I've watched the vast majority of Quick Looks since 2008---hard to believe the first was essentially an EX for Legendary of all games---and I've noticed a few trends:
- Quick Looks, on average, are much longer than they used to be. The average QL today seems to be ~40 minutes, whereas in the beginning, they were about 10-20 minutes. The Demon's Souls QL was 32:50 in 2009 and was hilarious in how clueless everybody was. The Dark Souls QL was 1:24:44, described every little mechanic of the game, and was hilarious purely incidentally because something hilarious is bound to happen in an hour and a half. The Banjo: Nuts & Bolts QL was 11:58 back in 2008. Imagine if they filmed that now. It'd probably be closer to a full hour.
- The guys are a lot more prepared for them now, and are determined to show off everything they can instead of a quick slice. They come in with notes to share about the game, explain each mechanic, give a little synopsis, etc. They've often played the game for hours before filming or even beaten it already.
- More and more QLs start at the game's boot and get hung up at the start screen and initial menus as the guys give a preamble information dump, instead of the old style of being dumped right into the game and messing around. It can often take upwards of 5 or 10 minutes just to get into the action of the game, whereas before, a QL might only be 5 or 10 minutes.
- They're a lot more serious now. Sure, you get the occasional QL here and there that's absolutely hilarious and silly, like the Sleeping Dogs QL, because the guys are just messing around and having fun, but increasingly, I've noticed the guys trying to present each game as a serious representation of what it's like to play that game in an ideal way. It's great for developers because they don't have two bumbling, clueless duders at the helm, purposefully doing silly stuff and laughing about it the whole way, but it's just not as fun to watch the guys take the game seriously and explain everything seriously and be very serious about it all.
- Quick Looks are increasingly qualitative. I'll get to that in a minute.
Jeff talked recently on the Bombcast about the PAX panel on reviews he was a guest on. He said he increasingly feels like the old style of reviews are losing their importance and that things like Quick Looks and the Bombcast are becoming more helpful to readers. He said he didn't really know how to reform reviews because he didn't know what they should become, what's important anymore. That's a very sobering look at the state of reviews today, and I'm glad Jeff has the wisdom to be able to see all that. I mean, I don't usually read most Giant Bomb reviews because I don't read most reviews anymore. I just don't need to. I know enough about the game that I'd rather just watch the guys dick around in it and see if it strikes my fancy that way, or hear them talk about it on the Bombcast.
So Jeff's right in that respect.
But that also means that Quick Looks are steadily being treated more and more like the eventual replacement for traditional reviews that they are rather than "hey, let's check this game out." The guys used to walk in more or less totally blind. The Maw QL was like that, where Jeff would get taken by surprise by everything going on, and how weird, scary, and cute the Maw itself was. If that QL was done today, it'd be 40 minutes and would sit at the menu for 5 minutes as the premise of the game, the mechanics, and how the Maw is a weird mixture of scary and cute get explained to us before we've ever seen the game proper. Not every game back then was a blind look---Brad had played a significant amount of Banjo, for instance (though it makes up for it by being a scant 12 minutes long)---and not every game today is super informed, like Jeff and Vinny playing NBA 2K13 and being blindsided by the initial menus. But as a general rule, it works.
Let's get back to how they're qualitative. Quick Looks often adhere to the traditional structure of reviews now: An interesting intro to snare you in, an explanation of what the game's about and what you do in it, deeper analysis of the mechanics by example, a look at multiplayer if applicable, conclusion. They offer insight into the game and make a judgment of quality, often even a recommendation of whether or not it's worth your time and money. They're barely Quick Looks anymore. They're much closer to a new kind of long-form video review.
It's interesting for sure and really shakes things up in the reviews space in a meaningful way, but I can't help but miss the old style of "all right, let's pop this game in and see what it's all about." I load up a Quick Look of a game I'm half-interested in and see that it's 40 minutes to an hour, and I just click out of it. That's WAY too long for a game I'm only half-interested in. I understand that a lot of people want Quick Looks to be as long as possible because they can't get enough of it, but I just don't have the time or patience for it that I used to. That's why I loved the Quick Looks of Derrick the Deathfin and Fractured Soul. Both were 10 minutes or less. So refreshing.
So it seems to me like Giant Bomb has a real opportunity here to establish a new brand of video reviews. Not just "hey, let's read the text of the review and show a couple relevant clips of the game in the background," but something that really takes advantage of the video format. I think there's room for long-form video reviews and Quick Looks, which could just go back to initial reactions for a game. It'd be cool to watch one of the guys play a game when they first pop it in, then again after they've beaten it.
What do you guys think? Am I off-base?