Archive for the ‘Brewed Thoughts’ Category

Should There Be Game Review Standards?

August 12, 2010

The Roast:
     If you are like myself, you have probably played and enjoyed a video game, then perhaps found a review that you didn’t agree with on the game.

     When the original Mercenaries released in 2005, I purchased it day one for my Xbox.  I really enjoyed the game, and thought it was well worth the $50 I payed for it.  I had more than 40 hours of game-play on just the first play-through of the game.
     I remember getting my copy of GameInformer that had the review for Mercenaries in it.  I could not believe the game received a review score of 7.5 out 10!  I emailed the reviewer, asking why certain things were left out of the review about the game.  My biggest complaint about the “review” was the fact he did not mention how long he played the game, or if he even completed it.

     The second post I ever posted on the site, was titled, “An Open Letter to Adam Biessener of GameInformer“.  I emailed Adam Biessener about his review for The Conduit, and how it lacked information.  As with my first email to Game Informer back in 2005, I still have not received a reply from Adam(or anybody at GameInformer).

     Those are just a few reviewers I have disagreed with, there are more.

The Grind:
     My biggest issue with reviewers on major sites is that I rarely know how long they played the game before “reviewing” it.  I think a good example of this was with The Conduit.  The Conduit’s multi-player was plagued with glitches, and  I don’t believe there was a single reviewer from any of the larger sites that addressed them in their reviews.

     Addressing the question, “Should there be game review standards?”  I believe that every review, especially from the major sites, should include one thing for the readers to know; and I believe every reviewer should do at least one thing before playing  a game and then writing a review.

The Brew:
     1.  The amount of time the game was playedIf the game has single-player and multi-player, how many hours/minutes were spent with each should be included in the review.  If a game has a single-player campaign, it would be nice to know if the campaign was finished.
          IGN.com recently changed their review scale, but not really their review policy.  I found it interesting they bothered with changing the scale of reviews, but not the policy as to what information is provided to the readers of the reviews.

          In IGN.com’s “Reviews Policy“, they have a Q&A section for it, and one question is, “Do you ‘complete’ games before reviewing them?”  Well, the answer was, “Not always.  Keep in mind, that not every game can be ‘beaten’…”, as if this needs explaining, they mention puzzlers, sports games, and MMOs as games with “no real end”.
         What I found really interesting about this Q&A, was when they said, “As a general rule, IGN’s philosophy is that editors should play an assigned game as much as they need to in order to give a fair, in-depth review that can accurately represent the overall experience.”
          So, currently at IGN(and many other sites it seems), if a reviewer plays a game for 1 hour or less, they can write a review and call it a day, and the readers have no idea how much the game was played.  Does that make any sense?
          There are a few reviewers that do provide the hours played that I know.  GoNintendo.com‘s reviewer, D3stiny_Sm4sher, provides the “Time played” as well as how he obtained the game: rented, purchased, or borrowed.  He usually also provides what difficulty setting he played the game on, and what control options he used for the game.
          Another one is Nintendo-Okie.com‘s Tony Miller, he provides how he obtained the game, as well as “Total Play Time”.  He recently reviewed Madden NFL 11 for the Wii, and his “Total Play Time” for the review was 27 hours!

I wonder if Matt Casamassina finished this game
before he “reviewed” it, or was he busy applying for his Apple job instead?

     2.  Read the game’s instruction manual & control options – This is what I believe every reviewer should do before playing a game.
          Since the Wii(and some PS3 games) introduced motion/gesture controls this generation, I think reviewers really need to read the instruction manuals and control options in games.  When The Conduit released on the Wii it wasn’t perfect.  What it did get right though, and set the “standard” for Wii FPS games, was the customizable control options.
          I still have trouble understanding how reviewers complained about the controls in the game.  One “reviewer” for The Conduit said of the controls, “…after wrestling with the terrible controls…”, then wrote an entire paragraph about what was wrong with the “motion controls”.  Yet, he failed to mention the game had fully customizable controls and he could have switched the motion controls for button presses in some cases.
         I can only imagine what will happen with reviews when Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Kinect release, and reviewers just hop into the game without knowing if calibration is an option.

Thoughts/Questions:
     While review scores are subjective, I do not think the lack of information, or misinformation in a review is subjective.
     These are just two things that I think would improve the “review” method for games, and give readers a better way to understand how much weight they should put into a review.
     Are there any “standards” you think would be beneficial to help make the game review process better?  Do you agree with my two points, and are there any sites that you know of that I didn’t mention that put the “Total Play Time” in every review?

     You can also vote in a poll I created for this topic on the right side of the site —–>

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