Tomb Raider Underworld Reviews

By Shamus Posted Monday Dec 1, 2008

Filed under: Video Games 54 comments

In a phone call from publisher Eidos to a game review site:

If you're planning on reviewing Tomb Raider Underworld at less than an 8.0, we need you to hold your review till Monday.

They (Eidos) came out later and tried to put a good face on things, which was a fumbling attempt to convince us we didn’t see what we just saw. I mean, who are you going to believe, us, or what we said yesterday?

Just that we're trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the US that's handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out, really, just to ensure that we don't put people off buying the game, basically.

That is to say: We would just like the reviewers to hold off doing their jobs until we can fleece their readers.

I’ve always had a dim view of numeric review scores. Trying to assign a floating-point value to a subjective opinion is a ridiculous practice, and you need only apply it to other things in life to reveal it as such. Oh yeah. I love tacos. Definitely a 8.7 on my personal food scale. My new wife? Yeah. She’s pretty great. At least a 9.2 for sure. Numbers are the refuge of reviewers who don’t have the ability or license to express themselves in words, which is ostensibly their purpose.

But a numeric score that is manipulated by the industry is worse than just absurd. It’s a calculated lie, and reviewers that take part in this scheme are salting their own fields. Whatever reprisal Eidos might deliver in response to an honest and timely review is nothing compared to the realization among your readers that your entire enterprise is a sock puppet on the hand of the marketing department of Eidos.

Why did you spend all that time and money learning to be a journalist if you were just going to end up working in advertising? (Disclaimer: I realize most reviewers would probably love to tell it like it is, and are held in check by editors, who are held in check by managers, whole are ruled by advertising money, which comes from the publishers. It is a system that works to undermine itself from start to finish.)

This makes me want to go into videogame journalism myself. I’m thinking of sending out some resumes with a cover letter:


Thanks so much for taking time to consider my application. I am applying for the position of "Videogame Reviewer" because I believe I can add a unique voice to your publication.

If you hire me, I promise to be relentlessly hard to please as a reviewer, to the point of expressing open hostility towards anyone with the audacity to send me one of their titles for review. I will author reviews so scathing that they will cause the developers to flinch and weep like battered housewives. In some cases, my words may even draw blood. I will be so merciless and hate-filled that the government will have to invent a new arm of the witness protection program just for people who make sub-par games. Not only will publishers refuse to buy ad space in your publication, they will do their level best to prevent their offerings from falling into your hands. I will not rest until every publisher has dragged all of us into court for libel.

I'm really looking forward to working with you!


Shamus Young

Of course, someone is already doing this. And he’s the most well-known game reviewer out there. This is not an accident.


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54 thoughts on “Tomb Raider Underworld Reviews

  1. krellen says:

    It’d never work, Shamus. Like most Robin Hoods, you don’t have a British accent.

  2. Picador says:

    Other than ZP, are there any reviewers that aren’t working for the publishers? It’s really weird that the Internet has a million and one reviews of everything, but video games seem to be reviewed exclusively by the publishing companies themselves and their paid spokesmen.

  3. Magnus says:

    But has the power got to Yahtzee? His reviews don’t seem quite so ferocious to me these days, and they almost show a balanced and reasonable perspective, which isn’t why I watch ZP. I watch it for the comedy value of him ripping into the latest releases, even those that I’ll buy anyway.

  4. BarGamer says:

    I was giggling all through your article until I hovered over the last link, and that pushed me over into a full LOL. Awesome.

  5. Eldiran says:

    That would be the goings on that are referenced in this, right?

    Yeah, I thought that comic was about a 7.8. But now that I’ve read about the actual happenings, I’d say it’s at least an 8.6 for sure.

  6. Jordi says:

    While I agree that the numeric ratings of games in reviews lose their value when they are governed by the publishers, I don’t agree that numeric ratings are useless in principle.

