#1 Posted by Diamond (8634 posts) -

This is a subject I've been thinking about for a while.  What serves the public more?  To have a reviewer who is genuinely interested in a game to review a game, or someone who really doesn't care?
 
The problem with getting a Halo fanboy to review Halo or a Starcraft fanboy to review Starcraft might be they'd be more likely to overlook real issues with the game.  At the same time an objective fan of a game might be disproportionally disappointed about a game when it doesn't live up to his every wish.
 
The problems with giving a review to someone who really doesn't care has become apparent many times.  Give a non-sports game fan a copy of some Football Manager game to review and he's bound to trash the game.
 
At BonusEXP so far I've only reviewed games I enjoy or believe I will enjoy.  I might also review a game that I was unexpectedly disappointed about, too.  I'm still forming my opinion on this issue...

#2 Posted by KaosAngel (13765 posts) -

Don't give it a number or letter.

#3 Posted by Diamond (8634 posts) -
@KaosAngel said:
Don't give it a number or letter.
Yea, that won't be an issue as long as I have any control over the actual reviews I create.
#4 Posted by WickedFather (1730 posts) -

Ideally it's best to be interested in the genre and say as much, and say as much if you aren't and it swayed you.  I write reviews that are about my experience and as much about me as the game and for some people that's fine, but most think "Keep your wanky shit to yourself and tell me about the game!" but you've got to put a bit in to stop it being clinical crap.  A bit of warmth to a review is always beneficial.

#5 Posted by MysteriousBob (6272 posts) -

Check the damn options menu. Sounds obvious, but I remember GameTrailers moaned for ages for not being able to toggle the crouch/zoom in Timesplitters Future Perfect even though the ability to do so is labelled clearly in the control options.

#6 Posted by PerryVandell (2103 posts) -

It's my belief that even if you aren't excited for a game, as long as it provides a fun experience, then the reviewer will rate it well. Sure there are fanboys out there, but most of the time fanboys have poor grammar and write things like "i L1K3 HAL0 CUZ ITS GEwD" and would never get close to a job as a game journalist. I also think that it's perfectly fine for someone to be excited for a game, but when writing a review of the game, you have to provide well thought out reasons as to why you feel it was good or bad. People have argued that Brad was excited for Starcraft II and perhaps gave the game its score because of his love of Starcraft. But when you read the review, it shows that he spent a lot of time playing the game, and could describe in great detail why the game was such a high caliber of quality. As for those who don't really care about a game, I usually blame the game for that as not providing something for the reviewer to care about. (Although a game like Football Manager is a pretty isolating game.)

#7 Posted by Cincaid (2953 posts) -

Try and not have an opinion about a game before you play it. It's hard sometimes, but it's the closest you can come to unbiased reviewing. And people will still find a way to call your reviews biased if you rated a game too high / too low (in their opinion).

Online
#8 Posted by ZanzibarBreeze (3069 posts) -

It's neither of the two extremes; it's somewhere in between, or, rather, somewhere separate from that spectrum. Objectivity is the most important thing. Bias isn't a sin so long as it's acknowledged. But objectivity is paramount.
 
There seems to be to be a lame duck aspect among the media when it comes to blockbuster, "triple A" titles, some kind of reluctance to admit that a new game in a famous franchise may not be as amazing as the developers would like you to believe. Look at Metal Gear Solid 4 and Grand Theft Auto IV, for instance -- those are two games which most definitely did not deserve the "perfect scores" they attained almost universally. I detest review scores, but Metal Gear Solid 4 probably deserved between a 6 and a 7 (using a ten point scale), and Grand Theft Auto IV somewhere in the region of an 8 or a 9. It's a problem when massive, big budget titles are accepted wholesale as those two games were. I'm not sure how frequently this happens, but when it does it sticks out like a sore thumb.
 
And, yes, I don't like review scores. A no review score policy would be pretty good.

#9 Posted by Interfect (978 posts) -
@KaosAngel said:
" Don't give it a number or letter. "
Yup.
#10 Posted by librarianmike (39 posts) -

If you're going to use a scale (numbers/letters/whatever), use the whole scale. One sad fact about game reviewing is that a 7/10 is considered a terrible score. Most publications/sites are very reluctant to rate anything lower, which is ridiculous. 
 
Take for example the movie Inception. It's a huge hit and considered to be one of the finest films of the year. Metacritic score? 
 
 74
 
Games have to be seriously broken for them to be rated in the 70s. I know a lot of people don't like Jim Sterling at Destructoid, but at least he has the stones to use their whole scale.

