Friday, December 18, 2009

Game reviews

I am going to write my first quick video game review shortly. Before I get started, however, I think that it is important that I first explain my reviewing principles.

I hate game reviews. That is to say: I hate reviews on sites like Gamespot and IGN and such. First of all, they are too long and in-depth. I think that many people will agree with me when I say this: I don't care exactly which textures are blurry when the camera is too close. I don't want to hear about every bug or glitch encountered by the reviewers (unless it's game-breaking), and I don't give a crippity crap about comparison shots, among other things.

But the main thing that I don't understand about game reviews is the numerical grading system. A video game is an experience. People experience things differently. There are some games that are just legitimately bad, but people tend to like different things, and the idea of grading games based on qualities deemed important by the reviewer that other people may or may not care about is odd to me. This becomes even more of an issue when you introduce multiple reviewers and therefore inconsistency into a review system. There are definitely mechanical qualities about games that can be universally criticized, but on the whole, games are subjective. There have been plenty of games that have gotten terrible or mediocre reviews that are some of my favorite games of all time.

Game reviews should be simple. They should be short and to the point, while still covering the important topics. The verdict of the review should be a relatively simple "buy or don't buy" system (such as Ars Technica's reviews), and the tone of the review itself should speak for the level of recommendation.

As described by Penny Arcade, when you ask a friend of yours what they thought of a game, they don't say, "It was good...uh...eight. I give it an eight." They simply say, "Man, that was really good. You should totally check it out," and then they typically proceed to explain why you should totally check it out. Assigning numbers to an experience based on an arbitrary reviewer's interpretations of said experience just seems silly to me. Unfortunately, the industry is more caught up in these numbers right now than ever before.

All that being said, I don't think that I am in a better position than professional reviewers to say what is good and what isn't. As I am currently a mechanical engineering student with no income, I lack the funds and time necessary to develop the perspective of reviewers who play a lot of games as they are released. My opinions should still be taken with a grain of salt, as I tend to have highly specific and obscure tastes and avoid many of the things on the mainstream, but I feel that there are a lot of games that don't get proper credit or coverage due to "more important titles" or political deals within the industry.

Tah tah until the next post which should be very soon so make sure that you come back and read it if you are interested in point and click adventure mystery games.

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