GWJ Conference Call Episode 61

Conference Call

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Rock Band Part 2, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect Finished, Game Advertisements & Reviews, Mental Modding, Your Emails and more!

After all the hoopla surrounding Gamespot, reviews and what's right in this crazy old world, we dig into the issues. We also follow up on some of the best games this year and you can FEEL the hubris as Elysium brags about playing Rock Band while Canadians are left out in the cold. What he doesn't know at the time of this recording is that his Xbox 360 is about to deliver three red rings of joy.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined.

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree
Audioworks

"PodunkStump" Ian Dorsch - 0:37:18
"Los Pistoleros" Ian Dorsch - 1:04:09

Comments

Before someone says it. Yes - I said the Necris are a new race in UT and No - they aren't. Clearly my brain was not functioning.

Elysium wrote:

Before someone says it. Yes - I said the Necris are a new race in UT and No - they aren't. Clearly my brain was not functioning.

Seeing as how I don't play UT I didn't know you were a screw up, but now I do! More ammo..

Boogle like google.

I don't really see the point in advertising a product that hasn't been tested yet. What should I have thought about the 6.0 review after seeing Kane & Lynch plastered all over the site? It doesn't make sense for a reviewer to tell me that the game is sh*t when, if I hit the back button, I see ads of the same game mergering into the very core of the website. I don't care how things are "suppose" to be done because placing a negative review next to in-your-face advertising still looks really stupid.

Personally, I like the way Penny Arcade handles their ads. They're very picky and won't advertise a game unless they've physically played an early build, beta or demo of it and were impressed.

Certis is absolutely correct about the length of Mass Effect. I did everything, except I was 1 point away from completing two of the collection sidequests. I got the "completionist" achievement with about 2 hours left in the game. 32 hours total.

LobsterMobster wrote:

Certis is absolutely correct about the length of Mass Effect. I did everything, except I was 1 point away from completing two of the collection sidequests. I got the "completionist" achievement with about 2 hours left in the game. 32 hours total.

I'd say it depends since It took me 56 hours to do everything... but then again I was going for 100%. Unfortunately, I end up with 99.9% complete... sigh, I missed 1 Codex entry.

Yeah, it took me 50+ hours as well. The "completionist" achievement actually only means you've done about 75% of the game. However, it should be noted that I found (and read) every codex entry I could, I finished every side mission I could (including the collection missions), and I leveled my character all the way to the level 50 cap the first time through, so my completion time is definitely going to be at the upper end of things.

I'm going to side with Gaald on the Kane & Lynch advertising issue. There's a difference between being a game site with ads for games and reskinning your entire site so that you can't tell if you've arrived to gamespot.com or kaneandlynch.com. And the line that I think was crossed that Gaald was trying to define was the line between advertisement and endorsement. Which is what the game publisher wants when they purchase an ad campaign that is integrated into GameSpot as a whole. They're not just paying for an ad on the margins of GameSpot, they are paying for the journalistic weight of the GameSpot name. While on the GWJ planet, that weight may be nothing, it must be more elsewhere considering the size of GameSpot.

It's fairly similar to the double covers which have become common in the game magazines I read. But those do say "Advertisement" on them. At least, they do now, though in small print.

Great job guys... This has been the best discussion of the Gamespot situation on the web... Thanks for not getting bogged down in the rumors and actually discussing the underlying issues.

I remember as a young lad when I would read a gaming magazine and read a negative review of a game just a few pages behind a shiny advertisement which made the game look like the greatest thing ever created. That always bothered me but I guess I've just sort of managed put it out of my mind.

This whole incident has brought those ideas back to the forefront of my mind and you guys brought up some good points about the way the advertising relationship works. I haven't come to any groundbreaking epiphanies and I'm sure no one cares about my opinions but me, but this podcast definitely has helped me develop my own opinions further.

McChuck wrote:

And the line that I think was crossed that Gaald was trying to define was the line between advertisement and endorsement.

Thank you. That's exactly what I was thinking too.

Alyx had a spectacular ass? Come on, she's build like a 12 year-old boy! She doesn't even have an ass!

boogle wrote:

Boogle like google.

