Cliches I Never Want To See In Game Reviews Again

idol_lVideo game reviews have a difficult existence. Some people use them to decide whether or not to buy games, others use them as ammunition in the Console Wars. Usually, very strong emotions are attached to these reviews. But one thing we seem to be missing that we should get mad about is the lazy and irritating cliches that constantly pop up in reviews, even from such esteemed sources as EGM.

Ever play a game that has a beautiful look to it? A lovely rendered forest area or a tranquil meadow that your character walks through with peaceful music playing? Then expect the word “lush” to show up in the review. Seriously, I had a hard time writing about the forest a second ago without typing “lush”. I googled RPG ( the genre this word pops up in most during reviews) and lush and this is what I got:

  • “It’s all in 3D and lacks the artificial polish of some RPGs lush 2D backdrops,”
  • “Oblivion is a gorgeous RPG. Lush forests brimming with beautifully detailed flora and terrific lighting reflecting off ruined architecture …”
  • “New screenshots from Piranha Bytes’ Risen show lush environments and a lot of smithery”
  • “Crimson Gem Saga by Atlus for the PSP is all about the fundamentals of RPG fun: lush hand-drawn visuals”
  • “Cell Chamber is an amalgamation of a dark and morbid story, told through a lush and traditional RPG setting. “

See what I mean? I first saw the word used to describe Secret of Mana back in 1993 or so. Apparently, a ton of other people read that same article. If your game has green in it, it’s “lush”. Deal with it. Obviously, using the internet to find a synonym would take way too long.

Likewise, the word “drab” comes up a lot when discussing games that have an overabundance of brown in the color palette. First person shooters get “drab” a lot in their reviews. Hell, “dull” could even be used instead, but it seems most reviews are just tracing some ancient, original stone tablet review of Zork or something. Let’s google drab and game review and see what we get:

  • For Soldiers of Fortune on the SNES, a reader review titled “A Drab But Moody Run ‘n’ Gun Affair”
  • “unspectacular and even drab in points”.
  • “Pretty drab art style, really”
  • “Flower for the PlayStation 3 breathes life into stale … Then you return to the drab window sill,”
  • “Overall, if my review of this game seems drab and uninspired, that’s because the game itself is also drab and uninspired.”

And just for fun, let’s try it with Killzone 2 or Gears of War:

  • “I’m also a bit bummed by the overall drab (albeit beautifully rendered) look of Killzone 2;”
  • “The drab colors bore me to death and that’s one reason I’m so iffy about Killzone 2 “
  • “Gears of War looked very drab indeed.”
  • “Gears of war deserves most of the credit it’s receiving (although it isn’t the best game ever). The graphics are everything BUT boring, dull or drab”

See? Even the positive review of Gears of War uses the word “drab”. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Google these yourself, it’s fun! Like a belated Easter Egg hunt, but instead of looking for dyed eggs with lush colors, you are searching for brown eggs with a drab feel to them. 

You know what else really grinds my gears (of War)? When I read a review for a DS game and the game does not use any touch-screen functions at all and the reviewer complains about it. Now, the developer obviously chose not to tack on any gimmicky crap and instead they stayed true to their vision. Which I think is the right thing to do. I don’t want to use the stylus in every game, same as I don’t want to wave around the Wii-mote in every game. But the reviewer always mentions it: “At least use the double screen!”

But when a game does throw in some crappy feature like that, all hell breaks loose! Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow had such a feature and it was annoying. And the reviewers rightfully complained about it. But if they had not put in any touch-screen features at all, they would have found that to be just as annoying. Make up your freaking minds.

mpSometimes a reviewer decides that he knows what is best for a franchise so he will dock points from his review if the review lacks something like multiplayer. Metroid Prime had none and people complained. So they added a very basic mode in Metroid Prime 2, sort of as a bonus.

What was the reaction? The reviewers hated it, compared it to Halo 2 (wtf?) and EGM, in an interview with the developer, even asked them why it was not as robust (hey, robust is another word that gets used too much in reviews!) as Halo 2! Does anyone really think they ever intended for it to be?