    Or rather, I think the ordering that follows from them can be useful. Let’s suppose for a second that those ratings are actually based on the experience of playing a game (or tasting a taco or whatever). First of all, while the ratings may not reflect perfectly what the reviewers thought, it’s certainly a lot quicker to look at a bunch of ratings than it is to read all reviews. For instance, when looking for a good game, you might sort all reviewed games by rating (and then you could maybe read the top few). Also, it is very often not clear what a reviewer liked better. Maybe he gave positive reviews to two games, but he didn’t actively compare them, so you don’t know which he liked better. Numeric scores compare all games to all other games.

    Now of course, I’m not saying that they are more useful than an actual review in general. However, they can serve as a tie-breaker or a fast way to filter for good games (or games with good graphics, or replay value, etc. if the ratings go deeper).

  7. Anaphyis says:

    Scores are nearly useless. As a sort of “management summary” you still have to read the whole review anyway because something might have lowered/raised the score you don’t give a shit about in the first place etc. so the only legitimate use is to aggregate reviews in Metacritic et al.

    However, this falls flat in the end too because scores are not comparable as the emphasis on different aspects shift with each reviewer and each generation. Is a 90’s game with 9.0 comparable to a 2008 game with 9.0? No chance in hell.

    So the only thing left a score accomplishes is to see whether the reviewers in general liked it or hated it. And for that, a model like rottentomatoes would not only work better but would also be more honest.

  8. B.J. says:

    Yahtzee is mean but he’s also funny. Everyone knows it’s okay to be a jerk as long as it makes people laugh.

  9. Matt K says:

    Out of curiosity, have you looked at reviews now a days? I ask because I was recently considering buying a DS and so I figured I’d see what games would be worth getting. Pretty much every review I read was completely worthless. They all tended to gloss over the game itself to talk about god knows what. Want to know what flaws a game has? Good luck. Even poorly rated games tend to gloss over most of the games substance. I actually found a reviewer (at 1UP) who spent the entire review talking about how RPG’s suck (in a review for an RPG). God help me if I actually wanted to know about the game. In the end I gave up and decided against getting a DS mostly because I could find few games I knew I’d like.

  10. Robert says:

    I’d hire you. Let’s find some venture capital and get rich.

  11. Floating point? For statically scaled numbers? Shamus, you horrify me! Scaled integers are far less… rabid.

    With regards to the meat of the post, Eidos has been pretty horrifying since whatever they did after Deus Ex. Gaming juggernauts these days disgust me, and I’m not really surprised that they produce so few games that I’d enjoy.


  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Scores serve the purpose of knowing with just a glance ups and downs of the game.Of course,they are useless the way they are now because there is no average against which we measure things.

    “Whatever reprisal Eidos might deliver in response to an honest and timely review is nothing compared to the realization among your readers that your entire enterprise is a sock puppet on the hand of the marketing department of Eidos.”

    Wasnt someone fired for giving a negative review?Yeah,I think the first one can be much,much worse.

  13. Luke Maciak says:

    @Jordi – while what you say is true, it does not work well in practice. If you look through the gaming magazines you will notice that 80% of the reviews fall somewhere in the 7.5-9.5 out of 10 range. Also, hardly any game ever scores lower than 5. I can’t ever remember reading a review that would be rated at 1. I have seen many 10’s though.

    One would expect these scores to be distributed evenly – it should be a bell curve. So you’d expect most games to fall in between the score of 4 and 7. But they don’t.

    So saying “give me all the games with a score higher than 8” would essentially give you MOST of the published reviews.

    If you narrow it to everything but 9 and higher, you still get MOST of the published reviews.

    And that includes games that are clearly not a 9-10 material. The system is clearly not working but it is not just the advertising.

    I tried to do this score thing myself at one point. I would review games and movies on a 5 star scale and caught myself doing the same exact thing. Everything I did not hate was rated 4 or 4.5 or 5.

  14. Robyrt says:

    Thanks to score inflation, games are effectively graded on two scales: 4-7 for cheap games and 8-10 for AAA games. Low expectations are not required; rather, a lot of review sites go by the misguided idea that they should add up scores for graphics, sound, design, value and feel to arrive at a total score. Since any big-budget game these days can achieve good scores in 4 out of 5 of these categories, it’s not surprising that 75-80% is the cutoff. A collection of minigames, on the other hand, is likely to miss points for graphics and feel automatically, limiting it to a 6 or 7 at most.

