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  • bowlisimo 9:07 pm on November 13, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , reviews,   

    I found that interesting, but I can see it not being very useful if you’re looking for information. Jeff Gerstmann’s review on Giant Bomb is much more utilitarian. The one on Kotaku reads like one of those editorial pieces that you read a week or two later “Looking back on Black Ops 2” or whatever.

    Neither is better, it just depends on what you’re looking for. As someone who doesn’t plan on playing CoD, reading a review of the experience is more interesting, but that changes with the game. Right now, I’d rather read how broken the PC port of AC3 is or isn’t.

    @mjpilon Shit, I guess I need to play Spec Ops now. That description sounds like it fits Dragon Age 2 as well. Boring game, excellent story. It’s too bad, really.

    @cgrajko Welcome to the happiness club. It wears off, after a time, but you’ll never forget it. Journey is my GOTY.

  • rampantbicycle 3:02 pm on February 7, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , reviews   

    I have always been of the opinion that review scores of any sort are fairly useless, even outside of the gaming press. It’s nice to note that a film got three and a half stars out of a possible five, but the number is completely meaningless on its own.

    The Metacritic score is an interesting thing to go and look at, but it’s completely meaningless in any real way. The only way it could really hope to be anything like an accurate gauge of “goodness” would be if every single person and publication that reviewed games used precisely the same criteria and ratings scale to evaluate them. Only then could you “average” them meaningfully. (And before that, you’d have to first find a way to operationalize what “goodness” means across the industry. Good luck with that.)

    As it is, you have vaguely adjusted numbers attached to reviews – goodness knows what the methodology is; I’ve certainly looked at some reviews and found their content to be quite different than I’d expect from the number assigned to them – and then they present those to us as though that were any sort of guideline from which to make a meaningful and useful decision.

    It isn’t. It is a tool for the individual who does not wish to put forth the effort and actually read the reviews, perhaps.

    Full disclosure: I regularly write reviews – the old-fashioned kind, with very tight word limits and an editor and everything – for an industry publication dedicated to literature for young people.

    The duty of a critic or reviewer is (IMO) to advise people as honestly as possible of what they will be in for when they pick up a particular book, go to see a particular show, whatever. The good critic or reviewer will manage to, on top of this, give a real sense of the material, as well, such that if you are the sort of person who would love it, you will be fired up to go and experience it. (And, by extension, such that if you are NOT the sort of person who would love it, you will be able to wisely stay away.)

    Scores do not serve either purpose. At all. Away with them.

  • feenwager 2:38 pm on February 7, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , couldn't resist, , , , , reviews   

    @angryjedi I think at this point, the burden is on the consumer to understand the source. I know that a 7.5 from Gamespot does not mean “garbage” the same way it does from say, Game Informer. I also know that a positive mention from the Penny Arcade guys is much more meaningful to me than a 95 from the Official Xbox Magazine. Of course, I could always depend on you crazy people as well, but then I find myself playing cripple-porn.

  • Pete Davison 2:27 pm on February 7, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , reviews   

    @feenwager Definitely.

    Tangentially related: Catherine is out very soon in the UK, so a lot of UK outlets have been reviewing it. Most of them have been panning it for being too hard while simultaneously complimenting it for being daring and mature with its subject matter. If I hadn’t already played the game, the text of the reviews would intrigue me enough to want to play it, but then the scores offered by some outlets (it got a 4.5 out of 10 from one place, despite a relatively complimentary review) would seem to tell an entirely different story.

    It made me think a couple of things.

    1) Review scores are dumb. We know this. The fact that some people are too lazy to look at anything but the score is a dumb excuse and the worst kind of pandering to the lowest common denominator. Not only that, when publishers use Metacritic and sales figures as their sole metrics of whether a game was “successful” or not, that leads to all kinds of bullshit where the making of money becomes more important than the creative work. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have our money-spinning blockbusters, but it’d be nice to see the big publishers spending some of those earnings on taking a few more risks at times. But that’s a discussion for another time.