#11 Posted by JoelTGM (5596 posts) -
@librarianmike said:
" If you're going to use a scale (numbers/letters/whatever), use the whole scale. One sad fact about game reviewing is that a 7/10 is considered a terrible score. Most publications/sites are very reluctant to rate anything lower, which is ridiculous.   Take for example the movie Inception. It's a huge hit and considered to be one of the finest films of the year. Metacritic score?    74  Games have to be seriously broken for them to be rated in the 70s. I know a lot of people don't like Jim Sterling at Destructoid, but at least he has the stones to use their whole scale. "
Mmm yeah that's true.  I like Giant Bomb's 5 star system.  When you rate out of 10 then it's kind of hard to use all the numbers.  Rating out of 5 is simple and yet still vague enough that people have to read the review.
#12 Posted by Video_Game_King (35982 posts) -

They should care about the game, but isolate themselves from everything to do with the game beforehand, so as to destroy that nasty thing called "expectations."

#13 Posted by Brodehouse (9576 posts) -

Rating out of 10 stars is pointless, because the publisher gets 5 points for just releasing a game.  And most people are terrified to hand out a 10, even to games they acclaim as something everyone in the world should play.
 
The Giant Bomb 5 star system is the only one I've heard that makes sense.  1s should not be played by anyone, 2s are bad games with redeeming qualities, 3s are middling games that are neither great nor bad, 4s are good games that have problems that stop them from being amazing, and 5s should be played by everyone.

#14 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8698 posts) -

Any game I really want to play, either on release day or someday, I just don't watch reviews or previews for.
I take a look at some gameplay and/or story and that'll make me buy it, and I could always return it if it disappoints.
 
There's been 1 game which I bought and regretted buying in my life actually.
Rest were all great decisions which lasted me long beyond what reviewers thought it should.
I think the best way to review a game is to give the basics.
It looks good, feels good, point out clunkyness or uneasy feelings you had during the game, anything that hindered or annoyed or stuck in your mind is worth telling.

#15 Posted by AgentofChaos (1565 posts) -

Be objective. Its the number one rule when reviewing anything.

#16 Posted by commandercup (500 posts) -

Obviously being in the middle of the spectrum is best... but I think it's bad to only review games you enjoy. People shouldn't take a single review to make a judgment on a game as noone is unbiased. I don't like giving numerical ratings to games, but Giant Bomb forces you to :(. 
 
By the way, bangin' site, how are you liking sqaurespace (seems way pricey to me) over something like wordpress?

#17 Posted by one_2nd (2359 posts) -

There's no way to get rid of this problem, there will always be biased reviews as long as humans review anything. You just have to find a pretty fair site, and GB is that imo. However I was disappointed that they let Jeff review Kane and Lynch 2 with his past. 

#18 Edited by Diamond (8634 posts) -
@commandercup said:

By the way, bangin' site, how are you liking sqaurespace (seems way pricey to me) over something like wordpress?

Thanks, David is the one responsible for much of the actual visual design work.  Personally I like Squarespace fine, but I don't have much experience with other providers outside of Geocities and Comcast.
#19 Edited by supermike6 (3540 posts) -

I don't get the hatred for scores. They provide a backdrop for the writing. You have a general idea of their opinion going in, and then they further explain why they feel this way through the written review. You have a general idea of the quality of the game going into the review, meaning that you can more easily tell if problems are major or just nitpicky.  
 
As for the OP, I feel it should be someone interested in the game beforehand, or maybe a fan of the series, but not an extreme fan. Otherwise it's like Jeff reviewing FIFA 11.

#20 Posted by DawnB (40 posts) -

I will note, however, that the 5 star system is interpreted not necessarily as Giant Bomb intends.  MetaCritic, frex, will take a 4/5 and give it the score of 80.   
 
For reviewers: Objectivity is the most important thing.  While I don't want a fanboy reviewing a game, I also don't want a hater or someone unfamiliar with the genre to review a game.  Someone who never plays sports games, by choice, should not be a sports game reviewer. They don't have enough of a basis for comparison, in terms of what that type of game has accomplished or not.  Someone who never plays a Tower Defense style game should not review Pixel Junk Monsters, as they will be largely unable to tell where the roots are, the fobiles and actually explore the full extent of the game.   
 
