Unreal II and PC Zone

From the latest preview at Computer and Video Games, dated Jan. 1, 2003:

In fact, just as we were going to press we received official confirmation that the game will in fact be finished within a few short weeks. Which means, hold your breath now… PC Zone will be bringing you a massive exclusive review of the game in our very next issue, on sale January 9.

Have these people no shame at all? They’re publishing something they’re calling a “review” for a game that won’t be out until weeks later. And to show up in a print magazine on Jan. 9, the review had to have been written weeks earlier. What are they going to say? “The beta was great, we hope they get some of these bugs out by the time it hits the shelves.”?

Where’s Kalle ranting about journalistic integrity when you need him?

Playing Unreal II.

One of many reasons I’ve stopped reading gaming magazines.

It’s no better online.

I would honestly kill for a site that addresses in previews what the cynical game purchaser is worried about in a game. I’m not saying bash the game or don’t try to give it a positive spin, but at least honestly say what needs to be improved upon or what could cause problems with the end result. I’m not talking about bugs, but gameplay mechanics.

I understand there’s a developer/publication relationship that needs to be maintained, and the final product is not the alpha/beta previews, but recently all I’m reading are ads. [edit]Which is not to say I thought it was better in the past[/edit]

Best of all is the news that the game is on schedule and should be completely bug-free and ready to ship come January.

Italics were mine. Amazingly crazy statement theirs’.

“One of many reasons I’ve stopped reading gaming magazines.”

I keep away from that by not paying any attention to the ones that start with PC and/or are from the UK.

Keep in mind that in the UK, it’s all about newsstand sales. They have no subscriber base, so they do whatever it takes to get EXCLUSIVE! EXCLUSIVE! EXCLUSIVE! whenever possible to move magazines. The US magazines don’t have that problem, though that doesn’t stop people from reviewing betas.

Anyway, the lead times in the UK magazines are also shorter, and Unreal II is supposed to be gold “any day now,” so it’s not inconceivable that they finished the game a few weeks ago and have doled out a couple to certain publications for “exclusive” first reviews. It’s a single-player game, so not having multiplayer opponents isn’t an issue (that’s a serious problem for all of these early reviews; who exactly are they playing online?)

But I still question the value of a review that appears a month before the game is released. Even if it’s a rave, why would the publisher even want that? It only benefits the magazine.

I’d have no issue with these publications that review betas if they’d just disclose it.

There’s done and then there’s done. As you probably know the developers will “finish” a game and hand it over to the publishers for the install program, different language versions, final QA, etc. etc. Just because Unreal II isn’t on the store shelves for a few weeks doesn’t mean the game isn’t feature and function complete.

Forgot to add the comment about SimCity 4, which was ready to go by the holiday season but EA decided from a marketing side to let Sims Online be the lead game and SC4 was pushed back to mid-Jan. There are instances (although rare) of developers being done and publishers hanging onto the games for whatever reason.

By the way, “Develop Magazine” is British and it’s pretty fucking bad-ass. But then again, it’s a gaming dev mag not a gaming hype and screenshots mag.

That would be really interesting if it had anything to do with what these fine people are talking about :)

British gaming magazines are generally steaming piles of excrement. They have no problems reviewing and hyping buggy software/beta versions of games. I cancelled my subscription and sent the editor a letter the day I found this out. This was after I had read PC Gamer UK’s 80%+ review of Braveheart, a review released some three months before the game’s completion. And from what I heard Braveheart was buggy even after release, most other reviews also called it a very, very bad game. I have never bothered to find out for myself. I suggest you send an angry letter of your own and never, ever pick up a copy of the magazine in question again.

Ranty enough for you?

No, they don’t even admit that they’re only playing a half-finished beta.

But I don’t blame them. At FS we have a policy of playing through a game and putting it through its paces in multiplayer before we review it. That means our articles go up anywhere from a few days (if we get a gold master or a short game) to weeks after anyone else. We get complaints from a lot of readers about that, if only because we can rarely get our reviews out in time to meet launch dates. But there’s no way I’m going to spend 5 hours in front of a game and write up a b.s. 750 word ‘review’.

No, they don’t even admit that they’re only playing a half-finished beta.

But I don’t blame them. At FS we have a policy of playing through a game and putting it through its paces in multiplayer before we review it. That means our articles go up anywhere from a few days (if we get a gold master or a short game) to weeks after anyone else. We get complaints from a lot of readers about that, if only because we can rarely get our reviews out in time to meet launch dates. But there’s no way I’m going to spend 5 hours in front of a game and write up a b.s. 750 word ‘review’.[/quote]

If a game is fairly long, i.e. BG2, do you require the reviewer to finish the game? I have read reviews where it’s obvious the writer played very little of the game.

BG2… no, no way. Couldn’t finish that for the life of me. I’d been playing a week and was only up through to Chapter 5 or 6… (I’d dallied around doing sidequests in Chapter 2 too long.) I crammed some more on the weekend and that was it.

I did finish Torment though. Wish I had the CDs and some free time. I sorta feel up for an Infinity Engine binge.

I started a new Torment game a week ago. I wanted to try playing evil this time but I just couldn’t do it. I can’t be nasty to Annah or Dak’kon.

the next time I decide to replay it I’ll go solo, or maybe just get Morte and Ignus to tag along.