    As a result, the most valuable information is compressed into the area between 88% and 96% that distinguishes a good game from a great game. This makes a Rotten Tomatoes style of ranking impossible. A better solution would be to move towards the style of film reviews, where the reviewer grades by overall impression rather than objective standards of cinematography and whatnot.

  15. lebkin says:

    @Luke Maciak

    The desire to rate games higher is definitely part of the problem. Part of this is because very high scores on highly anticipated games make good headlines, where as lower scores causes fanboys to go headhunting. Take the response to Jeff Gerstmann giving Twilight Princess an 8.8. Fans were screaming for his blood. None of them actually read his review and argued his points (tacked on Wii controls, same gameplay as OoT, etc.). They just wanted their game to get a perfect ten.

    The other part of the problem is that a reviewer starts with a 10.0, and then subtracts points as he sees fit. This leads to scores on the high end of the scale. Starting at zero would lead to problems in the opposite direction. Really, one should start in the middle and work up and down as needed. This puts the bulk of the scores in the center, as expected.

    Personally, I tend to rate things personally on a 5 star rating system. I picked this up from Netflix, where I am rating everything I watch. Everything starts with three stars. That’s an average movie/game with no glaring problems, but nothing amazing either. Four stars is a good one, and five is an excellent one. Two stars usually is things that either have technical or content problems. One star are for having problems with both the technical and content.

    This causes a large bunchup in the middle, and the ratings fall out to a bell-curve in both directions. It works out well I think, and it would be nice to see something similar applied in more places ( already does).

    It is also important to understand that reviews are personal, and to emphasize this rather than to pretend a review is objective. Mass Effect is a 5 out of 5 stars FOR ME. I have no delusions that everyone in the universe will agree with me. As a consumer reading reviews, you need to know the interests and tastes of the person doing the review, and that those into account. Aggregate scores from places like Metacritic are completely useless and should be ignored.

  16. Eric J says:

    I haven’t watched it recently, but X-Play on TechTv/G4 always seemed pretty honest and willing to give negative reviews.

  17. Illiterate says:

    I generally use amazon reviews. I know some will be written by guerilla marketeers, but there is also a simple democracy of registered users being able to add their own comments, strike down excessively favorable ones.

  18. Nalano says:

    DaemLuci – “Wasnt someone fired for giving a negative review? Yeah, I think the first one can be much, much worse.”

    Aside from the job security of the individual reviewer, there’s the much more important reputation of the magazine he’s writing for. If you’re little more than a glossy shill for Electronic Arts, your (probably already flagging) readership stands only to dwindle further.

    I haven’t bought a games mag in years. I think I quit at about the same time PC Accelerator went under.

    Of course, I’m also of the opinion that the games companies are only shooting themselves in the foot by creating unreasonable expectations for what are an unrelenting cavalcade of mediocrity. Two years of hype for a game that was done better eight years prior makes for a very cynical public. Which means that EA/Blizzard/Eidos/LucasArts et al are now the Congress of the gaming industry.

  19. Kizer says:

    I know this sounds strange, but the reviews from Nintendo Power have actually been pretty reliable in my opinion. I have seen games that were lauded during the preview stage then ripped to shreds during review (Soul Calibur: Legends comes to mind). Nintendo Power is no longer actually owned by Nintendo of America, which has led to better reviews of most games. These reviews actually talk about things like gameplay and game content, rather than ranting about the genre. Also, games that get shafted by reviews still seem to advertise in the magazine. This seems to me like a good source of information, I haven’t been lead astray by a NP review yet. Of course, this is pretty much useless for non-Nintendo systems. Good luck finding honest reviews for those.

  20. Spammy V says:

    I *HATE* Yahtzee’s reviewing style, because he takes the core of gaming -having fun- out of his reviews for a generic Internet hatestorm.

  21. Zaghadka says:

    Yeah, and Yahtzee’s campus trip to Valve had nothing to do with his fanboyish review of the “Orange Box.”

    A government must establish laws against payola. It’s the only thing that works. Until then, the whole review industry is destined to undermine itself.

