News Article

High Voltage Responds Badly to Scathing Conduit 2 Review

Posted by James Newton

Empty pram – toys everywhere

Conduit 2 received some pretty unfavourable review scores, including a 5/10 in our own Conduit 2 review, but Joystiq was especially venomous, their reviewer T. Michael Murdock giving the game a 1/5 score. High Voltage's response will shock you.

The studio has admitted it advised staff to write reader reviews of Murdock's book The Dragon Ruby on Amazon, the page filling with vitriolic reviews such as this one:

this book, i started to read it but after the first page i got sick, such bad writing with a guy with no backbone......

And this gem:

worst book ever dr suess books have more depth .After the first chapter of it i threw it out my window.It was a good chew toy for my dog.

High Voltage's Eric Nofsinger claims employees were recommended to read the book before writing a review, which is about as likely as Joystiq getting the exclusive reveal of Conduit 3, in all honesty.

Marooner's Rock covered the whole sorry saga, and you can read the Amazon reader reviews too.

[via maroonersrock.com]

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User Comments (93)

3DS

#1

3DS said:

the game is not bad it is just the people that are writing the review dont like the type of game that conduit 2 is.

pixelman

#2

pixelman said:

Smart, High Voltage. Very smart. I mean, if you're having serious financial issues you should totally act like a bunch of whiny two year-olds and give yourself even more bad press. This is going to hurt them bad.

Edit: I'm going through these reviews and I cannot believe how stupid and immature these people are. They've permanently lost a buyer here.

brandonbwii

#3

brandonbwii said:

That must have been a pretty bad review for them to talk about it. This is a company used to bad reviews.

irken004

#6

irken004 said:

On one hand, this is a pretty bad scenario for HVS. On the other hand, Joystiq's review was almost exceedingly harsh. Some of their points in their review were simply bashing the game.

The game is still a 7/10 for me so whatever :D

3DS

#7

3DS said:

i dont care they are still amazing and so are the games they make

Bass_X0

#8

Bass_X0 said:

@pixelman I'm going through these reviews and I cannot believe how stupid and immature these people are. They've permanently lost a buyer here.

I don't care about that stuff. If they happen to make a good game that I want to buy, I'm going to buy it regardless. However I've not bought a game from them yet and have no plans on doing so anytime soon.

MasterGraveheart

#9

MasterGraveheart said:

I think everyone gave Conduit 2 more flack than it deserved. Yeah, it's a more competitive FPS environment on the Wii now, but honestly, it's not BAD. It's not Goldeneye or even some of the Call of Duty franchise's more recent Wii outings, but I kinda liked it. Too each their own, I guess.

But y'know, unprofessional or not, I gotta hand it to the High Voltage crew for standing up for their own hard work. On the other hand, I think there'd be better methods to it.

pixelman

#11

pixelman said:

@3. Read the review and tell me you didn't bust out laughing. It was hilarious, and if everything the guy said was true (which hasn't been disputed at all), he was well justified, if slightly unprofessional.

If anything it made me want to play the game more, lol. HVS managed to ruin that with a stupid decision though, just like they do with their games. :P

vherub

#12

vherub said:

Bad reviews hurt financially, and they also hurt emotionally. It's a natural reaction. But that internal email was a lapse of judgment. The next step is for HVS to contact Amazon and ask they pull the bogus negative reviews they posted.

andyutd97

#14

andyutd97 said:

Yes! Legends. I love it when people do things like these. There goes all of their respect and self pride. lol.