    2) Not everyone can review all games effectively. A number of reviews of Catherine completely missed the point and reviewed it as if it were something that should appeal to everyone. This, I feel, is a bigger issue to the critical part of the press today. While in the early days of gaming, you could happily say that you were “into games” and that would be the end of it — you’d play the vast majority of everything that was released because you could. Nowadays, however, I think we’ve adequately shown with even our recent discussions that it is no longer either possible or desirable to keep up with everything there is on offer. As such, why should reviewers be the same? Someone who loves Battlefield 3 is unlikely to look at Catherine in the same way as someone who appreciates the more cerebral pace of, say, visual novels like Katawa Shoujo. And a puzzle game enthusiast might look at it still differently. Similarly, a younger person may find the story plodding and cumbersome, while someone a bit older may appreciate the layers of nuance that are in there.

    I’m not entirely sure how the latter issue could be resolved, but it’s seemed particularly pronounced with a few recent titles including Catherine and, oddly, Minecraft. Having been in the middle of the mainstream games press and now having taken a step back from it, it seems utterly bizarre for outlets to continue down the same road of reviewing all games by the same criteria. Not all games are equal. Not all games are going to be blockbusters. Some are always going to be niche interests played only by people in said niches. It’s been the case in other media for years; is now the time we should be looking at the diversification and segmenting of the games press? Should we start to see specialist outlets focusing exclusively on particular genres/”levels” of games? Should we start seeing the game-focused magazine equivalents of “Empire”, “SFX” and whatnot?

  • Shingro 5:00 pm on August 2, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: reviews   

    @beige erk, the Gerstman review makes me question what we actually want from game reviews. On one hand, he’s totally permitted to have his own opinion of any game, if he thinks Halo is a 2 or Deus ex is the worst game ever made it is his perogitive, and it can’t NOT be his perogitive to preserve journalistic integrity of the medium as a whole.

    The difficult thing though is when the pace and method of reviews come in. Catherine is a game that challenges you, it demands a certain amount of investment, and there’s a huge difference in the base investment of a guy who is drawn in by the game, and invests dollars straight up compared to a guy who was handed it as a mandatory part of his work day. This is compounded of course if you baseline dislike “Anime Nonsense.” Now he liked Persona 4, so I see why they handed him this review, but it was pretty clear from the podcast that even thinking of the game wearied him, but he force himself to complete it, like eating something rancid because it was part of his job. Not exactly the best state to judge a thing in.

    So from the job-like nature of the event, of course he played it on easy, which is designed that you have very little challenging puzzling. it does this by making sure that you aren’t seeing much that you haven’t seen before, the solutions to puzzles are by and large very very slight variants on stuff you’ve already seen before, so naturally this ended up in the review as “Yeah, the puzzling is really same-y and there’s not a lot of variety to it” Which is true… on that particular setting, which constitutes about 1/10th of the game’s content, not even counting Versus or Tower of Babel (which is randomly generated on a certain structure.)

    How was he going to know that though? You can’t expect a guy to take 1-2 weeks to thoroughly plumb the depth of every aspect of every game out there, difficulty levels and all. The number of titles the industry produces is growing and the content inside a game is expanding with the technology, yet there hasn’t been a corresponding boom in review staffs near as I can tell.

    So, maybe he shouldn’t have been handed it in the first place? That’s not a good answer either, arguably there’s a fine line between giving games to “fans of the genre” and giving it to someone who will give a game a free pass. That being said, if I, as a puzzler fan am looking at a review of a guy who hates the puzzling, how does this help me? Doesn’t the very nature of the consumer mean that the game should be given am equal or greater shake?

