Reviews should inform decisions not make them

Triple-A titles receiving negative reviews is largely unheard of – aside from Ubisoft of course.

I recently reviewed Doom for a now defunct gaming website: it was awarded a 5/10. I gave this score because I felt that the game was average. It brought nothing new to the genre or series, and really just served as a nostalgia trip for those who were around to play the 1st Doom game back in 1993 – I was one-year-old at the time so I wasn’t.

The release of the new Doom game didn’t impact the market in any considerable way, sans the fact that it signified a return to form for a series which has been stagnating for some time. 5/10 is not a bad score – it simply means that the experience was an average one.

Doom offered interesting gameplay which focused on the factors which many Doom fans revere the series for, namely, violence and gratuitous gore. Never being privy to the original Doom, I didn’t understand, nor appreciate the over usage of gore and violence, I generally need a game to deliver on all fronts.

After many discussions, both hostile and friendly, I came to realise that Doom lives and dies on its ability to shock and horrify and that its narrative, while present, is not a selling point for the series. This means that, because Doom doesn’t take itself seriously, it shouldn’t be judged as you would traditionally judge a game. I disagree with this defence.

The way in which many people decide whether a game is worth the price of entry is usually via reviews and scores which are attributed to them. For this reason, reviews need to be wholly representative of the game itself. This means mentioning any points of questionable existence and elaborating on any shortcomings. We cannot change the mould to fit certain games unless the relative parts are not present in the game.

For instance: you can’t judge Warframe on its singleplayer or Hitman on its multiplayer as these components don’t exist. However, if they did exist and happened to be poorly presented and developed, then you should be allowed to comment and critique them.

“These reviews are largely subjective and only represent the views of an individual.”

Review scores have been a point of contention for as long as they have existed. While most people believe that review scores are just arbitrary numbers which have no bearing and meaning, there are many who think of review scores as the overall grade for the game based on the review.

If a game has a multiplayer component but doesn’t exclusively ‘offer’ multiplayer, is it okay to ignore or reduce the multiplayer component of the product?

I believe if we start minimising sections of reviews to fit with the general consensus, series heritage and marketing points, we are sacrificing our critical integrity for the sake of a positive reaction. On the other hand, it is also not acceptable to comment and over-elaborate on a games shortcomings just to garner attention hailing from a negative point.

Reviews often supply arbitrary reasons to justify scores – some with little to no logic involved.

Game reviews are made of a number of elements with each gameplay component scrutinised and critiqued in sequence; gameplay, plot; graphics etc. The resulting score then reflects the reviews substance in numerical form, this means that whatever is said in the review must – if a low score is to be awarded – the language used in the review must be that of a negative or neutral nature.

These reviews are largely subjective and only represent the views of an individual, often, the outlet a person is writing for has – on the whole – differing opinions to that of the author of the article.

Games receive negative reviews all the time unfortunately, there have been some objectively fantastic games which have received terrible reviews, merely due to the fact – in most cases – that they don’t deliver 100% in all sections of their presentation.

They may – like Naughty Bear – offer fantastic and innovative gameplay ideas but have implemented them poorly, or they may deliver superb gameplay and a beautiful aesthetic but fail to deliver on any sort of narrative level – like The Division.

The point I am trying to make is, “think for yourself”; you should only use reviews to help *influence* your opinion, never let a review *decide* for you. If a game looks good but you are unsure about some aspects of it, read a review. If you have been looking forward to a game for years and it looks great and you are hearing great things – Doom for instance – avoid reviews.

The reviewer may, like myself, have no idea what the series they are dealing with means to other people and result in offending you just by voicing their opinion.

Lastly, if a game receives a bad review, don’t be the first to insult and deride the reviewer. Instead, inquire as to *why* the things they are saying about the game are the way they are and – if you need to – ask many questions which have not been answered in the article.

They are people, too. They have families, lives and friends; they don’t want to have their intelligence questioned or their – or their families – lives’ threatened just because you didn’t agree with their opinion.

Think for yourself, ask questions and take reviews as an opinion, rather than a factual representation of everybody’s experience with the product.


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