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Ethics for Sale!
Posted on Monday, September 16 2013 @ 17:19:38 PST

So, the GTA V review embargo is up.  First I wish to discuss a badly written review, then I wish to discuss morally bankrupt reviews.

Universally positive reviews thus far (7:37 PM EST, 16/9/13) with but one exception and that review is...terrible...

It's from The Escapist (of course it is) and it has to be one of the most pretentious cases of missing the point that I've read in or of the medium since Jonathan Blow started blithering like an idiot about Citizen Kane, a movie I doubt he's ever watched.  It's more pretentious than Cliffy B's incredibly ridiculous remarks about second-hand game sales.  Here it is: Grand Theft Auto 5 Review - People Suck's a basic checklist of bad review criteria for games.  This doesn't consider the difference between merely competent and great reviews (which intelligently discuss thematic, conceptual, and integrational synthesis and can meaningfully relate how each of a game's elements comes together or fails to, or barring that, manages to exploit a bad game for cheap laughs) but sets a reasonable bar minimum for review writing
  1. A review for a game must, at some point, discuss the game.
  2. The game comes first.
  3. The game is the lede, and burying it as in academic writing is unacceptable.
  4. The game being the most important topic under discussion, it should dominate the review.
  5. Lengthy tirades about what others must do and what games should be, to the embellishment of the subjective tastes of the author, are right out.
  6. Complaining about a game for what it is not, versus analyzing what it is, is also out.
  7. If part of a series, statements about the story, theme, characters, aesthetics, mechanics, world-building, lore, and basic design philosophy must completely apprehend that and apply all relevant information.
This is a reasonable set of standards.  The Escapist review by Greg Tito fails all but one.  In a review 12 paragraphs long Tito can't be bothered to discuss the game at all until paragraph six.  So he does discuss the game for four paragraphs sandwiched between eight paragraphs of harangue about how he didn't like the protagonists and therefore the game was awful.  Within the aforesaid harangue are some real whoppers about previous GTA games which indicate that either Tito never played them, and the inclusion of those statements are nothing more than puffery to fortify nonexistent credibility, or that he was seriously not paying attention.  From Tito's review I only know two things, GTA V is apparently a technical marvel and lots of fun to play (he never says how or in what ways, those four paragraphs are vague and almost superfluous.  It is impossible to get a good idea of how, for example, GTA V differs from previous entries in the series on a mechanical level from his review) but that the characters and setting are dreadful.  At the very least paragraph two offers what is beyond a doubt the most inapt comparison this side of presidential election coverage.

On to topic number two, the inspiration for which I must credit to Slower than Slow, Thicker than Thick.

Here is the post - Grand Theft Auto V Review Ends Tomorrow

Here is the Metacritic page for Grand Theft Auto V: Grand Theft Auto V for XBox 360

Look over those positive reviews and then examine the following:

The sound the present reader is not hearing, and cannot imagine, is their credibility as critical outlets vanishing.
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