    And the problem only promises to get worse, as game genres get blended and more and more hybrid game types emerge, it’s going to be very difficult for a review outfit to have people who are capable and willing to give absolutely every type of game a fair shot. I’ve played games my entire life and my breadth is huge, but even I have an irrational hate-on for sports games/driving sims/etc. Similarly I’m more likely to have more give to problem games with my favorite brand of Anime Nonsense, (Trinity Universe/Cross Edge/Disgaea etc)

    So there’s no objective way to review games, which is fine in a vacuum. However, this is going to make it difficult for games which are culturally impenetrable to some. God help the game that brings too much of a ‘furry’ vibe to the table regardless of its actual merits. Anime-styled games have had, well, split reactions at best. This also won’t be working very well in the far future when more and more countries have homegrown game studios. Could our the US’s massive industry fairly judge a game coming from Afghanistan? Could we have done so 10 years ago? How would we go about doing so?

    That being said, throwing various anime games into metacritic shows that even anime-styled games (while they do have consistently lower scores then more culturally ‘in line’ like anything “of war”) are still able to at least hold some green ratings, Things like Star Ocean: Second story and Trinity Universe hold on and their scores tend to be in the same ballpark. Also bizarre and culturally different titles seem okay too, notably Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal for example. The Cat and the Coup also got a certain amount of positive glow despite being ‘something from far away.’ That might only be because a breath of fresh anything is welcome after so many sequels and franchises, but hopefully most places have thought this out and has it under control.

    In fact the *only* exception I can find to this rule is Catherine, and Giant Bomb’s score which is 30 converted points lower then the lowest other score.

    So… “It’s not awful, 2 out of 5” is maybe an abnormal event. Still, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more promising game >_>

    TL:DR: Game reviews are haaaard, and becoming harder as cultures can add their own takes and uniqueness into the industry. I (and apparently everyone else in the industry :V) disagree with Gerstman’s review, but I understand he has the right to say it, and how important is to protect that right.

    Still… bleh

    (Edit: Closest I’ve gotten so far to a Berkeley gas station rant! 😀 not bad!)

  • Pete Davison 3:28 am on December 21, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Bitmob, critique, , , reviews, The Brothers Davison, US vs UK   

    It’s whoring time! My illustrious brother and my marginally less-illustrious self were both on the MobCast this week alongside Shoe and Brett Bates. We had a good chat about all manner of stuff and I think you guys will dig it. Here’s the show description straight from the horse’s mouth:

    In this episode of the Mobcast, Britain invades! Freelancer Pete Davison and his well-known brother, GameSpot and Metacritic VP John Davison, join Bitmob’s Dan Hsu and Brett Bates. The group discusses their early contenders for game of the year, genres and tropes that have fallen by the wayside, how younger people approach the medium, whether reviews should focus on product evaluation or art critique, and how the U.S. and the U.K. approach games differently.

    Have a community topic you want to hear the crew discuss? E-mail your suggestions to letters@bitmob.com, subject “Mobcast.”

    iPhone link

    BitMob link – go comment!

  • Pete Davison 6:40 pm on November 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , reviews,   

    @JeffGrubb: Hah, yeah, I know it was a 4Chan thing, hence the “I hate myself”. I came across it via Reddit though. Reddit appears to be 4Chan Lite in many ways, which is absolutely fine by me, ’cause I can do without the horrible shit on /b/. I was delighted that the Reddit gaming community came out with this much discussion when given the news that a Commodore 64 game 20 years in the making is finally being released.

    @cptcarnage: NFS is more like Burnout than Split/Second, though I guess Split/Second was kind of like Burnout with more explosions in the first place.

    @everyone: Reviews… I hardly read reviews any more, to be honest. I’ll go almost exclusively by Twitter buzz, what you guys say and what other friends (YES I HAVE OTHER FRIENDS, DEAL WITH IT). I find that this approach is good when it comes to writing my own reviews, though, as it means I’m not coloured by other sites’ judgement. I always think it’s more interesting when people have opinions that differ a little from the “norm”.

  • RedSwirl 5:10 pm on November 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: reviews   

    When it comes to reviews these days, @zegolf nailed it “Most of the time it’s twitter, you guys, and word of mouth.” That’s IF I can’t rent a game first.

