Morning coffee

Drinking my first coffee this morning, I read two reviews, one of “Mech Assault: Lone Wolf” (game, XBox), and the other of “I Am Charlotte Simmons”, Tom Wolfe’s latest novel (book, Hardcopy). The constrast in writing styles between game reviewers and book reviewers amused me.

Game Review Excerpts

  • Delivers more onscreen pyrotechnics than a Kiss concert.
  • The new mech designs with new weapons also give a strong presence but it’s the addition of the battle armor and VTOL that makes the biggest impact.
  • There is still a bit of linear gameplay in the single player mode which could be a bit more in depth and dynamic, but as it is, blowing stuff up has never been more fun.
  • It’s the perfect mix of old school mech action with an arcade feel to it.
  • While there’s occasional pop-up and clipping, those glitches are trumped by smooth animation and incredible explosions. When an enemy Mech is trashed, the bright blast lights up the screen and ripples the surrounding terrain in the most satisfyingly way.
  • The sheer joy of destruction, variety of mechs and plethora of game types result in a fun if slower-paced online action game. This giant robot might not save the world, but it’s still a pretty good pal.

Book Review Excerpts

  • More than a trifle but less than a masterpiece, the novel is an entertainment, and as such it seeks first to amuse and second to inform.
  • So: sermon, melodrama, dystopian vision — I Am Charlotte Simmons partakes of all these, and does so stunningly. But it’s still as much polemic as novel. One closes the book feeling soiled by its cloacal vision and emotionally manipulated by its author.
  • Mr Wolfe’s gifts for sartorial detail, verbal tics and all the tiny gestures that define place in the social pecking order are on hyperkinetic, at times tiresome, display.
  • If it shares some Dickensian virtues, such as exuberant, lovingly crafted grotesquery, it also has Dickensian vices, such as long-windedness, and a fundamentally unbelievable heroine.
  • The proportion of rant overload to silky observation has much increased.
  • The problem is that Wolfe, whose writing has always been grossly adjectival and chic-specific, has failed to capture any news of interest about American youth, and comes off instead like one of those horrible professors who tried to make you listen to Imagine while simultaneously getting off on his status as a pedagogical errant.

The world, I think, needs a blending of these. At very least, we need book reviews written by people who sound less like annoying college professors who have never learned how to write for a non-academic audience. Less intellectual wanking, please, and more actual communication. Thx!

Addendum: This is not to say, of course, that I like most game reviews. I don’t. I find the authors generally untrustworthy and usually under-informed. The only game reviewers I actually trust and rely upon are the Penny Arcade guys, but that’s because 1) I know they’re not on the take, and 2) I know they actually play games. Tycho also writes well.

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