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Editor's Blog: A day in the life of a review writer at Pocket Gamer

How we make the tricky decisions

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Oct 2012
Post count:
@SyFyTy | 10:28 - 20 November 2012
I fully agree with the comment Mr_Bez made, expose those who would throw off the balanace for what they are, corporate crooks, who hide behind 'proceedures' and call it something other than what it is, criminal

These 'embargoes' and moreso the ' only-if rules' seem to be designed to blindside the general publick into buying something that is known broken. 'Intentional misleading' is the basic tactic and premise of all crime. It is basic deception 101.
Aug 2012
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Mr Bendel | 14:58 - 16 November 2012
It was very nice of you to write this
Jul 2012
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@RaveofRavendale | 08:49 - 16 November 2012
Yeah, the low price was a lovely (unexpected) surprise. AAA studios pricing their games appropriately on console? Frost must be on the way to hell
Sep 2011
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Tiel | 08:46 - 16 November 2012
Thanks for the replies, guys.
Useful to understand how it all works. I bought Monkey Ball on the strength of your review (and it's low low price!), and wasn't disappointed. By the later stages it's hard, but fair-just like the original.
Love the website by the way.
Jun 2012
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Xphyle | 20:29 - 15 November 2012
It's sad that Pocket Gamer felt it necessary to write this story to justify the poor review that they gave Black Ops: Declassified.
Sep 2012
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Deviator | 19:27 - 15 November 2012
I'm not a COD fanboy. I loved Modern Warfare 2 but pretty much lost interest after that so any generalizations made of my comments being those of someone who can't see beyond the COD name or someone with a mindless desire to see a great game on the Vita are misguided.

Putting the Call Of Duty name to one side (along with any expectations that it brings to a game) I think that the Pocket Gamer review was guilty of jumping on the bandwagon of negativity that developed leading up to the release of this game. I found it almost hateful in it's negativity. As if the reviewer(s) had played just enough of the game to validate their preconceptions before deciding to let rip by publishing the first negative review. The slightly condescending explanation above of a day in the life of a review writer unfortunately does nothing to validate the overly negative review and low score given to the game. Resistance: Burning Skies was given a score by Pocket Gamer of 7/10. Call Of Duty: Black Ops - Declasified given a score by Pocket Gamer of 4/10. The scores are telling us that Resistance is much better than Declassified! This is just isn't right.

The movement and responsiveness of the controls in Call Of Duty Declassified are far improved over Resistance. There are issues with logging into online multplayer games (success rate of about 1 in 3 at the moment) but this has always been a common problem with COD around launch time so who cares? What we have here is an online multiplayer FPS on a handheld that is actually pretty good! Resistance was hopeless. Anyone with a Vita who wants to play an FPS on it should go and buy COD Declassified. Is it perfect? No. But it's hell of a lot better than the Pocket Gamer review would lead you to believe. It's worth noting that none of the bigger review sites (IGN, Gamespot, etc) have issued their reviews yet. Maybe they want to spend enough time with the game to ensure they give a balanced review...? Whatever score these sites award the game I doubt we'll see reviews toned as poorly as the Pocket Gamer one. The tone of it bugged me but what prompted me to sign-up and leave feedback on both the Declassified review and the article above is the score..... Call Of Duty: Black Ops - Declasified given a score by PocketGamer of 4/10..... Resistance: Burning Skies given a score by PocketGamer of 7/10 ...sigh... these scores are going to have people going out to buy the less enjoyable game! What on earth were they thinking? Hopeless reviewing.
Nov 2011
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mr_bez | 19:01 - 15 November 2012
"Earlier in the year, we refused a publisher's offer to let us run a review early if we give the game a 9 or higher. We also broke an embargo that would stop us publishing our negative review for 15 hours. We refused to change a score when a stroppy publisher complained, too."

