Posted by Penelope (225 posts) -

I'm not a very consistent person. This is especially so when it comes to my opinions. This especially struck me today as I was glancing over some of the reviews I've written here on Giantbomb.

I gave the original Diablo and Lucidity both three and a half stars? Diablo is a classic genre defining franchise starter, and Lucidity is a charming-but-middling all-but-forgotten platformer.

I gave the incredibly simple Osmos five stars which, according to me, puts it on par with Ocarina of Time, but above Knights of the Old Republic.

...what am I doing?

I've been trying to work out in my head exactly why I give games the scores I do and why that leads to some of these bizarre anachronisms.

I think I've arrived at the opinion that reviews, just like the games themselves, encapsulate an idea or opinion at the time they were written.

I played Diablo when it first came out, and like everyone else, it blew me out of the water. Back then? 5 stars. Last summer though? I think now... well to put it simply, I would be just as inclined to replay Lucidity as I would be to replay through Diablo. Time hasn't been especially kind to Diablo, and Lucidity has had the benefit of more than a decade of game design refinement that makes it much more polished and less clunky despite its other flaws. This is especially apparent when comparing something like Diablo to other games from that era that have aged significantly better.

So when I give Diablo three and a half stars, I don't think I'm really saying its a "three and a half star" game. Giving it five stars because it was amazing when it came out, despite its obvious flaws now, also feels disingenuous though.

I think for me, reviewing old games is an exercise in seeing how they hold up and where I would put them on my scale of enjoyment nowadays.

What about you guys? How do you go about comparing or reviewing old games?

#1 Posted by Penelope (225 posts) -

I'm not a very consistent person. This is especially so when it comes to my opinions. This especially struck me today as I was glancing over some of the reviews I've written here on Giantbomb.

I gave the original Diablo and Lucidity both three and a half stars? Diablo is a classic genre defining franchise starter, and Lucidity is a charming-but-middling all-but-forgotten platformer.

I gave the incredibly simple Osmos five stars which, according to me, puts it on par with Ocarina of Time, but above Knights of the Old Republic.

...what am I doing?

I've been trying to work out in my head exactly why I give games the scores I do and why that leads to some of these bizarre anachronisms.

I think I've arrived at the opinion that reviews, just like the games themselves, encapsulate an idea or opinion at the time they were written.

I played Diablo when it first came out, and like everyone else, it blew me out of the water. Back then? 5 stars. Last summer though? I think now... well to put it simply, I would be just as inclined to replay Lucidity as I would be to replay through Diablo. Time hasn't been especially kind to Diablo, and Lucidity has had the benefit of more than a decade of game design refinement that makes it much more polished and less clunky despite its other flaws. This is especially apparent when comparing something like Diablo to other games from that era that have aged significantly better.

So when I give Diablo three and a half stars, I don't think I'm really saying its a "three and a half star" game. Giving it five stars because it was amazing when it came out, despite its obvious flaws now, also feels disingenuous though.

I think for me, reviewing old games is an exercise in seeing how they hold up and where I would put them on my scale of enjoyment nowadays.

What about you guys? How do you go about comparing or reviewing old games?

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (35981 posts) -

I just try to consider the game on its own, as controversial and potentially fucked as that may be.

#3 Posted by YI_Orange (1128 posts) -

You have to look at games in the context of the time you played it. Anyone who is going to look at reviews for an old game is likely trying to see if it holds up(or have their opinion reinforced), if you review it through the lens of 1994 or whenever the game came out you're not accurately representing the experience.

#4 Posted by Penelope (225 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: Well yeah, but in what way? On its own now is very different from on its own when the game was originally released. Do you take into account the environment, time period and situations in which it was created?

If not, that feels a lot like criticizing old movies for not having color. I hate people who do that.

@YI_Orange: Yeah, that's about where I stand. Just having a hard time reconciling giving amazing classic games middling scores when compared with games that might not stand the test of time this generation.

#5 Posted by Video_Game_King (35981 posts) -

@Penelope said:

If not, that feels a lot like criticizing old movies for not having color. I hate people who do that.

I imagine a lot of older movies make that complaint irrelevant, but no. I don't take into account all that other stuff you mentioned.

