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Review Quandary

Awww, it's like Link. With a staff. Oh, and you CAN get the Master Sword.

I want to review Magicka. I will review Magicka. The difficulty around that issue right now is that the game has been full of bugs, so that in order to not frustrate myself too much (stressful times and all that--don't want to add to it), whenever I come across something in the game that is frustrating, I step back and tell myself to give it a day.

Giving it a day has been an interesting method thus far. The fine folk at Arrowhead Game Studios have been patching the game non-stop, each day bringing more bug fixes. I mean, the first day, even looking at the list of multiplayer games was a difficult experience--not to mention features that should have been present (making games private) simply weren't. Those have changed for the better by now, and it's pleasant to see the studio so ardently casting their own code-code-code-code-pizza spell at the game.

Magicka certainly seems to be faring well in terms of sales, Paradox giving sales numbers after the first few days that were indicative of a good amount of buzz having been generated. Yet, I can't review it because I haven't fully played the game.

Last year certainly had its fair share of buggy titles, whether it be from Obsidian with both Alpha Protocol and Fallout: New Vegas to buggy expansions and DLC with titles like Dragon Age: Awakening--probably many others I have yet to try. These things happen when you're building a game--I can understand that.

Which is where I wonder where we, the people who write about the games come in to the picture. Both the developers an us, the writers, ultimately are responsible to you. Right now I'm essentially giving Magicka press, and raising awareness of the title itself. From what I've played that hasn't made me step way due to a bug, it's absolutely quirky, amusing, and the mechanics are like the joy that comes from every little scientist who could out there mixing chemicals and seeing what results. Yet, without the full picture, I don't feel comfortable giving that product review in its entirety. Who knows if it will suffer from game-end fatigue, where all the good stuff is packed up front so that by the end I'm tired and nothing is particularly grabbing me? Not yet, I don't.

Here's the thing, however. While a review is theoretically to provide you, the readers, with a guide to whether or not a game would interest you, a game that is bugged, and yet actively being patched, presents one of those strange riddles. Any review I give now would not encompass the entire experience of the game--or the experience of someone who might purchase the title when it is relatively bug free in however long that takes.

Which leads me to ask, should my policy be to point toward a game and say, "There might be something good here! Maybe... But proceed at your own risk--it's bugged."? After all, I'm not the type who actively despises any game company out there, even if I may be critical of some. I want to see the industry thrive, and particularly those with ideas I believe might be beneficial (Magicka's magic system really is amusing me with trying various things).

Either way, I do hope to have a review for you next week after giving it a few more ol' GayGamer tries.

5 Comments

CPFace said:

What was that old Miyamoto quote? A delayed game is eventually good, but a bad game is bad forever? I guess that's obsolete now that we're in the era of "release now, patch later".

I'm of two minds about the malleability of software these days. It's nice to know that problems can be fixed - there was much bruhaha over that lethal Metroid: Other M bug that Nintendo couldn't solve simply because they had no mechanism to do so. On the other hand, it may mean buying a product that's still in the process of development. I dunno, most of my gaming is on Wii, DS, and older consoles and portables, so I don't have a lot of experience with buying things that need to be patched later. I'm not sure we should come to accept the idea of buying something that doesn't work out of the box.

Charlie said:

I know that the push to release a game in time to hit the stores has a huge impact on the process but it's just so sad to see a game released that is broken to the point of being nearly unplayable at release.

I know many sites make a point of basing reviews on the product as it is released and yes that's weird with games that are played online and oft-patched. Much of the good stuff in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm came in a free patch not the retail release.

I'm so reminded of Quest for Glory 4 *nods at your bunny avatar* and how horrific its bugs were initially - especially as a mage.

oldtaku said:

I quite enjoy seeing the daily list of bugfixes in the Steam feed. It's also horrifying to see how many game-killing bugs are still lurking in there, and I'm not buying it or playing it till I hear from someone else that it's reasonably stable - and that person might be you!

Garuta said:

I miss the days before excessive patches, where releasing a game with crippling bugs was a death sentence. As it is, I'm of the viewpoint that if a game is put to market with horrible glitches and other effects then I'm not interested - they may or may not be fixed after all. So an early review, before the developers can try to patch things up, is of more interest to me than one written after they've had time to cover up their mistakes.

Shin Gallon said:

I downloaded the demo and frankly didn't see what all the fuss was about. An itneresting magic system is there, but it's saddled with terrible Diablo-esque controls (whoever first thought that clicking the mouse to determine where you run in a game that's not turn based should be shot). Honestly, the controls ruined the game for me completely, and despite it having a gamepad option in the menu, I'll be damned if it works. Maybe that's something they'll patch out.

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Shin Gallon on Review Quandary: I downloaded the demo and frankly didn't see what all the fuss was about. An itneresting magic system is there,...

Garuta on Review Quandary: I miss the days before excessive patches, where releasing a game with crippling bugs was a death sentence. As it...

oldtaku on Review Quandary: I quite enjoy seeing the daily list of bugfixes in the Steam feed. It's also horrifying to see how many...

Charlie on Review Quandary: I know that the push to release a game in time to hit the stores has a huge impact on...

CPFace on Review Quandary: What was that old Miyamoto quote? A delayed game is eventually good, but a bad game is bad forever? I...

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