  22. Cuthalion says:

    The thing about “5/10 is average” is that we don’t think that way, at least not in the U.S. See, here we give students letter grades based on percentages. If a person gets 70%-79% of the questions right on a test, that is considered a “C” which means “average”. I don’t know if it’s actually average or not; it seems to me average is more like 85%, but then I hang around nerdy perfectionists.

    So we’re programmed by 12 years of mandatory schooling (and often 4 more voluntary years) to view 7.5 as average. 7.0-7.9 or 3 1/2 stars is mediocre. “C”.

    8.0-8.9 or 4 stars is above average. Good enough to buy. “B”.

    9.0-10.0 or 4 1/2 to 5 stars is excellent. Worthy of praise. Buy it now. “A”.

    Going the other direction, 6.0-6.9 or 3 stars is below average. Don’t buy it unless you’re bored and it’s in the bargain bin. “D”.

    Anything less that 6.0 or less than 3 stars is a failure. Just like in most schools around here, if you get less than 60%, you FAIL. You have to take the class again and again until you pass or just quit and get a GED. “F”.

    I think that’s why every time I rate something, I find myself giving it 4+ stars if I like it, 3 stars or less if I hate it, and 3 1/2 if it was forgettable. I can try having 5.0 or 2 1/2 stars as the average point, but my brain doesn’t work that way. The first few things I’ll rate will center around 5.0, but then everything will drift towards 7.5, making the older stuff look worse than it is.

    Sorry, the American education system has spoiled it again!

  23. Lebkin says:


    See, I have that problem of thinking in grades based on percentages when dealing with a 10 or a 100 point scale. Thus a 7.0 is the average in a 10 point scale. But using stars helps me break free of that mindset. Something about that kind of scale prevents me from instantly translating it to a percentage. I am not sure why that is, but it works well for me.

  24. Cuthalion says:


    Yeah, I also find it easier to break out of the 7.5 average with stars or circle rating systems. I will still default to it, but if it has a guide like “5 = amazing, 4 = great, 3 = good, 2 = fair, 1 = terrible”, it’s easier to override my default method.

    I bet it’s because we write percentages as numbers out of 100. So base 10 scales are easier to think of that way than base 4 or 5 scales like stars or circles. We’d have to multiply by 20 to make it a percent. (1 = 20%, 2 = 40%, 3 = 60%, 4 = 80%, 5 = 100%; or worse, 3 1/2 -> 3.5 -> 70%, etc.) Whereas with 10/100 scales, all we have to do is move the decimal point, if even that. (On a 100-scale, we don’t have to do anything!)

    But I bet if we were all raised in a country where 50% was a C, 20% was an F, and 80% was an A, then we’d rate games based on a 5/10 average without even thinking about it.

  25. Chargone says:

    and the joys of an education system that gives you your results in either raw numerical form or ‘you passed, you didn’t’ [or sometimes both] show themselves.

    which is amazing given the NZ education system’s other problems. but anyway.

    it’s been so long since i read an actual review for a game Before buying it. I’ve actually found places willing to give a game Bad reviews if they think it’s bad. the problem was that the reviews were, among other things, full of factual errors, and obviously assigned to someone who hated the entire genre to the point of desiring to actively sabotage it in the first place.

    it’s a sad day when the advertising on the back of the box is actually one of the better ways to judge how good something will be.

    [hint: clean and tidy (not cutting edge, necessarily, but genre appropriate) graphics are a good sign. not the most important thing ever, and no guarantee, but when you’re looking on the back of the case….

    of course, no grantee that applies to all genres, but definitely for RPGs and strategy games.]

  26. Anaphyis says:

    or worse, 3 1/2 -> 3.5 -> 70%

    This might be off topic, but whatever, because I can’t help wondering: You are really afraid of fractions in the US, aren’t you? That’s also the main argument I always hear when it comes to metric vs. imperial.

  27. Lochiel says:

    The problem with ZP is the exact same as the problems with reviews who have sold out; ZP is just the opposite color. No matter how the game is ZP will rip it apart and tell you it sucks, assuming he talks about the game and not his views on people who play games or game design.

    While his reviews are hilarious, in the end you learn little about the game and have no information to help you decide to play it or not.

