Polygon's Scores

  • Games
For 526 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 54% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Game review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 Batman: Arkham Knight
Lowest review score: 10 Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 43 out of 526
526 game reviews
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    I never did much beyond walking or crawling from one cool visual setpiece to the next, but these terrifying mindscapes carried Among the Sleep and transformed it into something I'm glad I experienced.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Strike Vector is fast, mechanically sophisticated and fun. I enjoyed my time with it, but it's not sitting at the forefront of my mind the way other more involved shooters have. As successful as it can be in flight, Ragequit can't quite stick the landing.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Dark Moon has lost a bit of the soul of its predecessor — the ghosts have lost their motivations and personalities, such as they were. They're just monsters now. But by nearly every mechanical design metric, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is a better game than its predecessor.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It takes cues from its source material but isn't chained down, unwilling to tweak the gameplay or toy with expectations. It's the best kind of remake — one that stands on its own as a good game with or without admiration for the original.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Their plotlines may not be great, but at least they're all really believable in the moment...Moments that work in a story that almost does - that's Sleeping Dogs. It has all the open world elements - tons of collectibles and outfits to buy, a vibrant city that looks fantastic - but a convoluted layout makes navigating it irritating.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The Old Blood mostly nailed the components that made New Order good, but it doesn't quite manage to capture what made it great.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    While I’m in no great rush to play it again, the appreciation I gleaned for a culture I knew practically nothing about is something I really cherish. If you can patiently plod your way through the game entwined with the story of the Iñupiat people, I suspect you’ll cherish them too.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    At a buck, Spellsword is a steal, ideal for hack-and-slash RPG fans and high score addicts.The team behind Spellsword might have started with Super Crate Box as their inspiration, but thankfully, they knew when to split off and do their own thing. They've created a game with an entirely different look, feel and play from their influences.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It went beyond predictable third-person shooter conceits often enough to make me glad I explored it, even if I wondered where the "could have beens" would have gone.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The spirit of Killer Instinct remains sometimes painfully true to its roots, but Double Helix has competently filled the gaps in the original's foundation. They've also laid new groundwork to teach players how fighting games actually work.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Telltale's first season of The Walking Dead felt like a desperately needed breath of fresh air. The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale treads tepid, zombie-infested water. Even in its most meaningful moments, it's a mere approximation of what Telltale has proven itself capable of.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Its inability to make me feel rewarded is really the core difference between Axiom Verge and the Metroid games it emulates so aggressively.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    I love a game that can surprise me, show me something I've never seen, so the chance to experience something completely otherworldly in a game is really difficult to pass up. If you feel the same way, maybe you'll be willing to push through some of the cruft to get to the delightfully weird bits of Swery65's latest.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    After a year that showed Nintendo straying from their comfort zones and confidently iterating on sacred cows, it's a bit of a letdown to see Dr. Luigi make so little forward progress.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    High Moon surprised me with competent action and better-than average storytelling, and even Deadpool himself grew on me, despite his dumber-than-dirt antics.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    If The Last Tinker's goal was to leave a smile on my face, it accomplished it every time I played.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It's the same recipe that's driven two full, long games and a host of downloadable content. But the lark of low gravity proves that the tedious parts of previous games don't have to stay an anchor holding the series down.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It's beautiful, it's funny, it's capital "C" cool. But as someone with no attachment to the original, it's hard not to wish for a version that makes it easier to find the brilliance without climbing through so many caveats.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Tequila Works pushes the presentation and production values of the genre past where anyone could reasonably expect, and has a game that stands out because of it. If it were longer, it would suffer more, but the time investment required and the ultimate rewards Deadlight offers make it a standout for this year's Summer of Arcade.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    That same open world serves as a less well-executed space to race and drive than the tracks that have defined previous games, and the open-world activities can't quite make up the difference.