April 10, 2008
So, I’ve decided that I pretty much hate video game reviews. I can’t exactly say what should be the ideal format, but I sure know what I don’t like. Here’s a sampling.
No Sense of Scale
Most game reviews have scales that are so broad that they practically invite arbitrary scoring. Take gamespot for example. In the past, they had a one hundred point scale, 0.0 through 10.0. Of course, this is ridiculous. Let’s say that you have a game that rates 7.7, and another game that rates 7.8. I challenge any reviewer to point to some finite, verifiable aspect of a game that separates the 7.7’s from the 7.8’s. When you consider also that there are several reviewers at gamespot, with each reviewer bringing their own likes and dislikes to the table, it becomes impossible to believe that a game which rates a 7.7 from Reviewer A is markedly inferrior to a game which rates a 7.8 from Reviewer B.
Recently Gamespot updated their rating system such that they still have0-10 rating system, but all scores divisible by 0.5. A step in the right direction, but that still leaves with twenty possible rankings for a game. In my opinion it would still difficult for a reviewer to point to a particular feature that made them arrive at 8.0 as opposed to an 8.5.
Just like my Hyundai Tiburon, Game Ratings Experience Rapid Deflation.
Generally speaking, as gaming platforms mature the games for that form get better. That’s to be expected, since game houses have more time to work with a game and learn the intricacies of the platform. However, game reviews don’t reflect this increase in quality. Any xbox owner will tell you that Blood Wake is, well, shit. However, IGN gave it an 8.4 (again with the 100 point scales, ugh). How can this be? Is IGN corrupt? Well, maybe, but the problem here is that Blood Wake was a launch title, and when you compare blood wake to one of six other launch titles, your opinion of "good" can get a little skewed. Advance the clock by three years, and things might change. For example, Indigo Prophecy is another 8.4 game according to IGN. By IGN’s own rating system these games are equal in terms of quality. Wait. What? No, no, no!
Some Game Reviews Have More Documentation Than the Games Themselves.
Check out the 1-Up review for Halo 3. It’s 1,364 words. For comparison, Roger Ebert’s review of Doctor Zhivago is 841 words. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of the Halo 3’s plot, but I can safely say that it’s maybe, just maybe, a bit less complex than David Lean’s 1965 epic about of a trials and tribulations of a Doctor/Poet living through the Bolshevik Revolution.
Seriously, how long does it take to tell me whether you like a damn video game?
Alright. So video game reviews need to be better. Better how? Well, I don’t know that yet. Still working on it. But when I do pin it down, I’m sure you’ll give it at least a 98%!