  28. Krellen says:

    Eric J @15:
    I haven't watched it recently, but X-Play on TechTv/G4 always seemed pretty honest and willing to give negative reviews.

    X-Play has sold out. I stopped watching after they gave a game a 4 out of 5 because “the graphics weren’t the best”. They never said the bad graphics deterred from the gameplay – just that they weren’t “the best”.

    No, I don’t remember the game. Yes, that is the only flaw they mentioned.

  29. KarmaDoor says:

    @ Matt K
    I have found the user responses at DS Fanboy to be a surprisingly good indication of games. Despite the site’s name, most are rather level headed and well written on their commentary. Finding a thread pertaining to any certain game may be tricky since it is a blog format, but it’s likely to be there.
    Also, they have a wonderful feature entitled “Burt the Shovelware.”
    No numbers are involved. ;)

  30. Felblood says:

    I’m going to meditate on this and see if I can come up with a rating system that works.

    For a starting point, what’s wrong with a “7.5 is average” system, so long as we admit that that’s what we’re working on.

    Naturally, in such a system, a low score would be superfluous, as nobody would earn one, since you effectively get points for actually being a game, and actually running under the system specs.

    Honestly though, only hitting 70% and still getting a passing grade seems unlikely in a useful rating system.
    We don’t want “good enough to be average in a general education program games, we want professional quality games, and a system that gives useful ratings based on professional range qualities.

    The scoring system itself isn’t the problem anyway, though. Look at the way Game Informer started treating Bandai games, after they started buying full page of ads in every issue: From 4.0-6.7 they jumped up to an 8-9.7.

    Maybe, Bandai just saw the scores and started making better games, and maybe your political party of choice isn’t a pack of lying scumbags, like all the others.

    I wonder what you would need to make an honesty rating scale for politicians…

  31. Cuthalion says:

    I wonder what you would need to make an honesty rating scale for politicians…

    Several lightyears of duct tape on which to write an appropriate integer, some bizzare timeflow manipulation to keep the writers from aging and dying while they write the number, and a very large negative sign at the starting point of the tape.

    You are really afraid of fractions in the US, aren't you? That's also the main argument I always hear when it comes to metric vs. imperial.

    Haha! I’m not really sure how fear of fractions is an argument in favor of the imperial system… unless you actually meant it the other way around. We’re not really afraid of fractions, it’s just that we’re less likely to subconciously turn 3 1/2 stars into 70% than we are to turn 7.0 into 70%.

    And as long as we’re talking about measurement systems (of game quality) and since you brought up metric vs. imperial… I like imperial. It just feels more practical, but maybe that’s because I grew up with it. I mean, it’s easier to do math in metric, but for everyday use it actually seems less cumbersome to describe stuff in imperial.

    I mean, who wants to order “a 113-gram burger” over “a quarter-pounder”? Or a “40-centimeter pizza” instead of a “16-inch pizza”. It’s easier to visualize smaller numbers. (Although I suppose you could just ask for a “family size pizza”…)

    Besides, using imperial makes me feel special. <3

  32. Shamus says:

    On fractions: Don’t forget one of the drawbacks is that some rating systems are 5-star and some are 4-star. So 3 1/2 might be 70% or it might be 87.5%. There is no such ambiguity with decimals and percentages.

    On the metric system: I got to know the metric system in my early 20’s. My job required making 3d objects for a virtual world, which was built on the metric system where 1.0 units = 1 decameter. I’m pretty comfortable with the metric system now, and of course the ease of arithmetic is a massive boon.

    By only gripe in moving from imperial to metric is that it lacks a good equivalent to feet and inches. Measuring people in centimeters feels like measuring the distance from your house to the pub in matchsticks. There is decimeters (dm) which is ideal for this, but nobody seems to actually use decimeters. As in the example above, a 4dm pizza sounds good, and a 40cm one sounds… wrong.

    Decameters is also a really handy unit, but nobody uses it and there is no imperial equivalent. Both systems jump from yards/meters to miles/kilometers. You need a unit for those distances that are too far to hop and too short to drive.

  33. Avilan the Grey says:

    Shamus, being “Yurpan” (Swedish) I fail to see how 40cm feels “wrong”. But then I have never understood Feet and Inches (or Cups, Ounces, or Stones. And I am married to a woman from St. Louis.
    It’s just a matter of what you’re used to. :)


    I have said it before and I say it again: I am so lucky to live in a country who’s local edition of PC Gamer is a totally reliable source. (Said seriously, sort of).
    They regulary give games <50%. Worst ever was Postal that was given a 16%(!) rating.
    And yes, they rate hyped titles realistically too. Spore got high 80ies, Tomb Raider legends low 80ies, as did Fallout 3, and always with clear pros and cons. (In Fallout 3’s case the main complaint was the 3D models, the cramped feeling (everything too close together) but on the other hand the reweier felt addicted to the game and kept coming back to it despite it’s flaws.
    Right now I can’t list the names (forgotten!) but I have seen several hyped games over the last two years with scores lower than 75.

  34. ehlijen says:

    We could borrow a page from star wars and start measuring those distances to big for meters and too small for kms in ‘minuts'(that it takes us to walk there). In fact, I frequently do.

    The big advantage of the imperial system is that all the words are one syllable: inch, foot, yard, mile (I’m not familiar with it beyond that, so sorry if I’m wrong). Meter is 2 syllables and it only gets worse from there. Why use a longer word when a shorter one is just as good? (Btw I grew up in metric germany and only ever use the imperial system in warhammer 40k; I’m just too ingrained in metric).

  35. Avilan the Grey says:

    Ehlijen: In Swedish we have a Metric unit called “Mil” that is 10km. So the cumbersome “35 kilometres” is reduced to “3.5 mil”.

  36. Illiterate says:

    ehlijen — i’d be careful about using star wars measurements. They used “parsec” to indicate speed, not distance.

    I’m relatively comfortable with imperial for distance
    12 inches to a foot, three feet to a yard, one hundred yards to a football field, fivethousand two hundred eighty feet to a mile.

    Liquid measurements confuse me, though. 16 oz to a cup? or is is 12? 8? How many oz in a pint? How many quarts to a gallon? How many pints to a tun?

    As for “well, 40 centimeters is harder to visualize than 16 inches”.. we imperial users have been doing that all our lives, thinking of large numbers. There’s an ounce. There’s a pound, and then two THOUSAND pounds is a ton. So we have to be able to think qualitatively about what the difference is between one hundred pounds and two hundred pounds.. Between 20 pounds and 40 pounds.

    It’s just what you’re used to. And yeah, metric measurements *win* for easy calculations. doesn’t mean they’ll ever feel right to ignorant yankees like myself.

  37. Coffee says:

    In the UK, we’re officially on the Metric System.

    Doesn’t stop people, though.

  38. JKjoker says:

    Imperial is idiotic simply because different units are not divided the same way, in metric you know the next unit is 10 times bigger, but using imperial it depends on the unit, also, i hate that weight includes gravity, caused me hell during my general mechanics class (we had to use a US book, meh)

  39. Alex says:

    “Of course, someone is already doing this. And he's the most well-known game reviewer out there. This is not an accident.”

    He’s also one of the worst, completely missing the point of every game that is lowered into his gaping jaw and offering scathing reviews to games with minor issues that every decent game has. He also doesn’t have to worry about Eidos pressuring The Escapist to fire him for saying those mean, hurtful things about their gamey-games, so perhaps it isn’t a fair comparison. I’d think of him more as a champion for journalistic honesty if he were, you know, actually a journalist in this sort of thing.

    But he’s funny so let’s all give him a free ride lolomgwtfbbq

    I get what you’re saying Shamus, but you chose a lousy example. (I’d have linked to Dan Shoe’s or Jeff Gerstmann’s blogs instead, since here are game reviewers with some honesty in addition to sanity, who don’t just troll for trolling’s sake).

  40. Mario says:

    The first and most basic problem with the metric system is that 10 is just a bad number. I agree that we should have a simple system, but we should change our base-10 system first. A duodecimal metric system would be far superior.

    The second problem is that the measurements themselves are nonsense. A meter is what we thought was 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the equator to the north pole. A kilogram is what that thing over there weighs. Imperial measurements are just as meaningless, but their usefulness in rough estimates is tested by time; pounds and feet are used because they are just really convenient sizes for most tasks.

    As for game reviews, I think Yahtzee succeeds because it is far easier to gauge something’s actual worth against a uniformly negative review over a uniformly positive one. If someone criticizes nothing, you know they must be leaving something out.

  41. SiliconScout says:

    I find if you take him and juxtapose him against the standard reviews you get a good feel for the game.

    It would be nice if we had such thing as an honest reviewer, but it won’t happen. Marketing Departments exist to control the message and since review sites need revenue …..

    The only way it could exist was if there was a site that has some sort of subscription to get reviews (thus was not dependant on marketing). However keeping their review from being made known to those who didn’t pay the fee is well neigh impossible and thus it would never work.

  42. Kevin says:

    Reminds me of the Organic Foods Council trying to get an official seal for foods that met with their criteria. After the agribusinesses got through with the FDA, the seal had been formally disallowed, as it “might negatively impact the sales of foods not bearing the seal.”

    In other words, you can’t do it because if people knew our standards weren’t as high as our competitors, they might not buy our products. Yay free market!

  43. Pickly says:

    A kilogram is what that thing over there weighs.

    For a bit of trivia, a gram is the mass of a cubic centimeter of water, so a kilogram is about 1,000 of those. (It’s actually about at the same scale as a pound.)

  44. Talrogsmash says:

    Further Pickly all the measurements in metric are based on the measurement of water at STP. And later, the mole is then based on that base amount of water.

    So only if you passed high school chemistry do you understand the reason behind metric’s existance. That will include most readers here but exclude most video game mag readers.

  45. guy says:

    Metric exists to be easy to do math in.

  46. Document says:

    On the subject of X-Play, I really liked their review of the first Penny Arcade game. If memory serves, they outlined the basic concept of the game and spent the rest of the review laughing at the name “Fruit Fucker”, then gave it a 4/5 despite there not being a single word in the review about why they thought it was good or bad.

  47. The Werebear says:

    The reason I like ZP as a review is that he wears his biases on his sleeve. It’s easy enough to adjust for them when he waves them around in such an obvious manner. Since my standards for games pretty much line up with his, it makes it pretty easy for me to pick out what’s useful and what’s merely entertaining.

    And even if he is primarily an entertainer first (yeah, pretty much), it is refreshing to see someone call it like they see it with such…vigor. It’s the same reason I like the reviews here. Fun and informative, and really, the only reviews I will take with something less than a shaker of salt.

  48. Nathan says:

    I will second the claim that Nintendo Power magazine has surprisingly good reviews, both with the ten-point numerical scale they use for physical product and the amusing “Grumble Grumble/Hmmm…/Recommended” scale they use for downloadable products. They are honest about the exact game reasons for their scores, and tend to give very fair scores, even if they don’t really escape the “five point scale” issue because they never give anything less than a 6 (but they do tend to give a 6 fairly often).

    Still, my favorite game reviewer was the “RPG Critic” who put up reviews on the old Working Designs site several years ago. He was a genre specialist (a plus in my book) who gave pretty much every score from zero to eleven (yes, eleven). If your game was a buggy, unplayable wreck, it got a zero. If it was one of the greatest RPGs of its time, it got a ten or eleven. I disagreed with him strongly on a few games (like poor Suikoden 2, which deserved so much better), but he tended to get things right.

    These days, if I need a review, I usually go to the review section at, and read the many fan reviews they have for every game. While they are always biased and tend to exaggerate, you still can learn a lot about the game from the perspective of normal paying customers and fans of the genre. It makes the professional review system seem a bit obsolete.

    Edit: Ugh, I still hate this avatar…

  49. Avilan the Grey says:

    Mario: Forgive my rude ignorance but what is duodecimal?

