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 Aug 09, 2004 - 10:46 AM - by Michael
* Gamerdad on Game Reviews and Controversy

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
Apparently, GamerDad has gotten tired of seeing flames from people saying "that review dissed my game" or "that game doesn't deserve that score."

I've seen the same. You kind of learn to ignore it after a while. He does have a few good points to remind people of, though.

The mechanics of a game are often reviewed with their own numerical scores that then produce the overall total score. I think a lot of folks believe there are "right" ways and "wrong" ways to make games. This brings up the idea of the objective game review. For a lot of people, they believe these so-called rights and wrongs make it so that games will receive some level of review if those contrivances either do or don't exist. They'll even go one step further and claim that the reviewer objectively evaluate the game based on some set of criteria that's just plain understood by all the game community! I haven't yet been fortunate enough to always have this criteria handy when writing a review because unfortunately for me (and every other person in the world) we all have our own set of tastes that are going to drive our like or dislike for a game.
That's excellent point #1 - you and the reviewer don't always agree on what's more important, or on what the "correct" way to build a game is.
Review scales are important to publications because they allow both gamers and the games makers to apply some kind of "score" to the game. Five stars out of five doesn't mean that's the greatest game and no game could be better. It does mean that it's one of the very best your money can buy in the opinion of the writer of the review. That person believes it to be as good as any game they've played. It also doesn't mean that the game is the pinnacle of technological sophistication, nor does it mean that it's got the greatest story of all time, etc. It's one guy's opinion of the game's appeal to him and the text will help you decide if it's for you.
Point #2 - it's subjective, already. Yes, I know - people get up in arms over movie reviews by Ebert & Roeper, too. If you make fun of their favorite movie, they hate you. Science Fiction and Fantasy fans have had this ongoing hate-hate relationship with the Motion Pictures Academy for years - let's face it, most of us were really pissed off at the two movies that beat the first two installments of Lord of the Rings for best picture those years, just as we can all still remember Star Wars getting shafted. But it's all subjective.

The difference is that movie watchers are passive - gamers are active. Games are an active medium, so we necessarily get more involved in them. Or at least that's the goal, at any rate.

Are all "Five Star" games somehow perfect? No. In fact, I've almost never given out five stars - only two in software and one in hardware my entire career. More games reach the 4.5 mark, obviously enough. What a "Five Star" game means, to me, is that it's worth buying over any other title (except another five star, of course) available on a given shelf. Of course, that's my opinion.

Just as an example, I don't much like Resident Evil games. The control system annoys me. That's also just my opinion, and I have no problem with people who do enjoy them; in fact, when I'm freed of the annoyance of playing them, I actually have quite a lot of fun watching others play the Resident Evil series. Please, take it for what you will. Remember, reviewers are gamers too.


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