I am not a fan of Darkfall. I have never played the game and I doubt I ever will. Yet I am deeply worried about Eurogamer's Darkfall review.
The review is here and Aventurine (makers of Darkfall) have responded here.
If you haven't time to read all that my synopsis in a nutshell is that Eurogamer (highly respected games website) gave Darkfall (niche pvp focussed mmorpg) a very low score in a review. Aventurine wrote a robust response on their forums pointing out that the review accounts they had issued to Eurogamer have spent no more than A FEW MINUTES in the game. Eurogamer claim that their reviewer spent at least 9 hours in the game.
Who is wrong who is right?
I don't know but having read the review I have to admit it sounds like the reviewer never even got off the starting blocks. Aventurine's version has the sorry ring of truth.
I could be very wrong. It could even be that the game is badly put together with such a terrible user interface that the reviewer couldn't make any progress despite several hours of trying (although Aventurine's logs suggest that only a few minutes were spent trying). However I don't think this is acceptable from a professional reviewer reviewing a game as rich and complex as an MMORPG which is acknowledged to be targeted at a niche audience. If the reviewer genuinely couldn't get into the game then an honest professional response would have been to admit that he wasn't able to review this particular game.
What needs to happen now?
Although I am more convinced by Aventurine's account of what happened I don't agree with their request that Eurogamer pull the review. At this stage that in itself would be a form of dishonesty especially if Eurogamer really believe it to be a valid review. Apparently Eurogamer has offered to re-review the game. I think this would help although I don't want a precedent to be established where game companies can keep asking for new reviewers until they get one they like. Perhaps Eurogamer should link to Aventurine's rebuttal in the introduction to their review. And certainly Ed Zitron, the reviewer himself should be given an opportunity to respond because at the moment this whole affair reflects badly on his reputation.
EDIT: Eurogamer have made a response here and I think it is a good one. They are standing by the review and their reviewer Ed Zitron and they are contesting Aventurine's claim that he spent so little time in the game. They are getting a very experienced reviewer to give a second opinion on the game. I think this response is a good start, acknowledging the accusation was important and it does sound as if they are sticking by the review for genuine reasons. I still think the reviewer Ed Zitron himself should be given a chance to defend his name and perhaps a note put on the original review mentioning the controversy. Thanks to Marshall in the comments for bringing this response to my attention.