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    LittleBigPlanet Karting includes a toolset which players can use to build visually and mechanically imaginative creations; which I suppose is the most important thing to nail when creating a LittleBigPlanet game. United Front has done that swimmingly.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    While the last half hour doesn't ruin Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, it is a disappointing coda to a game struggling to find a reason to exist. There are glimmers of Red Storm's previous dedication to authenticity and feel, but in a quest for a wider audience, Future Soldier loses sight of the series' earlier appeal, and struggles to find a new role.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The plethora of in-game tips and tutorials make Minecraft far less intimidating to gamers with little time or patience to stumble around blindly looking for the fun, much of the mystery and discovery of the original game has been stripped away by the very things meant to make it more palatable.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    LittleBigPlanet 3's devoted fans will surely craft some excellent levels in the months to come, but mostly this feels like a proof of concept for a much better LittleBigPlanet 4.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The underutilized XCOM base is an appropriate metaphor for The Bureau itself. Limitless possibilities for intrigue, tactics, mystery and terror appear to be on offer. But The Bureau keeps most of it to itself, leaving only scraps and the grunt work of killing aliens.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    House of Wolves is the first time since Destiny launched eight and a half months ago that I feel a glimmer of hope about the game's future.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Still feels fresh, inspired and unlike anything else. No other developer has bothered to make something like it - a rarity in the video game space. Earth Defense Force 2017 is still the only game for destroying giant bugs and office complexes - blemishes and all.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It's a beautiful game with jaw-dropping production values. But it took me a few hours to realize how empty Crysis 3 feels. The best thing I can manage to say about it is this: It didn't get in my way. But I would have had more fun if Crysis 3 had put up a fight.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Despite the strange omissions and Shadowrun Returns' habitual blinking in the face of bigger gameplay ambitions, it's still an engaging return to a world and fiction that's sat dormant for far too long.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It’s so resolute in its silliness, it’s also nearly impossible to dislike. Sure, its an imperfect game, but amidst the cynicism and midlife crises of other recent video gaming juggernauts, it was exactly the game I needed.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Aside from a few brief dramatic moments, this is a pure, machismo-infused, swear-word-flooded, big, dumb action game, and it fills that role much better than its predecessor. Just don't expect the brief flashes of something deeper to form a core part of Prototype 2's DNA.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Risen 2 always redeems itself with the little things about the pirate fantasy it nails. What other game lets you learn a skill called "'Nuff Said" that allows you to end the occasional conversation by pulling a pistol on your co-converser and sending them to Davy Jones' Locker?
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Despite its constant punishment and inherently derivative nature, it stands apart from its modern-day competitors. Its appeal and its absurdity are one and the same.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Drakengard 3's weirdness is its greatest asset. The narrative is intriguing, and the combat is fun enough, but it's the game's unapologetically unusual atmosphere that made me end up liking it.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Where Arkham Asylum and Arkham City surprised me with their ambition, Origins is comfortable taking the best from what has come before without contributing much of its own — or even fully understanding what worked about those systems. It's built on a solid foundation but it doesn't take the world's greatest detective to see that something significant is missing.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    In areas where Battlefield has always excelled and pushed forward, Hardline presents experiments, rather than refinements or fixes. The result is multiplayer that feels very familiar, very quickly. But its campaign, while feeling not completely sure about what it wants to be, is more interesting and certainly all-around better than the last few years' worth of Battlefield games.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It builds the type of seamless social experience that I'm hopeful we'll see a lot more of on this generation of consoles. But it also builds in an economic model that favors microtransactions over guaranteed, consistent progression.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Tales of Xillia feels like wrapping yourself in a comfortable blanket. It's like an old friend. It exemplifies everything the genre is today — good and bad — and serves as a reminder of why I fell in love with JRPGs in the first place.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    As of right now, all on its own, "All That Remains" is an entertaining piece of interactive fiction that will have to do a lot of heavy lifting to live up to its forebear.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    By the end of Fract, I was like a club's in-house repairman. With a little spit and patience, I could fix the machine. I could fill the world with light and sound. I could start the party. Sure, I was alone, but I also had the best seat in the house: everything tuned by me for me.