A recent review for Natural Selection 2 has been pulled from Gamespot UK’s site. The review was originally written by a freelancer, who eventually scored the game a 60/100. The comments section went wild when the reviewer wrote several technical inaccuracies about the game, and was accused of not bothering to play it properly by both fans of the game, and those who hadn’t even played it.
Originally, the reviewer cited “steep learning curve” in the section “The Bad”, with the line “it’s difficult because it’s well balanced” as a reason as to why the game is hard to play. Much of what the original author wrote didn’t make sense when it came to modern PC gaming, and it become obvious to a lot of the readers that the game was being critiqued from the perspective of a console oriented gamer.
The original author had also glazed over interesting facts such as the game having its own engine built from the ground up, with the only mention of graphics being the fact that the author thought them inconsistent, and sometimes dated. With little in the way of explanation of the game, the much loved Natural Selection 2 was accused of poor implementation, despite being one of the most original and well balanced titles for the PC this year.
Don’t take our word for it, Senior Editor Kevin VanOrd advised readers of the decision to pull it in the following open letter:
Hi GameSpot readers!
Yesterday, we posted our review of Natural Selection 2–but unfortunately, it’s come to our attention that the review contained several inaccuracies. We take our reviews seriously, and we stand by our reviewers’ critical analyses and writing abilities. However, our greatest responsibility is to you, our readers and viewers. We own up to our mistakes, and in light of the errors in the Natural Selection 2 review, we have chosen to remove the review and assign it to another author.
I apologize for the inaccuracies in the review. We look forward to publishing a replacement review once we have had a chance to fully explore Natural Selection 2.
Kevin VanOrd, Senior Editor
We noticed the review when at first Gamespot UK merely pulled the original score, it wasn’t until later that the link to the review 404′d.
Comments from the community voiced displeasure at the review on the letter page, but applauded the editors decision to remove it:
s4dn3s5: “well done GS, I respect this choice. The review was very amateurish and would hurt the site and the game”
nirvanasource “The real issue with the article was not the final score, just that there was no justification given for the score other than “dated” graphics (???), “long” map loading times (1:20 for me), and a steep learning curve. There was no mention of anything negative about the gameplay, yet somehow it ended up with a 6.0…”
If you want to check out the original review, you can try this Google cache link.
Inaccuracies such as “mod-to-retail conversions” without mentioning the new and original engine, and overall tone of the review, didn’t do the development cycle justice. For example, the reviewer made sweeping, vague statements such as “rough around the edges isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and there’s something to be said for the jerry-rigged feel of Natural Selection 2′s gameplay and graphics,” which don’t reflect the game-play at all, which is very balanced, especially for this genre.
Eric Neigher, the reviewer, also said that “the goal for both teams is simply to destroy the opposing team’s commander,” which, also, is incorrect.
Readers were also annoyed when Neigher claimed “another problem is that because each side has only a single commander, it’s critical that this person be attentive, competent, and unflappable.” Given that most team-based games require competency, it seemed an odd comment to say the least.
The overall consensus was that the article was lazily written and poorly critiqued, leading to the decision by senior members of Gamespot UK to pull it, facing outcry by users.
Reviewing Indie games is sort of a new process. They’re a much smaller market, and often the games fit a tight niche. It’s hard to find staff writers who have enough experience with whatever niche the game fits into to review it with enough experience. Hiring freelancers should eliminate this problem. For example, if we needed someone to review, say, Farming Simulator 2012, we’d find someone who had some experience with simulators. Because of this, it’s very strange that they hired a freelancer who seemingly had no interest in the title. That said, not every game gets as much attention as some others, and it’s not always easy to see which will grab a huge crowd, and thus huge attention, and which will be unread, or ignored and unplayed. Bad luck? Maybe, but no outlet is guilt free when it comes to the occasional lazy review, not even us.
From the cached snapshot, you can read the very first comment the review got:
cdk6828: “Is there anyway we can petition to have this review taken down. I have been playing this game since its beta in September. Its way better then this guy says it is. It is really hurting this amazing game’s score and its wrong for this to happen to an indie game 10 years in the making. So sorry Unknown worlds. And best of luck with your amazing game.”
I guess cdk6828 got his wish.