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Empire Total War Debate

March 21st, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 19 Comments · Creative Assembly, Crispy Gamer, Review

One of my favorite things about Tom Chick as a critic is that he always argues a corner. A game either succeeds or fails, with little room for fence sitting. This does not mean that his reviews are not nuanced; he never ignores the good stuff or fails to contextualize the bad.

His recent Empire:Total War review, for example, is full of explanation and subtlety that generally boils down to asking what we, as gamers, should expect from developers who have been working on the same franchise for ten years. Most people who read it, of course, just saw the “Fry It” and used that as their entree to his commentary, reading everything through that lens instead of the other way around – reading the review as a lead up to the “score”.

And he is generally right about his complaints. I still think he is wrong to reject the game altogether.


19 Comments so far ↓

  • Gunner

    I was so hoping Tom would reference his “Chick Parabola” in the review.

    [Math nerd]
    It should probably be called the “Chick Function” though, with Empire happening to have a parabola as its shape. Great games would then be constant high-value lines ;)
    [/Math nerd]

  • Thomas Kiley

    I love how some people seem to think there is a conspiracy with you and Sega! Like that Crispy, despite posting often controversial reviews without any qualms, would turn to you to write a counter review, rather than just removing Tom’s review and being stupid enough to let him write it in the first place (stupid because they knew he would hardly post an overly positive review)

  • James Allen

    Makes me feel better about not getting it. Back to DoW2 and its craptacular GfWL matchmaking!

  • Thomas Kiley

    @James Allen
    Does your Steam connection, seemingly every day, cut out and stop you playing Dawn of War? It is really starting to annoy me! Also, switch to custom games, much much quicker, particularly for team games.

  • James Allen

    It’s been doing that the past couple of days, making me log off and log back on Steam.
    As for custom games…but I want my level to increase!

  • Scott R. Krol

    Steam is pure garbage.

  • James Allen

    If Steam is pure garbage, then Games for Windows LIVE! is nuclear waste. Last night, the “matchmaking” placed rank 46, rank 35, and rank 26 players against rank 6, rank 3, and rank 3. It goes without saying that the results were determined before the game even began.

  • Bruce

    Who is this “Tom Chick” and what does he know about anything??

  • Sean Tudor

    I’ve always respected Tom’s viewpoint. He has a knack of focusing on the important issues with most games. I am personally enjoying the game and I am hoping the game devs take Tom’s comments on the chin and use them to improve the game.

    Speaking of problems with the game I have a couple:

    1. The fortifications option for artillery is often placed out of alignment to the guns which then fire into their own walls. This has annoyed me so much I have stopped using that option.

    2. Attacking cities/large fortifications seems to be a hit and miss affair. Namely you can not always target walls. Maybe I am missing something here.

    3. The much marketed naval warfare mechanic seems to lack finesse and comes across more as an arcade game within the game.

  • Michael A.

    Got the game on release day, and while I clocked up a good many hours on it, I’m definitely not a fan – the AI is simply too inert for it to remain fun for me. But I can see where you are coming from, even though my personal opinion aligns much more with Tom’s.

    It’s just plain sad (in lieu of stronger words) to read people blasting either you – or Tom Chick for that matter – for having opinions on the game different from theirs.

  • George Geczy

    I just read that the moderators on the ETW official forums are actually deleting references and posts that link to Tom’s review. Seriously???! I don’t have the time to visit for myself and confirm that as true, but if so, it just shows even further how big publishers and big studios are trying to ‘manipulate’ the media. And it’s just sad.

    PS – the pic caption “Don’t we look good? Who cares if we’re dumb?” made my day :)

  • James Allen

    Censorship makes the world go ’round.

  • Jimmy Brown

    I enjoyed Tom’s review. The essentials of it seemed to line up well with reviews that were more positive in tone. Every well-written review I have read, positive or negative, has lead me to believe I won’t like this game. (This is why the words are more important than the meaningless score.)

  • Troy

    While Sega has every right to delete references to Tom’s review, it is a big mistake to try to cover up bad news. It only fans the anger of people who agree with Tom – and he makes a strong case – especially since he says nothing that is factually incorrect.

    Since Metacritic really doesn’t know what to do with Crispy Gamer’s “scoring” system, they may hope that the review will just vanish down the memory hole of the internet. Even though I disagree with Tom, I’m not about to let that happen.

  • James Allen

    How would you “convert” the Crispy Gamer system? 50/75/100? 33/67/100?

  • Troy

    I wouldn’t convert it. The word description is more than adequate and emphasizes that the rating is a recommendation from the reviewer, not a “grade”.

    Back in the good old days of the internet, the original Daily Radar had a similar system, with Direct Hits and Misses. That was before the aggregators decided to covert everything to a number so they could come up with an overall score.

  • George Geczy

    Metacritic has been pissing me off anyways. First of all they are somewhat North-American centric, occasionally tossing in a foreign review for who knows what reason, while missing other foreign press that is more substantial. For example, why report the scores of PC Gamer US but usually not PC Gamer Italy or Sweden or (insert name of Future Media sister publication here). And their choice of who to include and who not to include for PC titles seems arbitrary and generally random.

    Metacritic haven’t listed an ETW review below 80%, yet they have such world-famous sources as ‘Hellboard’ and ‘Eurogamer Portugal’ in their ETW scores.

  • Scott R. Krol

    Metacritic, like Steam, is also garbage for all the reasons George points out.

  • Troy

    No one has to convince me of the low quality of Metacritic.

    I still like Steam. Mostly.