FonistofCruxis

#16

FonistofCruxis said:

This is very unprofessional but the joystiq's review seemed too harsh. While conduit 2, got some negative reviews like this, it also got some positive ones too and many of the people who played it enjoyed it so instead of being unprofessional like this, I think HVS should've just ignored the overly harsh reviews like this and take into account the complaints from the reviews that weren't overly harsh and be pleased with the positive reviews.

killer6370

#19

killer6370 said:

Haha well done such bad reviewers should really get punched in the face and yes i know what am talking about i played conduit and conduit 2 and 5 of 10 is ok fans would givve it a 6 of 10 because it a good game not 1 of the best but is still ok but 1 of 5 is totally wrong

BulbasaurusRex

#20

BulbasaurusRex said:

Well, their e-mail could be read to imply that their employees leave bad reviews, but it never actually says that, and they did say to read the book first. However, they would've had to be completely clueless not to realize the results of their suggestion, so there probably was some malicious intent.

However, I mainly judge video game developers by the games they make, and Conduit 2 is a great game. I'll give strong consideration to buying a possible Conduit 3.

RaylaxStaff

#21

Raylax said:

Ahahaha, wow. /me crosses Conduit 2 off list of maybe-buy games

pikku

#23

pikku said:

Bravo High Voltage. You just made my To Buy List a little shorter. :)

But seriously, I found JoyStiq's review hilarious if a bit harsh. Can't-Do-It xD

dings

#25

dings said:

It's hard to take HVS seriously after I learned their first batch of games were exclusives to the Atari Jaguar.

Unca_LzStaff

#27

Unca_Lz said:

I also want to point out that reviews are subjective and not everyone is going to like a game just because others do. Regardless of how harsh the review was, reacting this way only makes you look childish and unprofessional. (and the book reviews are kinda clever) :)

warioswoods

#28

warioswoods said:

To be fair, though, both the cover of that book and its official summary make me cringe from the sheer awfulness. I'd rather suffer through ten crappy video games than be forced to read Dragon Ruby.

NSBlueLighing

#29

NSBlueLighing said:

I believe in a post on Wired and some where else that no one from HVS except for the art director wrote a bad review for his book. If you go on gamespot and look at their forum for this exact news the fans were the ones bashing his book. I still like HVS i dont think their whiny babies only the art director was and for Joystiq's review that should be pulled down and done again by another reviewer.

Kid_A

#30

Kid_A said:

High Voltage Software...I expected more from them, honestly. Obviously their games aren't particularly great, but they're typically quite open about their missteps and have always seemed to respond well to criticism.

This is shocking.

TKOWL

#31

TKOWL said:

Meh, the only thing High Voltage even got close to doing right was Conduit.

Retro_Gamer

#33

Retro_Gamer said:

Do we know for sure this is from High Voltage? It could just be from a few angry fans of the game. Either way, it shouldn't affect anybody's decision to buy the game.

Wamtu

#34

Wamtu said:

Looks like there are some people on Murdock's side now. They praise the book and bash Conduit 2. That has to be one of the most unreliable review pages on Amazon now.

ueI

#35

ueI said:

The funniest Amazon reviews are:

"Quite possibly not only the most fascinating book I've ever read, but if you read this book while playing Conduit 2, the actions in the book and the actions in the game sync up to reveal a series of hidden clues in the game. Not only did these clues lead to untold wealth, but my IQ rose twenty points while reading this book! In fact, before reading this, not only was I barely literate, but I actually paid good money for Conduit 2! I know, right? Thankfully this book and the billions of dollars in gold it led me to have really turned my life around."

"I've always been able to judge a book by its cover. And from the cover shown above, I am certain that this book provides better enjoyment than playing Conduit 2. Awesome!"

I also like the bad reviews that aren't blatant trolling.

Wamtu

#36

Wamtu said:

@Uel: Yeah, I liked that one too. I just love it that they're no longer trying to hide it and are very obviously retaliating by randomly bringing up Conduit 2 and saying it sucks compared to the book.

EDIT: Wow. I just read the review that started it all. He...really didn't like that game. WAAAIIIT, did he just say Abe Lincoln appears at the end?! What? Howa...habada...bu...oookay. That's...unbelievable. I wasn't going to get it anyway.

Slapshot

#38

Slapshot said:

I find this highly unprofessional and irresponsible by High Voltage. They know that their game isn't great, and when you compare the game to one of the big budget HD FPS shooter on the market - that Joystiq also reviews games for - the game simply doesn't hold up!

