The Problem with Reviews

Many gamers base themselves on reviews to buy a video game. More casual gamers just go on and buy whatever appeals them the most (or the cheapest games). But I have found that even if there’s a game with a high rating, I might not like it. Or there might be a game with a low rating that might deserve a better one according to me. But is there really any way to get exact ratings?

Long ago, I used to buy video games based on its ratings. If it was of a genre that appealed me (actually, the only one I don’t enjoy that much is sports) and it received a high review (I was usually content with 7.5 and up), I would buy that game. However, I didn’t have money to burn, so I’ve always tried to be very careful with the games I chose, and getting my priorities first. But what happened when I didn’t like the game? Well, in plain and simple words, that sucked. And a lot. I trusted my buy on the reviewers, and whenever I was disappointed I was stuck with a game that I didn’t even want to play.

But what’s the real problem with the reviews? Most reviewers try to maintain themselves away from bias and personal tastes, so that’s not really that much of a problem in most cases. Then what is it? Really, really long reviews. I’m not sure about you, but I know long reviews are really boring in most cases. Reviewers keep talking about a bunch of complicated and technical terms that many people haven’t even heard in their life, and sometimes they even add some of the game’s history. And like many others, I skip over to the ratings.

And that’s where the biggest problem is. What really matters is throughout the article, but we go directly to the ratings. And what do we read? Normally, ratings are divided into three main categories: gameplay, graphics, and sound. The problem with them is that they’re based solely on opinion, and really, can’t be proved to be as said or compared to something else outside sequels and prequels from that same game.

Say for example, gameplay. Think about it for a few second. Can you really give a grade to gameplay? Doesn’t a grade in gameplay depend on each person? While it’s easy to compare a video game’s gameplay to a prequel or sequel of that same game, can you really give a grade to gameplay? I’ll leave that answer to you, but I personally believe it’s a no.

Now, graphics. If possible, graphics would be the only thing I would take out of every rating system. Graphics can not, by any chance, receive a rating. Feel free to disagree with me, because this is a very relative subject. Let’s say, a few years ago, a videogame got a rating of 10 out of 10 in graphics. Now, a few years after that, another game got a 10 out of 10. Whenever you want to go and see a review of an older game, will that 10 really matter? Not really, because graphic ratings become “outdated” in less than a year, whenever a new game comes out, and it breaks that 10 barrier, and gets another 10.

Resident Evil 4 and Zelda: Twilight Princess are considered by many to have the best graphics a Gamecube game can have (though they’re quite different styles). Now, suppose a reviewer game them both a 10 in graphics (out of 10). A few years later, a new game comes out for one of the new-generation systems, with awesome graphics that are definitively better than those two, but compared to current games, they get the “low” rating of 6.5. My recommendation to “rate” graphics? Just describe how that game looks with words, compared to its own time-frame of when it was released. It “has awesome graphics” or “they could’ve done a better job compared to X game” works.

Sound is also extremely relative, since everyone has different tastes. However, out of the three, it might be easier to rate. Sometimes there’s no brain put into a song or sound effect, and it is awfully repetitive (think, for example, the character selection song for King of Fighters 2001), but that can also happen with gameplay. My recommendation to rate sound? Just tell what kind of music the game has, and if you believe it is appropriate for the game.

I’m not saying that the way I review games is perfect, as my review system also has its own flaws. The only thing I tried to do is review them from a different approach, rating different elements than the one’s you’re used to see, elements which I believe are important for a lot of different gamers, like Play Time, for instance. Also, I keep the reviews I make as spoiler-free and short as possible, being as objective as I can be. That way, people won’t grow tired as soon as they see the review spans three different pages.

Don’t trust in numbers, trust in words. Look for the “this game would appeal fast FPS lovers” in the review, try to look at how much deep the game is, and how difficult it gets. Is it for hardcore or casual gamers? I insist, try to look into the gameplay issue as much as you can, and how well it is described. Remember, compare it with as many reviews (what better place that Gamerankings.com?), without spoiling yourself from the game as much as possible (unless, of course, you like to be spoiled). Money is something I don’t like to waste, neither any other intelligent person whether they have tons of it or they have every single penny counted.

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