Fast-paced critic Zero Punctuation redefines game reviews

zeropunctuation.jpgMany of today’s games seemed to be made of bare minimum materials. Usually they have extremely predictable plots and are very boring compared to the games from a few decades ago (because of their corporate emphasis on graphics, pre-release buzz, and their ceaseless efforts to appeal to shallow “nerd” crowds).

Thankfully there is a loud, but qualified, British guy who’s willing to voice his discerning opinion to those mediocre corporate game cloners in style. His name is Yahtzee, and he masters the Zero Punctuation game critic feature on the Escapist, an Australian game magazine.

There are no wordy reviewing columns or pithy numeric representation of reviewed games on Zero Punctuation. All of the reviews are presented in a YouTube video format where Yahtzee’s machinegun-speed voice is heard critiquing and describing the game (without punctuations), while
bewilderingly funny minimalistic cartoon avatars mirroring what has been said appears out of context.

For example, in his recent review of the “Age of Conan” MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), he mentioned that character customization is very limited and gears toward the nerdy population by stating: “The choices of race are white human, black human, and another white human, and body-wise (two generic characters appears, one male and one female) you get to choose between big football hooligan and wispy lingerie model (the male character becomes vastly apelike with “WOARRGH” over his head, while the female became a lithe, busty siren with “TEE HEE” above her head). Even the smallest available boobies resemble a lamppost with two grapefruits nailed to it. Character customization is in short, he says, a joke.

These gut busting videos are typically around four minutes of length and usually features two commercial songs at the start and at the end that usually contains lyrics relating to the game, although sometimes only tangentially, like when he reviewed the popular game Halo 3, he played “Hello Goodbye” in the beginning because of the song’s homonyms.

In short, there are guaranteed bits of hilarity in all of his reviews. This is very comforting since most of his reviews are highly critical of the focused game. Most of the time he will latch onto the game’s
obvious faults like a lamprey eel and emphasize the pointlessness of these gimmicky features. If the faulty game possessing these undesirable features is also a high profile release, you can expect the hostility (and
hilarity) to max out in the review.

The most scathing reviews are usually targeted toward repeatedly re-released games (usually from Japanese game companies like Nintendo and Capcom) that possess a huge fan base. This is due to Yahtzee’s devoted and chronic gaming experience and his core belief that a single high-quality game with good production value and presentation deserves more appreciation from the gaming masses. Some of his favorite games include critically lauded titles of the “Half Life” series, “Portal,” “Silent Hill 2,” and “Call of Duty 4.”

Here’s a gamer who believes in the true values of games, someone who will ardently champion the game’s seemingly omnipotent potential of storytelling and interactive capabilities against the backdrop of cookie cutter sequels and re-releases. He has repeatedly maintained that games are an art form and deserve recognition as such. If what little I have to say here doesn’t inspire you should anyway. The originality of his presentation alone deserves to be heard and applauded.

For more information, visit www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation.