Even though the common theme of game media – and its lapdog, the below-the-line agitator – is to build up and knock down ephemeral idols (“not another Call Of Duty”), the one constant we could hang on to was the score. You know, the number at the end. I love reading what you wrote and everything, especially the first line and the last paragraph, but come on, what did it get? I’m as guilty as the next liberated, leftwingy gamer of skimming through the back pages of the latest issue of Edge and just going straight to it. What did it get? I’ll read the review later, and it will inform me or aggravate me, but the first hit of the review has always been the score. But are things changing?
Destiny seems to have been responsible for making the number at the end of the words seem somehow less important, less certain in a lot of the specialist press. The silly range of scores – from 60 per cent on Polygon to 100 per cent on PlayStation Australia (“Videogame worlds are rarely this rich and addictive”), along with a prolific slew of articles, blogs and post-reviews seem to have ushered in a new age of uncertainty and anxiety. Maybe DestinyDes – and the upcoming generation of gam games it ushers in – are going to be too com complex, too ambitious, too polarising to be red reduced to a simple digit at the foot of the pag page. Maybe we do all need to just hold han hands and talk about our feelings and debate wh whether we’re grinding or refining. Have gam games become number-proof?
Maybe not. It’s not that some things are too sophisticated or complex to be scored. It’s that there’s nothing that can’t be scored. Think about it: your car, your job, your girlfriend or boyfriend, your performance in life so far. Think about each one hard enough and – however much you don’t want it to – a number will appear in your head. Not a polite paragraph. Not an essay. Just a flat score, usually out of ten. A seven. A five. A two. Everything. Sometimes you’ll get it wrong. Sometimes you’re just too close to be objective. That’s when you need a clearheaded, straight-talking friend to say, ‘No, you want him to be a ten, but he’s just a seven. Your career? It’s five, all the way.’
The truth can hurt, but when something in your life, from a car to the latest Zelda, is a true ten, it’s a euphoric moment, and all those low scores in the rest of your life ring even truer. To (mis)quote Gordon Gekko, scores are good. Scores work. Scores cut through, clarify and capture the essence… So I’m asking Edge, my favourite number maker, to please not succumb to the new-liberals who’d have us sum up the meaning of games in a 7,000word Guardian essay with comments and an opinion poll. Share your thoughts and feelings and expertise and insights, but don’t forget what I look for first.
And all those Destiny scores, all that earnest headscratching: Metacritic rounds them out to 78 per cent, or eight out of ten – exactly what you gave it. Sometimes people can go a long way around the houses to get to the simplest truths. Anthony Hughes There was no early access to final Destiny code, so some felt they had to rush out reviews. The volume of commentary that’s followed is more about how fascinating its endgame is than any anxiety over the score. Regardless, relax: those numbers won’t be leaving these pages any time soon.
Price is right
I like reading stuff I agree with and we seem to agree a lot – the PS4 is my new machine of choice, Rime and No Man’s Sky are the coolest games on the horizon, Far Cry 4 is
“Blogs and postreviews seem to have ushered in a new age of uncertainty and anxiety”
better than it should be – but sometimes a bit of disagreement adds some grit. Right?
I love the developer access in Edge. The interviews, roundtables, studio profiles. All that cool stuff where you sit down and talk to the guys who actually make the games. I love, more than the reviews even, seeing behind the curtain and hearing what makes these guys tick. So your new Collected Works ( E274) looked just my thing. It didn’t even have questions to get in the way. Just the auteur himself, talking about himself and his own games. Perfect! Except… Ted Price? Insomniac? WTF? I always hated Spyro. It was a cut-price
Mario to me, fake and weak. Ratchet & Clank passed me by, Resistance looked like the coolest game ever but just disintegrated to the touch, and then Sunset Overdrive looked like, well, a bunch of 40-year-olds trying to look cool by sprinkling the Tony Hawk engine with a bunch of lame ’80s TV spoofs and bad language. Where were the likes of Kojima, Miyamoto, Mikami? This wasn’t who I wanted to read about.
