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Friday, January 18, 2013

Why I'm done with Kotaku

Long ago, when I started to get really into gaming I started reading Kotaku. It was a fun place with a nice mix of news and fluff. Most of the fluff was contained in night and day "notes" from one writer to another.
Every other day there would be someone screaming "HOW IS THIS NEWS???" and others would shout back "ITS A BLOG GET OVER IT".

As time passed, Kotaku has changed their format more and more, they added more opinion to less news every day. They style themselves "game journalists" and their site a "gaming news, review and information site"  yet ares till quick to shout down complaints of "how is this news?" with "it's a blog".
I don't think you can have it both ways. If you're going to be a news and information site then you need to provide news and information. Fluff is good, it has its place (like s'mores or hot chocolate) but it shouldn't drown out the news.
News...
 Much of the news they post now is hours if not days late compared to other sites. Hell I live in my own lost little bubble and I've linked or posted stuff before them on my FB.
The site these days can be summed up into a few categories: Live journal, titillating cosplay, opinions everywhere, stuff I read on another site yesterday.

In the past couple of months of skimming through their site I've heard all about a woman who realized her marriage was over when her husband failed to revive her character in Diablo 3. A chick who due to being a rape victim and having a crappy childhood thinks Juliet Starlet (Lollipop Chainsaw) is a good role model and the chick she'd like to be. A guy who claims violent video games don't make you violent but since the Sandy hook shit he's trading in all his "violent games" like Asassin's Creed 3 (because we know how much Tomahawking went down in Sandy Hook. (no I'm not making light of what happened, so keep your bitching to yourself). There's so much more of this crap I could point out, most from the same author.

But, its a blog, you say.
It is, a game news blog, a "trusted" resource for gamers and as such they not only offer insights into their own fucked up neurosis (I do that too, difference is, this IS a fucking blog. I don't get paid, I don't claim to be a journalist and I freely admit I'm full of shit) they also provide game reviews.

Now, Reviews are a touchy thing. I mean it doesn't matter HOW objective you try to be, you will always color the review with your own personal feelings, and lets be honest, if reviewers just made a list of bullet points you wouldn't read it or care. You read them in the hopes of getting a feel for a particular game. Learning a bit about story, mechanics, graphics, and just overall experience. We read many reviews for a single game, to compare and contrast what each person had to say and we either dismiss the opinions,the game, or both.

Today I read a..well i'm not sure what it is..its tagged as both "import review" and "opinion" but thats only if you look a the tags, the main tag right over the title is "Import Review" so I'll take it as a review of the game.
The game in question is Yakuza 5.

Now I will say right here and now, I am utterly biased. I first read about the first Yakuza game for PS2 months upon months before it was released and on release day I went to Gamestop as soon as they opened to get a copy of it. I LOVE the story and I love Kazuma and I'm still upset that Kenzan! was never brought overseas cause man i wanted that SO BAD!
Admitting that I will also admit I might be biased but not blind. I have my nitpicks about the series and much like the Dynasty Warriors series that gets so much crap for its "problems" I will freely admit its shortcomings and add that I don't give a crap because I find them fun. However, were I to review the game I would share those cons along with the pros. Because fair is fair.
Even in my most ranty, vulgar review, I tried to be fair, I did concede and admit I suck at a lot of types of games and that perhaps that type of game isnt my thing. However I went and played a few more games in the same vein and realized that nope, i was right, game blew. But I'm getting off topic.

The review is titled Five Reasons Yakuza 5 is Not for ME. Ok then, why the hell are you reviewing it then? If your opening is that you don't like the game, why are you the one reviewing it? I wouldn't review a Madden game, cause I don't like sports games. But whatever, par for the course on that site. I begin reading and snorting and rolling my eyes and getting more and more angry.
Every line I read, every piece of misinformation and baseless complaint made me madder. even the points we agreed on were written in such a way I could not credit them. Then came the magical moment where I literally saw read AND burst out laughing at the same time.
After recovering my sanity I called my children over. I put forth to my 8yr old son and my 11yr old daughter a question...

Guys, I said, IF you have 5 different people, in five different cities, with five different skill sets and you switch from one to the other and you were at say...level 15 on the first one, would you expect the second one to be at that level?

They both shook their heads and I asked, ok what would you expect?

My daughter spoke up, I'd expect to start over at level 1.

me, why?

My son, Cause they do different things so they'd have to start over.
My daughter chimed in to elaborate on what her brother said "because you're different people in different places with different styles and you wouldnt know the same things so you have to learn the different stuff.

so why is it my kids "get" what this reviewer did not?