That said, a game should be enjoyable to people who don't know all the gory details.  I don't have quite the level of reference that Brad did on the overall Metroid franchise, but I do think that i could review The Other M and do it justice, having played a small amount of Super Metroid (years after release), Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Shadow Complex, and the Metroid Prime series.  So, I could comment on the gameplay and a little of the roots, but I would not have understood the importance of   the word "Tourian." 
 
So, I would say a review needs to be familiar with the genre, franchise, but hopefully not so steeped in it that they have a major bias and not a natural hater.  

#21 Posted by cstrang (2381 posts) -

Don't write a review of a game right after you buy it.  You might think it's a little better than it actually is....

#22 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -

I don't mind people who have never played a certain genre reviewing a game or maybe they even hate that genre. Reviews are another form of entertainment. What you get from those reviews is up to the reader. Just be prepared if someone happens to read it and disagrees with you.
 
@librarianmike said:

I know a lot of people don't like Jim Sterling at Destructoid, but at least he has the stones to use their whole scale. "

Stones is the key word. Just review the damn thing and see what happens.
#23 Posted by gakon (1945 posts) -

The whole "fans of the genre" thing is interesting.  Developers always want those people to review their games, because they think a "fan" will give it a nicer review.
 
I think most gaming websites should try to get someone who knows what they're talking about when it comes to a certain genre.  They need an expert but maybe not a fan.  Maybe there's some value in having a non-RTS person review an RTS, but it's still a disservice to the RTS people who read your website, because they're looking for an informed review.  The expert will hopefully know the genre well enough to know what's good and bad, what's new and what's been done.  Both types of reviews are worth reading but one is more important to have than the other.

#24 Posted by Deathpooky (1373 posts) -

Ideally a reviewer should never be a "fanboy" of anything.  Fanboy implies irrational defense of a game or ignoring its flaws just because you love the series or company, which goes entirely against the point of being objective when reviewing.  I see no problem with a reviewer being predisposed to like a series or a game, and almost always it's necessary to have experience with the series or genre to be able to review it in a meaningful way, as long as you still approach it with a critical eye. 
 
Now, that's the ideal, I think we all know that reviewers are often swayed by the company/series/creator/hype into overlooking the flaws of something, just as a reviewer of any other medium can be.  And that just goes back to the foundation of Giant Bomb - find a reviewer who shares your general outlook on games and that you can trust, and don't be worried about every single review that comes out about a game.

#25 Posted by Dolph_Zigler (11 posts) -
@Diamond: 
Hi, I'm Dolph Zigler.
#26 Posted by jkz (4002 posts) -

Let me just say this: the fans of a game already know that they're going to buy it, so they only read reviews so that they can either nod their heads in agreement, or vehemently spit venom at the reviewer for disagreeing with them 
 
It's everyone else that gleans something from reviews, so it's far more important to write for them than for the game's fans.

#27 Edited by Jeust (10473 posts) -

For me the best solution is to review games you like. Still with me I try to be objective, and focus in their strengths as with their weaknesses.

#28 Posted by Doctorchimp (4069 posts) -
@ZanzibarBreeze said:
" It's neither of the two extremes; it's somewhere in between, or, rather, somewhere separate from that spectrum. Objectivity is the most important thing. Bias isn't a sin so long as it's acknowledged. But objectivity is paramount.  There seems to be to be a lame duck aspect among the media when it comes to blockbuster, "triple A" titles, some kind of reluctance to admit that a new game in a famous franchise may not be as amazing as the developers would like you to believe. Look at Metal Gear Solid 4 and Grand Theft Auto IV, for instance -- those are two games which most definitely did not deserve the "perfect scores" they attained almost universally. I detest review scores, but Metal Gear Solid 4 probably deserved between a 6 and a 7 (using a ten point scale), and Grand Theft Auto IV somewhere in the region of an 8 or a 9. It's a problem when massive, big budget titles are accepted wholesale as those two games were. I'm not sure how frequently this happens, but when it does it sticks out like a sore thumb.  And, yes, I don't like review scores. A no review score policy would be pretty good. "
This is a problem. You saw those games as not worthy of their scores, so you now think that everyone else who played it got suckered by its "budget" or "legacy". YOUR OPINION > THEIRS right?
 
