Dominions 2 scores 6.2, Unreal 2: SE 7.9

You gotta’ love Gamespot and those consistent, quality reviews. Even with a decent MP add-on, Unreal 2 is still unadulterated mediocrity and to rate it that much higher than Dominions 2. . .ugh.

Linkage to review:

Bruce scores again:

Finally, Dominions packs a steep learning curve, yet somehow it ships without a tutorial or any kind of walk-through in the manual. The developers tout that the interface has been streamlined from the original Dominions, but it’s still a cumbersome system to learn. It’s also inexplicable as to why a game as complex as this doesn’t ship with a tutorial–either in-game or in the manual. Instead, the best option available is to download a 19-page, fan-written walk-through from the Internet.

This might be a good game review to bring up something that I think has been discussed before (steve?): reviews which go against the popular tide/momentum. It should be noted that GameRankings shows an average score of 70%: , which includes a few nasty scores while the print mags have otherwise loved it.

Sirs, your talking points:

  1. Does the language in the GSpot review of DOM2 reflect the quantitative score of 6.2?

  2. Are the high scores from some publications ignoring the fact that this game is a relatively ugly, complex, non-user friendly game?

  3. Has Bruce’s early ravings about this game hyped the game’s score higher than otherwise deserved?

Discuss! :)

Yes. I don’t necessarily agree with the final assessment, but it matches the rating. And I don’t necessarily disagree with it, either–this is one of those games where, as much as I love it, I can totally understand why other people won’t. My only beef with the review is his complaint about micromanagement. There is a lot to do in the game, granted, but I’m not sure that I would classify any of it as micromanagement. I mean, he’s talking about moving troops on the map and recruiting new units–if that stuff is micromanagement, then is there anything in the typical strategy game that isn’t micromanagement?

  1. Are the high scores from some publications ignoring the fact that this game is a relatively ugly, complex, non-user friendly game?

Yes, clearly. In my experience, however, that stuff is pretty easy to ignore once you get into the game. It’s sort of like booting up an old classic that has aged well–X-Com, for instance. The graphics and obtuse interface (by today’s point-and-click standards) are annoying for a little while, but then you get used to them.

  1. Has Bruce’s early ravings about this game hyped the game’s score higher than otherwise deserved?

I don’t think so. Its the second best game of 2003, IMHO.

I think its a legit score for Dom2. I would agree with all of his dings except the micromanagement thing.



1.) I don’t know, I don’t read GS nowadays and likely never will again. Something about Tony Hawk 3 scoring a perfect 10 made me despise that site.

2.) When the gameplay is really that good, shouldn’t those things be ignored?

3.) No. I doubt this game can be overhyped. If anything, Bruce has underhyped it.

Your questions being answered, I’d just like to throw the obligatory “Gamespot sucks” point in. Did you really think they’d give a high score to: a.) a game by a company who doesn’t advertise on their site; b.) a game trying to advance its genre, not rehashing routine methods; c.) a turn-based strategy game; d.) a complex game whose focus is gameplay, not graphics?


That was largely my initial reaction to these two reviews. One game is a boring, generic shooter that didn’t add a single new gameplay element to its genre, but is wrapped in a very pretty candy shell, while the other game is a ugly game that just happens to be probably the most complex fantasy turn-based strategy title ever released. I love 3D graphics and the advancement of its technology as much as anyone else, but not at the expense of the gameplay.

Gamespot has that review system that’s based on esoteric mathematics. No matter how good the game is, if it has poor graphics, poor this, and poor that, the tyrannical formula Gamespot uses is going to spit out a lower score than the gameplay might indicate.

And the “tilt” is only a six, so the reviewer was clearly not overwhelmed by the whole experience. Isn’t “tilt” the fudge factor to boost a score to a more intuitive level?


Esoteric math = editors? GSpot disclaimer: “The final score for every game we review is generated automatically from the individual scores that our reviewers give it. Note: The final score is not an average of these five scores; each of these things is weighted differently to come up with the final overall score.”


It’s the classic question of what “point of view” should Dom 2 be rated from?

The POV of a super hardcore strategy gamer who is willing to root around on FAQs and doesn’t care about graphics no matter how bad?


The POV of a more casual user, the vast majority of which will probably never figure out how to make a pretender, much less get to a battle where they will see units teleporting around with animations?

I think that for most users, honestly a 6.2 is if anything a little high for the game. It has major, major, major flaws in the overall presentation of the game.

If all you care about is gameplay, I can see giving it a higher score, but that would seem a little unusual, no?

For the vast majority of players, accessibility & production quality are huge factors, so I think it’s fair to give an overall rating based on those qualities (which Dom2, despite its other excellent attributes, is seriously lacking in).

Dominions 2 shouldn’t be played or purchased by the “casual player.” It will only result in madness, and totally moronic reviews.

I rate games based on two things. 1.) How fun it is to play, and 2.) How close it is to what the devs said it would be. Dominions 2 rates very high for me because 1.) It’s the best/most fun TBS I’ve ever played, and 2.) It does everything it says it would do, plus much more.

“Casual gamers” need to stay hard on Tonk Hawk’s teat, and stay the hell away from reviewing absolutely astounding niche games that they don’t/can’t understand…

MY POINT IN SHORT: If you like fantasy turn-based strategy games, Dominions 2 is one of the best ones on the market. If you’re not into TBS-es at all, or simply don’t know what they are, then the chance that a Gamespot review for Dominions 2 would be of any help to you is an idiotic conception. Games aren’t always made for the “casual gamer.” If you like apples and want apples, don’t bitch when you ask for oranges and get oranges.

As a casual gamer, im offended that you think I like Tony Hawk games. Jesus.

Hard not to have bias after one of your idiot staffbuddies faked their Savage review… surprise surprise, a low-key, low-buzz game that wasn’t cumming all over your front page with its proverbial “money shots” didn’t get the attention it deserved.

Tell me with a straight face that Tony Hawk 3 is the perfect game and… ah, forget it. I’ll still laugh in your assinine empolyer’s face.

I tried Dom2 and walked away baffled. I’m sure it’s genius once you drill down into it, but I’ll stick to the formulaic Shadow Magic, thanks.

I don’t have a lot of time to play the games I do want to play, and I’d like to spend that time playing at a reasonable level instead of endlessly crosss-referencing a subpar GUI and a bunch of new concepts with a PDF.

Shadowmagic rules.

If you think that’s offensive, try to imagine how offensive it was to see Gamespot give it a PERFECT TEN.

Hey, I like Tony Hawk

I love Tony Hawk games. I’m currently trying to go through THUG on Sick.

Yeah, Tony Hawk is the perfect game for folks who are into, well, Tony Hawk.

Dominions, on the other hand, has a number of serious flaws that keep it from being the best game even for folks who are into elvish spreadsheet software.