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Do Reviews Still Serve a Purpose?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the no-porpoise-jokes dept.

Games 93

Via Voodoo Extreme, a post on the Sony-sponsored ThreeSpeech blog asking if game reviews are a thing of the past. Post author 'Azz Hassan' opines that the proliferation of blogs and easy access to game trailers has made the 'biased views' of reviewers a thing of the past. Responding via the Ars Technica Opposable Thumbs blog, Frank Caron offers a rebuttal to the piece. 'The argument presented in the article seems to come with the very slant that it so viciously protests: one of a negative view towards a medium that the writer feels is inadequate. Yes, there is a ton of available media on the net that can help you get a look at a game as it develops, but the problem with videos and pictures is that often the intangible elements are impossible to understand simply from seeing the game in motion--only the written or verbal communication of a person can adequately capture these details.'

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um (4, Funny)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248240)

Yes, yes they do. If they didnt people wouldnt read them.

I've been wondering... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18248276)

Hey Slashdot, why are PC users such ugly dweebs [imageshack.us] in comparison to Mac users [imageshack.us] ? Is it because nobody has the time or patience to put up with Windows/Linux except for friendless, sexless nerds like you?

Re:um (1)

smileham (1006011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248714)

Yes, reviews are still relevant. I don't actually read reviews online though, I still go to my prefered PC Mag, which has reviewers that I trust, who get paid for reviewing games, not some guy blogging about it.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18249002)

Right, the review is online, so must be crap. Reviewers get *paid* for reviewing games? Wow that makes it all the more credible. What if they completely trash the game in the review? Yeah I bet they'll be recieving a lot *more* calls from the publisher to review their newer games.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250412)

No, they get paid for writing for a magazine. Their reviews are accurate, objective, and worthwhile, which makes the magazine more lucrative and keeps them employable and worth money. Bloggers blog for free because no one gives a fuck about their opinions. Speaking of opinions, in my opinion you're a goat-fucked retard.

Re:um (4, Interesting)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248758)

Well, it depends. I really started noticing crap when I saw an IT something magazine on my boss' desk. I picked it up and looked at it. There was a "review" of some kit we had worked with in the past. The kit was crap but the review was glowing. I stopped reading IT mags after that.

Later, I was reading a RC modeling magazine. I love RC helis. They had a "review" of a a heli that I knew was okay, but not great. They were comparing it to helis that were capable of doing any maneuver that the pilot could throw at it. I stopped reading RC mags after that.

Video game mags are probably the worst. I read PC Gamer for the commentary and previews, but I only read the negative parts of the reviews.

When it comes to specialized gear like an RC heli or a new router, I rely on comments in online forums. I'll jump into IRC and ask people about the bad points of the gear. I'll call the company and speak with engineers or tech support; speaking with sales is a waste. If I have to deal with sales, I ask for written documentation of tests displaying any functionality he claims. If they can't produce a document showing increased throughput, I ignore that point.

When it comes to daily items, I check boards and really read the negative Amazon reviews. I'll google $item + shit or $item + "head to head". I'll check Consumer Reports or check BBB for the company name.

If I don't find a negative opinion about an item, then I can be pretty sure it's untested or the company censors opinions. Either way, it's not worth my money. I read the negative reviews carefully. If the negative is whining, I ignore it. If the negative is a valid complaint, then I call tech support and pretend I have the item and have that same problem. How they answer my questions will determine my purchase.

Finally, just asking questions of my peers can give a lot of insight. I have *very* close contact with peers that work for competitors. It's a fairly small community and we tend to stick together. We usually share knowledge about our mistakes. If someone mentions over a beer that they are thinking about buying Wizbang 2008, then the rest of the group spills every bad thing they have ever heard about it. If the guy comes out of the discussion by answering our points, then we all think about giving it a closer look.

Re:um (3, Interesting)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248966)

I know one instance were user reviews turned out to be spot on while professional reviewers were, frankly, full of shit and probably on the publisher's payroll. I am referring, of course, to Neverwinter Nights 2. It has a Metacritic rating of 82, while the user reviews were almost entirely negative. The official forums had two sticky threads, one for negative reviews and one for positive reviews. The negative thread was restarted about four times before the first positive one was even full (the threads were replaced with new ones after a certain amount of pages). The forums were overflowing with complaints. I ended up buying the game anyway, againts my better judgement.

Re:um (2, Informative)

apoc06 (853263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250450)

you point out the key issue with reviews. usually they revolve around a single users' experience. if the reviewer that plays the game has a penchant for say... FPS games, if he has to sit down and play a roleplaying game that is generally overlooked in light of its mod community, he is going to score the game lower. a reviewer that prefers tekken will be harder on a title like DoA [IMHO he should be]. whatever that users preferences are come into play.

what i think game magazines/ sites need to do is outline each reviewers tastes and have multiple users review the games. that way readers can find a reviewer whose tastes align more closely with theirs.

Re:um (2, Insightful)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251012)

One thing I have noticed is the very nature of reviewing vs daily use. Reviewers are in and out. They won't go indepth into a game or hardware and won't cover long term playing or use of an item. Very few revisit, say, hardware like tomshardware will do sometimes. I've seen hardware with good reviews come back with user reviews a few months later saying "such and such died after a few weeks" or something similar. Games also usually get a review based on graphics but not on deeper gameplay since they don't put the time into it (gotta get the review out fast!).

I'll use the mainstream reviews for screenshots, basic info, specs, etc. If something is horribly bad about it they'll usually admit it. I can wait a month or so for the users to come out with their reviews which are usually closer to the truth. You'll still have the whiners ("It won't run on my ancient box!!") and impatient to sift through though.

There is so much user content for NWN-1 and the reviews for NWN-2 are so lukewarm that I'm passing on NWN-2. What pushed you to buy it against your judgement?

Re:um (2, Interesting)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254652)

What pushed you to buy it against your judgement?

Well, when the game was in development it looked really promising. I wasn't into NWN1 because its singleplayer was so lacking, but NWN2 seemed like it was putting more emphasis on the singleplayer campaign. I was also in desperate need of a good RPG. I guess I just wanted to really believe that the game wasn't as bad as the user reviews claimed.

The more hyped a game is, the more disappointed I am in it.

Re:um (2, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255732)

I'm convinced the in-and-out quick process of professional reviewers is why Oblivion scored so high. After my first 10-15 hours of gameplay, my reactions were the same - almost all positive. Unfortunately, after that, the serious game-balance issues caused by the auto-scaling made me lose interest. It's particularly tragic becase, other than that game-breaker, Oblivion is nearly everything I'd want to see in a computer RPG.

