Very poorly written review

Did anyone else see this review of Railroad Tycoon 3. It has to be one of the most poorly written reviews i’ve ever seen.

I’m not sure how believable it is, or even factual as the dev posted about it on the RRT3 forums giving some examples of the things that are just false.

(reads review)

Okay, so basically, this is a game about trains and the reviewer doesn’t like trains. And apparently believes that ‘3’ is a shockingly high number. Great review.

It’s actually not much of a review. It basically states that this is the third game in a series and you do train stuff. It doesn’t provide any useful information.

There’s a whole thread about this “review” on the official forums.

Lennart Sas of AOW: Shadow Magic came on and said the same site gave it a
50%. Reviewing a game in a genre you don’t like is unethical if you ask me.

It appears to be another of those high class British magazines. (Hah!)

The reviewer acts as if there’s a ton of Railroad Tycoon games on the market… uhm… the last one came out like 3 years ago. and before that maybe 8 years… not like a cavalcade of RRT. The reviewer must be a … dumbass.


Folks, you act like this is something shocking. My word! A reviewer on the internet has neither scruples nor talent! As was mentioned in the ‘readability’ thread, when the bar to entry is so low, you’ll get people who can’t do more than ooze under it.

The review contains almost no facts, and most of the ones it contains he got wrong. Clearly, he’s shocked that anybody would want to play a game about trains. From the extremely sparse information in the review, and the factual errors (pointed out in the link above), it strikes me that he probably played at most one scenario, and probably only for an hour or two, tops.

It’s from a site that is an ‘all platforms’ site, with an apparent bias towards console games. My guess is that some freelancer who normally plays SSX and Fifa got thrown a PC strategy review to do (You mean it’s about trains? on the PC? and I have to think to play it?) and just wen through the motions, extremely quickly, in popping out a 150 word review.

I think the lowest review any game we’ve ever done has gotten from any site, ever, was mid 60s, and the averages have always been 80’s and 90’s. I may be blinded by my love for my baby, but I really think Railroad Tycoon 3 is the best game we’ve ever done (and I wouldn’t have said that about Tropico just after it was done), and to see this kind of toss-off review, as the first review of the game several days before it even hits stores, is EXTREMELY frustrating.

Moreover, it pisses me off more, because now this will go into gamerankings, and even if we get 5 ‘real’ reviews averaging 90%+ (i.e. great), this one crap review will drag down our score into the ‘decent, but not great’ level. Since GameRankings is increasingly used as a shorthand for the overall quality of a game (and a crutch for other mediocre review sites doing 2 paragraph reviews down the road), this will hurt us far more than it should.


Phil, often crap sites like this are very impressed when someone from a development team approaches them (they aren’t used to anyone paying attention to them.) Perhaps if you contacted them and articulated your concern over such an obviously inaccurate review they would pull it.

The review is reprinted from the UK print magazine GamesTM, who actually have quite a not-horrible reputation for being an Edge-style multiplatform magazine minus the slight pretentiousness (or, some claim, just a wannabe Edge minus some journalistic chops, of course):

However, they’re definitely a console/retro orientated publication, as can be seen by the pics on their homepage (Xbox/GameCube/PS2/Sinclair ZX Spectrum!), so I imagine this was somewhat outside their sphere of knowledge. Which is no excuse, of course. But it’s definitely not a fansite, it’s a review from a commercially published mag.

It’s idiocy like this that makes me think GameRankings should automatically toss the highest and lowest scores when creating their average.

It is no excuse. A crap review is a crap review. Being in print doesn’t automatically make it more holy. Heck, I’ve seen better reviews on fan sites.

They don’t? Someone pass their webmaster a statistics book.

I’m thinking this review is getting way too many page views. Maybe it’s best to just ignore reviews like this. I mean rather than sending all of Q32 and everybody on the PopTop forums over there to increase their traffic. The good news for Phil, is it sounds like the people who read this site/magazine, probably aren’t going to buy RT3 anyway.

“The only thing worse than being talked about…
Is not being talked about” - Wilde

Heh, the self-contradicting review:

As your company grows, you get better trains and various other improvements that we’ve come to expect from games of this ilk. Unfortunately, none of this is particularly revolutionary - in fact, the only things that do change are the trains themselves, the different industries that evolve and the growing cities.

So, actually there are quite a few things that change. I guess this dude wanted deformable terrain in the form of meteor strikes, or perhaps a quick spreading desert as the result of global warming?

Does this review really even matter (aside from the aggregate score/stat idea mentioned previously)?

I mean, do folks really think that someone is going to walk through the store and pick up RRT3 and go “Oh, that’s a pretty train on the front, I wonder what this game is about?” As opposed to going, say, “I wonder what new strategy games are out there… oh, RRT3. The name sounds vaguely familiar.”

This isn’t some generic title designed to pull in random folks who walk by. I think anyone claiming it is or ought to be is fooling themselves. The “Tycoon” at the end, like it or not, places it in the realm of the whole slew of building/strategy sim type games out there (I’m assuming that we’re dealing with potential customers who know nothing about the history of the game, as any that do would tend to automatically discount such a review).

Ultimately, RRT3 isn’t really a wide impact title. It’s aimed at a group of folks who know vaguely what it is and what they might/might not like about it. The review linked to is so utterly vacant of any information in all related to the substance of the game that it’s null. It’d be like reading a review of SSX3 while looking for a snowboarding game and getting:

“This is a game about snowboarding. I’m not sure why anyone would want to play a game about snowboarding instead of doing it in real life, but if you’re the type of person who would, this is the type of game you might want to play. Ultimately you can snowboard and choose a board and some clothes and do some moves and such.”

Anyone with an IQ level above that of an average 2 week old carrot is going to see right through that review, as they would the RRT3 review too. And, heck, in RRT3’s case, if they don’t have the IQ to see through the review, chances are RRT3 wouldn’t be a great game for them anyway, really.

It just seems like a null sum thing. It’s so ludicrously off base as to be rediculous.

One final post on this before the thread goes dormant and the review gets the obscurity (hopefully) it richly deserves:

Upon talking to our UK P.R. person this morning, no review copies had been sent to any UK web sites yet, and I think the print mags only got theirs about 6 or 7 days ago. Yet this review appeared in a print magazine that is apparently in some people’s hands. Do the math. The last version we had sent out to anyone prior to the G.M. was the press alpha sent in mid August. So apparently, this review is based on the alpha. The minimal facts in the ‘review’ would seem to go along with it being based on the alpha (the starting in 1850 thing was a bug I believe that sometimes occurred in the alpha version when playing stand-alone scenarios - long since fixed). I don’t have full confirmation that this was in fact based on the alpha, because the UK P.R. person has apparently gone home for the day, but it appears that she talked to the site ( and they pulled the review (though it’s still cached in

So on top of having a 150-ish word review that basically says the game is bad because it’s about trains, with a minimal number of facts, and half of those wrong, they furthermore based that review on alpha code (or so it strongly appears).

Review still appears for me at

Hmm… review not accessible through front page, reviews page, etc, nor through search tool, but the actual review still sits there if you know the exact URL. Probably removed the links to it but left the page there - essentially obscured…

But the link on still works.

Right Matt, because as Phil just said they didn’t take down the article. They just removed the links to it from their archive and front page.