Thursday, September 15, 2005

Letter to PC Gamer on the F.E.A.R. Review

When I saw in the back of last month’s PC Gamer that the ‘world first’ review of the game F.E.A.R. I did a bit of math to satisfy my curiosity. November issue means early September delivery, which means late August press date which means mid-August deadlines. That means an early to mid-August play-through required.

As I check now, as I read the article on September 13th, the game *still* hasn’t ‘gone Gold’ – which means that you have produced a review based on an unfinished game that may or may not represent what us consumers see at retail.

If the demo is any indication the game will be great, but that isn’t the point.

First, I do not accept it as a 'review', as the game is not out yet, and couldn't have truly been 'gold' for press time. Therefore calling it a ‘review’ is a fraudulent claim – perhaps ‘final test drive with score’ would have been more appropriate. Then you could have followed up with a ‘full review’ next month. Less glamorous, perhaps, but more honest – and do your readers deserve less? Don’t you want us to regard you as the serious journalist magazine of PC gaming, not yet another flashy and pretty hype zone?

Second, I have no doubt that you played the game, but where and under what conditions? Nothing is mentioned in the review, but I assume you went to the developer’s studio, where the game was already installed on their test system, and were allowed some amount of hours of supervised play. What does this do to your credibility?

There have been several reviews in recent issues that discussed installation difficulties across machines, difficulty getting settings correct, and so on. None of that could have entered into your review because it was conducted in a sterile environment. And I love your reviews in general – they are pointed and direct, and cut no corners. But even the feel of this review is softer - more like a preview – when compared to the reviews for Dungeon Siege II or Fable in the same issue.

As I say - I am hopeful that FEAR will be the 90+% game you describe, but am bothered on principal by the 'scoop at all costs' mentality here - I didn't like it when you did it for HL2, and I don't like it now.

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