I understand their frustration at the negative reviews, especially had it been a 1/10 instead of 1/5, but to go off and trash the reviewers book that they haven't read on Amazon to lower its rating, when he obviously played their game, is flat out wrong, and this kinda of action is only going to hurt them worse.

I'm kinda interested in snagging his book now too! :)

NSBlueLighing

#39

NSBlueLighing said:

Hm i dont think anyone really gave this game a fair review... Gamespot probably has the closest to a fair review NL mostly focused on single player and its crap of one(I think most people bought the game just for multiplayer) Ign isnt that great Joystiq's is just a big ramble on the games bad things they didnt even play the multiplayer for more than 20mins---A terrible review joystiq should re-do it

NSBlueLighing

#41

NSBlueLighing said:

Why are you people blaming HVS for in a interview with Eric Nosfinger(or whatever) they said it was the art director of the game that sent a email out to his employees to write a bad review for his book but they just ignored that email...the bad reviews were pretty much all done by fans of the game.

TheBaconator

#42

TheBaconator said:

Good Going High Voltage! You Really showed that guy. (Sarcasm)
I already traded in my Conduit 2 game now, and I will never purchase something from Low Voltage Software again. Did they really think giving negative reviews to that guy's book was going to help their case in any way

NSBlueLighing

#44

NSBlueLighing said:

You people arent being very nice to something that does not concern anyone but the company and the Joystiq reviewer. I still dont get how this made news, from a small company and a little author.

TheGreenSpiny

#45

TheGreenSpiny said:

@10 and the rest of you bashing HVS: That moron at joystiq was far more than "slightly unprofessional" and was in no way justified for his review. Just reading the review you can tell he's clearly not qualified to write any sort of review of a Wii game, let alone a FPS.

Murdock is clearly a clumsy and uncordinated Xbox 360 fanboy. If joystiq was smart (and clearly they're not because they published the review) they would fire him.

pixelman

#46

pixelman said:

I've been researching this a bit, and it looks like most of those negative reviews are written by bored trolls looking for the lulz — not HVS.

The Joystiq review was published on May 3rd, and on that same day Matt Corso sent the email (to seventy employees) and only four or so 1-star reviews were posted on Murdock's book (proof). Only one of these May 3rd reviews is still on Amazon, so it looks like Nofsinger asked the employees to take 'em down at some point. The rest of the negative reviews have been posted around the 20th or later, which seems to be the time that the story really started getting popular around the 'net.

I'd say the press is blowing this out of proportion, lol.

Colors

#47

Colors said:

You can tell it's the developers reviewing the book by the fact they trash-talk the guy, not just the book. So unprofessional. :O

DazzaAdmin

#48

Dazza said:

When you view the customer reviews in date order it's actually quite shocking.

2008 - 2 reviews (both 5 stars)
2009 - 2 reviews (both 5 stars)
2010 - 2 reviews (both 5 stars)

Then 3rd May 2011 then fun starts, right after Joystiq's review went live!

"I had more fun reading the directions on a bottle of aspirin I had to take after going trough this below fan-fiction garbage Mr. Murdock calls a book"

No doubt this must be from someone at HVS. Then between the 19th and the 21st the trolling just gets really silly.

This whole thing has really blown up in HVS' face as it's drawn attention to the most negative review of Conduit 2 AND directed people to the author's 5 start rated book.

Maybe they should hire Max Clifford to do their PR from now on :-p

WaveBoy

#49

WaveBoy said:

Stay classy HVS, you just made yourself even less professional. Not only do you guys lack in the creativity and imagination department with your uninspired games that would be utterly laughable on the PS3/360 and only would of 'flied' maybe back on the original Xbox, not to mention the only real saving grace here are the Wii Pointer controls which makes the experience all the more better, because without out them you'd just have another generic shooter that nobody would even bother with on Xbox Live.

