Blog Post

I have an acute, probably unreasonable, hatred for the Gears of War series. It's hard to place why. Maybe it's the intense maleness. The tree-trunk thighs and the steroid necks. Or maybe I'm dumbfounded as to why they decided on a third person POV instead of first (so we can constantly gaze at said thighs and necks?). I got about four hours into the first installment and haven't been back since.

So you may imagine my chagrin when, after inputting my gaming library into the Penny Arcade's new Decide-o-tron app and rating all my games (giving Gears of War one star out of five), Decide-o-tron decides that the first and foremost game that I so desperately need is Gears of War 2.

Really, Decide-o-tron?

I love the idea. An app that knows all your games, how much you liked them, and gives you suggestions for other games, Netflix-style. The experience started out well. After downloading it (free), it asks for your gamer tags for various networks. Every game I've ever played on PS3 and 360 (no Wii option, understandably) was instantly added to my library (except Heavy Rain, for some odd reason), and I happily went through and rated them between one and five stars. But that's where my negative feelings began. While rating my 70 games, the app crashed five or six times.

Nuts and bolts: There are five sections to browse. First is the Decide-o-tron itself. You have multiple options to hone the suggestions (genre, platform, ESRB rating, review score and release date) or you can browse games solely based on your library. The What's New section tells you about new releases and gives you a celebrity top 10 (Penny Arcade founders). The Library section is a list of the games you own. To nitpick, it doesn't tell you the number of games you have so that you can gaze at it with pride. In the Wishlist section, you can add games that you long for. And finally there's the Search section. Here you can look games up or simply scan a barcode to add them to your library.

The basic aesthetics are pleasing enough. The app takes on a humorous, robotic personality. But the algorithms behind the suggestions just feel lazy. Why, for instance, would it suggest Mass Effect 2 for the PS3 when it knows I own it on the 360? Why would it suggest Gears of War 2 when I gave the first Gears of War one star?

In the end, it sort of does what it intends. It reminded me that, yes, I really need to play Crysis 2. Vanquish, Darksiders and Just Cause 2 flew under my radar and maybe I need to remedy that. But overall the app feels unrefined and unfinished. On the other hand, it is free, and the next time I'm at GameStop with a major case of indecision, I'll know just the app to cure my ills. After I stop cursing it for suggesting Gears of War 2.

0 Comments for this post.
You must be signed in to post a comment.