Early Alone in the Dark reviews upset Atari

Written by Joe Martin

June 20, 2008 // 9:45 a.m.

Tags: #alone-in-the-dark #atari #review

Atari has been kicking up a fuss and getting all different kinds of upset lately in response to some rather negative reviews that have appeared for Alone in the Dark, but it may not just be the fact that the review are so sour that bothers the publisher. Atari is claiming that several sites may have reviewed the game based on pirated versions.

According to gaming blog Kotaku readers tipped the site off earlier this week that a pirate version of Alone in the Dark for the Xbox 360 (piracy on a console?! - Ed) was available on many torrent sites. Shortly afterwards the first reviews for the game started appearing online. Atari was immediately suspicious as review copies of the game have been closely guarded and handed out only to specific sites (we didn't get one, no).

GameReactor in Scandinavia was one of the first sites to put a review up, panning the much anticipated title with a 3/10, but Atari were quick to respond and said that press copies had only been sent out 24 hours earlier, so it wasn't possible that the site had had chance to play the game and write the review properly. The review was promptly pulled down as a result of these alleged shady dealings, but later reposted with the same score.

There is some confusion here though as there were other major European sites which had reviews go live this week and gave higher ranking scores, yet appear to remain unmolested - Eurogamer for example published their review on Wednesday, scoring it as a 7/10 game.

4Players' Jörg Luibl, who scored the game as 68 percent, is also being threatened with legal action from Atari as the publisher has no idea how the site got hold of a copy that early and suspects foul play. Luibl is claiming that while the site did not get a copy through Atari, neither did they use the pirated version. Instead 4Players claims it got hold of a copy through a 'trusted dealer' - i.e. someone working in a local GameStation who handed them a copy of the game before it launched.

Other sites are now also coming forward and claiming that they too have been threatened with legal action by Atari.

As Kotaku astutely points out, it does seem weird that Atari would be so worried of sites reviewing a game which may be based on a pirated version, unless they know that the pirated version is based on incomplete code. If that is the case then it seems strange not to call the sites out by citing an example of how the pirated versions are broken. Maybe Atari is just looking to drown out negative reviews?

Have you played Alone in the Dark yet? What did you think of it? Let us know in the forums.

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