Hey everyone, I wanted to free up my weekend so tomorrows post is actually today.
Several times before on this blog I’ve encouraged readers to use reviews of games to help them determine whether or not that game is right for them. This is a good idea, but with all the positive things I’ve said about reviews, in light of a few recent events we’re going to discuss, it’s time for a better look at this.
The point of a game review is to provide an equal source of criticism for various games, equal and balanced enough that if you look at various reviews from different sources, the best indicator is that they are all similar. Different groups have different methods of reviewing games as well as scoring them. For example, the magazine PC Gamer has a policy of assigning types of games to reviewers who enjoy that type of game. In this way, they are both familiar with the genre material (and thus much better judges) but also you don’t run afoul of the a negative review for a good game based simply on one reviewers preference of disliking the genre. Another policy they adopt is that of making all the reviewers play any game that receives a very high score, thus verifying it with a conclusive group.
This system combined with their effective and easy to understand review grade makes the PC Gamer reviews (in my opinion) especially trustworthy as to the decency of the game. However, as each game review site out there uses different methods for reviewing a game, sometimes reviews are not dependable.
The reason I bring this up is that a recent release was hammered by its first reviewer, IGN, who gave the game a 3.9 out of 10 possible points, and effectively tore the game to shreds. Many people who had purchased the game wrote IGN, claiming that they saw no reason for the game to receive such a low score. I myself purchased the game in question, a new Sonic the Hedgehog title from Sega for the Nintendo Wii titled Sonic and the Black Knight. After playing through the game myself, I am of the opinion that IGN’s review was determined on nothing more than bias against the game itself. Me, I’d give the game a decent 7 out of 10.
So obviously we need to question our trust of the review, but how can we tell whether or not a review is good or bad? Well, one way is experience. Both myself and y friends recognized a biased review the moment we it because the game was put down for using several gameplay techniques that the site had enjoyed in other games. It would be as if a critic declared he enjoyed action movies, only to give one random good movie, say….The Dark Knight, an extremely negative review saying that it was an action movie when it should have been something else.
Another way to realize a bogus review is use common sense and check a few reviews. If you have heard stellar things about a game from other people that have purchased it only to find a terrible review, check a few other reviews of the game before going any further. Going back to our example with a blue hedgehog, if one looks at other reviews of the game, they would find that IGN’s review is far less than the average review. As a matter of fact, metacritic (a great source site that averages all the reviews of a game into one average score) has the game at a 54. A little low? Yes, but not nearly as bad as the initial review suggests.
So who do you throw your trust behind? When it really comes down to it, it’s a matter of personal preference. PC Gamer happens to be my first choice for reviews, but that’s because I’ve found over the years that what I look for in a game and what they look for are fairly similar things. So it’s a rare occurrence that I disagree with their views. So, if you’re looking into games and starting out, or even just shopping around for someone you know, knowing where he gets his interests in the games might be a good idea. If you have a child that that subscribes to, say, X-box magazine and seems to enjoy it, taking a peek at a their reviews to find good game of the genre he enjoys may be better than using a magazine or site that he and his friends always disagree with.
Even with the problem of reviews not always being accurate, I still recommend that reviewing a game before purchase be a vital part of your gaming interest (or gift giving). Some bad apples may exist from time to time, and that’s why it’s important to take a look around, but if you’re informed enough, you should be able to quickly catch the difference between fair and unfair reviews.
Enjoy your week!
Games I’m Currently Playing: Sins of a Solar Empire (PC), Castle Crashers (XBLA), Sonic Megamix (Fan made Sega CD), Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii), Resident Evil 5 (Actually later today, but it must be said) (360)