Hell, Bioshock got crap for only being single-player! The developers focused all their energy on making one of the greatest games I have ever played and got lambested because 12 year olds can’t beat each other with wrenches!

There are a few more tiny things I want to mention, such as when a reviewer, which is usually some dork like me and you, tries to sound like he knows about progamming and AI and things like that. I have read where they mention how “It can’t be that hard to make the AI do this or that”. Actually, it just might. So shut up.

Also, reviewers should finish the game or at least get to the last level. Don’t play 3 levels and start writing. I don’t care if you have a deadline, play the game. My money depends on your review, so quit looking at pictures of lolcats online and finish Resident Evil 5.

And please, please: don’t make the story the focus of your review. Make the gameplay the focus. If I want a great story, I will read any number of the giant books on my shelf. I don’t need to play Dark Sector in order to be immersed in subpar writing. My girlfriend makes me watch One Tree Hill, I get enough of that without turning on a game console.

So there you have it, another rant in the books. What cliches drive you bonkers when reading reviews?

Written by

Age: 34 PSN ID: Starkiller81. I've played games since before I can remember, starting with my dad's Atari and I haven't stopped yet. Keep them coming and I will keep playing them.

26 thoughts on “Cliches I Never Want To See In Game Reviews Again”

  1. The word “gritty”. It’s present in almost every single moderately realistic war game or shooter of any sort.
    You’re also right about lush, it’s so common I hardly even notice it when I’m reading a review.

  2. Damn you reviewers!
    You’re certainly right Anthony. While the color palette thing doesn’t bother me too much (even though reviewers were apparently expecting to be delighted to a rainbow-caliber color fest when playing Gears of War 2), what really pisses me off is, like you said, reviewers hate when you leave a feature out, but berate you as inferior if the extra gimmick or bonus feature isn’t as good as another game that focuses on that mechanic (i.e. Multiplayer, touch-screen, etc.)
    And that’s my biggest pet peeve about modern games, usually story-based FPS’s or even Action Adventure games. Apparently, EVERY GAME NEEDS MUTLIPLAYER. That’s stupid! Why do people NEED multiplayer?
    For most games that don’t have multiplayer, there’s no logical or streamlined way to make a multiplayer mode that resembles the singleplayer.
    For example, Fallout 3. I had to listen to several people whine about how FO3 didn’t have multiplayer, and how it would have been much better if they did. NO IT WOULDN’T HAVE! First of all, the VATS system. That was incorporated to give the player a leg up on the rest of the wasteland, so the player didn’t have to aim with a relatively simple aiming mechanic. VATS helped singelplayer battles be not frustrating. But in multiplayer, there’s no way to incorporate VATS. How would it work? Two opponents see each other, and the first one to hit the VATS button wins? That’s retarded! That wouldn’t work.
    Another ridiculous example was Assassin’s Creed. One person said AC should have multiplayer. Wtf, no it shouldn’t! Why would that work? Not even “how”, but “why”? Should Zelda get mutliplayer? Oh God, I shouldn’t have said that.
    People are spoiled these days. They need multiplayer in every game, whether or not the game’s core mechanics can support a multiplayer mode that works well enough. Besides, adding it even as a bonus will only take points off. It’s just FUCKING RETARDED!!!

    Dammit, now I’m pissed. Well, essentially, reviewers are pompous, arrogant egomaniacs who believe they have the authority to berate and dictate and, if given the opportunity, RUIN games, while fans and multiplayer-addicts are whining retards who don’t understand anything about games, how they work, and which ideas, features, and mechanics should go into a game.

  3. [quote comment=”5981″]If you think that reviewers are bad, you should see zero punctuation on the escapist.[/quote]

    At least Yahtzee is consistent and doesn’t give in to hype or bribes for 10-out-of-10’s.

