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Rockstar on Video Game Reviews: When it Breaks Down Into Checklists, You May as Well Have Made a Lawnmower

September 13, 2013 Written by Jason Dunning

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With the review embargo for Grand Theft Auto V being lifted at 7AM PST/10AM EST on Monday morning, we’ll be able hear reviewers (including PSLS) talk about how awesome the game inevitably will be.

In a pre-Grand Theft Auto V release interview with The Guardian, Dan Houser, Co-Founder of Rockstar, talked about creative flash points by saying, “The flash points are these: this bit’s needed for the story, but it’s not working in terms of gameplay – the mission is not fun, it needs to go. We always have missions that get cut out for whatever reason. We either have to rejig bits of the story to make it all tie together or we have to cut that bit of story onto a different mission.”

He then continued:

We pride ourselves on not being too pig-headed internally. Our goal as a company isn’t for people to say that Rockstar has got good game design but shit stories, or good stories and shit game design; we want them to say Rockstar make good games. Ideally, they can’t think about anything except, ‘I love the whole experience’. The goal is to have the whole thing feel indivisible.

After that last point, the interviewee mentioned how games criticism needs to catch up with being indivisible, to which Dan added:

You know, game reviewing, when it sort of breaks down into checklists, you feel like you may as well have made a lawnmower. It feels odd to me. I mean, games are sort of like a machine in some ways, but I still think that’s a strange way to think about them. Don’t think about the graphics or the music or whatever, just think about the whole. Was the experience engaging? That’s what we’re going for. We tailor our stories and our mission designs to make this total experience that will feel good alongside the graphics, alongside the physics – it should all feel cohesive, it should feel that the whole world exists and you can’t really separate the elements. It’s all got to gel together – that’s when we think we’ve been successful.

What kind of review scores do you expect to see for Grand Theft Auto V? Let us know in the comments below.

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