Giant Bomb shout out for Tom Chick

Was listening to the 3/18 giant Bombcast and Patrick described a talk he gave about game criticism and how big sites tend to be in lockstep for big game reviews. And Patrick mentioned how he dug Tom’s reviews because he sometimes goes against the stream in smart ways. Around the 16:30 mark or so.

I loved Patrick’s comment. It was something like “I never agree with that guy about games, but he’s really eloquent in explaining why he doesn’t like a lot of big games.” I wouldn’t characterize Tom that way, but I could totally see how others might.

It’s been great having Tom hold dev’s and publishers to a better standard. I bet it comes as a shock to some who get the dreaded 1 star, but Tom does so in a way that forces some internal critique that would/may never happen otherwise.

I agree with Patrick!

Love you Tom ;)

It always surprises me when people say this. Because I’ll bet them ten dollars they’re wrong!


Who really cares about agreeing with reviews anyway? The relevant thing to me is whether it has something interesting to say, which is why I read Tom’s stuff to begin with. Not to be all kiss ass.

Totalbiscuit said it best. While one should have a reviewer they regularly read because their taste in games and their standards are in line with his or her own, to be a smart consumer you check multiple sources so that you make the most informed decisions.

Christ Christie, no matter how you feel about him said it best: “If you want to find someone you 100% agree with, look at yourself in the mirror, because that’s the only person in the world will have the exact same opinions as you do.”

I agree with the basic idea if you’re looking for buying advice. But what a terribly limited way to think of reviews. You’re illustrating the difference between consumer advise and criticism. I personally have no desire to tell people what they should and shouldn’t buy. That’s entirely up to them. If my opinions or observations are in any way helpful, that’s fine. But it’s never my goal. Yet so many reviews seem to think that’s the goal of a review. To advise people about what they should buy. Sheesh, that’s tilting at windmills and it’s dull, to boot.

But more to the point, the measure of the quality of a review should not be whether you agree with it.


That’s one of the reason I have a hard time with Tom Vasel’s board game reviews. I appreciate that he’s trying to be helpful by saying if you’re such and such you’ll like it, but I’d much prefer him just talking about his experiences with it. So, yea keep talking about board games. Good on Vasel for trying but there needs to be more quality in the critical world there.

Tom M

P.S. That and I really differ from Vasel’s taste. I mean come on running from Eklund games cause you’re scared of a little High Frontier. Pshaw!

Yeah, I’d never take a bet like that. I’ve read people here on this board say things like that too. There’s no way someone’s opinion will align 100% with or against someone else. It’s impossible. You can get close, I suppose, which is probably what they mean.

Whether our views align or not, I used to think I got a pretty good idea of what I’d think of a game after reading one of your reviews Tom. Especially after reading your writing for so many years. But I was recently proven wrong. After all, our opinions on the Halo games were pretty closely aligned, especially on ODST. So when I read your Halo 4 review, I was ready to be disappointed by it. But in the end it turned out to be by far my favorite single player Halo experience of the whole series.

So yeah, you never know.

Sometimes folks disagree on some things, then assume it means a lot more things than it actually is.

I think it just their way of protecting their long-term pay cheques from the dastardly big AAA’s. Hold you at arms length, like some kind of toxic curiosity. The price of being honest sadly, and for the record i take your word over any ‘paid for’ words from pretty much all other sources, not that i buy AAA smulch these days often.

I think you may have read too much into the comment (unless you were being sarcastic and it just went over my head). Esp. since it’s coming from one of the Giant Bomb guys, and Giant Bomb was created, at least in part, after Jeff Gerstmann was fired by Gamespot supposedly for giving Kane and Lynch (a AAA title) a bad review. The core Giant Bomb guys were all Gamespot folks who left their secure jobs at Gamespot to go to Giant Bomb, a startup, in part because they objected to the idea that AAA games “deserve” good ratings.

Personally, while I don’t always agree with where Tom ends up in his reviews, I find his analysis insightful (and occasionally inciteful – and yes, I know that’s not a word!) It’s one of the many things I really appreciate about Qt3. And, frankly, Patrick’s comment struck me as much the same – while he doesn’t always agree with Tom, he does appreciate Tom’s analysis and insight, and, at the end of the day, what more could you really ask for? To say you don’t always agree with someone, but you do respect their opinions, is about the highest compliment I can imagine.

I want to start by saying that I enjoy reading your reviews more than any other. I read reviews for 2 reasons.

  1. For the enjoyment. Humor, interesting critique, etc… There are lots of ways a review can be an enjoyable read.
  2. The other reason is to help me determine if I want to buy the game.

