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Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Game Review Philosophy

User game reviews carry a lot of weight in my mind. With professional review sites it sometimes feels like publishers have an influence on scores, whether through site advertising dollars or threatening to withhold advance review copies of games in the future. Don't get me wrong, there are some quality sites out there, but if you're trying to avoid stepping on the toes of a major player in the industry it's hard to remain completely objective. Let's not forget the whole Gamespot Kane and Lynch thing from a few years ago.

With that in mind, I want to be as objective as possible when approaching a game on the site. Every review I post will be of a game that I own and have played extensively, whether that involves completing a campaign mode or playing plenty of multiplayer. I plan to discuss the usual stuff about each game - gameplay, graphics, value, etc - and give my overall impression along with a score at the end.

4 out of 5
A score of 4/5. Behold my amazing GIMP editing skills.

Release Info, System Requirements, and Installation

No better place to start than the beginning. When was the game released? How gigantic is the game folder? Does the game have some terribly intrusive DRM?

The First Twenty Minutes

The first run of the game can make or break the entire experience; if it doesn't make a lasting first impression there's a good chance that I'll get bored and switch to something else. Does the game do a good job of drawing you in from the start? Is the control scheme a horrible mess that needs reconfiguring? Are there 53 cutscenes at the start that have you wondering when you'll actually get to play?


Pretty self-explanatory - is it fun/difficult/frustrating? Do the controls/camera detract from the overall experience?

Sound, Visuals, and Atmosphere

Another one that's pretty straight forward - is it pretty or way too dark? Does the art style add or detract from the experience?

Graphics and Performance

How does the game run on current hardware? Is it a crappy console port like 80% of the stuff we usually get?

Value, Replayability, and Final Thoughts

Here I'll mention how much the game costs and what I ended up paying for it. Is it worth full price or should you wait for a Steam sale? Is there any point in going back to replay the game? Does it stand on its own in 2012, or have we moved on?

2.5 out of 5


I thought about skipping the scoring part and just giving each game a "yes" or "no" recommendation, but there's a lot of middle ground to cover. A game from 2007 that's only 5 bucks today is suddenly a must-buy. Likewise, a game that's $15 new probably isn't going to have the production value or depth of a $60 AAA title, but that doesn't mean they can't both be awesome 5/5 games. There's a difference between a game that's a solid one-time playthrough and a game that's so amazing you'll be playing it for months, so hopefully handing out scores will help sort things out.

Also, I spent like an hour in GIMP making the score images you can see above, so I'm going to use them.

I don't plan on breaking down the score by category, it'll just be an overall final impression. It always bothers me when a reviewer assigns ratings to individual areas like gameplay and graphics, only to pull a completely different number out of thin air for the overall score that isn't in any way an average of the ratings above it.

So there you go. I have a couple of games lined up to review in the coming weeks - stay tuned. My Steam backlog of games numbers in the double digits, so there should be plenty of content coming.


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