From the review:

#4 — Start From Zero Again and Again

Each time you complete one of the game's five sections, you start as a new character in a new city. This would be fine, except you start again at level one and all your skills are gone as well. It felt like all my hard work had been for nothing and that I was being forced to start the game over. It was almost like being punished for playing the game as intended. It left me incredibly demotivated.

 Other complaints this person made were the amount of random fights, the lack of checkpoints and the unskippable conversations (someone did point out to them that the conversations were indeed skippable.)

Though Yakuza has been compared to GTA a lot it really isn't. While the setting might seem similar I think Yakuza is more of an RPG than anything else. As such, Random encounters are par for the course. I admit that I myself found the amount of random encouters in the Yakuza games annoying sometimes, particularly when I just wanna get to the next street over and all i hear is a high pitched "Whadda Fuck!"  for the umpteenth time. But, much like in traditional RPGs there's a reason for this. Those random fights help level you up, they help you develop your skills and learn the move sets so you can defeat the bosses that pepper the story. Without them you'd be grossly unprepared.

Checkpoints, again, mixed feelings. Yes, I prefer games that offer a save anywhere function, however, this isn't exactly Demons Souls. Checkpoints are set at decent intervals and as long as you play through the game as intended, you should get through the game with minimal difficulty or frustration.

Finally, The complaint that conversations are unskippable...ok..I...you know what? fuck it I'm gonna go all fucking ranty angry all caps pissed off wanna kick you in the junk type mad now...WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOUR FUCKING DUMBASS PLAY A MOTHERFUCKING GAME WITH A MOTHERFUCKING STORY AND FUCKING SKIP THROUGH IT ALL. WHY????? WHAT IS THE POINT???? IF YOU JUST WANNA GO FROM FUCKING FIGHT OT FIGHT THERE ARE TONS OF FUCKING FIGHTING GAMES OUT THERE. PICK ONE DUMBASS!!! DON'T FUCKING SHIT ON A STORY BASED GAME BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO FUCKING IMPATIENT TO FUCKING SIT THROUGH SOME FUCKING EXPOSITIONAL DIALOGUE DUMBFUCK!!!

...
out of breath now...give me a sec.
...
Sorry, I'm better now.

After reading all that (if you did) you might wonder why, besides my obvious fangirl love of Kazuma and Yakuza am I complaining about a review full of opinion if I do the same thing here all the time.

Maybe because I'm a hypocrite.
Maybe because I tend to play and review (in most cases) games in genres I enjoy. Maybe because I am VERY upfront about it being my personal opinion and if you want a very professional and technical review there are many professional sites to visit.

Mostly because Kotaku styles itself a Game Journalism site, because they post their Reviews as an official and professional view.

Mostly because anyone who starts their Review with this paragraph:
Until I sat down and played Yakuza 5, my knowledge of the Yakuza series was limited, to say the least. I knew the characters and some of the story (from wikis, friends, and the movie), but when it came down to playing the series, the most time I had spent with it was in playing the demos of Yakuza 3Yakuza 4, and Yakuza: Dead Souls. While I don't have particularly bad memories of playing those demos, none inspired me to go out and buy the full games.

Should not be allowed to give the sites "official" Import Review of the game.

For a while now, ok for years, I've watched the "star" commentors on Kotaku leave or get banned. I've watched the format change and the comments section become a trolling bonanza. But most importantly I've watched the site itself become one big jumbled mess of  mixed messages, garbage and fluff. Its all sensationalist writing for pageviews and all the writers airing their dirty mental health laundry. You wanna do that, its cool, but do't do it on a "professional" site.

Today's review is the straw that broke the camel's back and the thing that has led me to finally deleting Kotaku from my Bookmarks for good.

Worst part is, "official" reviews like these are the kinds of things that keep certain publishers from bringing their games here...So keep opinion where it belongs people. You do your readers a disservice by passing this garbage as professionalism, journalism, truth or fact.





3 comments:

Owais haider said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
xarabas said...

A friend of mine just linked me this and i must say, this is one of the best articles i've read regarding Craptaku. Also, you might enjoy this http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/vsbyd5/annoyed-gamer-fishing-for-outrage (skip to 6:10)

Sihaya Atreides said...

@Xarabas

Thank you so much. To be honest, I didn't think anyone read what I write :p
I enjoyed the link immensely by the way and could not agree more with it. True to my word I have not returned to Kotaku since writing this post and I don't intend to again. Its really a shame because once upon a time I enjoyed their site and its even the reason I started blogging.