And you're also a bunch of whiny little school girls. ;)

kdognumba1

#50

kdognumba1 said:

Like many people are saying here, you gotta stay professional. Ya these guys bashed you but as a gamer and consumer, there review was not only not accurate, it didn't seem like they even checked the game out outside of 1 mode, which is a no no for any site that intends on people to take them seriously. Personally I found the game to be much better then people were saying offline and online and it actually has something most games this gen don't have - split screen gasps. As a proud owner of all 3 consoles I can say this is worth a purchase.

Wolfenstein83

#51

Wolfenstein83 said:

I still wanna play part 2, regardless of what critics say.
I think it's the gamers who make the most difference, not someone who is paid for their opinion.

DestinyMan

#52

DestinyMan said:

Scathing review or not, High Voltage shouldn't have let this happen. As a writer, they have lost face in my eyes. Even if this reviewer threw mud at them, they shouldn't have thrown mud right back. It makes them look like the petty and childish ones, and I bet they didn't even read through Chapter 1 of that person's book to give a clear and honest opinion of it.

jbrodack

#53

jbrodack said:

Hah this is pretty funny. Amazon reviews done for personal reasons is nothing new though and isn't too big a deal.

Also, I liked the first conduit and the sequel looks pretty good. Something I'd get at a lower price.

I don't trust joystiq's reviews one bit as they are the site who also unreasonably bashed the new splatterhouse. Apparently if something isn't a huge big budget production from one of the biggest companies they think a game is the worst ever.

Gamer83

#54

Gamer83 said:

Them personally going after the guy doesn't change the fact that The Conduit and Conduit 2 are both mediocre games that really never deserved the hype they got.

Swiket

#56

Swiket said:

This reminds me of that woman who went on Fox News saying that Mass Effect had explicit sex scenes, but she never actually saw gameplay and just heard from someone else that it was explicit.

This lead to people giving her book low ratings on Amazon because "they never read the book, but they heard it was bad".

Gamesake

#57

Gamesake said:

Mass Effect doesn't have explicit sex scenes?! BioWare... I expected more from them honestly. I already traded in my Mass Effect game now, and I will never purchase something from BioWare again.

Sylverstone

#60

Sylverstone said:

Both parties are hurting themselves.

I really don't think Murdoc did a fair review, and his comments on the whole HVS backlash scenario stung in more ways that one.

I mean, come on! Con-don't-do-it? That was basically the beginning of the end for that review.

HVS pretty much dug themselves a grave with this stunt but in the end, both sides are just doing wrongs, not rights.

AlexSays

#61

AlexSays said:

This makes me so happy.

It's nice to see High Voltage exposed as the inherent scum of gaming I've always claimed them to be.

Go back to making licensed shovelware, guys, so at least people won't mistake your "work" for real games.

Vinsanity

#62

Vinsanity said:

@Damn right, Sylverstone

@AlexSays: you have an incredibly bad attitude. Why would you want any studio to NOT try and do better than they currently do? You just expect studios to stick to making one type of games forever, and people should just automatically just shoot to work at "a call of duty studio" or a "mario studio"? You're just a jackass when you say stuff like that.

"Scum of gaming"? Hardly; all they wanted to do was make something better than they ever have before, and deliver an experience to wii gamers that other studios were not. It takes far more skill to even make a bad game than it does to post a stupid comment on a website, man. Even at their worst, they're nowhere near as bad as gamers like you.

motang

#63

motang said:

That is so blatantly childish of them, they should be ashamed of themselves for doing that.

Gamesake

#64

Gamesake said:

I'm sure everyone here will forgive HVS in time for being unprofessional. Sony kept gamers in the dark about the "external intrusion", and now everyone can't wait to give PSN their credit card numbers again.

meppi

#66

meppi said:

Well they accomplished one thing and that is to become the second entry on my list titled: "never buy another game from this company".
Right next to Activision.
Bravo gentlemen.

gojiguy

#69

gojiguy said:

Well just imagine if you worked on a game for two years, spent countless hours plugging away at it and pouring your heart and soul into it- only to have it passed off as generic crap by reviewers.