    If there is absolutely no way I can play a game before paying full price for it I might run up to GameStats and pull up reviews from GamePro or GameSpy, but I’ve found fellow gamer opinion to be more valuable. This is coming from someone who used to write mainline reviews to pass the time. Even today when I do a “writeup” on my 1up page it comes off more like a column than anything else.

  • mjpilon 5:04 pm on November 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , reviews,   

    For reviews, I have found myself relying on Giant Bomb – be it the Quick Looks, the actual reviews and the bombcast – as well as other podcasts and word of mouth from people I trust (a.k.a the Squad).

    I have also noticed in my case a general decrease in the use of written reviews. I have been reading the EGM and EGMi since they launched and I find myself completely ignoring the reviews for some reason despite a number of reviewers I know and like (Klepec, Pfister,…)

    In other news, I finally got through Uncharted 2. Pretty much as advertised although I must say, the stickiness of the cover mechanic really frustrated me at times as did the bullet-absorbing enemies. The final couple of chapters went in a direction I didn’t particularly enjoy story-wise and the final boss battle was not enjoyable mechanically as I never did like the shooting behind while running mechanic. It led to me taking lots of damage as I had to wait around stationary for the boss to get where I needed him to be. Regardless, it was a great experience overall.

  • RocGaude 4:39 pm on November 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: reviews   

    @cptcarnage Surprisingly, Kotaku has been doing a bang up job on reviews lately. Their structure is exactly what I want from a game critique.

    I also prefer Giant Bomb’s style of game coverage these days. It’s just the right mixture of insight and buffoonery. The only downside is that their amount of coverage is limited due to their small team size.

    Of course, word of mouth rules all. It’s the only source that’s been able to sway me into an otherwise self-directed buying decision.

  • unmanneddrone 4:09 pm on November 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , Gran Turismo 5, , reviews,   

    @angryjedi No worries sir, I was just being petulant! Super excited your wonderful brother nabbed you a copy, gives us all something to yap on about – regardless of platform! But ol’ FS…I hear there’s going to be a big single-player reveal in January! They’re smart fellows over at Mode 7, so I think we’re in for something special. Oh, and FS is coming to Steam!

    @cptcarnage GT5. Indeed. You know, the most exciting part of GT5 for me would be the B-Spec racing management component. It looks fantastic!

    As for review sites…for PC, I indulge in Out of Eight. (and @bowlisimo, Out of Eight’s twitter feed is a great source of indie and strategy titles – the man has taste!), for everything else it’s a combination of Strategy Informer, Fidgit (he may be intentionally contrarian, but you can’t hate Tom Chick) particular user impressions on NeoGAF and, of course, the fine folk found hanging around a certain Squawkbox.

    Oh, and for those interested in Under Siege, a new cinematic trailer came out! Gorgeous…utterly gorgeous! http://bit.ly/anuD53

  • zegolf 3:11 pm on November 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , reviews   

    @cptcarnage Remember that one time they said GT5 was going to come out? Remember that other time they said the same thing? How about that one time, where they said GT5 was going to be released, then they said it wasn’t, then they said it was going to be released 5 weeks later?


    That was awesome.

    I’ll be picking up NFS on 360, if I get it. The autolog stuff is really awesome. I spent about 2 hours trying to beat @A.J.’s runs (finally did it) and didn’t realize the time had even passed.

    As for my review site? I’m pretty much exclusively Giant Bomb, if I even go to a site. Most of the time it’s twitter, you guys, and word of mouth.

  • cptcarnage 2:58 pm on November 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , reviews   

    I may jump on the NFS bandwagon, only problem is GT5 comes out next week and I am thinking about it.

    I’m in the dark about NFS and Assassin’s Creed B they fell off my radar and like Borderlands they are back on just after they came out.

    Is NFS sortof like Split Second?

    Also on that note, which site do you guys prefer for your reviews?

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