    And ultimately, I look for gameplay footage and other things about the gameplay and controls and features maybe a brief overview on the story. I ask myself, “What will I be playing?”

  4. [quote comment=”5981″]If you think that reviewers are bad, you should see zero punctuation on the escapist.

    But seriously you shouldnt really care what the reviewers say about a game because their personal opinion shouldnt really get to if you personally (I am using this word a lot) enjoyed the game.[/quote]

    Oh i love Zero Punctuation! That guy is just for laughs, I don’t care what his opinion is. I love it when makes fun of games I love,lol.

    And I never care what a review says about a game, I only use them to decide if a game is good enough to buy. You are right though, many people get their panties in a wad over them.

  5. ‘lush’, ‘drab’, they can be taken so out of context. Later on I’ll play some Daikatana, with its lush palette, but I’ll avoid Left 4 Dead because of its drab color scheme. Also, like Cossack, I saw a few reviews for Fallout 3 that docked points for not having multiplayer, and that pissed me off. What are you going to do? Have two people running around the wastelands? They’d never bump into each other. MMO-style? You’d be slaughtered before you could leave the vault. And yeah, VATS. Some games just aren’t meant to have multiplayer, and they appeal to a different crowd. Oddly enough, though, I never once saw anybody complain about Portal’s lack of multiplayer. Is it because people thought of it as a mini-game because of its length? Did the reviewers finally see reason? (Sometimes I say funny things…) Who knows? But it hardly makes for a fair grading scale that some games get docked for a lack of mp while others don’t. But heck, who ever said fair in the first place? …crap, now there are two multiplayer rants. Oops.

  6. They didnt get pissed by Portal since they were bedazzled by its brilliance… also that classic line “the cake is a lie” confused them

  7. Haha, nice feature Anthony! I have a love/hate relationship with video game reviews. Unfortunately, most of them are written too hastily and with too much emphasis on getting them done before the game releases. This tends to lead to sloppiness and filler.

  8. [quote]“It can’t be that hard to make the AI do this or that”. Actually, it just might. So shut up.[/quote]
    LOL, great article. Another one that bugs me is “stunning visuals”, not only for games, but for movies too.

  9. [quote comment=”5995″]I hate when people see a movie and then say the graphics were awesome.

    Special fx. Not graphics. Morons.[/quote]
    Rofl, I thought of that right after I submitted my comment.

  10. [quote comment=”5996″][quote comment=”5995″]I hate when people see a movie and then say the graphics were awesome.

    Special fx. Not graphics. Morons.[/quote]
    Rofl, I thought of that right after I submitted my comment.[/quote]

    Would “CG”, computer graphics, count?

  11. You see, this is why i like GS reviews. They aren’t rushed and you guys know how to ‘right click, thesaurus’ also, on your reccomendation I purchased RE5 and I’ll load it up tomorrow after my PS3 gets some much needed gigabytes (damn smooth few f1lms with their Quicktime HD format vids!.)

  12. No, CG would not count because they always just say “graphics”.

    I have heard it referred to movies made before CGI, so no,lol.

  13. OXM does THE most annoying thing: They count off points on games for not having a save anywhere system; if the game uses a checkpoint system, to them, it’s a huge mistake! Then they remove either .25 or .5 of the points for it, which is ridiculous. You know how many outstanding games use the checkpoint system? Do you know how many of those games would be worsened by a save anywhere system? A huge bad point about save anywhere systems are that you can screw yourself over by saving right before you die, and then the last save you have before that was two hours ago, cause you to go back. Also, saving so often takes you out of the experience way too often.

  14. aw foy. I always say, “Woah , look at that CG!!!” all the time. Wasn’t digimal ok?

    I should make a decent post now that Im arguing what to call Movie FX…

    I think most gaming reviewers are not real gamers like us. They are just typing out anything that sounds good on their page to make the game sound good. Result of getting payed more from the game author. It’s their business.
    That’s why I <3 gamersushi! Reviewers are real gamers, and they are not pushed to say something good to a game that’s terrible.