I've always thought that the logical way to use reviews is to find a reviewer that tends to match your general tastes, and weight his/her reviews accordingly. I've always wished that review sites grouped reviews by reviewer, so we could choose who we want to listen to and who we want to ignore. The idea of an "unbiased" review is a fallicy. Everyone brings their own preferences and biases, and I wish gaming sites would actually exploit this fact rather than try to surpress it.

Re:um (1)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18257522)

Eh, I would've given NWN2 a positive score and I'm certainly not a shill. Negative complaints filling up four times faster than positive comments? Welcome to the internets.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18249862)

FYI - the BBB is crap. Fox guarding the hen house.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250530)

Very well said.

I also stop reading many magazines when an editor (Boot magazine) strongly hinted they had no choice but to give raving reviews on "new products" of big names. New products are the main reason most techies buy magazines in the first place and is at the center of most tech magazine.

With a 3 month delay between writing and printing/distribution, combined with a nicely organized product launch of new products; manufacturer needs to ship the products to reviewers' months before it hit the market.

A single bad (or mild) review and you could get black listed for months or even years. Then all the other magazines that comply get all the great products / reviews before you do. If you are black listed by 5 of the top 10 manufacturer (EA, HP, Alienware, Linksys, Logitech) you are on thin ice.

The editor also said this was even more so with high cost items, such as 6000$ high end gamming PC. They cannot afford to buy everything that comes out.

Perhaps no excuse, but that's a market reality at the moment, in this regard, I also rely on online experience / forums / blogs for my tech interests.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18253676)

I'm a little late to the party, but I had to reply. You read one bad review in one IT magazine, so you stopped reading all IT magazines? And then you did the exact same thing for RC magazines?

Wow, talk about generalizing from an insufficient data set. And it's not like you just stopped reading reviews, you now reject all the other content in those publications as well.

The rest of your post makes sense, but this really jumped out at me.

My review of this review about reviews (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250468)

3.5 Clippys out of 5.

Not to me (3, Funny)

Xest (935314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248242)

Because I grew up, got a job and am now gullable enough to buy any crap the games industry throws out. I suffer from obsessive compulsive computer game purchase.

Oh how I miss the days of being dependant on pocket money where every penny had to be spent so wisely.

Re:Not to me (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248278)

Oh how I miss the days of being dependant on pocket money where every penny had to be spent so wisely.

You should get married then.

Re:Not to me (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249230)

I love the funny mod, but it really should be insightful... Course, my spending is on its way back up since I have my wife hooked on the DS.

Re:Not to me (1)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249830)

my fiancee loves my wii. she intends on buying a few games for it. occasionally, i see her playing with it just out of the blue.

Re:Not to me (2, Informative)

famikon (994709) | more than 7 years ago | (#18252140)

just wait until you get married and she will stop touching your wii altogether.

Depends (4, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248284)

On who (the actual person) wrote it, and how well you know the reviewer. Personal preference is always a big factor in game/movie/music reviews. It could very well be that I like a game what a reviewer gave a bad review, but I would only know that if I knew the reviewer's preference.
Ofcourse demo'ing the game is always better than reading a review.
The most useless part of a review is the grade, it says absolutely nothing, except what number the reviewer assigned. They might as well use colors for grading instead of numbers or stars. So... I rate the linked article: purple.

Re:Depends (3, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248632)

### The most useless part of a review is the grade, it says absolutely nothing,

I disagree, ratings give you a simple value to compare different games of similar genres. Sure, it doesn't make sense to compare a The Sims rating with a GTA one, since the games are just vastly different, but comparing GTA vs Crackdown is perfectly doable. Ratings also give you a very direct way to see what the reviewer thought of a game, when the review text just mentioned that the graphics are "good", how good is that "good", is that a RE4 "good" or just an average "good"? A 10/10 in graphics on the other side easily tells me that its among the best to expect on a console.

Beside pages from this, ratings are important for sites like Metacritic which would be rather hard to use without a final rating. When I want to get an impression from a game I search for the reviews that gave it the highest score and those reviews that gave it the lowest, thus I get a good overview of how somebody who likes the game views it vs somebody who doesn't like it. If there would just be text things would get rather hard to find the right reviews.

All that said, rating numbers are of course heavily flawed, many reviewers rate almost every game in a 70-90/100 area and don't make much use of the rest of the scale, another issues is that ratings are often tinted by non-game related issues, like price, if it is a port of an old game and such, which however might not matter at all for having fun with the game, especially since price can lower over time and as long as I don't already know the game it is still 'new' for me. Ratings are also a one dimensional scale, while you really might one a multidimensional, i.e. there are many games out there that are great by concept, but also heavily flawed in implementation, those however just end up in the 70-80% region, which tells little about there flaws or great concept, but just tosses them together with all those games that have an uninteresting concept but flawlessly implemented.

With all the flaws I however still consider ratings far more useful then harmful.

Re:Depends (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248636)

"Ofcourse demo'ing the game is always better than reading a review."

That's not true at all. There's been plenty of games that I've played the demo and it did not interest me. Then I read a review, or talked to a friend about it (another form of review) and found out there was more to the game than what I saw in the demo. Quite a few games did hold my interest after all.

"The most useless part of a review is the grade, it says absolutely nothing, except what number the reviewer assigned."

While I agree with the fact that it is nothing but a number assigned by the reviewer, this is FAR from useless. I can look at the number and know immediately what the overall impression of the game was on the reviewer. 3.4/10? Oh, he didn't like it much. 9.8/10? Oh, he thought it was almost perfect. Purple? Oh, that's at the low end of the color spectrum, so he didn't think much of the article.

Don't assume that just because it's useless to you that everyone feels that way.

They do (3, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248292)

Reviews let me know if a game totally sucks. Then I avoid it.

But positive reviews are no guarantee of a good game, as the glowing ratings for such moribund stinkers as FFVII and FFX can attest to.

Re:They do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18248310)

Those are my 2 of my top 10 all time favourite games you just mentioned.

Maybe you have different taste than a lot of other people?

Re:They do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18248568)

I liked them (FFVII, FFX) too, but I remember disliking the random battle screens that kept coming up. That actually prevented me from finishing the latter one, X, until five years after I got it, because I had to put it aside for six or seven months so the grinding memories would fade...

If the user disliked the battle system any more than I did, or if they weren't as interested in the story, I could easily see them writing their comment. :/

Anonymous #2, which were your ten favorite games?

Mine were probably REZ, Starfox, Starfox 64, Starfox Assault, Tetris, Puzzle Bobble, Magical Drop 3, Quake 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Halo. (The FF games are nearby, but my great number of skill points in ADD prevents them from ranking into the top ten ;O).