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Shoot Many Robots' loot system is so over-the-top that it's immediately charming.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It's a gorgeous, haunting two-hour tour of a world I can never get enough of, and if you're willing to judge Burial at Sea solely as virtual tourism, it's beyond reproach.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Like many of the Western RPGs that influenced it, Dragon's Dogma is an uneven experience, but it's one that rewards patience and perseverance, and it's a bold argument for why Japanese developers should continue making RPGs, with or without the inspiration from this side of the Pacific.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    I've only experienced a mere fraction of what's available in the game. This is almost always true for MMOs, but Wildstar manages that sense of an unending sea of content without much of it feeling like unnecessary padding.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It can be repetitive, obtuse and occasionally difficult to control, but it's one thing above all else: Joyful. And for that reason, Gravity Rush is the most interesting thing happening on the PlayStation Vita.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It's an enjoyable evening of gaming with a few hard decisions, but it demonstrates the hands tightening around the neck of House Forrester.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Bad Piggies is a promising start. Like the jury-rigged craft, how far it goes will depend on what its creators choose to add.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Though single-player is a weird mishmash of bland environments and repeated ideas, the combat system is fun even in those straightforward scenarios. The multiplayer modes struggle with crowd control, but the strong mechanics overpower those issues.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Murdered: Soul Suspect is awash in tropes, but somehow, that's part of the charm. It's a pulpy detective tale remixed as a classic ghost story, and it works as a sort of playable B-movie.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Considering it has to avoid the salacious scenes and hyper-violence used to spice its genre brethren, Lego City Undercover is pretty darned impressive. But it's hard not to be a disappointed that Lego City Undercover doesn't play more to Lego's strengths, trading the carnal for the creative or the wanton for wonder.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Black and White 2's improvements make it the franchise's most accessible entry point to date.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    In fact, Black and White 2 takes a major step back from the bravest thing about its predecessor: Its story.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    "It works fine" kind of sums up my feelings on Resident Evil's HD remaster as a whole. Whether or not that's high praise will depend entirely on your personal history. I have trouble imagining anyone who didn't play and enjoy the early Resident Evil games getting really pulled into this remake. But there's no doubt to me that there's still something magical here, some formula that can't ever be replicated in quite the same way.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    By the end of the episode, the pieces came together.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The Witcher 2 stumbles plenty, stubborn in its lack of communication with the player and often failing to meet those aforementioned ambitions. But a clear sense of character, place and tone lets CD Projekt Red's violent epic pick itself up and largely succeed as a game confident in its own identity.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    When Monaco is working — when two or more people are picking through its stages, evading traps, conking out guards, and breaking into dangerous territory, it clicks like an expensive safe. It nails the white-knuckled, Hollywood heist motif with style. But you’re going to need like-minded friends — and a whole lot of patience — to get there.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Tex Murphy has been fairly successfully transported to the modern era, and maybe that's enough for the established fans. It's just a shame he didn't pick up enough new tricks in his sixteen-year hiatus for everyone else to take notice.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    In building an intriguing alternate world, The Sun at Night charms, despite its flaws.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Company of Heroes 2 would be a singular kind of RTS, if the previous game didn’t exist. While Company of Heroes had its own host of practical issues that Company of Heroes 2 looks to fix — matchmaking and server stability among them — it’s difficult to see how the sequel makes enough forward progress. Company of Heroes 2 is a good game, and a great, unique multiplayer experience. But the most frustrating thing about Company of Heroes 2 is how disinterested it appears to be in showing players exactly what it does best.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    New Super Luigi U is a faster, more hectic ride through things we've seen before. This was supposed to be Luigi's big chance for the spotlight, but he's once again settled for playing second fiddle to his brother's adventures.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The multiplayer succeeds at making God of War work as a cooperative and competitive experience, but doesn’t have the depth to exist on its own. The campaign feels derivative and lacking the forceful confidence that made the series a showpiece for cinematic character-driven action games.