|This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's relevant and/or popular on /tg/... or we just can't be bothered to delete it.|
Zero Punctuation is a series of video game reviews by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, accompanied by simple Photoshop stills rebus-animated in Windows Movie Maker playing over the author's "punctuation-less" fast narration. His style is notably critical, cynical and rude, which he often self-referentially acknowledges, and he has a noted preference for games with well-integrated narratives and stories, though not exclusively so considering he's also into fast and well-paced gameplay. A lot of thinner-skinned people get offended when he tears up their favorite games, but the man usually has a point - to fat, greasy Americans who believe that a fast talking man with a British accent is the pinnacle of wit, at any rate.
In other words, he's like every other overly opinionated vidya gaem playing cunt on the internet, though he's arguably wittier than some - at the least, he's certainly among the more quotable.
Some would argue that he is a troll king amongst the rabble, but then if we called him that he would probably revel in the title; even in his earliest days, he described himself pithily as a "foul-mouthed, quick-firing blithering behind a facade of legitimate journalism", and is fully aware of how much RAGE he can generate and takes immense pleasure from it. Of course, anyone dumb enough to get so attached to their franchises and games that they take what he says as personal attacks is leaving themselves open and most likely deserves it (cough, implicating cough). On the other hand, you can find quotes of his scattered around 1d4chan, so either we have a /vg/ spy running around defacing our wiki, or we just don't hate him as much as we like to think we do.
Highly critical as he is of modern gaming in general, Yahtzee discourages players from letting reviews decide everything for them, even his own, and encourages them to come up with their own opinions regarding games. Plus he's a fan of Doom-style old-school shooters and has recommended games such as Star Control: Origins, so his tastes can't be complete shite, eh?
Yahtzee and Warhammer
Warhammer and Warhammer 40k are among the many series he's referenced in his videos, which is at least fitting considering its '80s British cultural origins, though it doesn't seem he has any interest in it himself. At one point in 2011, he wrote an article in his more at-length 'Extra Punctuation' editoral, bashing the setting of 40k based on his impression of the Space Marine game; his calling the setting "juvenile" and overly grimdark has earned him quite a bit of "well deserved" flak, with the resulting nerd rage festering all across the 40k community and seeping even into this very wiki, if the page's history is any indication.
Of note is that he didn't actually review the game after playing it, which only fanned the flames further. Even ignoring that it would've been a waste of time anyway, as indicated by many other episodes - particularly where he "debated" between reviewing Space Marine and another game called Hard Reset - this was very likely a conscious decision. ("...given options, I'll go for the one that infuriates tosspots.") It may be that he doesn't particularly care about the series - at the least, he had clearly determined it to not be for him anyway, as he would with Total War: Warhammer II. So yay for consistency! Also worth noting, many Legend of Zelda fans have leveled that same accusation at him for criticizing what he sees as repetitive "standard heroic myth" plots, in spite of him actually enjoying Wind Waker, Majora's Mask and Breath of the Wild.
In retrospect, this sort of thing is tacitly hilarious, considering the amount of fans overall that will and do give 40k shit currently for being overwrought and pointlessly dark, especially in the hands of its less skilled writers; many oft-criticized plot elements and contrivances can also be summarized as reading like so much by-the-book capeshit, especially given the comics industry's own history with regards to laying on the grimdark too thickly. That's not to say those fans are wrong, but something something pots meet kettles. Plus it's not like /tg/ doesn't actively run with the idea of being nerd rage personified, lulzy as it can be when it becomes genuine.
Also, as far as "not understanding the setting", one of his more recent references described the setting of a game he panned as "like Warhammer 40K but without the irony" so... y'know, you tell us.
Yahtzee has tried his hand at developing a few games of his own, mostly point-and-click horror/adventure hybrids. He has also written a few books; the one of most interest to /tg/ is Mogworld, a hilarious send up of World of Warcraft which follows the misadventures of an undead minion who just wants to die and stay dead. (Which may or may not have been the result of his brief fling with the game. Not so above it all, are ya?) While his other creative works are likely worth looking into, one wouldn't go wrong just sticking with Mogworld if that's your inclination.
Such creative works include:
- Jam - "It's about an apocalypse! With jam in it!" Hard to get more straightforward than that. This tale about a tide of man-eating jam is written as a parody of the post-apocalypse genre.
- Will Save The Galaxy For Food - Satirical yarn about an intergalactic pilot who's left SOL when FTL travel takes an enthusiastic sledgehammer to the wonders of space exploration, and taking on unsavory jobs for cash leads him into the midst of a dreadful conspiracy. Redundancy, hopelessness and existential dread: that's sci-fi comedy for ya!
- Differently Morphous - Contemporary paranormal/urban fantasy spiel about the difficulties of adjusting to normal life, except you trade in the usual suspects like "vampire" or "werewolf" for "incomprehensible Lovecraftian horror from beyond our human dimensions".
Among Yahtzee's games are:
- The Consuming Shadow - More Arkham-style Lovecraftian horror but in roguelike form, exploiting the core "no two playthroughs are the same" characteristic to create intrigue and mystery.
He also used to make some one-hour videos called "Let's Drown Out", in which Yahtzee and his cynical but kinda bro-tier friend Gabe are talking mindlessly about stuff going on in the gaming world, while trying as much as possible to ignore the boring-ass game they're playing (see: drown out). The only relevance this has for /tg/ is that they are extremely good to listen to while painting, simply for how mindbogglingly mindless it is.
Opinions on Other /tg/-relevant Games
- Wolfenstein - Yahtzee considered the 2009 entry to be a generic and subpar sandbox-shooter affair, dull enough to the point he did the review in limerick to keep himself awake (though his opinion on it softened up some time after). The New Order, on the other hand, is one he recommends for being a much fresher, solid and suitably fast-paced take on the WWII action shooter, with surprisingly good storytelling by that standard. The Old Blood got less favorable reviews for being a more "standard" rehash, while The New Colossus was criticized for trying to recreate the impact and public reception of The New Order without the former's solid story and presentation to balance things.
- The Witcher - First impressions of the first game cast it as being a long drawn-out affair that was excessively complex and unintuitive in terms of combat and presentation, with the writing coming off as the standard fantasy fare attempting to seem "mature" by the rampant amounts of sex and foul language - not too terrible, mind, but still - and the second game was largely more of the same. However, the third game - in spite of Geralt coming off as a Mary Sue to him and the mechanics still seeming overly elaborate - earned Yahtzee's recommendation and "Third Best Game of 2015" honors by focusing more on tutorials for the controls, and spreading that attention to detail to the storyline and presentation as well, providing solid and engaging characterization while still looking and playing crisply.
- As an interesting side note, The Witcher episode was what spawned the "Glorious PC Master Race" and "Dirty Console Peasants" monikers, both initially done as jokes. The fact that the joke has lived this long probably says something. Just don't ask us what. Yahtz himself has taken a bit of a distaste to this term as of late as well, as PC gaming has begun outpacing consoles to the point that people were unironically using this term and becoming graphics-obsessed twats.
- Doom - Big fan of the original entries, particularly the first one, but thought Doom 3 deviated too far from the standard in his younger days, due to dodgy design choices such as the murky and linear horror-lite presentation, and the focus on audio logs clashing with the more open-ended run-and-gun style of the originals. That said, as indicated by his review of it alongside Medal of Honor: Warfighter, he much prefers DOOM 3 to the average
spunkgargleweeweemodern FPS game by a country mile, considering it far more straightforward and coherent without sacrificing organic structure on the altar of poorly-paced setpieces. DeumDOOM's 2016 entry was praised as the best game of 2016 for being a highly stellar entry that faithfully updates the core gameplay of the original Doom to modern times, while leaving the bulk of the plot to be discovered at the player's own pace. Yahtzee, being Yahtzee, almost thought it was too good to be true - given Bethesda's reputation, who the hell would blame him - and still had his criticisms, e.g. the game became too easy for him towards the end, but readily concedes they're nitpicks beforehand because the game is still fucking good. Doom's VR entry was similarly recommended for accurately capturing the feel of the games as well.
- Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game: Done by Cyanide Studio, the Space Hulk: Deathwing guys who are referred to as "basically competent midrange developers", the game is considered forgettable and lacking in proper story structure; he compared it to Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, which to him was at least better-paced and remembered that even the most rote of Lovecraftian stories run off properly maintaining a fear of the unknown.
- Games in the Tolkeinverse
- Middle Earth:
*HRUUH* Shadow of Mordor: Set between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and created by Monolith (Condemned 1 + 2, F.E.A.R. 1-2 and Guardians of Middle-Earth, among others), Shadow of Mordor is the opposite of everything you'd expect a video game adaptation of a movie (of a book) to be. Textdump exposition and Tailon's bland and angsty presentation aside, Yahtzee gave it his Best Game of 2014 for both solid gameplay, which gets most of the usual 'current-era action-adventure sandbox' features right, and the orcs of all things! The novel Nemesis system provides a means to study your greenskin foes' weaknesses, an orcish hierarchy of captains impacted by the player's successes AND failures (yep, that one orc what fucked you up might just become a new captain himself!), as well as the possibility of inserting potential sleeper agents into the hierarchy and influencing their advancement. All of this serves to create an organic storytelling experience in an adaptation of a massive body of literature (complete with movie franchise) that, by many accounts, manages to be really fucking good.
- Middle Earth:
- Star Wars
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Yahtzee specifically reviewed the 2008 Wii game, chosen out of the many releases because it sounded like the logical choice for faithful lightsaber-y action - a decision that made some sense, but was still dreadfully fucking wrong. To his credit, he doesn't fault the developers so much as he does Nintendo for not supporting MotionPlus, himself for not researching properly and George Lucas for the shoddy quality of the plot and the attempts to tie the widely-disliked prequel trilogy to the original films. Also, the game looked like shit and neglected to make the main weapon a more viable alternative to just shoving the Force up every applicable bunghole in the vicinity. The sequel by LucasArts (played on a proper console this time, don't worry) was panned thoroughly and given the '3rd Worst of 2010' award. Highlights include: being an epitome of Star Wars games' "cash cow" overinvestment in spectacle and production, at the expense of fresh and consistently (or actual) challenging gameplay; having a similarly shit plot to the first, still focused on the ridiculously-OP Starkiller; riddled with forced romance between SK and his love interest who both have less than zero chemistry; and somehow feeling both overly padded AND too short.
- Star Wars: Battlefront: The entirely forgettable twenty-a-side multiplayer-based action shooter released by EA DICE in 2015 that served as a reboot to the series, it was also pretty much 95% "high production values and polish" and 5% "actual game". With the exception of the somewhat alright Hero Hunt mode, the game was dragged down by a lack of single-player that wasn't an offline pastiche of the multiplayer modes, a lack of incentive and ability to communicate and coordinate between players in that same full-price multiplayer mode, and the absurd amount of grind required to make dealing with over-leveled opponents LESS tedious. All of this was enough to give it a solid spot starting off Yahtz's "Top 5 Worst Games of 2015". The sequel got a Blandest Game of 2017 nod instead, but didn't escape his critical wrath regardless, because it also ended up being LESS forgettable for the obvious DLC-related reasons, along with stopping the plot of the single-player mode (oh yeah, they added one, btw) cold in order to forcibly tie the resolution to the multiplayer. Fucking EA.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Mostly given a "first impressions" video because Yahtzee hates reviewing MMORPGs (as always eventually loses interest), he notes that the leveling system is actually decently directed, and the Mass Effect-style conversations that preface each mission proved interesting. The moral choice system proved to be a bugaboo, however, and the game ultimately lost him when its story seemed to contrive a reason for his smuggler to continue after having completed his primary objective.
- The Zero Punctuation video gallery up to 9/19/2018.
- The REST of of the video gallery on the new Escapist site, starting at 8/15/2018 because merging archives was too hard, though they might be working on that.