Most helpful critical review
Often over dramatized and even historically wrong, but...
on May 19, 2003
The book is a good effort to chronicle the careers and lives of John Romero and John Carmack and their rise and fall in the game industry. At times it reads fairly well, we get a few good stories and history on what went into those first first-person shooters that "transformed pop culture". The book starts when Romero and Carmack are in high school and ends in modern time (with Doom III nearing completion and Monkeystone games formed) But there are quite a few problems I had with this book. First, it's often hisotrically wrong! Two key examples of this are when Kushner writes "...Carmacked uploaded GLQuake, he had ported the code over a weekend". Another part of the book address the controversial "Suck it down" add that Romereo's Ion Storm ran to promote their flagship title Diakatana. Kushner (for whatever reason) tries to remove all blame from Romero for the add, when I know from a few sources Romereo was to blame almost entirely for the ad. These are just two key things I can point, there are likely many more inconsistancies that I don't know, but it's enough that the author's integrity must be questioned. My other problem is with Kushner's writing, he's not that good with character development, and while this is nonfiction, the only three people in the book I could visuallize were Romero, Carmack and Stevie Case. No physical attributes of the others were detailed. Kushner also goes off into the background of just about every other major and minor character intoduced in a dull predictable backstory that spans from half a page to two pages. Dull irrelevant facts about insignifigant characters that does little to support the rest of the book. Near the end, the book just kind of goes to mush as Kushner fails to bring any kind of close to the story he's trying to present. It's a if there isn't a real focus, yet every page seems to scream "someone turn this into a script", we can only hope that doesn't happen. Lastly, I was upset by the way Kushner tries to paint a balanced picture between the pitfalls of Romero and Carmack, he tries to bring them both down to even ground as having made some mistakes, but both being equals. The reality is that Carmack was the good guy though most all of the problems, Romero brought on most of his own pain and really destroyed what Id had. Kushner points out that Carmack did not want to fire Romero, but he had no choice, but he fails to point out that Romero's absense caused a lot of Ids problems there after and had a direct negative impact on Carmack. The demise of Id (that really never happend, thanks to Carmack and others) was much to the blame of Romero and his childish ways. He should have been painted as a bad guy, but Kushner just couldn't go there.