1) Their sense of humor and style of writing is what I strive for on a daily basis in this blog - Humorous, witty, entertaining, intelligent, biting, sometimes long-winded criticism (and sometimes praise) for the hobby they love the most.
2) Their approach to Video Games is 'Don't drink the kool-aid'.
Let me explain #2.
Video Game design is one part art and one part tedious exercise in programming and engineering. There has always been a struggle in balancing the art of creating a fun place for players to play in, and the technical limitations and quirks of the platform you're programming for. Sometimes, the balance is struck perfectly. Like the original Super Mario Bros. for NES. It wasn't just a technical marvel that reached what many would call the pinnacle of 8-bit programming. It was fun. Fun has nothing to do with technical limitations or governed by the presentation ability of any system. Because guess what? Pong is still fun. Game Design is about taking the fun-making parts of game design, and allowing it to shine on the technical limitations of your platform.
That said, Action Button Dot Net hates 99% of the games they play. Their standards of quality in a video game are not corrupted and sullied by modern buzzwords like "graphics" and "immersion". They judge the games based on the solidity of their design, and by how much fun it is to play. One of the metrics they use in determining design quality is how long a game can last without them making it look ridiculous. For example, Saint's Row, a sandbox crime game in the vein of the Grand Theft Auto series, broke the record by lasting 3 seconds. Within 3 seconds of the game giving control to the player, they were able to jump on a car and ride around the city for 45 minutes without any consequences. That's not technical limitation; it's shoddy design. In the recent survival horror game Dead Space, the game tries to startle you by having enemies sneak up behind you and attack you swiftly, catching you off guard. The reviewer at Action Button Dot Net walked into that room backwards, so he was facing the entrance as he walked forward, and the enemy simply appeared out of thin air to 'surprise' him. The designers now look ridiculous. This is how they review games. It is an objective, harsh look at the horrid state of video game design today, and a sad testament to the players that are being coerced into spending money to further the malaise. And I love every second of it.
Just a little snippet of how things typically go down:
This is the opening of a long (3,370 words) review to the original Doom for the PC:
Here’s the short of it: Last night I had a dream that I was a poet on the Starship Enterprise. Captain Picard commissioned me to write a poem in honor a dead crew member. I went to the holodeck for inspiration, but I was interrupted when a bikini wearing female ninja attacked me. I killed her by slicing her in half through the torso with a samurai sword, when I heard a knock on the door. Was it another scantily-clad kunoichi, after my life? Or perhaps it was Captain Picard, with an important message! I felt the sting of a bead of sweat trickling into my eye.
Then I woke up, and realized that the only thing better than that dream was DOOM.This is what Action Button Dot Net is all about, and I cannot get enough of it.