  15. Snowman, you may be right.

    My theory is that most game reviewers are real gamers, just like us.

    But they aren’t good WRITERS.

    Eddy and I both majored in English, concentrating in Creative Writing in a program you had be accepted into by submitting your work.

    We are not gamers who decided to write.

    We are writers who happen to play gamers.

    (that sounded pompous, but it was so lush compared to other drab posts on here….lol, just kidding!)

  16. [quote comment=”6012″]
    Eddy and I both majored in English, concentrating in Creative Writing in a program you had be accepted into by submitting your work.[/quote]

    That’s quite the pedigree, lol. I don’t think that game reviewers are bad writers necessarily, I just think that the nature of their job – i.e cranking out reviews – limits their ability to think outside the box.

    When you’re on a tight deadline, I imagine that you don’t have the inclination to reach for the Thesaurus, and fall back on the tried and true.

    Here at GS, you guys put out reviews when you feel like it, not when your over-bearing editor wants it. (Not criticizing, just pointing out the difference.)

  17. bleeech, reviews are unnecessary. If you’re on the fence, steal it, and if its worth it, pay for it. This is the way the informed find Music, Movies, Apps, and all forms of media. There’s no way in hell i’d pay 60 bucks for something I haven’t played (this applies to devs who choose /not/ to release a demo…)

    come arrest me…

  18. Mitch, you are 100% right.

    I was also referring to people like us who start up a website and review games like we do.

    Check out and look at the some of the sites that are posting stories there.
    Stuff like: “I hate it when I loose in Halo 3”

    BTW: Anyone who does that as a typo, fine. If you misspell that word…die.

  19. I hate how people criticized MP2’s extra multiplayer mode. It wasn’t meant to be a fully-fleshed out multiplayer experience of the century, just something extra to play with when you had buddies over. Me and a few buddies had some fun on it, even if it had lock-on. Why bother comparing it to Halo 2? I know it isn’t perfect, but like you said, who honestly expected it to be?

    Ugh. Reviewers are just…dumb, for lack of a better description.

  20. [quote comment=”6017″]
    I don’t think that game reviewers are bad writers necessarily, I just think that the nature of their job – i.e cranking out reviews – limits their ability to think outside the box.

    Here at GS, you guys put out reviews when you feel like it, not when your over-bearing editor wants it. (Not criticizing, just pointing out the difference.)[/quote]

    Tru Mitch tru. Especially the “”thinking outside of the box”” part. A lot of business dudes, also other buisness ppl other than game reviewers too, fail at that.

    Oh ya, and Anthony. When I wrote the reviewers are not real gamers, I should have added that they could have “Test players” that plays the games for them, and tell the writer how it was. The writer, doing his job, would over hype everything the testers say. To make it look like the writer has played the game.
    But, I think your right about they are not being good writers! I find many typos and misspells at their reviews.

  21. To add ANOTHER point to my post, I recently re-watched Gametrailer’s review of CoD4 for some reason. Anyway, when they were listing the few cons of CoD4, they said, “We are a little disappointed that vehicles aren’t playable here…”
    GAAAAAAH! First they list it as a con in CoD4 (a minor one, yes, but a con nevertheless!), but in CoD:WaW’s review, they said that vehicles were an unnecessary addition and hurt the game! Maybe they didn’t say it, but other people did! IT PISSES ME OFF!
    We really need to reform the reviewing system for games.

  22. [quote comment=”6071″]I try not look at what they could have done or what I wish they would have done.

    I look at it like this: is the game fun?[/quote]

    That’s the most truest thing on this article yet! They should stop whining what they could hav done. It’s really hard for the programmers to do such task, but the reviewers say it so easily. It get’s on my nerves some times.
    They should really review what they have now, and save the “Moar” feature for future sequel rumors.

  23. I’ll be honest, when I look at reviews, I always Ctrl-f for the word “fun”, because that’s how I judge a game too. If I don’t find it, I look for another review 😛

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