I'd be mad too.

Edwrd

#70

Edwrd said:

Should reviews really be 100% reviewer slant? Shouldn't there be some sort of structure, like graphics, sound, mechanics, replayability scores, even if they just use that structure as a guide for the reviewer to score fairly and consistently?

Ren

#71

Ren said:

Really unprofessional. too bad for HVS. Not a smart way to deal with that even if it may have hurt.

Ryaca

#72

Ryaca said:

Not sure what Matt Corso of High Voltage is upset about. Their production history has been a long line of bad to mediocre games including "hits" such as; the Atari Jaguar adaptation of White Men Can't Jump; an adaptation of the tabletop RPG Hunter: The Reckoning that completely missed the tone and feel of the property they licensed; Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude; the adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; the Family Guy Video Game; and the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer video game. You would think that they would be used to scathing reviews by this point. He should be overjoyed that the studio is still making games and issuing paychecks.

retro_player_22

#73

retro_player_22 said:

The Conduit 2 is definitely a 8/10 rated game to me. Some critics and gamers just don't like kill cuz it isn't on the same level as Halo, Killzone or Call of Duty.

taffy

#74

taffy said:

While I do believe that both parties are at fault I think it's about high time that game journalism is held more into account. There are indeed several websites with "professional" journalists employed giving lethargic opinions on games on all platforms. Games are now considered an art form but if you compare reviews from music, movies and theatre to reviews on videos games there is a stark contrast in the quality. I've read the review on Joystiq and it definatley lacks professionlism, people complain that the video game industry isn't taken seriously and these sorts of actions do not help.

JimLad

#76

JimLad said:

Pretty childish, but for a small team of guys to pour that much effort into a game and have a leading website drag it's name through the mud for reasons over exaggerated, that must hurt.
Everyone that's played it knows it's a better game than Conduit 1, it deserves that much respect at least.

SKTTR

#78

SKTTR said:

A game that scores only 1 point in a review? That's like saying "You are a crappy lazy developer and your game is worth ****!" Of course Conduit 2 is better than 50% of the shovelware around, and whoever gave the game only 1 point is doing a crappy lazy job and his opinion is worth ****!

Hard working Developers >>>>>> Lazy spoiled Reviewers.

Ren

#79

Ren said:

True that game review is also pretty unprofessional. Kind of unnessary to take the review that far too. It was really a harsh panning that a mediocre Shooter doesn't deserve just because the reviewer has played ones that he prefers on HD systems. It's clear he was trying to be cute and snarky but it's not really ok. The problem is he'd probably be reprimanded for it by his superiors if HVS didn't respond with even more childish tactics. Now it's just chalked up to being his right and "opinion".

daznsaz

#80

daznsaz said:

eye for an eye. didnt finish 1st one didnt really do it for me for some reason havent played 2nd one but guessing its more of the same goldeneye is best on wii would be good if they do that for 3ds id pay again

Ichabod

#81

Ichabod said:

^^ @Ren
I'd have to agree completely. The big problem, though, is that the mass majority of the reviews towards the reviewer's book are most likely done by angry fans of Conduit 2. I won't deny it, I thought of putting in my two cents, but quickly came to the conclusion that this would only hurt HVS more than they already hurt themselves.

The facts:
1) The review was bull, created by a biased reviewer that was in to position to write a Wii FPS review.
2) HVS responded badly due to the email
3) There is no clear proof if HVS actually created many (if any) of those reviews against the book (and is actually moot, because any bad review is now going to be blamed on them)
4) People are now going to miss out on a chance to rate a game for themselves because of their emotional response to this overblown story.

Knux

#82

Knux said:

This just reveals that HVS is unprofessional and childish. It is ironic that this has backfired on HVS; since after this, the company is is even more unpopular. I was considering buying Conduit 2 eventually. But after reading this, I will probably just eventually buy Goldeneye instead. Congratulations HVS, you have lost another supporter.

