Gaming Like A Sir: Score-Based Reviews Are Like Crack To Us
I don’t mean fun, have-a-good-time crack. I mean hardcore Requiem For A Dream crack.
Seriously, watch that movie. But do it with the lights on, during the day, cuddling a favourite teddy-bear.
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I have been away for some time. I am back. Stronger and more awesomer than ever. Like divorced parents will always tell their children, this has nothing to do with you. I love you, it’s just that your mom and I are having trouble. In this case, your mom is the mad, passionate, borderline psychotic….end of the year mad rush of exams and work culminating in my being in America for two months. So ya. Hectic.
Now that the damage is done and I’m walking through the unrecognisable wreckage that was the last few months, I’ve noticed something. Reviews of all my most anticipated games have varied so wildly and been so inconsistent that were I not a more sensitive man I would make a PMS joke. I didn’t make one and I’m not going to. I ProMiSe.
This left me to wonder…what the broody herr happened? Where is the voice of certainty, the consensus? How am I supposed to know what to think? Then I realised I was going to have to put in effort before dismissing games based on superficial things. So I had a panic attack. It was so bad I had to go and lie down in an iStore, close my eyes and just let other people with no discernible qualifications tell me what to think and feel. It was glorious. I just gave them my bank account details and asked when the super compact iPad Mini is coming out. He said it already is out and sold me an iPhone.
I’m being facetious. But only a little. Also I don’t mean eGamer’s reviews, in fact a clever person might realise this entire column is pretty much going to outline in painful detail why eGamer’s reviews are doing things right. Even then, there are some excellent writers and journalists out there who do their damnedest to write informative discussions on games. They are forced to slap a number on at the end because the raging mass of COD-tards out there, like past-Jake, put a whole lot of weight on that number. It is poppycock to believe a complex and multifaceted piece of interactive art and all of its intrinsic value can be summarised by a number.
Welcome to an analysis of score based reviews and why they’re shite.
I genuinely used to love review scores. I would get bummed when a site I trusted gave a game anything less than an eight or higher. My world got shattered when Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, a game I apparently can’t stop referencing at every available half-opportunity, turned out to be excellent despite getting scores of middle sixes. That’s when I had the little epiphany that made me the extremely humble, all-knowing, bastion of enlightenment I am today.
No matter what numeric system we use, we will end up only paying attention to games that score in the top 30% or so. So why is the number necessary? Why not just say, in as many words, whether the game is worth looking at or not. That’s all the review score tells us anyway. Less than 7 – GTFO. 9 or 10 – buy almost without thinking.
It neatly summarises why scores are ridiculous. You probably won’t concentrate while watching the GT review, if you bother to watch at all, and we both know neither of us will read the IGN one unless we’re really interested. And yet, I walk around thinking I know what those reviewers thought of the game because I know the number they assigned it.
Look now at the eGamer way – the Quick Rating. In almost as many seconds as it takes to read a review score, I can get a much better understanding of whether the game is worthwhile or not.
Do you see how much better this is? Whether I read the rest of the review or not (and I should) at least I have something of Azhar’s opinion starting to form in my head.
As usual with my discussions, I’m asking that we change our expectations. Accept that regardless of the game, we are going to have to actually read a little to begin forming our own thoughts.
What would a score do here except cloud the thoughtful opinion Azhar wants to convey. Nothing. It would help not at all and would only make you forget what Azhar actually thinks.
I only remember that people hated Mass Effect 3’s ending, I don’t remember what they said and I remember this only because of the numbers. I know Far Cry 3 is looking like a bad-ass and I know this because of the numbers instead of what the game actually is. Even though numbers are nice and easy, I want an elevation of our basic level of discourse.
Discuss the game and its content, not the random culmination of one reviewers rudimentary grasp of numeric scoring.