If I haven't heard the podcast before reading that, I could have sworn you were trying to sound like Cookie Monster.

zeroKFE wrote:

Yeah, it took me 50+ hours as well. The "completionist" achievement actually only means you've done about 75% of the game. However, it should be noted that I found (and read) every codex entry I could, I finished every side mission I could (including the collection missions), and I leveled my character all the way to the level 50 cap the first time through, so my completion time is definitely going to be at the upper end of things.

I think Nei's referring to the Scholar achievement, which rewards you for reading every codex. Fortunately, it carries over if you play it again, much like the weapons and powers achievements.

I was responding to Lobster's mention of the completionist achievement, actually. And the scholar one isn't a 100% thing either, but rather 100% of a few categories than can be filled out before you leave the citadel. No, I think that Nei (like me) just wanted to see everything in the game.

zeroKFE wrote:

No, I think that Nei (like me) just wanted to see everything in the game. :D

Yep.

Also, I got to say that even on my 2nd play through (and multiple restarts)... Mass Effect still feel like I'm playing a brand new game, which is awesome for a game, especially when I made sure to look under every pebble just to get anything extra.

I went as far as making a list of all the planets on my laptop and took notes every time I could not open something or salvage, etc... So when I say that I salvage every debris, open all possible containers/lockers/etc, survey every mineral/metal/planet/asteroid/etc, find all alien artifact/dead body/etc... I really mean everything!

The only thing I missed is to ask 1 simple question at the beginning of the game... Who are Prothians?

I agree with Rabbit about Alyx and HL2. I could not care less. The main character in Portal is made 10 times more interesting in a short three hour than Alyx has been through the whole 20+ hour HL2/Ep1/Ep2 slog. I finally game to the realization that Half Life is over for me. Which is a bit sad for me, I admit, but there you go.

About Alyx: I don't get the sexual tension angle off of their relationship. To me, Alyx's feelings are as much hero-worship as they are crush, and whenever she does that thing where she lets on how much she cares about Gordon, then does that look away and blush thing, I just feel very paternal towards her, I just want to protect her and maintain that innocent thing she's got. I don't know what Gordon's age is, but I think he sees Alyx as a child. I think Valve is setting it up to be an unrequited love.

My theory for Ep. 3 ending: Alyx realizes that Gordon doesn't return her feelings and, in a moment of heroism and sadness, sacrifices herself in order to finally defeat the Covenant. This puts the tragic twist on the happy save-the-world plot. The final scene is dog's futile attempts to wake her up, then a fade to black, and the G-Man fades in with something creepy to say, then cut to credits.

If I turn out to be right, I want something.

I mentioned it in the original Gamespot consipiracy thread, but Gamespot has been skinning the site with game ads for at least a year. Where are the consipiricy theories that Crysis got a 9.5 because EA paid to skin the site (they did skin it with Crysis for a day). Metacritc has it 9.1 so EA must have paid big bucks to get that extra 0.4 from Gamespot.

Maybe I am wrong but the tone I got in the podcast and several threads is that this is some new super-advertisement thing on Gamespot that indicates that they have now stepped up to a new level of sellout.

I'm not defending Gamespot, the last week has been a PR disaster for them, but if a skinned site means they are advertisement whores it has been like that for a while.

I'm not defending Gamespot, the last week has been a PR disaster for them, but if a skinned site means they are advertisement whores it has been like that for a while.

This is true, which is not actually better.

PoderOmega wrote:

I'm not defending Gamespot, the last week has been a PR disaster for them, but if a skinned site means they are advertisement whores it has been like that for a while.

I'll fess up to not visiting Gamespot. If they've been doing it for a while, okay, they've been whoring out for a while.
I still think the main issues are: A) Caving to pressure from your advertisers B)Not having a diverse enough stream of revenue where that can really hurt you, and C) When do you cross the line from advertising to endorsement (when you haven't tested the product yourself).

This has blown up because of all of those issues.

Morrolan wrote:

My theory for Ep. 3 ending: Alyx realizes that Gordon doesn't return her feelings and, in a moment of heroism and sadness, sacrifices herself in order to finally defeat the Covenant.

Alex makes a cameo in Halo 3? (couldn't resist.)

Morrolan wrote:

I don't know what Gordon's age is, but I think he sees Alyx as a child.