To return to the original post topic regarding reviews, I remember reading them rabidly when I couldn't afford to build a large game library on my limited lunch-money budget--they were definitely a lot cheaper than games (in the magazine review era), and could allow you to make insightful sounding comments when playing the wetware MMO with the other local users. Now that I have a job substituting for famous people[/joke] I still use them, but I'm a lot more willing to give an ecclectic game a chance with my dollar, since I have more to work with.

Re:They do (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248648)

FFVII? 7? That was an awesome game & pretty damn revolutionary for it's time. FFVIII is where they lost me...

Re:They do (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250872)

Don't worry. IX wasn't anything special, and X sucked. I haven't played X-2, but the bad taste that X left me with prevents me from being remotely interested. XI? Well, I'm not a big MMOer, though I have a WoW account. XII? Haven't played it. I don't have a PS2.

Re:They do (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18260682)

Really? I thought the story in IX was fantastic, paritcularly the plight of the Black Mages and their fight for humanity and discovering just what it is. I would rate it at number 2, just after VI's story. FFXII can be interesting at points, but the game mechanics after about hour 6 after leaving the castle with Han and Chewie (can't remember their real names) the mechanics are pretty obvious to the point that the script writers make fun of it durring a sun crystal quest out in the desert "oh, well you have to go get this next. haha, just kidding, let's go back to camp". After that point it's just like playing FF3, a huge time suck with very little pay out in terms of story/plot development.

Re:They do (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18261134)

Somehow, to me, IX felt like a weak remake of VII with a less complicated love story (they must have learned their lesson with VIII, not sure if I said it, but I couldn't finish it because I hated it). The main character was basically a clone, like Cloud. He had to come to terms with it and overcome it, like Cloud. It just wasn't as severe. Vivi's plot line was interesting, but I felt like he was whining more than anything. I liked Steiner's plot the most, really. The guy wanted nothing more that to serve in his place, have his honor, and nobody would let him, so he had to adapt to the situation, though it frustrated him to the top of his capacity.

I just felt like some of the plot lines were recycled. Oh, and for the record, my favorites are VI, IV, VII, IX and after that, not sure. I'm playing III on the DS, One was innovative, but there wasn't a plot. I've not had the pleasure of V, and my copy of Origins was stolen before I got too far on II.

Re:They do (2, Funny)

Tickenest (544722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248696)

I bet your TF mod got poor reviews. :P

Re:They do (2, Interesting)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248928)

Reviews let me know if a game totally sucks. Then I avoid it.

Except in the case of Jaws Unleashed [gamespot.com] for PS2. In that case, I read the reviews, then immediately ran out to buy a copy. Sometimes, you just have to re-set the metric on "bad". I mean, when someone says "this game sucks" you need to have a metric of how badly the game sucked. Did it suck "Jaws" bad, or "Mark Eko's Getting Up" bad?

And yes, "Jaws" was probably the worst game I've ever played. SPOILER: The best part in the game happens very early on: you are trapped in a tank in a lab, and the only door is controlled by card-key. So you need to get a card-key to open it and make good your escape. But you are the shark so it's not like you have hands. You need to grab a scientist with a key-card, but not eat him, wave his body in front of the card-reader, and the door will open.

Re:They do (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249658)

Reviews let me know if a game totally sucks. Then I avoid it.

Reviews are somewhat biased and participially obfuscated. When's the last time a game got a 0, 1, or 2? I've played games that might have gotten a 6 or 7 that I think deserved a 2 or 3.

However, I do use one metric for game purchasing. If there are no games I'm excited to buy, I check some game review sites, like IGN, and do a simple search for 9/10 or better. I find that a pretty safe bet to enjoy a particular game. Games that score an 8+ are considered, but usually have to have something I'm looking for, such as a specific genre (RPG, puzzle, action, etc) or Franchise(Metroid, Mario, Halo, Xmen, GTA, etc) that I like.

This is particularly relvent when I pick up a new system. For example, I just bought a DS and about 6 months ago, I picked up a PS2. With the DS, I picked up the high scoring games such as Mario Cart, Brain Age/Academy, Meteoes, and Final Fantasy. They wheren't all 9's but some where high scorers that I wanted to play. With the PS2, I found God of War, Kingdom Hearts, Shadows of the Colossus, etc. Though, most of these where used, so it wasn't very expensive. But with that said, I use game scores as one metric. If I'm going to purchase a game, it's got to be well worth it. I won't bother spending $50-60 on crap anymore, just because it's got a 'gimmick' or name brand that is suppose to sell a game (think Superman 64 and most late NES era games). Likewise, I was disappointed with several early PSP games. I'll rent them instead, and if they're good, I'll buy them.

Cheers,
Fozzy

Re:They do (2, Insightful)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254438)

When's the last time a game got a 0, 1, or 2? I've played games that might have gotten a 6 or 7 that I think deserved a 2 or 3. ...I check some game review sites, like IGN...

I think we've found your problem.

They definitely matter to me (2, Insightful)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248316)

These days I buy only a few games and to try and spend my money on something I will enjoy, what choice do I have? I can either look at all the pictures or I can read what someone says when they have actually played through the game. It isn't just the final score that I look for, there are certain things I dont want in a game (such as loads and loads of unforgiving stealth in an FPS) and I use reviews to try and see if those elements are present, if they are I wont bother wasting my money. Most reviews I have seen will also talk about the hardware requirements. A game that requires massive power (while the official claims are for a mediocre system) is also out.
Yes, just like movie reviews they are someone elses subjective view, but to get your own view you would have to watch every movie made or judge them by the trailer. Both of which are far worse (in my eyes) than seeing the opinion of a reviewer that generally agrees with you and has themselves seen almost every movie ever made.

Having said that, reviews are less useful than demonstration versions, which I wish game makers would use more.

Re:They definitely matter to me (1)

BarneyL (578636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255570)

Having said that, reviews are less useful than demonstration versions, which I wish game makers would use more.
The fact that a demo of a game gives you a good idea of what it plays like is of course exactly why many games don't have demos.

Maybe (1)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248318)

It depends - as with reviews for most things, over time you learn whether the reviewer is spouting nonsense of providing a decent insightful review. Some reviewers are humorous, others more technical, some are undoubtedly biased, and so on. For example, I read one restaurant critic because what he writes is fun - the likelihood of me actually eating in one of the recommended restaurants is slim.

They really don't (1)

Crysalim (936188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248340)

I can't say I've ever used a review in purchasing a video game. Ign is famous for giving low scores to great games, and it gives the impression that reviews are worthless on other sites too. Gamespot is a bit better at understanding that games are meant to appeal to a certain audience, and thus need to be judged on that standard, but Gamespot gets it wrong occasionally as well.