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    When the bizarre controls make mundane tasks impossible, Dadliest Catch is just too funny to be frustrating. When it piles on the weight of traditional video game challenges, controlling the tendrils of an uncooperative marionette becomes instantly less appealing.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The original Fantasia was a thing of remarkable wonder and playful experimentation, and the fact that Fantasia: Music Evolved could capture even a small portion of that is an achievement. But, much like Apprentice Mickey, you're going to have to carry water for Music Evolved's strung-out structure before it lets you have any fun.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Burial at Sea is fun, looks lovely and makes a valiant attempt to tie together the fiction of Irrational's BioShock games. Some of these ties are elegant enough to not seem like the retcon they of course are. But the game has to go through so many narrative contortions to do so, it's hard to escape the sense that the whole thing feels more like well-made fan fiction than the final piece of one of gaming's most beloved canons.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Ultimately that failure to feel as fresh as Super Mario 3D Land is going to define New Super Mario Bros. 2 for many people, but it hides deeper treasures for those willing to look past the familiarity.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    It’s possible all of this is leading someplace interesting, and the final scene shows the kind of spirit and verve missing in the first two hours. But Iron from Ice is a rocky start to a promising story.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Strike Suit Zero is a collection of excellent mechanics and ideas marred by unfriendly level design and bad pacing.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Starships feels like a game damaged by compromise. It wants to be a bite-sized board game experience for a tablet, while at the same time a light strategy game on the PC. In execution, those two conflicting goals rob the game of any drama it might have, and Starships simply lacks the decisive, killing blows that make space operas feel epic.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    It’s got some great ideas and a great setting that bring new life to overplayed subject matter. The climbing and vertical navigation are in a class of their own. But Techland’s attention and focus on the undead distracts from the things that Dying Light does well, and it’s all spread far too thin.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    The game that Bohemia Interactive has released isn’t finished. It’s pretty at rest, but not always attractive in motion. At no point does it want to make itself clear.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Team Plastic's latest effort is a fine, though flawed, experience for what it is – but it isn't a game. Even played the right way, from your heart, Datura will be for most people a slow journey through a quiet wood.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    The Evil Within has great moments where the excellent combat and creepy environmental design come together. But those moments are fleeting, inevitably sapped of their delightful terror by design choices that feel trapped in the glory days of a decade ago.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    There's a flash of brilliance in how Not a Hero tackles the cover-based shooter genre, excising the meticulous stop-and-pop loop and replacing it with unceasing carnage. But it can be hard to see that flash after your 30th failed attempt of a mission, when you're still trying to figure out where the game even wants you to go.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Tales of Symphonia is a solid, old-school Japanese role-playing game that I'm glad to have been exposed to. But that doesn't make Namco's sparse anniversary package less disappointing.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Ghosts is mired in a distinct lack of ambition. Outside of the stellar Extinction mode, Ghosts follows more often than it leads, bringing with it familiar missions, modes and experiences. Ghosts feels like an accountant's sequel, with just enough content to justify a new installment. It just never goes beyond that.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Chaos Theory is the lowest point of Life is Strange yet — and still, it’s the first game I want to recommend to everyone I know right now.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    For the two to three hours it will take for you and a willing co-op partner to make your way through the first time, seeing the next thing will probably be enough to offset how crushingly familiar everything seems after just a few minutes. But other than the true masochists who plan on grinding through Double Dragon Neon's additional difficulty levels, there isn't much more than nostalgia to mine.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    The core of a great third-person shooter is present in Fuse. The team-based insanity offers a unique take on the genre, and Insomniac's reputation for inventive weapons and creative combat helps too. But Fuse only comes together with three or four players, and even then, the late game combat design and boring-to-fight enemies stand in its way.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Alien: Isolation seems content to appear as a collage of borrowed elements from the films, with nothing new or original to say or show, eager only to get to the next reference.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    The pitch-perfect controls and delightfully old-school multiplayer mode justify this game's existence beyond novelty.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    It's not that Starhawk is a bad game. It's not offensive, and it demonstrates a surprisingly broad range of influences in its attempts to be something different in the online shooter space. But Starhawk feels half-there, like its pieces don't quite fit together, and it can't keep pace with other, better multiplayer titles out there.