I\’m a regular watcher of Zero Punctuation, the five-minute review series started by Ben \”Yahtzee\” Croshaw on Youtube and later continued at The Escapist. His reviews are basically highly cynical, sarcastic looks at various games and their idiosyncrasies. He\’s usually quite funny, but as of late I\’ve come to realise that it\’s hard to treat much of his work as \”reviews.\”
The first sign was his review of Super Smash Bros Brawl. He prefaced his video with a claim that he didn\’t understand fighting games. That made me raise my eyebrow, but the rest of his review raised some valid points, so I let it slide.
Until today\’s review of Soul Calibur IV.
Let\’s get one thing straight – I\’m not a Soul Calibur fan at all, and I have no idea how expert players regard this latest installment. Yet Yahtzee\’s review, prefaced with the exact same disclaimer about not understanding fighting games, rags on inconsequential nonsense like the story, single player modes, AI and create-a-character modes. Unfortunately, the standards he uses to measure the other games he plays are simply irrelevant in the case of fighting games. They\’re nice window dressing, but they shouldn\’t take attention away from the fighting system, and more importantly, how the game holds up in versus play.
Needless to say, Yahtzee mentioned neither, therefore making his review another footnote (a humorous one, but still nonetheless a footnote) in the history of people who try to review fighting games without actually knowing anything about them.
That goes for all genres, really. Yahtzee\’s best reviews tend to be the ones where he reviews games from genres that he likes, like FPSes and action games (although even these have some duds among their ranks).
Maybe I\’m taking his efforts too seriously, but Yahtzee has indicated at times that he wishes to be taken seriously as a critic of videogames. However, without the necessary expertise, his videos are nothing more than humorous bile.
There\’s a much more comprehensive and better-written take on the same subject here.
DISCLAIMER: I\’m not singling out Yahtzee for doing this – he just happens to be the most recent example of a thoroughly irritating phenomenon present in just about all mainstream reviews these days.