#6 Posted by Penelope (225 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@Penelope said:

If not, that feels a lot like criticizing old movies for not having color. I hate people who do that.

I imagine a lot of older movies make that complaint irrelevant, but no. I don't take into account all that other stuff you mentioned.

If movies can make that point irrelevant, why not games? And wouldn't Diablo seem like a prime candidate for making gameplay/control/usability issues irrelevant?

I don't actually know or have an opinion either way. I'm just playing devil's advocate.

#7 Posted by Video_Game_King (35981 posts) -

@Penelope:

That's my point: good games tend to make their context irrelevant, working with those limited tools to make something that's actually presentable.

#8 Posted by Penelope (225 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: Hmmm. Well I live in China so I need to sleep on this as I work tomorrow. Something is still niggling at me. Might bounce some ideas off of you later.

G'night from Beijing.

#9 Posted by muralbat (152 posts) -

I have the same view as most where you take the game you play at the time you play it as you must. For example if I wanted to go back and play Diablo now, your review would be more relevant to me. I always wondered if their would be room for a rating system based on genre.

Like Call of Duty Black Ops gets a FPS rating of 5 stars because it does what you want. Then Skyrim gets an RPG 5 stars. so two reviews cant be seen as 'OMG YOU THINK COD IS AS GOOD AS SKYRIM?'

#10 Edited by SpartanHoplite (384 posts) -

Write your review of oldies in 2 parts, what were your thoughts of it back in the day, & how well you think it has aged.

#11 Posted by YI_Orange (1128 posts) -

@Penelope: All that matters to the quality of a game is when you play it. It's irrelevant if a game was amazing 15 years ago if it sucks today. Just because you remember something being good doesn't mean it still is, especially with all the evolution.

On that same note, if games today don't hold up then you'll see that when people go back and play and review them 10 years from now. But right now, they're awesome, that's what's important.

@muralbat: I think that's the fault of the people, not of the system. People need to stop having that "YOU THINK X IS AS GOOD AS Y?!?!?" reaction and just be like "oh hey, these are both good games, cool."

#12 Posted by muralbat (152 posts) -

@YI_Orange: I agree its the fault of the people. But then its those people who go and fill message boards with bullshit arguments over reviews and their lack of common sense to differentiate between to games. I wish their was a way to just filter out the idiots

#13 Posted by mosespippy (4031 posts) -

Don't focus so much on the score. If your thoughts and opinions about the game are the same then as they are now then the body of the review holds up. I recently read the Killscreen review for Papo y Yo and I think that review isn't going to be outdated ever. It probably helps that it never mentions a score, what the mechanics or tech is like or how it plays. You can't compare games just based on a score*. You need to compare them by their individual characteristics, themes, identity, etc.

*Well, you can, but it's a terrible practice that won't serve you well.

#14 Posted by YI_Orange (1128 posts) -

@muralbat: But then you get a new breed of idiots. "Well an FPS 5 stars means less than RPG 5 stars!" "This game is really more (genre1) than (genre2)" "If it's being rated as an RPG why are the puzzle and shooter elements weighing so heavily!" etc.

#15 Posted by JasonR86 (9604 posts) -

@Penelope:

I think the biggest thing you need to do is make sure your logic is sound. The end score is really only half the battle. It's the logic for that score that really matters. For example, I gave Snatcher, a huge cult classic, 3/5 stars. The way I explained it was that it was a game with a cool story, good characters, and a neat atmosphere but that the actual gameplay was little more then a menu simulator. But then I gave the original Dune game 5/5 stars because it had both the cool story and atmosphere mixed with great gameplay that is truly one of a kind even now. What I tried to do is make it clear to the reader that whether they were reading my Snatcher review or my Dune review they understood why I felt the way I felt about these games.

#16 Posted by Fattony12000 (7036 posts) -

Don't bother with a score, just write about games.

#17 Posted by Slag (3989 posts) -

Well I try to avoid that problem by not reviewing games that old.

Even if it's one generation old you are going to have aging/context problems. Think I've reviwed a couple DS games here, but for me since I don't have a 3DS it still is current gen to me.