Variety.com Reviews Metroid Prime 3, Fails

Video Game Media Watch criticises Variety.com’s review of Nintendo’s latest Metroid game:

I’m not familiar with the reviewer, Tom Chick, and I probably won’t become familiar with him, either. While he’s done his homework and he possesses some knowledge of the franchise, the reader can’t really tell if this is through true experience or more of a Wikipedia job. While I’ve warned against ingrained game industry journalists taking a haughty stance with the mass media, there’s a difference between fearing their intrusion and rightly noting the deficiencies in their ability, at times, to opine on actual game design.

Here’s a quote from the Variety.com review:

In addition to being borderline nonsensical, “Metroid Prime 3” is also difficult. It has the audacity to say, “Welcome to this strange place. Now go figure it out.” Much of the game consists of groping around strange places, puzzling out devices, and traveling back and forth to find new powers, which serve also as “keys” to get to previously unreachable areas.

Exploration of new and unfamiliar territory, retracing one’s steps, and finding new powers to reach new areas are key elements of the Metroid series. Yes, these things are difficult, but they are also defining aspects of Metroid. Audacious to non-gamers, perhaps. Not so much to gamers.

Another quote from Variety.com:

Too much of the time, though, “Metroid Prime 3” is more tedious than epic. This is particularly true of the boss battles, which are exhaustive affairs requiring dedication, patience, and most importantly, a familiarity with the vocabulary of videogames: double jumping, circle strafing, shooting weak points for massive damage, etc. Those who previously used the Wii only for party games will need a 13 year-old boy to explain it all.

Again, this guy doesn’t appear to have played videogames before, because he seems surprised about how boss battles work. That “13 year-old boy” comment is even more ignorant.

EDIT – 1 October 2007: Video Game Media Watch responds to criticisms of its criticism of Variety.com’s Metroid Prime 3 review.

  10 comments for “Variety.com Reviews Metroid Prime 3, Fails

  1. 28 September 2007 at 10:37

    It’s Tom Chick – he’s been around for some time, actually, written tons of reviews, runs Quarter To Three, etc.

    That said, I think sometimes he makes a habit of being crank when it comes to popular games. His review of Deus Ex was particularly scathing, which never really endeared him to DX fans of course. I think I would describe him as being overly harsh in trying to make some his finer points.

    It’s not a secret that sometimes the Metroid formula doesn’t translate precisely for shooter fans. Chick’s style, though, just exaggerates too much. He pretty falls off the point when he leads with “gamers looking for a thrill-a-minute shooter” … clearly he misread Metroid from the get go.

    So in short, none of this surprises me coming from him and even having read the article, Metroid 3 stands as a solid point in favor of getting a Wii.

    He’s actually a pretty nice guy, exchanged a few emails with him when I signed up for Qt3 (which I think he does with all new people there). I just think he sometimes pushes the concept that there’s no such thing as wrong opinions.

  2. 28 September 2007 at 10:52

    Interesting. I can understand that a lot of people dislike Metroid’s conventions, but I didn’t get the impression from his writing that he’s a gamer or that he knew what he was talking about.

  3. 28 September 2007 at 11:22

    Tom Chick writes a weekly column at the Escapist “The Shooter’s Club” is what it’s being called right now, I believe. I saw this review at Variey and agree, there’s a ton there that just screams non-gamer, even though he’s been writing for quite some time.

    This review really puzzled me, not because it was particularly scathing, but because it was riddled with ignorance and comments that’d make a gamer go, “huh?”

  4. 28 September 2007 at 11:41

    Perhaps he was trying to make it understandable to non-gamers, but as an ‘expert’ writing to an audience of non-gamers he should be making it understandable to his readers, rather than giving his readers the impression that he’s a complete newb as well.

  5. 28 September 2007 at 12:17

    I agree. It would have worked better, if his intent was to write for the non-gamers, to discuss that, instead of lambasting the game for things that gamers will take for granted or as being understood. I don’t know, the review really rubbed me the wrong way….and I’ve never even played Metroid Prime 3.

  6. 28 September 2007 at 17:44

    Well, he’s writing for Variety so he probably didn’t want to write a straight up review, so he wrote a review from the extreme FPS fan point of view. It’s not Quake II or Action Half Life, so it probably sucks in other words.

    For the record – the Deus Ex review went almost down the exact same path.

    He’s totally off-base here, but I’m sure he could couch it in enough gamer lingo to defend himself if he wanted. It’s a bad (as in quality of writing, not precision in critique) review, but the good news is that most Variety readers are probably still wondering what a Wii actually looks like.

  7. 28 September 2007 at 19:37

    Yeah, Tom’s been doing this forever. Very talented guy with very strong opinions.

    And there’s really no excuse to write in a journalism critique piece “Who is this guy?” without doing a basic google search.

    There’s a wikipedia article on Tom. He’s been published by almost everyone in his career (GFW, CGM, GSpot, IGN, Yahoo, Gamespy, UGO, Cnet…). He’s been cited by the New York Times as a practitioner of New Games Journalism. Tom’s a veteran.

    And once you realize that Variety did get a real game reviewer to review a game, Kirk’s argument that Variety should stay out of gaming falls apart. Agree or disagree with Tom’s review, Variety grabbed someone who knows the industry.

  8. 30 September 2007 at 07:11

    It has the audacity to say, “Welcome to this strange place. Now go figure it out.”

    It’s interesting how he doesn’t seem to think that this might actually be the entire basis of the game: the challenge and the reward.

  9. 30 September 2007 at 17:24

  10. 1 October 2007 at 12:02

    For what it’s worth, I think Chick is overrated, but his Deus Ex review was pretty much on point.

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