TheGreenSpiny

#84

TheGreenSpiny said:

@74 I both agree and disagree with that statement. Some of the best and worst reviews I've read come from video game journalists. Since games have techincal issues that other forms of media don't suffer from, it's important that game reviewers analyze not just how fun a game is (an opinion) but how well it plays (not an opinion). When was the last time you heard Roger Ebert complain that a movie was unwatchable because the framerate stuttered because the film stock wouldn't properly run on his projector?

Clearly this Murdock guy is not qualified to review this game. Turn speed not fast enough for you? Go to options menu to change the speed. Not only does this make his "opinion" invalid, it makes him look-like a stupid moron. Same for his non-sensical comments like "2011 graphics" And his claim that Perfect Dark has better graphics? If I wanted to do a scientific analysis I could break down both games and show that not only does the Conduit 2 have higher resolution textures, but more polygons. But you know, that would be a matter of "opinion" that higher resolution textures and higher polygons are in fact better looking.

As for HVS? I praise them. I was get the game sooner or latter but it may have to be sooner now.

warioswoods

#85

warioswoods said:

@84

game reviewers analyze not just how fun a game is (an opinion) but how well it plays (not an opinion)

When was the last time you heard Roger Ebert complain that a movie was unwatchable because the framerate stuttered because the film stock wouldn't properly run on his projector?

Um, not to argue with how you're looking at video games, but you completely misunderstand film here. Ebert has at least as much objective expertise with regards to his subject matter as game reviewers have towards theirs, believe it or not.

Film has its own techniques, vocabularies, and technical aspects of presentation that define the medium and can be done very well or very badly, just like controls or graphics in a video game can succeed or fail. If you're making the argument that game reviews are not entirely subjective — which is fine — you must surely understand that film reviews can also lay claim to a level of objectivity and are not merely opinion (although they also contain opinion, alongside the more objective analysis).

GamersCorner

#86

GamersCorner said:

Perhaps High Voltage employees should be spending their time working on games rather than childish antics. If they weren't happy with a review then take the high road and ignore it, don't bring more attention to it.

Henmii

#87

Henmii said:

I agree that 1 out of 5 is too bad. I haven't played the game, but from what I have seen that cannot be right!

But on the other hand: High voltage's action is extremely childish. Now I have lost all respect for them (if I had any). Bye bye, High voltage! Leave the game-making to the real masters!!

outrun2sp

#89

outrun2sp said:

And to think that people bigged this game up to be a killer exclusive on wii. After playing the first one i knew this wouldnt work. I wonder if the grinder will come out now. That one had a better theme.

The best exclusive fps games are still metroid 3 which i think is the best. Of course after that goldeneye and there is always modern warfare and black ops for non exclusives.

Jusbe

#90

Jusbe said:

This reviews business is somewhat annoying if ya ask me. Reviews are mostly always biased cause of single persons point of view instead of majority opinnion. And it's always the same with anything new. First we laugh at it, then we disaprove it when it starts to get wind underneeth it's wings and suddenly it's a obvious part of life ( this is what happened with cellphone when it was in devolopment and now we can't live without it.)

Crunc

#91

Crunc said:

High Voltage Games has shown themselves to be pretty pathetic. I didn't have much interest in Conduit 1 or 2, but now I certainly have absolutely none. I wonder if they haven't also opened themselves up to a lawsuit.

AlexSays

#92

AlexSays said:

Hardly; all they wanted to do was make something better than they ever have before, and deliver an experience to wii gamers that other studios were not.

lol nice try.
They HYPED their game as that, and the second coming, while putting out a half (another word for butt, rhymes with glass..)ed product.

It's fine if you're easily fooled for someone working hard, but some of us aren't.
They totally got what they deserved. If they truly cared about making a great game, they would have done much better than the mediocre at very, very best products they put out.

They're an awful dev with an awful understanding of ethics in their profession. They deserve absolutely no respect.

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