These "review" sites are actually nothing more than a marketing tool of the video game industry. It's a form of viral advertising, really.

Re:They really don't (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248800)

These "review" sites are actually nothing more than a marketing tool of the video game industry. It's a form of viral advertising, really.

Absolutely. Reviewers are more or less paid off by companies with free trips, stuff and 'exclusives'. I don't really read any particular review any more and instead opt for using something like metacritic [metacritic.com] .

Absolutely they do (5, Informative)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248352)

...but maybe not as individual reviews.

http://www.metacritic.com/ [metacritic.com] is a fantastic site which does weighted averaging of scores from many reviews. I use it for games in particular - it's useful to check the reviews that give a high score against the reviews that give a low score to see what is good and what is not about a game before buying. The "averaged" score almost always corresponds with my experience of the games too, so the system seems to work.

So reviews do serve a purpose, but, as with many things in life, to get a balanced opinion you need to sample from a set great than 1.

Re:Absolutely they do (1)

praxis22 (681878) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250318)

Metacritic is fabulous, I bought ICO because of a "review" I read on metacritic. I say "review" as it was an odd one, more about what it felt like to play, the graphis/sound approach. I also tend to rate highly those reviews that clearly love the game. Reviews for Gal Civ 2, were a lot like that. Same thing with Freefall, even given it's obvious flaws.

But as a way to check out the general feel of a game, metacritic is great. The only print reviews I take seriously these days are in Edge and Games(tm) The rest of them are just Ad copy fodder for the most part, useful for indepth preview features, but useless for final reviews. Eurogamer is also great if you want really hillarious bad reviews. When they don't like a game they really "put the boot in" Thier review of driver3 for instance was an instant classic :)

You can also get a lot of mileage from the gamespot forums.

Objective Info (1)

7bit (1031746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248416)

I want any review to at least start with well formatted and Objective info concerning whatever it is they are reviewing. Then I can just ignore the rest if I wish.

I swear, it should be pretty obvious what info we want from these reviews by now! It shouldn't be too hard to come up with a standard INTRO for any review that will tell us 90% of what we need to know about any new title, even if we've never heard of it before. Anything after that clearly marked section would be an opinion piece, easy to ignore if you don't have the same tastes and goals as the reviewer..

Reviews serve to limit need to gather info (3, Insightful)

Protonk (599901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248418)

Reviewers are just like political parties, insofar as they help distill a vast amount of information in order to allow us to actually make some decisions. The point of political parties isn't to provide perfect information to the voter, the point is to allow the voter to reduce the complexities of the ballot when necessary.

Before you guys get out of hand in the comments, by that I mean that it is functionally impossible for us as voters (in any country) to vet EVERYONE, from the county clerk to the State Senator (Okay, sorry, I don't have a region agnostic example, deal). We may decide on the president based on our input from non-party sources, but the other 18 names on the ballot don't rise to the same threshold. Parties allow us to make an assumption that a representative will align to the basic ideas that we are interested in.

Reviewers serve the same function. I may decide that I 'trust' a particular game or movie reviewer. As a result, I can presume that his/her views on a game are a good proxy for my own. This allows me to narrow the field of games I might be interested in without covering every demo, every press release, and every industry whisper--not to mention playing the game. In this sense, reviewers are even more necessary, because in order for me to make an adequate decision about a game in the absence of press, I would have to play it (or a demo, but even that isn't perfectly enlightening, see Lost Planet). That, of course, would obviate the need for the review.

In this case, just like political parties, we learn to accept bias in our reviewers. In most cases, the biases are benign--we share them. We like that Rogert Ebert doesn't like M. Night Shyamalan, because we don't (obviously only speaking for some of us). We like that the Onion (and pretty much everyone else) hates Uwe Boll, because we hate him. The same thing with the Democratic and Republican (insert Labour/conservative, etc) parties. We accept their biases (when we do) because we share them to some extent.

The case of bias in favor of a game publisher is a little more insidious, and is something that the game press will have to work out, and I suspect that it won't work itself out by eliminating the review. I suspect that certain reviewers (Ars, to name one) will gain greater acceptance as the rest of them keep shilling for bullshit. The same thing happened to the Democrats in the South. The south changed (beyond racism/segreation, which really only explain the first 10-15 years of that seismic shift), becoming more religious, individualistic and pro-business and the Democrats didn't adapt, so the south moved on to the republicans.

No way! (1)

grimdawg (954902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248438)

Reviews are meaningless. You can never rely on one man to be unbiased about a game, and one person's opinion doesn't give you anyinformation about your opinion.

Wait, Gamespot gave Twilight Princess less than 10?

KILL GERSTMANN!

excellent (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248452)

Excellent commentary. 8/10

Re:excellent (1)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18253624)

What are you talking about? The graphics were poor (4/10); the story was lame (4/10); the audio just wasn't there (0/10); and the gameplay while OK (8/10) had very little replay value (4/10). I'm sorry, but I have to give this commentary the lowest score there is:

7/10.

Reviewers aren't going anywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18248460)

At least, not as long as they still get free games, invitations to industry/P.R. parties and the occasional jackpot of free hardware.

What, you think everyone wants to be a reviewer because they have a passion for consumer advocacy?

Reviews are good... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18248474)

Previews are not. They are almost universally useless, because usually they offer a lot more praise than the game deserves, so the review site can stay on the developer's or publisher's good side. Honestly, when I read reviews, I don't care too much about the good parts, I pay attention and seek out the things that make the game something I should avoid. If a demo is available, I will ignore all previews and reviews and play it myself. Its what I did with Indigo Prophecy (and I bought it too!) and the King Kong game(didn't buy it). It's what I did with Supreme Commander, Command & Conquer 3, and so on and so forth. Then again, in the absence of demos and presence of a high speed connection, I might actually download the game (yarr) to see if I should bother buying it when a demo is unavailable. If the game is terrible, uninstall and delete, if it's good, buy. Reviews are a great source of information for those who can't or choose not to see how a game is on their own (piracy or demos). They have a lot of life left in them.

Re:Reviews are good... (1)

Deag (250823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248578)

Ah I remember the Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit as it is called here) demo, I liked the look and feel of it so it fooled me into buying the game, then I discover that half way through the game turns into a button mashing event which I don't enjoy at all, so demos are not always the best indicator. Enjoying a demo does not mean the game is worth buying. Sometimes games lack any depth so you have the game when you have the demo, so reviews do serve a purpose from the point of view.

Hard to tell, easy to avoid (-1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248486)

I'm going to say something obvious first.

Reviews are written to make money.

