Chungking Espresso

Taxi Missions, Dead Space, and OXM

Posted in Gaming by Simon Ferrari on October 17, 2008

So one reviewer of Dead Space, writing for the OXM, gave a grossly outside-of-standard-deviation review of Dead Space that is keeping it from the 90+ (on Metacritic) sphere that almost everybody else agrees that it deserves to live in. The criticism? That the game is nothing but taxi missions. This coming from a magazine that, like almost every other source except Destructoid, gave Grand Theft Auto IV a 95. Not to take the message too literally, but the entire first third of that game is literally taxi missions. The rest of the game is figuratively taxi missions. And the script is horrible, the characters are annoying, the graphics are poor, and the city isn’t half as engaging as Rockstar claimed it would be.

Fire this woman.

EDIT: I finally got around to reading the comments under the review and have come up with some new thoughts on the issue. Most people are attacking this review because 1) the score is so low 2) the review is painfully short and 3) the review has been written by an inexperienced intern. Paul OXM stood by Meghan’s review and has cited the space constraints of the print medium as to why the review is so woefully contracted. He also stated that the entire staff played the game and agreed with their intern, and they refuse to apologize in any way because it’s their right to publish a minority opinion on a game. I posted this in reply:

I’m glad Paul brought up the right to and importance of the minority opinion, especially if it’s true that the entire staff shared Meghan’s view of the game. In this way journalistic integrity has remained intact. Yet there are plenty of basic principles of journalism that imply a duty to the reader, especially the paying reader. This doesn’t mean one has to write a review that every reader will like. But it means that somebody, probably an editor, should be able to tell when the reading community is going to raise some flags on a review.

Some things could have been done to prevent such a backlash. If the entire staff has a negative opinion of a highly-anticipated game receiving positive reviews from most sources, then one of the more recognized writers should be given the task of delivering the bad news to readers. Next, hiding behind the need to constrain the length of a review because of page space in the print edition is either misleading or just plain not well-thought-out.

One of the gifts from the Internet to journalists is an abundance of space. If a reviewer has the time to play an entire video game, then they have time to expand a print capsule review to something more fully conceived for the website. It’s not like reviewers needs to do extensive info visualization or fact-checking to extend their web content (like news media outlets have to); pretty much a fully fleshed-out page of the notes Meghan took while playing the game would have sufficed.

Alberto Cairo (and even the super-lame Journalism 2.0 by Mark Briggs) is fairly good source material for teaching newer journalists how to expand print content for a web audience. Thanks for reading. I love your magazine, and this review and its backlash are a mess you guys really don’t deserve.


One Response

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  1. Maaaax said, on October 18, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    You know something’s fishy when 1UP’s review score isn’t the lowest for a game.

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