Boy, Is My Finger Not On The Nub Of Videogame Culture

by Hal
The internet has a mouth. It’s bold, brash, and – thanks to John Gabriel’s GIFT – says just what the dickens it pleases. Originally, I sat down here to pen reviews of Remedy’s Quantum Break and Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank. Both have been covered extensively, though, so it made more sense to ask the question of why each has been received as it has done.

Quantum Break, a well executed shooter, that incorporates a ton of new ideas (not least going to the trouble of shooting its own accompanying ‘in the box’ TV show) appears to be shot down at some baffling turns. Luminaries such as The Guardian’s Simon Parkin saw fit to tear it down, deeming it “unplayable” in one breath, and with the next, declares that “missteps can be forgiven.” Over at, Jeff Gerstmann deigned fit to reduce QB down to but two stars out of five, ending the review noting that “every single one of Quantum Break’s individual elements fall flat.” These are extreme examples, but illustrate perfectly just how easy it is to hit as big a target as Quantum Break surely is. The price for attracting hype, showing a little flair, and throwing a bit of money at a game is this level of scrutiny, it appears.

Quantum Break: It's great. Or is it? Can I be trusted?

Quantum Break: It’s great. Or is it? Can I be trusted?

It fared equally well on the forums. “The actual game is barely even there. You spend ages walking around doing bugger all but reading very long, very boring emails and then a bit of the same shooting again and again and again,” declared one RLLMUK user. The general vibe there, though, is one of cautious enthusiasm. People are finding stuff to enjoy in the whole package, but not without some reservation.

How can any one writer purport to accurately convey a game’s essential core?

Ratchet & Clank, meanwhile, sees some kind of universal fellatio, with the IBTimes its harshest critic. Even there, it proffers that “Ratchet and Clank is a must-buy for PS4 owners”, despite “offering little in the way of invention” and forcing the player to endure “some laborious pun-based jokes.” It makes some mention of it being driven by rose-tinted spectacles, which has always been rocket fuel for love on the message boards. “This is the most pure fun I’ve had with a game for ages, and it looks bloody lovely too,” gushes one forumite. “This game is so much fun it’s unreal, really glad I read this thread and took a punt on it,” slavers another, though the latter goes on to praise the game for being one they can play around their children.

Ratchet & Clank: It's great. Or is it? Can I etc.

Ratchet & Clank: It’s great. Or is it? Can I etc.

And it’s that last point that’s the most salient, I figure. What works for one person isn’t necessarily going to pan out for another, and if there aren’t any minors present while you play through R&C, are you really going to suffer its pedestrian humour gladly? There are many factors that go to make up an individual, and whilst certain facts are irrefutable – that a title has turret sections, say – the end user’s tolerance for them is impossible to anticipate. How can any one writer purport to accurately convey a game’s essential core if, say, they personally dislike turret sections? Their study of the medium may well be that of a modern-day Aristotle, but at the end of the day, they are but one person. And it feels irresponsible to lay down opinions as fact.

That I live in a world where people will accept Ratchet & Clank with open arms, yet treat Quantum Break with, at best, suspicion and, at worst, outright contempt confuses me. I genuinely never saw it coming, and as such, I am unfit to ‘review’ videogames. With this in mind, I will cease to do so, from here on in. I can content myself with dropping in from time to time to make general observances and, hell, post the odd competition, but the definitive word on a product? It’s not mine to say.


EDIT: Given the general tone of this article, and the fact that the site has been gathering dust for the last few months, it has been remarked upon as to whether or not the site would continue. This was not my intention, and I apologise if that appears to be the case. The site will carry on doing what it does. 

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