But guess what? I ploughed on anyway, and found myself fascinated. I started to respect the determination and creative spirit of Price and his team at Insomniac. That common thread of insane weaponry, humour and technical innovation made sense, and I realised not just how many original IPs Insomniac had created but how much humanity there was behind these games. I went to a friend’s house to check out Sunset and looking at it through the prism of Insomniac’s back catalogue, and seeing how all their obsessions had been chewed up and spat out in a new game was really exciting and refreshing. Far from looking cynical or lame, I could tell how passionate and fun Sunset was, and it was genuinely moving to see 20-plus years of gaming ideas all coming to a head.
So, wait, we’re agreeing again? Ted Price is cool? That’s fine. Now get arranging those Collected Works I’ve asked for, and maybe even some I haven’t. Hell, even David Cage. If anyone needs space to tell us what the fuck they were doing with all those girls in underwear and QTEs, it’s that French dude.
AI, AI, no
I have been renewing my subscription in advance; I do my best reading most of each issue, and I play the games you suggest. For Christmas, it’s simple: just bring me an AI review added to each game review. You know, Edge, it need not be as brilliant as
Killzone: Shadow Fall’s Post Script. (It does, but you know what NASA says, right? Twenty per cent is better than per cent.) It can be only a few lines. Please, do it in remembrance of your fifth commandment!
Éric Jacopin In truth, E247’ s Ten Commandments article was aimed more at the dev community rather than trying to be a style guide for reviewers. As ever, though, when AI matters, we’ll give it the attention it deserves.
Finding myself in possession of a PS4 after a fit of Black Friday-induced madness, I’ve recently been replaying The Last Of Us in its shiny, upscaled form. The story and slick mechanics would be reason enough to return but the additions have sweetened the deal. Best of all is the new Grounded difficulty, which has been kicking my arse and at the same time made me determined to play through the whole thing again.
As well as the expected bump in enemy strength and decrease in resources, this new setting makes some pretty radical changes. It strips out the entire HUD, including your health bar, and eliminates nearly all button prompts and tutorials. In case you were comfortable with that handicap, it also deprives you of Listen Mode, the ability you use to detect enemies that are out of your line of sight. Apparently at Naughty Dog, grounded is a synonym for impossible.
Except Grounded mode isn’t impossible. In fact, once you adjust to its limitations, it breathes new life into the fungal corpse of the PS3 classic. By removing so much from the game, Naughty Dog has made it more demanding but also more rewarding. I’ve found myself navigating areas by planning and using my senses rather than stumbling through and relying on luck. Joel is now so flimsy that the easiest way to survive is to rely on stealth. That was true before, but the difficulty spike has rendered sneaking a necessity where before it could be abandoned when things got hairy.
The real benefit of these changes is that I feel like a total badass every time I play. Activities as banal as clearing an area or sneaking past some Clickers have become feats worthy of celebration. I now scorn those who rely on life bars and plentiful ammo drops to survive this desolate America. At least I did until I was forced to replay a section 30 times, limping through with three bullets and a sliver of health.
This constant emotional swing has made for some thrilling, if stressful, sessions with Joel and Ellie. It heightens and refines what was already great about the game into something worth the price of readmission even without the online mode and DLC.
The removal of screen furniture also makes it much easier to enjoy the improved graphics and higher framerate. I’ve found it easier to immerse myself when there isn’t an ammo counter constantly floating in my vision. It is still a thoroughly interactive story but, with some of the less agreeable trappings of the medium gone, The Last Of
Us now stands out even more as a leading example of storytelling in videogames. It makes me wonder what other games would benefit from taking a minimalist approach.
Charlie Roberson Actually, it makes us wonder which games wouldn’t benefit from it. Surely the busy HUDs and handholding should be for Easy, not Normal? Let us know which SteelSeries gear you’d like, and it’ll be on its way.