Good yo know you don't kowtow to these demands, but I'd like to see you go further. These publishers should be named and shamed. A bit more of that and there would soon be an end to this sort of practice.
Jul 2012
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@RaveofRavendale | 16:17 - 15 November 2012
Hey Tiel, I should answer the question about Monkey Ball Vita, since I reviewed it. The honest answer is I have absolutely no idea. I was provided with review code but given no embargo for when the review could go live, so I went ahead and reviewed it.

It would appear that other outlets were given an embargo date perhaps, hence why they were all far later than mine? It could also be that I was provided with UK code, whereas other sites were forced to wait for US code. Either way, I didn't receive any correspondence from the studio afterwards shouting at me for breaking an embargo, so like I say, no idea what happened there.
Aug 2012
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@xeroxeroxero | 16:14 - 15 November 2012
Hi Tiel, thanks for your comment. I'm more than happy to.

Monkey Ball was a fairly standard request for code, which we were then given. We work hard to get review material as early as possible to give you our impressions in a timely manner, but we don't compromise our coverage in exchange for early access.

Hope that answers your question!
Oct 2012
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Myron de | 15:58 - 15 November 2012
Well said, Mark, thanks for your honest article. I was surprised a bit, reading all those harsh comments on the review. In all honesty, I guess people where just rooting for a really good system seller on the Vita, but CoD isn't the game that will make this platform shine.

But truth be told, all thebad omens where there from the start: Nihilistic changing it's name and focus, Sony and Activision only barely showing the game off and, as you said, no review copies before launch.

It astounds me that such a great premise got so little love. Sony needs a game to sway the masses, and a portable Black Ops would possible save the Vita in the coming months. But why the hell could Nihilistic work only four/five months on the project? Or: why Nihilistic at all? Resistance wasn't a good start now was it? I guess Sony's Bend could pick this title up more easily, considering they finished Uncharted way before Resistance reached completion.

And even then: a proper game requires two years dev time if it's wants to compete to it's older 360/PS3-brothers, one would think? Why give it only a couple of months?

As I proud Vita owner I would like to see this handheld succeed, but with choices like this sony might botch up this beautiful handhelds future. Yes, there are cool games out right now and even more incoming (Virtue's Last Reward, Persona 4 Golden) but I don't see this continuing if the install base stays this small :)

Sep 2011
Post count:
Tiel | 15:49 - 15 November 2012
Great to hear this. It is very hard to trust reviews sometimes.

For example, it would be great if you could shed some ligtht on how it came to pass that your review of Monkey Ball for Vita was up weeks before any others.

For what it's worth-I completely agreed with your verdict that it was in large part a return to form for the main game, but it still seemed odd that you had it weeks before anyone else. Thank you.

Also, you have been very 'professional' on the issue of some commenters on the CODBOD review. I'd love to know whether you think any of these comments might be cooperate 'representatives', or are COD fans just that biased?
Nov 2012
Post count:
@salongaraphael | 15:05 - 15 November 2012
great article mark good to see there's still unbiased reviewers. too bad i didn't read your review for resistance bs before buying it, wasted $50 on it
Aug 2012
Post count:
s4ndm4n87 | 14:49 - 15 November 2012
good article and nice to get some insights into your review process.
I do think though there seems to be different standards when reviewing ios/android games compared to vita/3ds games.
I get the price difference argument but thats making the value proposition decision for the customer rather than reviewing the game for what it is. I would rather have a consistent scale so i could say if its better to spend my time playing the new angry birds or need for speed vita (i choose nfs by the way!)
Nov 2012
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Alan Shearer | 14:49 - 15 November 2012
And that is why reviews are veiwed with cynicism nowadays. Keep up the honesty and good work, publisers should know to shut the hell up, and let you do your job honestly, this type of crap from publishers shows how little they care about their own products. When they make those offers, post it on your site, with proof. See if we can get them to stop, call them out on it. Honesty is a rare gift, but one we must treasure in this day. Thank you pocket gamer!