This is Not How You Review Games

Two popular tweets going around are pictures of Steve Hogarty’s reviews of expansions for The Sims 2. Retweeted by a variety of people, including of course illustrious RPS folk, the reviews are considered raw, gritty, accurate, and the fact that EA execs wanted him fired from PC Zone just validates those claims.

As you can see from the header, it certainly isn’t worried about being “edgy.” So yes the article is very gruff, and gruffness has a place. Being blunt, sometimes even foul, can go a long ways for your message. But is this a well written review? Well no, it isn’t. I would say it doesn’t even qualify as a review, but rather merely slander upon some strawman at EA. The review, as you can see, is a hypothetical story about EA executives sharing a moment where they dream up a way to bilk people of their cash. Shortly after one of the executives returns home, strikes his wife, and commits suicide. All over being part of such a horrible thing as Sims 2 expansions. The final line is just an insult. There is a lot of very bad here, much of it obvious. But it isn’t even a review. If EA had been deceptive about the content of this, I would be more sympathetic, but people aren’t going to be misled by a box called The Sims 2: H&M Fashion Stuff. All of the marketing is around the fact that it is exactly what it is, a collection of branded clothes for your sims. For this, Steve gave it a 5. Out of 100. He claims that the product is 1/20th of what it could be, but doesn’t tell us anything about its quality as a content pack of clothes for your sims.

Do they look good? How is the variety? Are there any rendering issues? How was the install? Do you get enough of them? Do they go well with the Sims universe? Steve didn’t review the product which he was payed to, likely using a review code provided by EA, he wrote an insulting missive because he didn’t like the clearly messaged idea. He didn’t like that some people will pay for more clothing options for their virtual characters. No wonder a “shitbag executive” wanted him fired, they didn’t get a review critical of their product, they got an insult and no review.

For the next “review” he “stuck to the facts”, and by that I mean he provided a list of assets without any information as to their quality for their purpose. Apparently furniture is only 75% of an ontological failure, instead of a 95% failure. He at least states that he believes the number is indicative of the quality of this pack, but he doesn’t tell the reader anything that they couldn’t have found out by looking at the box.

This is not journalism, this is drunken scrawling on a bar napkin and fist bumping your bros about how much you totally burned those suits. I don’t care for those content packs, so I would seek to avoid reviewing them, but if I found myself in a position where I had to, I would try to consider their merits of what they are versus what they could be, without changing their entire nature. This is not analysis and consumer advocacy, it is vitriol.