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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 64: Skyrim, Assassin's Creed, Reviewing Multiplayer

Tim Spaeth's picture

Not everybody's thankful for Skyrim this week, but most of us are. We explore this latest epic entry in The Elder Scrolls quintology. Plus, what the heck is Ubisoft doing with Assassin's Creed? (Beats us.) And is it ever OK to ignore multiplayer modes when reviewing games? We think so, and we'll tell you why. Many thanks to our very special guest, the brilliant Rhea Monique! With Chi Kong Lui, Mike Bracken, Richard "Bob Dylan" Naik, Tim Spaeth, and Tim Spaeth again as the mysterious and enigmatic J. Bradford Gallaway IV.

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Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   PC  
Developer(s): Bethesda; UbiSoft  
Genre(s): Role-Playing   Adventure/Explore   Open World  
Articles: Reports   Podcasts  

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Best video game podcast ever.

Best video game podcast ever.

But still nothing on Batman AA? I'm starting to wonder if I should preorder it on steam...

We haven't had the full team

We haven't had the full team for Arkham City. I'm still trying to get the game too. :p

Love the intro. I've been up

Love the intro. I've been up and down on the Assassin's Creed series since its beginning, but that disclaimer is one of the most pretentious things I've ever read in a video game.

Great podcast, guys. I had

Great podcast, guys.

I had no problem reviewing Portal 2 on singleplayer alone. Portal 1 was a very good singleplayer game, and I came to the sequel for more of that. If Valve wanted to add a new mode, good for them, but I had no interest in playing it for more than a half hour.

TES

As always, a big thanks to the entire cast for sharing your insights and wisdom! Looking forward to the end-of-year show.

I agree that Skyrim is a return to form for the TES series - in my case since Daggerfall. The world feels appropriately vast and epic for a TES game, finally. Morrowind's world was to me just too enclosed and limited when compared to the previous game. (Didn't play Oblivion.)

The only thing I find myself wanting from time to time are the truly sprawling cities from Daggerfall. Of course procedurally constructed and lacking in detail - some would say dull - but the first time you set foot in either of the massive provincial capitals in that game you were blown away by their sheer expanse. I found it a profoundly immersive experience to have to ask locals for directions to whatever inn or guild I was heading to.

You should have auto-tuned

You should have auto-tuned me, Tim.

Autotune? Better-

RickRoll'd Richard's singing.

Not having Skyrim, I thought the annualization section of this podcast was most interesting.

I think I'm one of the only people who enjoyed Assassin's Creed 1 for what it was, a historical Mario style 3D platformer. I didn't get disappointed by the too much space, too little to do issues of the game, because I knew the story was only so much smoke and mirrors anyway. I just enjoyed the scenery.. I thought the locales were beautifully rendered. I wasn't looking for depth in AC. When the 2nd game came out and introduced the good organization who use Desmond in the exact same way as the bad organization, the sh*tty brown color palette, and myriad fetch quests ala GTA, I immediately lost interest.

Another great podcast, guys!

I really like the Assassin's Creed series, and last year's Brotherhood was very good, but I have no immediate desire to play Revelations. I think the frequent releases are getting to me, and I was never that invested in Ezio in the first place. I'll wait until it gets cheap.

As for Skyrim, the PS3 version of the game is standing on my shelf, waiting to be played, but I'm sitting out the patch, which was my intent in the first place.
I'm really excited about the fact that you can finally start as a blank slate (no more pegging yourself into categories you won't use!), and the supposedly greatly improved dungeons (Oblivion was rather boring in that regard).

I have to admit I shed a tear at all the Sonic hate near the end.
I know the little blue guy hasn't been in a lot of good games since he went 3D, but Sonic Generations is seriously, seriously awesome. Like, SERIOUSLY.

Uncharted 3 review

As a disclaimer, I'm a fan of Uncharted, and a regular player of its multiplayer (300h on 2, 120h on 3 at the moment).
I've refrained from commenting on the subject until now, because I think Chi's review makes perfectly valid points on the solo and discloses that he hasn't played the multiplayer.

I'm quite disappointed by the justifications in this podcast however.
Nothing prevented Chi of clearly labelling the review as a single player only review. It has been done before on this very site, even though the disclosure is already made in the closing paragraphs of each review (which I aplaud you for).

I quite resent the explanation that "nobody's playing/expecting Uncharted 3 for its multiplayer so it doesn't really matter". It's playing the expectations game, judging games on nothing but hype and hearsay. You could stop reviewing half the games on this assumption "nobody's going to play that anyway". No matter how you choose to place yourself on the critic/review scale, you're here to provide a insightful comment, not to judge without playing. That's the point. I'm perfectly fine with judging a part of the game and awarding a score (btw can't see a single score on any review here, I'm not that bothered but seems like a bug), but you should state what your text is about.

That you chose to make a statement on online passes, rentals, or multiplayer added to previously solo-only experience is okay, but I don't think the review is the right place to talk about it, at least not in this way (ie labelling a review of the solo as a review of the entire product).
You're opening yourself to miss some cases where the multiplayer is as essential as AC Brotherhood's (for me it is).

Hearing Ray state repeatedly that it's a lacklustre multiplayer, tacked on, added as an afterthought, when she's willingly admitting she hasn't played the game, and Chi's admitting that multiplayer is a stated ambition of the developer, is disheartening.
As Tim and Chi said, it's a different experience (I don't play CoD games), maybe more slow paced, but that doesn't make it half baked or less interesting.
My rant has been long enough so I'll stop here, I'll thank you for your work and this podcast, see you next time.

Skyrim UI

Guys, I can't believe you didn't talk about Skyrim's aweful, awful User Interfase. I'm playing on the PC and cannot understand what was going on in their heads when they thought of it. People complained about Mass Effect 1 and its neverending lists but Skyrim is just as bad. You cannot have two equipments, you cannot easily compare items, you cannot rebuy, the skilltrees are all but unmanagable.

The worst thing is that, on the PC, some menues can only be used with keyboard while other just with the mouse. It's madness I tell you! To illustrate how aweful it is, when you first create your character, the Race selection menu responds just to the keyboard. After I selected my High Elf I had no idea how to cicle to the Body section. Only after a couple of minutes dd I figure out that you HAVE to use the mouse. This, I speculate, are signs that it was made with a the console version in mind and the PC version was a rushed afterthought.

That I'm loving a game with such a horrible UI is a tribute on how well it's everything else made. But having said that, it really gets in the way of immersion.

I thought I did mention the

I thought I did mention the horrible UI when I went on my mini rant. If I didn't, it was an oversight -- because I agree that the UI blows -- and I haven't even experienced it on the PC, which sounds even worse.

Remix

Who made/where did you guys find that remix of istanbul (not constantinople) that was used for the outro to the assassin's creed segment?

Couple Things....

Anonymous wrote:

Who made/where did you guys find that remix of istanbul (not constantinople) that was used for the outro to the assassin's creed segment?

That's actually a TMBG-created remix off their new download-only album "Album Raises New and Troubling Questions" (which I strongly recommend, by the way).

Also, for those asking when we're doing (re-doing) Batman: Arkham City, it's happening this weekend. I don't think we've ever had more of an internal disagreement about a game. Should be interesting.

Transparency

I'm totally fine when a review leaves out a part of a game as long as it says on what portion of the game the opinion is based on. Actually it's most probably only giving a limited view on a particular experience since the average game is not static- for everyone the same- as a film is. And usually longer than 2 hours too.
An incomplete but a sufficient entirety would be great but i doubt it can be done with many games since there are all sorts of things some might see and some might miss. So as long it doesn't lie about what was played to stupidly disguise its incompleteness, an honest transparent opinion is alright.

The "it's a tacked on MP because the franchise is abougt SP" argument or vice versa seems a little hollow.
CoD started basically as MoH. Was there even splitscreen 2 or 4 player included? Then the first CoD had a MP as we know it today, online, which certainly had some fans, but not as much as CoD2, not nearly as much as MW1. Only after the console group formed this MP success, the MP got the more important thing for sales.
Does that make SP now unimportant/irrelevant/tacked on? For a game that basically started as SP with tacked on MP?
What should "tacked on" really tell me?
If someone just wants to review the SP of CoD. Fine.
The MP of CoD. Fine.
The Coop of COD. Fine.
Review it transparently and leave prejudging, hearsay assumptions away for parts you don't have played.
I guess someone can write a review about the story alone without touching the gaming part of the game. Or a technical review of the engine, like Digital Foundry do. It's also a meaningful review of a part of the game. Not necessarily important to buyers, or metacritic but still a review.

The praise Skyrim gets and also the negatives sound a lot like Bethesda is redoing the same formula again and again with almost no real deviation. I only wasted some dozens of hours on Morrowind, so my knowledge is limited, but all what was described of Skyrim sounded like TES3+graphic update to me.

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