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2 but lots of others), has made even the most complicated narrative-driven single player games seem less interesting to me.

        I’ve been thinking on how to respond to it in an insightful manner for a few days, but given the above, but I’m struggling.

        • Well, I’ve got a half-baked essay on this waiting for a decent middle and ending talking about single-player RPGs (my personal favorite genre) and it seems to me that one *MUST* review them differently than, say, one reviews Team Fortress 2.

          While they both talk about mechanics, you have to talk about stuff like the story, characters, and character evolution for the former… while the latter has you talking about balance, maps, and breadth of options.

          I mean, I can’t really go into detail when it comes to the difference of difficulty between Mass Effect on normal and Mass Effect on hard (um… it’s harder, their bullets do more damage, yours do somewhat less) while it’s *REALLY* easy to talk about the differences in, say, Halo 2. (A group of buds and I played Halo 2 a few months back… it was the first time I had played. I was, as they say, ‘pwned’ because everybody else knew where the missile launchers and sniper rifles were… and then we changed the setting on the game to give everyone a sniper rifle and a grenade launcher to start… and, suddenly, everybody was equal. I did not need to know the maps as intimately as everyone else in order to ‘pwn’ others… just off the top of my head.)

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