Ok, now that I got that out of my system... Most reviewers (not just for video games) don't really take the job serious. This is why you have sites comparing which CPU will get you that extra one FPS, instead of which one will get you decent FPS without consuming hordes of power or blowing your budget. It's why year after year the same tired first person shooters get 9/10 SUPER FUN WOW! etc.

I just tried the Wii last weekend, and all I can say is every other console sucks by comparison. The Wii is just so god damn fun to play, especially with 4-5 other peeps. Compare that to the stagnate "sit on your ass" consoles of the past ... Putting Wii games on the same scale as 360 games is just lame. I'd much rather play Wii Sports [for example] then "Ghost Recon: Make Things Go Boom 2037 II Gold silver platnium edition." If review sites could put those consoles on the same scale, I don't think there is a point reading what they have to write, because they're liars.

I think the easiest way to avoid getting burned is to just rent the damn game first. Spend $5 to try it out, if you hate it, all you lost is $5. But at least you're supporting your local economy.

Tom

Re:Hard to tell, easy to avoid (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248698)

'I'd much rather play Wii Sports [for example] then "Ghost Recon: Make Things Go Boom 2037 II Gold silver platnium edition."' [sic]

I would, too. However, I'm already pretty much sick of Wii Sports. If Wii Sports 2 had the same games with better graphics, it wouldn't interest me at all. The people who play GRMTGB2k372SPE and its sequels -are- interested in better, more realistic graphics each year. Why? Because immersion in that world means better graphics. Immersion for a Wii game means using the WiiMote as a object. They're just plain different, and meant for different people.

"Putting Wii games on the same scale as 360 games is just lame."

So you're thinking maybe Wii games should get letter grades or something, instead? Maybe you mean their scale should go to 11?

Wii games are not inherently more fun. I've had a lot more fun playing Samurai Warriors 2 Empires and Crackdown this last week than I had with Wario Ware Smooth Moves and Elebits. Both 360 games have got me wishing I could call in sick to work, where those 2 Wii games have me bored and regretting my purchase, respectively. Don't even get me started on Wii Play.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Wii. WiiSports Excite Truck, and Trauma Center: SO are excellent games. But the 360, PS2, DS, PC, etc, etc, all have good games as well.

Re:Hard to tell, easy to avoid (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248766)

Perhaps the Wii is less fun by yourself, but from my experience (and from the fact I'm a fat bastard) I'd rather dance around playing Smooth Moves or Wii Sports Bowling/Tennis (my favs) then sitting down with a controller playing an FPS. Wii kinda does need multiple peeps around to keep things interesting. More reason to invite the friends over.

As for the FPS being "realistic," let me explain realism to you. You get shot, you go down go boom. None of this "get a medkit, heal thyself" and carry on bullshit. That's realism. People want FANTASY, but they just want it to look real, not be realistic. And yeah, I know some FPSes are like that [CS for one] but most aren't.

Tom

Re:Hard to tell, easy to avoid (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249620)

I'd rather have fun. Wii Tennis is not fun solo, and it is fun multi-player. Wii Bowling is fun solo, and it is not fun multiplayer. I've played both ways on all the Wii Sports games. I'd still rather play Samurai Warriors 2 Empires. It's more fun for me. If they made a version that had the graphics of the 360 and the WiiMote of the Wii, they -might- make it a little more fun. (I'm not convinced the Wii can handle the graphics well enough yet.)

As for 'realistic'... Did you just see that word in my response and ignore everything else I said? My topic was immersion, not realism. Realism is not fun. If I wanted realism, I'd go outside. The only time I said 'realistic' was in 'realistic graphics', which has absolutely nothing to do with medkits and player health.

Re:Hard to tell, easy to avoid (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249902)

Sorry, i don't buy into the "graphics make the game" bit. The goal is to have fun, not be pixel accurate like RL or something.

Immersion comes from plot, gameplay, and objectives [among other things]. If the plot is linear, it's hard to get wrapped up in deciding what to do in the game. If the gameplay sucks, it's just frustrating and gathers dust. And if the objectives are near impossible (re: prince of persia) the game loses interest when you hit an impass for the 39th time.

Sure the graphics have to make sense, be clear, etc. But you pass a point where more polygons and more texture data don't really make the game any clearer. Remember that people were playing things like Stunts and Testdrive 3 with their glorious flatshade polygons long before graphics became half-way realistic.

I dunno, having played both the 360 and the Wii, I'd say I'd rather have the Wii any day and twice on Sunday. The 360 is just an overgrown xbox. Same games, just shinier. Comparing them on the same scale is just really nonsensical.

Tom

Re:Hard to tell, easy to avoid (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250136)

I never felt the immersion in the old Testdrive games. Part of it was that the controls and feel weren't real enough, but mostly it was looking at the 'flatshade polygons'. I liked games back then, and they were great fun. They just didn't have the immersion. I never felt like I was driving the car or walking where the character was walking. It was always me telling an on-screen object what to do.

Today's 360 and PC games look realistic enough that I often feel like I'm really there. Like watching a movie. Try to get an average adult to watch a movie with 'flatshade polygons' used instead of live actors and scenes. You'd probably have to pay them a fair amount to sit through it.

The Wii gets around the graphics issue by presenting a different kind of immersion. Instead of telling an on-screen character what to do, you simply do it yourself, and the on-screen character mimicks you.

They both create immersion in different ways.

As for the 'scale' issue... You've now said it twice. So I ask, What scale should the Wii be on? If you honestly think the Wii scale should be out of 20 instead of out of 10 or some such, you are simply a fanboy. There is no sense in that, other than to say 'our scale is bigger, nyeh!' If you are saying the scale should not be based on how good/bad the game is, but some other quality... Why? Basing it on anything else is worthless, as the consumer only cares how good the game is. (Good/bad covers a LOT of ground, and you'd have to get pretty far off-base to find a quality that isn't covered by it.)

Too lazy to try out game demos and watch videos (2, Funny)

wildzeke (191754) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248500)

So reading the conclusion of a review might indicate a game is worth trying out. BTW, can someone read the article for me and give a summary.

Thanks.

Re:Too lazy to try out game demos and watch videos (1)

Runefox (905204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248674)

Most game demos today are the size of a CD image, which is not cool. I'm not wasting that time and disk space to play 10 minutes or one level of a game, whichever comes first.

Re:Too lazy to try out game demos and watch videos (1)

Runefox (905204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248692)

Not to mention that most of the time, you need to either wait in line for an hour, pay for a subscription, put up with low bandwidth, or any combination thereof.

Not since outpost. (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248528)

And i'm still waiting for dukenukem forever.

useful (3, Interesting)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248560)

Reviews for games are like movie reviews. If you can find a reviewer(s) who have generally similar tastes, you will be able to judge a game with a fair degree of accuracy before you buy it. In addition without those rewiews, mega hit new games like God of War probably wouldnt be so big. I suspect a significant degree of its popularity came from people going to review sites and seeing the good reviews.