When we get past this, that an opinion on how a game should be scored is the only way you can look at it and realize people liked it way more than you did, reviews will become just a number.
#29 Edited by ZanzibarBreeze (3069 posts) -
@Doctorchimp: The reason why I brought up the examples of Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 is because there are frequently threads on these very forums about how those two games are not as good as reviewers claimed. Why, there was just a thread on GTA IV the other day. So, it's not just my opinion -- it seems to be universally held -- but I appreciate your point about opinion as a whole. That wasn't my point, though. My point was regarding reviewers being bamboozled by acclaimed franchises, which I think there is evidence for.
#30 Posted by Doctorchimp (4069 posts) -
@ZanzibarBreeze said:
" @Doctorchimp: The reason why I brought up the examples of Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 is because there are frequently threads on these very forums about how those two games are not as good as reviewers claimed. Why, there was just a thread on GTA IV the other day. So, it's not just my opinion -- it seems to be universally held -- but I appreciate your point about opinion as a whole. That wasn't my point, though. My point was regarding reviewers being bamboozled by acclaimed franchises, which I think there is evidence for. "
Of course you're not the only one with that opinion. The minority that's displeased always makes more noise than those that liked it. MGS4 is always being crushed by people who had this incredible game that no one could make as the ending, and people who hate on GTA IV usually throw shit at it for not being San Andreas 2 with the rampant goofiness or nitpick the cellphone that can be ignored. My post still stands.  
 
Opinions are opinions. "Bamboozled" reviewers or not, how can you say those games weren't enough for them?
#31 Edited by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

EDIT: For some reason the last half of my post is bolded and I can't get it to unbold. Sorry about that. 
 
Whether you like a certain game or not is largely irrelevant. The reviewers job is to provide the consumer a detailed picture of what a game is and, more importantly, to help them make good purchasing decisions. Game reviewing, like any other form of entertainment reviewing, ultimately comes down to saving the consumer from wasting money on bad products. For some reason a lot of people in the gaming community like to take this objective far out of its intended context and chalk reviewers up as some last say on how "good" a game is. 
 
What a "good" game is is an entirely subjective concept. While I might find a complex RPG with several dozen configurable systems an enjoyable experience, other people might find that to be a daunting and completely uninteresting task. I suppose that having a reviewer who enjoys that type of game might help them keep their attention, but that's the thing, I don't really care if the reviewer enjoyed it. 
 
There have been numerous occasions when I have completely disagreed with a majority of the reviewers out there. Everyone has that certain game that no one else seems to enjoy but they cherish as one of their favorites. God Hand is a perfect example. Many people gave it middling reviews claiming it to be repetitive and unreasonably difficult for the all the wrong reasons, but that was exactly why I loved it. As a consumer, what I want in a review is not your opinion or your "say", I want to know what this game is and what it is trying to sell me. 
 
Reviews should always be objective first and foremost. Is it okay to interject a bit of your own personal experience in there? Yeah, sure; but it shouldn't consume the article. I'm not looking for an editorial piece, if I was I'd go read one. I want to know how the game plays, the nuances of its systems, the breadth of its story. I've read too many reviews that simply are completely inadequate at describing what a game actually is to me while they go on about their own personal experience. The truth of it all is that no matter how similar you may think you are in taste to any one particular reviewer, you are always going to have differing opinions on something. Always. 
 
Also, I don't know why people bitch about numbers all the time. I think it's a great way of categorically organizing games by critical opinion. The problem is with the readers who apply to much weight to them. 

#32 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -
@LordXavierBritish said:

 
Also, I don't know why people bitch about numbers all the time. I think it's a great way of categorically organizing games by critical opinion. The problem is with the readers who apply to much weight to them. 
"
That's my biggest gripe. I like numbers. 
 
I often wonder why people who review are afraid of putting a scale to their words. Words = Opinion, so, if you're going to add a numerical scale, why not go all the way?
#33 Posted by Diamond (8634 posts) -
@Claude said:
@LordXavierBritish said:
Also, I don't know why people bitch about numbers all the time. I think it's a great way of categorically organizing games by critical opinion. The problem is with the readers who apply to much weight to them.
That's my biggest gripe. I like numbers.   I often wonder why people who review are afraid of putting a scale to their words. Words = Opinion, so, if you're going to add a numerical scale, why not go all the way?
What goes on in my head is the question, "well, if you're the kind of dude who likes WoW because you want to play with your friends, you might not like After Burner Climax".  If I were to actually give my opinion a numerical score, it would screw people the fuck up.  So far in my reviews I've tried to include multiple perspectives on the same game.  Like "if you enjoy arcade-style brawlers you might like soandso".
#34 Posted by c1337us (5751 posts) -

For the person reviewing the one and only rule should be: 
Step 1: Play the game.
Step 2: Have an opinion on what you have played.
Step 3. ???
Step 4. Profit. 
 