    Also, Why is ten a bad number? It is one of the most logical ones, since we have ten fingers etc (we instinctively like the number). On top of that… The rest of your argument makes even less sense; you admit that the measurements themselves are as arbitrary as the metric ones, but you claim that they “suit your needs over time” and “has been proven” when what it really means is “you are used to them and don’t want to change”.
    The metric system is far superior on one point only: logic. 10mm = 1cm. 10cm = 1dm. 10dm=1m. On top of that it gets better:10ml=1cl. 10cl=1dl. 10dl=1l
    And now for the big thing: volume (liters) and length (cm) are connected!
    10x10x10cm=1 cubic dm. It just so happens that 1 cubic dm = 1 liter, exactly.
    Now compare that with inches (french or imperial?), feet? Ounces? Cups? Teaspoons?… It’s a nightmare.

    Anyway, back on topic: I enjoy reviewers who wears their bias on their sleeves. I won’t take them seriously, but they are almost always funny to read. I would not use them for advice on what products to buy, however.

  50. Chris Arndt says:

    You are really afraid of fractions in the US, aren't you?

    Fractions can be next to useless in many forms of notation and communication because it reads both as an incomplete equation and as a number in and of itself that is less than 1.

  51. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I don’t have a problem with people using the Imperial system if they feel like it. It’s when the official institutions starts using it that it becomes quite annoying.

    Like the Mars Lander something crash. It would never have happened if somebody in the U.S. governement had said once: “Ok. Now metric system is mandatory for every freaking measurement in the governement” or at least in the scientific department.

    It’s not about forcing people to use metric system. It’s about reackoning that the rest of the world’s institution are using Metric, and that your institutions would integrate better if they just took the superior metric system.

  52. tussock says:

    Decameters is also a really handy unit, but nobody uses it and there is no imperial equivalent. Both systems jump from yards/meters to miles/kilometers. You need a unit for those distances that are too far to hop and too short to drive.

    Decameter? That’s not really used in actual metricated countries. It’s within a couple % of a Hand in the old measures, FYI, which is still used to measure horses with.

    The units between a yard and a mile are the Chain (22 yards, common old surveyors measure seen in older land titles and such, length of a cricket wicket, and width of medieval English acres) and Furlong (10 Chain, 1/8 of a mile, still used for horse racing, and the length of that same acre).

    You also have the Rod or Pole, at 1/4 Chain, but it faded from use after surveyors changed from using official rods to official chains (originally the pole used to guide the oxen plowing those acres).

    Metric mostly uses decimals across base 1000 steps, give or take for specialty uses.

  53. felblood says:

    Units that don’t increase on a consistent multiplier are only stupid if they’re new, or there are too many of them.

    Pointless debates about whose traditions are more stupid aside, I don’t think ZP really misses the the point as much as it tries to look like it does.

    If you’re interested enough in a title to watch the ZP review, you already know what the point is. You can learn the point from an advertisement.

    The reviewer exists to give us the information we’ll never find in an advertisement: What’s wrong with it.

    “What’s wrong with it?” is the key question in the mind of the modern consumer. Nobody want’s to buy a game for the Concept and then throw it away (or return it if you have a console) because of some fun-sucking flaw that eradicates your ability to experience the Concept.The critic exists to warn us about flaws, not gush for half a page about gorgeous graphics and then put in a half sentence like: “Oh, but there are some minor bugs.”

    I’ll be the one to judge what bugs are minor! Me! The Consumer!

    Yahtzee plays a game, and then he talks about everything wrong with it, in case you might be the sort that can’t tolerate that particular flaw, and because armchair game design is way more fun than the real thing.

    He doesn’t like the same kinds of games I do, and occasionally let’s his personally tastes drag him to the level of criticizing the point instead of the execution, but overall I find his opinions to be among the most useful available.

    It’s a valuable service, and the reason that he and Shamus are my favorite reviewers.

    They tell me what I really want to know.

  54. felblood says:

    Anyone interested in migrating the USA to metric, should read up on the history of time zones in Idaho.

    People will use whatever system their TV station uses. It doesn’t matter where the Sun is, if the TV say’s it’s noon, it’s noon.

    American engineering however, will remain unmoved until there is a way to tell the thread of a metric bolt by briefly looking at it, or better yet, just feeling it.

    Since that has to include all European and Asian countries currently using the metric system, this event will be preceded by either the flying pig, or the coming of the rule of the anti-Christ.

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