On the other end of the spectrum, how many more Final Fantasy fans would have bought Dirge of Cerebus had the reiwes not told us it was junk?

I read them to see how buggy something is (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248562)

and I usually read multiple reviews of the same game to insure I get a better understanding of what its about, how it works, and how it doesn't work as it should.

So for me reviews are still warranted. If I cannot find a review I will rely on friends and if they don't have it I then wait for a demo. Reading usenet can help as well. Still its great to see pictures and read the reviewers take on gameplay. Sometimes even games I wanted that got decent reviews I ended up not purchasing because the game play was not what I was expecting..

Re: Do Reviews Still Serve a Purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18248582)

No.

Getting the pirated product is easier than reading reviews about it.

There's an argument to be made... (2, Interesting)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248730)

But it's not the one that's presented. Thinking that reviews can be replaced by trailers is just silly. Trailers are nothing more than ads, and don't really tell you much about what's going on. Neither do demos; even if we assumed that every game has one, oftentimes a demo is much worse or much better than the game that it represents. As for blog opinions, those in themselves are basically reviews, though usually not very good ones unless you have a good idea of the taste of whoever's writing them.

What goes a long way towards making reviews pointless is GameFAQs. No, not the reviews on there; they often suck. I mean the FAQs themselves. A good FAQ will tell you most of what you want to know about the game in great detail in the first few sections, often without spoiling the plot in the process. The only problem is that FAQs require time to be written, time that simple reviews don't need.

Rob

Re:There's an argument to be made... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251760)

"oftentimes a demo is much worse or much better than the game that it represents."

Can you back that up? It's not really been my experience (though I don't actually buy that many games).

Certainly games can get a lot better after a few months of patches and mods but it seems to me that demos generally represent what's on the retail disc pretty well. After all, they're cut from the game, so they should. The only problem is that they tend to include the often tedious and patronising tutorial section - but we know this doesn't represent the real game so it doesn't colour any opinions...

Re:There's an argument to be made... (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255298)

Well, Final Fantasy 8's demo was awful and not very representative of the game at all. On the other end of the spectrum, ever heard of the EA-produced ARG Majestic? Its demo was like a normal episode of the game except condensed down into a three-day period, and about fifty times better as a result. There is surely a large number of other examples (most of them of demos that are better than their respective games, since a demo is basically a form of advertising), but I don't have many to give simply because I don't normally play demos in the first place.

Rob

Review == Opinion. (2, Insightful)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248746)

I use review quite simply: I'm looking for reviews of games I know and like - and choose people/sites who have rated games I like highly. And then check what else they have rated highly. That way I have found PC's "Rise of Nation", "Heroes of Annihilated Empires" and "City Life World Edition" - IMHO great games I enjoy and play, but most of high profile review sites have given them crappy/misplaced ratings.

E.g. http://wii.ign.com/ [ign.com] fits me perfectly. But on other side http://ds.ign.com/ [ign.com] - is U-turn in the respect: they gave lots of near-perferct marks to IMHO shit games (e.g. Mario, Partners in time) and underrated lots of games I have liked (e.g. Lost Magic). Reviews on ds.ign.com marked as "UK" are pretty O.K. and mostly fit me.

Re:Review == Opinion. (1)

farker haiku (883529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256600)

I'm sorry, but any review site that gives Red Steel for the wii a 6.0 needs to be ditched.

Sony sure hopes they don't (1, Offtopic)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18248832)

Awesome, glad to see that Sony's PR department has at least changed tactics from "blatantly lieing in press releases to counteract bad reviews" to "trying to convince people that all those bad reviews don't matter."

Hopefully one day, they'll change tactics again to "making a reasonably priced product that people actually want to buy" to avoid all the bad press to begin with. Dodging bullets is a lot easier when there aren't any heading towards you.

Re:Sony sure hopes they don't (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249010)

I guess after that whole punishing a journalist for doing his job [slashdot.org] thing didn't work out, Sony needed to find another way to crap up their PR. How long until we get a Youtube clip of Sony's board of directors invading a playground in order to hog the swings and kick sandbox sand into childrens' faces?

Re:Sony sure hopes they don't (1)

DarkJC (810888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249142)

Only on Slashdot does this get modded Insightful instead of Offtopic (regardless of what blog this originated from, we're talking about reviews, not Yet Another "Let's Bash Sony" Article).

Re:Sony sure hopes they don't (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249624)

To be fair, it is a relevant theory as to any ulterior motives that the blog in question might have for criticizing mainstream reviews. The writer even specifically points out Motorstorm, a much-hyped PS3 game that thus far has been getting "fun, but not classic" reviews. It is a bit hard not to believe that the article was written implicitly to defend Sony.

That said, the idea that the article was posted as part of some conspiracy by the Sony PR department is rather silly. It's one thing to say that a blogger who's paid by Sony is coming up with clever ways to defend the company, but quite another to put on a tinfoil hat and start raving about how Sony is directly responsible for everything that can possibly be spun into a form of PS3 apology.

Rob

Hassan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18249164)

Just remember Hassan, you can't kill the Messiah!

Speaking of which despite all the good PR for Tiberium Wars, I will wait for reviews before buying it. I mean it is EA after all, can't be too careful.

Gaming scene sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18249546)

I once subscribed on gaming magazines, how I am ashamed of that now.

The gaming scene sucks. Full of dumb kids who only care about how many FPS they get in CS, and always buy the latest hardware, even if they just replaced their graphics card a month ago, they buying a new one next month, even though its more than good enough.

Dumb gamers who buy anything gaming-marketed with the name "Fatal1ty" and some blinking LED lights.

And dumb reviewers who give a rating of 90%+ to most games.
Reviewers never games never get a low score in the magazines.

They have value (2, Interesting)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249596)

But they are less or more valuable depending on the person or on what they are about.

I find reviews of RPGs and action games helpful, especially when the reviewer knows their stuff pretty well and starts drawing comparisons with other games, because chances are I'll know at least a few of the other games the reviewer refers to.

But then for something like a fighting game, unless the reviewer is a dedicated fighting game player, I don't find the reviews useful because I know fighting games well and I know specifically what I like about fighting games. The review still has value to the person that just casually plays fighters just like RPG reviews have value for me as a casual RPG player.

Yes (1)

Verunks (1000826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18249694)

trailers and screenshot can't tell you everything about a game, you can see the graphics, hear the music but you'll never know if the gameplay or the story are crappy and if you are concerned about the subjective view of the authors just go to gamestats [gamestats.com] to find all the review and score of a game.
Anyway what we need now are more videoreviews so you can really understand what they are speaking about

Hmm... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250056)

Wait are we by chance individually reviewing an article reviewing reviews?