You (Tom) have an entertaining way of presenting your critiques. They are frequently witty. You have a way of tapping into the creative spirit of a game - see your series on Conquest of Elysium 3. They are one of my favorite set of articles I’ve read about a game. My problem (not yours!) is that you have such a great way of writing about games is that when you like a game, you sometimes convince me that I’m going to like it too. I understand this isn’t what you’re trying to do, but your enthusiasm rubs off. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that we frequently enjoy playing the same games. Actually I’m going to collect some data to see if it is really true, because I’m one of those people who feel we don’t agree alot. Wait here. I’ll be back in a little while…

I’m going to present the games that you’ve reviewed that I played and what score I’d give them. Yeah, I know that score say everything, but it is concise. I will try and use the same scale. Yes, I realize this is probably only interesting to myself.
Banished: You 1, Me 2
Race the Sun: You 5, Me 4
Saints Row IV: You 5, Me 4
Gone Home: You 5, Me 2
Fallen Enchantress LH: You 4, Me 3
Civ V Brave New World: You 2, Me 3
Reus: You 4, Me 1
Pinball FX 2, You 4, Me 4
Sang-Froid: You 5, Me 4
SimCity: You 1, Me 1
XCom EU: You 4, Me 3
Torchlight 2: You 4, Me 2
Diablo 3: You 4, Me 3
OOTP Baseball: You 5, Me 3
Warlock: You 3, Me 3
Mass Effect: You 4, Me 4
Wargame EE: You 4, Me 2
Crusader Kings 2: You 3, Me 2
Conquest of Elysium 3: You 4, Me 3
Unstoppable Gorg: You 4, Me 5
Oil Rush: You 2, Me 2
Atom Zombie Smasher: you 5, Me 3

OK, it seems like it was selective memory on my part, remembering the games that we disagreed more than the ones we agree on. I think the big area that we tend to disagree is that you find more value in the ‘artsy touchy feely’ aspects of some games. Gone Home, SimCity Societies, Reus, even Conquest of Elysium. The other is you like RTSs and ARPGs, where I have fallen out of love with them.

I think what I appreciate about Tom’s reviews is that they typically bring to light aspects of a game that I may not notice, even while I’m playing it. He’s also a really good resource as a champion for games I would have never heard of in the first place. Sine Mora and the Secret World jump out at me here. Actually after looking it up, I remember the Secret World got 2 stars, but hearing him describe the potential of the game in the review(and on the podcast) encouraged me to try it out, and I wound up playing it for a solid month.

But then he gave Halo 4 a 1 star review and I realized he was a Sony fanboy.

Part 2 of my response because I got sidetracked with my survey into how often we agree / disagree about games.

I agree with you that it would be a mistake to only look at reviews as buying advice, but I don’t think their role in this area should be discounted. Many people need to be careful with how they spend their gaming dollars. Reviews can give people an idea on what to expect. I know that my reviews are not in the same league as yours. Your writing is soooo much better. Because of this, I focus on writing descriptive pieces about games to illustrate how they play, along with my opinion about how I feel different aspects succeed or fail. Even though my reviews are not of the same quality as the big boys, I’ve had people send me messages about how my review was much more helpful to them than the review at RPS.

I wish I had the talent to write like you. I think it would be more fun for me to write reviews as you do instead of my dry, descriptive pieces. But, I think they both have their places.

Here’s hoping you’re right about the Wonderful 101, I bought a Wii U to play it.

But yeah, agree or disagree, the deciding factor in whether to come back for more is being interesting. An opinion can be a very small thing, and could be boiled down to a single word, a number, or a well-formed grunt. But explaining why the opinion exists, that’s where interesting stuff can happen.

Matt Lees recently posted an interesting video and he talked about how he often reads reviews he completely disagrees with, but he likes those reviews because they decently explain why. And, I remember him saying, that’s all you can ask for in a review (and scoffed at the idea of an objective review). Possibly this video but I can’t be bothered to confirm that.

I hate when people criticize a game review for not being objective. It’s such a dumb thing to say.

"This game took 5 hours and 26 minutes to play through on singleplayer. It has a beginning, middle, and end. There are NPCs. They are Nazis, except for two French Reistance characters. One of them is a girl. She gives you guns. You shoot the Nazis.

The game uses the Unreal Engine. It has textures and polygons.

2.5 out of 5"

Wouldn’t it least be a 3 because there was a girl and you got to shoot Nazis? Come on, at least be fair.