Say what you will about Tom Chick. I believe the guy has integrity. If he doesn't like something everybody else likes, he says so. (And as I understand it, he didn't even get a review copy of the latest X-Com - I guess they were afraid of him - but he gushes over it anyway.) Some people might call that 'being wrong' but it's crazy to think that everyone's going to have the same opinions about a work of art - reviews should be all over the map. With apologies to friends at 343, I dig it. And I miss Shoot Club.
There's been some talk lately about how game reviewing is broken - for various reasons reviewers aren't usually willing to give games less than 7/10. Because the dev is their buddy, because they're low-paid, because the publishers buy advertising space on their blogs, because they got a free copy of the game, and so on. And I agree, it's kinda broken, although maybe not such a big deal - you just have to renormalize.
Anyhow, guys like Tom Chick and Yahtzee Croshaw show that you can really dis on games and, if you know your stuff, get rewarded for it with lots of clicks. (You've got to know your stuff though - there's a reviewer some of my indie friends like to disparage who pretty clearly never plays the games he rips on. He's probably going to have trouble keep a job.) This anti-Halo review may even be the beginning of a new revolution, as a new school of journalists realize they can get eyeballs by being harsh. And maybe we can look forward to a day where videogames ratings have a mean in the fifties, like movies.
Side note: five or so years ago a younger me used to love almost all the games that got 90+ on gamerankings. These days, not so much; these days, 90+ usually means "highly polished retread"...
Gaming journalism is not much more than a marketing and advertising portion of the games industry. And that's fine. Games need advertising and marketing to build awareness. News sites are just one part of the awareness engine/economy.
As for reviews, I cant remember the last time i actually looked at a gaming website's review before purchasing a game. it may have been trauma center. the problem with review sites is that obvious conflict of interest. i do however listen to podcasts from those websites and do discover and learn about things there. so to me the only problem is reviews take time away from the good stuff. i would not have reviews on a website. i would make it very easy to find information on evey popular game and have a very short paragraph summation of the game along with a symbolic rating of 7.
However things like app store reviews from users mean a whole lot to me. They let me know fairly quick if the game has any important flaws or great features.
Posted by: Tyler | November 08, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I've found Giant Bomb can be pretty good for giving non-4 and 5 star (since they do the five star system, not out of 10) to games, as well as bashing on games they don't like in quick looks. Hell, sometimes I think certain members of the group are a little too game weary from being in the industry so long and are overly harsh (and I don't even mean retreads, I wish people WOULD bash on those more).
Posted by: Patrick Sullivan | November 08, 2012 at 06:25 PM
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Posted by: draw something cheat | November 09, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Way back in the day of Half Life 1 (née Half Life), there was a user-created-map reviewer who went by the name of Radium. He was so exceptionally critical (in a good way) and so detailed in his reviews that people were genuinely pleased when they received a rating over 50 (because that was "above average" which is, when you think about it, "better than most").
Despite not being into mapping myself, I watched the site with awe and really appreciated his reviewing style. I wish there were more like it.
Posted by: Kaz Dragon | November 09, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Ahhh, I'm horribly torn. While I like his rating system and appreciate his no bullshit attitude toward reviews, I can't help but disagree with him on Halo 4. I didn't love it. Single player I'd give it a 3/5 (4 if you're a fan of the series) and with multiplayer definitely a 4/5 purchase.
But I don't think they give 7/10's out because of a buddy-buddy feeling (though I'm insanely curious to hear who you think lowly of!) I always took it as a grade school "70 is passing" attitude. Coupled with the fact that most reviewers have low standards. "Does it turn on and play? Is it possible someone, somewhere, might find something of enjoyment about it? 5.0/10" At least that's what I take from Polygon's rating system: http://www.polygon.com/pages/about-reviews
Though admittedly I like the attitude of writing a review and the group judging how the review reads, and affixing a score communally. Shame it's done with a crappy score system.
Posted by: Jeffool | November 09, 2012 at 03:24 AM