Hmm... yes, I think so, my Ironoscope just exploded.

Journalism (1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250646)

A well-written article always has a place. Most Bloggers are not journalists nor can they write. Anything beyond a two-paragraph "I stumbled on this thing and it's cool" reads like a secondary school writing assignement. There are examples, yes. But they don't replace actual journalism and articles written by people who know how to write.

Depends (1)

EvilStickMan (684609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250736)

If the reviewer is Zonk, the review is total unmitigated crap. Most other reviews are at least passable in comparison.

Reviews are helpful. Sort of. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250844)

In my experience the quality of reviews is inversely proportional to the number of advertisements in the magazine or on the website. I use reviews as a reference. I think it's a problem that reviewers are sometimes blatantly biased with overly positive reviews because they're so desperate for insider information. It's even worse when some like IGN, like to gloat about having gotten their hands on something weeks before any consumer.

Another problem is that these reviewers are rarely paying themselves for the product they're reviewing. That's important, because if something turns out to not be very good it's not their loss anyway. It makes them more tolerant of problems. The only time they do get critical is when the maker of the product is a relative unknown. It's like those reviews only exist to give the reader a pretense of impartiality.

For this reason I never let my opinion be swayed by any one review. And when it's a more significant item I do extensive research, going to as many sources as possible, including forums.

Games, however, are a relatively minor expense. Normally I've already made my decision about purchasing a game even before I've read a review. I know what I like and that's enough for me. I don't much care for the latest popular releases, the latest over-hyped games from EA and the like. No amount of reviews will change that for me because I already know I wont like the game. And I'm especially skeptical of those reviews anyway.

I do read reviews on a regular basis. They do provide a general sense of what to expect. But ultimately it's important to be able to think for yourself and not get suckered by marketing.

Game Review == Marketing (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251076)

These days I tend to assume that any professionally done game review that appears in a magazine, is just marketing. The reviewers seem preconditioned to write mostly positive reviews about every game they review (with perhaps a negative review of some utterly unimportant and uninteresting title thrown in to make them look like responsible reviewers). Its often hard to find a review that seems to report the facts as they are, rather than as the Sales Dept of the developer would like them to read.

Now, online isn't much better. If the reviewer got paid to do the review, it probably isn't accurate. These people get shipped the game, or a beta of it etc, so that they can do a review. If the reviews start getting too negative - the developer will stop shipping the demos to them and they can't continue to do reviews. This pretty much ensures that most reviews won't be as scathing as they might have deserved.

Now, there are tons of bloggers out there writing their opinions on things. The problem with them is simply that a) most can't write their way out of a paper bag, and b) Most have no intention of being objective (the point of a blog is to get attention right? so you have to be a bit more extreme to garner that attention, or so I assume in a lot of cases). I don't rely on blogs much either.

My reviews tend to come from online forums and from actually playing the demo/beta myself if I can. Now, those are hardly bastions of impartiality either, but I have years of experience in separating the wheat from the chaff on various MMORPG forums, and I can often get a reasonable view of a game's problems and positive points. Forum trolls are hardly reluctant to point out weaknesses in games after all.

Mostly, I just no longer buy PC games. I play a few MMORPGs and thats usually it, and I think a lot of folks might be following the same trend. I think the games industry has brought this on themselves by releasing poorly designed titles and by stifling reviews that are negative.

What?? (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251328)

You mean they are still making games post-World of Warcraft??? I'm going have to check this out! Oh wait...need to grind out 1000 more gold for my elite mount.

I think game reviews are useful...I just go to multiple sources. I like Game Informer just because I like to know what games are coming out and what they look like. I generally agree with their reviews as well...but it never hurts to look at what other people think.

Ramblings about Reviewing Enjoyment (2, Interesting)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251418)

Reviews are still a useful tool in considering a purchase, but they should not be the end all decision maker. But what one has to remember is that these guys are reviewing what can be compared to art in some ways. Everybody has different taste, gets different levels of enjoyment from different games. Flame wars often occur over a preference of games, and this often demonstrates the difference of tastes (and lack of spelling) that exists in the gaming realm.

Reviews are very useful for determining frustrating issues, such as sloppy controls, lousy camera angles, and bad story translations and speeling. The best reviews are able to draw similarites to other existing games, thus relating the content or style of a game while not confusing the reader with his or her personal taste. I'm rather stingy with my money, but some reviews (mostly at ign.com) have turned me on to games I might otherwise have never known, but throughly enjoyed (Altier Iris series for example).

PC Games you can often easily demo, but not so frequently with many console games. Thus console game reviews are more useful then PC Games reviews.

-Never trust a skinny cook

Reviews (1)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251706)

Here's my take on the subject.

Reviews are useful, if they are done properly. The problem today is that they aren't. The second opinion piece made a very insightful point I feel must be quoted.

Such a piece would wind up being nothing more than an unimpressionable summary: a book report, rather than a book review.


Today's reviews, or the majority thereof, are not reviews. They are reports, telling us with slightly greater detail and pretty screenshots what the game is. We do not get thorough evaluations, deep inspection of possible flaws, or effective comparisons between similar excursions. You could easily make a checklist containing 95% of the content of reviews, with some tailoring to specific consoles and platforms.

These "reviews" are not useful to anyone. A hardcore gamer will scoff at the lack of detail and simply download the demo or look up user reviews. A casual gamer will only need to know what kind of game it is and a few screenshots, the review itself doesn't affect them. A non-gamer won't likely know a thing about the genre the review is talking about, and the review won't bring them into "the know".

In short, the inherent problem is that we are being presented the opinion of someone we don't know without the details required to properly apply it to our own tastes. We get very vague understandings of the fun the reviewer did or did not have, with statements such as "the controls felt sloppy" or "the art style didn't stick with me" our only morsels of information. These tibdits are open doors ignored by reviewers. How were the controls sticky? Why didn't the art style have enduring value?

There is something to be said for brevity, but that is what "The Good" and "The Bad" sections of some reviews are for. If you're going to write a full bodied review spanning multiple pages, give us something more to glean than those summaries. Tell us that Ninja Gaiden's controls were awesome because you "felt like a ninja", because they were "responsive on a dime, and were easy to manipulate", because "it's difficult to do things right, but once you learn it's ninja time", because "the combat system in combination with the reponsive controls, map to a system that flows as smoothly as possible, although it takes some time to become a master ninja". Don't take all of that and summarize it in "the controls were good". Those ideas may roam free and meander around, but pinning down all of that into an informative piece is what a reviewer must do.