Seriously I don't think there is a right or wrong answer as to which is the best approach. Any of these are equally valid. If you are the sort of person who is going to use game reviews to make your purchases decision for you then it is your responsibility to read multiple reviews from multiple sources.

#35 Posted by Jimbo (9772 posts) -

Know your audience, be at least as informed as your audience, don't approach any game with cynicism or apathy, and always remember that you serve the reader, not the publisher.  Don't be tempted to talk about genres you don't know well or have no interest in.
 
Most gamers approach a game with at least some degree of enthusiasm, and ideally so should reviewers.  Even when I play a game I suspect won't be very good, I still go in hoping to be proven wrong.  All games should get a fair crack of the whip; if you go in looking for a bad game then that's what you'll find, whether it is or not.  A professional ought to be capable of enthusiasm without being blinded by it.

Online
#36 Posted by kalmis (1558 posts) -

Interesting discussion. I've been thinking about the same recently. Especially after Mafia 2 experience. I really like the game and think that it deserves much better score than it got. Does it make me a fanboy if the issues pointed out by other reviews don't bother me? Or are not accurate for me?

#37 Posted by DevWil (842 posts) -

i think it's unlikely that an experienced game critic would give (nearly) any game a wildly inappropriate review. 
 
ultimately, it seems like the bulk of most reviews cover playability and polish/production value more than anything else, and those are two things anybody with enough experience and professionalism could critique fairly responsibly. 
  
as OP mentioned though, something as niche as a sports management sim would probably be better saved for someone with enough enthusiasm for the product that they'd be able to appreciate the depth and detail of it.  a review written by someone interested in a game will always be better than a review written by someone forced to review virtually every game that comes out.  obviously the GB editorial staff understands this and they really only review games they have some amount of enthusiasm for.

#38 Posted by Ramone (2959 posts) -
@supermike6:  On the whole FIFA thing, having knowledge of a subject and having interest can and should be different things. For example I have interest in playing 'The Last Guardian' but have practically no knowledge of the previous games or the game itself. On the other hand I have knowledge of Modern Warfare 2 and FPSs in general but I have no interest in playing them. In any case a reviewer should always have knowledge of a game and it isn't wrong if they have an interest in it.
#39 Posted by sarahsdad (1078 posts) -
@Diamond: Coming late to the discussion, but I wanted to add in that for me, one of the most important things about a review is having some idea about the reviewer before I start. 
One of the reasons I like the GB reviewers is that I've been following them long enough to where I feel like I know what their tastes, hang-ups, etc. are, and I have a good idea where mine intersect with theirs. When I read Jeff's review of MK vs. DC for example, I know he likes fighting games so I can temper his review a bit. 
Obviously if you're reasonably new, it's hard for someone to know much about your preferences. That said, in the 5-10 minutes I've just spent there, I like how you've got your site set up such that clicking on the reviewers name will go to a page with their other reviews, it gives a good way for someone new to become more familiar with the reviewer. 
#40 Edited by Goldanas (544 posts) -

EGM always had the best system. They had multiple reviewers of multiple tastes. Sometimes they'd all be right down the line, and other times they'd be all over the map. It was brilliant. 
 
Nobody can afford this system, however, including EGM, so the best way to include this ideal is to state up front what your tastes are in relation to the series or genre.

#41 Posted by phantomzxro (1565 posts) -
@DOUBLESHOCK said:
" @librarianmike said:
" If you're going to use a scale (numbers/letters/whatever), use the whole scale. One sad fact about game reviewing is that a 7/10 is considered a terrible score. Most publications/sites are very reluctant to rate anything lower, which is ridiculous.   Take for example the movie Inception. It's a huge hit and considered to be one of the finest films of the year. Metacritic score?    74  Games have to be seriously broken for them to be rated in the 70s. I know a lot of people don't like Jim Sterling at Destructoid, but at least he has the stones to use their whole scale. "
Mmm yeah that's true.  I like Giant Bomb's 5 star system.  When you rate out of 10 then it's kind of hard to use all the numbers.  Rating out of 5 is simple and yet still vague enough that people have to read the review. "

To be honest i never liked the 5 star or any 5 point scale because it's too small a margin where games get group together. Just like the person you replied to said any game around the 7/10 mark is look at as a bad game. So when you make the scale smaller anything that is under 4 star are look as a bad game. Then you have a bunch of 3 star games that may not be of equal value of which is a good game or not.  But in the end there is no perfect rating system.