He has seen her as a child at Black Mesa, but G-Man pulled him out of the timestream, so their ages are pretty close, I think. That Vance drops several hints about the two of them seems to confirm that. Barney has a line about it in Ep1, too.

In regards to everything else you said (unrequited love, death scene w/dog :cry:), it all sounds good to me. I would be content with that ending.

subaltern wrote:
Morrolan wrote:

My theory for Ep. 3 ending: Alyx realizes that Gordon doesn't return her feelings and, in a moment of heroism and sadness, sacrifices herself in order to finally defeat the Covenant.

Alex makes a cameo in Halo 3? (couldn't resist.)

Aaack, Combine. :p You know what I meant. hehe

@McChuck, yeah I meant he sees her as a kid figuratively. But yeah, I doubt Gordon is all that much older than Alyx, seeing as he was supposed to be fresh out of grad school at the beginning of HL1.

Elysium wrote:
I'm not defending Gamespot, the last week has been a PR disaster for them, but if a skinned site means they are advertisement whores it has been like that for a while.

This is true, which is not actually better.

Gamefaqs is the same way. Gamefaqs was skinned for Orange Box prior to its release. I remember that the skin was really cool and actually got me thinking about the game (don't tell me ads don't matter) and then I found out about Portal and eventually I purchased it after listening to some Podcasts talk about Portal. I might have blown it off, had the initial ad not made an impression.

Also, Gamefaqs was skinned for Assassin's Creed at one point.

DSGamer wrote:

Gamefaqs is the same way. Gamefaqs was skinned for Orange Box prior to its release. I remember that the skin was really cool and actually got me thinking about the game (don't tell me ads don't matter) and then I found out about Portal and eventually I purchased it after listening to some Podcasts talk about Portal. I might have blown it off, had the initial ad not made an impression.

Also, Gamefaqs was skinned for Assassin's Creed at one point.

Gamefaqs is owned by CNET and has been gradually integrating with Gamespot for the last couple of years (the forums are now combined and the Gamespot logo sits on top of the GameFAQs logo)

Mystic Violet wrote:

Personally, I like the way Penny Arcade handles their ads. They're very picky and won't advertise a game unless they've physically played an early build, beta or demo of it and were impressed.

I totally agree. GWJ should adopt this model if publishers want to advertise here (in the banner ads, not the reviews!). I am not sure the exact process Penny Arcade uses to deem a game ad-worthy, but I think it is a great way to do it. Although I did see ads for Soul Calibur Legends, which has been getting poor to mediocre reviews across the board.

This weeks GFW Radio discusses this issue as well. Very insightful, intelligent discussion on how a firing like Gertsman's was inevitable considering how much gaming media relies on publishers advertising dollars, and how in Jeff's dream world all advertising in his magazine would be completely non-game and non-pc related.

Trachalio wrote:

This weeks GFW Radio discusses this issue as well. Very insightful, intelligent discussion on how a firing like Gertsman's was inevitable considering how much gaming media relies on publishers advertising dollars, and how in Jeff's dream world all advertising in his magazine would be completely non-game and non-pc related.

Indeed, I'll also throw my two cents into the ring and say that the GFW discussion is particularly good. They start with a full break down of the situation, and follow all the relevant tangents into interesting sidecar discussions.

If you really want to review Sneak King, I'll send the appropriate person a copy.

I'm more with Rabbit as far as not liking Alyx.

I see her more as a gameplay device now instead of a character. Can't get out? Alyx will help you. We need you to look at something? Alyx will point you where we want you to look. etc. The opening scene of HL2:E2 had me cringing because she had, in just a minute or two, become cliche for me.

Scores are instantly communicated and easily measured and that's why they generate a lot of discussion.

Game mags/sites are enthusiast press. You never should expect a critical review out of enthusiast press. I mean the bottom line is their jobs depend on games still being releveant to their readers. It depends on readers being excited about games.

You do, in fact, "got to wiggle it just a little bit." Well played, Certis.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Alyx had a spectacular ass? Come on, she's build like a 12 year-old boy! She doesn't even have an ass!

True fact.

ChrisGwinn wrote:

If you really want to review Sneak King, I'll send the appropriate person a copy.

11 out of 10! I was playing this game before the GWJ hype.