In example: The controls for the Ninja Gaiden Xbox excel in making you feel like an actual ninja. They are highly responsive, and deceptively simple. It's very easy to begin running around and making like a ninja. This belies the complexity of the combat system, which can be somewhat trying to master given the difficulty of the game. However, as the button combinations and tactics become ingrained in the player, the distinct feeling of being a badass master ninja will pervade the experience from then on.

Is it a perfect example? No. Could there be more detail? Yes. Would I want more detail? Probably. However, that there appears to be a systemic problem achieving even that much detail vexes me greatly.

Get to know the reviewers (1)

jchenx (267053) | more than 7 years ago | (#18253130)

In short, the inherent problem is that we are being presented the opinion of someone we don't know without the details required to properly apply it to our own tastes. We get very vague understandings of the fun the reviewer did or did not have, with statements such as "the controls felt sloppy" or "the art style didn't stick with me" our only morsels of information. These tibdits are open doors ignored by reviewers. How were the controls sticky? Why didn't the art style have enduring value?
I agree that "reviews" that are basically a collection of screenshots and description of gameplay mechanics, aren't terribly useful. I find that it's the opinions that are helpful, but as you point out, it's difficult to know exactly what they're talking about when they say "the art style didn't stick with me".

That's why it's important to get to know the reviewers. It's like any other product. I have friends whose opinions I trust, because I know what they like and dis-like. I think there's a good analogy with movie reviews as well. Many people follow the reviews of folks like Ebert & Roeper [wikipedia.org] , because they find that their tastes are similar. On the other hand, I know folks that do the opposite. ("If Ebert hated it, then it MUST be good!") The same should be with game reviews. I actually find that listening to podcasts from the gaming press (such as 1UP and GameSpot) is helpful, since you very quickly get an idea as to what style of game each person likes, and inevitably you will find either attracted or indifferent to certain people's opinions.

Re:Get to know the reviewers (1)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18256040)

The only problem as I see it is that many websites and magazines have many reviewers, many of whom are not confined to any particular genre. What if I spend my time learning the habits of reviewer X, and then reviewer Y reviews that game I'm interested in? Now I'm up the creek.

More importantly, what good is a review if I have to invest a significant portion of my potentially valuable time just learning to understand one reviewer out of many? Why is it imperative that the person hoping to attain useful information from a review must first spend time observing the reviewer? I thought the whole point of a review was to reduce the effort involved for the person who was attempted to benefit from it.

Re:Get to know the reviewers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18262584)

I listen to the 1up podcast too, so I think I have a decent handle on the likes and dislikes of the regular contributers. However, those guys hardly ever actually review any games on the 1up site! If I want details on why Garnett doesn't like Supreme Commander rather than just "I'm done with that" I still have no option because the review was written by someone else.

Yes. (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18253948)

A review, when done properly, is always useful. While most reviews you find in an average magazine are generally either advertising, or inflated, the best reviews are from those who do an in-depth analysis of multiple games (i.e. at least play it to completion, and making notes at the same time.)

Also, an ideal review minimizes the amount of emotion within the review. If you don't like the game, just say you don't like it - otherwise you've just made two pages of filler.

If you have to, try building up a list of known flaws within games (whether it's with graphics, gameplay, the AI, etc.) and see how well a game you are reviewing stacks up against this listing. While this is entirely mechanical reviewing method, it doesn't make it any less effective than what's going around on the market.

It's the public that is obsolete, (1)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254146)

The public that I speak is the people who won't read a review, but just look at a score. These are the reason reviews can even be considered "obsolete". The fact that when people say "how is XXX" and you tell them, they are getting a review is lost on them. Instead from a review most times they look for a number and so on.

Personally I choose to read IGN's reviews because they not only have numbers but they're willing to show you where their 9.1 came from, then you can decide if those are factors you care or don't care enough about to get the game.

But because of those people who only care about the 9.1 or the 8.5 or the 5.0 is why reviews seem worthless.

The other problem is people who don't realize 5.0 is NOT an average score. If I give a 9.1 and 8.5 and a 5.0 to three different games the 8.5 is closer to an average score. http://www.gamerankings.com/itemrankings/sites.asp [gamerankings.com] gives the average scores for publications, yet most people don't even look at this. There's always someone who claims a 7.0 is a good score because it's above the average score and it just shows how little people think when they read a review.

Of course they do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255564)

What kind of silly question is this? If you haven't had a chance to play a game for yourself, and you don't know anyone who has it, and you don't want to risk wasting your money on a product you won't enjoy, then you'll turn to a review for some guidance. Even if you completely ignore the reviewers opinion of the game, and the score that it receives, you can still learn a lot about how the game plays just from the content of the review, and that could be enough to tell you if it's the style of game that you're looking for. Why would anyone propose that reviews no longer serve a purpose?

This looks like a cry for publicity.

Aggregate all the way (2, Informative)

Vacardo (1048640) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255666)

I find reviews tend to reflect the bias of the reviewer more than the aspects of the game itself. I believe an aggregate site (e.g. Metacritic) that collates a number of scores and provides an average is much more accurate.

You also have the option of reading each closing comment of each site to see if there are consistencies in what each review reports, such as if there are flaws in camera or if they mostly praise a great control setup.

How it should be done.... (2, Informative)

kn0tw0rk (773805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18257238)

.. is the way the Retro Gamer magazine articles on "Why you must play ..........."

What they do is gve a detailed break down of the what gameplay elements are used in the game, and how those work to enhance the gaming experience and make it an enjoyable experience. Also they give some history of how they game came to be and the situation of the gaming market it was released into.

As the games mentioned are not being sold in retail stores, there is no $$$ coercion factor that you get with current games.

I've tried several of the games and have discovered some worthwhile divertions of my time.

Cheers

These opinions are all very important, so thanks! (2, Informative)

StarFire2258 (939548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18258624)

As a future (read: aspiring) videogame reviewer myself, I wanted to thank all current and future comment contributors to this thread. It is the duty of every publication to serve its audience. It's good journalism, and good business sense as well. Every person commenting here who cites a problem with current videogame reviews shows that there is a disconnect between that audience (you) and those publications, and I for one will not let that disconnect go unnoticed. I plan to improve the state of reviews, starting with my own and hopefully inspiring others by example. Therefore, I've saved the current comments to this thread, and will return in one week to do so again, collecting more recent comments. I'll then integrate their ideas into my future reviews, to better serve you all. IMHO, reviews serve an incredibly important purpose, that of informing consumers not as information-savvy as all you /. readers as to which games are worth the money and which should be best avoided. For those who have the time and interest to track new games as they are developed, they are perhaps not as important... but I for one will not purchase a game without reading the review of at least one reviewer I trust.
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