We all do it, they are out there, you can Google search hundreds of them. Game Reviews. They are everywhere. People of the Internet (Yes, I imagine it as a place of it's own, if you have delved into any depths of the internet or Youtube "You might like this video" and followed that rabbit hole of doom and despair, you would agree.) In the gaming community give them a lot of flack and mostly for pretty legitimate reasons. I have a love/hate relationship with reviews and will talk about why they are both good and bad, in my opinion, for the game industry.
"Oh man, did you play the new Assassins Creed game? It was so good!"
"No way, it's terrible! I have never liked that series"
These kinds of conversations happen all the time when games are involved. I am guilty of them myself!When the game South Park: The Stick of Truth came out I had no interest in what-so-ever. I have never really cared for South Park and when the game came out I had no interest in it, thought it was going to be lame and never gave it a second thought. Until I caught a stream on Twitch and really enjoyed watching the game. I can't wait to get it and play, it looks like it will be a blast.
But what does that have to do with reviews? Well what exactly are reviews? Someone sits down, plays through a game as quick as they can to fire out a written report on how they felt the game was, what they liked or didn't like. There are a couple of keys here.
- First off they have deadlines in which the review has to be turned in, edited and posted. This doesn't give them a lot of time to really dive into the games and search through all the nooks and crannies. This isn't inherently bad, or wrong, it's more of an injustice. The reviewer isn't really to blame for this, reviews need to be done and they have to be done before the reviews goes live, in print this could be even quicker. Some games might take a very long time to get into and even more to complete with any sort of majority completion of additional side game areas. This means the reviewer is going to fly through the game as quick as possible to try and get through the game.
- The next thing is that Reviews are often opinion based. This is pretty widely known, but reading the comments section of a review you would never guess that. I am not a fan of fighting games. I find them tedious, boring and repetitive. I am terrible at them, I know this though and I know I would not fairly be able to review a street fighter game. My opinion is not high for those types of games so I would have a bad taste in my mouth already and would not do so well. Everyone has a specific type or types of games they like and possibly don't like. Reviewing a game you may not like might cause some unfair nit picking. Now of course, that is also speculation, I do not know how every company sets the rolls for the reviews.
- Last of the nay-saying and thankfully this seems to be getting phased out, but the number scale needs to go away. Giving a game a score of 9/10 or 3/5, two stars and so on is not efficient and doesn't really say anything about the game. There are quite a few places that do a number score and break down pros/cons. I like how IGN and GameInformer break down a wrap up on a review.
As an example IGN and GameInformer both reviewed Dark Souls II. One gave the game a 9, the other a 9.75. While that is a discrepancy it is of course not much of one, but it still reflects that people will judge and rate games differently. But what I like about both is IGN gives some + and - at the end and highlights the review and GameInformer will breakdown categories such as Graphics, Sound, Playability which adds a good wrap up in my opinion.
- As an example, a review I would write for a game I recently played Titanfall would be something like this
- Pros: Running and movement feels very fluid and controlled. The feeling of being able to wall run jump to another wall to clear a titan and land on the back of an enemy titan is very comfortable and simple to do.
- During the time playing there was not any weapon I felt that was overly overpowered. I felt powerful within a titan, but still vulnerable enough to make sure I kept an eye on my surroundings.
- Cons: No single player, "story" kind of weak. Respawn had said there would be no single player and while they mostly kept true to that word they felt the need to include a story mode which is nothing but the multiplayer game with narration. It was really kind of a waste and could have been left out.
- Overall: I really enjoyed Titanfall. I felt it is enough of a different FPS to not feel like a CoD wash away but is still a shooter to the core. Movement is super good throughout the game and fighting in a Titan is very exhilarating.
Now I know you are asking. "But Leo, if reviews are so bad, why bother?" Great question! Take reviews with a grain of salt. I will happily read a review to see how the reviewer enjoyed or didn't enjoy the game. I will see what they did, how they played, especially games I do not know much of, or want to get. I like to see what they say about the game but if I am going to get the game I am going to get it regardless of what a reviewer writes because my game tastes might be completely different then theirs so while they may hate a game, I might love it and conversely I might hate a game that someone might love.
All I am saying is that reviews can be great for research, but take what you read in a small dose. Someone might only play Shooters, yet review a RPG and hate it or might love a game that you end up disliking. Reviews can be great for helping you learn more about a game itself. Remember that a person is behind the scene playing through and writing it out. We all have different tastes and likes, games are not a one size fits all. Get out there, play some good and bad games and write up something about the game. Why did you like it, why did you dislike it? Great reviews dive into they why's and the how's.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!