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Every aspect of Fusion feels like a less imaginative experience that coasts rather than strives for something better. There's no question that the core Trials gameplay within Trials Fusion remains fun. But the host of missing features and bad design choices make it a significant step backwards after Evolution and for the franchise.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    New Little King's Story is still fun and unique, particularly if you don't have a means of playing the original. But so many of its adjustments are baffling steps backward and joy-sapping tweaks.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    While a fun distraction, it's at it's core just a means for living out a silly fantasy.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Terraria could do a better job of leading players toward the treasures they need for basic survival and the knowledge they need for basic progression without robbing them of freedom to discover most of what it has to offer at their own pace. There's an alluring game buried under these little issues; it just takes some digging to find it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    For every puzzle that rewards experimentation and inventive thinking, there are a handful where you're supposed to find a button blending into a random panel of the dungeon's wall.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    The more the game buries the heart beat and stability ideas, the less it feels like something bold and innovative, and the more it feels like a fun little bonus layered on top of an otherwise straightforward game.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Even in virtual worlds, variety is the spice of life. The Sims 4, for all its polish and cleverness, simply isn't very spicy.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    The sign of a successful board game is balance, because that balance is what lets you play a good board game forever. Mario Party 10, for all of its interesting experimentation, takes equal steps forward to and backward from that ideal. It can be fun — it can be uproarious, even — but it can also be downright insufferable.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Although its core elements of tactical strategy jibe well together, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is dragged down by its ad nauseam execution.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    [It's] built on a shoddy technical foundation, but it's got ambition to spare. Its weirdness reflects and amplifies the underlying mystery, while a host of bizarre characters and the secrets they keep make its problems worth suffering. It may not be the prettiest dog in the show, but it's got heart, and it's one hell of a companion.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    As a throwback revival, Shadow Warrior lives up to the minimal expectations all but the most die-hard old-school PC shooter fans might have for what it should be. But when Shadow Warrior is less content to settle and reaches for more with its swordplay, its boss battles, and its story of cross-dimensional family infighting, it flirts with something much more — often enough to make clearing a lower bar seem insufficient.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    I found its over-exaggerated art style alienating and gross in its depiction of women even as it shines in building a world of fantastic monsters and environments, and the forced grind through the same stages dulled my excitement. Dragon's Crown is a wild place to visit, but it doesn't quite hold up in the light of day.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Its mainstream, postmodern pastiche of gaming and nerd culture that ranges from John Landis and Edgar Allen Poe to alternate reality gaming is a welcome respite against the backdrop of Blizzard and BioWare. But The Secret World's successes have little to do with the MMO essentials, and though its trappings are unique and sometimes powerful, its core is undeveloped.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    It's a beautiful, familiar trip evoking stories I've heard and places I've imagined before. But it's all so ephemeral — less than a day after finishing it, I can already feel my memories of my time in Lemuria and the characters I met there drifting away.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    A fighting game has to be pixel perfect to successfully reward patience and strategy. Samurai Gunn just isn't there yet.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    The Brigmore Witches ignores the tension and build-up that its predecessor established, both narratively and mechanically. Instead of continuing from where Knife left off tonally, Brigmore starts a few feet back and to the left, and it suffers until it manages to find design ideas to call its own.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Level-5 hasn't created a bad game but an inconsistent one that doesn't seem to understand its own strengths and weaknesses. The flashy look and cheerful tone will pull some people through, but at its core, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is missing a chunk of its heart that's hard to ignore.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    It’s easy to love its bunny-shaped boogeymen and characters spouting gibberish on a surface level, but this stylistically stunning, inventive little game never quite grows up.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    There's a kind of satisfaction to be had in beating Titan Souls' meat grinder, but I only found a feeling of triumph at those points where it stepped away from its die-hard tendencies. In a game that usually kills so quickly, Acid Nerve finds its best moments when its willing to spare the rod, even if it's just for a few minutes.